GameChat – Rays @ Twins #3, 1:10

Let’s see if the boys can avoid a sweep today.

This has not exactly been the way anyone wanted the Twins to come out of the All-Star break.

Tampa Bay Minnesota
Jennings, D, CF Dozier, 2B
Zobrist, 2B Nunez, 3B
Joyce, LF Plouffe, DH
Longoria, 3B Morales, K, 1B
Loney, 1B Arcia, O, RF
Guyer, DH Willingham, LF
Escobar, Y, SS Escobar, E, SS
Casali, C Fryer, C
Kiermaier, RF Fuld, CF
  Archer, P   Correia, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Tampa Bay 2 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 5 11 2
Minnesota 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 3 6 1

That was an ugly series.

GameChat – Rays @ Twins #2, 6:10pm

SERIOUSLY BEAUTIFUL DAY FOR BASEBALL!!!  Let’s see if the Twins can’t try to win this one and it will be even better. Of course, I have finally arrived at the family cabin and intend to spend the beautiful weather grilling out and fishing. Die hard Minnesotans have to spread their time around. But hopefully I’ll be able to catch the game on the radio while I enjoy a frosty adult beverage on the beach… Life is rough road.

Tampa Bay Minnesota
Jennings, D, CF Santana, D, CF
Zobrist, RF Dozier, 2B
Guyer, LF Plouffe, 3B
Longoria, 3B Morales, K, DH
Loney, 1B Suzuki, K, C
Forsythe, 2B Colabello, 1B
Escobar, Y, SS Parmelee, RF
Molina, J, C Escobar, E, SS
Rodriguez, S, DH Nunez, LF
  Price, P   Hughes, P, P

GameChat – Rays @ Twins, 7:10pm

Now that the whole country knows how gorgeous Target Field is, it’s time to go back to playing regular baseball… and sadly, baseball between a couple of teams who aren’t playing the best baseball in their histories.

Tampa Bay @ Minnesota
Jennings, D, CF Santana, D, CF
Zobrist, LF Dozier, 2B
Joyce, DH Morales, K, 1B
Longoria, 3B Plouffe, 3B
Loney, 1B Arcia, O, RF
Escobar, Y, SS Willingham, DH
Figueroa, C, 2B Suzuki, K, C
Casali, C Escobar, E, SS
Kiermaier, RF Fuld, LF
  Cobb, P   Gibson, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Tampa Bay 0 0 3 0 2 0 1 0 0 6 11 0
Minnesota 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 6 0

..

ASG Weekend Reflections

The big All-Star bash in Minneapolis is behind us now and by most accounts, it was somewhere between very successful and close to perfect.

I saw the Futures Game/Celebrity Softball Game in person on Sunday and watched the Home Run Derby and ASG on the tube. My conclusion is that, while I wouldn’t say it was all perfectly staged and performed, the Twin Cities and those from MLB and the Twins who were involved all did themselves proud.

It was the kind of event that could make us feel proud to call ourselves Twins fans (and there haven’t been many events like that over the past few years).

A list of the things I didn’t like would be short. Too much Jeter (but we knew there would be) and too little Gwynn (none at all, really). I also really didn’t like the special caps for the ASG. That just seems like an over-the-top money grab by MLB to sell more stuff. I’d rather see the players in some version of their regular uniforms, including the cap.

The rain delay at the HR Derby on Monday sucked. But the rainbow over the Plaza almost made the rain delay worthwhile in itself. I’m sure there were a few people moaning about the lack of a roof, but I think most of us stopped listening to those idiots years ago.

The new HR Derby format didn’t exactly work the way people thought (or hoped) it would. Oh well, try something different next time.

I had some family with me this trip and that meant visits to the Mall of America on Friday night and Saturday.

I know a lot of people roll their eyes at going to MOA, but I’ve never been too averse to it. Walking around the Mall brings back some memories of visits there when our kids were young and it was a bit of an adventure.

I tire quicker these days, of course, but I’ve never had trouble finding an open bar stool for a rest and I rested at the Sky Deck Grille and Kokomos for quite a bit of my time at MOA.

Sunday, the family got in some pool time at the hotel before we hopped on the light rail to Target Field for the Futures Game. It was my 11-month old grandson’s first venture in to a swimming pool and his first time at a Big League ballpark. So that was cool.

grandson Jack

grandson Jack in the hotel pool

We pretty much took over the first row of Section C in the Legends Club for the Sunday activities. Getting through a full Futures Game, a half hour or more “intermission” and a six-inning softball game with various interviews slowing things down between innings was a bit much for me, so I have no idea how an 11-month old endured it, but he did.

My grandson's first trip to Target Field. Kind of gave "Futures Game" a different meaning to me.

My grandson’s first trip to Target Field. Kind of gave “Futures Game” a different meaning to me.

I enjoyed watching Kennys Vargas and Alex Meyer and I was really excited to see Jose Berrios start for the World team.

When the Twins announced their affiliation with the Cedar Rapids Kernels starting in 2013, I started looking forward to being able to see guys I’d been watching in Kernels uniforms play in Target Field.

Berrios was the first of the 2013 crop of Kernels I got to see there and it just has me even more anxious to see the arrival of a few of his Kernels teammates with the Twins in coming years.

All three of the Twins prospects did just fine in the game. Nobody “starred,” but that’s OK. Let’s not forget, these three guys aren’t the organization’s top 3 prospects, but they held their own (or better).

The future is bright for the Twins, if I can just manage to live long enough to see it.

Jose Berrios, former CR Kernel, future Minnesota Twin

Jose Berrios, former CR Kernel, future Minnesota Twin

The cramped rail-ride back to Bloomington was probably the worst part of the day, but at least I could collapse at the hotel when it was over.

Monday morning, we packed up and headed back to Cedar Rapids, getting there well before the HR Derby’s scheduled start. Of course, it turned out the actual start was delayed about an hour by rain anyway.

The ovations for Justin Morneau and Brian Dozier were terrific and I thought the crowd did a nice job of showing appreciation for all the participants.

I felt a bit bad for Yasiel Puig. I’m not sure if he just was too amped up or what. And did nobody tell him he should enlist his favorite BP pitcher to throw to him? Odd. Anyway, I suspect he’ll do better in a future Derby.

If I’m being completely honest, I was just really glad it wasn’t Morneau or Dozier that got shutout.

I watched the first couple innings of the All-Star Game itself at my favorite local bar. They had music playing, so I was spared the need to mute the TV. Of course, that meant I missed what most seem to think was a pretty good National Anthem (though FOX totally blew off the Canadian Anthem, which I thought was tacky on their part).

Looked like a great flyover, too. I love those.

I guess I have to give my thoughts on the Jeter-fest.

I’d like to get a real good case of Jeter-hate up, but I just can’t.

Yes, I hate the Yankees and that’s largely because of Yankee fans, so it’s usually pretty easy for me to really dislike individual Yankee players. But I reserve most of my dislike for the mercenaries who grab the Yankee dough after spending their best years elsewhere.

Jeter didn’t do that. And, at least at the ballpark, from what I can tell, he’s conducted himself in a pretty honorable manner through the years. I can appreciate that, even in a Yankee.

Is he over-rated? Oh yeah, definitely. But playing for the Yankees isn’t always easy, as others have found out, so maybe a guy who plays there and plays very well for 20 years should get a little credit for that.

That said, I would agree that his career warranted an ASG send off closer to the one Chipper Jones got. It just wasn’t realistic to expect that would happen.

So, I thought he, MLB, the Twins and the Target Field crowd did about the best job that could have been expected of balancing proper appreciation with he inevitable ESPN/FOX overkill of the situation.

I admit, too, that I was pleasantly surprised that Mike Trout got the ASG MVP award, rather than Jeter. Again, some bias there at seeing another former Kernels player out-do the “face of baseball.”

By the way, that whole “face of baseball” thing is a crock. First, there IS no face of baseball. This isn’t the NBA and we don’t need hyped up media megastars to survive.

Trout is the best player in the game and he’s only 22 years old (for about another month), but the media will never allow him to reach the hype level of Jeter – because he’s not a Yankee. It’s really that simple.

There will be no more “face of baseball” hype until the next time there’s a Yankee with the pedigree to allow Yankee fans, MLB and ESPN to bang the drum loud enough to proclaim him as such.

Hopefully, that will take a REALLY long time. Like forever.

It was good to see Pat Neshek participating. You can’t help but feel just how important this unimportant game was to him after all he’s been through.

Sure, there were more deserving pitchers that could have been selected (but not as many as some people think), but as long as you’re going to give the ASG manager some latitude on picks, you’re going to get some picks based on his emotions and if that’s going to happen, I’d rather see it happen to guys like Neshek than some others.

I did think he could have done without the bit of Twins front office-bashing he did to the media over the weekend, but he probably has good reason to feel the way he does. Heck, I really wish I could complain that letting Neshek go was the worst decision the Twins have made the last few years.

It’s too bad Neshek got saddled with the loss. His 3B (I don’t even remember who it was) sure didn’t do him any favors with his defense on Trout’s double down the left field line.

The game was at least interesting. Plenty of stars performed well under the spotlight. Some did not (I’m looking at you Robinson Cano).

All in all, as I said, it was an event Twins fans can be proud of.

I took a few pictures on Sunday, so I’ll share some of them here. – JC

Best thing about Budweiser beer

Best thing about Budweiser beer

Alex Meyer

Alex Meyer

Tony Oliva with the first pitch before Futures Game

Tony Oliva with the first pitch before Futures Game

Tony Oliva threw out the first pitch to Kennys Vargas

Tony Oliva threw out the first pitch to Kennys Vargas

Vargas FG

Kennys Vargas

The self serve beer machines seemed to really clog up the concourse. Not sure if it was the people using them or the people gawking at them.

The self serve beer machines seemed to really clog up the concourse. Not sure if it was the people using them or the people gawking at them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Rollie Fingers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Larry Fitzgerald

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mike Piazza and Ricky Henderson

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Zach Parise

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Adrian Peterson

 

Episode 92: Reviewing the First Half

You can download the new Talk to Contact (@TalkToContact) episode via iTunes or by clicking here, and if you want to add the show to your non-iTunes podcast player, this is the RSS Feed.

"Peace to my All Star homies in West Fargo." - Cody Christie, probably

“Peace to my All Star homies in West Fargo.” – Cody Christie, probably

This week we talk all about the first half, the Twins best players and worst players before the All Star break, and what we think might happen in the second half. Jay Corn rags on Joe Mauer, Cody Christie praises Brian Dozier, and Eric Pleiss raves about his boyfriend Phil Hughes.

Join us for the Twins talk, stay for the beers and baseball chatter.

 

I hope you enjoy this special episode.You can follow Cody on Twitter (@NoDakTwinsFan) or read his writing at NoDakTwinsFan, you can find Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) you can find Eric on Twitter (@ERolfPleiss) and read his writing at Knuckleballs, and you can find Mr. Jay Corn on Twitter (@Jay__Corn)!
If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review our show on iTunes.  iTunes ratings and reviews is how to government funds unemployment.

GameChat – 2014 All Star Game

Just in case you’re not AT the game or not on Twitter…

NL All-Stars @ AL All-Stars
McCutchen, CF Jeter, SS
Puig, RF Trout, LF
Tulowitzki, SS Cano, 2B
Goldschmidt, 1B Cabrera, M, 1B
Stanton, DH Bautista, RF
Ramirez, Ar, 3B Cruz, N, DH
Utley, 2B Jones, Ad, CF
Lucroy, C Donaldson, 3B
Gomez, C, LF Perez, S, C
  Wainwright, P   Hernandez, F, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
NL All-Stars 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 8 1
AL All-Stars 3 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 x 5 7 0

It was actually a BEAUTIFUL night for baseball… for Minnesotans, there was a lot of love about this game. It really showed off Target Field to the rest of the nation in a fantastic way and our boys, both former and current, looked great and had a lot of fun.

And Jeter is officially done with Minnesota!

And Mike Trout is our All Star Game MVP – earned well enough. We would likely have given him the BOD but I think he is likely more impress with the Corvette… just saying.

Mike Trout just over four years ago

Mike Trout just over four years ago

GameChat – Are You Watching the Home Run Derby?

Since there is enough going on with the Derby tonight to include Twins and former Twins, figured I might as well put up a chat to see whoever ISN’T in Minneapolis a chance to socialize. Given that tonight’s weather is not exactly Minnesota Summer even though a lot of the out-of-state visitors probably think this is what the frozen north is always like in the summer. That being said, the ball is NOT going to carry tonight like it could otherwise.. low humidity and lower than normal summer temps mean that this is going to be a REAL challenge to get that ball out of the park – not to mention that the wind is blowing in (most of the time) so it’s going to have THAT added difficulty as well.

Here’s tonight’s bracket of competitors:

2014_mlb_hrd_bracket

It was lovely to have Dozier in the derby and to get such a great crowd response since he would never have gotten that loud a cheer in any other park so it made for a great time for him. And it was equally heart-warming to have Morneau back in Target Field. I’m sure the ovation he received was a great reminder of his time here and provided some alternative joy since both he and Dozier didn’t advance past the first round. He did get a “swing off” with Todd Frazier who ended up putting on a temporary show and got further than even he expected.

The benefit of being a Minnesota fan meant that I had other things that made last night interesting but especially after the rain delay, it was a bit of a snoozer of an event. For me, literally, since I fell asleep before it was finished. That being said, I will qualify that with the fact that I’m not a huge Derby fan to begin with so it doesn’t take much for me to lose interest if there isn’t a great baseball story being written. The wunderkind, Puig, came up with a big fat 0 which was a pretty big disappointment to a lot of people expecting a big show from him but even so, I think all should be glad that he shows pur season games.  The “last minute” assignment of Cano, the Elder, as his pitcher probably didn’t help all that much given that their batting practice time was cut so short by the rain.

Giancarlo Stanton put on a seriously impressive show hitting a couple that challenged even the distance Jim Thome put out while in Target Field. He hit one so far up into the the third deck that it really made me wonder what would have happened if the weather had been the much more regular hot and humid MN summer day.

But when it came down to the final, it was only YoYo who basically stood alone and captured the Derby title for the second year in a row.

 

GameChat – Twins @ Rockies #3, 3:10pm

Am I the only one wondering, “who the heck has time for baseball??”

For the record, I think that is officially the mark of “too busy” and I’ve well and truly passed it.

*sigh*

Minnesota @ Colorado
Dozier, 2B   Blackmon, CF
Suzuki, K, C   Gonzalez, C, RF
Morales, K, 1B   Tulowitzki, SS
Plouffe, 3B   Morneau, 1B
Parmelee, RF   Arenado, 3B
Willingham, LF   Dickerson, LF
Escobar, E, SS   Rosario, W, C
Fuld, CF   LeMahieu, 2B
Hughes, P, P   Anderson, B, P

GameChat – Twins @ Rockies,

Goodness there are a lot of familiar faces wearing the wrong colors tonight.. it’s going to be fun to see how this series goes!

Minnesota @ Colorado
Dozier, 2B Blackmon, LF
Suzuki, K, C Stubbs, CF
Morales, K, 1B Gonzalez, C, RF
Plouffe, 3B Tulowitzki, SS
Arcia, O, RF Morneau, 1B
Nunez, LF Arenado, 3B
Escobar, E, SS Rosario, W, C
Fuld, CF LeMahieu, 2B
Johnson, K, P De La Rosa, J, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 10 0
Colorado 2 1 2 0 0 0 1 0 x 6 11 0

.