Contest: Win 1991 World Series DVD Sets!

We haven’t had a contest here since early in the season and now, thanks to the good folks at A&E Home Entertainment/MLB Productions, we’re here to remedy that.

MLB Productions will be releasing two sets of DVDs in early August to help celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Twins 1991 World Series Championship and we’re here to help you get your copies now!

The first set is the MINNESOTA TWINS 1991 WORLD SERIES COLLECTOR’S EDITION DVD SET and the second is the MAGIC IN MINNESOTA: REMEMBERING THE 1991 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP DVD. Click the links for more information on these DVDs!

How can you win these terrific prizes? I’m glad you asked.

You may or may not be aware, but Twins closer Joe Nathan is on the verge of becoming the organization’s all-time leader in saves. His 253 saves as a Twin trails current leader Rick Aguilera by a single save.

When will he catch Aggie? And, more importantly for our purposes anyway, when will he notch the save that gives him the Twins record to himself?

In the comments section of this post (or any subsequent Knuckleballs post), give us:

  • The date that you believe Nathan will record his record-setting save (entries picking a particular game must be submitted before the official start time of that game).
  • For tie-breaking purposes, also tell us what you believe the total combined runs for the Twins and their opponents will be for that record-setting game.
  • If more than one person picks the correct game and are equally close to the correct total score, the winner will be the person who submitted the comment with their guess earliest.
  • An email address, so we can contact you if you are our winner (getting this up front precludes an imposter emailing us afterward, claiming to be you! We do not save, use or share email addresses without permission. If you prefer, you may email us your contact information rather than post it with your guess in the comment section).

Joe Nathan

    If nobody picks the correct date, we will choose a winner at random from all entries submitted by game time of the contest in which Nathan breaks the record. Likewise, the winner will be chosen at random if, God forbid, the Twins or Nathan himself should fall on such hard times that the record is not broken by the time the Twins return home from the current road trip that ends on August 4.

If you don’t happen to win our contest, not to worry… you’ll eventually be able to purchase both sets of DVDs (not to mention your other Twins merchandise and tickets, of course) at www.twinsbaseball.com. Other Twins blogs may be running similar promotional contests, so keep your eyes open for those, as well! (As we become aware of other blogs running a similar promotion, we’ll update this post and add links to the other blogs here, so keep checking back!)

k-bro has her DVD contest up and running over at k-bro’s baseball blog. Go check it out! (k-bro has a winner!)

North Dakota Twins fan has joined in the fun, click here to check out his DVD contest!

Seth Stohs has joined the DVD contest party over at SethSpeaks.net!

Over-the-Baggy has their contest posted now too!

Puckett’s Pond has their DVD contest up and running!

Somehow, I missed Picked Off at First’s contest… don’t you miss it too! (Erin’s got a winner!)

The Platoon Advantage has their contest up now!

Twins Target is also up and running with their contest!

The ladies at Babes Love Baseball are giving away a set too!

TBTBB is in on the fun as well!

Get your picks in early… Twitchy could wrap up the record as early as Wednesday night in Texas! (Of course, that would require the Twins to stop sucking… but you never know, it COULD happen!)

Good luck… and Go Joe!

- JC

Prizes courtesy of A&E Home Entertainment/MLB Productions. To claim prizes, the winner will need to provide his/her mailing address to representatives of AEHE/MLBP and prizes can only be shipped to addresses in the Continental US. Knuckleballs is not responsible for delivery of prizes. 

 

The Final Countdown: 60 Games

The last ten games have not been kind to our Twins and after Monday night’s fiasco, I’m not sure this countdown exercise is even worth doing any more, but we’ll give it one more shot.

With eight of the last 10 games coming against the two teams at the top of the AL Central Standings, they had an opportunity to make some real headway, but the lack of anything resembling MLB-caliber hitting in those series pretty much ended any chance of closing ground.

I still maintain that these series weren’t as critical as others made them out to be, but there’s no doubt it was an opportunity lost. And what’s particularly disheartening is just how flat-out BAD the Twins have looked in virtually every aspect of the game of baseball.

We started this countdown when the Twins had 100 games remaining to their season and trailed the Tigers by 10 games. The theory was that they need to gain one game every ten games through the rest of the season in order to win the division.

Once again, since I’m maintaining my stance that Cleveland will not remain in contention throughout the season, let’s check in on the REAL AL Central Standings with the Twins having 60 games remaining.

TWINS GAMES REMAINING: 60

TEAM RECORD GB
Tigers 54-48 -
BitchSox 50-51 3.5
TWINS 47-55 7

Not surprisingly, the Twins lost ground over the past 10 games to both the Kitties and the BitchSox. They’ve now fallen behind the pace they needed to set when we started this… gaining an average of one game every ten games played. They’ll need to make up some ground over the next ten games to get back on pace.

- JC

GameChat – Twins @ Rangers, 7:05pm

The Twins start a pretty important road trip tonight in Arlington, where the temperatures are reportedly above 100 degrees (and I’ve been there often enough to know it is most likely NOT a “dry heat”).

I think there’s a lot of angst among the Twins faithful right now and rightfully so.

It’s time for this team to quit screwing around and get serious about playing good baseball again.

Ben Revere gets his first night off in quite a while (and, frankly, it’s about time).

TWINS

@

RANGERS
Repko, CF Kinsler, DH
Casilla, A, 2B Andrus, SS
Mauer, C Hamilton, LF
Cuddyer, 1B Young, M, 2B
Kubel, DH Cruz, N, RF
Valencia, 3B Davis, C, 3B
Young, D, LF Napoli, C
Plouffe, RF Moreland, 1B
Nishioka, SS Chavez, En, CF
  _Blackburn, P   _Holland, D, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 3 1 6 11 3
Texas 3 3 3 5 4 0 2 0 x 20 27 4

The thing we have to keep in mind after something like this is that it still only counts as one game in the standings. The Tigers lost to the White Sox tonight, so despite this abomination, the Twins actually lost no ground to the Division leaders.

And we did have the entertainment value of seeing Michael Cuddyer take to the mound! He loaded the bases but worked out of the jam, so despite a 3.00 WHIP, he escapes with a perfect 0.00 ERA! He hit 88 mph with his fastball, that had some late movement. That’s more than some of the guys in the Twins bullpen can say lately!

Tomorrow’s another day… let’s get a win!

Let The Trade Rumors Begin: Denard Span

And so it begins.

This afternoon, the Twins hit the rumor wire as word spread that they were talking to the Washington Nationals about a trade involving centerfielder Denard Span.

Denard Span

At first, I thought this had to be some kind of joke. Certainly Bill Smith wouldn’t be looking at the results of the past two series and think, “We seem to have too much offense on this team right now, especially at the top of the order… there’s no way we have room for Denard Span when he’s ready to return.” Would he? Ken Rosenthal at FOX seems to think so.

Is it possible Smith has looked at Ben Revere’s hitting lately and figured he’s just what a contender needs leading off? Yes, the guy is great to have in the outfield, but he’s almost been the worst looking hitter in the Twins’ batting order lately.

Almost.

The worst, of course, has been shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka. I’m 55 years old and I’d be willing to bet I would at least look better swinging lefthanded than Nishi has and I’d have almost as many hits. NONE would be “almost as many” as Nishi’s had lately. In last night’s game wrap-up, I mentioned that if I were the GM, I’d be looking for a shortstop who might sniff at getting a hit occasionally. And therein lies the rub.

The Nationals need a centerfielder and they apparently feel they have an extra middle infielder. Word is, they’re shopping shortstop Ian Desmond and would shift their current second baseman to shortstop in order to make room for a rookie they think is ready to come up to the Big Leagues. (That rookie’s name is Stephen Lombardozzi, by the way… a name that should sound familiar to Twins fans. Yes, he’s the son of THAT Steve Lombardozzi). The Nats also have a couple of right handed relief pitchers that they may be willing to part with.

So… if you got Desmond and a productive reliever for Span, would you make the deal?

Not me.

First of all, if the Twins don’t score more than two runs a game, all the relief pitching in the world won’t help. They need more offense and the most likely way they can get it is to get Span back in the line up and let Revere take over 4th outfielder duties. Second, Desmond’s stats aren’t all that much better, if at all, than Nishioka’s and they certainly are nowhere near Span’s. Rosenthal mentions that Desmond’s .584 OPS is the lowest in the National League… but I guess it’s still better than Nishi’s .544 OPS, right?

I don’t blame the Nationals for wanting to make a deal with Bill Smith. They clearly are fondly recalling the deal they got in return for Matt Capps a year ago and if you’re in their front office, there’s no reason to think you shouldn’t be able to get a favorable return from Bill Smith and the Twins again.

That doesn’t mean Smith has to oblige them.

Ben Revere may be a legitimate full time MLB player some day. Joe Benson could, too. Rene Tosoni has similar potential. Aaron Hicks and Angel Morales? Sure… some day.

Some day, the Twins won’t need Denard Span in their line up. Today is not that day, unless Bill watched the half-assed efforts his guys put forth on the field against the Tigers over the last few games and has decided it’s time to hold a fire sale. In that case, Denard’s name won’t be the only one we see showing up in MLBTradeRumors this week.

- JC

GameChat – Tigers @ Twins #4, 3:10; HOF Induction Ceremony, 12:30

Ok, kids, we’re putting up the chat a bit early so that anyone watching the Induction ceremony can chat about it – it’s on MLB Network and MLB.com for those who are interested.

I’m really really really hoping that once the game starts, Frankie has one of his good days. *crosses fingers* I also hope that the bats (the Twins variety) manage to show up too.  As for the fans, they couldn’t have ordered up a more gorgeous day for baseball in Minnesota!

 

Detroit

@

Minnesota
Jackson, A, CF Revere, CF
Boesch, LF Casilla, A, 2B
Ordonez, DH Mauer, C
Cabrera, Mi, 1B Cuddyer, 1B
Martinez, V, C Kubel, RF
Peralta, Jh, SS Valencia, 3B
Raburn, RF Thome, DH
Betemit, 3B Young, D, LF
Santiago, 2B Nishioka, SS
  Porcello, P   Liriano, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit 0 1 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 5 9 0
Minnesota 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 7 1

This loss brings an end to a very disappointing homestand. Talk all you want about looking to the trade market for bullpen help, but if this team doesn’t start producing some runs again, pitching help won’t generate any additional wins. No pitching staff will win games if the hitters can’t do better than 2 runs a game.

This team needs a healthy and productive Denard Span at the top of the order and quickly. I’m also hopeful that Justin Morneau will come back and help out, but the question is whether this team can hold on long enough for it to matter.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka is playing some nice shortstop defensively, but he looks about as lost at the plate as anyone I’ve seen at the Major League level in a long time. If I’m the GM and I’m serious about helping my team get in the race, I go shopping for a shortstop (no, I do  not believe Trevor Plouffe is the answer) that can play adequate defense and at least make contact with a pitch from time to time. Let Nishi finish the season in Rochester and get some swings in down there, then come back and try again in Spring Training 2012.

Anyway… on to Texas, while the Tigers and BitchSox slug it out and the Tribe takes on the Halos. This thing isn’t over yet, but if the Twins aren’t going to take care of the competition themselves, they’re going to need a little help from others. – JC

Bert Blyleven – #28 – HOF

Bert Blyeleven #28 HOF: That’s how Bert will get to sign his autograph for the rest of his life. If you think that’s not a big deal, you’re wrong.

I wrote a post last week in tribute to Blyleven getting his number retired by the Twins, so I won’t duplicate that effort today, but I can’t let the day of Blyleven ‘s induction in to Cooperstown go without a mention.

This has been such a long time coming, with the annual disappointment of coming up short, that it almost seems like today’s induction is anticlimactic. And that’s too bad.

In my post last week, I wrote that I felt Bert had become almost a parody of himself as a result of his broadcasting career. His somewhat corny approach in the booth has endeared himself to legions of Twins fans, young and old, even if his schtick is not universally appreciated by self-appointed “hard core” fans.

Bert was honored by the Pirates during Spring Training

The amazing thing to me is the way he has turned his reputation around. A fan favorite? This is a guy who flipped fans the bird as a player… more than once… and a guy who walked away from the Pirates for a couple of weeks and demanded to be traded. “Endeared” is probably the last word anyone would have used to describe his relationships with fans and media during his playing days.

Given his personal reputation as a player, it’s not as surprising that it took him so long to get elected to the Hall as it is surprising that he got elected at all. The saying, “Nice guys finish last,” is not applicable to Hall of Fame voting. The voting members of the media are real big on rewarding and penalizing players based on their behavior, as much as their performance. It’s somehow appropriate that Bert is entering the Hall alongside Roberto Alomar. There’s no doubt that Alomar was penalized by the media voters for his “spitting incident” with an umpire, leaving him with a “bad boy” reputation to overcome, as well.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Bert needed to “rehabilitate himself” after his playing career in order to have any shot at the Hall. And he did just that.

I’ve never met the man, personally. I don’t know if the “real” Bert Blyleven is the surly player or the broadcaster that comes across as a guy you’d love to sit in a bar with while you watch and talk baseball. I think perhaps he’s mellowed over the years as a lot of us tend to do. But whatever the case, there’s no doubt in my mind that, absent the rehabilitation of his reputation that the Twins organization has helped him achieve, Bert would not be getting honored today. And that would have been unfortunate.

I’m glad the Twins pushed back the start of today’s game so fans could watch the induction ceremony. It was the right thing to do, because this is a REALLY big deal, folks. In my mind, there is no bigger honor in sports than being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. It changes lives.

Blyleven wanted this honor. Badly wanted it. He probably wanted it too much, frankly. In fact, if there has been one flaw in Bert’s “character” for the past decade, many people would consider the way he lobbied for HOF votes to be that flaw. It wore on some people. Then again, I can’t say I would have felt any differently in his shoes.

I just hope that his induction in to the Hall doesn’t change Bert going forward. I happen to enjoy his broadcasting style. Yes, he could do a better job of analysis, but I don’t care. He comes across as someone who actually likes the game and the fans and the players. Now that he’s a Hall of Famer, we don’t have to endure that chip on his shoulder that he’s always had about not being elected. And that’s a good thing.

So I hope you all enjoy watching Bert and Roberto being inducted in to the Hall (broadcast, I believe, begins at 12:30 on MLB Network and MLB.com).  It’s a big deal for them and it’s a big deal to those of us who were fans of these players. It will be a long time before another player who spent a significant chunk of his career as a member of the Twins gets this honor, though Jim Thome should be a lock five years after he retires, and we can all share that day with his fans in Cleveland, Philadelphia and Chicago.

But today is Bert’s day and I’m happy for him. Congratulations, Bert.

GameChat – Tigers @ Twins #3, 3:10 FOX

So Jason Kubel came back Friday and Scott Baker returns today. It’s about time to end this “can’t beat the Tigers” BS, isn’t it, guys?

Everyone else can beat the kitties so there’s no reason to think the Twins shouldn’t be able to.

Brad Penny’s been pitching well lately for the Tigers even if he hasn’t been getting the Wins to show for it. It’s time for Twins hitters to step up. If  they embarrass themselves today like they did last night, it will be in front of a near-national audience on FOX.

TIGERS

@

TWINS
Dirks, CF Revere, CF
Boesch, LF Casilla, A, 2B
Ordonez, RF Mauer, C
Cabrera, Mi, 1B Cuddyer, 1B
Martinez, V, DH Kubel, DH
Peralta, Jh, SS Valencia, 3B
Guillen, 2B Young, D, LF
Avila, C Plouffe, RF
Kelly, 3B Nishioka, SS
  _Penny, P   _Baker, S, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 8 1
Minnesota 1 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 x 4 7 0

That wasn’t exactly the offensive breakout game I’ve been hoping for, but we’re going to just enjoy the win, right?

Getting ahead on the scoreboard early was a nice change and Scott Baker looked pretty damn good to me in his first game back from the DL. He only went five innings but they were a really good five shutout innings.

Danny Valencia launched a solo shot and Delmon Young had a nice two-run double. Joe Nathan slammed the door shut and Phil Dumatrait threw a scoreless inning of relief, as well.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka was the only Twins hitter with more than one hit, collecting two singles (though neither figured directly in the scoring). But his biggest contribution was in the field. He ran down three flares in shallow left field, a couple of them very nice plays in critical situations. In addition, Glen Perkins not only pitched a scoreless inning of relief, but struck out Ordonez and Cabrera back-to-back to cap his work. For those performances, Nishi and Perk are our co-BODs today!

Tsuyoshi Nishioka

Glen Perkins

.

GameChat – Tigers @ Twins #2, 7:10pm

I’m posting “unofficial” line ups below (so they aren’t all linked to the players’ stats) because both Babs and I have plans for the late-afternoon/early-evening and I wanted to get the Chatroll window opened for anyone who wanted to come here to hang out during the game, even if MLB doesn’t yet have the official line ups released.

Another big game with the Tigers tonight and fortunately, Justin Verlander can’t pitch every game for Detroit. The Twins will be facing three more RH starters this series, none of which is half the pitcher Verlander is. So I don’t want to see another night of assbats! Hit the damn ball, gentlemen.

The Twins welcome back Jason Kubel tonight as well and Gardy wasted no time getting him in the line up. I don’t even want to hear about how the Twins have had a better record without Kubel than they had with him… he and Span were the only guys hitting the ball for much of April and May so the lack of wins in those months had a lot more to do with other guys than Koobes. This team is getting deeper again and that’s not a bad thing.

The good news is that ONE of the other teams ahead of the Twins in the AL Central standings will lose tonight. The bad news is that one of them will win. Yes, the BitchSox are in Cleveland for a 3-game series with the ‘Toons starting tonight.

TIGERS

@

TWINS
Jackson, CF Revere, CF
Raburn, LF Casilla, 2B
Ordonez, RF Mauer, C
Cabrera, DH Cuddyer, 1B
Martinez, 1B Kubel, RF
Peralta, SS Valencia, 3B
Guillen, 2B Thome, DH
Avila, C Young, LF
Betemit, 3B Nishioka, SS
  _Scherzer, P   _Duensing, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit 1 1 2 0 3 1 0 0 0 8 13 0
Minnesota 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 7 0

Talk about taking a dump on the field.

Every once in a while, a baseball team lays such a load of crap on the field that they should be embarrassed… a game where the players should all pitch in and give refunds to every fan who bought a ticket to the game.

Friday was such a game.

The pitching flat out sucked.

The hitting, while it would seem impossible, actually sucked worse.

There is no excuse for not hitting Max F’ing Scherzer any more than what that sorry excuse for a line up did.

Seriously, guys, if you WANT to finish the season playing in another uniform, just man up and say so and I’m sure Bill Smith will try to accommodate you. But if you’re going to wear a Twins uniform, at least show SOME level of effort out there. Performances like this one are a disgrace.

Please… break out the white uniforms or the blue jerseys or, hell, wear pink ones. Because playing the way you did Friday night, you don’t deserve to wear the uniform of Harmon Killebrew. You disgrace his memory with efforts like that.

If that’s the best effort we can expect to see against the Tigers, I’m absolutely fine with Bill Smith trading every. last. one. of you at any time. I don’t ever want to see that load of crap on the field again.

Shame on you. All of you. -JC

GameChat – Tigers @ Twins, 7:10pm

Most Twins fans will agree that tonight is probably the toughest game of this series (perhaps even this homestand) – at least on paper – because we’re facing Justin Verlander. Yeah, he’s a good pitcher but does anyone remember that it’s usually the merely adequate pitchers that the Twins make look like Cy Young?? :D I don’t want the boys to start this game already psyched out before they ever pick up a bat. We’ve gotten to Verlander before and I think we can get to him again. We still have some big bats in the lineup who are capable of taking it to even a pitcher of Verlander’s stature.

We still have to play the rest of the game too – I like that we have Butera behind HP to throw out possible base stealers behind Pavano and once again, we have Mauer at 1B. He’s proving to be able to do quite admirably in the corner as Morneau’s backup. It will be interesting to see how much longer that particular setup continues after today because it’s generally believed that Kubel will be brought after the game tonight (likely sending our temporary starter, Scott Diamond, back down in his place) which means that Cuddyer will probably give up his spot in RF more often and do the fill-in work at 1B. Twins fans are pretty familiar with this particular roster setup – the DH/OF/1B rotation has simply added the C into its mix.  But all that is after the boys get through tonight’s challenge. Every game we have in the division at this point is CRUCIAL so let’s hope they go out there and give the Tigers what for.

Btw, YAYAYAAAAAAAAAA for the weather finally being stunningly gorgeous!! Game start temps will be about 80 and players will be able to walk to fielding positions instead of swim. In reality, today is one of the most perfect MN days you will ever get! Lucky Tigers… the Indians and Royals are sooooo jealous.

 

Detroit

@

Minnesota
Jackson, A, CF   Revere, CF
Boesch, LF   Casilla, A, 2B
Ordonez, RF   Mauer, 1B
Cabrera, Mi, 1B   Cuddyer, RF
Martinez, V, DH   Thome, DH
Peralta, Jh, SS   Valencia, 3B
Guillen, 2B   Young, D, LF
Avila, C   Nishioka, SS
Betemit, 3B   Butera, C
  Verlander, P     Pavano, P

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

Detroit

0

0

0

1

2

2

0

1

0

6

12

1

Minnesota

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

1

2

6

0

 

I guess the Tigers’ strategy of holding Justin Verlander back from his regularly scheduled start on Wednesday to face the Twins tonight worked for them… kinda. Verlander did pitch well and beat our guys, but on the other hand, the Tigers lost a game they should have won on Wednesday. Anyway, not a big surprise that the best pitcher in the AL this year proved tough to hit.

Jason Kubel may be back in the line up Friday (he was activated after the game and Scott Diamond was optioned back to Rochester) and the rest of the Tiger rotation isn’t anything to get too excited about, so we’ll see how things go the rest of the weekend. I still think people are putting way more emphasis on this series than it warrants. These teams play one another 9 more times, for crying out loud. Let’s keep some perspective. – JC