Results tagged ‘ Chili Davis ’

Thanks For The Memories


dome6.jpgDuring the early goings of September of the 2009 Twins baseball season, it looked as if game number 162 (the contest that typically ends the MLB season unless you happen to play in the Midwest) would be a great remembrance of all the baseball that the Metrodome had produced before giving way to Target Field next season.  A post-game ceremony down on the field after that game was both parts touching and entertaining, but there was just one problem…the old Dome wasn’t done; it would go on to host two more games!

Thus, it never really felt as if the Metrodome got that proper sense of ending as maybe it should have…that moment when you just look around and soak it all in.  Obviously, with the New York Yankees celebrating, it wasn’t the time for that feeling.  That is why I would now like to relive my favorite moments of being at the Dome.  Perhaps you will remember some of these as well:

-1990: My first memory of the Dome recalls seeing Kirby Puckett being given the Silver Slugger award for winning the batting title the previous year.  While going through the turnstiles that day, I got a black bat “signed” by Puck that I believe I still have stashed away to this day.

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-1991: Though most fans may only remember the ’91 seaons for Puckett’s Game Six and Black Jack’s Game Seven, there was also quite a heated race (at least for awhile) with the Oakland A’s.  Back then, when both teams were part of the AL West division, the A’s were the powerhouse team of the circuit.  They came into a summer series at the Dome and jumped way ahead of the Twins in every game thanks to the power of guys like Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, and Dave Henderson (looking back, can you imagine all the steroids coursing through those veins?).  However, the Twins scrapped back in every game and won them all.  I was lucky enough to be at the one that everyone remembers, where the Twins rallied against Dennis Eckersley (the Mariano Rivera of his day) on a triple from Chili Davis that RF Canseco played like a pin-ball down in the corner.  As Jose was bouncing around, a fan overhanging right field chucked an unravelling roll of toilet paper down onto the field, only adding to the mayhem!

 
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-1996-2000: I really began following the Twins with a passion in ’96, but from then until ’00 the Twins were perennial cellar-dwellers. Not to be deterred, though, my Dad and I would still get down to the Dome a few times each year to watch guys like Bob Tewksbury, Pat Mahomes, Brent Gates, Rich Becker, and Scott Stahoviak (among others) battle to not lose 100 games.  I didn’t seem to care about the futility, I guess, as I still root-root-rooted for the home team with all I had.  The attendance was so poor during those years that one could (and we often did) guy a cheap ticket and move right up behind the infield.  Believe it or not, there were no users to stop people!

A more specific game from that time period involves a field trip with my sixth grade class.  My exact recollection of the event is understandably a bit hazy, but the Twins were facing Pedro Martinez and the Red Sox.  The game went into extra innings, the Twins loaded the bases with no outs, but then two guys (one of which I’m positive was Terry Steinbach) struck out.  The next batter then singled to win the game (I want to say it was Pat Meares, but I could be wrong).

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-2002: Fifteen innings of baseball against the Atlanta Braves.  Bobby Cox got tossed in the first inning, the Twins roughed up Greg Maddux, and Christian Guzman’s double off the baggy scored Tom Prince (pictured above) to win it.  Once you do the fourteenth-inning stretch, you never forget it!

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-2002: With the Twins already having locked up the division title, they hosted the beaten White Sox to close out the season.  I was at the final two games, both won by dramatic, late-inning home runs from Bobby Kielty.

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-2008: With the Twins needing to sweep the White Sox in the final homestand to stay in the playoff race, they do just that.  I was at all three thrillers, but of course momst remember the final contest when the Twins fell behind early but clawed back into it thanks to a dramatic triple from Denard Span.  A walk-off hit from Alexi Casilla sealed it in extra innings.

So, those are my fondest, brightest memories of the Metrodome.  Though many malign it as a dump and unfit for the National Pastime, it is the only home turf I have ever seen the Twins play on, and no one can take that from me.  Though Target Field may prove to be a rousing success (or a miserable failure, whatever the case may be), it will always be the Dome that holds my childhood baseball nostalgia.

The Passing of Mr. Pohlad

 


pohlad.jpg(First of all, I apologize for using such an unflattering picture of Carl Pohlad in this post, but you will understand why I made the choice in a few moments of reading).

Yesterday, I heard the news that Minnesota Twins owner Carl Pohlad passed away from natural causes (essentially old age).  Before I critique his presence as owner of my favorite sports franchise now and forever, I would like to extend my condolences to anyone who knew Mr. Pohlad on a personal level.  From what I have gathered about the man over the years, he was very close to his family/friends/Twins staff/players, so I’m sure they are all grieving his loss right now.  Also, I cannot personally begrudge a man who served his country during World War II and, if not for a case of Poison Oak, would have hit the beach at Normandy in 1944.

However, in all honesty, I think that the Twins as an organization are better off in the hands of Carl Pohlad’s son Jim Pohlad’s hands (and have been for the last few years).  There are two reasons why I never really could throw my support behind Carlos as an owner:

First, of course, was his stinginess with his money.  Although I don’t blame Carl for trying to spend with the big boys (Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, etc.), as do you spend your personal earnings at work (?), he was notoriously one of the more penny-pinching owners of the 1980s and 1990s and severely hindered the Twins’ chances of contending any earlier than they did.  Pohlad took over ownership of the Twins in 1984, and really only had a few great seasons.  The Twins lucked out in 1987 and won the World Series, then (when Carl finally signed a few key free agents like Jack Morris and Chili Davis) put together a solid team in 1991 and again captured the title.  However, from that point until the new millennium, Carl refused to spend any money on the team and turned it into the laughingstock of the American League.  It wasn’t until the early portion of the 21st century, when Carl’s involvement in the operations of the team (because of his advancing age) started to be turned over to son Jim, that the Twins really began to aggressively pursue a winning tradition.  Before that, Carl was just completely unwilling to “open the purse strings” in the slightest.

Secondly, I lost a lot of respect for the business side of Carl Pohlad on three different occasions.  Though, on one side of his mouth, Carl said he wanted to keep the Twins in Minnesota, he came dangerously close to selling out to North Carolina businessman Don Beaver in 1997.  Then in 2002, Pohlad conspired with baseball commissioner Bud Selig to contract the Twins franchise and receive a large cash payback from MLB.  Luckily, the contraction idea was terminated at the eleventh hour and the Twins (ironically) went on to win three consecutive division titles.  Finally, just a few years after that, the Twins again came close to leaving Minnesota when they couldn’t get a new stadium.  Only a Metrodome lease kept the team grounded.

So, though I don’t want to begrudge Mr. Pohlad or his family, I don’t think he was a very good owner for the Twins when all is said and done.  The last mistake I think he made was not transferring official duties to his son, Jim, much earlier.  As pictured above, the last few years of his life were spent with his eyes seemingly “pasted” shut and an inability to even stand up.  Running a major league baseball team is a young man’s work, and Carl held out a bit too long out of pride.

I think that the Minnesota Twins, overall, are in better hands under Carl’s son Jim, who has proven himself very shrewd at balancing the financial aspect while also keeping the team competitive.

DH: (Finally) A Steady Presence

KubelReview.jpgSince the days of “Hot” Chili Davis in 1991, the Minnesota Twins have not had a steady designated hitter presence.  Guys like Brian “Buck” Buchanan and Matthew “Crazy Legs” LeCroy were tried for their powerful bats, but quickly discarded due to their inefficiencies pretty much everywhere else.  More often than not, a Nick Punto-caliber player was installed in the DH spot, matching up against such DH sluggers as Travis Hafner, Jim Thome, and Gary Sheffield.

In 2008, however, the Twins finally received some steady production from the DH spot in the person of Jason Kubel.  Playing roughly half (77) of his 141 games this season in the DH hole, Kubel batted .272 with 20 home runs and 78 RBI in 463 at-bats.  Although sharing time at DH with Craig Monroe early in the season (until Monroe played his way off the team with his .202 average), Kubel pretty much inherited the bulk of the DH duty the rest of the way.  Sure, Kubel is prone to stretches of ineffectiveness (usually stemming from a loss of confidence that a few days riding the pine will fix), but he also provided support for Mauer and Morneau when they weren’t on top of their game.

Of course, under manager Ron Gardenhire, the DH will likely never be taken over by a guy like David Ortiz, as Gardy likes to shuffle the lineup depending on the starting pitchers.  Hopefully in 2009, though, Kubel (while still getting spot starts in the outfield to keep his fielding up to snuff) will handle the DH privilege and handle it well.  Kubel was once the bluest-chip prospect in the entire Twins organization before injuring his knee in 2004, so I would love for him to finally realize that full potential that scouts once saw in him.

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