Results tagged ‘ Ozzie Guillen ’

So Long, Farewell…

A quick story about a baseball season coming to an end:

In September of 2007, the Minnesota Twins were winding down a very disappointing campaign.  At the time, I was attending college at the University of Minnesota-Morris and happened to be on campus for a weekend.

Now, I had a variety of options: from which to spend my day: Video games, movies, sleeping, studying (!), etc.  The Twins were just playing out a string of meaningless games.

Almost needless to say, I spent the afternoon watching the Twins game.  Why?  Because I knew that, in a few months, all I would want is for baseball to return, so I decided to enjoy one final game.  For whatever reason, that very day and game also seem to stick out in my mind.

Due to work/school requirements, I may not get the same opportunity the next couple of days (I’ll watch what I can), but the feeling is still kind of the same.  Though right now I just want this nightmare season to come to a close, I also know that Spring Training never quite comes early enough, either.

Notes:

-Ozzie Guillen is gone from the White Sox (probably headed to Florida).  Let the NL East deal with him, is what I say.  I think Ozzie is probably a better tactical manager than many people (including myself) give him credit for, but his personality is just too brash and profane for my tastes.

Preview (61-99, 5th, 10 GB KCR): Sean O’Sullivan (2-5, 6.92) vs. Anthony Swarzak (3-7, 4.42)

Piranhas No More

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OzzieGuillenLead_crop_200x136.jpgIn 2006, Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen gave the Minnesota Twins the nickname “piranhas” for there ability to “peck away” at you until they finally succeed.  Basically, Ozzie was just frustrated that a team featuring the likes of Jason Bartlett, Lew Ford, Luis Castillo, Nick Punto, Juan Castro, and Jason Tyner could beat his band of sluggers.  The Twins were that pesky team you should beat, but don’t more often than not.

 Just recently, though, Guillen announced that the Twins were no longer piranhas.  You know what I say to that?  Great!

It was fine to watch that small-ball, attacking style of offense over the course of the regular reason, but once the playoffs were at hand it always failed us.  It’s common sense, really: give too many important at-bats to Punto, Brian Buscher, Tyner, or the like, and eventually (once you face good pitching) you will start to falter.  That is exactly what happened in the 2006 ALDS against the A’s.

Really, it comes down to this.  Take a look at these two players, and tell me who you would rather have up in a key spot against, say, Mariano Rivera in the playoffs:

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mp_main_wide_GardenhireThome452.jpgYep.

Preview (70-51, 1st, 4.0 GA CWS): Dan Haren (1-3, 3.44) vs. Brian Duensing (6-1, 2.00).

A Few More Feet

this_close_man.jpgI didn’t get to see much of tonight’s game, as I was watched LOST over at a friend’s house (I know, I know…priorities, right?).

When I picked things up, the Twins were down 5-2 going into the bottom of the eighth.  Mauer lined a single, then Morneau followed with a mammoth drive that, as John Gordon described it, was just a foot or so away from leaving the park and pulling the Twins to within one.  NO!!

The way I figure it, if we are losing to the White Sox in the late innings, I feel pretty good about my chances of tying things up if we are only down by one.  Why?  Because Ozzie Guillen will motion for this guy, Bobby Jenks…

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Talk about your overrated closers. He’s got a tremendous fastball, but nothing else, thus Twins hitters (having seen him so much) ALWAYS seem to hit him around.  True to form, Thome launched a double off him in the ninth in a scenario that may have played out much differently had it only been a one-run ballgame.  Ugh!

Slowey must have gotten roughed up in that fifth inning, but it was nice to see Alex Burnett and Co. keep the Twins in the game until the very end.  A pen like that can be dangerous to opponents you think they have the game won and go into coast mode, only to see us chip away at the lead.

Preview (21-12, 1st, 2.5 GA DET): John Danks (3-1, 1.98) vs. Carl Pavano (3-3, 3.43).  If Pavano gives us another solid outing tomorrow afternoon, we can’t waste it again, not with a tough East Coast stretch (New York, Toronto, Boston) coming up.

Doing The Laundry At A New Place

white-sox-twins-mascots-jc-425.jpgIn the film “Field of Dreams”, Terrance Mann tells Ray Kinsella that “the one constant through all the years…has been baseball”. Well, to amend that statement, the one constant through the last decade of Twins baseball has been the ability to defeat the Chicago White Sox on our home turf.

 

Mets - Bobby Kielty.jpgStarting in 2002, when at the end of the season Bobby Kielty blasted back-to-back game-winning homers against the White Sox that buried them in the standings, the Twins embarked on a streak of home domination against the Pale Hose.

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In 2003 and 2004, the Twins fended off late-season pushes by the South Siders with sweeps under the Teflon roof. Heck, the last time Twins fans probably remember seeing young Michael Ryan (noteworthy considering he just resurfaced in the majors with the Angels) is when he had the series of his life against the Sox in late September of ’03.

 

ozzie-paws-up.jpgAfter an off year in ’05 that saw the Chisox win the whole thing, the Twins didn’t despair, quickly getting under Chicago manager/nutcase Ozzie Guillen’s skin so much in 2006 with their pesky hitting that Guillen termed them the “piranhas”, a description that is now part of Twins lore.

Then, in 2008, before one coin flip gave them The Cell, it was the Sox we swept at the Dome in remarkable fashion to even have a shot at the postseason.

Thus, when the White Sox enter town tonight, it will be interesting to see how the new digs treat them. Was it only the lime-green turf and white roof that turned them into quivering jelly? Or, perhaps, it was something more…like an entire packed stadium on their feet when Cisco has two strikes on Pierzynski.

I, for one, am hoping for the latter.

Gardy

ron-gardenhire-picture.jpgA while back, the balloting for the American League Manager of the Year Award was announced, and (once again) Twins’ skipper Ron Gardenhire was the bridesmaid, this time to Mike Scoscia of the Angels. I was not too steamed at this, to be honest, and here is why: I’ll start with the positive:

I think that Gardy is a very good fit for this Minnesota Twins ballclub. He preaches fundamentals (a must for a young team, which the Twins will always be under the current economic structure of baseball), keeps a cool head (another “lead by example trait for the youngsters), and is just a good guy, plain and simple.  He isn’t a complete nutcase like Ozzie Guillen, and he isn’t too full of himself like, say, a Lou Pineilla.  Since Gardy succeeded a burnt-out Tom Kelly as manager, five division titles (and one near-miss) speak for themselves.

That being said, I didn’t necessarily cry myself to sleep at Gardy not getting Manager of the Year for two particular reasons:

First, is his loyalty to certain players (well, one player in particular):

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Back when T.K. was at the helm, he always said that as long as he was a major league manager, Dick Such would be his pitching coach. The same can now be said for Gardenhire and Nick Punto.  While other players (like Alexi Casilla, for instance) can make one mistake and instantly be demoted to Gardy’s “doghouse”, a place that is easy to languish in for extended periods of time, Punto pretty much gets a free pass.  Though this kind of loyalty is nice in a personable sort of way, I think it gets Gardy in trouble a little bit in terms of on-field potential.  Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the skipper himself was that same type of utility player back in his playing days with the Mets:

 

ron_gardenhire_autograph.jpg2. The other issue is his playoff-managing style.  Instead of “going for the throat”, Gardy tends to manage a playoff game like any other regular season game.  This was evidenced in the ALDS against the Yankees when Francisco Liriano was the first arm out of the pen in a close Game One against the mighty Yanks.  Was he just playing the matchups, or hedging his bet that Frankie could somehow get out of the jam and save the good relievers for later?  I have my suspicions it was the latter.  Of course, later never happened (and often does not in a playoff series).  This was not the first instance of that problem, either.

To re-iterate, though, I think that Ron Gardenhire is the man that the Twins need at the helm right now.  He’s great at teaching the fundamentals of the game to young players, as well as trying to keep them on an even keel and just play the game in front of them.  There’s just a few things that could be improved upon…like not already penciling in Punto as a starting infielder and batting ninth.

Blame It (On The T-T-T-T-T-T-T-Twins)


abd12ee9-c0c5-4ce0-9a3a-3447ff6bc19e.jpgLast night, as the Chicago White Sox opened their last three-game series at their personal house of horrors, the Metrodome, the team was essentially playing for the rest of the season in one night. With the post-season roster deadline kicking in at midnight, it represented teams’ last chance to improve their club for the stretch run.  The Pale Hose were the epitomy of a bubble team, quickly fading from the AL Central race and needing to win this series to have any realistic hopes of remaining in the conversation.

Good thing that the Twins showed up to play then, huh?!  Nick Blackburn (7 IP, 1 ER, 7K) continued his mastery of the Sox, while both Jo-Mo and Kubel went deep for most of the home boys’ offense.  Can you believe that Mauer (now at 26 dingers) has a shot at 30?!  If Albert Pujols is the undisputed king of NL hitters, than Joe Mauer obviously holds that position in the junior circuit.

After the loss, then, the Pale Hosers decided to cut bait, trading Jim Thome and Jon Garland to the LA Dodgers and sending Jose Contreras to the Colorado Rockies.  So even if the Twins don’t game another game on the Tigers all season, at least we have the satisfaction of knowing that he did our part to knock our fiercest rivals out of it (sounds crass, yes, but I cannot and will not sympathize with a team coached by a nutjob like Ozzie Guillen).

Notes:

-Wild prediction of the day: The Tampa Bay Rays will win the Wild Card in the AL.

-Speaking of the Rays, their big slugger Carlos Pena, quite remarkably, has more home runs than singles this season.  Baseball Tonight continues to chart his progress, and it would be funny to see him finish that way.  I believe Mark McGwire did that in his 70-homer season, if I’m not mistaken (or at least was close).

Preview (66-65, 2nd, 3.5 GB DET): John Danks (12-8, 3.82) vs. Jeff Manship (0-0, 5.14). Manship starting a game scares me a bit, but at least he won’t have Big Thome to deal with anymore!

 

House of Horrors

When the White Sox come into the Metrodome, do you think that songs like that are running through their brain?!   Amazingly, after looking like a glorified Double-A squad against the Yankees, the Twins were able to put together a strong effort and inch back towards that runner-up slot in the AL Central.

Of course, in the first inning it helped when Chicago starter turned the game into the rough equivalent of one of these:

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Danks walked the first four batters of the game and a big hit from Jason Kubel gave the Twins an early lead. Of course, since nothing is easy with this year’s bunch, the White Sox kept pecking away at the defecit until finally tying it in the sixth inning (only a tremendous leaping catch from Michael Cuddyer at the base of the baggie prevented the Sox from taking a lead). I was a bit nervous at this point, but Blackie was still pitching well and the pen did their job the rest of the way. This should come as no surprise, but this guy…
18797011-0959-4c36-9373-16a644e0f41e.jpg…got the big two out hit in the seventh inning that put the Twins in front, while a perfect squeeze bunt from Carlos Gomez an inning later scored Matt Tolbert (pinch running for Kubel after his third hit of the game) with a big insurance run that allowed Joe Nathan to do his thing in the ninth:
6ef10c34-51ee-4b12-b659-4ad5586ceccf.jpgPreview (44-43, 3rd, 0.5 GB CWS): Gavin Floyd (6-6, 4.33) vs. Glen Perkins (4-4, 4.38). Ozzie Guillen juggled his rotation to have his Big Three horses face the Twins this weekend. That went well (at least so far).

Must Be A Horrible Feeling

03f39244-686b-4ea0-9ecf-05c296c9732d.jpgFor almost a decade, the Minnesota Twins have laid a claim to having the best control coming from a starting pitching staff.  While other staffs may have “that one guy” who can throw gas but can’t find home plate with any frequency, the Twins consistently pound the zone and, while giving up a high frequency of home runs, also get a lot of outs.

Thus, the struggles from Scott Baker in the early innings of tonight’s 6-2 loss against the Chicago White Sox were almost painful to watch.  For whatever reason, Baker could not command any of his pitches and made catcher Mike Redmond look like a human pin-ball with the way he was reaching to-and-fro and blocking pitches behind the plate.  I actually started to feel bad for Baker during those second and third innings, as it was clear that he just couldn’t control any of his pitches.

After that horrific second inning, Baker came into the dugout and was given an earful from pitching coach Rick Anderson, who looked as if steam were about to come out of his ears.  Though Twins announcer Bert Blyleven defended Anderson and liked the fiery persona, I don’t know what good it did and whether it was called for.  I mean, if Scott Baker wanted to control his pitches, he would have…it’s as simple as that.  Anderson can stew all he wants, but it still comes down to Baker hitting his spots.

Considering that Scotty-boy has had troubles locating pitches all season so far, I hope that he doesn’t have some sort of mental block (sort of like the Rick Ankiel syndrome).  Of course, it could also just be the typical Scott Baker “off” season that has plagued him his entire career.  Baker has never pitched 200 innings in an entire season, nor has he had too really impressive years in a row.

Notes:

-Ozzie Guillen is a joke (as if that is new knowledge, I know).  A Pale Hose batter (Podsednik, I believe) bunts the ball down the first base line, the ball looks like it hits him, yet no call is made.  Ron Gardenhire comes out to argue the play, and the home plate umpire decides to call a “conference meeting” and the play is overturned.  Why, then, does Ozzie need to trot out and give the umps an earful?  The umps would not have changed the call unless “indisputable visual evidence” (to steal an NFL phrase) was utilized, in this case one of the other umps seeing the ball hit the batter.  I don’t like managers who argue just for the sake of getting steamed up, and that is EXACTLY what Guillen was doing.  Just sit down and shut up.

-Sean Henn made his Twins debut tonight…and now has a 13.50 season ERA.  Will this ever end?

-Seriously Gardy…walking Paul Konerko to GET Jim Thome to the plate?  I don’t care if Carl Hubbell or Steve Carlton suddenly descended from the sky to take the mound for the Twins, I don’t put guys on for the greatest Twins Killer in history (with respect to Griffey Jr. and A-Rod).

-Finally, I don’t like to complain about the announcing a whole lot, but Bert: When Span bunts the ball unsuccessfully with the infield playing way back, he loses the “element” of surprise, not the “ultimate” of surprise.  I only say this because I have heard it before.

Preview (18-22, 3rd, 4.5 GB DET): Francisco Liriano (2-4, 5.21) vs. John Danks (2-3, 4.82).

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