I wish I could say that Friday night’s collapse surprised me. You would think that seeing the Twins enter the 8th inning with a 5-0 lead would give a guy a fair amount of confidence that he was going to witness a rare Twins win.
As soon as Scott Baker was pulled from the game, somehow you just knew things were going to get… interesting.
And they did.
You can read all about the way the bullpen failed (again) to hold a lead pretty much anywhere else in the online world of Twinsville so I won’t go in to all that. The Twins scored some runs. The Twins’ starting pitcher pitched well. The bullpen coughed up the lead and lost the game. Again. ‘Nuff said about that.
But that’s not even the most disturbing thing I watched Friday night at the first Twins game I’ve attended in person this season. I mean… yeah… the bullpen was awful, but you could figure out the bullpen sucks pretty much just from looking at box scores the past few weeks. No real news there.
Would the Twins win more games if they had someone… anyone… who could get an out or two out of the pen? Absolutely. Would they become a team worth standing up and cheering for? In a word, no.
Here’s what I found disturbing just from watching this game with my own eyes (something I have rarely been able to do this year, thanks to that absurd, idiotic MLB blackout policy):
The Twins are really bad at playing baseball.
If you just look at the boxscore, you won’t see Danny Valencia diving back to first base on a soft line drive… with two outs.
You won’t see Alexi Casilla miss first base, have to retrace about 10 feet to find the base, before advancing to 2B for an RBI “double” in the first inning.
You wont see Jason Kubel getting doubled off the basepaths after apparently losing track of the number of outs (I think it was Kubel… but I’d been drinking pretty heavily by then so it may have been someone else and I really don’t care enough right now to check my facts).
You won’t see any of the atrocious swings that Justin Morneau, Delmon Young and others took with runners on base.
I’ve been a Twins fan ever since there has been a Minnesota Twins team. There have been some pretty bad teams during certain eras. But during many of those years, I could rationalize the poor records simply by acknowledging that the Twins simply did not have very good players during most of those years. They didn’t fail for lack of effort or preparedness or knowing HOW to play the game right. They simply didn’t have players as talented as most of their competition.
But this year is different.
Yes, I’m well aware of the unexpected obstacles the Twins have been faced with. Their newly imported middle infielder broke his leg. Their $23 million/year catcher has… um… weak legs (and by the way… is anyone at all even going to bother looking in to how an elite level professional athlete misses half a season with leg weakness or are we all supposed to simply accept that it’s a perfectly normal occurrence?).
But there simply is no excuse for the product the Twins are putting out on the field this season. Maybe they don’t really work on the “little things” the way they used to in this organization. Maybe the coaching is not up to par. Maybe the manager can’t find the right method for motivating the players to perform better. Maybe the General Manager made some critical mistakes in assembling this roster. Maybe the scouting staff has seriously misjudged both MLB and minor league talent levels in this organization. Maybe the players need to take responsibility for flat out playing bad baseball.
Most likely, it’s a combination of “all of the above”.
Like most Twins fans, I can accept that some years will go better than others. But we are entitled to expect better. This team, even with the injuries, is not without talent.
I don’t have an explanation for why so many players that have, in the past, played some pretty good baseball now seem incapable of doing anything right… I only know that this team almost seems to go out of its way to do the little things… and a few big things… poorly.
Then again, I’ve had a fair amount to drink today and tonight… so maybe once I’m thinking more clearly, perhaps I’ll have some more lucid thoughts about what could/should be done about this situation.
Then again, I may not.
Anyway… Friday wasn’t a totally worthless day. I slept in. I had a very nice lunch at one of my favorite Minneapolis restaurants (Hell’s Kitchen), I spent some time with friends at a bar for a couple of hours before the game (even though they were ALL “late”) and during the game as well. So if you look at Twins games as purely a social event or another excuse for drinking rather heavily, then it was an enjoyable evening.
I’ll even post a couple of pictures from the game… just to prove I did more than fill up on beer for 5+ hours.