GameChat – Tigers @ Twins #2, 7:10

To quickly cover some injury updates:  I’m going to call this good news although, depending on your attitude and viewpoint it could be called ‘bad news even if it’s not the worst news’.  Joel Zumaya fractured a bone in his elbow on that throw last night and is done for the season.  The reason I see it as good news is that a) no Tommy John surgery, b) bones actually heal faster than soft tissue with less lingering problems later and c) he really should be back and ready to pitch with his team next year.  I wish him well and hope for a quick and easy recovery.

In Twins notes:  JJ Hardy is ripping to get back on the field – he’s pain free and pushing the staff to let him come back before the schedule they had planned in advance. BREAKING NEWS: JJ will have his first rehab start on Wednesday!  Casilla is also progressing and getting close to taking batting practice.

On to tonight’s game – I really do feel like this is a make or break start for Nick Blackburn.  Given how much I like him as a pitcher and how much I like it when the Twins do well, I really hope his May form returns.  *crosses fingers*

Detroit @ Minnesota
Jackson, A, CF   Span, CF
Damon, DH   Hudson, O, 2B
Ordonez, RF   Mauer, C
Cabrera, M, 1B   Morneau, 1B
Boesch, LF   Kubel, RF
Guillen, C, 2B   Cuddyer, 3B
Inge, 3B   Thome, DH
Avila, C   Young, D, LF
Santiago, SS   Punto, SS
  Galarraga, P     Blackburn, P

 

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

 

WOOOOOOWWWW!!!!  YAY for a fantastic WIN!  GREAT outting for Blackburn who probably kept his job with this outting.  Feels good to have an offensive explosion to remind the boys that they do know how to do that. 

Oh yeah, and how about Denard Span?!!??!?!?!!?  I really don’t know how to talk about a Twin who hits THREE TRIPLES in one game.  The last player to do that in MLB was Rafael Furcal in 2002 but the last TWIN to do it was Kenny Landreaux WAAAAAY back in 1980.  And he now leads the American League with triples this year – 7 (so far ;) )

Yeah, there was some great offense out there tonight but no one matches that tonight.  Spanky is CLEARLY the BOD in unanimous vote of the chat!

Who “Aces” the Twins test? (poll)

This is another long winded JimCrikket post. If you want to skip all of JC’s BS… I mean all of his in-depth and well thought out analysis… and just respond to the poll, scroll on down to the bottom and let us know what you think.

We’ve had our share of debates here, whether in the comments sections or during our GameChats, about whether adding Cliff Lee or another starting pitcher is needed, desired, a good idea at the right price, or none of the above. Lee seems to have resulted in the most divisive responses, particularly when we mentioned Bleacher Report’s contention that a Lee for Ramos/Duensing/low prospect deal had been made before Ramos’ recent injury.

But the Twins have been linked in the media with a few other possibilities as well, notably the Astros’ Roy Oswalt and the D’Backs’ Dan Haren.  In fact, I read somewhere over the weekend that the Mariners were now going to hold on to Lee until closer to the trade deadline because the offers they were getting didn’t provide the value they wanted  and they felt the market would improve if they waited. Reportedly, this was because of the significant number of other potential top-of-the-rotation guys on the market now.

All of which got me to wondering. Who are these “aces” that are supposedly available and, most importantly, which of them would look good in a Twins uniform? So, I set out to find out which ace we’ll be watching lead the Twins to a World Series title this fall.

To begin with, it seemed to me that I needed to set some parameters on the search. First of all, I don’t think many of us are interested in adding another middle-of-the-rotation pitcher. If we’re going to cough up Wilson Ramos and/or other players at or near the top of the Twins’ prospect list for a starting pitcher, it has to be someone with a legitimate ace-type pedigree. But where do you find those guys?

Aces get to be aces by missing bats, plain and simple. Pitching to contact is all well and good. You can have yourself a nice little career inducing lots of ground balls and not walking hitters, especially if you have some decent gloves behind you. But if you want to sit at the top of my rotation, you need to sit a lot of hitters down. I decided that if you aren’t currently among the top 40-50 in baseball in Ks, you aren’t likely to qualify to be the ace of my favorite team.

The next criteria I considered was availability. Again, simplicity required an arbitrary decision. I decided that no team that was currently less than 10 games out of their division’s lead was likely to start cleaning house and, conversely, any team that IS at least 10 games out would at least listen to offers at this point. This narrowed the list of potential trade partners for the Twins to nine teams. That seemed convenient, since I was hoping to come up with about 10 potential targets.

Even more conveniently, when I went down the list of pitchers with the most strikeouts this season and looked for those currently toiling for one of the nine potential trade partners, I reached 10 names with the 40th pitcher on the K list… just barely allowing Cliff Lee to squeak his way on to my list!

In addition to Lee, the other candidates for future Twins ace include: Dan Haren (DBacks), Ryan Dempster (Cubs), Felix Hernandez (M’s), Roy Oswalt (Astros), Zach Greinke (Royals), Ian Kennedy (DBacks), Edwin Jackson (DBacks), Kevin Millwood (Orioles), and Brett Myers (Astros).

Yes, I know… there are guys on that list that will certainly NOT be wearing a Twins uniform any time soon. But including a pitcher like King Felix as we do a little more analysis does, if nothing else, provide a bit of perspective in terms of the quality of whatever arm the Twins would actually bring in.

Likewise, I added an 11th name to the list before going beyond just looking at strikeouts. I added the 13th name on the K-list, one Francisco Liriano. The idea is that we’re looking for an ace and that means whoever we bring aboard should, at the very least, be as valuable in that role as the current Twin pitcher who comes closest to being a legitimate ace (and no, mustache or no mustache, I just can’t get my head around Carl Pavano being “ace” material). For comparison purposes, I also included numbers for Nick Blackburn since he would likely be the current starter bumped from the rotation (yes, I could have used Kevin Slowey instead, but for this purpose, trust me, it doesn’t matter because they’ve both been, shall we say, mediocre).

Now comes what either constitutes the fun part or the part that makes your eyes glaze over, depending on how you feel about statistics. I don’t particularly enjoy debating them for hours, myself. But as much as some of you would like to, we just can’t decide who the Twins should trade for based on facial hair, stirrups, or what their butts look like in baseball pants. We have to look at a few stats. Sorry.

Again, I chose to look at a few that would indicate to me that the pitcher is more than just successful. Those that indicate some level of dominance this year (after all, this may be the only year we have the guy and we want to win it all this year). In addition to total stikeouts, I also chose to look at Innings Pitched (IP), Earned Run Average (ERA), Walks+Hits/Innings Pitched (WHIP), Strikeouts per 9 innings (K/9), Strikeouts to Walks ratio (K/BB) and Wins Above Replacement player (WAR). (All stats were through Sunday’s games. For the sake of brevity, I’ll explain my reasons for choosing these stats in the ‘comment’ section.)

Name and strikeouts IP WHIP ERA K/9 K/BB WAR
Haren 109 108.1 1.31 4.65 9.1 5.19 0.9
Dempster 105 110.2 1.17 3.58 8.5 2.84 2.2
Hernandez 105 112.2 1.19 3.28 8.4 3.00 1.6
Oswalt 97 104 1.13 3.55 8.4 3.34 2.3
Greinke 89 104 1.19 3.72 7.7 4.45 1.4
Kennedy 89 100.1 1.23 3.77 8.0 2.23 1.9
Jackson 85 107 1.38 4.63 7.1 1.89 1.3
Millwood 81 101 1.51 5.22 7.2 2.61 0.4
Myers 77 100.1 1.36 3.20 6.8 2.20 2.5
Lee 76 86.2 0.91 2.39 7.9 19.00 2.5
Liriano 100 92.2 1.22 3.11 9.7 4.00 2.7
Blackburn 26 79.2 1.67 6.10 2.9 1.18 -0.5

So just at a glance, what can we see?

First, the obvious, every one of these guys would be a significant improvement over our current #5 starter.

Second, a little more surprising, Liriano actually is leading all the others in two of these categories… Ks per 9 innings and Wins Above Replacement. Does this mean we already have our ace? (Granted, it didn’t look like it Monday night!)

Third, there’s a reason a lot of people like Cliff Lee. He’s the best (or tied for the best) in this group of potential additions in four categories… WHIP, ERA, K/BB and WAR. You could make a pretty good case that he would likely also lead in Ks and IP if he hadn’t gotten a late start to his season.

Now, it’s time to thin the herd a bit. Let’s remove the pitchers that (a) the Twins have no realistic shot at obtaining, or (b) the Twins shouldn’t even want because they aren’t truly top-of-the-rotation guys.

The Mariners aren’t going to give up Hernandez and the DBacks aren’t going to let go of Kennedy (who’s still working for MLB’s minimum wage). Despite his recent no-hitter, Jackson’s numbers just don’t stack up well neither do Millwood’s (though either might be worth adding for the right… much lower than what people have been discussing… price). Admittedly, the odds of the Royals and Cubs letting go of Greinke and Dempster, respectively, aren’t very good, but we’re just spitballing here anyway.

Now things get trickier. We have half a dozen guys who could lead the Twins to the Promised Land.  But at what cost… in trade and in dollars?

Let’s assume, for our purposes, that the trade would involve Wilson Ramos, one other “major league ready” prospect not currently on the active 25 man roster (think Manship, Swarzak, etc.) and one lesser prospect from the A-AA level. That settles the trade “cost.”

Here’s the hard money cost and contract situation for each of the six still in consideration (assumes existing team would not pay any of remaining contract):

Haren(RH): half of $8.25 mil for 2010. $12.75 mil for each of 2011 and 2012. $15.5 mil club option for 2013 with $3.5 mil buyout. Total commitment:  $33.125 mil (if buyout exercised)

Dempster(RH): half of $10.5 mil for 2010. $13.5 mil for 2011 and $14 mil Player Option for 2012. Dempster agreed to defer $3 million of his $13.5 mil 2010 contract to make room for the Cubs to sign Xavier Nady this offseason. As a result, his 2010 salary is $10.5 million and he gets $1 million by Feb 1 of the next 3 years. That amount gets added to what the Twins would have to pay out. Total commitment: $35.75 mil (if player option exercised)

Oswalt(RH): half of $15 mil for 2010. $16 mil for 2011. $16 mil club option for 2012 with $2 mil buyout. Full no trade clause. Total commitment: $25.5 mil (if buyout exercised)

Greinke(RH): half of $7.25 mil for 2010. $13.5 mil for each of 2011 and 2012. Total commitment: $30.625 mil.

Myers(RH): half of $3.1 mil for 2010. $8 mil mutual option for 2011 with $2 mil buyout. Total commitment: $9.55 mil (assumes player exercises option)

Lee(LH): half of $9 mil for 2010. Type A free agent in 2011 (team gets 2 compensation draft picks). Total commitment: $4.5 mil

So if you’re the Twins, what goes in to your decision-making process?

If you want a lefty, the decision is pretty easy. Cliff Lee is the only southpaw among our ‘final 6’.

Do you want to minimize your total financial commitment? Again, Lee makes sense, but Myers also becomes an interesting option. With Lee, you know he’s leaving at the end of the year and you get your draft picks. With Myers, he’s most likely going to opt for free agency after the season (and would, at best, be a Type B FA, netting the Twins one supplemental pick if they offer him arbitration) so he likely would only cost the Twins about $1.5 million for half a season. if he DOES exercise the option for 2011, you’re still only on the hook for less than $10 million and you have him around for next year, too. I would add that, since everyone would assume he would be a half year rental, the cost in trade should be less than the package we assumed above, as well.

Do you want more than a half year rental? Then toss out Lee and Myers and focus on the other four options. Greinke can be yours through 2012. Oswalt, too, and if he bombs, you can walk away after 2011 by buying out 2012 for a couple mil. You’d have Haren for the same two years plus an option on his 2013 season. Dempster would be around for at least 2011 with a possibility that you’d be stuck paying him a fair amount in 2012 if he exercises his option (players generally only exercise a player option if they think their value on the market has decreased).

Add it all up and who do I think the Twins should pursue? I went through all this exercise and I still want Cliff Lee (but I could live with some of the others).

But you’re all smarter than I am, so what say you? Play Bill Smith for a day and tell us what you do. Make a choice in the poll below and feel free to leave a comment, as well. – JC

GameChat: Tigers @ Twins – 7:10 pm

This is where things get kind of interesting. The Twins have just a half-game lead over the kittycats as they head in to this 3 game series. Gardy is celebrating the return of the DH role by inserting Mr. Thome in the lineup. I’m not sure he’ll know how to handle having to pick up a bat more than once in a game, but we’ll see how things work out. Cuddy gets yet another start at 3B… this time at home. I’m still not sure I like the idea, but looking at this lineup, there really is no excuse for not scoring at least five or six runs, no matter who’s on the mound against them. – JC

Detroit @ Minnesota
Jackson, A, CF   Span, CF
Santiago, 2B   Hudson, O, 2B
Raburn, LF   Mauer, C
Cabrera, M, 1B   Morneau, 1B
Boesch, RF   Kubel, RF
Guillen, C, DH   Cuddyer, 3B
Inge, 3B   Thome, DH
Laird, C   Young, D, LF
Worth, SS   Punto, SS
  Bonderman, P     Liriano, P

 

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

 

CB – ok, this game just sucked.  This is not the time for Liriano to have issues when we are having other issues too… glad to see that he pulled his head out of his butt after the first few innings and got back to throwing well.  The epic moment of the game was Jim Thome hitting his first TRIPLE since 2004.  Wow.  There is much debate about whether it was better than Redmond’s.  Of course, he also followed that with a LONG bomb to actually get the Twins back in the game.  Sadly, it takes 9 players to do that, not just one.

The joy of tonight’s game was ended shortly after with a relatively normal looking pitch from Joel Zumaya and the very tragic reaction after the follow-through.  I was going to post video if I could find it but I didn’t really have the heart to keep looking at it.  It’s really painful to watch.  However, if you missed the original event and are perplexed at the reactions from other fans, you can go here to SB Nation. What you can’t see in the video is the hand just trembling uncontrollably while the training staff runs out to him.  It was really a very scary moment for everyone in the park.

Our thoughts go out to him and we hope he is feeling better soon and that the news is better than it looked on the mound.

GameChat – Twins @ Mets #2, 12:10 PM

This team needs a break out game to shake this slump. It won’t be easy against old friend Johan Santana, but let’s get it done anyway!

TWINS @ METS
Span, CF   Reyes, Jo, SS
Hudson, O, 2B   Feliciano, J, CF
Mauer, C   Wright, D, 3B
Morneau, 1B   Davis, I, 1B
Cuddyer, 3B   Bay, LF
Kubel, RF   Barajas, C
Young, D, LF   Francoeur, RF
Punto, SS   Cora, 2B (late change)
Pavano, P   Santana, J, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 6 10 0
NY Mets 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0

 

There hasn’t been a whole lot to get excited about during this interleague road trip, but you have to give credit to Carl Pavano for matching up with Roy Halladay and Johan Santana and coming away with a couple of wins. Baked goods to the four guys who each doubled in the first inning, to stake Pavano to a 4-0 lead (Hudson, Mauer, Kubel and Young), but there can be no Boyfriend of the Day but Carl “the Stache” Pavano.

GameChat – Twins @ Mets, 6:10

I still wish we had the opportunity to face RA Dickey in our time in NY but I’ll take Johan. ;) 

Of course, the biggest news for Twins fans between yesterday’s game and today is that Brendan Harris was outrighted to Rochester yesterday.  For those who don’t follow the terminology, that means he cleared waivers AND accepted the assignment rather than become a free agent.  I wish him the best of luck down there and hope he can get his bat back under him.  Oddly, instead of another infielder, they brought up Jason Repko.  He’s hitting pretty good down there but I admit that I’m a little conflicted in this choice.  It means we’re going to see more of Cuddyer at 3B – at least until JJ Hardy comes back.  It also means that it could give Span a breather here and there and perhaps less Kubel in the OF when that happens.  Span needs the break, I think and anytime there is less Kubel in the OF, the happier I, personally, am.

Minnesota @ NY Mets
Span, CF   Reyes, Jo, SS
Hudson, O, 2B   Feliciano, J, CF
Mauer, C   Wright, D, 3B
Morneau, 1B   Davis, I, 1B
Cuddyer, 3B   Bay, LF
Kubel, RF   Thole, C
Young, D, LF   Francoeur, RF
Punto, SS   Tejada, 2B
Slowey, P   Pelfrey, P

 

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

 

Blech…  first time all season that the Twins have lost four in a row.  I’d be happy if it is the only time, please.

Morneau: “didn’t like our energy”. Join the crowd, Doc.

Over at the Strib, Joe Christensen’s article on Thursday’s game quotes Justin Morneau as saying:

“That wasn’t the same Brewers team we played at our place [in May], and we weren’t the same either,” the Twins first baseman said. “I didn’t like our energy today. We got down early and didn’t show much of a fight. Obviously you give some credit to their pitcher, but at the same time, the energy in our dugout wasn’t very good.”

Following up on that theme, Howard Sinker posted some thoughts on his Strib blog, as well. Howard poses the question of whether the Twins miss a guy like Orlando Cabrera in the clubhouse.

Reading all this stuff about a lack of energy riles me up a bit, to be honest. I spent virtually the entire first 40 years of my life in baseball dugouts. From the time I started going to practices and games for the Albert Lea HS teams my dad coached to the time I started playing ball myself and on through the years I spent coaching CABA and traveling teams, I pretty much figured out what creates energy among a team and what depresses it.

Winning energizes and losing sucks the life out of dugout. It really IS that simple.

Yes, I know all about the rampant amphetamine use among ballplayers that has (supposedly) been curtailed since MLB started testing for the drug 4-ish years ago. I did, after all, read Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four”. (You haven’t read it? Seriously? And you call yourself a baseball fan!? Go read it. Now. The rest of this blog will still be here when you’re finished.)

There’s all sorts of speculation about how player performances (particularly older veterans) are not up to what they used to be because they aren’t as revved up, mentally and physically, as they were when the clubhouse coffee pots were marked “leaded” and “unleaded”… and it had nothing to do with caffeine. I can’t discount the possibility that some players really do have trouble performing at high levels, day in and day out, without a little chemical help.

Shall we take a collection to cure the Twins' "energy problem."

If that’s the Twins problem, then I say we all pitch in and send them a 4 month supply of the energy drink of their choice.

But I honestly believe the solution is more basic. Win more games. Lose fewer games.

Last Sunday the Twins were coming off an emotional extra-inning game against the Phillies on Saturday and were set to face Roy Halladay in an afternoon “getaway day” game. I didn’t see any sign of an energy shortage on Sunday. (I also didn’t see a “B-squad” lineup on the field for the Twins that day, either, by the way.)

After a couple of losses Tuesday and Wednesday, all it really took to KNOW that the Twins were going to phone it in on Thursday afternoon was a look at the lineup cards. Facing the Brewers’ ace, the Twins were Mauerless, had Cuddyer at 3B and Nick Blackburn on the mound. Seriously… how much energy would YOU have been pumped up with if you were in that dugout Thursday?

Here’s a little secret that those who haven’t played the game might not be aware of: Ballplayers can read scoreboards. They know when their starting pitcher has given up bunch of crooked numbers early in a ballgame. If you have to stage a comeback like last Saturday’s once in a while, players can and will rise to the occasion to do so. But when you have pitchers who are consistently digging early holes for themselves and their team mates, it WILL drain the team’s energy.

It would be great if the Twins, as a group, would come together and say, “hey, the Tigers and WhiteSox are playing well and gaining on us, we need to ramp it up and ‘battle our tails off’ every game and blah, blah, blah.” But I’m here to tell you, if the Twins starting pitching does not improve, they will continue to lack energy and continue losing games. Lots of games.

There are two things I think should be done as soon as possible.

1. Replace Nick Blackburn in the rotation with Brian Duensing. I know Blackie has had tough stretches in the past and has bounced back to be productive later. That’s great. I hope he can do it again. But until he gets his crap together, let him work on his issues out of the pen. Duensing has earned a shot at proving he can do it better.

2. Trade for Cliff  Lee. I know this topic is already getting old and people are tired of hearing about it. I know some people don’t think he’d be a good clubhouse guy. You know what makes a starting pitcher a good clubhouse guy? Giving him run support when he busts his butt to shut down the other team. In other words, winning doesn’t just boost energy, it also makes for a happy clubhouse. Funny how that works.

By the way, if this report is accurate, not only will a certain Omaha resident who frequents our blog not be a very happy camper, but it could also make it impossible for the Twins to execute both of the above improvements.

Actually, there is a 3rd thing that should be done immediately. Move Delmon Young up in the order. Gardy is just being pigheaded (again) and there’s no excuse for not having made this move already. It has nothing to do with energy (except that Young has it and Cuddyer doesn’t, lately), but it still needs to be done.

By the way, in case anyone was thinking that there might be an energy boost available in Rochester to help the Twins situation, go read the last couple of posts (June 23 and 24) on Jim Mandelaro’s blog concerning the Red Wings, who just wrapped up a 1-7 homestand. In the final sentence of yesterday’s entry, Jim tells readers that he’s taking a day off Friday (today) to cover the LPGA golf tournament being played (we presume) nearby. ” It’s a welcome respite from the deadly quiet atmosphere of the Red Wings’ clubhouse.” When your beat writer is looking forward to covering a women’s golf tournament instead of your game and hints that the golf tournament might not be as “deadly quiet” as your clubhouse, things are not going well.

Doesn’t sound like we should be expecting newly arrived outfielder Jason Repko to be providing an energy boost, does it? – JC

GameChat – Twins @ Brewers #3, 1:10

I really would like the boys to avoid the sweep today.  The ‘B’ lineup doesn’t give me a whole lot of confidence though.  I like Cuddy, I really do.  He belongs in RF.  *sigh* The fact that he’s manning the hot corner with Blackburn on the mound makes me VERY nervous. It should be Punto at 3B. Of course, it should be JJ Hardy at SS.

I miss our starting lineup – injuries chap my backside.  :(

Minnesota @ Milwaukee
Span, CF   Weeks, 2B
Hudson, O, 2B   Hart, C, RF
Morneau, 1B   Fielder, 1B
Kubel, RF   Braun, LF
Cuddyer, 3B   McGehee, C, 3B
Young, D, LF   Edmonds, CF
Punto, SS   Lucroy, C
Butera, C   Counsell, SS
Blackburn, P   Gallardo, P

 

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

 

Boy I’m REALLY sorry I missed the game today. It takes a lot for me to feel glad that I had budget work to do and couldnt really even follow the game online. But that’s exactly how I feel today. – JC

GameChat – Twins @ Brewers, 7:10

Twins kick off the second series with the Brewers tonight.  It’s time to rebuild that lead over the Tigers, starting tonight!

TWINS @ BREWERS
Span, CF Weeks, 2B
Hudson, O, 2B Hart, C, RF
Mauer, C Fielder, 1B
Morneau, 1B Braun, LF
Cuddyer, RF McGehee, C, 3B
Young, D, LF Edmonds, CF
Valencia, 3B Lucroy, C
Punto, SS Escobar, A, SS
Baker, S, P Narveson, P

.

For only the 5th time this season, the Twins scored 5+ runs and still lost. Missed an opportunity to put another game between us and the Tigers, too. Not a good night, all told. – JC

Carl Pavano’s mustache – Who’s to blame?

It’s not often that being old is good. Sure, it’s nice not to worry about getting ‘carded’ when I buy a beer at the ballpark, but other than that, I’d have to say getting old sucks.

So when the opportunity arises to make use of one’s advanced age by educating the younger baseball fans, I try to take advantage. Best to do that now, while I’m striking that precarious balance of being old enough to know stuff, yet not too old to remember it. Since I’m exactly at that point in my life, I can tell you all who is to blame for Carl Pavano’s mustache.

Reggie

It’s the man pictured at the right.

Yes, Twins fans, Reggie Jackson is the person responsible for those of you with a strong aversion to Pavano’s mustache having to try to simultaneously watch every minute of the games he pitches while not actually watching Pavano, himself.

You see, dating back to a time before any of you were born (think 1910-ish) and up to the early 1970s, historians record that only two players, Allen Benson (who wore a beard for two games in 1934) of the Senators and Satchel Paige (who wore a mustache when he was signed out of the Negro Leagues in 1948) of the Indians sported facial hair during regular season MLB games… and historians aren’t so sure Paige didn’t shave his before appearing for the Tribe.

It’s not that there was a rule against facial hair. Not an official rule, anyway. It was more like one of those unofficial baseball rules. Kind of like not running across the pitchers mound. By the early 1970s, a few players were showing up for Spring Training sporting various forms of facial hair, but by Opening Day, they all were shaved clean… until 1972. That’s when Reggie Jackson not only showed up for the A’s Spring Training with a fully grown ‘stache, but announced to anyone who would listen (including his manager, Dick Williams, who had been told by owner Charley Finley to make Reggie shave) that he intended to keep it… and would be adding a beard to go with it.

Rollie Fingers

Jim "Catfish" Hunter

Finley and Williams decided Jackson was just trying to assert his individuality and thought they could counter that… and get Reggie to shave… by having a few other players ALSO grow mustaches. Thus were born what became trademark mustaches for A’s pitchers Rollie Fingers and Catfish Hunter. Needless to say, the strategy backfired. Soon a lot of the A’s were growing mustaches of varying styles.

Finley, a bit of a renegade himself among MLB owners, saw an opportunity for a promotion. He not only backed off on his anti-facial hair position, but in May, Finley even announced a Fathers Day promotion… “Mustache Day”. Fans wearing a mustache would be admitted free of charge and he’d pay a $300 bonus to any player sporting a mustache by that Fathers Day game.

Every player collected the bonus. Many players, like 1B Mike Hegan, shaved immediately after collecting their Fathers Day bonus. Hegan claimed he shaved because his wife didn’t like it (can you say ___ whipped?). But by later in the season, most of the players had grown them back. Even Manager Dick Williams was wearing a ‘stache. Why? As 3B Sal Bando explained, “Well, we had success as a team, so everyone stayed with it.”

That fall, the A’s won the first of their back-to-back-to back World Series Championships.

In other words, Babs (and the rest of you who want to see Pavano get rid of his mustache), if I may be allowed to re-phrase a quote from the great baseball philosopher, Crash Davis, “… a player on a streak has to respect the streak.  If you believe you’re playing well because you’re (wearing a mustache), then you ARE! And you should know that! ”

Who knows… maybe Carl will be a trendsetter, just like Reggie. – JC

GameChat – Twins @ Phillies #3, The Mustache Match, 12:35 pm, WFTC29 & am1500

I’m making a call – and probably about as right as Dick & Bert usually are – here’s the new Twins giveaway when they return to Target Field:

 

What is with all the media love of Carl Pavano’s gamma radiation-fed growth on his upper lip????  After each and every start from the big italian (or even during the broadcasts), the home and away announcer teams will make repeated references and the game recaps – even on ESPN! – will include some reference to how follically blessed the game was.

I can only hope that they are determined to make the best of a bad situation and are trying to turn their horror into cash.  Because, no matter how much we talk about it – no matter how many times Joe Mauer is asked if it’s a distraction – no matter how much Carl Pavano has to feed it during opponents half-innings – it’s UGLY.  Sorry Pav, it does you no favors.  I was shocked to discover in some behind-the-scenes video that, when you smile, you are actually a truly good-looking guy!  Hot even!  When on the mound and staring down an opposing batter with your lip curled back to your left ear, not so much.  I’m hoping that is a positive and you are just intimidating them.  But the mustache?  It’s just not working for you.  Your face needs some balance.  Bring back the Van Dyke or see what happens if you have a full beard a la Jeff Reardon.  It might not be better but I don’t think it could be worse  *knock on wood* so can we please end the mustache experiment and move on to something else?   

Oh yeah, I bet we could move on to the game we’re suppose to play today and lineups, right?  It’s a little sad that we couldn’t just end the series yesterday and leave Philly on that note but no, now we have this rubber match to play today – a game day, a getaway day.  I really hope the boys went home and got some rest after that marathon yesterday and are ready to smack the ball around a bit today.

Minnesota @ Philadelphia
Span, CF   Victorino, CF
Hudson, O, 2B   Polanco, 3B
Mauer, C   Utley, 2B
Morneau, 1B   Howard, 1B
Cuddyer, 3B   Werth, RF
Kubel, RF   Ibanez, LF
Young, D, LF   Schneider, C
Punto, SS   Valdez, W, SS
Pavano, P   Halladay, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 4 11 0
Philadelphia 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 4 1

 

Wow, today really WAS all about Pavano.  That was just a spectacular performance from a pitcher at a time when the team really needed an innings eater.  *bows*