Results tagged ‘ Twins ’

Snatch & Grab It

Finally, a Twins callup from Rochester (AAA) is taking the opportunity of a lifetime and running with it.  Anthony Swarzak made his second consecutive strong start, the Twins (even without Thome/Kubel) knocked out a bunch of runs, and we inched one game closer to fourth place.  Gee whiz, I know, but progress is progress at this point.  Maybe a series win on the road can occur next??!!

Preview (18-37, 5th, 6.5 GB KCR): Carl Pavano (2-5, 5.19) vs. Danny Duffy (0-0, 4.11)

The Mauer Effect

Memorial Day weekend is often used as the first “benchmark” in a long baseball season.  Which teams are strong, which are weak, who may be sellers at the break, who may be gearing up for a mid-season trade.

Usually, the running joke here in Twins Territory is that the Kansas City Royals are usually making winter vacation plans at about this time.  Well, the Royals ARE in fourth place in the AL Central and more than a few games below .500, but there’s something this year that makes the joke quite a bit less funny: the Royals are 6-7 games ahead of the Minnesota Twins.

So far this season on this blog, I have lamented the terrible play and given a few opinions of my own on it.  I would like to add one more here, known possibly as the “Joe Mauer Effect”:

Clearly, the biggest reason for the Twins’ struggles has been the time lost to injuries to key players.  There’s no debating that fact.  However, I wonder if perhaps the potential “babying” (the word goes in quotes because nobody seems to know exactly what transpires with him on a day-to-day basis) of star catcher Joe Mauer isn’t creating a tinge of bitterness in the clubhouse that translates over onto the field.

A baseball clubhouse, besides the crass camaraderie and checkbook amounts, is no different than any other workplace.  If one person is getting better treatment than others, and those others feel that that treatment is not well-deserved, a bitter attitude can poison the work environment.  Some people can put that bitterness behind them and be abject professionals, while others let it stew and bleed over into their work habits.

I’m not accusing the Twins of anything, as I have never stepped foot into their pre- or post-game clubhouse and thus cannot pass judgement.  However, it’s just something to think about as the weird injuires (and losses) keep piling up.

What the Twins have on their side, though, is Ron Gardenhire.

While I have–in the past–criticized some of Gardy’s on-field decisions, I do not question for one moment that he is one of (if not THE) best player-relations manager in the game today.  He demands respect for the game, and if he doesn’t get it you won’t play for him all that much longer.

I hope this “Mauer Effect” isn’t seeping through the Twins clubhouse on a daily basis, but like I said, it is worth mentioning.  Of course, as is always the case in professional sports, if Mauer comes back and hits .350, all will be forgiven.  Let’s hope against hope that something similar transpires to give the team a bit of a spark this season.

Notes:

-Kubel and Thome put on DL today.  Oy.

Preview (17-37, 5th, 7.5 GB KCR): Anthony Swarzak (0-2, 3.60) vs. Sean O’Sullivan (2-4, 6.75)

Hughes & Hoey: A Poetic Interpretation

Back in 1948, this little ode was crafted by a Boston sportswriter to describe the dominance of the two pitching aces of the Boston Braves: Warren Spahn & Johnny Sain…

First we’ll use Spahn
then we’ll use
Sain
Then an off day
followed by rain
Back will come
Spahn
followed by
Sain
And followed
we hope
by two days of rain.

Now, my own poetic interpretation of the Minnesota Twins’ relieving duo of Jim Hoey & Dusty Hughes:

Hughes & Hoey

Hoey & Hughes

When they hit the mound

It’s most surely a “lose”

 

First will come Hughes, with his lefthanded gait

And pitches that butcher the heart of the plate.

Batters will swing, both lefty and righty,

And crush that poor sphere deep into the nighty

Then will come Hoey, his fastball ablaze

Staring down batters with that long, lanky gaze

But, alas, the round orb could fly hither and yon

So batters need only wait, and then show their brawn

 

Hughes & Hoey

Hoey and Hughes

They come in to cheers

And leave mainly to “boooooos!”

Preview (16-33, 5th, 6.0 GB CWS): Jered Weaver (6-4, 2.35) vs. Anthony Swarzak (0-2, 7.71)

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.

New Point Of View

Okay, it’s almost the end of May and the Twins are 15 games below .500 (15-30), and dead last in the AL Central.  I’ve done all the analyzing I can (injuries, wrecked bullpen, disappointing starters, etc.) and am taking a new point of view from this point forward:

The way I see it, we are 5.5 GB the Chicago White Sox right now for fourth place.  Once there (if ever), we can set our sets on third, and so on and so forth.  I don’t care what the Indians or Tigers are doing right now, or even what our record is (to an extent).  I’m just looking to move up in the rankings, one at a time.

Fundamentals

Presented without comment this day of May 22, 2011, after the sweep of the Twins by the Diamondbacks:

Preview (15-30, 5th, 5.5 GB CWS): Jason Vargas (3-2, 3.39) vs. Carl Pavano (2-4, 5.30)

The Killer

Today, Minnesota Twins fans, baseball fans, and the world at large lost a hero with the passing of Harmon Killebrew at age 74 due to esophogeal cancer.

There are so many tributes to Harm floating around in cyberspace that I don’t even know where to begin.  Heck, I didn’t even see the guy play, but when EVERYONE who know says he was their hero as a child, a legend is pretty much the closest way of describing him.

I could go so many directions here, but I’ll keep it short and say this: When all is said in done, it really doesn’t matter how many home runs he hit or how many ballgames he won/lost.  Those moments may produce a lot of nostalgia, but the real reason there are a lot of misty eyes in Minnesota right now is because of the type of man Harmon was.  I’ve never heard a harsh word said about him from anyone, and he was always a model for a good, clean, simple life filled with the things and people he loved.  Referencing the “hook” of the above video tribute, I think that Harmon DID get all those letters (or at least tried!).  He also valued them deeply.

When Babe Ruth, the greatest pre-Harmon slugger, was dying of cancer (also of the throat, oddly enough), he was known to quip “The termites have got me.”  Well, sadly those same “termites” got Harm today, along with a big portion of Minnesota childhood for the baby boomers.

As far as relating this to the current Twins team that is mired in a deep slump, I remember a certain ballclub just a few years ago that turned a tragic event:

…into the inspiration for a remarkable comeback.  That team, of course, was the 2006 Twins, who (on May 17) were 9.5 GB in the division and ended up going to the playoffs.

Preview (12-27, 5th, 3.5 GB CWS): Francisco Liriano (2-5, 7.07) vs. Felix Hernandez (4-3, 3.36)

Who’s On Third?

One of the things that has kind of been funny to watch this season is the complete 180 degree philosophy of coaching third base…

4539665291_350236d43f.jpg

For the past few years (ever since Al Newman left, I believe) Scott Ulger coached third and become notorious for getting guys thrown out by feet, not inches.  Gardy usually praised Scotty’s aggressiveness, but this year Ulger is bench coach, with Steve Liddle manning the hot corner box:

bilde.jpg

Liddle (at least so far) has been the polar opposite, throwing up stop signs like a middle school crossing guard.

To be honest, I don’t know which approach is best.  There’s nothing worse than getting a key run thrown out at the dish by a mile, but having an inning snuffed with a man on third is exasperating as well.  I think that 3B-coach is just one of those spots where turnover is the name of the game.  Whereas Jerry White will coach 1B forever under Gardy…

451818440_04f72fa362_o.jpg

…the guy at the hot corner is under so much more pressure to make those split-second decisions correctly.

It isn’t as easy as it looks (!):

 

Hail No

hail.jpgOh…so it’s going to be one of those years…

The Obligitory Reference

335%20Johnny%20Vander%20Meer%20Reds%201938.jpgAny time a major leaguer hurls a no-hitter, like Frankie Liriano did last week, an obligitory reference must be made sometime before his next start to Johnny Vander Meer.  Thus, I’m just doing my duty (!)

In 1938, on June 11th and 15th, Vander Meer of the Cincinnati Reds pitched no-hitters in consecutive starts, the only major league pitcher to ever do so.  Vander Meer’s major league career was suspect (119-121, 3.44 ERA, 1,132 BB, 1,294 K), but he’ll always have those two days in June ’38.

Can Liriano do it?!  Let’s just say, it would take a seismic event of the Twins falling to last place in the divis…oh, okay.  So maybe anything IS possible at this point.

Preview (12-21, 5th, 0.5 GB CWS): Rick Porcello (2-2, 3.93) vs. Francisco Liriano (2-4, 6.61).

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.