Yankee Fan vs. Jim Crikket, ALDS Defense

In last night’s post, Yankee Fan vs Jim Crikket discussed how the Yankees and Twins pitching staffs matched up. Today, they debate the what can be expected of each team’s defense in the upcoming Yankee/Twin ALDS.

Jim Crikket: Let’s start out with the outfields. A lot of Twins fans have complained about this year’s outfield not measuring up defensively to last season’s. But guess what… Young, Span and Kubel WERE last season’s outfield in Games 1 and 3 of the ALDS… and while some think Delmon has put back on a few of the pounds he shed last offseason, I still think he’s improved out there in left field. There’s no doubt that there’s a lot of room for bloopers to drop in between these guys, but at least the guys at the corners have arms that could keep Yankee runners from taking the extra base. Nick Swisher is no greyhound in right field for the Yankees either, but Granderson and Gardner cover plenty of ground between them. Purely defensively, the Yankee outfield has the edge.

Yankee Fan: This is turning out to be quite a boring exchange, as we keep agreeing on things.  I’ll admit to relative ignorance regarding the Twins’ outfield defense.  Then again, speed isn’t something Kubel or Young is especially known for, but Span sure can make up a lot of ground between them.  In contrast, the outfield of Gardner, Granderson and Swisher does cover a lot of ground.  The right field experience (sorry Swish) is not ideal from a defensive standpoint, but I admit it’s a lot of fun to watch (through clenched fists of course).  I think if I stick with my prediction that the ball will be in play a lot in the deciding games, I have to give an advantage to the Yankees here — the Twins’ outfield will allow a couple of extra doubles in the gap or singles that dunk in.

 

 

Hudson is just one of the Twins infield upgrades

Jim Crikket: If the Yankees have to win by scratching out a couple of extra bloopers, they probably won’t even want to advance, just on principle!

It pains me to admit it, but the Yankees may very well have four future Hall of Famers in their infield (does that count as my “nice” thing to say about Jeter?), though I think you’d have to say Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira will need to produce at current levels a few more years to make that a reality. Rodriguez still covers some ground at third base but until Jeter is moved out of the SS position, I’ll always consider that infield to be suspect defensively. The Twins infield has been significantly upgraded over last year’s playoff version defensively (Valencia, Hardy and Hudson over the trio of Tolbert, Cabrera and Punto around the horn in Game 1 of the 2009 ALDS) and while Cuddyer’s not going to make his infielders look as good as Teixeira will his, I like the Twins’ unit better than the Yankees overall.

 

ARod, Cano and Jeter

Yankee Fan: Hey now, as a long time Yankee Fan, if the Yankees win without any “help” from the umpires I will be happy.  Finally, something we can disagree on!  I think Teixeira fields his position amazingly, and A-Rod is no slouch at third.  While Cano has generally played gold glove-caliber defense this season, his mind and focus tends to wander.  That shouldn’t be a problem in the playoffs, but that remains to be seen.  As for Jeter, I will be the first to admit his fielding has tailed off a little this year.  More than once I found myself saying “wow, he usually gets to that one” or “wait, the runner beat the throw?”  Then again, I think that the recently trendy criticism of Jeter’s defense has been mostly unwarranted.  Having watched him just about every day for the past dozen plus years, I can say the kid fielded far better than the critics would have us believe.  Overall, I think the Yankee infield is more than competent, as is the Twins’ infield.  I don’t think the difference defensively is worth discussing, even assuming lots of ground balls by the pitchers in the series.  But if I had to decide, I’d take the Yankee infield… four future hall of famers is nothing to scoff at!

I suppose the only thing left to discuss is the defensive catcher position – do we even have to discuss this?  Mauer is a game-changer.  He can hit, run, and throw out baserunners (not to mention handle a pitching staff).  The Yankee catchers can hit some, and Posada can handle most pitchers (I’m looking at you Burnett) but generally can’t run or throw out baserunners.  Herein lies a deceptive advantage for the Twins.  Depending on the way the games play out, the Mauer factor can carry much more weight than, say, “Span v. Granderson.”  In case you couldn’t tell, I think this is where the Twins win the series… if they win it.

Jim Crikket: Yeah, Joe Mauer didn’t win the batting title this year. He finished what? Third? Whatever. Jorge Posada is no slouch, even at his advanced age, but the clear advantage here goes to the Twins.  There has been a lot of discussion about the Twins starting pitching not looking real sharp for the past couple of weeks, but a lot of those games were being caught by back up catchers. It will be interesting to see if having Mauer back behind the plate has an effect on Liriano, Duensing and Blackburn in particular.

Next: Who’s bringing the lumber?

Yankee Fan vs. Jim Crikket, ALDS Pitching

With close to 70 different Twins-related blogs floating about in the cyber-cloud and almost all of them posting an analysis of the upcoming Twins/Yankees ALDS, it’s not easy to set your blog apart from the others. But here at Knuckleballs, we’re fortunate to have a legitimate fan of the Yankees (who conveniently goes by the nick “Yankee Fan”) as a regular reader. We asked Yankee Fan if he would be willing to go head-to-head with Jim Crikket in a little pre-ALDS analysis. To our surprise, he agreed!

Here, in Part 1 of Yankee Fan vs Jim Crikket, they discuss the comparative strengths and weaknesses of the Yankees and Twins pitching. Later, they’ll give their takes on their respective teams’ gloves and hitters and provide their personal predictions concerning the utlimate outcome of this ALDS series.

 

JimCrikket: I would imagine that we’ll start off with something we can quickly come to an agreement on… that CC Sabathia is clearly the number 1 rotation arm in this series. Since he’s likely to pitch two of the four games (if the series goes that far), he’s arguably both the first AND second best pitcher in the series. But forgive me if I haven’t been impressed with what I’ve seen of Andy Pettitte since his return or Phil Hughes since… I dunno… June? It’s hard to predict which versions of the Jekyll/Hyde Twins starters will show up on any given day, but I think their depth is better than the Yankees. When he’s “on”, Liriano is as good as anyone in the league and Pavano has been very reliable, but I think Brian Duensing and Nick Blackburn could play key roles in determining who wins this series. Overall, I give a slight advantage to the Yankees  just because Captain Cheeseburger can be THAT good.

Francisco Liriano

 Yankee Fan: CC is absolutely a great pitcher but calling him the top two pitchers in the series borders hyperbole (unless that’s a veiled reference to his weight, in which case I concede).  There’s an argument to be made that Liriano is the better pitcher (2.61 ERA, 10 K/9 vs. CC’s 3.21 ERA, 7.46 K/9 against playoff teams) and that the Yankee bats are responsible for the difference between Sabathia’s 21-7 record and Liriano’s 14-10.  At the very best, I would call it a wash on Game 1.  There will be no surprises as either pitcher can “bring it.”

As for Games 2 and 3, can someone please show me where the average Yankee fan (and Daily News’) confidence comes from?  Pettitte has been worse than Burnett since coming off the DL (seriously, 6.76 ERA!) and Hughes’ 1.63 WHIP over his last 3 starts doesn’t strike fear in my son’s little league team right now.  Then again, Pavano and Duensing haven’t been lighting it up either, so I think that Games 2-5 (if necessary) will be determined by the hitters instead of the pitchers.  Without boring you and your readers with the statistics, it would appear that beyond CC and Liriano the series will be decided by non-strikeout pitchers — that means a lot of batted balls in play.  I know that traditionally playoff games are dictated by pitching and defense, but here the hitters will determine the outcome (and the series).  Then again, don’t discount the Pavano factor — if I’ve learned one thing over the past 5 years it’s that if Carl can screw the Yanks, he will.

Jim Crikket: Wow, I’m shocked… it sounds like you’re going to make all my points for me! You want to do my job and tell me how great the Twins’ bullpen is too?

Yankee Fan: Well you started off praising CC so I guess I felt the need to reciprocate – in retrospect I may have overcompensated.  Now you have to say something nice about Derek Jeter.  As for bullpen comparison, it is my humble opinion that the Twins’ bullpen is the best in baseball.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the Yankee bullpen very much — I still think Joba can get key outs, Wood has been excellent, and despite the chatter, Mariano is still Mariano.  My biggest issue with the Yankee bullpen is that they may need 4-5 innings of relief pitching for every non-CC outing to even get to Mo.  Over a 5 game series that bullpen is bound to turn out like the Yankees’ signing of Pavano — overspent and underwhelmed.  The good news?  I think that Minny might need 4-5 innings of relief pitching as well (especially with Pavano and Duensing pitching to contact).  The bad news is I think they can handle it.  Agree?

Mariano Rivera at Target Field in May

Jim Crikket: I certainly do (but I’m going to have to give some thought about saying something nice about Jeter).

I realize it borders on heresy to suggest that Mariano Rivera is remotely human, but it sure looks like age may finally be catching up to him. I also haven’t been impressed with the rest of the Yankees bullpen, though I readily admit that I’m surprised at just how effective Kerry Wood has been. Matt Capps has been reliable and just for good measure, the Twins have two more 20-save arms in their bullpen in the persons of Brian Fuentes and Jon Rauch (assuming he’s healthy). Remarkably, none of those three is even the Twins best reliever. That would have to be Jesse Crain. Nobody wants to have to go in to the ninth inning down and try to beat Rivera, but I think the Twins overall depth gives them the advantage at this position. It sounds like we agree on that anyway.

Next: Who’s going to flash the best leather?

Let’s Have Another Game 163… EVERY Year!

A little over a month ago, as the season was moving in to August, I looked in to my crystal ball to forecast that the Twins and White Sox would finish the season tied for the AL Central Division title with identical 92-70 records, sending the teams in to yet another Game 163 to settle things. Since we’re now heading in to the final four weeks (and eight series) of the season, I decided to check in on these teams to see whether I need to adjust my forecast.

I know this will come as a terribly disappointing shock to all of you, but I was wr… wrrrr…. wrrrrrr… wronnnn… not entirely correct. There will be no Game 163 this year between the Twins and Sox. According to the advanced analytical formulas I applied to the two teams’ remaining schedules last month, and adjusting for actual performance, the Twins will finish the season with a 95-67 record, while the Bitch Sox limp to the finish line at 91-71… and that assumes they can dupicate the Twins’ sweep of the Royals this weekend, which I’m no longer all that certain they can do.

So, as much fun as that extra game at the Dome was against the Tigers last season, we will not be repeating the experience this October. Bummer, eh? For a while I was even dreaming of scenario where there would be a Game 164… where the Rays and BitchSox would have to play for the Wild Card spot after the Twins disposed of the Sox in Game 163.

Of course, it’s still conceivably possible that the Rays will collapse to the point of allowing the Sox to tie them for the Wild Card. And as much fun as it would be to see all of the smartasses in the media who’ve been talking like the Wild Card couldn’t possibly go to anyone outside of the Almighty AL East proved wrong, the Rays would have to pretty much lose every series through the end of the season to drop down to the number of wins I see the Sox scraping together. But hey, I’ve been wrr… wrrr… not 100% accurate with my predictions before so, it could happen! Then, at least we’d all have a really interesting game to watch while we waited a couple of days for our Twins to begin their inevitable march to the World Series.

There’s really nothing like a “win or go home” game, is there? It’s something we take for granted in the NFL playoffs and the NCAA basketball tournament, but when it comes to baseball (or the NBA or NHL for that matter), the very nature of their playoff series is such that you seldom have the dramatics of a game where both teams need a win to avoid seeing their seasons end short of a championship. A Game 5 of a Division Series or a Game 7 of a League Championship Series or World Series, yes those are rivoting. But far, too rare. (Quick… what’s the last Game 7 you can recall watching? Can’t remember? Don’t feel bad… of the last 14 postseason series, only 1 has gone to a deciding game… and out of 105 series since the introduction of the Wild Card, only 18 have gone the distance.)

But that Game 163 has provided that drama the last two years, too. And not just for Twins fans. Do you realize that last year’s Game 163 was the most watched game of MLB’s regular season? That’s not because Detroit and Minneapolis are huge TV markets, folks. 6.5 million people watched that game on cable television. Why? Because baseball fans all over the country knew it as a “sudden death” game (or at least it turned out that way for the Tigers).

Wouldn’t it be cool if we could have a couple of those games EVERY season? (OK… maybe just for the benefit of our own health around here, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to let a few other teams take a turn with the Game 163. It doesn’t need to be the Twins every year!)

Well Tom Verducci, over at SI.com, has figured out a way to do just that. In this column, he proposes one tiny little tweak to MLB’s playoff system that would (a) make the last month of the season a lot more interesting for fans of a lot more teams, (b) force teams to put more emphasis on winning their division instead of locking up the Wild Card and coasting through the final weeks, and (c) guarantee that we’d all get to see at least two “sudden death” games every post-season.

Verducci proposes adding a Game 163 in each league by adding an extra Wild Card spot… and holding a one-game, winner-moves-on-loser-goes-home game the day after the final game of the regular season. No “two days to rest up”. The team with the fewer wins gets their asses on a plane after their last game and heads out to play the other Wild Card team for the right to face the Division Champion with the best record. Do you think the threat of being one-and-done AND having to use your #1 starter while your potential next opponent sets their rotation wouldn’t make managers go all out to win divisions?

I admit part of the reason I like this idea is that I don’t think there’s enough of a “penalty” for Wild Card teams. They don’t even have to play the Division Champion with the best record if that team is from their own division. So they don’t get home field advantage, big whoop.

You can (and should) read Verducci’s whole column to get a full dose of his arguments why this set up would make sense, but for our purposes, let’s just look at what kind of effect it would be having on the American League if that system were in place this year:

  • Instead of everyone handing two playoff spots to the Yankees and Rays, with no more on the line than home field advantage in the ALDS, those two teams would be fighting over which gets assured of a “best of five” ALDS series and which has to roll the dice on one game against another Wild Card team.
  • Instead of the White Sox being consumed with catching the Twins (OK, I admit they’re ALWAYS consumed with catching the Twins) or hoping for the unlikely total collapse of the Rays, they’d have a legitimate shot at the second Wild Card even after the Twins stomp out their Division Title hopes next week.
  • Instead of the Red Sox playing out the season, they’d have a half-game lead over the Bitch Sox for that second WC spot.
  • And get this… Toronto would be just 5 and a half games out of a Wild Card spot, as well (and who knows how much closer they might be if they hadn’t felt like they were eliminated back in, what, May?).
  • Even fans in Detroit and Oakland would still be paying SOME attention to their teams instead of watching them play out the season (or more likely NOT watching them play out the season once football season starts).

Tell me there wouldn’t be a lot more excitement among MLB fans if these scenarios existed! And as an added bonus, if you’re the Blue Jays and Orioles, now you don’t have to break Spring Training every year knowing you have no chance to make the playoffs. All you have to do is finish 3rd in your division and have a better record than the runners-up in the Central and West. If you can’t even do that, then just STFU.

Down in Class AAAA (known by some as the National League), those Division races in the East and West would be much more intense AND fans in Colorado and St. Louis wouldn’t be quite so ready to tune out.

Perhaps the best thing about this plan is that it doesn’t have to add a single day to the playoff calendar. No off days between the end of the regular season and these Wild Card play-in games. You don’t like the idea of spending two days traveling and playing an extra game while your potential next round opponent is resting up and waiting for you? Win more games next year and win your damn division!

The bottom line, for me, is that when September and October rolls around, I’m not ready to stop watching baseball. I like football. I watch it. College and NFL. But it’s crunch time in Major League Baseball and fans are tuning in for frigging PRE-SEASON football games intead of watching what should be the most important weeks in MLB’s calendar.

Finally, Verducci also ran his proposal by Bud Selig. Bud thinks things are fine the way they are. Of course, he does. He ALWAYS thinks things are fine the way they are. Even if I didn’t like this idea, the mere fact that Selig was not supportive would tell me it’s a brilliant idea. If Bud thinks it’s wrong, it’s GOTTA be right!

Just one more reason why Major League Baseball needs Jim Crikket (or at least Tom Verducci) as its new commissioner. – JC

With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enema?

NOTE: Yes, this is another long JimCrikket rant but if you’ve been coming here halfway regularly this season, you should be used to it by now and I’m tired of apologizing for being long winded. – JC

Enema… that’s the plural form of the word “enemy”, right? (I may be off on the appropriate word, but I just don’t feel like looking it up and it still seems to fit since this post is about the Bitch Sox and Yankees.)

Almost nothing riles up the folks who populate Bitch Sox message boards and blogs quite like when Ozzie Guillen says something complimentary about the Twins to the media. (Yes, I peruse their sites occasionally. I suppose you could say that makes me a “troll”, but I never post any comments to stir up the locals, so I don’t really think of it as trolling. It’s more like feeding some sort of harmless, but deep-seated, voyeuristic fetish that conventional society may consider borderline perverted… and who among us doesn’t have one or two of those?)

To put it in terms Twins fans may be able to relate to, Bitch Sox fan responses to Ozzie’s man-love for Gardy and the Twins is comparable to comments you see on Twins boards and blogs when Gardy becomes effusive about how Nick Punto “gets after it”. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with expressing respect for how an opponent (or a player with limited natural ability) works hard to play the game “the right way”, it’s just that hearing it over and over and over (and over) again starts to wear on you, I guess. I’m sure this is especially true of  Bitch Sox fans who have had to endure watching their team lose something like 741 out of the last 742 games to the Twins (again, I could be off a bit on the number, I just don’t feel like looking that up either).

Has Ozzie overdone his man-love for the Twins a bit? Yeah, probably. It appears as though he was so impressed by the “piranyas” the Twins fielded a few years back that he convinced his GM, Kenny Williams, to clone that team and put them in Sox uniforms in 2010. Can’t you just imagine the conversation those two had in the offseason?

Williams: “Hey Ozzie, what do you think about bringing Jim Thome back as our DH?”

Ozzie: “No, no, no… he’ll never stay healthy and he can’t play defense. We need flexibility. Give me Mark Kotsay, Juan Pierre, Andruw Jones and Mark Teahan and I’ll have plenty of DH options.”

What’s the matter, Ozzie, weren’t Jason Tyner, Lew Ford, Rondell White or Jeff Cirillo available?

Anyway, as I was trolling… er… reading through the Bitch Sox fans’ post game comments Tuesday and Wednesday, it struck me just how similar they were to what I’ve read about Twins fans’ feelings toward the Yankees (or as I prefer to refer to them, the F’ing Yankees). The frustration level is off the charts in both cases.

But being a Bitch Sox fan having to endure this kind of one-sided relationship has to be even worse. Can you imagine how it would feel if the Twins not only were consistently getting slapped around by the Yankees, but were having it happen 18 times a season AND were having to spend October playing golf instead of playoff baseball because the Yankees consistently were winning the Division? You might as well be a Blue Jays fan.

There are signs lately, however, that perhaps the Ozzie/Twins love-fest may be wearing a bit thin, even with the Bitch Sox and their manager themselves. Ozzie’s been quoted as saying he, “hates the Twins”. He certainly was not appreciative of Carlos Quentin, being hit by a couple of pitches in a game with the Twins at The Cell (is that an appropriate nickname for that prison of a ballpark in Chicago, or what?) a couple weeks ago after Quentin hit a home run in the game. He was convinced that at least the last HBP by Glen Perkins was intentional. Frankly, I’m convinced of it, too. But how can you complain when you pretty much stand on top of the plate the way Quentin does?

Then there was the comment Sox bullpen coach Juan Nieves made prior to this series. (Who the heck interviews a bullpen coach, anyway? What’s next, interviewing the batboy? From what I can tell, the bullpen coach’s primary, perhaps only, responsibility is to answer the phone when the call comes in from the dugout to get a relief pitcher warmed up. And this guy is talking trash?). If you listen to it, (starts about at the 27 minute mark) it’s pretty clear that (a) he’s not a Twins fan, and (b) he wasn’t kidding about wanting one of his pitchers to intentionally drill Joe Mauer for the purpose of starting a fight. So when one of  Nieves’ relief pitchers zipped a heater past the bill of JJ Hardy’s helmet Tuesday, I think it’s safe to assume the Twins dugout took notice.

The next inning, when Delmon Young broke for home from 3B on a ground ball to second, I believe he had two things in mind: 1-score the run and 2-if I can knock AJ Pierzynski in to the next galaxy in the process, that’s cool, too. When it became clear the throw was going to get to AJ well before DY could get to the plate, it’s quite possible the two priorities swapped places in Young’s mind.

Bitch Sox fans were enraged. In fact, perhaps their biggest fan (or at least the loudest), “Hawk” Harrelson proclaimed from the broadcast booth that Young should find out what it feels like to have a Rawlings “in his earhole”. (That Hawk… classy as ever, isn’t he?)

Not that Bert Blyleven (or I, for that matter) would say anything too different if a Yankee like Mark Teixeira took similar aim at Joe Mauer, of course. That’s the nature of a bitter rivalry. The team (and its fans) that feels like it’s getting bullied and beaten around by another team becomes blind to anything but exacting revenge. It can cause a team and its fans to lose focus on what’s important… winning the game and competing for a championship.

I know that keeping things in perspective is easier said than done. I know that because when I consider what I think the Twins should do about this escalating level of tension between the teams, I’m torn myself. My head says, “Don’t be stupid, win the games and don’t risk losing anyone important to injury or suspension and, along with him, your grip on the Division.” But my instincts say, “Get the first two outs of the game and then drill Alex Rios in the ass! Get the first punch in, take the resulting inevitable umpire warning to both benches, and prevent the  Bitch Sox from being able to retaliate with impunity.” It’s a tough call.

Here’s another thing that I find very interesting: The near-universal and absolute hatred among Bitch Sox fans for all things and people Twins-related. I could not believe the number of “F*** Jim Thome” comments I read on their boards. Virtually to a person, they feel that the Twins have been, are, and always shall be, dirty players and cheap-shot artists. Reading their comments, you would think they’re talking about a team full of Ty Cobbs over here. I mean… seriously? This obviously runs 180 degrees counter to the widely held (though arguably inaccurate) perception among Twins fans that this roster is too soft… that there’s nobody with any sort of competitive edge… too “Minnesota nice”.

But here’s the thing… my sense is that most of us have always considered the  Bitch Sox to be a rival, certainly, but more of an annoyance than anything else. They had a nice season in 2005 and Thome beat us in game 163 a couple of years ago. But I’ve just never considered them a serious threat to the Twins continued success. The Indians (during eras when they ride their rollercoaster to the top) and the Tigers (more consistently a thorn in the Twins side) tend to concern me more than the Bitch Sox do. The A’s, Angels and F’ing Yankees? Absolutely, as they’ve presented the hurdles the Twins have been unable to clear in recent efforts to get to the World Series. But the Bitch Sox? Eh, not so much.

I realize that those of us who are former Batlings were pretty much obligated to join Batgirl in her hatred of the Bitch Sox “with a white hot fire.” But I always felt that the “hatred” was like something you felt toward an annoying little brother that you know you can just slap out of the way when you get bored with him.

But when I read garbage like what’s spewed in this lovely thread entitled “Drill Baby Drill” from one of the Bitch Sox message boards, I realize that Batgirl may have had it right. Throughout the thread, Bitch Sox fans not only whine about how badly abused their poor players have been by the Twins, but advocate that season and career ending injuries be inflicted upon Delmon Young and Joe Mauer.

So let me conclude with a couple of appropriate, and apparently timeless, Batgirl quotes from 2004:

“…you could fire every player on the Bitch Sox, plus their coaching staff and management and still have a character problem.”

“Put your playing where your bitching is, boys.”

I wish I had Batgirl’s way with words. – JC

All-Star streak is over…

The National League has finally ended the American League’s domination of the All-Star game by winning the All-Star Game for the first time since 1996.  The winning hit turned out to be a 3-run blast to RF from Brian McCann in the 7th inning.  Poor base-running from some familiar AL names and fantastic pitching and defense from the NL outfield kept the win.  The timely hit earned Brian the All-Star MVP. 

So which National League team do you think will end up with home field advantage?

An Era ends for the Yankees

photo courtesy of ESPN

Most of you have heard by now that Yankees owner, George Steinbrenner, has died at the age of 80 from a massive heart attack.

He really was the focus of a nation-wide Love-To-Hate relationship.  He was the anchor of one end of the spectrum of management and, love or hate him, the vacuum of his loss will rock the boat.

For those Yankee fans out there, we offer our condolences.

More on the Life and Passing of George Steinbrenner.

Here’s the Last Day to Vote for Delmon – this year.

 

I find it a bit entertaining that I’m doing anything to further encourage the All-Star game.  I don’t HATE it, mind you.  I just have huge isues with something that is purely a popularity contest and then pretends that it can somehow “represent” all teams and set itself up as important to baseball.  And I felt this way BEFORE Justin Morneau was treated so shamefully during his HR derby win.

But all that being said, it IS a popularity contest.  It isn’t about skill or we wouldn’t have forced representation from teams and we wouldn’t have Omar Infante on any AS team – although I’m sure he’s a nice guy.  We also wouldn’t be having a discussion about Strasburg participating.  Whatever your feelings about whether it should or shouldn’t be this way or how players are chosen, it is what it is.

And what it is is a reflection on Twins fans.  Delmon Young is finally having a season we have been waiting for.  One where we actually get excited when he comes up to bat – one where we don’t hide our head in our hands everytime a fly is hit to LF – one where there are blogger arguments about how he should be higher in the batting order!!!  Come ON, Twins fans!  This is our boy on the ballot. 

WE CAN DO BETTER THAN 5TH PLACE!

Let’s get out there and click submit – we have until 3 pm Central today to vote.

 

Again, click the button above and it will take you to the ballot!

Final Vote for All-Star Game 2010

Well, I think the Twins will be well-represented at the All-Star Game in Anaheim this year thanks to the M&M boys doing so well in the voting.  Isn’t it amazing what a little commercial time can do to a couple guys in flyover country?

Here’s the list of currently selected players:

2010 All-Stars

AL starters
C: J. Mauer, MIN
1B: J. Morneau, MIN
2B: R. Cano, NYY
SS: D. Jeter, NYY
3B: E. Longoria, TB
OF: J. Hamilton, TEX
OF: I. Suzuki, SEA
OF: C. Crawford, TB
DH: V. Guerrero, TEX

NL starters
C: Y. Molina, STL
1B: A. Pujols, STL
2B: C. Utley, PHI
SS: H. Ramirez, FLA
3B: D. Wright, NYM
OF: R. Braun, MIL
OF: A. Ethier, LA
OF: J. Heyward, ATL

Full All-Star rosters

BUT!!  We, as fans, aren’t done yet!  We have a chance to continue voting for the player to be added to the roster.  Here in Twins Territory, one of our favorite debates over the last couple years has been whether or not Delmon Young would ever live up to his potential.  We get frequent reminders – which we need because we frequently forget – that Delmon Young is still a very young man and still developing the necessary maturity as a player.  However, this year we’re finally seeing some of that development take place.  And due to what is really becoming a great season for him, he has been included in the list of 5 men that the fans can choose to add to each league roster. 

Twins fans should really take advantage of this!  So go vote for Delmon!

 

 

If you click on the button – it will take you to the All-Star Balloting!  You have until 3:00 pm on Thursday.

WWBD – What Will Bud Do?

UPDATE: Color me amazed! This afternoon, Commissioner Selig issued a written statement indicating the ruling would NOT be reversed AND indicating he would, “look at the game’s umpiring system and the expanded use of instant replay.”  It’s extremely difficult for me to congratulate Selig on a decision, but I do congratulate him (or whichever advisor told him, “Are you kidding, you CAN’T reverse that call!”) on this decision. Now, let’s see some follow-up that will give the umpires the help they deserve to make sure as many “blown calls” as possible can be avoided. -JC

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It’s been all over the internet today, from blogs to social network sights. An umpire missed a call.

OMG… really? That happens?

While I feel awful for Armando Gallaraga for losing his shot at a perfect game on a blown safe/out call at 1B, and just as awful for umpire Jim Joyce for having made an honest mistake, what I simply do not understand is why THAT call… which did not affect the outcome of a game… is so much more important than the equally atrocious blown call that prematurely ended the Twins/Mariners game later in the evening.

During our GameChat last night, we were discussing the Gallaraga/Joyce call and the question arose concerning whether MLB might step in and reverse the call. I responded with something to the effect of, “They can’t and they shouldn’t, but since it’s the wrong thing to do, that’s probably exactly what Bud Selig will do.” I stand by that sentiment this morning.

Today, I read that the MLB office has not yet decided whether to change the call. Seriously?

Ah… but yes, it all makes sense now. The cry has never been louder for expanded use of  instant replay and we all know how Bud feels about that issue. Reversing the call would allow the Budster to accomplish several things. First, it would “get the call right,” and awards Gallaraga the perfecto that he deserves. Second, it gets the heat off of Jim Joyce so he doesn’t have to go through the rest of his life haunted by the blown call. Finally, it mutes the voices screaming for more instant replay.

Look, I’m all for finding a way to give Gallaraga his justice (he handled the situation with remarkable class and maturity, by the way… and you should read Joe Posnanski’s cnnsi column on that subject, if you haven’t already). I also have no wish to see Joyce suffer the same fate Don Denkinger did for the rest of his career after his blown World Series call in 1985 (don’t ask me how I’d feel if it had been one of the total yahoos in the umpiring business, like Joe West, had blown the call).

But as difficult as it might be to figure out how to do, baseball NEEDS expanded instant replay and if Selig reverses this particular call, while ignoring blown calls like the one that ended the Twins game, not to mention the blown calls in last year’s post season… you know, calls that actually had effects on who wins games… then the owners should immediately relieve him of his Commissioner duties. Well, I think they should do that anyway… but this would be the latest crime against baseball that would warrant his dismissal.

Stepping in and effectively saying, “a blown call that costs a player a record is more worthy of reversal and thus more important than a blown call that affects the outcome of a game,” is exactly the wrong thing to do. Which means that I fully expect Bud Selig to do exactly that.

The RIGHT thing to do would be to say, “It’s a shame that this happened just as it’s a shame we have calls that affect the outcome of games and we’re going to do something about it by expanding instant replay… but we can not go back and change anything that has already happened.” Of course, that’s the one thing Bud WON’T do.

But what say you? We haven’t put up a poll in a while. Am I wrong here?

By all means, feel free to expand on your feelings in the comment section. – JC

GoGo Gomez… the new AJ?

With last night’s laughable “performance” by Carlos Gomez, standing and admiring his meaningless moon-shot off of Nick Blackburn after flipping his bat and hitting catcher Joe Mauer, then making some rather mocking “chirping” motions with his hands on his way back to the dugout in response to the words being sent his way by Blackburn and/or Mauer, it begs the question… is Gomez destined to be our next AJ Pierzynski? (And, is that possibly the longest run-on sentence, you’ve ever read? My Journalism teacher would be so disappointed!)

Ever since joining the White Sox, AJ has been the ex-Twin that fans love to hate. He’s just got the kind of personality that grates on people (even his own team mates, apparently). He’s consistently greeted with a loud chorus of booooooooooooos whenever he comes to the plate in Minnesota.

But AJ is clearly coming to the end of his time as a BitchSox and, if you believe reports coming out of Chicago, he could easily be traded within the next two weeks (he becomes a “10 and 5″ player June 14 and earns the right to veto any trade if he’s still with the Tidy Whities at that time).

So perhaps GoGo’s timing is perfect. If we’re going to be in need of a new ex-Twin to demonize, who better than the guy who was the centerpiece of the Johan Santana trade and failed to live up to his potential with the Twins?

I will say that, personally, it’s much tougher for me to dislike Gomez than it is AJ. Pierzynski is an intentional irritant. He thrives on getting under the skin of opponents and their fans. With Gomez, I don’t believe that’s the case. I think Howard Sinker at the Strib is right… he’s simply clueless.

I love watching the way he clearly is having fun playing baseball. It’s almost childlike. In fact, delete the “almost”… it IS childlike. I spent years coaching my son’s youth baseball teams and every year we had at least one kid who honestly had no clue about the “right” and “wrong” way to do things. Those kids just loved playing baseball and were completely unaware that you just don’t DO some things…. like over-celebrating a HR when your team is down 12 runs with one inning to play, for example.

Gomez will likely eventually learn that sort of thing. I’d say he might even get his first lesson in his first AB in this afternoon’s game, but that’s just not the way the Twins roll. (He might want to stand clear if he sees broadcaster Bert Blyleven with a ball in his hands during pre-game, though.)

But a part of me hopes he never completely learns. I don’t want to see his unbridled joy dampened. It’s just so fun to watch when he’s playing ball with a smile.

And if he becomes the “new AJ”, that will just make these interleague games with the Brewers that much more entertaining.