Results tagged ‘ Brewers ’

Remembering ’11


Although the 2011 season did not end well for the Minnesota Twins (the understatement of the year, to be sure), it is still another baseball season in the books, full of ups and downs and memorable moments along the way. This post list those moments that I remember…

-On my couch, hot dogs and brats in hand, to watch Opening Day…and then seeing the Twins out of it in Toronto before it even began, really.  Should have known something from Day One, I guess.

-Getting all excited about Nishioka, then seeing the Yankees take him out early and him become a basket case late.

-Liriano’s May no-no against the White Sox.  Probably the most unimpressive no hitter I’ve ever seen, but still a special night.

-The mid-June surge that saw Ben Revere and Alexi Casilla ignite the team.

-Watching at Target Field as Matt Capps blew ANOTHER save against the Brew Crew.

-Walking on the hallowed “Field of Dreams” in Iowa as part of a baseball-themed vacation.

-Seeing the Twins play the White Sox at The Cell as part of said vacation.

-Attending (at one point in early July) four games in the span of five days.

-The terrible months of August & September which, towards the end, even tested my patience in sitting through an entire error-ridden, pitching-splintered game.

And then, of course, there was perhaps the most meaningless season finale in Twins history.  Except, of course, that it wasn’t.  With John Gordon behind the microphone for the final time, the Twins rallied in the ninth for a walk-off win thanks to the bat of Trevor Plouffe and the legs of Denard Span.

Though, for sure, those last few months were trying and many times I just wished the season would mercifully come to a close, that final game really put things in perspective.  With each passing day without baseball (and especially when football comes to an end), all I’ll want is simply this, with my Minnesota Twins…

It All Comes Out In The Wash (AKA The Truth About Capps)

On Saturday night, the Twins lost a game they should have won.  On Sunday afternoon, the Twins did roughly the same to the Brew Crew to take the crazy series.  Of course, it took Glen Perkins relieving Matt Capps in the ninth to lock down the final outs.

I am completely bamboozled as to why Capps has so much support from all sides.  The team loves him, Gardy seems to adore him, the media (by and large) give him a free pass, and even Dick and Bert were sticking up for him today.  My take on Capps is a bit different:  I’ll even go so far as to say that this guy…

…was a better closer overall than Capps.

Now, I don’t think that Capps is beyond usefulness.  He could be useful as a setup-type reliever, or a “seventh inning guy”.  However, he just doesn’t have either the physical stuff (like a prime Joe Nathan) or the presence to fake it (like Rauch).  I just wonder when we are going to figure this out for good.

Preview (36-46, 4th, 4.5 GB CWS): David Price (8-6, 3.43) vs. Brian Duensing (5-7, 4.69)

The Same Mistake

Last night at Target Field, I had an upper-deck, bird’s-eye view to one of what had to be the biggest Twins collapses in recent memory.  Aside from the obvious blame on Matt Capps for not really getting anyone important out in the ninth inning, this game was lost by our manager.  What makes it even more painful is the fact that, earlier in the game, the opposing manager of the Milwaukee Brewers made the exact same mistake…

In the early innings, the Twins absolutely blasted Brewers starter Narveson.  Cuddy and Danny V. hit back-to-back jacks to almost an identical spot at one point, and the Twins coasted to a 7-0 lead.  At one point, with the Twins up 4-0, Narveson had thrown almost 100 pitches, given up 11 hits, and yet the Brewer bullpen was JUST STARTING to get loose.  I figured that the inability to get a reliever into the game who could get outs would be the Brewers’ undoing.

Sadly, I was quite mistaken, and the shoe ended up firmly planted on the other foot.  Leading 7-4 going into the bottom of the ninth, “closer” Matt Capps allowed four runs to give the Brewers the lead and eventual victory.  While, to be honest, I am not all that surprised about Capps, as I believe he is the most overrated pitcher on our entire team, what absolutely perplexes me is why Gardy would leave him in the game for so long?

If you know anything about Capps, you know that when me melts down, every single fan in the ballpark knows it.  He’s a control pitcher with no dominant pitch (not exactly a closer repetoire, to be sure), so when the control isn’t present, it gets ugly quick and doesn’t end for a while.  Kind of like if Nick Blackburn doesn’t have his sinker; you KNOW he will struggle.

So, with the game hanging in the balance and potentially Joe Nathan or Phil Dumatrait ready to come in and (at the very least) secure a tie ballgame going into the home half of the ninth, Gardy sticks with Capps who promptly gives up a single and the game with it.  If anyone has one rational reason why Capps was allowed to pitch after allowing the tying run, please let me know.  To add insult to injury, Dumatrait then came in and got Prince Fielder to ground out on one pitch.

I’m sorry to say it, Gardy, but this one is on you.  Everyone makes mistakes, so let’s move on and try to take the series today, but when everyone in the ballpark knows the tide has turned and the pitcher is rattled, it is YOUR job to get him off that mound pronto.  Please do not let the “traditional closer role” dictate your thinking.  Ditto for “matchups”.  Capps needed to be removed, I don’t care if Jim Hoey is coming out of that pen (a profound and terrible statement in and of itself).

Preview (35-46, 4th, 5.5 GB CWS): Zack Greinke (7-3, 5.63) vs. Nick Blackburn (6-6, 3.64)

Don’t Hassle The Hoff

hoffman.jpgI just wanted to note on this blog that Trevor Hoffman recorded his 600th major league save a few days ago, becoming the first player ever to achieve such a number.  He struggled mightily (even being replaced in the role for a large portion of the season in Milwaukee) to achieve the milestone, but I’m glad he finally got there.

With all the lavish attention thrown towards Mariano Rivera as the “greatest closer of all-time”, please don’t forget about Hoffman.  He never got the postseason “proving ground” opportunities like Mo did, but over the long haul he’s been just as good.  He’s slowed down a bit the last few years, but during his prime in San Diego he was as close to a sure thing as existed.

 

Man, all this talk of closers makes me want to hear these chords ripping through Target Field for the first time (hopefully next season!):

 

Pick To Stick

news_06-23-08_Corey-Hart_apw.jpgFor tonight’s Home Run Derby, I’ll make my “official prediction” that another Brewer (following last year’s champ Prince Fielder) will take home the trophy: this time being Corey Hart.

Of course, it is impossible to predict these things, so we are just as likely to see Hanley Ramirez run away with the thing!  Although, it would be fun to see Big Papi get in a groove…!

Whew…That Was Close

Twins_Tigers_Baseball_sff_181553_game.jpgWhew…the Twins managed to avoid a sweep today at the hands of the Tigers thanks to another solid outing from Carl Pavano and some much-needed clutch hitting (that didn’t produce too many double plays).

With pretty much the entire rotation struggling at this point, Pavano took the rotation on his back and turned in 7.2 IP while allowing just three earned runs.  Heck, he even managed to keep Miguel Cabrera from completely destroying us!

Multi-hit games from Young, Cuddyer (who is finally starting to hit the ball again), and Kubel allowed the M&M-less offense to come out on top.

This was a big win for the Twins, as heading into the break three games back is much better (if only psychologically) than five.

Notes:

-Justin Morneau, due to his lingering concussion symptoms, will not start in the All-Star game (or play whatsoever) on Tuesday night.  Cabrera will start the game, while Paul Konerko of the White Sox has been added to the roster.

-Sad news today in hearing that longtime Yankees PA announcer Bob Sheppard passed away today.  I know that he hadn’t been doing the PA for a few years now, but his recorded broadcast still introduces Derek Jeter to this day.  Younger fans may not remember the name, but the voice will likely be familiar.

Preview: Home-Run Derby!  Here are this year’s participants:

 

National League: Chris Young (Diamondbacks), Corey Hart (Brewers), Matt Holliday (Cardinals), Hanley Ramirez (Marlins)

American League: David Ortiz (Red Sox), Nick Swisher (Yankees), Miguel Cabrera (Tigers), Vernon Wells (Blue Jays)

Road Trip: Miller Park

Wisconsin%20Fishing%20Map.gifThis past week, a few family members and I took a road trip to the great state of Wisconsin to see the Twins play the Milwaukee Brewers. Having other relatives that live in the area, I had made the trip twice before, but not since 2005.

Now, earlier this year I had made the claim that Miller Park was a better stadium than Target Field, so throughout the entire two-game trip I was making some mental notes to compare both stadiums.  Here is what I came up with:

I think everyone can agree that the Brew Crew have the weather advantage, what with the retractable roof.  However, in terms of pure ballpark asthetics, it comes down to two things…inside & outside.

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When driving up to Miller Park via the massive parking lot, the entire structure looks much more magistic than Target Field, which is hidden away behind multiple buildings and structures, to the point where one never seems to get a clear look at the entire edifice…

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On the inside, however, there is absolutely no comparison…

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Miller Park is nice, but (visually-speaking) it as an aura of “plainess” to it.  The outfield wall is a traditional padded fence, filled with artificial structures and a few just plain eyesores around the outfield.  Plus, while there may be open sky when the roof is untouched, the sky is the only view you will be getting from your seat, as the infrastructure for the roof itself blocks out any views of the city of Milwaukee.

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By comparison, Target Field is a visual treat, what with the limestone walls, live flowers, and pine trees surrounding the outfield wall. The HD scoreboard makes Miller Park’s board look like that TV in your basement that’s been sitting around for 20 years versus your new flat screen in the living room. Plus, the view of downtown Minneapolis seems to stretch for miles and is quite spectacular.

Of course, one cannot wholly blame the Brewers for these shortcomings, as I doubt an HD scoreboard could have been constructed back in 2001, but it is nice to know that (for once) a Minnesota sports team is on the cutting edge of stadium design, not the other way around.

My Thoughts On Target Field

Quick recap:

Since my last blog, the Twins got caught by two hot pitchers in Boston (Bucholz/Lester), then righted the ship by beating up on the Brew Crew over the weekend (taking two of three and coming within a big hit of sweeping).

About three weeks ago, though, I saw my first two games at Target Field…

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…and never really commented on the experience.  Although I loved the experience and thought that the new digs put the Metrodome to shame, there was just something about it where I couldn’t gush over our new home too much.  I think I may have finally figured it out.

In the old days, ballparks were built with all kinds of quirks that made them stand out.  Some examples:

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Polo Grounds: Almost 500 feet to center field (which featured a garage in the field of play!), and just 250 ft. down the lines (picture a giant horsehoe).

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Ebbets Field: A crazy little nook out in center field, a huge wall in right, with band-box dimension all around.

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Baker Bowl: ENORMOUS brick wall out in RF that puts even Boston’s Green Monster to shame!

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LA Coliseum: Just look at the picture!

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Old Yankee Stadium: Monuments and flagpoles IN PLAY; centerfield almost 500 feet deep.

Then, after going through the terrible cookie-cutter stadium movement of the 1980s (Veterans Stadium, Skydome, Astrodome, etc.), ballparks started to improve in fan amenities, but (for the most part) those little quirks/nuances had disappeared.  In the past few years, there are only a few stadiums I can recall that really spark my interest:

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Wrigley Field: Ivy, brick walls.

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Fenway Park: Green Monster, Pesky Pole

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Minute Maid Park (?; that’s the name I’ll always remember it as!): CF slope, neat LF architecture.

And, dare I say it…

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Metrodome: Vampire seats, Baggie

Basically, my point is this: I really like stadiums with distinct visual features, and I feel as if Target Field is a bit lacking in that area.  Besides the patches of Limestone and HD scoreboard (but that doesn’t really count), it feels like “any other great ballpark”.  Kind of a double standard, I know, but I guess I am more than a bit of a sentimentalist towards those “good old days” of quirky baseball stadiums.

Preview (26-18, 1st, 1.0 GA DET): AJ Burnett (4-2, 3.86) vs. Scott Baker (4-4, 4.88). Time to create a little bit of new history against the Yanks?  I hope so.

2010 MLB Picks

crystal-ball.jpgMy “official” predictions for the 2010 MLB season (before the season gets too far along and starts to affect my judgement!):

AL East

New York

Boston (Wild Card)

Tampa Bay

Baltimore

Toronto

AL Central

Minnesota

Chicago

Kansas City

Detroit

Cleveland

AL West

Los Angeles

Oakland

Texas

Seattle

NL East

Philadelphia

Atlanta (Wild Card)

New York

Florida

Washington

NL Central

St. Louis

Chicago

Milwaukee

Cincinnati

Houston

Pittsburgh

NL West

San Francisco

Los Angeles

Arizona

Colorado

San Diego

AL Champ: New York

NL Champ: Atlanta

World Series Champ: Atlanta Braves

Questions, comments, rants, profanity-laced tirades?!

Go-Go…Gone?

Gogo.jpgAs a Minnesota Twins fan, one of the moments I will never forget is Opening Day of the 2008 season, when young Carlos Gomez got the start in centerfield directly opposing his predecessor Torii Hunter.  Gomez completely dominated that game both in the field, at the plate, and on the basepaths, and it looked as if he would be one of the most exciting young players to put on a Twins uniform in quite a while.

Unfortunately, it was all downhill from that point (at least so far in his career), and a few weeks ago he was traded to the Brewers for SS J.J. Hardy.

My first reaction to the trade was that we were giving up the cornerstone of the Johan Santana deal, but (looking back) we were really just desperate to unload Johan once he refused our offer in search of a bigger payday, so it’s not like Gomez was the most coveted prospect in the world.

At times, Gomez could be the most exciting player on the field…

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He had incredible range out in centerfield, he was lightning-fast rounding the bases, and (come September) he was always good for a few huge hits against the White Sox down the stretch.  At times he showed good power, and if he dropped down a good bunt it was nearly impossible to throw him out.

At the same time, though, Go-Go could also be the dumbest player on the field…

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I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player crash into the wall, take a bad route to a ball, strike out badly on three pitches, or completely lose himself on the bases like Gomez.  Ultimately, that proved to be his undoing here in Minny, land of Ron Gardenhire Fundamental Baseball.  Plus, he didn’t seem to be making any strides after too full seasons in the major leagues.  He was making the same dumb mistakes in the ’09 playoffs that he made at the beginning of 2008.

But let’s take a moment to look at his “ransom”…

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J.J. Hardy had been a fan-favorite in Milwaukee (kind of like Joe Crede in Chicago) for his hustle and bat, but suffered through a horrendous 2009 campaign, at one point even being sent down to the minor leagues.  The Twins are hoping that he can regain the form of his ’08 year (.283, 24 HR) and anchor the SS position, as Orlanda Cabrera priced himself out of our range.

I guess I would have to say that this is a good trade for the Twins, although there is risk involved in both sides.  Hardy could be the next Bret Boone (a sickening thought) while Gomez could star in Brewtown, or Hardy could bat .300 and Gomez could continue to overrun balls and crash into walls.  We’ll see what happens.

On a more humorous note, I will perhaps miss this combination most of all:

Greatest interview ever!!

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