Over the noon hour today, I was catching up on my reading over at Joe Posnanski’s blog and came across something I feel compelled to share with everyone as we wait for our guys to prepare to do battle with the Evil Empire once again.
In one of Posnanski’s recent posts, he paraphrased something the late, great Buck O’Neil said a few years back and while the subject of the discussion was the ability (or rather the perceived lack thereof) of the Kansas City Royals to compete with the Yankees, if you can’t draw some parallels to the Twins’ situation right now, then you really just aren’t paying attention. You can (and should) read the entire post by clicking here, but let me paste a couple of the more pertinent paragraphs, too. The background is regarding a panel that Posnanski participated on in Kansas City a while back.
So that’s what we were talking about on the panel — the Royals utter inability to compete with the Yankees — when suddenly Buck O’Neil raised his hand. He was in the crowd, and he stood up, and here’s what he said: “OF COURSE we can beat the Yankees.” Everybody in the room stopped, because that’s what Buck’s voice did to a room. I don’t have his words memorized, but he said something like this:
“OF COURSE we can beat the Yankees. It’s not even a question. The Yankees can only play nine players at a time. They can’t sign all the good players out there and play them. They can’t use more than one pitcher at a time. They can’t play two shortstops or three center fielders. They have nine guys, we have nine guys. They might be able to get nine more expensive guys, but that doesn’t mean they get nine BETTER guys.
“Baseball is the fairest game in the world. It doesn’t matter if the other guy is bigger than you or taller than you or stronger than you or faster than you. The only thing that matters is who plays the game better. I’m sick of excuses. People say we can’t beat the Yankees. That’s ridiculous. We beat the Yankees before when we had players like George Brett and Frank White and Amos Otis and Willie Wilson and Hal McRae. Yeah. We just need to find the players and develop them into good players. If we don’t do that, it’s not the Yankees fault.”
Were truer words ever spoken? Sure we can (and forever will) hold Bud Selig and his co-conspirators accountable for fostering an environment that tilts the playing field in the Yankees’ favor year after year, but in the end, someone with the Twins organization simply needs to stand up and say, “enough is enough!” If we don’t do that, it’s not the Yankees fault.
There’s another paragraph I want to share… it’s about the genuine dislike that the old Royals teams of the late 70s held for the Yankees.
Then the Royals came to town, and from 1976 to 1980 they had a rivalry with the Yankees that matches anything in baseball history. Four times in five years, they faced each other in best-of-five playoff series to determine the American League pennant. “I hated the Yankees,” George Brett said. “I mean that sincerely. I HATED those guys.” One series ended on the famous home run of Yankee Chris Chambliss. Another ended with Kansas City’s Fred Patek in the dugout, his face red with tears. The only Royals victory of the four was clinched when Brett turned on a neck-high fastball from Goose Gossage. There were fights, there were titanic performances, there were famous moments like when Cliff Johnson threatened to fight Kansas City’s spiritual leader Hal McRae before one game, to which McRae replied: “I don’t fight extra men.”
THAT is the attitude I’ve been waiting for years to see our Twins have toward the Yankees. Where is it? I don’t know if anyone has an answer to that question, but until someone finds it, I’m not sure the Twins will ever conquer the Evil Empire.
With that, here are tonight’s lineups. No Morneau tonight for the Twins. Let’s go chew up and spit out some Captain Cheeseburger!:
|Span, CF||Jeter, SS|
|Nishioka, 2B||Swisher, RF|
|Mauer, C||Teixeira, 1B|
|Young, D, LF||Rodriguez, A, 3B|
|Cuddyer, 1B||Cano, 2B|
|Kubel, DH||Posada, DH|
|Valencia, 3B||Martin, C|
|Repko, RF||Jones, An, LF|
|Casilla, A, SS||Granderson, CF|
|Duensing, P||Sabathia, P|
I really don’t know what to say about this game other than the right team came out on top!
I do have to laugh a bit at the thought of the Steinbrenners avoiding eye contact with GM Brian Cashman as Rafael Soriano, the pitcher they overruled Cashman on and forced him to sign, totally crashed and burned. The rest of the Yankees “vaunted” bullpen didn’t exactly have Soriano’s back, though, either. The sight of Nick Swisher stumble/falling/diving for DY’s bases-clearing bloop double to right field was pretty funny, too. He kinda makes me glad to have Delmon in our outfield.
It was great that our guys once again didn’t let that immediate 4-run deficit kill their spirit (though, seriously, can we stop spotting the Yankees four runs every damn game… please?), but it was pretty tough to really come up with an offensive nominee for Boyfriend of the Day. Brian Duensing took a page out of Scott Baker’s book last night and hung in there after a rough start to the game. So Young and Duensing get some honorable mention for BOD (along with honorable honorable mention to Rafael Soriano, without who’s effort the comeback would not have been possible).
But in the end, it was just too tough to come up with just one relief pitcher to bestow tonight’s BOD upon. Matt Capps pitched not one, but TWO, perfect innings, on a mere 16 pitches. And our old friend Twitchy McXanax (aka Joe Nathan) sure looked like his old self out there nailing down the game with a perfect 9th inning. So for your combined efforts, Matt and Joe, you are our first co-BODs of the season.