A Lesson From The Band Room

During the four years I attended the University of Minnesota-Morris, I played in the Concert Band each semester.  During one of those years, the director said something I will never forget: he told the group that if each musician makes one glaring error in each song, the entire performance will probably be a wreck.  He didn’t tell us this to put us under added pressure, but just to emphasize the pure fact of the matter.

The same concept applies in baseball.  If each player makes one error each game, that team will never win a game.

Sound familiar?

Of course, Nishioka & Tolbert combined tonight to make enough errors to lose 3-4 games.  There’s really nothing more to say.

Preview (52-66, 4th, 6.0 GB CWS): Brian Duensing (8-10, 4.56) vs. Josh Tomlin (11-5, 4.08)

One Last Stand

After getting roughed up at home by Chicago and Boston, the Twins now hit the road to face Cleveland and Detroit.

I’d like to say the season hangs in the balance, but I think that would be far too optimistic.  Instead, the Twins are now playing for pride.  Right now, we are the old, once-powerful gunslinger who is now struggling to get the job done.  The dusty town may be overrun by the “bad guys” with no hope for the season at hand, but the gunslinger stands in the middle of the street anyway to defend the honor of himself, his people, and his future.

The question then remains: Will the gunslinger get gunned down in cold blood, or will he maintain that honor?

Preview (52-65, 4th, 5.5 GB CWS): Carl Pavano (6-9, 4.71) vs. Justin Masterson (9-7, 2.71)

The Two Constants (Or Not So Much)

Here in Twins Territory, it used to be that solid defense and strike-throwing pitchers were the name of the game.  We’d do those two things right and be able to get by with players that didn’t necessarily matchup well with our opponents.

This year, I can understand why the defense has gone downhill a bit.  The organization made a conscience choice to go offense-over-defense the least few years with guys like Delmon Young and Tsuyoshi Nishioka, with primarily negative results.

What perplexes me, though, is why the pitchers aren’t throwing strikes anymore.  I mean, in the span of just a couple of years, we’ve gone from strike-throwing machines to probably being below-average in that category.  AS a team with no ace pitchers, we just can’t put guys on base and expect to win ballgames.

After this humiliating sweep at the hands of the White Sox, I think that same hard decisions about the constitution of this team will need to be made over the rest of the season.

Preview (51-63, 4th, 4.5 GB CWS): Tim Wakefield (6-4, 4.99) vs. Scott Baker (8-6, 3.01)

Remembering ’91…

A few videos in honor of the 1991 Twins reunion this weekend…

(Oh, if the announcers only knew the drama to come!)

http://mlb.mlb.com/media/player/mp_tpl_3_1.jsp?w=/library/open/moments/bbm_91ws_gm6_350.wmv&vid=7808&pid=gen_video&cid=mlb&v=2

Preview (51-60, 4th, 1.5 GB CWS): Mark Buerhle (8-5, 3.21) vs. Nick Blackburn (7-8, 4.49).

Vacation Reflection: Part Two

Earlier on this blog, I recalled the first part of my recent vacation: a trip to the Field of Dreams movie site.  Well, the second (and primary) destination of the trip was the South Side of Chicago, to see my Twins take on the White Sox at US Cellular Field.

From a stadium perspective, I was impressed.  Though perhaps not in the same “romantic class” as a Target Field or Kauffman Stadium, I thought The Cell was still more impressive than the more modern Miller Park in Milwaukee.  I was expecting worse, to be honest.

Now, I don’t want to denigrate the White Sox fans by saying this, but seeing a game at The Cell is a heckuva lot different than here in Minny.  Perhaps the inflamed tensions of the Twins’ recent ownership of the Sox came into play here, but Chicago fans seem much more intense than those residing in Twins Territory.  Over here, we live by the “Minnesota Nice” creed and sit on our hands and mouths quite a bit.  In Chi-town, those hands and mouths are wide-open.

I don’t think one type of “fandom” is necessarily better than the other, but being used to “passive” it was eye-opening to see a more agressive style of root, root, rooting for the home team.

Notes:


If the Twins completely fall out of the race after being disgraced (20-6) against Texas, the above picture will be the image of the season for the Minnesota Twins.  Mr. Everything.

Preview (47-55, 4th, 3.5 GB CWS): Carl Pavano (6-7, 4.24) vs. CJ Wilson (10-4, 2.94)

Diamond In The Rough?

After a disappointing loss in the afternoon game today, the Twins bounce back tonight with the debut of pitcher Scott Diamond, the twelve millionth (a slight exaggeration) Rochester Red Wing the team has used this season.

For whatever reason, I always get excited about a rookie pitcher making his starting debut.  Remember the names Mike Smith and Dave Gassner?  I do.

We can’t lose two games to the Indians in one day, can we?!

Preview (44-50, 4th, 1.5 GB CWS): Fausto Carmona (4-10, 5.38) vs. Scott Diamond (0-0, 0.00)

Never Doubt

You know, as a prognosticator, I’m having “one of those years”…

Earlier this year, I got on Scott Baker’s case, only to see him rattle off a string of spectacular starts.

Before the All-Star Break, I proclaimed Danny Valencia as my new favorite Twin, only to see my previous favorite…

…get back to, well,…

Earlier this afternoon, I was really on Jim Thome’s case about being injured and stringing together some horrible at-bats as of late.  Then, 490 feet later…

In mid-May, I let myself think (for the briefest of moments) that this might be a long season in Twins Territory.  We’re now just five games out of first place and playing great baseball.

Boy, am I ever glad to be wrong…!

Preview (44-49, 4th, 1.0 GB CWS): David Huff (0-0, 0.00) vs. Anthony Swarzak (2-2, 3.38) AND Fausto Carmona (4-10, 5.78) vs. TBD

Vacation Reflection: Part One

Just recently, I (and my two brothers) took a baseball-themed vacation, the first part of which took us to Dyersville, Iowa and the Field of Dreams movie site.  Here are some more pics of the experience:


It was an amazing stop no matter how you look at it.  As a movie buff (with Field of Dreams topping my baseball movie list), rare is the movie set still intact for such a long period of time.  I mean, this was the exact same field that Kevin Costner stirred our emotions on and Ray Liotta channeled Shoeless Joe Jackson.

As a baseball lifer, the experience was exactly as James Earl Jones described it…

You pull up on a long dirt road surrounded by cornfields as far as the eye can see.  Then, out of nowhere, is this quaint little diamond with cornstalks framing the outfield.  I hit some balls, played catch in the infield, threw a few from the mound, and wandered around in the corn.  Not a bad afternoon for a baseball romanticist.  The entire time I was there, cars continued to pull in and out, with license plates from Texas, New York, and other faraway stops from the cornfields of Iowa.

As the mysterious whispering voice says…

#28

Another well-deserved honor (number retirement) for a pitcher who had to wait so long.  Congrats again, Bert!

TK In The Booth

 

Kind of a random post here, I know, but I just wanted to quickly comment on the experiment of having former Twins manager Tom Kelly in the booth when Bert Blyleven was on vacation last week:

Though TK would seem like the LAST guy in the world to provide an entertaining broadcast voice (he of the monotone, chopped voice and often grumpy demeanor), but clearly he has “softened” a bit in his years away from being the field general.  He can tell stories with the best of them and, truth be told, actually analyzes the game better than Bert.  After just 2-3 innings of listening to him, it is clear that his baseball mind is always working.  To him, 1,000 things are happening on what seem like the simplest of baseball plays.  About the only downside is that he interrupts Dick Bremer a bit too much out of excitement (!)

Do I think he is a better overall broadcaster than Bert?  Nope.  But, in his short stint, he did prove to be a welcome fill-in if needed, or potentially even doing a couple series a year if he would ever so desire.

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