Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Goat of the Day: 6/29/05

Brad Radke, for more runs in the first inning. He's a good pitcher, but he really needs to show it before he digs his own hole.

I know Goober gave Radke the G-G.O.D. earlier this season for worse offenses and that one run of support is little to work with, but the top of the first just made the game stink.

PS. Gardy should have had LeCroy pinch hit for Rivas in the 9th. I know that leaves no one for the infield in the 10th, but you need to force a 10th before that's in issue. Try Morneau at short or Mauer at third. See what a pitcher could do at second.

A Win is a Win

1. I guess I'm not going to the game. Boss is on "vacation" at home, but had to come in for a few things. And he's back in tomorrow.

2. I had dinner at a friend's house last night and we watched into the bottom of the 4th, and we left with the score 5-3. After C's bath, I turn on the game and it's 8-7 KC. What the hell happened? I guess Silva was off, threw only 62 pitches in 5 IP and then TJ Mulholland "blew" a "save" in the 6th.

3. Two of Silva's first three ER were scored on double plays. Dear Carlos: Thank you for saving your top form for the better team with the better pitchers (DET) and doing a little sucking against the Royals, where we've got a good chance to come back. JC Romero and Juan Rincon each got a "hold" for 2 pitches. Bert Blyleven: "I should have been a reliever!"

4. Jesse Crain got his 7th "win" of the season and is back to being the "Get out of Jam free" card for Gardy. Plus, his ERA is back under 1.00.

5. Junstin Morneau was a defensive replacement for Matthew LeCroy as soon as KC had used up all thier lefties, and once got to hit, he put the first pitch in the right field upper deck for an insurance run. Good defensive replacement! Yeah, he saved a bunch of outs in the 8th, too.

5. Question: is what KC does good for pitchers or bad? They've got AA and AAA guys in their early 20s pitching against major leaguers. Does this give help by giving them more experience or blow their confidence and their arms? Sisco looks like he's not far from ready, but Leo Nunez should probably be ripping up AA teams. Some of these guys just look sympathetic, you don't want to score too many against them. Maybe that's their advantage.

6. John Buck, 2-4 last night, now hitting .474 against the Twins and .200 against the rest of the majors. And after seeing him catch so many guys that started the year in the minors, I started to have strong respect for the guy. I wonder how many pitches he's caught all year, and how that compares to the average in the majors. Dang, he's not playing today.

7. Rivas watch: After a 2-2 night, Rivas is hitting .368 since coming off the DL. I don't have the memory to remember what it is at 2B vs SS. Still no extra base hits.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Back in First!

1. With the O's loss to the dreaded New York Yanquis of the Bronx and our Joe M (v 1.0)'s 8 inning win over the most esteemed Kansas City Royals of Missouri, the Twins are percentage points ahead of the O's for first place for the AL Wild card, despite all our June Swoons. The Cleveland Indians of Jacobs are one game back. Nice tight race, although I doubt things will end that close. (But both wests came down to the final weekend last year).

Y'know, the most important thing for baseball fans isn't winning the division, or league, or the World Series, the thing is to have a decent sized chance to do that. After the Twins' years in the Wilderness, we're in our fifth straight year of being competitive. And for that, we should be thankful.

The best part of playing in October? More games.

2. I hadn't noticed when Jimmy Gobble returned from AAA Omaha, but now he's in the bullpen?
3. Grienke had his best outing (6IP, 2 ER, 4H) of the last month and a half and still lost. Back to the curse of no run support for him, instead of the curse of throwing batting practice.

4. John Buck is hitting .471 (8 for 17) against the Twins, and .200 against the rest of the league.

5. (Non-baseball) Been listening to a side project of Animal Collective called Jane. Album "Berzerker." Three 20-minute ambient-ish tracks (and one shorter one). Not dub, but closer to dub than anything else. Sounds kindof like Seefeel without the claustrophobia. The sounds used remind me of Seefeel, and there's a part that sounds like Sonic Youth's "Madonna, Sean and Me" caught in an echo chamber.

6. (Non-baseball) This last week has just been really frustrating for me. It feels like things are falling to pieces all around me.
Dehumidifier in the basement. (dead. $150 replacement)
Cordless Phone (battery replaced for $15)
Backup utility car. (dead. replacement/repair out of budget)
CD player at work. (not reading most of my CDs, I will live with it)
Window-Unit AC. (luckily back to working)
Twins. (9 game behind White Sox)
Okay, so it's not that bad, but things just seem to keep piling up.

7. (Non-baseball) We'll see if this works:
C at the game on 6/21/05. "Bloggers Night."

Staff Switcheroo

1a. Could it be that our pitchers have switched bodies? Sat: Santana Gives up 6 runs in 5 innings, 2 of the Rs allowed in by Crain. Sun: Lohse and Guerrier combine for 8 scoreless innings, only to have Nathan threaten that by putting the winning run on deck. Rincon was warming up for a save.

1b. This is what's so frustrating about Lohse. Just as soon as you decide to give up on him being good, he has a great outing like Sunday.

1c. Despite his less than Cy stuff this year, Santana is still looking better than he did at this point last year, I think. Of course, this is right where he turned it on last year. The Strib reported that he's changed his mechanics a bit to avoid tipping pitches, and has lost a bit of control, so maybe he just needs to work through that, or go back to tipping his pitches and avoiding the walks.

1d. Rincon looked to be back to his dominant self on Saturday, 1 scoreless inning, 2K.

1e. The story of the game Sunday was Lohse and Shaggy G's 8.0 IP, 0 R and Luis R (2.0)'s 2R HR. So on page A1 of the Strib, the teaser headline is "Twins, Nathan salvage 5-2 victory over Brewers." Salvage?

2. Carlos Lee for Scott Podsednik has to be the top trade of the offseason, both teams greatly benefitted. Milwaukee got their slugger and the ChiSox got a singles hitter/baserunner/speedthreat. Plus, with Interleague rivalries, they benefitted a team they wouldn't be playing, but that a divisional rival would play 6 times.

3. Interleague play is now over. The Twins are 8-10, but now Gardy has to stop overthinking double-switches etc and can go back to the AL managing he does better. Even if we have complaints on his regular managing, we all have to admit that managing the NL game is more of a challenge to him.

4. Despite losing 5 straight series, we haven't been swept in a 3-game series all season (2 2-game sweeps). We can't even lose consistently. If we were only going to win one in Milwaukee, I'm glad it was the last one. We can try to feel momentum-y if we can beat up on the Royals and Devil Rays.

5. KC's Zack Grienke the (potentially) Great pitches tonight. He made his debut against the Twins last May, and had a pretty good season for a 20-year old on a bad team (8-11, 3.75 ERA) . Maybe he's started drinking now that he's legal, because he's been struggling: He hasn't pitched through the 6th since May 15th (7 starts) and he's 1-4 with a 10.32 ERA over that stretch. (0-4 with a 3.09 ERA after a ND on May 15). So, he should own the Twins for a CG SO tonight.

6a. I watched a little of Fox's Saturday Game of the Week: Boston at Philly. First off, does anyone do baseball worse than Fox's national team? In about 15 seconds, McCarver went from saying Johnny Damon was going Hollywood to saying that Tom Cruise is crazy or something. And I'm so very glad that I missed Buck's call of Jeter's Very First Grand Slam Ever last weekend.

6b. Secondly, Johnny Damon got his Tom-Cruise-tainted triple off former Twin Aaron Fultz. The Phils were wearing their alternate cap, which has a blue bill and a blue star in the P. Similar to the Twins' Red TC. Last year, when the Twins still wore the red cap*, I thought Aaron was the only guy on the team that it looked good on. I love the Red TC cap, it's the one I wear, but it looks funny on just about all of the Twins. Yet a similar cap looks natural on all the Phillies. Why is that? Do the Twins have a bunch of players that look bad in red? Is it the navy bill instead of the lighter color the Phils have? Is it that the Twins unis have blue pinstripes and blue undershirts instead of red like the Phils? See how bad it looks on Shaggy G here.

* The red TC is still part of the official uniform, but I don't think it's been worn at all this year (unless during my Alaska trip). I assume that's because it doesn't look right on anyone, and which starting pitcher is going to want to wear it?

7. I saw Star Wars last night. What a joke. So very silly when it shouldn't have been. Like Martrix 2 &3, I will have to wipe my memory that these prequels ever existed.

Eddie 6/26/05

Obviously, for taking a 5-run lead in the 9th and making it a 3-run lead with two runners on, and basically resembling the man for whom the award is named, Joe Nathan receives the Eddie.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Goat of Day: 6/25/05

There were plenty of candidates today:

Johan Santana for taking a three-run lead before he even pitched and wasting it. He's the Ace and he can't do that. Plus, he didn't get a hit. Headed for an "Eddie" had we pulled the game out.

Jesse Crain for the first time he's allowed more than one inherited runner to score and giving up his first home run and his first blown save (he lost the lead). Also looking for an Eddie. Crain should be like our trump card, our "Get out of a Jam Free" card, but apparently, he's not perfect.

Torii Hunter for only hitting 2 HR. Just kidding.

But the winner of the AMR's G.O.D. is Luis Rivas. Here was his chance in the 8th to hit the extra-base hit he's been waiting for all season, at a time that it would make all the difference in the world, and keep him in the lineup for a long time unreasonably, but he just struck out.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Back to April

1. Tonight's game seemed less like our recent futility and more like the games we lost in April, where we just couldn't get the runners in. I guess that's a positive sign. I do feel less stressed than I did wednesday night, but maybe that's just Silva's outing soothing me into complacency.

2. The Twins deserved to lose anyways. They wore their (nameless) BP jerseys. On the road. During interleague. At least this should quash any future attempts to change fortunes by using the same "lucky," unusual garb for repeated games. Save that for when you really need it. You don't go around guaranteeing wins for every game, and you don't try to use "charms" until they're dead. Especially when four of those lucky runs came after a 3rd out strikeout. Silva said after his CG, "I'm not superstitious. I can use any jersey. It doesn't matter to me."

3. Guerrier relieved Romero in the 8th, with the bases loaded. This is would typically be when we see Crain work his magic, but he had been used for the 6th (why not Romero there?). Guerrier hits the first batter in the arm (not that the batter tried to get out of the way), letting one Romero's baserunners score. It was a one-run game at the time, but it made me think: Does the bullpen try to get even with one another? See how JC likes his runners to score? Did the other pitchers put Shaggy G up to it? G then got the next batter to GIDP. I was real surprised to see Guerrier and not Nathan in that place, though, screw saving the closer for a save situation, Shaggy is just not the guy I trust in that spot. (Though that could be what Gardy's working towards: let's test our bullpen before 12th inning of a playoff game in Yanqui Stadium.)

4. Twins' Relief pitchers Runners inherited-runners scored, 2005:
Nathan 0-0
Rincon 10-1
Crain 17-3
Guerrier 4-1
Mulholland 14-4
Romero 19-7
Interesting to see that Nathan has yet to put out a fire.

5. Turnbow's look impresses me. He may be a bright man, but he looks like he could be an idiot-savant, like a mythical appalachian man-child that scouts find that can pitch 110 or something like that. His Great Clips surfer/Redneck haircut really adds to it, as does his chinlessness. I hope that's not mean, I really do love the look.

6. Rivas Watch. Rivas played two innings of SS as a defensive substitution, but was hit for by Luis R. (2.0) in the 9th.

Goat of the Day

I've decided to take this feature that batgirl dropped and run with it. If she wants it back, it's hers for the taking back. In her first mention of it, she said the Goat of the Day is "the person, entity, or concept that most contributes to a Twins loss." I think I'll soon try to go back on the whole season and pick these out.

Batgirl also mentioned the rarely-used "Eddie," which I had forgotten about. The Eddie is "given to the person, entity, or concept that performs in such a soul-shaking manner as to drain the joy from an otherwise splendid Twins victory." I'll try to do those as well, when necessary, but not retroactively. Read her whole post for further exposition.

Matthew LeCroy has a few skills. He can hit for power and because of it, he draws walks. He cannot field, and he definitely cannot run. Tonight, he pinch-hit for the pitcher in the 7th. He did his job and drew a walk. He should then immediately have been pinch-run for. He was not, possibly because he was in the pitcher's spot, and Gardy didn't want to use an infielder, so he could use one later. The next at-bat, Shannon Stewart hits a double and Matthew Lecroy holds at 3rd because he is, uhm, "not fast." Two batters later, Mauer grounds to third and LeCroy is left on third. To make matters worse, Gardy pulls a double-switch with Rivas replacing LeCroy as SS. Rivas is fast. (The double-switch was for all of two positions in the batting order.)

When Ford pinch-hit for Castro, or when he got on base, it should have been clear to Gardy that the double-switch was coming, but even then he did not get someone to run for LeCroy. That wouldn't have made a difference, but at least it would have shown that Gardy "got it."

Then, even Rivas is pinch-hit for by the other Luis in the 9th. So even if Rivas running for LeCroy would have not allowed a double-switch, the difference would be haing Luis R. as SS for two innings instead of Luis R.

If LeCroy's pinch-runner scores, its a one-run game, Torii's HR ties it, and Guerrier probably doesn't come in to hit a batter. Totally different game, and we have a chance to win. Therefore, because you did not pinch-run for LeCroy, Ron Gardenhire, you are the first of AMR's GODs.

[Note, I had first written this, but changed my mind on further contemplation: Tonight, Brad Radke only gave up one homerun and one earned run. That's pretty good, so he's not our goat. Many men were on base and that is where they stayed, although they often made it to scoring position before their side was retired. For two outs with runners in scoring position, including the third out with the bases loaded in the 7th and none yet in, I crown Joe Mauer the first G.O.D. from AMR. (Although a lot of batters were candidates.) ]

PS. I want a better name for this. Hopefully, something that abbreviates to U.G.O.D., drawing parallels to the lest impressive member of the Wu-Tang Clan. Any suggestions?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Silva to the Rescue.

Ooof! Got back from the game yesterday and it was so damn hot. Our window-unit AC decided to take a break for 8 minutes of every 15. Too hot to do anything. So I didn't write. I do it now.

1. Carlos Silva Rocks! He is definitely my favorite Twin. He doesn't dominate like Santana does and Radke can, but he keeps the game fun an entertaining. And fast. 2:07 for the full 8 1/2 innings. I didn't want to jinx it, but this is the exact thing I was hoping from him. Relief for the relievers and a chance for our batters to win the game.

2. Jacque Jones's K in the first should have been out three, getting Johnson out of the bases-loaded jam without a run, but the pitch was wild and Johnson didn't cover home, allowing 2 runners to score. Scored: K, WP, E-1. Wonder if anyone had that on their Twingo card.

2a. I cheered really loud when Juan Castro got his hit in the second. All my co-workers looked at me like I was a wierdo. "Broke an 0-23 hitless streak," I said, but they still thought I was crazy.

3. Note to anyone buying group tickets: If you buy the group rate home run porch tix, you do not get the Thursday $5 concession voucher. I organized the work outing and had figured out those $5 into everybody's lunch allowance. I called yesterday morning to see if we got those at the gate or something and was told they weren't available for the group rates. I ended up having to run (literally) to the Metrodome and back to buy upgraded tickets before my co-workers dispersed for the game. It was not fun.

4. I agree with the commentor that the Metrodome's naming of sections is great, at least for the seats we proles buy. "Home Run Porch" & "Cheap Seats." The pricier seats have uninteresting names "Lower Reserved", "Upper Club", "Diamond View", etc.

5. Troy Percival even looks squinty from behind. I enjoyed seeing the DET bullpen for the first time this series.

6. It was the forces of good against the forces of evil last night in the College World Series. Evil won. Good being the ASU Sun Devils who have nice, plain old-school uniforms that people from the 30's would have recognized, and consistent stockings across the team (all above the calf with Maroon stockings or low-cut stirrups). I'm impartial on the stockings-stirrups-pant length issue, but as it's a "uniform" I think a team's use should be uniform. The victorious Florida Gators have sleeveless atrocities that look like the inspiration for the Devil Rays. At least with Florida winning, I have clear rooting interest over the weekend. Go Longhorns!

6a. It says something about my sports preferences that I would rather watch a college baseball game than game 7 of the NBA finals. When the baseball game was over, I switched between BBTN and the basketball game, falling asleep on the couch when the basketball game was close to tied in the last few minutes.

7. In other Uni news, the Twins wore BP jerseys yesterday. I was impressed that I could tell the players by their number, but I had to before the game to see the lineup. (Note: Michael Ryan is #12.) The Strib said they might wear them over the weekend in Milwaukee, too. I hope not, as interleague play should see names on the jerseys, and that would have the nickname on the road-jersey, without the player's name. Double faux pas.

8. Twins All-Stars? I figure only one. Probably Santana, retroactive for last year, although I think Crain and Silva have had better seasons to date relative to last year. Anyone else have thoughts? It seems that our team have a lot of guys that are just below all-stars: Hunter, Jones, Morneau, Mauer, Stewart, Ford, Silva, Rincon, Nathan.

9. Rivas watch: Rivas did not play.

10. Regarding Bat-Girl's change in policies: Trying to save one's server is fine. Trying to dissuade trolls and flame wars is fine. It's her site, she can do what she wants, although I'd be a little more relaxed on what fans can say. The place has become a bit of a love-fest. I noticed that last year's feature, the loss-equivalent of Boyfriend of the Day, "Goat of the Day," was missing from the start of the season. (Maybe I should pick up that feature.) Was it too negative?

It's probably above the technology of her site, but requiring registry for comments would make sense. Then she could just ban the bad actors but allow decent discussion to continue from trusted individuals (like SBG on Rincon). But I really don't care too much, I left it because it got too big. (No one goes there anymore, it's too crowded.) I still like her writing. And I love the archetype of the narrative baseball blog (as opposed to pure analysis like Twins Geek). I think she was the first, but I know that the Nats have a smaller equivalent, Ball-Wonk. I'd love it if there were more like this. Without the narrative blog, I don't think I'd be doing this or enjoying games as much. Let me know if there are similar blogs for other teams, or if someone had the idea before Bat-girl.

11. Happy Birthday Seth Strohs.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Phillies' Jerseys

1. Non-Twins Item. I caught a bit of the Mets-Phillies game on ESPN between "Dancing with Celebrities" on ABC and "Hitting with Mays" on FSN. For the first time, I noticed what an affront to decency the number font on the Phillies' jerseys is. It looks like a cartoon font.

It looks like they don't use that font when you order a jersey from the shop, so I can't find a decent linkable picture of it on a jersey. Here's a picture of the font on a T-Shirt. When did they start using this? Not before the WS 1993 season, I hope. Does anyone else do anything uglier?

The Phillies just dropped to the bottom of my complex baseball rooting hierarchy, even below the Yanquis, ChiSox, BoSox, and Cubs. All because of the font.

2. Go Longhorns! I'm cheering for Texas to win the College World Series because I love thier softball team's pitcher, Cat Osterman. I know that makes about as much sense as rooting for the Yanquis because Shameka Christon is your favorite WNBA player, but I don't care.

3. [Back to the Twins.] Okay, so I figured we wouldn't win, but maybe a couple of runs in the 9th in either this game or the previous night, just to show we still remember to hit?

4. Carlos Silva, Twins nation turns its lonely eyes to you. If Silva can't get us out of this, I fear we've got til after the All-Star break before it starts going any better. He's our #2 starter to me.

5. I'm not exactly sure that the White Sox will lose again this season.

6. Luis R (1.0) is hitting .313 since returning from the DL, including .357 as 2B. His hustle tonight led Robertson to pitch (instead of throw) to first and ended up leading to Dmitiri Young leaving the game with an injury (which could have helped) and the Twins' only run (which could have helped). Since he's back, he's got as many hits (5) as anyone on the team. Not that it's good for him, just bad for everyone else.

7. Going to the game tomorrow with work. Home-run porch. Hope to catch Luis R's first extra-base hit of the year.

8. I'm really not that much of a Sonic Youth fan anymore, their new stuff hasn't struck me like the first 12 or so albums did. But when you've gone to every concert in the Cities since 1995 (6 or so), it feels wrong to break the streak because of a lackluster album or two. Plus, they're always good live. Always looking to hear "Eric's Trip" or "NYC Ghosts & Flowers" again.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Blogger Night

1a. I shouldn't have gone to tonight's game. I brought the bad vibe. C and I were in the car to the Dome, and we were stuck behind a SimonDelivers truck. The ad on the back was for frosted flakes and related Tony the Tiger cereal products. Tony the Tiger was shown there twice. I should have turned around and saved the Twins the game, but I already had my ticket, and C was looking forward to it.

1b. If the Twins lose Thursday's game (which I am also going to), I'm going to think long and hard about whether I should go to next Wednesday's game.

1c. Maybe I wore the wrong shirt. The one I wore (green Sonic Youth) was there for the win when I went last summer vs. the Red Sox. Maybe it had only one win in it.

1d. Maybe I'm more of a TV-watching baseball fan anyways. When watching TV, you can know whether to complain on a bad call. And you're less likely to jinx the team, being further away. And beer is cheaper.

2a. Nice to meet you... Aaron, Skorch, SBG, frightwig, Twinsgeek, Icebox. One thing about me is that I cannot talk to celebrities. I try too hard to not be an idiot. Well, Aaron and SBG and frightwig and Twinsgeek are a bit of celebrities for me, and SBG and frightwig are people that write something I aspire to. I didn't want to be the dork that works himself into the cool kids' conversation and proves that he is a dork surrounded by cool kids. That's why I probably said more to Skorch than everyone else combined, he's not a celebrity to me. All that, and I had to make cure C was happy and visible. [Not that anyone was being a "cool kid" to me, everyone was nice.]

2b. PS. Congrats to Skorch and Twinsgeek for getting to sit in the owner's box. looking forward to hearing what you heard from Carl. There's no one I would rather see have a personal audience with Carl than Twinsgeek.

3a. C loved her first baseball game. Even though she fell down some concrete Metrodome steps head-first (just like Nick Punto would), she didn't want to leave, saying "I'm Okay" and "I'm awake!" I don't think she realizes that teams are competing. "Just exhibition, like the home-run derby," I bet she thinks. Her "Hit the ball man" was the reason for Shannon's double in the 4th. Unfortunately, she kept saying "You're out!" most of the night.

3b. Seeing her face full of wonder when the starting lineups were announced was just great. Christmas look in summer.

3c. I had to lie and tell her that the game was over when they sang "Take me out to the ballgame." I felt that leaving in the 7th gave the Twins 3 innings to get things straight without me messing up thier mojo. Plus, leaving just as Lee Greenwood started singing seemed appropriate. They should use that when the Twins win, not in the 7th, as the Twins' equivalent of the Yankees' "New York, New York" or the Phillies' "Streets of Philadelphia."

4. I need to give up on rooting for the new Kyle Lohse to stick with us. He's gone. Old Kyle is the only Kyle. This severly disappoints me. I thought when he got out of the first scoreless, that he had done it, that he was all the Kyle he could be, but alas, he's just all the Kyle he ever was.

5a. How is Luis R (1.0) better than Luis R (2.0)? At the very least go with the hot hand and keep playing Rodriguez.

5b. Luis R (1.0) is batting .250 since returning from the DL, but .300 at 2B. He still doesn't have a hit for extra bases on the season. Tonight in the 6th, he had a great-looking hit just fair down the first base line. I thought "this is it, a double from Luis R (1.0)!" but no, he stopped at first. Probably wisely, because it was fielded quickly, I think. My eyes were fixed on Luis R's running. Or walking. I assume he's now saving the first extra-base hit for a really special occasion. Like when you're in a new relationship, but you've waited too long to say "I love you" and you can't just say it anymore because that would be a let down. No, Luis is saving it for extra innings, probably when he's a defensive replacement and there's no one left on the bench, the bases will be loaded, the team will be down three and there will be one out and Luis will hit a homerun. Because a two-out double in an already decided game will just be too little, too late. If it was that easy, why did you wait so long for it?

6. Guerrier is definitely our mop-up man now. He goes in to keep the game respectable. (1 ER, 2.1 IP). Mulholland could go in and give the Twins a better chance to get back in by shutting the door, but he could also make the game embarrasing, giving up another 5.

7. I really believed that we could avoid the June slump this year. Guess not. We'll have to come back with those "best after the break" runs. Wish the break was next week.

8. Confidential to "TB." When you're a club looking for your first winning season, you've tagged Randy Johnson for 7 ER in 3 IP, and you've got a 10-2 lead in the 5th, don't let the other team outscore you 18-1 the rest of the way. And never let them score 13 in one inning. The demoralization from this game alone just put your program back one year.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

My Baseball Fandom

So I am going to tonight's game at the dome with C. (Her first MLB game). I'll be there with the blogger's night and admission possible.

I hope to meet a few of you tonight, but first, here's a little bit about me...

I grew up in south-central Minnesota, born in the late 70s in the fall. Early on, I tried several sports: T-ball/baseball, hockey, and swimming. I even did some soccer. I was never really good at anything athletic, maybe except swimming, which I stuck with through 8th grade. I think would have hit an in-the-park homerun in Kindergarten-age T-Ball, but the runner before me won the game. It was probably the only time in my life that I hit the ball well. And really, it was probably a single or fielders choice, but there were errors on the play (I didn't watch, I was running so hard).

Despite not having any ability, I was a baseball fan, and collected cards for a few years. We didn't have cable and only had the small-town newspaper, so I really didn't get a good chance to follow the team, or baseball in general.

The contrarian in me rooted for the Cards in '87, although I only remember Tudor, Pen~a, and Ozzy from that team, while I probably remember most of the Twins.

In 1991, I was strongly on the Twins bandwagon, and rooted through the WS over the Braves. Then, I really started paying attention to baseball, rooting for the Blue Jays in the 1992 World Series, and the Phillies in 1993 (My all-time favorite non-Twins team). Then, in 1994, the Expos were my team. And then the strike.

I lost interest, I went to college and didn't have a TV or read the sports pages, and the Twins were lousy anyways. I got into politics, pretty hard . I graduated and married E and got a job. I guess I knew that the Yankees were winning a lot.

Then in late March 2001, when E was driving me to work, we listened to KDWB*. Dave Ryan was interviewing Twins CF Torii Hunter, who I had never heard of. He was beaming with confidence a couple of days before the season started, despite the fact the he was starting the season on the DL. "I think we've got a pretty good team this year." Or something like that. *I don't listen to KDWB anymore, and I take the bus to work.

I figured I'd give them another chance and leave when they showed that they were still losers. Well, they had the best start in franchise history, with a record like 38-12 50 games in [note: many not be actual record]. And though I didn't watch many games (no cable) and listened only intermittently, I was hooked. I didn't know any of these players with Slavic names, so the whole team was new to me, but in about 2 months, I went from former baseball fan to baseball fan.

They faltered down the stretch, on what seemed to be a lot of blown saves by LaTroy. But I was back and watched almost every game in the playoffs that fall, including every game in the D'Backs over Yanquis WS.

In '02, my committment to my politics drove me to run for State House with my third-party orientation. I was horrible at it and lost handily (less than 5%), while my Twins won their division and beat the A's in exciting fashion before losing to the Angels. I was not good at politics and I had periods of severe pessimism bordering on light depression. I cared too much and was tilting at windmills.

In the summer of '03, my daughter C was born, and I had cable TV. It turns out that late-night feedings aren't so bad if you can watch a replay of a baseball game or Sportscenter re-run. I expanded my horizons

In '04, I saw an upcoming presidential election and feared that my guy ("the lesser of two evils," or "the devil you know") would lose, and that I would care too much and read too many political weblogs and get depressed and unhappy. So I made a decision: replace politics with baseball. I found Batgirl to replace Andrew Sullivan. Seth Strohs replaced Instapundit. And I watched nearly every Twins game and listened to the rest, and avoided cable news altogether.

In August, I realized that I would much rather have the Twins win the WS and have president "greater of two evils" than have the reverse happen. I was happy and content. I still pay some attention to politics, but don't care that much anymore. I care about baseball. Thank you Twins, thank you Batgirl and her commentors, thank you Seth. You are my methadone.

Anyways, this is my fifth year of adult baseball fandom, and I still don't get to many games, so please don't be too mean to me if I just don't get anything, or have lapses of baseball history, especially from 1994-2000. I'm learning a lot, but I still have a lot to learn, and never having played makes me a bit behind the curve as well.

So, I will be there at the dome tonight wearing a bright green Sonic Youth T-Shirt, and a red TC cap. I am a white guy with a beard and a blonde little 2-year old daughter. I will have an army-green backpack/diaper bag on my back. Please say hello.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Jose Lima...

... Should pitch for the Pirates. He seems pirate-y and his skin complexion, black goatee, and bleached hairdo would go so well with the Pirate's home unis. Yellow contacts would look good on him too ... sure he'd look crazy, but I think that may be what he's going for.


1. The Twins have lost 3 series in a row, and 7 of their last ten games, the first time they've been worse than 5-5 in the last ten all season. No long winning streaks, but no losing periods. Until now, which must qualify as our first slump. I'm sure this is our traditional pre-all-star-break slump. Now, we're back to pitchers that Toriii can't say he hasn't seen before (although that hasn't really been a problem for him so much).

2. Johan walks more than he K's? Crain gives up a run? Clearly, the slump poison goes all the way through the club.

3. I sure hope this is the extent of our slump. I'm considering attending 3 of our next six, so I want to see some winning, or at least not slump-continuing losing.

4. The three games I am thinking of going to:
a. Tuesday at blogger's night. Thinking of bringing C to her first baseball game. Will have to leave early to get C to bed. Working on possible logistics.
b. Thursday with a group of about 20 from work. Jason Johnson vs. Carlos Silva.
c. Next Week Wednesday: Royals day game. Carrasco vs. Radke. If I can get enough stuff done at work.

5. My first game since moving to the Twin Cities was in August 2001, the Monday day game of a four-day weekend series against the Royals. Chuck Knoblauch did not play. The Twins first loss of a 15-game or so losing streak that put them out of contention. I figured it was my fault. I finally got to another game last year. Radke beat the newly Mientkiewicz-ed Red Sox, so it turns out it wasn't my fault after all.

6. Luis R (1.0) is hitting .222 since coming off the DL, including hitting .286 at second base.

Saturday, June 18, 2005


At the beginning of the season, I had these playoffs predictions (which I only told to a coworker).
AL Central: Twins (5.5 games behind White Sox)
AL West: Texas (1.5 gb Angels)
AL East: Yankees (5 gb Orioles)
AL Wildcard: Cleveland (3 gb Twins)

NL Central: Cardinals (7.5 games ahead of Cubs)
NL West: Padres (1.5 ga Diamondbacks)
NL East: Atlanta (4 gb Nationals)
NL Wildcard: Florida (3 gb Phillies)

Not looking too bad yet, especially with Kenny Rogers pitching the best he ever has in Texas this year, and Cleveland finally figuring it out. I don't mind if the Yankees make my predictions wrong, or if the Nats do. So far, it looks reasonable, barring a secong-half meltdown like the Brewers had last year.

(Eat At) Dennys

1. I missed the first 9 1/2 innings, but boy was I happy to see Dennys Reyes enter the game in the 11th. We ate him up bad one game when he pitched for the Royals last year, and he's just as tasty this year. Can the White Sox trade for him?

2. Happy to see that Silva's pitching into the 8th again, but troubled to see TJ Mulholland is pitching in the 9th inning of tie games. But hey, he faced four batters, three lefties, and got all the lefties out. Maybe there is something to that "playing the averages" thing that Mr. Burns spoke of when deciding to pinch hit Homer for Darryl Strawberry.

3. Rivas is hitting .333 since coming off the DL. Are there any other Luis R's in the majors or AAA? Let's trade for them. I want one game where the whole infield is Luis Rs.

4. Can anyone tell me why Williams's game-winning hit wasn't fielded? It didn't seem to be unusual, but I just couldn't get a decent look from the one TV replay.

5. Morneau as wearing a red undershirt, as JC did frequently last season. I didn't notice anyone else with a red undershirt, but I only watched 6 outs and a game-winning run.

6. I sure hope Mark Buerhle is never traded to the Yankees. I believe his powers come from his "beard" and having to shave that would render him as useless as Loaiza was without his goatee, and probably as silly-looking.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

No Hawk

1. What an ugly f'ing loss. No comments. I prefer not to curse. Gratefully, it was not televised (which I was complaining about when it was 4-0 and Mays has retired three on four pitches).

2. Rincon blew Guerrier's win.

3. Rivas is off the DL, switching places with Abernathy. No rehab stint, which I hoped could help Luis R (V 1.0).

4. Seven run lead in the 9th. Why the hell did Felipe Alou not put LaTroy Hawkins in? It's a f'ing homecoming, damnit.

5. AL Central in June:
Royals 10-4
Cleveland 9-5
White Sox 8-5
Twins 8-6
Tigers 8-6
The Royals are my non-home team to root for (at least this year). If the Twins ever do get contracted, they're my allegiance (couldn't cheer for Milwaukee or the Cubs). Glad to see they're turning it around after an awful start.

Loshe Lhoses

1. I was thinking that Lohse had turned the corner, but he seems to have regressed a bit over the last two games. Since he's been skipped in the rotation, he's hasn't had that much of a meltdown inning and has given up 3 or fewer runs in 6 innings or more, but then he gave up 3 in the 4th against Arizona, and now 4 in the first against San Fransisco (3 Earned)*. It looked ugly. But it was like Radke with singles and a HBP and a double. From there it was 6.0 IP, 6H, 1ER, 5K, 0 freebies (BB, HBP, Balks)

1a. *Which run wasn't earned? Was it based on Mauer's passed ball?

2. I can't help but think some of those first inning hits were due to the nonstandard defensive positions, with Williams at third and Cuddy at second. I think Cuddy would have had one of those hits past third, and maybe Luis R. (2.0) would have had another up the middle, but I might be confusing innings.

3. Still no Hawkins. Last chance tonight, Felipe. No excuses at all (okay, only if Tomko has a CG SO going).

4. Jose Lima got a win!

5. Looking at the details of the Nationals' road uniforms, I really shouldn't like them. The white on the road hat's "W" seems to contrast with the grey of the road unis, and the font on the unis is so different from the "W" on the hat. But looking from a distance, they just strike my eye as one of the best, do not look like a new uni at all. I really like the dark blue as the only color on greys, with just a little red stitching here and there. No one else does that, although it should be an obvious choice. San Diego and the Brewers get close, but both have too much straw instead of either red or grey. Whoever came up with thesen avoided all those trendy things that look so bad: sleevelessness, weird colors, black, excessive piping or pinstriping. They're just plain greys with navy as the color and red as the accent. Hopefully, the redesign that will inevitably come in 10 years or so will make them a bit more consistent, and make the home unis blue too.

5a. Washington's Road Cap is great, Navy, white W with a red border. Second best cap in the Majors! (#1 is Twin's home TC).

6. Frightwig corrected me, Baltimore has "Orioles" on their road jerseys. Are they ashamed of Baltimore?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Scioscia and cheating

1. Last night, the Angels'* skipper Mike Scioscia got into a hissy fit because relief pitcher Brendan Donnelly was ejected for pine tar on his glove. In defense of his pitcher, he said: "Pine tar is accepted practice for pitchers. Pine tar is not doctoring the ball; it's just giving you a normal grip for guys who sweat a lot if it's cold."

Yet, when the other teams pitchers are cheating, he gives them no benefit of the doubt: "If Juan Rincon comes back and pitches 11 days from now, are the effects of steroids going to deteriorate to where his talent is back to his God-given level? No. He'll have the benefit of whatever steroids he took. I guarantee you, in 10 days, Juan Rincon does not become a mere mortal. I think he'll still be throwing the ball pretty good with the enhanced chemicals." (Source.)

Now, I realize that it's one's prerogative to assume the best about your team and the worst about the others, but Scioscia's just a bit too loud about it

*The only team in MLB to wear their nickname on their road jerseys.

2. Jesse Crain got his 6th win last night against a depleted Giants team that kept us tied through 10. I was a bit afraid that the Souhan curse might get to him. Juan Castro has been 0/11 since Souhan gave him a full-article shout-out. Crain had a profile on Tuesday, but luckily LaVelle wrote it, and the Twins scored right after Crain pitched.

3. Sanatana pitched allright, too, I guess, it's just that 3R in 8 IP with 7K and 2BB feels like a merely OK night for him. We're spoiled here in MN.

4. Is LaTroy the kind of player who gets booed (Chuck Knoblauch, AJ Pierzynski) or cheered (Doug Mientkiewicz, AJ Pierzynski, Corey Koskie) on his return? Or will we not see him at all (like Eddie Guardado last year)?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Weekend thoughts 2

6. I'm a little bummed that Rice lost to Tulane in College baseball, I caught their game 2 meltdown to Tulane on ESPN on Sunday, and just fell in love with thier unis. White with Black calligraphic "Rice" and Black hats with a while calligraphy R. That's it. Stark and beautiful. If NWA (the rappers, not the airline) had been college baseball fans instead of NFL fans, Rice would have fit the look the same the Raiders did.

7. If the Braves hadn't lost when wearing those bright red alternates they wore on Sunday, something was wrong with the Baseball Gods.

8. Q: Do the Twins miss anyone less than Luis Rivas? Good to hear they're gonna give him a rehab assignment. Make it a looonnnggg one, fellas. If we demoted him, would he be claimed off waivers? (A: Maybe Cristian Guzman.)

9. I heartily agree with commentor SLW (thanks!) that road team rules should apply for interleague games. I would love to see Santana at bat at home (he's good at it). I'm sure Clevelanders would flock to see Carsten Sabathia hit (he's better at it).

9.1 Side Thought: Why isn't CC Seabass in the NL? His batting skills are totally being wasted. He could bat as long as possible when pitching and probably be a decent PH on other days. I know, CC's batting is only a small sample size, but he'd definitely be hitting 8th on the Nats - In front of Guzzie.

10. Re: Nationals. Nice to see what kind of an impact fans can make to a team. I remember the Twins' series in Montreal last year. I think the max attendance was 4,000. It felt like they were playing in Siberia. Or maybe Moose Jaw. And they played like they deserved to be in Siberia. Now it feels like they are a bona fide major league team. And lo! they play like it. Sure, there are other things, but playing for no one must feel like crap.

11. Sunday afternoon, I also caught a bit of the Rochester Redwings at Richmond Braves game broadcast on FSN. I saw Corky Miller get a hit! Now, I know that had happened before, but just because it says so in his stats line doesn't mean that I have to believe it, but now I saw and believed. Keep reaching for that talent-based callup Corky!

12. What did Afleet Alex do to not win the Kent. Derby? He seemed to run twice as fast as all the other horses on the closing stretch in both the Preakness and Belmont.

I think I need to edit my thoughts and focus, or at least connect my ideas. Else I'll ramble too much.

PS. Thanks to all who have read and commented so far.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Weekend thoughts 1

I fell asleep as soon as Nathan had the third out on Saturday.
Sunday was one of those beautiful MN days that makes you remember the reasons other than the Twins that you live here. Had to do some playing/working in the yard, grilled brats for supper and barely kept up with the game on the radio.

1. Man does Hee Sop Choi have the Twins' number. 6 HR in three days. Doubling his HRs for the season. And I thought we had to worry about Jeff Kent... Glad we only have to play him one series every 4 years (on average). Choi particularly owned Radke, slugging 3.000 yesterday, and that's bases per pitch. Giving him and IBB each at bat probably would have given us a sweep.

2. At least I know know why Gardy put TJ Mulholland in on Friday night, TJ apparently can get Hee Sop Choi to strikeout, when he's not letting him hit GW homers. I guess Mulholland is now our LOOGY (Lefty One-Out GuY). I never pay any attention to Hitting or Throwing Right or Left because it just seems too much for my head. I could give you the first two digits of just about anyone's batting average or ERA on the team, but what hands they use confounds me unless it's drilled into my head (Lefties: Mauer, Morneau, Santana, Aaron Fultz, Terry Mulholland; Righties: probably everyone else). Dang, one of the things that made me proud of the Twins is that they bucked convention and didn't have a LOOGY after Fultz fell apart last year.

3. The Dodgers seem to be a damned good club right now, with the fans they deserve. I got confused during the AZ series when cheering would come from Twins getting the plays. No confusion in LA.

4. I did not like Gardy's decision to let Bradke bat in the 6th yesterday (2 outs, runners on second and third), especially after he pulled Silva after 6 the night before with a lead. But if it weren't for Jeff Kent's heroics when Choi lost the ball in the sun, it would have worked out. Also, turns out Silva's knee (the one with the torn meniscus) was feeling funny.

5. I like JC Romero's new haircut/beard combination. Looks real sharp.

Gotta go catch my bus. More thoughts tonight, I think.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Two in a Row

The Twins just suffered thier second consecutive loss to the Dodgers. Of course, the last one was 39 2/3 years ago.

1. Terry Mulholland? In the 9th? In a tie game? On the road? Did anyone see us winning when that decision had been made? I'm sure Gardy said "We don't deserve to win this game. Tell TJ to serve up a gopher. I need to sleep." Now, I like TJ more than most, probably because he played for the '93 Phillies, but c'mon. What was Romero doing? Or Nathan? Or even Matt Guerrier?

2. Jesse Crain should require a new pitching statistic to be created, the "In-Game Save" or something. Not a hold, because that requires a lead, but something that represents how many times he comes on with Runners In Scoring Position and doesn't let them score, if we're tied, or down by one or something. And tonight he did it in two consecutive innings. (Inning 2 had the leadoff runner get to second on a throwing error.) Bummer to blow that on Old Man Mulholland's Hara-kiri.

3. Can MLB make a rule for interleague play? Names on the backs of all players jerseys? The Dodgers field a team of NL players that I've probably never seen before, but have heard of. It would be nice to connect faces to names, but their stupid nameless jerseys prevent that. The only guys I knew were Jeff Kent (Who has played in several recent postseasons), and Jason Phillps (the only catcher in MLB to wear his helmet forwards when catching). I guess I now know who Hee Sop Choi is. Well, I know Eric Gagne, but that goes without saying.

4. Watching sports in other time zones is different. Two weekends ago, I was in Alaska, and I walked out to a glacier on Sunday morning. When I got back, before noon, the Twins had already lost to Halladay in Toronto. (ESPN was available at the B&B). Tonight, I'm back in MN and the game last until nearly 1am. One thing that would bother me if I lived in Alaska: no late-night sports. Ever.

Well, that's day one of blogging. That's what I think I will usually do. Less analysis than Gleeman, Less sass than Batgirl, Less information than Seth, Less knowledge than SBG, Zellar or Frightwig. But a lot more concern about uniforms.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Intro/"My Bat-Stick"

Intro: My name is amr. Actually my initials. I don't want to give out too much info, at least not yet. Let's see if I stick to this.

I am a Twins fan, and I've been an errattic commentor at Batgirl, but I felt that the boards were getting too big, and that my silly one-liners were too often off-topic or lost in the mi(d)st of 500-comment conversations that I could no longer read in their entireties, so I'm trying to go off on my own. We'll see what happens.

"My Bat-Stick": I have a little daughter named "C", not yet 2 yrs old. Last Sunday, her mother was out of the house on some errands, and I was watching the Twins beat the Yanks on TV during C's nap. C wakes up and comes and watches the game with me. Now that's nothing new, she's watched lots of sports with me, and we have a routine. I sit on the floor and cover up with a blanket and let her play in the "bathtub" I make between my legs. I get to watch my game(s), she gets to play with me for a long period of time.

Well, on Sunday, she sits in her own chair and watches like it's one of her movies (Veggie Tales or Baby Einstein). She says either "Baseball" or "Basketball" (she gets them confused but knows football from the b-balls). Then she starts to take an interest in the game itself. "Throw the ball, man." "That man's got a black stick." (I tell her the stick is called a bat so now it's a "bat-stick".) "Catch the ball, man." "Hit the ball with the stick." "That man has a black mitten." Etc. She already knew "safe" and "out" and the appropriate gestures. Yay! She's actually getting into it.

During commercials, I switch to ESPN's coverage of the Women's College World Series. Cat Osterman and the Texas Longhorns (I immediately decide to root for them) against Arizona in a scoreless elimination game. C notices "Girls playing baseball." (Yay.) She notices the Yellow ball and I tell her the game is called Softball when it's girls and the yellow ball. Back and forth between both games and she leaves and gets toys and then comes back to the games. She sits on my lap. Fun for me, aided by Wins for the Twins and Texas.

The next day, as my wife, E, and I are doing dishes, C plays in the yard where we can see her. When we aren't looking, she dips into the garage. We quickly search for her and find her with a wicket(?) from our inherited croquet set. "My bat-stick!" She happily proclaims, and swings it awkwardly. God bless her little heart. "Hit the ball!" I get her baseball from inside and she drops the ball on the ground and takes some golfinsh hacks at it with the wicket.

"Should we get her a bat?" E asks. God bless her, and we shortly leave for Wal-Mart. We bring back a bat and tee set. Green bat, yellow and green balls. No gloves for toddlers. She still doesn't have the general shape of a swing, but she's interested, and I'm continually more and more in love with this little girl.

Related: Apparently, on Monday while I was at work, C asked E to watch the horse races. We'll surely be watching the Belmont this Saturday. (Horse races are great: combining my interest in sports and her natural interest in animals.)

See? I couldn't have put that on batgirl's comments page. I'll bring pictures of her when I figure out how.