Results tagged ‘ Doug Mientkiewicz ’
Why the retro pics? Well, the last time the Twins defeated Andy Pettitte, the date was April 30, the year was 2001, Brad Radke pitched a complete game to run his record to 5-0, and Doug Mientkiewicz went 2-3 with a homer to up his average to .380 on the season. Radke is now long since retired and Minty is a 35 year old glove/walk machine. That should tell you all you need to know about today’s lopsided affair.
Basically, Pettitte shut us down once again, and while Liriano pitched well enough to keep us in the game, the bullpen finally imploded under the pressure in the late innings. If old Andy can do this to us, I can only imagine what would have happened had we drew Sabathia in this series (would we even need to play the game?).
When will this miserable streak end?
-Any thoughts as to why Jesse Crain still has a major league job?
Preview (22-14, 1.5 GB DET): Nick Blackburn (3-1, 4.76) vs. Sergio Mitre (0-1, 3.86). Don’t so much care about the Yankee Curse in this one as just scraping out a win before the Tigers catch us again.
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?!
Up until just recently, the Minnesota Twins had owned the Kansas City Royals. During the “division title years” earlier this decade, the Twins would routinely come into KC and get fat both at the plate and on the mound. Recently (the past few seasons), though, the Royals have morphed into one of our toughest divisional opponents. Though perennial cellar-dwellers (although I won’t gloat too much, as I, having grown up in the 1990s with Twins Baseball, know what that is like), the Royals seem to bring their A-game when the Twins come to town. The first two games of this series only served to continue that trend, with the Twins and Royals playing each other very tough, right down to the wire.
That being said, today the Royals reverted back to their old ways and gave the Twins a much-needed victory. Glen Perkins was by no means perfect (allowing 10 hits over seven innings), but the Royals could only muster a measly one run for all their efforts. More daunting, though, were the defensive miscues, such as a ball that went right through the wickets of second baseman Callaspo, and a ball lost in the sun by Willie Bloomquist. John Bale walking in a run even put a cap on things. For a time, and had the Twins not needed a win so badly I would have felt worse, I felt bad for the boys in royal blue, as this kind of play just seems to be their kind of lot in life. I know how difficult it is to compete in today’s game without a large payroll, and the Royals continue to get bit time and time again. Whenever a guy gets good (Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltran, etc.) he gets shipped somewhere else, or else a player that once looked great suddenly falters and is gone within a year or two (too many to count).
The Twins were actually really lucky back in the early 2000s to have the nucleus (Santana, Hunter, Jones, Koskie, Dougie Baseball, Guzman, etc.) come together so quickly. The Royals have not been so lucky, instead reduced to playing “payroll roulette” and hoping the hit the jackpot. Were it not for the fact that the Twins need to make a living by beating them, I would love to see the Royals develop into a competitive franchise once again.
Preview (41-39, T-2nd w/CWS, 3.0 GB DET): Lucas French (0-0, 0.00) vs. Kevin Slowey (10-3, 4.41). The fact that the Tigers, playing in perhaps the most important series of their season so far (as are the Twins), are sending a guy making his major league debut to the Metrodome mound tells you something about where they are right now pitching-wise. Hopefully the Twins can take advantage of it.
The Twins finished up the Interleague Portion of their season today, beating the Cardinals 6-2 behind a strong start from Francisco Liriano and some big hits from Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel.
Looking back, the Twins (once again) really enjoyed this month of NL play, as (just recently) we were one Nick Blackburn gaffe and two Albert Pujols swings away from sweeping both the Brewers and Cardinals ON THE ROAD. The Twins haven’t played that well in an opposing ballpark since guys like Mientkiewicz, Rivas, and Guzman were still lurking around!
Now, though, the test will be whether or not the Twins can parlay this Interleague success back over to the AL. Luckily, the road doesn’t get much easier than in Kansas City, our opponent tomorrow night.
Preview (39-38, 2nd, 4.0 GB DET): Nick Blackburn (6-3, 3.11) vs. Luke Hochevar (2-3, 5.87). The Royals have nothing without Zack Grienke, and we don’t draw him…sweet.
By the way, this guy died today…
Unbelievable. Celebs (Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Mays) are dying at an incredible rate these days.
Unfortunately, this just means that this guy…
…is now the “king” of infomercials. Sad.
I was saddened to hear yesterday that former Twin, Blue Jay, and Brewer Corey Koskie announced his retirement from professional baseball. As Twins fans, how can we not respect the tenacity that Koskie showed for the game of baseball, as he was one of those guys without much raw talent that needed every ounce of skill in his body to hit .280, 20 HR, and play fabulous defense at the hot corner. Sadly, however, his strange concussion-like malady has now forced him to leave the game he loves. Though even he admitted he could probably play through the discomfort, he did not want to put himself through another rough year or two, and with young children growing up at home I don’t know how you can blame him for that.
During my time as a writer for the University Register at the University of Minnesota, Morris, I penned an article about Koskie (and other former Twins) that I thought would be appropriate to share on this blog. Just remember that the article is a wee bit dated (written just in advance of the start of the ’07 season), but the basic principles of the piece still hold true:
Over the last seven seasons, the Minnesota Twins have become a perennial powerhouse in the American League. Yet, besides a winning product on the field, the Twins have created a family-type atmosphere that makes them so endearing and fun to watch. While many baseball teams disperse their own separate ways the minute a game is completed (i.e. the New York Yankees), the Twins stick together, evidenced by the roommate pairing of Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau last season. Journeyman players who have wandered the major leagues or young rookies fresh from the bush leagues can be considered “part of the family” once assigned a Twins uniform. However, in order to stay competitive in baseball’s current economy, many a fine Twins “family member” has needed to be disowned. In almost all cases, leaving the Twins’ family produced disastrous results…
Christian Guzman–Endeared himself to Twins fans in 2001 with his unusual goatee and that “bionic sound” he made while scampering to third base with another triple. Since leaving the Twins after 2004, Guzy batted .219 for the Washington Nationals in 2005 and missed the entire ’06 season due to shoulder surgery.
Matt Lawton–Lawton was the most talented Twins outfielder during the doldrums of the late 1990s. Never sniffed .300 after leaving the Twins via a trade in ’01 and was busted for steroids with the Yankees in 2005.
A.J. Pierzynski–You know the fan who gets a few beers in him and annoys the heck out of his entire section? A.J. Pierzynski was that guy’s hero. Pierzynski is still a quality catcher for the Chisox, but his trade brought the Twins Francisco Liriano, Joe Nathan, and Boof Bonser.
Luis Rivas–A mainstay (admittedly if only because of a lack of depth) at the second base position from 2001-2004 and often single-handedly defeated the Kansas City Royals. Could not make the Tampa Bay Devils Rays roster in 2006, one year after the Twins released him.
David Ortiz–The one who got away. The gregarious “Big Papi” was a fan-favorite in 2001-2002, but also quite injury-prone, leading to his departure. Ortiz latched on with Boston and is now arguably major league baseball’s biggest superstar.
Doug Mientkiewicz–Led the Twins’ surge to prominence in 2001, but is now best remembered for stealing a baseball, not hitting or catching one.
Eric Milton–A solid, if not spectacular, starting pitcher for the Twins who pitched a no-hitter in 1999. Now regularly leads the NL in home runs allowed.
Joe Mays–Highly-touted Twins prospect who, after one great season (2001) fizzled out. Was recently cut from LA Dodgers training camp.
Jacque Jones–Teamed with Torii Hunter to create the “Soul Patrol” outfield but could not be afforded after 2005. Last year, Jacque was a steady contributor (.285, 27 home runs) for the Chicago Cubs.
LaTroy Hawkins–After first succeeding (then failing miserably) as a closer, “Hawk” became a premier middle reliever before pricing himself out of a Twins uniform. Hasn’t been nearly as dominant since leaving Minnesota (4.48 ERA in 60 innings for the Orioles last season) and still collapses in pressure situations.
Eddie Guardado–“Everyday Eddie” earned his nickname as a middle reliever, but transformed himself into a reliable (if not spectacular) closer. Recently, Eddie has become anything but reliable due to chronic left elbow problems.
Yet, there is one player who has fallen on especially hard times after leaving the Twins family. The name noticeably absent from this nostalgic list is Corey Koskie. In 2001, Koskie banded together with Torii Hunter, Jacque Jones, and Doug Mientkiewicz in order to bring winning baseball back to Minnesota, much like Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti, Tom Brunansky, and Kirby Puckett did in the early 1980s.
Koskie debuted with the Twins organization in 1999 where, at third base and right field, he made an immediate splash (.310 batting average) on a punchless team. However, Koskie struggled mightily with his third base defense, not exhibiting enough quickness or range to play the position. Yet, on a team where playoff aspirations were nonexistent, Koskie was given the time necessary to develop his fielding skills, eventually molding himself into a perennial Gold Glove candidate, with his diving stops and on-target throws (even if he did have to occasionally bounce them off the old Metrodome turf) becoming commonplace.
After being a key contributor to the Twins’ playoff teams of 2002-2004, Koskie was courted by a number of teams who coveted the slick-fielding, decent power/average third baseman. Though pursued by the Twins, Koskie was ultimately signed by the Toronto Blue Jays of his native Canada. Before leaving Minnesota, in a gesture demonstrating his appreciation of the Twins’ organization and fans, Koskie took out full-page ads in both the Pioneer Press and Star Tribune expressing his gratitude for being allowed to thrive in Minnesota.
After a disappointing and injury-riddled season in Toronto, Koskie again changed teams, this time heading to Milwaukee. With a fast start to 2006, Koskie seemed to be getting his career back on track until disaster struck on July 5. While chasing a pop-up at Miller Park, Koskie overran the ball, had to bend backwards, and ended up falling to the ground, his neck whip-lashing before impact. While the incident did not seem overly violent, Koskie’s next at-bat was like something out of the fifth dimension of the Twilight Zone, complete with images coming in and out of focus and spells of dizziness.
Since that day, Koskie has not played an inning of baseball for the Brewers. A week after the concussion, Koskie tried returning to the Brewers’ lineup, but was overcome by dizziness, fatigue, and nausea, requiring him to leave the field once again. After visiting a neuropsychologist, Koskie was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome from his fall. For the rest of that season, Koskie could only work out in small increments without the symptoms returning. His head injury even affected his family life, as watching his son’s hockey games became impossible due to the bright lights giving him terrible headaches.
As for 2007 season begins, Koskie has begun rehabilitating both mind and body at his home in Minnesota, hoping to rejoin his team at the earliest possible date. Though post-concussion symptoms can last for years, Koskie seems to be on track to the major leagues again, as evidence by rising scores on the reaction-time and cognitive ability tests he regularly undergoes. According to Koskie himself (in an interview with the Star Tribune’s Patrick Reusse), “I’m going to play again. I’m sure of that. If I wasn’t, I would have a lot more depression to deal with.”
In 1982, a promising young outfielder named Jim Eisenreich debuted with the Minnesota Twins. After suffering several mystifying seizures at his left field post, Eisenreich was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome, putting his major league career in serious jeopardy. However, after three years of undergoing treatment, Eisenreich returned to the major leagues. In 1993 he helped the Philadelphia Phillies to the National League Championship by batting .318. In 1996 he hit .361 with the Phillies, and ’97 brought him a World Series championship with the Florida Marlins. Hopefully, Corey Koskie can do much of the same.