So I’m just a little slow on the draw on this – happily that doesn’t make me gunned down. (AND it means that Seth already did some of the work for me but more on that later.)
To recap: KL, TheatreBrian, Lecroy24fan and I all headed up to St. Cloud for the TwinsCentric gathering with Sooze! It was most definitely a good time and I’m pretty sure that the bar manager had a bit of a crush on Sooz-ee. Can you tell by the signs he made for the event?
But a good time was had by all – lots of prizes given out, lots of baseball watched and lots of brownies eaten.
AND, in an unintentional coordination, I wore my “Chicks Dig Small Ball” Batgirl shirt and Kbro wore this home-designed piece:
BUT THAT WAS ONLY THE FIRST HALF OF THE DAY!
Happily, we won tickets during the TwinsCentric gathering for the Twins Alumni Game hosted by the St. Cloud Riverbats. We were planning to go anyway but it was really great to be able to go for free! To best describe the event and all the whos, whats and whys, you should read Seth’s column in the Strib: Saturday in St. Cloud. It really sounds like they are doing good work with this event and I can’t wait to go back next year. Really go read that or half what I say here won’t make any sense (if it ever does) because I’m just not going to repeat all the basics.
It was absolutely hilarious to see these guys coming in and playing a really WACKY game of baseball… the game had former players, minor league players, DJ’s, managers and you name it all attempting to play various positions. The operative word there really is “PLAY” because these guys were having a very good time – including the umps. You knew in the very first inning when Al Newman stopped mid at bat for a photo op with the pitcher that his competitive side was… not focused on baseball. Or when he gets fitted with a mic and immediately starts complaining from the dugout that the manager had taken away his one and only shot to bat cleanup at the last second and moved him down to 5th in the batting order. Yeah, it kep up like that the whole time. His “Nick Punto” dive head first into 1B had everyone – including the pitcher who was trying to tag him out – dying of laughter. And then there was the very vocal complaining about a bunt attempt, “oh no he didn’t, I am not coming all the way up here anymore…” as he walked back to his 3B position or the random singing of the Barney theme as a batter walked out… I’m kind of wishing they had left the mic on him all night.
Of course, the actual baseball itself was pretty hilarious at times. Like one time, a batter called off the pitcher going for a popup while running to 1B… it worked. Or a little bit of Riverbat circus because catching and throwing seem to be rusty skills. Or the inside the park homerun.. or Brian Raabe’s kid (batboy) saying he was probably going to have to hitchhike home because he wouldn’t say his dad was his favorite player… But as crazy as the baseball was, the “lineups” were worse. There really was no such thing as a batting order – it was whoever was ready, wanted to hit, wasn’t signing autographs or whatever other reason the manager put someone out there. Poor KL was actually trying to keep score of this game – yeah, she eventually gave up but here’s the proof!
Brian was very disappointed that we didn’t get to see Ron Davis pitch – he played 1B and then coached 1B – and I think we got the best of both worlds. We got to see a former player and didn’t have to see him implode on the mound!
With all that, I think the biggest frustrating for KL and I was that neither of us were well-prepared camera-wise. Of course, we still managed to get quite a few shots but hers were with her phone and my batteries died in the 1st inning. So we have what we have and that’s it. I hope you enjoy it:
But all that standing in line for autographs during the game was worth it to me – I came away with a great souvenir: a lineup card signed by Newmie, Koskie, Davis and Senor Smoke. 😀
One year ago today, I was able to attend a Rochester Red Wings game as part of a trip to visit a friend in upstate New York. She and I weren’t sure how the game was going to go after it rained our entire drive there (a couple hours or so as my memory serves), but the weather ended up being perfect. Since we weren’t sure if the game was going to work out in advance, we bought our tickets when we arrived and were able to get seats in about the second row very near home plate.
I don’t really remember much about the game itself (this is pretty normal for me), but if you want to check out the details, please visit this link. The Red Wings won in the 10th inning, but I actually had to leave the game before it was quite over (not normal for me) because I had somewhere else in Rochester to be, but we heard the win from the parking lot across the street. I will say that if you ever find yourself in the Red Wings’ neck of the woods during their season, it’s totally worth attending a game.
Something that has been fun for me this season is seeing a few of the guys I watched a year ago as “Twins of Tomorrow” become “Twins of Today,” even if some of them haven’t been around very long. A few photos of the more familiar faces follow.
Drew Butera, now our regular backup catcher.
Anthony Swarzak, who, okay, was technically already a “Twin of Today” last year, and hasn’t actually been up this year as far as I recall, but he could be up in September, right?
Trevor Plouffe, who has been called up for three short stints, I believe.
Danny Valencia, who’s been up since early June. (Sometimes I wish I had brought the camera with decent zoom to New York.)
Okay, so this guy isn’t a Red Wing or Twin, but Jim Ed Warden was a pretty fun sidearm guy to watch that day. He’s with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (part of an independent league) now.
Next weekend, the Iowa Hawkeyes open up their 2010 season hosting the mighty Eastern Illinois University Panthers and, being a Hawkeye football season ticket holder, I’ll be in Iowa City Saturday for the game. Likewise, my Saturdays for the next few months will be at least partially focused on the Hawkeyes. (I realize that it’s difficult for those of you in Minnesota to understand that level of dedication to college football. That’s understandable. Perhaps if there’s ever a Big Ten football program in Minnesota, you’ll understand the feeling better.)
But this weekend was still all about baseball and there have been so many interesting things going on in and around Major League Baseball lately, that my mind has had trouble focusing on writing about just one or two items. It seems like every day, I see a couple of things in the news and think, “Oh, I need to write about that!” So that’s what I’m doing today… I’m just tossing out my views (and perhaps a few links) about several things. If you came here looking for in-depth research and thoughtful commentary, boy did you come to the wrong place today. Instead, you get my ramblings.
MLB and Money
There has been a whole lot written, both in the traditional media and the blogosphere about the financial statements for several MLB organizations that were released over at Deadspin this past week. Among the teams for which documents were released were the Pirates, Marlins, Rays, Mariners, Angels, and Rangers.
In a nutshell, what the disclosure demonstrates is that even teams that have had very low payrolls, like the Pirates and Marlins, have managed to show a profit (thanks to MLB’s revenue sharing program). What I don’t understand is the extreme reaction in some circles to this revelation. But isn’t that exactly what revenue sharing is intended to accomplish? Sure, ideally, it provides competitive balance, but I would argue that it largely has done just that (with the glaring exception of the financial advantage the Yankees are allowed to maintain).
Did the Marlins use revenue sharing dollars to pay down debt instead of increase payroll? Yes. Bad boys. But they also got their wrists slapped by MLB for it and they’re now coughing up money on payroll AND let’s not forget, the Marlins have been a lot more competitive than a lot of other teams with much higher payrolls. So whether they used the revenue sharing dollars to do it or not, they HAVE been competitive.
Did the Pirates make $10-15 million a year in profits while taking revenue sharing dollars and selling off their top players? Yes. But they’ve been investing heavily in the international market and developing their minor league organization. And let’s face it… does anyone REALLY think spending an additional $10-15 million on major league players would have made the Pirates any more competitive?
There are changes that need to be made to make MLB more competitively balanced and if these disclosures lead to that, terrific. But I suspect all it does is give a bunch of fans more reason to bitch and moan about the big bad rich owners not being willing to spend more money than they take in on their teams. One thing is clear from the little bit I glanced over the documents. Teams that had good attendance had more money for payroll. Owners seldom jack up payroll in the hope of generating more attendance. It just doesn’t work that way no matter how much some fans wish it did. You want the owner to spend more? Go to more games.
I don’t like the White Sox.
That said, even I’ve got to appreciate Frank Thomas. The Whities had a ceremony Sunday where they honored Thomas by including his face on their outfield “wall of fame” (or whatever they call it… I don’t pay attention to that kind of thing). In my opinion, Frank Thomas is singularly responsible for elevating that organization in to relevancy during the 1990s. You think the Twins had some bad years? Check out the White Sox history before Thomas showed up.
I don’t know the man. Maybe his actions and words toward the end of his time in Chicago warranted how he was treated (some would say mistreated) there at the end. I know he and GM Kenny Williams had some pretty harsh public disputes. I don’t care about any of that, actually. What I do know is that I absolutely hated seeing Frank Thomas come to the plate against the Twins. He deserves to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and I’m glad the White Sox are finally showing him the love and respect he deserves.
Muscle (is it really a good thing?)
Stephen Strasburg’s 2010 season is finished. So is his 2011 season. He’s going to be spending the next 12-18 months recovering from Tommy John surgery.
A lot of Twins fans (myself included) have lamented the fact that the Twins don’t have an “ace”… a starting pitcher with arm strength to generate upper 90s velocity, with good control, who can “miss bats.” There are complaints that the Twins don’t even draft guys like that.
Ignoring for the time being that most guys who have that kind of “velo” AND control are not available by the time the Twins get to draft, I’m starting to wonder if it’s really such a bad thing that they don’t spend a lot of bonus money on those guys. Whether it’s a starting pitcher like Strasburg or relievers like Detroit’s Joel Zumaya (who can’t seem to stay healthy), it just seems like those hard throwers break down sooner or later (or both). Do you REALLY want to spend millions of dollars on guys who are almost certainly going to blow out their elbow before you see any value from them?
The human arm is not built to throw a baseball overhand that hard. And as this column points out, even though organizations are beginning to be ultra-conservative about their pitchers’ innings and pitch counts, the truth is that with all of the innings kids as young as 12 years old are throwing as they play year-round in multiple leagues, there’s a good chance the damage has been done long before draft day.
Moves (of the roster variety)
UPDATE (September 1, 2010): The Twins announced that Loek Van Mil is the “Player to be Named Later” in the Brian Fuentes deal, meaning Loek now becomes the property of the Angels. Best of luck to Loek! – JC
The media keeps telling us that we’re down to the wire on roster moves. I suppose that’s true to a degree, in that a player coming in from another organization has to be on the new team’s roster by September 1 to be eligible to play for them in the playoffs. To make room for Brian Fuentes, the Twins had to designate minor league pitcher Loek Van Mil for assignment. Van Mil may or may not have a major league future ahead of him, but I hope the Twins manage to hang on to him if for no other reason than it would keep alive the possibility of seeing a pitcher even taller than Jon Rauch on the mound (Van Mil is 7′ 1″).
As this article over at the Pioneer Press indicates, the Twins are going to be using the Disabled List to maximize their flexibility in building their playoff roster. So don’t be surprised when Clay Condrey and Joe Nathan are on the Twins “official playoff roster” announced this week.
So Manny Ramirez is taking his show on the road to Chicago this week. That’s going to be fun to watch. I personally don’t think there’s anything Ramirez can do to enable the White Sox catch the Twins. If the Twins don’t win the Central Division, it will be because they totally fell flat on their collective faces (I think after last year, we can call that “pulling a Tiger”… though that could be confused with the sort of self-destructive behavior for which a certain pro golfer has recently become notorious), not because Manny came in and turned the Southsiders in to a real baseball team.
I enjoy watching Manny. I enjoy watching him hit when he wants to. I enjoy watching him be totally oblivious about anything going on around him. I enjoy the way others are so fixated on him. He’s a phenomenon that I simply am entertained to follow… as long as he’s not part of MY team. That said, I’ve noticed a lot of White Sox fans are willing to say, “If this is what it takes to help us win, I’ll welcome him.” Interestingly, however, I don’t think I’ve read or heard a single Sox fan suggest that the team should bid for his services beyond the rest of this season.
I was going to include some thoughts about all of the Twins’ pending free agents after the season and how I think they may try to juggle roster spots with available payroll, but I’ve decided there is plenty of time for that later. For now, let’s just enjoy the final month of the regular season and hope for a successful postseason! – JC
This pregame is going to be very brief as I’m on my way out the door to my folks house – I will rejoin the gamechat there, I hope.
My one comment on the lineups today is that I’m glad to see ‘Lando out there since he was called “day to day” yesterday. And I’m pretty sure that this would have been a natural off-day for Thome anyway so hopefully his back will have a good chance to rest today and the team off-day tomorrow. Joe Mauer is getting his regular Pavano rest day so if we really need a big bat off the bench late in the game, I would think he’s a natural to be available. We’ll see. Anyway, catch y’all soon!
The good news is that the Twins are still 4.5 games ahead in the AL Central. The White Sox also lost today and to the Yankees! And Cuddy’s homerun was a real thing of beauty. That being said, it was a bit of a bummer to watch such a great pitchers duel and come out on the losing side of it. I can’t blame our offense tooooo much because they were trying to be aggressive on the base paths when they got there. And we didn’t leave huge numbers of runners on base or anything either – we just didn’t get on base often enough. So.. no sweep in Seattle – we still won the series. The boys will just have to use the off-day to regroup and come out Tuesday at home ready to take down Detroit.
As an aside, the White Sox are officially one player richer.. err.. poorer is probably more accurate. Manny Ramirez and the $4.3 million dollars left of this year’s salary now belong to Chicago. This promises to be an interesting end to the season and it’s obvious from the additions to both the Twins and the White Sox that each team intends to be serious about winning this division and being set well for the playoffs to follow. Gotta love it when you’re team is still in it no matter who you are… Sorry Baltimore fans.
While Babs and KL have been en route up to St. Cloud to party with Sooze and the TwinsCentric crowd, poor old JC has been left at home to slave away on the blog and get the GameChat post up. They never take me anywhere!
(The truth is, I’ve spent the afternoon getting a haircut, loading the dishwasher, buying some groceries and watching a “classic” Twins/BitchSox game on Comcast Sports. It’s from 2003 and, as we’d expect since it’s on Chicago’s cable channel, the Sox won the game 8-6 in 12 innings on a Frank Thomas HR. Nonetheless, it was kind of fun watching Kyle Lohse, AJ Pierzynski, Bobby Kielty, Doug Mientkiewicz, Corey Koskie, Denny Hocking, LaTroy Hawkins, Christian Guzman, et al, along with a VERY young looking Canadian first baseman wearing number 27. I REALLY miss Justin!)
Anyway… the important thing is that we have the Twins to watch (at least those of us in areas of the country where FOX is showing the Twins/Mariners instead of the Phillies/Padres do, anyway). There isn’t much point in scoreboard watching today, since the Bitch Sox and F’ing Yankees don’t play until tonight. The Tigers did lose to Toronto earlier today, however, and I suppose we should continue keeping an eye on the kitties for a while yet.
According to LEN3, the newest kid on the block, Brian Fuentes, is on the scene and wearing jersey # 51, so watch for him to enter if the occasion calls for someone to face a tough LH hitter late in the game (assuming the Mariners HAVE a tough LH hitter… I suppose Ichiro may still qualify).
There isn’t a whole lot to say about this game. Nick Blackburn pitched like…well… unlike I ever recall seeing him pitch before. He’s had some very good games as a Twin. He’s been a money pitcher late in other seasons, so it’s not like it would be unheard of for him to throw a good game against the Mariners today. But 2 hits (BOTH in the first inning), 2 walks (one erased on a DP ball), 6 strikeouts and only 98 pitches over 8.2 innings? I didn’t see that one coming.
Good thing he came through with a lock down game, though, because the Twins apparently have not burned their assbats. Danny Valencia, JJ Hardy and Denard Span deserve to share a giant banana split for stringing together three consecutive hits in the top of the 3rd inning to account for the Twins sole run. And the new guy, Brian Fuentes earns his own personal hot fudge sundae for coming in to nail down the win by striking out the Ms’ big lefty Russell Branyan for the final out of the game. (There was plenty of discussion around Twinsville, I’m sure, about whether Gardy should bring Fuentes in or let Blackburn try to complete the game… but when you are fighting for a playoff spot and you have a left handed closer-quality pitcher who is as close to being perfect against LH hitters as you can get, the decision becomes pretty clear. Good call, Gardy.)
As for Boyfriend of the Day, I’m not sure we’ve ever had an easier choice to make. Nick Blackburn, you are our BOD. Keep up the great work! – JC
So… it’s amazing what can happen in a day when you aren’t expecting something. And I think what happened today should just go to prove that the non-waiver trade deadline really doesn’t mean doodly for the Twins front office. Just in case your laptop/phone/twitter is not surgically attached to your fingers like it is for some of us, here’s the news today: Twins acquired left-handed closer, Brian Fuentes, from the Angels for a player to be named later or cash. Wow. According to Gardy, he’ll be mainly doing the lefty setup duties for Capps (and providing a nice backup in case it’s necessary).
This is really an impressive move by the Twins in my book. Not sure who I’m going to recognize any relievers coming out of our pen in a couple days! But I think this is clear that Perkins is not expected to be a long-term Left-handed option in the bullpen. But that’s just my opinion.
In other news (not quite as interesting), the Twins announced that they’ll be putting a statue of Calvin Griffith on the plaza with the other player statues. Apparently the big news of that situation is that Rod Carew is ok with the statue being near his. Good? I guess I appreciate the sensitivity of the situation and how they handled it – WAY more of a soft touch than I am even capable up. However, I just can’t get away from the part of it that makes me feel like the Twins can put whatever statue they want whereever they want. And I LIKE Rod Carew!!! I’m pretty sure that his permission wasn’t really necessary. Like I said, it just goes to prove that the Twins are nicer people than I am. Big surprise.
As far as tonight’s game.. oy, another west coast game. They are never good for my sleep schedule because once I start staying up late? I have a hard time going to bed early for awhile. Let’s hope that Baker is up to form tonight – both the for the sake of the Twins AND my fantasy teams!
There was some hilarious comments made about the game tonight and I wish I could actually remember more than a couple of them. My favorite was from Dick Bremer regarding the radar gun hitting 96 mph for Scott Baker: “Mariners are borrowing the radar gun from the Wisconsin Highway Patrol..”
And on the postgame radio interview, Danny Valencia even had TC laughing when asked how he chooses who to throw the ball to at the end of an inning: “First I look for a Twins fan, if I can’t find that, I look for a female…” Well, Danny, at least you are honest.
There were a couple other things that had me rolling tonight but given the lateness of the hour, my brain is sleeping and I don’t remember what they were. BUT, it was a fun game. We got to see our new lefty, Flores, go out there and throw the ball a bit – and he fits right in our bullpen facial hair wise. I think they were testing him out a bit tonight and he had some bad-luck grounders but I think we’ll see him used primarily as a situational lefty. Especially since Fuentes is supposed to arrive tomorrow. The official roster move was made post game and was exactly what most of us suspected and Glen Perkins was sent back down to AAA to get innings there. Scott Baker had a decent outting which I greatly appreciate – it wasn’t his best by the end of it and he’s still throwing too many pitches for my liking but it definitely got the job done tonight. And Matty Guerrier just MADE my DAY!! Coming into a bases loaded situation left for him by Flores, he nailed it down and got us out of the inning with a minimum of drama. For that he gets a Cheesecake on a stick in honor of the State Fair.
And the offense actually showed up!!! Go figure but Joe Mauer is hitting .399 since the all star break. Wow. He was 3/5 again tonight with 2 RBI. He’s definitely quietly moving his way back up the leaderboard. Go Joe! For such a fabulous outting tonight, you are warded an entire bucket of Sweet Martha’s cookies and all the milk you can drink.
Hard to believe that someone could beat that but I think the GameChat voted purely on entertainment value tonight giving our BOD to Danny Valencia – and NOT for his post game comments. The entertainment started early with a very fun catch in the Twins dugout which he held on to the ball but nearly required BOTH Twins catchers to keep him from a headlong dive over the rail. Then he hit a HAWT triple – because all triples are hot. And he ended up tying Mauer for RBI tonight. So for all that flash and dash, Danny Valencia is today’s BOD.
Hey folk, it’s that time of year again! I thought I would make sure you knew where to go to get your baseball fix while doing the Fair thing. The Twins and FSN have their little shindig set up on the South East corner of the fair by the Snelling entrance. If I remember correctly, it’s a big tent on the East side of Judson between Underwood and Cooper. How about a helpful Map?
Of course they have tons of Twins gear and such that you can pick up. They have official Minnesota Twins Baseball licensed merchandise plus an exhibit of Twins baseball memorabilia and interactive activities for children and adults. They also have free stuff and prize giveaways. At the very minimum you can get Twins bags and schedules for next year! Here’s the Fair promotional guide that you can look through for deals – baseball and otherwise!
I will admit that I really did only the most basic of searching for this and while I tried to find out if there was a schedule of player appearances at the Twins site and they didn’t have any Fair related info for current players. But here’s a link to the alumni players who are going to be there.
I did at least grab the link to the daily schedules. If you know what day you are going, you can check to see what’s going on that day. Of course, I have gotten the word from TC Bear that he will be in the parade every day at 2 pm so if you haven’t gotten your Twins fix by that point in the day, you know where to go.
And just because I found it and couldn’t resist sharing, here’s a little insight from April this year into what some of our Minnesota boys think about all that food on a stick!
A kind concessionaire named Brandi looked at the menu behind her and summarized it thusly: “How much more Minnesota can you get? Everything on a stick!”
Such adventuring spirit hasn’t quite infiltrated the home team, which, during the yearly Minnesota State Fair, tends to find itself in pennant races. Finding a walleye-on-a-spike veteran was harrowing.
Manager Ron Gardenhire? Nope.
“I’ve seen my buddy Walleye walk with a stick because he’s so drunk,” he said.
Reliever Brian Duensing? Negative.
“I don’t know if I could trust it,” he said. “The stick scares me. If it’s one a plate, sure. I might try it. I’m sure it’s not bad.”
Second baseman Orlando Hudson? You can’t be serious.
“I ain’t eating no fish on no damn stick,” he said. “I eat bass, crappy, walleye. But not on no stick. That don’t sound right.”
Everything else was fine. “This is a great town,” Hudson said, and it got even better when the threat of baseball contracting the Twins forced the city’s people to save their team. They could’ve said no. They could’ve done a bootleg job. Instead, they’ve got this new jewel in the middle of their city, set up and finished with a spike.
You know, I really think it would be fun to walk around the Fair with a couple of these guys on their first time!
So we’re up against the infamous Cliff Lee. If many Twins fans had their way, Cliff would be pitching FOR us against the rangers instead of the other way around. But I have to admit that I’m kind of looking forward to seeing him and Liriano face off. My concerns? I hope the nasty, filthy Liriano shows up. Oh yeah, and whereever the offense is on vacation, I hope they are back. I was getting a little spoiled this season, I’m a big enough person to recognize that. Three losing games in a row is pretty much my limit I think. I would really like to salvage at least one win from this trip south before we have to face the Sox again. You know how that is, I’m sure.
It’s really amazing how much better my mood is when the boys WIN a game – even if it was only one game of a 4 game series. A win is a win and I’ll take it. If it happens to be against Cliff Lee and Liriano was back to sizzling? I’ll be pretty darn excited by it! Tonight was a great way to come back and maintain a nice lead in the Central Division since the White Sox beat Baltimore tonight.
We really had some beautiful pitching tonight though – Liriano and Crain especially. The Rangers have a pretty good lineup to face and out boys did it well. So since I’m in an ice cream mood, Liriano and Crain get a Dairy Queen Blizzard of their choice. Enjoy boys.
We have other treats to give out as well. Thome was doing his Thomer-thing and Cuddy was downright Offensive! hehehe At least I think I’m funny. Anyway, Michael and Jim get to split an ice cream cake for all their awesomeness.
And finally, our BOD goes to DELMON! It’s been awhile since he got one of those and I’m very glad he seems to be returning to the BOD form! That GORGEOUS homerun which equalled half the RBI we scored tonight was definitely a good move. (He also can have whatever ice cream he wants).
The discussion started during the series with the White Sox.
Sox pitcher Sergio Santos threw a pitch “high and tight”, causing Twins hitter JJ Hardy to have to react quickly to avoid taking the pitch in the helmet. Later, Delmon Young went after Sox catcher AJ Pierzynski with both forearms extended in the general vicinity of AJ’s face on a play at the plate. Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson suggested Young needed to experience a “Rawlings in the earhole” as a result of the play. The rest of the series, however, was relatively uneventful as no further extracurricular activity took place between the two teams (though I would say there were a couple of clearly “hard and late” slides in to second base by Sox runners).
This week in Texas, the discussion continues. Immediately after a coaching visit to the mound Tuesday night, Twins hitter Jim Thome took a Neftali Feliz fast ball to the leg, with light-hitting Matt Tolbert in the on-deck circle.
Comments from the Sox and Twins clubhouses after each of these events avoided direct accusations. But is that because the teams are giving their opponents the benefit of the doubt… or are players and managers just wising up to the reality that the quickest way to draw a fine from MLB is to speak openly about possible retaliation?
Few topics draw opinions as polarizing as the issue of what a team (and specifically, its pitchers) should do when they feel opponents have intentionally hit (or even thrown at) one of their batters.
There are generally two schools of thought on the issue. The “old school” philosophy is pretty simple, really. You need to protect your team mates. If you think someone is targeting your guys, someone needs to step up and make it clear there will be consequences for that kind of thing. The folks at BleacherReport.com did a pretty good job of expressing this point of view in this article last season.
On the other side of the spectrum are the pacifists who argue that intentionally trying to hit or injure another player, even if it’s in retaliation for similar attempts by an opponent, is at best childish, silly and counter-productive, and at worst extremely dangerous. Fanhouse columnist Jay Mariotti wrote this piece last season, strongly arguing this side of the debate. (I should add, however, that given Mr. Mariotti most recently made the news by being arrested and jailed on a felony domestic violence charge, perhaps he’s not the most credible source to cite in making the case for controlling tempers and concern over inflicting serious injuries on others.)
A lot of hitters wear enough body armor to feel right at home at King Arthur’s Roundtable and that allows them to crowd the plate and get much better coverage of the outside corner. Pitchers are entitled to throw inside and, in fact, those who can’t/won’t/don’t do so regularly have little chance of prolonged success in baseball. And since throwing a baseball 90+ MPH is not an exact science, throwing inside means sometimes you’re going to hit a batter. That’s an acknowledged part of the game, which is why there’s a rule awarding 1B to a hitter struck by a pitch.
I think there may be a couple of things we can all agree on. First, not every HBP calls for retaliation. Most HBPs come in situations and circumstances where there clearly is no intent on the part of the pitcher to hit the batter. Maybe it’s a close game or maybe it’s a lousy hitter with a good hitter on deck or maybe it’s just a hitter who has a reputation for intentionally “taking one for the team”. In these situations, any form of retaliation is simply not called for and a hitter who gets all bent out of shape in those situations needs to just chill and take his base.
Likewise, I think we can also all agree that it is never OK to throw a pitch with the intent to hit a batter in the head. This goes beyond anything that could even arguably be considered appropriate retaliation as it truly has not only the potential to cause life/career ending injury, but a high likelihood of doing so if the pitch makes the intended contact. There’s no place for that sort of thing in any sport at any level.
But what about those situations where you and your team mates are pretty damn sure your opponents are using your hitters for target practice? What about those hitters who crowd the plate and as a result, they are rattling the opposite field wall with one extra-base hit after another? What about the players who are, shall we say, “overly aggressive” on the base paths and are barreling hard in to your fielders?
I readily admit that I fall in to the “old school” camp. (I was a pitcher in my playing days and I distinctly remember the first time I hit a batter intentionally. I was 14… and he was far from the last guy I intentionally plunked in the butt.) I suspect most men who played organized baseball growing up 30-40 years ago probably join me there. Is it a “guy thing”? Is it generational?
Are there other, better, more civilized ways of policing this kind of thing? Should players just trust Bud Selig and MLB to police the sport and hand out appropriate punishment?
I expect the Twins to retaliate for the pitch that struck Jim Thome on Tuesday. It may or may not be tonight. It may or may not be through the expected method of a Ranger hitter getting hit or knocked down by a Twins pitcher. The Twins are in a pennant race and teams in that situation are smart enough to realize they can’t risk an important player getting suspended. But there will be a message delivered at some point. Ballplayers have long memories (and on this subject, Delmon Young probably should stay loose in the batters box during the upcoming trip to The Cell in Chicago, too.)
But let’s hear what you think. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section. – JC
So, a few things to talk about before the game starts today:
1) We have a brand spanking new Twin! Randy Flores was claimed off waivers from the Colorado Rockies today. He’s basically a situational lefty and gives us another option in the pen than Glen Perkins – who isn’t so great against Lefties anyway. If you do a lot of baseball blog reading, you will find a lot of commentary on how his numbers aren’t really spectacular so it’s not really lighting anyone up. However, I’m glad they are finally dealing with the lack of lefty options in our pen – it’s been something I have been whining about for weeks. 😀 Maybe I should have whined a little louder. Ron Mahay was moved to the 60 day DL to make room for Mr. Flores. I say, “WELCOME TO THE TWINS, RANDY!”
2) We have news about an OLD Twin too. I have always had a soft spot for Al Newman and still really miss him – something all Knuckleballers are aware of. Well, the man has decided he likes Minnesota enough to live here in his post-baseball days. And now, Al has a new job! He’s now the new Head Baseball Coach at Apple Valley High School! Congratulations Al!
Ok, that news aside, tonight should be interesting. I always love it when our boys face a lefty so I think the Lefty/Lefty matchup should make for a great game! Let’s bring the offense tonight though ok? I miss that.
I’m going to try to be uncharacteristically positive after this loss tonight. I’m sure there will be no shortage of further critical articles and posts to be found on other sites, anyway.
The much maligned defense actually held together pretty well tonight. The long ball did the damage tonight and there are not many ways to defend against balls that land several feet beyond the fence (and the Ballpark at Arlington is known for yielding home runs). And Brian Duensing actually pitched quite well again, despite giving up a couple of gopher balls. Lots of guys give up dingers to Vlad and Hamilton. The Twins also got two fine innings of relief pitching from Jon Rauch and Jesse Crain.
Denard Span, who’s also been getting plenty of criticism around these parts, got a couple of hits, as did Jason Kubel. Danny Valencia went them one better with three hits. Yes, of course, it would have been nice to get more than one hit with runners in scoring position. That continues to be frustrating.
At the end of the day, however, probably the most positive thing you can say about tonight is that we get to cross off one more day of the season without giving up ground to the White Sox in the standings (thank you, Baltimore Orioles). – JC