Mr. Incredible, Jim Thome! and the return of BATGIRL!!

TD Davis

After three straight games with 4 towering homeruns.. you know, we have to have a better word for hitting the top of the American flag pole or denting the pavement in the Target Field Plaza… But really, what do you call it?!?  When he used to hit them AGAINST us while playing for the White Sox, it was monstrous, even villainous. 

But now?  Big Jim is one of the good guys!  He’s our hero!!  In fact, we jokingly referred to him as Mr. Incredible in our gamechat.  So when a friend of mine posted this to his facebook this morning, I giggled with glee!  His friend, TD Davis, had had a little bit of fun with editing and here we have our own Mr. Incredible, Jim Thome!  He currently sits at #586 career homeruns, tied with Frank Robinson, but you have to know he’s not done yet!  I hope he enjoys being with the Twins as much as we fans are enjoying him being with the Twins!

Joe C. from the Strib shared this quote from Delmon Young that I think says it all:

No wonder the Royals tried pitching around him.

“Heck, I would,” Young said. “He’s been hitting downtown too much lately. It’s fun to watch. It’s a tough act to follow because he’s hitting balls 500 feet. To hit it farther is impossible, unless you’re swinging from second base.”

 

And that’s not the only thing that Joe C. shared!!  I know not all of you are twitter followers but just in case you are, there’s a new user as of last night! @Twinsbatgirl has returned to commentary – however she chooses to use it.  I’m just ecstatic to see a little bit of true sass return to the world of Minnesota fandom.  We’re glad you’re back Batgirl – hope to see more!  Please forgive the use of your logo to identify you for those less familiar with your body of work.

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

Off Day Reading and Writing

I know the players need a day off now and then (like the rest of us), but I get bored on off days.

So tonight you get a “JC is bored” post.

I’d like to be able to add something insightful to CapitalBabs’ post along the literary lines… maybe tell you all about the great books I’ve read lately. Or better yet, actually go somewhere and find The 10 Commandments of Baseball and read it for myself. But that would require effort.

However, I’ve honestly written more words for this blog than I’ve read in books over the past month or more. That’s probably not good. If it’s true that you learn more by listening than speaking (and I believe it certainly is), then you almost certainly also learn more by reading than writing. I would like to think people who read what I write either learn something or are at least somewhat entertained, but I can’t really even be sure of that.

I do read other blogs though. I particularly read those that are included in our blogrolls off to the right. Not many days go by that I don’t pretty much click down our entire list of Twins blogs to see what others are writing about. I also read the Jim Mandelaro and Joe Posnanski blogs pretty religiously. Their links, along with MLB Trade Rumors (which is mandatory reading at this time of the season, of course) are located in our “Other Sports Blogs” section over on the right.

Mandelaro recently had some interesting comments about the Twins, as a parent organization for the Red Wings. The Wings have had a very disappointing year, to say the least. Those of you who have never lived in a community where the local Minor League team is an important part of the area’s summer entertainment may not understand what the big deal is. After all, the primary purpose of an organization’s farm system is to prepare players for the Big Leagues and winning isn’t really a big deal. But trust me, it’s a very big deal to the community and to the people who rely on gate receipts and concessions at the local ballpark for a living. The Red Wings signed a two year extension with the Twins recently. That’s pretty much the shortest extension that local clubs sign with Major League teams. To me, it signals that Rochester is willing to give the Twins a pass on this year, but if they don’t do something about fielding a competitive team in Rochester next season, the Twins will be looking for a new AAA home in two years.

Posnanski has had a lot of interesting posts lately, but one of them in particular sort of caught my eye a few days ago. He brought the “I Write Like” site to his readers’ attention. The premise of the site is that you can paste a sample of your writing (or someone else’s for that matter) and they perform an analysis of the sample. Then they tell you which famous writer/author’s style the sample matches up with. Posnanski had some fun with it by plugging in a bunch of famous quotations, etc.

Naturally, I had to try it out.

Cory Doctorow

OK I need to be honest. I didn’t submit my own stuff first. I plugged in a post of Babs’ to see if she got someone cool. The result: Cory Doctorow. Again, being honest, I had no idea who that was but I looked it up. Cory’s Canadian (that’s cool… as Twins fans, we kinda dig Canadians). He’s also a blogger, journalist and science fiction writer… and a big proponent of liberalizing copyright laws. Now that’s very cool. Immediately, I wished I had submitted my own sample first so I might have turned out to be compared to a cool Canadian blogger/sci-fi writer.

But instead of submitting my own sample next, I decided I wanted another test. So I submitted one of KL’s posts. They matched her up with David Foster Wallace, another writer I had no knowledge of whatsoever. (I wasn’t learning

David Foster Wallace

much, but I was getting the idea that I need to read more!) Wallace, it turns out, wrote Infinite Jest in 1996, which ended up on TIME magazine’s “All Time 100 Greatest Novels” list (for the period 1923-3006) and the LA Times called him called him one of the most influential and innovative writers of the past 20 years. Very cool, right? His bio says he was a rare combination of sporting and academic prowess but was shy and uncomfortable around strangers. Wait a minute…. “was”? Uh oh. Yeah… seems he suffered from depression for 20 years and committed suicide about two years ago.

Despite Mr. Wallace’s unfortunate lost battle with his inner demons, both of their writing styles matched up with some pretty impressive writers. So, I decided it was safe for me to plug in one of my posts and find out which award winning writer (who I’d likely never heard of) my style compares favorably with.

Apparently, the longer the sample, the more accurate the analysis. As I’ve been the first to admit, I tend to write long posts sometimes (ok, most of the time), so I figured I should get a REALLY accurate analysis from submitting one of my Knuckleballs posts for analysis.

Guess what… I write like a GIRL!!!

BG's close personal friend

And it wasn’t even a cool girl author that I was familiar with… like that Anne Ursu chick. I could live with that! (Yes, Batgirl’s “Close Personal Friend” has a Wikipedia page… how cool is that? I want one!)

No… it’s a girl who writes Vampire-Romance books! Yes, my “comparable” author is Stephenie Meyer, of Twilight fame.

Stephenie Meyer

Then, of course, I realized that I could do a lot worse than sharing a writing style with a woman… especially a woman who’s sold a bajillion books around the world and made a gazillion dollars doing it. She’s on pretty much every “most influential” sort of list you can find that includes authors and is only 36 years old.

So, in retrospect, I think I got the coolest “I Write Like” match of the Knuckleballs group. In fact, since my writing is obviously so darn good, it really only leaves me with one question.

What the heck am I doing writing for FREE for you people? Where’s my assistant? Get my agent on the phone! – JC

GameChat – Minnesota @ Oakland #3, 3:05, WFTC29 & am1500

Before we discuss today’s game, there is a matter of SUPREME importance that must be announced.  Many of our readers are big fans of the legendary Batgirl.  It just so happens that today is the anniversary of the birth of her very close personal friend, Anne Ursu!  If any of our readers would like to wish the inimitable Anne a Happy Birthday, feel free to add your comments below!

Now, onto the game today.  Ouch.  It appears that all the situations that caused last night’s desperate need for creativity still exist.  This lineup is going to cause a lot of breath-holding today.  I sure hope that we are able to see unexpected people step up – just like last night!

Minnesota @ Oakland
Span, CF   Davis, R, CF
Tolbert, 2B   Barton, D, 1B
Mauer, DH   Sweeney, R, RF
Kubel, RF   Suzuki, K, C
Young, D, LF   Cust, DH
Valencia, 3B   Kouzmanoff, 3B
Harris, B, 1B   Gross, LF
Punto, SS   Ellis, M, 2B
Butera, C   Pennington, SS
  Blackburn, P     Gonzalez, G, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 4 8 1
Oakland 2 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 x 5 13 1

Delmon Young Day… looking back with a smile

Seems today was designated as “Delmon Young Day” in the Twins blogosphere. Don’t ask me why.

I really don’t have strong feelings with regard to Delmon. He’s young. He’s talented. He’s been a little bit of a disappointment, overall, since his arrival in Twins Territory from Tampa Bay, I suppose, but he showed us all something by showing up at Spring Training about 30 pounds lighter this season and his mobility has reflected it. But if you really want to read a bunch of stuff about Delmon, let me suggest that you check out:

TwinsGeek

BP’s Baseball Blog

Off the Mark

Alright Hamilton!

Hitting the Foul Pole

Twinkie Talk

Josh’s Thoughts

k-bro’s baseball blog

OK, that should be plenty for you to read this evening about Delmon, right? Truth is, I have to be honest… I haven’t read ANY of those posts about DY. I worked late and simply don’t feel strongly enough about Delmon to spend too much time reading others’ opinions of the guy.

But it just didn’t seem right somehow not to read ANYTHING about him. So, as I tend to do from time to time, I turned my attention back to where my blog origins took root… Batgirl. And it made me smile all over again.

In case you may not recall… or simply never knew… that the arrival of Delmon Young was such a big deal in Twinsland that it brought Batgirl out of ‘retirement’ briefly (much, much too briefly). She posted this on MnGameday back in November, 2007. I strongly encourage you to take this stroll with me down memory lane tonight (and enjoy LEGOvision with me, one more time!).

Oh, and just for the heck of it, since it’s “his day” and all, let’s give Delmon Young “Boyfriend of the Day” award for his 3 hits (including 2 doubles) and a run scored in the Twins 3-2 win over the BitchSox today!

Twins History Lesson: May 3-9

There’s no off-day this week, but there have been a few notable games and events in Twins history during this week and since I didn’t have anything better to do after Sunday’s game, I thought I would share a few of the more noteworthy items with you.

May 3 has been relatively uneventful but in 1986, leadoff hitter Kirby Puckett homers off of Walt Terrell’s first pitch of the game. Not a big deal, I know, especially since the Twins lose the game to the Tigers 7-4. But it’s the second night in a row that Puck hit a HR on the game’s first pitch, having done so the game before off of future Twin Jack Morris.

May 4 has been a bit more eventful for the Twins:

1975: The Twins retire Harmon Killebrew’s #3 in a ceremony before Killer takes the field as a Kansas City Royal against the Twins. Killebrew expresses his appreciation by hitting a home run off of Vic Albury in the first inning.

1982: The Twins’ most famous sufferer of Tourette’s Syndrome, Jim Eisenreich, removes himself from a game in Boston due to taunts from the Sox fans in the cheap seats.

1984: What goes up must come down… eventually. Dave Kingman of the A’s launches a ball up through one of the drainage holes in the Metrodome roof and is awarded a ground rule double. The ball is found by a Metrodome worker the next day, who drops it down to the field where the Twins OF Mickey Hatcher is waiting for it. Hatcher drops it.

1999: The Twins’ victory number 3,000 is recorded in an 8-4 win over the Evil Empire.

May 5, 2005 (aka 05/05/05) brings Twins fans (and especially Batlings) the Best. Cupcake Day. Ever as the Twins score 5 runs in the 5th inning to beat the Tribe, 9-0.

(I could have also listed Luis Tiant’s remarkable 2 hit, 9 walk, 5.2 inning effort in 1970, but on the off chance any current Twin pitcher might read this, we don’t want them to get the idea that’s how they’re supposed to pitch, even though El Tiante won the game to go 5-0 for the season.)

On May 6, 1978, the Twins entered the day having lost 14 of their previous 16 games and Roger Erickson had given up a 5-run third inning to the Orioles, resulting in a 5-1 deficit entering the 9th inning in Baltimore. The Twins, led by Rod Carew’s bases-loaded triple (yes, this was back when the Twins actually got hits with bases loaded), scored 7 runs in the top of the 9th to take an 8-5 lead. Tom Johnson coughed back up 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th before getting a double play ball out of Lee May to end the game in an 8-7 win for the Twins.

May 7 has seen a couple of interesting events in Twins history:

1995: The Twins and Indians play for 6 hours and 36 minutes before the Tribe finally wins 10-9 in 17 innings.

2000: Tom Kelly becomes the first Twins manager to reach 1,000 wins.

2008: Carlos Gomez leads off the game with a HR and then hits for the cycle in a 13-1 win over Ozzie’s BitchSox.

May 8 was a meaningful date for a trio of Hall of Famers:

1967: Rod Carew collects five hits for the Twins… the first Twin to accomplish the feat.

1968: Catfish Hunter beats the Twins 4-0. Technically, his Oakland A’s team beat the Twins, but since Hunter not only pitched a perfect game against Minnesota, but also drove in 3 of the A’s 4 runs, it’s safe to say he pretty much beat the Twins by himself. Less than 6,300 fans were in attendance at the game in Oakland.

1984: Kirby Puckett collects four hits in his Major League debut as the Twins beat the Angels 5-0 (something that wouldn’t be accomplished by another Twin until today’s debut by Wilson Ramos).

Wrapping up the week, there are only a couple of noteworthy games on May 9:

1961: The Orioles’ Jim Gentile hits a grand slam home run in the first inning against the Twins. Then, just to prove it was no fluke, he hit another grand slam in his next at bat, in the second inning. Only 3 players in MLB history had hit grand slams in back-to-back ABs prior to Gentile. He also added a SAC fly to set a single game RBI mark with 9 RBI for the game.

2003: Rick Reed was injured so Ron Gardenhire turns to lefty Johan Santana as his sacrificial lamb to face off against Pedro Martinez (who had struck out 12 Twins in their previous meeting) and the Red Sox. The result is a 5-0 shutout… for the Twins. Santana went just 5 innings and was aided by LaTroy Hawkins, J.C. Romero and Eddie Guardado, to complete the shutout. Not one who’s easily impressed, Gardenhire sends Santana back to the bullpen and uses Johan only as a spot starter vs. a couple of NL teams during interleague play until he’s given a spot in the rotation in July. He performed pretty well after that.

A Crikket in winter

Rogers Hornsby is quoted as having said, “People ask me what I do in the winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”

Thanks to the internet, we can do much more than Rogers Hornsby. We can debate and speculate. We can rant and predict future successes (or failures). We can praise and criticize. And we can laugh at the BitchSox (Mark Teahan? REALLY?).

Spring Training camps have opened and that means a new baseball season is close enough on the horizon to begin serious (or not so serious) discussions about the Twins’ first year of outdoor home games during the lifetimes of a significant number of their fans. (Alas, as one who was old enough to be a young fan when the Senators moved in to Metropolitan Stadium, I’m not among that number.)

Since we decided to make our thoughts on the “offseason” the inaugural topic for our brand-spanking-new blog, I’ve been trying to come up with something intelligent and yet witty to write on the subject. Sure, I have thoughts regarding JJ Hardy, Orlando Hudson, Jim Thome, et al, but those topics have pretty much been beaten to death by postings and comment section in the other 4,391 Twins-based blogs.

This, of course, is where one might ask us why we felt Twins’ Blogdom needed a 4,392nd Twins-based blog. That’s a fair question, too. But then you have to think about that word “need”. Of course, another Twins blog isn’t “needed”. But when three Twins fans like us have so much wit, wisdom, and imagination to offer, the answer becomes clear. Twins fans deserve, nay they NEED, the benefit of our combined wit, wisdom and imagination!

So, now, as I approach the word limit that Babs has imposed on me*, I struggle to summon all of my wit, wisdom and imagination and come up with something that adequately expresses my feelings about the offseason.

*as we begin this endeavor, this tells me two things about Babs. 1) she thinks I tend to get a bit “wordy” at times; and 2) she’s assuming the role of “sergeant-at-arms” for the blog… which could lead to some interesting discussions down the road.

Now, it has dawned on me that, being a blog, we aren’t subject to all of those pesky “ethical” standards that “real” writers are bound by. So I’m free to plagiarize what others have written about the offseason. And with 4,391 other Twins blogs to steal from, there’s no shortage of material out there. However, recalling what my college journalism professor taught us (yes, I was a journalism major at the University of Arkansas… for 6 weeks), “if you’re going to plagiarize, steal from only the best.” (Clearly, ethics weren’t a high priority at the Razorback School of Journalism.)

So with that in mind, let me steal from the Best. Twins. Blog. EVER. In the words of Batgirl (and I know they’re her words because I have a sweatshirt she sold with these words across the chest):

The Offseason Sucks!