Results tagged ‘ Target Field ’

Tiger Cub Prince

After hearing the news yesterday that Prince Fielder signed a monumental deal with the Detroit Tigers, I was conflicted as to my response.

On one hand, I have always been a huge fan of Fielder, who I rank as probably my favorite non-Twins baseball player.

I have always enjoyed his violent and powerful (yet just somehow controlled) swing that produces such massive power…

As well as his youthful exuberance for playing the game…

At the same time, though, I dread the thought of him facing Twins pitching more than six games per year (now MUCH more).  He’ll have no trouble jacking them out of Target Field on multiple occasions, I’m afraid.

360 (Degrees) In 365 (Days)

Just a quick post here, but had to mention how hard it is to believe that this…

…transpired roughly one year ago.

I was at that game on a cold September night in Target Field, but it was one of the most exciting nights of Twins baseball in quite awhile.

Oh, how things have ever changed since that very day.

Preview (60-95, 5th, 7.5 GB KC): Carl Pavano (8-13, 4.40) vs. Justin Masterson (12-10, 3.15)

Gardy: More Than Ever

With the Twins cruising through a competitively useless September, there is one “big picture” thing I worry about more than any other: the possibility of manager Ron Gardenhire’s posterior region warming a bit in terms of job security.

Now, I have never been an unconditional Gardy supporter.  I’ve questioned his playoff managing many a time, as well as his proficient use of weak “getaway day” lineups.  However, I strongly feel that he still remains the right manager for this ballclub.

Gardy has always preached “fundamentals” and this year has clearly shown how important those little things are.  Going forward, this team may need a lot of guidance for the youngsters, and I think Gardy does that as well (if not better) than any manager in baseball.

Put it this way: With a few healthy “studs” and more time to train the young guys, I am confident that our skipper can turn this ship back around in the right direction in a hurry.

I just hope he’ll be given the opportunity and nothing crazy comes down from the front office.

Notes:

Strange Item 1: In early July, I attended two Twins games at Chicago’s Cell, with both teams still battling to get into the division race.  The Twins owned the Sox at that time.  Fast-forward two months, and both teams are now essentially playing out the string.  The Sox now own us, as well.

Strange Item 2: Empty seats at Target Field.  Yes, it’s the first “school night” of the year and a makeup game at that, but those green seats sure look strange amid two seasons of near-perpetual sellouts.  Unfortunately, much more green may be showing once the Vikings kick into full gear.

Preview (58-83, 5th, 0.5 GB KCR): Jake Peavy (6-7, 5.21) vs. Liam Hendriks (Major League Debut)

Vacation Reflection: Part Two

Earlier on this blog, I recalled the first part of my recent vacation: a trip to the Field of Dreams movie site.  Well, the second (and primary) destination of the trip was the South Side of Chicago, to see my Twins take on the White Sox at US Cellular Field.

From a stadium perspective, I was impressed.  Though perhaps not in the same “romantic class” as a Target Field or Kauffman Stadium, I thought The Cell was still more impressive than the more modern Miller Park in Milwaukee.  I was expecting worse, to be honest.

Now, I don’t want to denigrate the White Sox fans by saying this, but seeing a game at The Cell is a heckuva lot different than here in Minny.  Perhaps the inflamed tensions of the Twins’ recent ownership of the Sox came into play here, but Chicago fans seem much more intense than those residing in Twins Territory.  Over here, we live by the “Minnesota Nice” creed and sit on our hands and mouths quite a bit.  In Chi-town, those hands and mouths are wide-open.

I don’t think one type of “fandom” is necessarily better than the other, but being used to “passive” it was eye-opening to see a more agressive style of root, root, rooting for the home team.

Notes:


If the Twins completely fall out of the race after being disgraced (20-6) against Texas, the above picture will be the image of the season for the Minnesota Twins.  Mr. Everything.

Preview (47-55, 4th, 3.5 GB CWS): Carl Pavano (6-7, 4.24) vs. CJ Wilson (10-4, 2.94)

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)

Treading Water

The definition of “treading water” is: “a stroke that keeps the head above water by thrashing or rhythmic movements of the legs and arms”.  Basically, treading water is the act of staying in one place despite a flurry of motion.  The last two days, the Twins have provided a clinic in such a behavor.

Last night, Nick Blackburn pitches a complete game gem…

…and really gets the fans up and yelling at Target Field once again (I was one of them!).

Then today…

…the offense once again goes dormant and gets shutout by Erik Bedard and Co. to lose yet another series.

Thus, essentially, we haven’t gained back any ground that we had lost before Blackie’s inspiring performance.  Treading water.

Preview (16-32, 5th, 5.5 GB CWS): Harmon Killebrew Tribute at Target Field.

Home

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Joe Nathan coming home, indeed.  For the Twins’ 2011 Target Field opener, they pretty much sleepwlked through seven innings at the plate.  Luckily, Carl Pavano was dominating, setting down Oakland A after Oakland A.  Then, in the eighth, Danny Valencia’s infield single was followed by hits from three lefties (Kubel, Span, Mauer) to scratch two runs across.

As this was occuring on the field, Joe Nathan was quickly warming in the pen, anticipating his first Target Field save situation.  When those gates opened and “Stand up and Shout” played over the loudspeakers, it was clear that Mr. Nathan was “Home” at last.

For whatever reason, Joe Nathan is a favorite Twin of mine (just look at the name of this blog).  He’s easily the greatest closer the team has ever had, and there’s just something about a save situation that gets me pumped.  Besides Cuddy gunning a runner, Span slapping a triple, or Thome blasting off, there isn’t anything that will get me on my feet faster than a closer coming into a game to get those final three outs.

I also admire Nathan’s grit and determination.  He started off as a struggling SS with the Giants, then came over here with Liriano and Boof Bonser in the A.J. Pierzynski trade (thanks again, A.J.!) as a so-so reliever.  We gave him Eddie G’s closing role, and he never missed a beat.

If the weather holds out, I may be attending the game either today or Sunday, and I would like nothing more than to see Nathan return to domination in person!

Preview (3-4, T-4, 2.0 GB CLE): Gio Gonzalez (1-0, 1.29) vs. Nick Blackburn (1-0, 1.50).

What We Learned From The Road

APTOPIX_Twins_Yankees_Baseball_sff_210063_game.jpghttp://ecdn1.hark.com/swfs/player.swf?1297555656(Link) View more Jim Carrey Quotes and Sound Clips and Dumb & Dumber Quotes and Sound Clips

What we learned from the opening road trip of the 2011 season:

1.  At least early on, the Twins a bit overmatched on the road.  We are still very competitive (especially if our starting pitching cooperates), but lag in one key area: our “high flies” settle just before the warning track, while the home team jacks them out.  Until our power threats (Morneau, Young, Kubel) starting swinging the lumber, we are at a big disadvantage.  Thome is fine, though.

2. Our pitchers are going to give up home runs.  Period.  Not a one of them (besides maybe Liriano) is all that great at keeping the ball in the ballpark.  Thus, we better not walk ANYBODY to put extra bodies on the basepaths.  Target Field helps, but we still play 81 on enemy turf.

Oh yeah, and now Matty Tolbert will likely be the everyday 2B-man for awhile because of Nishioka’s broken fibula:

Minnesota Twins second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka (1) grimaces as is injured while forcing out New York Yankees Nick Swisher (33) when Mark Teixeira grounded into a seventh-inning fielder's choice in their baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, Thursday, April 7, 2011. Nioshoika was taken out of the game after the play. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Preview (2-4, 5th, 2.0 GB CWS/CLE/KCR): Brett Anderson (0-0, 1.50) vs. Carl Pavano (0-1, 15.75).  Home Opener!!

Minnesota Twins 2010: A Season Review

After going through some of my blog posts recently, I realized that I hadn’t penned a “season review” of the 2010 Twins season.  Maybe the quick (again) exit from the playoffs contributed to my apathy, or perhaps it was the Vikings’ season going very bizarre very quickly and giving me plenty of other blogging material.  Either way, I do want ot quickly run down my standout moments of ’10…

To me, 2010 will always be remembered as the “Year of Target Field”:

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At first, I was as skeptical as anyone at the new outdoor ballpark.  Fortunately, that all changed the first time I walked through the gates.  Besides some of the parks (like Wrigley or Fenway) that keep their charm primarily due to history, I can definitively say that Target Field is the best new home we could have possibly asked for (at least when the weather cooperates, which it did in spades last summer…heck, the Vikings in the Dome had more postponements in ’10 than the Twins!).  Also helping to broaden the experience was the fact that our family moved closer to the Twin Cities metro area this year, so I was able to go to more games than ever before.

I’ll just say this: At the end of 2009, I was missing the Dome.  By the end of ’10, I can’t imagine playing anywhere other than Target Field.

Some other memories include…

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-Much like Brett Favre did to the Vikings in 2009, Jim Thome gave the ’10 Twins a bit of a swagger.  He can’t run or play the field, but it doesn’t matter in the least…he proved that (out of the DH spot) he can still be the most prolific power hitter in the game, bar none.  When Justin Morneau went down with his concussion, Big Jim stepped into the cleanup role and did exactly that…clean up.  Perhaps the most memorable Thome moment was his walkoff home run against the Chicago White Sox in extra innings.

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-Carl Pavano, predicted to fail miserably, provides the veteran leadership the staff desperatley needed, and even became a folk hero due to his mustachioed upper lip.

delmon-young.jpg -Delmon Young’s torrid dog-days-of-summer performance, almost single-handedly keeping us in the division race with a hitting surge unlike anything I had ever seen.

danny-valencia-joe-mauer-jason-repko-2010-8-22-22-20-2.jpg

-Some young kid named Danny Valencia coming up from the minors to lock down third base and provide some spectacular clutch hitting, all the while winning the hearts of the yound ladies in Twins Territory with his megawatt smile.

Other memories would include the torrid second half of Joe Mauer’s bat, as well as Francisco Liriano finally returning to his dominant pre-Tommy John surgery form.

So yes, even though the season ended in disappointment once again…

 
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…I choose to remember the good moments that seemed to last all summer long.

Perhaps the one memory above all that will stick with me is sitting in Target Field on a cold, wet September night but loving every minute of it as the Twins clinched the Central Division Championship.  I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

Sour Grapes

Target_Field_Dia2.jpg
grapes-print.jpgI wanted to quickly comment here on something that kind of disturbed me the other day:

Just recently, the Minnesota Twins organization released a statement saying how they are going to improve Target Field by adding a right field scoreboard and a cool LED tower thingy…

twins123.jpg

Basically, the organization is telling fans that they are going to continue to try and provide the best fan experience in major league baseball

However, just a day later, Twins 1B Justin Morneau complains that the Twins are not going to move in the fences.  Talk about your sour grapes.  Though I understand Morneau’s thinking to an extent (as HR’s were very difficult to come by in 2010), that is not his decision to make, or even comment on.

The Twins set up Justin for life with a huge contract, and (since that point) have seen him miss significant time due to injuries.  Now, by no means am I saying that Morneau is faking his injuries (concussion) or anything like that, but after missing an entire half a season, it isn’t his prerogative to get whiny about the executive decisions (sometimes life sucks and you need to just man up and keep your mouth shut).

Plus, if I were a Twins pitcher reading that article, I’d be feeling a little miffed right now too.  The Twins had the best home record in the AL last season, I believe, and now Morneau wants to change the fences for what would primarily be a personal gain?  That wouldn’t fly with me.

None of this is to say that I have completely soured on Morneau, but these are the little flashes that we get into people’s character that competitive sports often bring out.

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