GameChat – Twins @ Indigenous Peoples #1, 6:05. “Who are these guys?”

“Who are these guys?”

That’s the persistent theme during the first 20 minutes or so of the classic baseball movie, “Major League”. Nobody, from the team’s directors to the coaches to the stadium groundskeepers to the diehard fans in the local bars recognize the players on the Cleveland Indians’ roster as they go through spring training and move north to start the season.

That’s kind of how I feel about this year’s Tribe. Wasn’t it just yesterday that a series with Cleveland meant facing off with Captain Cheeseburger and Cliff Lee?  Where’s Victor Martinez and what happened to Casey Blake, Kenny Lofton and Jhonny Peralta? Those were guys you could take some pride in beating!

OK, yes, technically, Peralta is still an Indian. But he kind of reminds me of another quote from “Major League”…

Manager (seeing Roger Dorn arrive at spring training): “I thought you said we didn’t have any high-priced talent on this team.”

GM: “Forgot Dorn ’cause he’s only high priced.”

And yes, I realize our old friend Mike “Naked Batting Practce” Redmond, is with Cleveland. But honestly, if you’re as big a fan of the movie as I am, you have to be able to imagine Red Dog sprawled across a bed (a la Tom Berenger’s “Jake Taylor”),  and answering the Indians’ phone call with, “Is that you, Tolbert? This isn’t very funny yanno. I’m hungover, my knees are killing me and if you’re going to pull this shit, at least you coulda said you you were with the Yankees.”

(This is where I planned on saying something clever and yet condescending toward Cleveland regarding how the makers of both Major League and the sequel, Major League II, didn’t even want to actually film the movies IN Cleveland. Instead, they used Milwaukee County Stadium in the original movie and Baltimore’s Camden Yards in the sequel. But then I recalled reading that the movie “Cedar Rapids”, scheduled for release later this year, was filmed in Ann Arbor MI. Here in Hawkeye country, that’s tough to accept. As hundreds of t-shirts in Columbus OH will tell you, “Ann Arbor is a w****”)In any event, our guys are in Cleveland tonight to take on the Tribe. In Babs’ absence, I’m going to try to post the line ups and set up the GameChat. If you come here and you see neither, blame me (though you may have to wait a while to yell at me cuz I’m probably watching at least the first few innings in a bar). – JC

Minnesota @ Cleveland
Span, CF   Cabrera, A, SS
Hudson, O, 2B   Sizemore, CF
Mauer, C   Choo, RF
Morneau, 1B   Kearns, LF
Cuddyer, RF   Hafner, DH
Kubel, DH   Peralta, J, 3B
Young, D, LF   LaPorta, 1B
Hardy, SS   Valbuena, 2B
Harris, B, 3B   Redmond, M, C
Slowey, P   Carmona, F, P

 

Well THAT was a heck of a lot more fun to watch than any of the Detroit series.  Good to have the M&M boys back in the lineup.

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 2 3 0 0 1 0 2 0 1 9 12 0
Cleveland 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 3 12 2

 

And the chat group was UNANIMOUS in it’s support for BOD for Orlando Hudson.  Big ol’ cookie for Justin for coming back with style though!

Who do YOU hate?

So, since CapitalBabs and I were the only two in the GameChat during this afternoon’s Twins/Tigers game, we had to find things to talk about. One of the topics we hit on was this article, in which the WSJ presents the Nielson Co.’s analysis of something they call an Internet Algorithm, which concludes that the Cleveland Indians are the most despised Major League Baseball team. The Cleveland Indians? Seriously?

(Do you suppose that’s the same Nielson Co. that tells us all the crappiest TV shows are actually being watched by millions of people and, as a result, we keep getting more crappy TV shows to watch? I bet it is.)

Normally, I think you have to give the Wall Street Journal some respect. They’re a pretty reputable (if somewhat conservative) newspaper. But today, I’m thinking maybe they should stick to writing about business and leave sports to someone else.

Babs and I both thought the conclusions of the WSJ/Nielson Co. were, to be polite, wrong. In fact, I’d be willing to bet good money the Indians don’t even come close to being the most despised team. Actually, I’d give you pretty good odds that I can tell you exactly which team IS the most despised team without the benefit an algorithm of any kind… and that team barely cracked the top 5 in the WSJ/Nielson rankings.

But to be fair, Babs suggested we  put out a poll after the game to see what the rest of you think. I’m not going to list every team here because, let’s face it, who can really hate the Royals or even care about the Padres? But if you truly hate another team more than any of the 11 listed below, there’s a “someone else” box for you and you can let us know in the comments section who you really hate. And if you want to lie to us and say you don’t hate anybody, ok, there’s a box for that, too. – JC

P.S. – I was really tempted to add a “the ‘team’ of umpires working the Twins/Tigers series” as an option… but I didn’t want to skew the results based on one pathetic series by one particular umpiring crew. Of course, no poll asking “who I hate” is really complete without Bud Selig being on the list, but I’ve made my feelings about Bud pretty clear already, I’m sure.

GameChat – Twins @ Tigers #3, 12:05, FSN, am1500

Who knows who will be able to take time this afternoon to watch the game with the nephew and I.  These noon starts during a weekday are hard to predict – especially after such a spectacular failure last night.  I guess if you are going to mess up, mess up big!  And wow, what an odd lineup today.  It seems like Detroit is a place that requires some creativity from the management!

Minnesota @ Detroit
Span, CF   Jackson, A, CF
Hudson, O, 2B   Damon, DH
Cuddyer, 1B   Ordonez, RF
Thome, DH   Cabrera, M, 1B
Kubel, RF   Boesch, LF
Young, D, LF   Inge, 3B
Harris, B, SS   Laird, C
Hughes, L, 3B   Sizemore, 2B
Butera, C   Everett, SS
  Pavano, P     Willis, P

 

I’m not sure that I have ever been happier that a series was over. Yuck.

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 1
Detroit 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 x 3 7 0

GameChat – Twins @ Tigers #2, 6:05

Welcome to the Bigs, Luke Hughes!  Another crazy lineup but after last night, it looks halfway normal!

Minnesota @ Detroit
Span, CF   Jackson, A, CF
Hudson, O, 2B   Damon, DH
Mauer, C   Ordonez, RF
Thome, DH   Cabrera, M, 1B
Cuddyer, 1B   Boesch, LF
Kubel, RF   Inge, 3B
Young, D, LF   Raburn, 2B
Hardy, SS   Avila, C
Hughes, L, 3B   Santiago, SS
  Baker, S, P     Scherzer, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 2 0 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 6 13 1
Detroit 1 0 0 4 0 6 0 0 x 11 13 0

 

oh man, OUCH, I am kind of glad that I didn’t hear or see anything past the 4th inning!  From the looks of the boxscore, I got to see all the really good parts – including Luke Hughes’ first major league at bat and the kid likes to do things in style!  Congratulations Luke!  We’re glad to have you on board!  I’m never going to complain about having an aussie cutie on the bench!

photo courtsey of Brian Henricksen

Whaddya Worried About (poll)?

Yes, the Twins are off to a great start. But let’s face it, MLB history is littered with teams that got off to great starts and couldn’t seal the deal. And it’s not like our guys have been doing EVERYTHING right, right? I mean… is there any group of fans less excited than Twins fans when their team loads the bases against an opposing pitcher, at this point? And yeah, people pick on Little Nicky Punto and Brendan Harris has his fans, but are you really ready to turn 3B over to Harry long term, if Punto’s groin is going to be a long term issue? And how about this “stiff back” of Morneau’s? See… there are all sorts of things for Twins fans to worry about!

So let’s find out what everyone is MOST worried about (cuz you know we ALL worry about SOMETHING… it’s in our heritage as Twins fans!).

GameChat – Twins @ Tigers, 6:05

Sorry Jan, no new word on Punto.  But they are pulling out all the left-handed stops tonight against Verlander.  I really despise this particular lineup but I know it’s going to end up changing as soon as we get to the bullpen… and I hope we get to the bullpen sooner rather than later.

Minnesota @ Detroit
Span, CF   Jackson, A, CF
Hudson, O, 2B   Damon, DH
Mauer, C   Ordonez, RF
Morneau, 1B   Cabrera, M, 1B
Cuddyer, RF   Inge, 3B
Kubel, LF   Raburn, LF
Thome, DH   Laird, C
Hardy, SS   Sizemore, 2B
Harris, B, 3B   Santiago, SS
  Liriano, P     Verlander, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 2 5 0
Detroit 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 3

 

Wow, was THAT some odd baseball…  a) Span must have been accused of saying something very naughty because he certainly didn’t do anything else to deserve being tossed – especially on a VERY bad call from the ump  b) See what happens to your fielding options when you START with a DH in the OF???  and c) Thome?  and infield base HIT??  really?!?! 

But, chat BOD goes to Franky!  Beautifully pitched game and even though I think that the Detroit radar gun is a TAD suspect, it said Liriano hit 96 mph tonight which is great to see.  And a great big Thank You Very Much to the Detroit Circus Tigers. 

The (Unwritten) Rules of Baseball

I don’t think it was our plan to do so, but perhaps our theme for this off-day is books on baseball. While reading this post over at Babes Love Baseball today, I was reminded of a book I learned about from another blog several weeks ago that intrigued me.

It seems like I’m constantly trying to catch up with all the Twins and general baseball blogs I enjoy reading (if it weren’t for Google Reader I’d never even know where I left off, so thank goodness for RSS). A while back I read a post at Over the Baggy that mentioned a New York Post article about a new book, The Baseball Codes by Jason Turbow. Parker pulled out one Twins-related story from the article, but I was curious enough about the topic that I read the entire article, which I found fascinating.

Probably part of the reason I found this fascinating is just that my knowledge of baseball history is pretty lacking. I want to improve that, and I do pick up a little here and there, but there’s only so much time in the day, you know? I’ve picked up a handful of books over the past few years, but finding time to read them is an entirely different issue.

But a larger part of the reason for my fascination is that I just don’t know very much about the rules behind the rules of baseball, the ethical code the players follow that doesn’t really have anything to do with MLB’s rules (as far as I can tell, anyway). I played some community rec center softball when I was in elementary school, but none of this really came up at that age. Certainly most, if not all, subcultures have these types of customs that I have no reason to know about as an outsider, but I didn’t realize how much baseball’s affect actual game play. So, I have decided I need to learn more.

When I looked for the book mentioned above at Amazon.com, a couple of other books published within the past couple of years or so popped up in my search as well. So, dear readers, I’m asking you to help me decide which one I should purchase. I might have a slight preference for the first two in the poll just because they both have Kindle editions available and I really don’t have much room for books in my new home, but I’ll go with the consensus. If there is one. The full titles and links to Amazon.com follow.

The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America’s Pastime by Jason Turbow (published March 2010)

The Unwritten Rules of Baseball: The Etiquette, Conventional Wisdom, and Axiomatic Codes of Our National Pastime by Paul Dickson (published March 2009)

The Code: Baseball’s Unwritten Rules and Its Ignore-at-Your-Own-Risk Code of Conduct by Ross Bernstein (published March 2008)

(I sense a theme with those publication dates.) (I really hope the poll works, as I had a tough time getting this to save and publish.)

Off-day History Lesson: April 26-May 2

I’m a bit of a history buff. I love reading about history. I love watching movies with at least a basis in history. So leading up to this baseball season, it should come as no surprise that any time I’ve ventured in to a bookstore, I’ve walked out with at least one book about baseball’s history.

That’s not to say I always read those books… at least not right away. In fact, I admit I bought two copies of Fay Vincent’s, “We Would Have Played For Nothing.” Obviously, I thought it would be a good book during a visit to a book store… twice.

Bob Showers’, “The Twins at the Met” is a terrific “coffee table” book for old timers like me who have so many great Metropolitan Stadium memories. Reading through it is like reliving every summer of my youth and my teen age years.

A year or two ago, I read “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Minnesota Twins”, by Steve Aschburner and found myself literally laughing out loud in public more than once and Jim Thielman’s “Cool of the Evening: the 1965 Minnesota Twins” is must reading for every Twins fan who remembers the 1965 Championship season.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I really enjoyed Joe Posnanski’s, “The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O’Neil’s America”. In fact, I’d put that at the very top of my favorite “baseball books” list.

All of this is just leading me to today’s off-day rambling (hey, at least I’m not ranting about Bud Selig again!). I bought “162-0: The Greatest Wins in Twins History”, by Dave Wright, over the weekend. Mr. Wright’s premise is to go in to detail about the best (in his view) Twins victory that took place on most every date during a baseball season, from Ron Gardenhire’s first victory as the Twins’ manager on April 1, 2002 to Jack Morris’ 1-0 gem in game 7 of the 1991 World Series on October 27 of that year.

I’ve read enough to catch myself up to date in the season, but I’m trying not to read ahead too far. I’m enjoying reading a few days, corresponding with where we’re at in this season. Sometimes the game chosen by Wright to represent a particular date is unique because of something special one of the players did or because of something peculiar that happened during the game, but they all have one thing in common… a Twins victory. You have to love a book with 162 stories, all with happy endings! (Actually, it’s 167 stories, since Wright had to include last season’s game 163 plus four World Series victories!)

A Monday “off day” seems like a good day to provide a glimpse of the week ahead, April 26-May2… throughout Twins history. As you might imagine, not all of the interesting games the Twins played on a given date in history were captured in Wright’s “162-0″, so I’ve done a bit of web-searching to supplement the information in his book.

April 26 has been pretty uneventful, it turns out (unless you count April 26, 1986 when a game against the Angels was delayed when winds ripped a hole in the Metrodome roof.

Maybe April 27 is a better day to start with. We may find more eventful dates as we go forward with this (assuming I feel inspired to do this again some time), but until we do, April 27 presents a very interesting group of games.

Here’s what happened on April 27 in the year…

1961: 74 year old Ty Cobb threw out the first pitch before the first home game of the new LA Angels as they hosted the Twins. It was Cobb’s last visit to a ballpark prior to his death.

1969: Camillo Pascual hit a grand slam home run in the Twins’ 11-1 win over the Indians. What’s the big deal about that? Pascual was a pitcher for the Twins and this was the only grand slam home run ever hit by a Twins pitcher.

1969: Harmon Killebrew hit his 400th career home run over the BitchSox (yes, even in 1969, I’m sure the southsiders were bitches.)

1980: The Twins hand pitcher Geoff Zahn a 10-0 lead over the A’s in the first inning, but he doesn’t record a win. Zahn was removed after giving up 8 runs in less than five innings. Doug Corbett gets the win as the Twins outscore the A’s 20-11.

1994: Scott Erickson, after losing three straight games and seeing his ERA rise to 7.48, throws the third no-hitter (and the first in 27 years) for the Twins as they blank Milwaukee 6-0.

By comparison, April 28 has been relatively uneventful. In fact, the most eventful game on that date in Twins history was met with a collective sigh as they managed to beat the Orioles 4-2 in 1988… as the Orioles set a new AL record for consecutive losses at 21 games.

April 29 has seen a couple of interesting games.

1962: The Twins swept a doubleheader from Cleveland and, in the second game, they tied a MLB record by hitting six solo home runs… two by Johnny Goryl and one each by Bill Tuttle, Zoilo Versalles, Lenny Green and Don Mincher.

1970: Relief pitcher Stan Williams saved a 1-0 win over the Tribe for the Twins and Jim Kaat… without any Indian completing a plate appearance. With Tony Horton on 2B, Vada Pinson fouled off Williams’ first pitch. Before the next pitch, Williams (who had pitched the prior four seasons for Cleveland) picked Horton off 2B to end the game. Horton was not the first runner Williams had ever picked off. In fact, he had picked off Roberto Clemente once and Stan Musial twice in his career.

It may not seem like much, but given the problems the current Twins have had with the Yankees, Brad Radke’s 2-1 win over the Evil Empire on April 30, 2001 is something to celebrate, even now. Radke gave up only 6 hits, with the sole run being a Tino Martinez HR. Doug Mientkiewicz drove in both Twins’ runs, one with a solo HR.

May 1 has seen a couple of notable pitching performances from members of the organization’s Hall of Fame (and one memorable hitting performance by a future member of that HoF).

1988: Frank Viola shut out the RedSox 2-0 at Fenway Park. It was the first complete game thrown by a lefty against the RedSox in Fenway in over four years.

2005: The Angels beat the Twins 2-1 at the Dome, marking the first loss by Johan Santana in 20 starts, going back to the prior year. Santana had gone 17-0 during that span.

2009: After missing all of Spring Training and the month of April with a bad back, Twins catcher Joe Mauer makes a triumphant return when he drives a Sidney Ponson fastball over the left field wall for a home run in his first plate appearance of the season. The Twins beat the Royals 7-5.

The Twins have been busy boys on May 2 throughout their history as well.

1963: The Twins picked up Jim Perry from the Indians. Perry would win the Cy Young award in 1970.

1964: The Twins enter the top of the 11th inning in their game vs. Kansas City tied 3-3. Tony Oliva, Bob Allison, Jimmie Hall and Harmon Killebrew rip four consecutive home runs and the Twins win 7-3. Only two teams, prior to Minnesota, had gone back to back to back to back.

1967: It was 32 degrees at game time, the coldest start of any game played at Metropolitan Stadium, before the Twins beat the Yankees 13-4 in a game that lasts less than two and a half hours.

1992: They weren’t consecutive this time, but once again the Twins hit four home runs in one inning as Shane Mack, Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek and Randy Bush ‘go yard’ in the 5th inning vs. the Evil Empire. The Twins win 7-6.

2001: Over 40 fans are ejected from the Dome after umpires pull the Yankees off the field during the Twins’ eventual 4-2 win. The fans had been throwing objects at former Twin Chuck Knoblauch.

Kind of a lot of excitement for this year’s group of Twins to live up to this week, isn’t it?

-JC

GameChat – Twins @ Royals #3, 1:10 pm, WFTC 29

Still no reports on Punto’s MRI or if his groin situation is improving but there was an entertaining bit in LENIII‘s blog this morning.  “Twins manager Ron Gardenhire got a game ball last night – from Jon Rauch for letting him back out for the 12th inning.”  I’m amused!

Minnesota @ Kansas City
Span, CF   DeJesus, D, RF
Hudson, O, 2B   Podsednik, LF
Mauer, C   Butler, 1B
Morneau, 1B   Guillen, J, DH
Cuddyer, RF   Callaspo, 2B
Thome, DH   Kendall, C
Young, D, LF   Gordon, A, 3B
Hardy, SS   Maier, CF
Harris, B, 3B   Betancourt, Y, SS
  Slowey, P     Bannister, B, P

 

I wish I could find something to be happy about in that game but I’m not in the mood.

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 12 0
Kansas City 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 x 4 9 2

GameChat – Twins @ Royals #2, 6:10

The Bad News:  I don’t have any updates on Punto’s MRI or general condition – sorry Jan, I did look.  The Good News:  despite the thunderstorms in the KC area, it does look as though the game will start on time or very close to it.

Oh, and for the few australian folk who seem to regularly view the blog, Luke Hughes is now officially with the team – even woke up his mom in Perth at just after 5 am to give her the news. All I can say is that it’s a good thing she already loved him cause that is darn early. We do seem to really like the australian boys here in Minnesota. :)

Minnesota @ Kansas City
Span, CF   DeJesus, D, RF
Hudson, O, 2B   Podsednik, LF
Mauer, C   Butler, 1B
Morneau, 1B   Guillen, J, DH
Cuddyer, RF   Callaspo, 2B
Kubel, DH   Ankiel, CF
Young, D, LF   Kendall, C
Hardy, SS   Gordon, A, 3B
Harris, B, 3B   Betancourt, Y, SS
  Blackburn, P     Hochevar, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Minnesota 0 0 1 2 1 0 2 0 0 0 1 2
Kansas City 2 2 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0

 

ok… um..  I’m making a complete mess of my keyboard typing with the nubs I have left after chewing my fingernails to the knuckles.  There was a lot of angst and screaming in the chat room from those who weren’t holding their breath.  Kind of sad that it had to end on such a bad call – even if it was against KC.  You never really feel good about a W in that scenario but I loved that the guys kept battling back in the rain even after a 4 run deficit.

We elected Joe Mauer as BOD but award donuts AND cookies to Morneau and Cuddy.  The bullpen all gets dry socks and undies for hanging in there.  Hope the rest of the boys hit the showers, get warm and sleep quick.

It was also interesting to hear Gardy in the postgame come to the same conclusion about Blackburn being on too much rest and overthrowing his pitches that we suggested in the gamechat.  I don’t have any worries that Nick’s elbow might not be ready yet – he’s good, just gotta get back on schedule.