GameChat – Twins @ D-Backs #2, 9:10pm, FSN & am1500

I missed last night’s game in Arizona in favor of going to the latest “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie with various members of my family. From what I’ve read, it’s probably for the best. I don’t particularly enjoy watching Twins pitchers cough up five-run innings. So let’s see if we can avoid doing that tonight.

I remember back in the old days when the Twins ate NL teams for breakfast, lunch and dinner. What was that… 1 or 2 years ago? I want to see THAT start happening again! – JC

Span, CF Roberts, R, 3B
Plouffe, SS Johnson, K, 2B
Kubel, RF Upton, J, RF
Morneau, 1B Drew, S, SS
Cuddyer, 2B Young, C, CF
Valencia, 3B Montero, M, C
Young, D, LF Miranda, 1B
Butera, C Parra, G, LF
Baker, S, P Owings, M, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 1 0 0 1 2 0 2 0 6 9 0
Arizona 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 6 x 9 11 5

As I mentioned in the pregame post, I didn’t see the game Friday night, but from what I read and heard, it sounds like it was kind of the same story as the Saturday night game. Build a lead and then watch helplessly as the bullpen implodes and coughs up the game. It’s great to see the bats warming up. It’s great to see starting pitchers being effective (though we really do need to get more than five innings out of a starting pitcher). But at some point, you need a few guys in the bullpen who can hold a lead. Hope that last piece to the puzzle falls in to place… and soon.

– JC

The End Is Near

I tend not to treat matters of religion and faith lightly. I’ve been fortunate in my life to¬† meet people of so many faiths and I’m blessed with real friendships from across a wide religious spectrum. Those of you who grew up in the “big city” are probably thinking, “so what?” (in fact many of the rest of you probably are thinking that, too). You probably grew up and went to school with friends of all sorts of faiths (as well, of course, as agnostics, atheists, etc.)

But if you’re like me and grew up in relatively small towns in Minnesota and Iowa, perhaps you can appreciate how fortunate I feel to have been given the opportunity to live, work, play and sometimes just hang out with a much more religiously diverse circle of friends than those I grew up with. (True story: As a part of my Lutheran religious education, my class attended church services at a different church every Sunday for several weeks. As I recall, we attended services at our local Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Church of Christ, and Baptist churches. That really was the extent of our options for exploring religious “diversity”.)

I remain a member of a Lutheran church today, though I admit I’m not as active as I was when my kids were younger and I can’t say I agree with some of the more… shall we say… conservative doctrines of my particular Synod. But this post isn’t about my religious beliefs or really even about religion itself. I’ve rambled on so far just to get to the point of saying, I know just enough about religion and various faiths to feel it’s just a really bad idea to poke fun at anyone’s beliefs.

That’s not to say that I don’t crack an occasional religious joke (usually about me and my fellow Lutherans), but people take their religious beliefs (or lack thereof) very seriously and there’s something admirable about that… as long as they don’t take it so seriously that they feel compelled to infringe on my rights to believe as I choose and, even more important, the rights we all have to live our lives out in a peaceful manner.

So why have I devoted over 400 words (so far… I’m not done yet) to religion on a baseball blog?

Well you may have heard… the world is coming to an end tonight. At 6 pm apparently. Though, I’m not sure what time zone we’re talking about so maybe it has already started ending in Europe and I just haven’t turned on the news to see it happen live on CNN.

I hope this is all just a miscalculation on Harold Camping’s part, if for no other reason than it would suck to have had last night’s loss to the D-Backs be the last ever game for the Twins. What a way to go out. I suppose, though, if I spent a lot of time thinking about it, I could come up with a couple more important reasons to hope the deadline passes tonight with all of us still here.

On the other hand, I just took out a loan on a new SUV for a wife I no longer live with and it might be kinda nice not to have to make good on that commitment. Hope she enjoys driving the new vehicle for the one day she’ll have that opportunity!

If the world does end tonight, the Twins would be the team with the worst record in Major League Baseball when the curtain comes down, having fallen a game behind the Astros with last night’s loss. Being a fan of the worst team in baseball for… well… forever… would sure suck. Though I guess it’s not something I’d have much time to reflect about.

But it would be unfortunate to go down in history on that note because, to me, this team is NOT the worst team in baseball. Don’t ask me to identify a team that’s worse, because I can’t… I just haven’t watched many of the other teams with bad records.

So I will say that I agree with Mr. Camping and his followers… the end IS near. No… not THE end… but I believe the end of misery for the Twins and their fans is near.

I know it may be totally irrational to believe this, but I believe the Twins WILL get in to the AL Central race yet this season. It’s not that I have “faith” in them. I don’t really “trust in” the Twins players or management to perform better. I simply believe, based on what I’ve seen of these players in the past and currently, that they are better at baseball than they’ve shown us so far. There are good players on this team and some of them have really played unbelievably poorly. And some of those guys are starting to show a few signs of returning to levels of productivity that I expected from them.

I won’t recite the names of injured players, but it sounds like almost all of them are working their way toward or through rehab assignments with one Twins minor league affiliate or another (a couple of those teams could post some pretty impressive looking line ups if several rehabbing players find themselves in the same uniform for a week or so). That’s a sign to me that things could return to a status closer to normal pretty soon.

I’m not confident that the Twins will manage to dig completely out of the hole they’re currently in, but I do not believe for a moment that they will finish at the bottom of the AL Central standings. I don’t believe they’ll finish fourth either.

But I’ll go on record right now predicting the Twins will be a “buyer” toward the end of July as the trade deadline nears. There are plenty of people who disagree with me, I know. There are already all sorts of articles, columns and posts out there projecting which Twins players might be available on the market for contending teams at the deadline. I won’t be joining those discussions for a while yet, anyway, because I think it’s a waste of time. By the deadline, the Twins will be looking for help to close the gap, not looking to dump players.

If Harold Camping and his followers are right, they won’t have a whole lot of time to tell the rest of us, “I told you so.” But if I’m right about the Twins… make that WHEN the Twins are working their way up the standings and looking for ways to move up faster in July… I’m going to take some pleasure in linking back to this post to remind everyone just how smart I am!

On the other hand, if the world DOES end tonight, I guess we’ll never know if I was right or wrong… and we probably won’t really care.

Either way… fear not, fellow Twins fans, the end is near!

– JC