The Final Countdown: 70 Games

When we started this “Final Countdown” series, the Twins had 100 games remaining in their regular season schedule.

Our premise is simple… The Cleveland Indians will not win the AL Central Division Championship. That honor, from the outset of the season, has been predestined to go to the Tigers, the White Sox, or the Twins. Based on that reality, we created the REAL AL Central Standings, measuring how the Twins were doing against the BitchSox and Tigers only.

With 100 games left, the Twins trailed the Tigers by 10 games, meaning they would need to gain an average of 1 game on the leader in the REAL AL Central Standings every 10 games in order to catch up by game 162.

So here we are with 70 games left… let’s check in and see how our guys are doing.

TWINS GAMES REMAINING: 70

TEAM RECORD GB
Tigers 49-45 -
BitchSox 46-48 3
TWINS 43-49 5

Not bad. They would need to be no more than 7 games behind the leader to be on track and after Saturday evening’s games, they trail the Tigers by 5 games and the BitchSox by 3.

The next 10 games will certainly be interesting, as they lead us up to the non-waiver trade deadline. Keep up the good work, guys!

- JC

GameChat – Royals @ Twins #3, 6:10pm

First things first, the Twins are retiring Bert Blyleven’s number today and the festivities start at 5:30 if you are able to turn into FSN early.  For those who are watching from elsewhere and won’t have that coverage, I’m sure that there will be clips later on the Twins website and Kristie is at today’s game hopefully getting us some pictures from a first-hand view.

Secondly, the “official” word came down from Tom Pelissero on Twitter that Matt Capps is out at Closer and the assignment has been returned to Joe Nathan. I’m definitely in favor of tha move and that does NOT mean that I don’t think that Capps is a bad pitcher or should go to AAA. I just think he needs a little less pressure as he works through a fairly common for all pitchers downturn in his stability. Let the man go through hte same kind of “rehab” that Nathan did working through the beginning of this season and get him back to being a good pitcher.

Thirdly, just a reminder for Twins fans everywhere working off an original calendar: Monday is now a day/night split double header to make up for the earlier rainout with Cleveland.  The first game will be at 12:10 and the second at 7:10 as originally scheduled.

I would like to see Pavano be able to go out and do a solid outting and get us back into the win column – sadly, Blackburn did a good job last night but the offense is going to have to break out the bats if they want to get the W.

 

Kansas City

@

Minnesota
Getz, 2B Revere, CF
Cabrera, Me, CF Casilla, A, 2B
Gordon, LF Mauer, DH
Butler, DH Cuddyer, 1B
Hosmer, 1B Young, D, LF
Francoeur, RF Valencia, 3B
Moustakas, 3B Plouffe, RF
Pena, B, C Butera, C
Escobar, A, SS Nishioka, SS
  Francis, P   Pavano, P

It’s good to get back in the W column again, but this 4-3 win over the Royals seemed more difficult than it should have been. Nevertheless, as Nuke said, “winning is better than losing.”

The night got off to a great start with the Twins doing a great job on the ceremony retiring Bert Blyleven’s #28. It was well done, without dragging on the way some of those things do.

The Twins gave Carl Pavano some early run support, which is always appreciated by starting pitchers. Pavstache threw a nice game, though he called it an early night (for him) after just 97 pitches in seven innings. On the other hand, maybe it was just the heat and humidity. Glen Perkins K’d two in a perfect 8th inning and Joe Nathan, in his return to the closer role, gave up a lone single to close out the Royals in the 9th. All three pitchers deserve our thanks and a cold brew of their choice (assuming all the good beer in Minnesota hasn’t been pulled off the shelves due to the shutdown).

It was an odd night offensively for the Twins. Some infield hits. Some questionable defense by the Royals. Some odd baserunning. In the end, our GameChat’s Boyfriend of the Day award goes to the only guy to get more than one hit for the Twins… and the guy who came through with the game-winning 2-out RBI in the bottom of the 8th inning. Michael Cuddyer, you are our BOD! – JC

Michael Cuddyer

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Happy Bert-day To You!

Today is the day the Twins retire Bert Blyleven’s number 28. Blyleven will join Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Rod Carew, Kirby Puckett, and Kent Hrbek in being so honored. It’s somewhat amazing to realize Bert played with all of the others. He virtually bridged the gap between  the early glory days of “Tony, Killer and Carew” and the group headed by Puck and Hrbie that brought the franchise back in to relevance almost two decades later.

Bert Blyleven

Blyleven is just five years my senior, so I remember well both of his terms with the Twins (1970-76 and 1985-88), not to mention the period in between when he toiled for the Rangers, Pirates and Indians.

Of course, in those days, you didn’t get to watch every MLB game played on TV or a computer. There were no sports bars to go watch games on satellite. If you didn’t live in a “home market”, you saw the Game of the Week on Saturdays and that was it, at least until the Superstation days that brought the Cubs and Braves to a national audience.

So when I watched a baseball game, I REALLY watched the game. I particularly watched pitchers, since that was what I was… or at least saw myself as being (my coaches didn’t always seem to concur).

Watching Blyleven was amazing, to me. Specifically, that curveball made my jaw drop. I couldn’t imagine trying to hit that thing.

Of course, his talent wasn’t all there was to like about Blyleven. Even in days before the internet, there were stories about his practical jokes. I swear, if you were a team mate of his and your game was on the Game of the Week (and he wasn’t pitching that day), you really had to expect to have your shoelaces set ablaze or something equally absurd AND to have the whole thing broadcast to a national audience.

I even liked when he demonstrated a distaste for reporters.

Of course, it’s quite possible that his open disdain for the media at times went a long way toward assuring he would have to wait longer to be elected to the Hall of Fame than he otherwise may have had to wait.

Dick and Bert at Spring Training 2011

Sometimes I think Bert’s work as a broadcaster has come close to almost creating a caricature of himself. I think a lot of us have grown weary of the “circle me Bert” routine, perhaps even Bert, himself. But there is clearly still a significant segment of the fan base that eats the corniness up and playing to the broader fan base is a big part of a home-team broadcaster’s job these days. Even his infamous F-bomb broadcast a few years ago did nothing but make him more popular with the fans. He really does seem like “one of us”.

His broadcast gig has ingrained himself even deeper in to the fabric of the Minnesota Twins. Despite spending less than half of his service time as a Twin, it’s the organization that he is… and likely always will be… most closely associated with.

And it’s right that it should be so. There’s no doubt in my mind that his #28 should be retired by the Twins. In fact, I’ve always felt it should have been done long ago.

So, Bert, congratulations on the honor the Twins bestow on you today and congratulations on your election in to the Hall of Fame. I’m looking forward to hearing your acceptance speech from Cooperstown.

Don’t F*** it up.

-JC