And Your June Boyfriend of the Month is…

OK so it’s not quite that easy. We have a tie. Sort of.

Once again, we spread the love around in June. Or perhaps it’s just that the Twins spread around the responsibility for stepping up to bring home the Ws.

While it’s true there weren’t as many BOD awards in June as there were in May (and July certainly isn’t off to a banner BOD month kind of start either), we did have two Twins manage to accumulate three BOD awards during the month. So congratulations to Carl “the Stache” Pavano and Delmon Young for officially sharing Boyfriend of the Month honors for June!

Yes, we COULD split hairs and mention that one of DY’s BOD awards was a shared award, but a BOD is a BOD, so they all count equally. Besides, it really wasn’t even a close race as no other Twin recorded more than one BOD award during June. In fact, May’s BOM, Jason Kubel, didn’t even get on the board in June so he’s stuck at three BOD awards for the season, tying him with Pavano, Morneau, Span, Liriano and Slowey for second place in the Boyfriend of the Year competition. DY has the jump on all of them with five BOD awards on the year through June! Of course, those of you who’ve been paying attention so far in July know that DY has racked up a couple more BOD awards, while Pavano and Span have each added one to his total on the year.

This might be the time to give a little nudge to the consensus preseason favorite for BOY, Joe Mauer… Joe, you’ve only got two BOD awards so far, it’s time to step it up a bit! And if he needs a nudge, then Michael Cuddyer needs a pretty good shove! Michael… ONE lousy BOD on the year? For crying out loud, Wilson Ramos and Matt Tolbert have that many! Sideburns and dimples only get you so far in the world, guys.

In the end, of course, it really doesn’t matter how many BOD awards each individual player receives… what matters is that, since they are handed out only for Twins wins, we need to have cause to bestow a lot more of those awards the second half of the year! – JC

GameChat – Twins @ Blue Jays, 6:07

For those of you who AREN’T connected to the Twittersphere to follow your favorite baseball team, you likely slept well and missed the explosion of Cliff Lee rumors that a deal was near to completion that would send Ramos & Hicks to Seattle.  Kbro was wise enough to point out that perhaps rumors that originate in DETROIT aren’t likely to be solid when they involve the Twins.  That being said, Twins officials when questioned seemed to downplay the immediacy of any deal completion, nor does it appear that those two players are being considered – at least not together. 

I will be glad when the next three weeks are OVER.

The All-Star Game balloting for the final position in each league continues until 3:00 pm on Thursday.  Delmon Young was in 5th place in the AL this morning and Nick Swisher was in the lead…  Frankly, in what is merely a popularity contest, I know which of the two I would rather see in the limited attention I will likely give the events in Anaheim.  It was also announced today that Justin Morneau officially declined an invitation to participate in the Homerun Derby – after snubs he received the year he won, one can hardly blame him.  I’ve also heard that Mauer has also expressed that he has no interest in participating.  Good for them both.

Now let’s hope that the Twins can actually get their road game together while across the border.

Minnesota @ Toronto
Span, CF   Lewis, F, LF
Hudson, O, 2B   Wise, CF
Mauer, C   Gonzalez, A, SS
Morneau, 1B   Bautista, J, RF
Kubel, RF   Lind, DH
Cuddyer, 3B   Buck, J, C
Thome, DH   Overbay, 1B
Young, D, LF   Encarnacion, 3B
Punto, SS   Green, N, 2B
  Pavano, P     Litsch, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 2 0 0 0 3 1 1 0 7 10 0
Toronto 0 0 1 0 4 0 1 0 0 6 9 1

 

I figured out why the lefties all decided to start hitting homeruns tonight – it was the only way they could keep DeWayne Wise from CATCHING the ball.  Sheesh, that guy is good.  I figure that the hot, humid weather also contributed since there were three homeruns for each team – the ball was definitely flying well.  And there was so much hitting in general that there was serious discussion about assigning a TEAM-WIDE BOD tonight.  I think it’s mostly just excitement about what was a nail-biter game but a win at a time when road wins have been fewer and further between than we would like.  With some further discussion, Co-BOD’s were assigned to Delmon for being monstrously everywhere (3/3 and winning run) and Spanky for great catches and timely hitting = 2 RBI (including the winning one).  However, a truckload of pastries will be delivered to the lockerroom just in time for the guys to get out of the showers.  Great win!

All-Star Game – Who’s on First? I Don’t Know. He’s on Third and I Don’t Give a Darn. (Do You?)

Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First” routine is not only the funniest comedy bit ever done about baseball, it also seems to just about perfectly describe my feelings about the MLB All-Star Game.

It’s a bit sad, really, because (“Because” plays CF) I used to love this game. I got so excited when I found out I got 2 tickets to the 1985 All-Star Game in the Metrodome that I swung a pool cue around and broke 3 beer bottles sitting on a nearby table (the game itself was a bit of a yawner as the National League won 6-1, but I didn’t care). I also remember watching Pete Rose slam in to Cleveland catcher Ray Fosse on television and a number of other great All-Star moments over the years. I never missed the game unless I was playing ball myself.

I don’t really even know why (“Why’s” the left fielder) my feelings changed. It may have been the infamous tie game and the sight of Bud Selig’s “What can I do?” shrug (“What” is on second) that ended the 2002 All-Star Game in a tie. That event led to Selig declaring that home field advantage in the World Series would go to the team representing the League that wins the All-Star Game. I never quite understood how that prevents teams from running out of pitchers in extra-inning All-Star Games, but on the list of Selig decisions I don’t understand, this one probably barely cracks the top 10.

It just feels to me like, for all the bluster about the game, even Major League Baseball doesn’t exactly know whether to take it seriously or not, so why (“Why” is still in LF) should I?

It is refreshing that many of the players still care about it… and I’m willing to give most of them the benefit of the doubt and believe it’s for reasons that go beyond the ASG bonus that many of their agents have had included in their contracts. I feel good for guys like the D’Backs Chris Young, who (“Who” is at 1B) clearly is excited about going to Anaheim for his first ASG. And while I guess I was ambivalent about the whole “Should Steven Strasburg be an All-Star?” question, hearing that a poll of 50 current players resulted in a unanimous 50-0 “NO” vote told me that these guys do care about who (“Who” is on FIRST!) represents them.

Of course, as a Twins fan, it feels good to see two of our guys voted in as starters for the first time since Harmon Killebrew and Rod Carew in 1968. That was two years before starting rosters were turned back over to fan voting, by the way. I think a lot of Twins fans have begun to take Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau for granted, but this not only serves as a reminder that we are watching two potential Hall of Famers on the field together daily (not to mention shoe-in HOFer, Jim Thome this season), but also demonstrates that the Twins have gotten the attention and appreciation of baseball fans all over the country. Together, Mauer & Morneau have made Twins baseball relevant.

I think it’s great that Delmon Young is included in the “final 5″ vote, even though his chances of winning are slim & none (and you should definitely go vote for him… I did). It’s not that he isn’t deserving, but Kevin Youkilis is such an obvious omission from the AL roster, that I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t double the votes of any other name on the list. To be honest, I thought Francisco Liriano probably deserved as much consideration as Young, if not more.

I don’t know (“I Don’t Know”… third base!) yet which reserves were voted in by the players/managers/coaches as a whole and which were chosen specifically by the ASG managers (the Yankees’ Joe Girardi and Phillies Charlie Manuel), but if it turns out that they chose ARoid over Youk and Ryan Howard over Joey Votto, I think it’s time to take the right to pick ANY pitchers/reserves away from the respective managers.

And don’t be surprised if Girardi replaces CC Sabathia (can’t pitch in the ASG ‘cuz he’ll be pitching Sunday) with Andy Pettite instead of Jared Weaver, who (“Who” is the guy on 1B) not only is more deserving, but the game is being played in his home ballpark. As it stands, only Torii Hunter will represent the Halos. But then an All-Star Game with only FIVE Yankees playing really wouldn’t be an All-Star Game, would it? (UPDATE: Girardi didn’t wait long… he’s named Pettitte to replace the injured Clay Buchholz.)

As for Manuel, if he’s the one responsible for picking Omar Infante over… well… just about everyone else in a National League starting lineup, I think someone needs to require Charlie to undergo a thorough mental health evaluation. That choice is flat out bizarre.

Finally, on the subject of All-Star Games, it really is unfortunate that Twins prospect Liam Hendriks will miss the All-Star Futures Game. (New Britain’s Ben Revere is also representing the Twins organization.) This game gives some of the top prospects in minor league baseball an opportunity to showcase their talents and compete against many of the other top prospects, in addition to giving fans across the country an opportunity to see future stars in action. Hendriks had an emergency appendectomy on Sunday and will be out of action for a month or more. The Aussie has been very impressive (1.76 ERA and 0.845 WHIP) in 16 starts this season, split between Beloit and Ft. Myers. I saw him shut down Cedar Rapids early in the year (7 Ks in 5 shutout innings)  and was looking forward to seeing him match up against the other minor league stars. Get well soon, Liam.

So, am I alone in my general indifference to the All-Star Game and who (for the last time, “Who” is on first!) participates? We don’t have a Twins game to look forward to until tomorrow (“Tomorrow” is our pitcher) night, so let’s do a poll, shall we? I’ll cast the first vote… and I don’t give a darn (Oh, he’s our shortstop!). – JC

Target Field Fireworks… and a win over the Rays!

Looks like we didn’t get a GameChat posted and we express our apologies to anyone who showed up hoping to chat. According to my family, my seat at tonight’s game was directly in line behind 1B when they used the camera at the LF foul pole so apparently I was on camera every time someone reached first base. Fortunately, they tell me I wasn’t doing anything embarrassing when the camera caught me.

In any event, I hope a few pictures from the postgame celebration will make up for any disappointment (as if a cool 2-1 win shouldn’t be enough, in itself!). – JC

The Twins and their families came out and sat on the grass to watch the fireworks after the game.

The Countdown before the Fireworks

First Oudoor Fireworks at a Twins Home game since... a long time ago.

Delmon is doing a number on his old team mates.

UPDATE: Thanks, Jamar… for reminding us we need a Boyfriend of the Day. We’ve decided Delmon SHOULD have gotten a BOD last night and he certainly was worthy again tonight. Way to stick it to your old team, DY! Scotty Baker and Danny Valencia  are more than worthy of piles of baked goods, as well!

Robby asks DY to comment about his BOD award.

Morneau: “didn’t like our energy”. Join the crowd, Doc.

Over at the Strib, Joe Christensen’s article on Thursday’s game quotes Justin Morneau as saying:

“That wasn’t the same Brewers team we played at our place [in May], and we weren’t the same either,” the Twins first baseman said. “I didn’t like our energy today. We got down early and didn’t show much of a fight. Obviously you give some credit to their pitcher, but at the same time, the energy in our dugout wasn’t very good.”

Following up on that theme, Howard Sinker posted some thoughts on his Strib blog, as well. Howard poses the question of whether the Twins miss a guy like Orlando Cabrera in the clubhouse.

Reading all this stuff about a lack of energy riles me up a bit, to be honest. I spent virtually the entire first 40 years of my life in baseball dugouts. From the time I started going to practices and games for the Albert Lea HS teams my dad coached to the time I started playing ball myself and on through the years I spent coaching CABA and traveling teams, I pretty much figured out what creates energy among a team and what depresses it.

Winning energizes and losing sucks the life out of dugout. It really IS that simple.

Yes, I know all about the rampant amphetamine use among ballplayers that has (supposedly) been curtailed since MLB started testing for the drug 4-ish years ago. I did, after all, read Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four”. (You haven’t read it? Seriously? And you call yourself a baseball fan!? Go read it. Now. The rest of this blog will still be here when you’re finished.)

There’s all sorts of speculation about how player performances (particularly older veterans) are not up to what they used to be because they aren’t as revved up, mentally and physically, as they were when the clubhouse coffee pots were marked “leaded” and “unleaded”… and it had nothing to do with caffeine. I can’t discount the possibility that some players really do have trouble performing at high levels, day in and day out, without a little chemical help.

Shall we take a collection to cure the Twins' "energy problem."

If that’s the Twins problem, then I say we all pitch in and send them a 4 month supply of the energy drink of their choice.

But I honestly believe the solution is more basic. Win more games. Lose fewer games.

Last Sunday the Twins were coming off an emotional extra-inning game against the Phillies on Saturday and were set to face Roy Halladay in an afternoon “getaway day” game. I didn’t see any sign of an energy shortage on Sunday. (I also didn’t see a “B-squad” lineup on the field for the Twins that day, either, by the way.)

After a couple of losses Tuesday and Wednesday, all it really took to KNOW that the Twins were going to phone it in on Thursday afternoon was a look at the lineup cards. Facing the Brewers’ ace, the Twins were Mauerless, had Cuddyer at 3B and Nick Blackburn on the mound. Seriously… how much energy would YOU have been pumped up with if you were in that dugout Thursday?

Here’s a little secret that those who haven’t played the game might not be aware of: Ballplayers can read scoreboards. They know when their starting pitcher has given up bunch of crooked numbers early in a ballgame. If you have to stage a comeback like last Saturday’s once in a while, players can and will rise to the occasion to do so. But when you have pitchers who are consistently digging early holes for themselves and their team mates, it WILL drain the team’s energy.

It would be great if the Twins, as a group, would come together and say, “hey, the Tigers and WhiteSox are playing well and gaining on us, we need to ramp it up and ‘battle our tails off’ every game and blah, blah, blah.” But I’m here to tell you, if the Twins starting pitching does not improve, they will continue to lack energy and continue losing games. Lots of games.

There are two things I think should be done as soon as possible.

1. Replace Nick Blackburn in the rotation with Brian Duensing. I know Blackie has had tough stretches in the past and has bounced back to be productive later. That’s great. I hope he can do it again. But until he gets his crap together, let him work on his issues out of the pen. Duensing has earned a shot at proving he can do it better.

2. Trade for Cliff  Lee. I know this topic is already getting old and people are tired of hearing about it. I know some people don’t think he’d be a good clubhouse guy. You know what makes a starting pitcher a good clubhouse guy? Giving him run support when he busts his butt to shut down the other team. In other words, winning doesn’t just boost energy, it also makes for a happy clubhouse. Funny how that works.

By the way, if this report is accurate, not only will a certain Omaha resident who frequents our blog not be a very happy camper, but it could also make it impossible for the Twins to execute both of the above improvements.

Actually, there is a 3rd thing that should be done immediately. Move Delmon Young up in the order. Gardy is just being pigheaded (again) and there’s no excuse for not having made this move already. It has nothing to do with energy (except that Young has it and Cuddyer doesn’t, lately), but it still needs to be done.

By the way, in case anyone was thinking that there might be an energy boost available in Rochester to help the Twins situation, go read the last couple of posts (June 23 and 24) on Jim Mandelaro’s blog concerning the Red Wings, who just wrapped up a 1-7 homestand. In the final sentence of yesterday’s entry, Jim tells readers that he’s taking a day off Friday (today) to cover the LPGA golf tournament being played (we presume) nearby. ” It’s a welcome respite from the deadly quiet atmosphere of the Red Wings’ clubhouse.” When your beat writer is looking forward to covering a women’s golf tournament instead of your game and hints that the golf tournament might not be as “deadly quiet” as your clubhouse, things are not going well.

Doesn’t sound like we should be expecting newly arrived outfielder Jason Repko to be providing an energy boost, does it? – JC

GameChat – Rockies @ Twins, 7:10

and… the Pavano ‘stache discussion begins again.  I don’t fault Sooze and her offering today at all but I was wondering if the focus on his facial hair would continue.  Since Joe Nathan will be in the booth with Dick & Bert as a guest analyst for the whole broadcast tonight (yippee!), perhaps he will be able to keep the discussion regarding the mound on actual pitching..  then again, who knows?

Colorado @ Minnesota
Gonzalez, C, CF   Span, CF
Helton, 1B   Tolbert, 2B
Tulowitzki, SS   Mauer, C
Giambi, DH   Morneau, 1B
Spilborghs, RF   Cuddyer, RF
Smith, S, LF   Kubel, DH
Olivo, C   Young, D, LF
Stewart, 3B   Valencia, 3B
Barmes, 2B   Punto, SS
  Cook, P     Pavano, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Colorado 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 3 6 1
Minnesota 0 0 0 5 3 0 0 1 x 9 14 0

 

After a disappointing conclusion to the Atlanta series, this was a HUGE win for fan morale..  *laugh*  at least it was for mine.  As has become his norm, Pavano came in and pitched FABULOUSLY for 7 innings and then let the BP come in with a great lead and clean up.  Great outting which could be considered BOD worthy.  And then there was little Tolby.  Matt Tolbert walked twice and then hit his first HR of the season, his first at home ever, and interestingly enough, he’s now hit more HR’s in Target Field than Joe Mauer.  Sorry Mauer.  But no, the BOD award today goes to Delmon Young!  Again!  He was 3/4 and got yet another RBI – he’s second only to Justin Morneau (only behind by 2) on the team.  Delmon 2.0 is definitely making his mark in this lineup. To Tolbert and Pavano – help yourself to pastries.  Carl, try to keep the crumbs out of the ‘stache.

Delmon Young chasing the BOM

GameChat – Minnesota @ Oakland #2, 8:10

um….  remember how last night’s lineup was a little ..  creative?  Guess what happens when Morneau gets the flu and Hardy’s wrist just can’t take anymore…

And when questioned about the unusual lineup and why he didn’t move Mauer up into the 2-spot, Gardy said, “I try not to create another hole in the dike by taking my finger out of one and putting it in another.”

*blink*  *boggle* 

Believe it or not, since Hardy was a late scratch, even the media didn’t know WHO is going to play WHAT position in the IF.  Joe C. at the Strib got a little creative with his lineup tweet:  New #Twins lineup: Span 8, Tolbert 4, Mauer C, Thome DH, Kubel 9, Young 7, Valencia 5, Harris 3, Punto 6. So, we’ll just have to see what is going on when the players come out.

Minnesota @ Oakland
Span, CF   Davis, R, CF
Tolbert, 2B   Ellis, M, 2B
Mauer, C   Suzuki, K, DH
Thome, DH   Kouzmanoff, 3B
Kubel, RF   Rosales, A, 1B
Young, D, LF   Fox, J, C
Valencia, 3B   Gross, RF
Harris, B, 1B   Pennington, SS
Punto, SS   Patterson, E, LF
  Liriano, P     Cahill, P

 

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

 

As if the lineup didn’t start oddly enough, then we had all that drama in the 9th inning to make it REALLY goofy.  Poor, sick Justin Morneau comes out to bat for Harris, the pitcher takes pity and walks him, and they send in Hardy to pinch run.  Odd but then the infield has to shift around to figure out the new ‘hole’ at 1B.  What was that Gardy said about plugging one hole only to make another… ??

Anyway, game chat was not nearly unanimous whent it came to BOD.  Probably the tightest single game competition yet this season.  Frankie did a fantastic job as the starting pitcher and sadly, didn’t get the win.  But Alex Burnette came in and did a brilliant job from the bullpen and got his first Major League win – in front of his family in his home state.  All the RBI’s but one go to Delmon Young which gives him top billing.  But that one other RBI was the WINNING RUN and it belonged poor, much-maligned Matt Tolbert!  So, it has been determined that we have yet another TIE for Knuckleballs BOD:  Tolbert and Young. (doesn’t that sound like it should be a band?) It’s Tolbert’s first BOD ever and Delmon’s second in two days!

Delmon at the plate

GameChat – Minnesota @ Oakland, 9:10

Injuries are really taking a bite out of the Twins’ ass.  Hardy is still hurting so we’re lucky he’s actually IN the lineup.  Hudson is still out and the whole bottom of our rotation just looks.. weak.  Luke Hughes is back from the DL down in Rochester and will make his first appearance tonight.  *crosses fingers*  I wouldn’t mind trading out for the cutey patootey australian boy.

Minnesota @ Oakland
Span, CF   Davis, R, CF
Hardy, SS   Barton, D, 1B
Mauer, DH   Sweeney, R, RF
Morneau, 1B   Suzuki, K, C
Kubel, RF   Cust, DH
Young, D, LF   Kouzmanoff, 3B
Valencia, 3B   Gross, LF
Punto, 2B   Ellis, M, 2B
Butera, C   Rosales, A, SS
  Baker, S, P     Braden, P

 

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 R
Minnesota 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 1 5
Oakland 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 4

 

Man, it sure feels good to be back in the win column.  Justin Morneau discussed the losing streak after the game and pointed out that it was a short one but you like to keep those as short as possible.  Well, yes, obviously.  And I I guess that three games is relatively short for ANY streak but losing still sucks. 

The game chat was so excited that they started throwing out names for BOD left and right because it was such a team-wide effort.  So we hope the whole team enjoyed the truckload of pastries shipped to the lockerroom – and that someone dug Nicky Punto out of the pile… Final vote for BOD though goes to Delmon Young for an all-around good game AND the game winning RBI.   It was good to see RBI’s instead of LOB’s. 

GameChat – Rangers @ Twins #2, 3:10 pm, FOX & am1500

Well yesterday was a WONDERFUL birthday at the game. GREAT pitching (my favorite) and lots of fun being at the park! And the view at sunset was amazing!

So let’s see if we can’t have an amazing time today too! It’s HOT and sunny with a breeze today. Could be interesting to see if the heat and a little more humidity lofts balls a bit longer (for whichever team). It could be a factor!

Texas @ Minnesota
Andrus, El, SS Span, CF
Young, M, 3B Hudson, O, 2B
Kinsler, 2B Mauer, C
Guerrero, DH Morneau, DH
Hamilton, LF Cuddyer, 1B
Murphy, Dv, RF Kubel, RF
Smoak, 1B Young, D, LF
Ramirez, M, C Hardy, SS
Borbon, CF Harris, B, 3B
Wilson, C, P Pavano, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Texas 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 3 9 0
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 0 2 6 0 x 8 8 2

Well THAT was FUN!  It was a great game but CJ Wilson is quite the deal – he really had the bats befuddled for awhile but, finally, ‘Lando got to him with a long bomb to tie it up and Delmon followed the lead to bang in the winning run.  The final score just shows that the rest of the batting order followed the momentum started by Hudson.  For that reason, Hudson and Young are awarded Co-BOD’s!  Congratulations boys!  And pastries for Pav and the bullpen!

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!