Results tagged ‘ Butch Huskey ’
As I sit here writing this blog post, the Minnesota Twins currently reside in the cellar of the AL Central division. The last time they finished a season that low in the standings was 2000, when I was starting high school and didn’t yet even have cable to watch them on MSC (Midwest Sports Channel, the precursor to FSN).
Some “classic” names on that ’00 roster included Ron Coomer, Jay Canizaro, Matt Lawton, Butch Huskey, Midre Cummings, Sean Bergman, and Mark Redman.
Suffice it to say, it is strange to be in the position of looking up at the KC Royals after being on the “other side” for so long. A bit humbling, I suppose.
I remember a few months ago, with the Twins in fourth place, my goal was to see the team move up slot by slot in the standings. Well, the opposite has transpired and now the goal becomes climbing out of the basement back to respectability.
The other day, upon hearing that Ken Griffey Jr. had announced his retirement from Major League Baseball, I wanted to take a moment here to reflect on one of my favorite baseball players of all-time:
Though I grew up a Minnesota Twins fan in the mid 1990s, those Twins teams didn’t exactly have the type of superstars that can captivate the imagination of a youngster (sorry Ron Coomer, Terry Steinbach, and Butch Huskey). Thus, I naturally gravitated towards the best (with respect to Barry Bonds, a phrase I never thought I would write) player in baseball at the time: Ken Griffey Jr.
Junior could do it all: Hit for decent average (career .284 hitter), tremendous power (630 career dingers, back-to-back seasons of 56 jacks), steal some bases (particularly early in his career; 184 career), and track down balls in center field like Torii Hunter would later do for my favorite club.
In fact, when the big power/steroid boom of the late 1990s occurred, it was the Griffey/McGwire show before Sosa juiced up and changed everything in ’98. Fortunately, Griffey has never seen the smear of performance-enhancing drugs touch his name. He also has none of the tell-tale signs (huge musculature, sudden growth, etc.).
Sadly, the career of KGJ took a down-turn after he signed with the Cincinnati Reds in 2000. Though he was the darling of Seattle with the Mariners, I couldn’t blame him for wanting to play for his hometown Reds. However, the Reds never challenged for any sort of title during the “Griffey Years”, and Griffey himself endured so many injuries it would have made Mickey Mantle flinch. At one point, he was projected to “easily” surpass Hank Aaron’s home run record, and may very well of done it had not the injury bug bitten hard.
After a brief stint with the Chicago White Sox (that, despite good performance, never quite seemed right)…
…it was nice to see Junior in an M’s uniform once again in the end:
Perhaps the fondest memory I will take away from Ken Griffey Jr. the baseball player, though, is how as a child I sent him a letter asking for an autograph. Some time later, I received a glossy 8X10 of Junior that had me nearly bouncing off the walls in excitement. A first-ballot Hall of Famer in every sense of the word:
I know I’m a little late on this, as the New Years parties are all but forgotten already, but I wanted to take a few moments to recount some of my favorite Minnesota Twins memories of the decade past:
2000: When a team features such players as Jay Canizaro, Butch Huskey, Jason Maxwell, Sean Bergman, and Mike Lincoln, it was a bit difficult to really get excited about the teams’ chances. However, having just been introduced to the sport and completely enthralled by it, I can remember going to the basically-empty Metrodome (been to a T-Wolves game lately?) with my Dad, buying an outfield seat, and then moving right up close to home plate because not even the ushers cared what you did back then!
2001: The team finally comes together and starts winning thanks to players like Doug Mientkiewicz, Corey Koskie, Jacque Jones, Torii Hunter, Brad Radke, and Eric Milton. The Twins didn’t win the division, but after nearly a decade of losing baseball, they finally brought some excitement back to the Dome.
2002: The year I learned to hate Bud Selig. In an effort to make MLB more profitable, Selig hatches a scheme to contract two franchise to bolster the others. The obvious choice were the Montreal Expos (later to become the Washington Nationals), but the Twins? Obviously some back-room buyout deals between Buddy-Boy and Twins owner Carl Pohlad were occuring. Luckily, MLB realized that contraction was ill-advised and allowed the Twins to easily capture their first division title since 1991.
2003: After a dominating 2002 campaign, the Twins were nearly out of the division race at midseason of ’03. However, after acquiring outfielder Shannon Stewart from the Blue Jays to bat lead-off, the Twins took off and won the division nearly going-away.
2004: Of the back-to-back-to-back division title winning teams, this squad was the best. In the ALDS, the Twins took the first game at Yankee Stadium and were on the brink of going up 2-0 heading home. However, Joe Nathan (who had taken over for the departed Eddie Guardado and been completely dominant the entire season) led an extra-inning lead slip away and give the Yankees momentum to win that game and then sweep both at the Dome. Of course, maybe it was just fate, as those Yanks proceeded to go up 3-0 on the Red Sox and well, Dave Roberts can tell you the rest…
2005: Not a fun year for Twins Territory. We didn’t outright suck, but we never really competed for the crown, either. Even the usually stoic Brad Radke was overheard griping about the lack of run support from a horrendous offensive unit. Also, this was the year that tensions erupted between Torii Hunter and Justin Morneau and a few blows were thrown, one that somehow connected with little Lew Ford!
2006: The Twins spent one day in first place, but since it was the final day they made it count! They played well pretty much the entire season, but so did the Tigers. A late-season hot streak pushed the Twins over the top on the season’s final day.
2007: How quickly a team can go from “contending” to “rebuilding”. In the first losing season under Ron Gardenhire, a lack of fundamentals and downright sloppy baseball made the final month of the season almost unwatchable.
2008: After underachieving all season, the Twins basically needed to win out the final week of the season, starting with a sweep of the White Sox, whom they were chasing for the division title. I was at all three of those games at the Dome, and they are (easily) the most exciting games I have ever been to. The Twins would later lose to the Tighty Whities in a one-game playoff, but not before some of the most exciting baseball I have ever witnessed.
2009: (Read: 2008). This time the Twins make the one-game playoff count in the most exciting single baseball game I have ever watched!
It was a great decade of Twins baseball memories…why not try for another one?!