"Let us go forth a while, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our closed rooms...
The game of ball is glorious."

--Walt Whitman

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Around the Horn - May '05

Today we're taking a break from banned substances and difficulties beating beatable teams to play the inaugural round of "Around the Horn"! There are two ways to play Around the Horn--double-play style, which is what we're doing today, and strikeout style, which we'll try next time.

An around-the-horn double play in baseball goes as follows: the batter hits the ball to the third baseman, who throws it to the shortstop (or second baseman, but we're going with shortstop since Jason Bartlett is TBL's favorite position player and he's just so darn cute, what with being twelve years old and all) for the out, who throws it to the first baseman for the out at first. The ball then returns to the pitcher for the next at-bat.

Around the Horn goes much the same way, except we've got questions instead of balls. And one of these days I'm going to do an all-female round so that statement will take on a double meaning.

In this and future rounds of Around the Horn, TBL will be the pitcher. Each round will feature a guest infield, Twins fans who have proven their wit and knowledge on the battlefields of fan forums and Twins blogs.

Meet today's guest infield:

At third base, smoothly fielding any question no matter how hard-hit, Bubblemint of Batgirl's "Batling" fan community!

At shortstop, relaying answers with the ease of a well-oiled machine, Twins Junkie of TwinsJunkie.com!

And at first base, fearlessly defending her position, She-Ra of Batgirl's "Batling" fan community!

The pitch, the crack of the bat, and the play is on!

TBL asks: What player from another team would you most like to see in a Twins uniform?

Bubblemint says: I have always wanted to see Jim Thome here with the Twins. A DH that's a big home run hitter, a veteran presence, and a good guy who seems like he'd fit really well on this team. Only problem is, he couldn't play first base, since we do have JustInCredible over there.

TwinsJunkie says: I always wished we could've landed Jim Thome. He pounded us with the Indians while we pounded no one. I want to know what it feels like to have a true power hitter in your lineup, that you think can crank one any time he comes to the plate.

She-Ra says: Corey Koskie. Does he count? Despite some early pessimism, I think the infield will alright without him, but his absence in the clubhouse has to be felt. Plus just think about an entire season of a healthy, chair-beating, power-hitting, walk-taking, clubhouse-pranking Koskie. It would be positively inspirational.

TBL asks: Predict the AL Central Division standings at the All-Star break. Optional: include predictions of team win/loss records and/or other team statistics.

Bubblemint says:
1. Twins
2. White Sox (probably running neck and neck with us)
3. Cleveland (They really are better than they have shown us so far)
4. Tigers (Take THAT Dmitri Young)
5. Royals (I feel bad for the KC fans...they really got their hopes up last year, and were pushed back to earth very quickly.)

TwinsJunkie says: I'm not much for predictions but here you go:
Twins, White Sox, Indians, Tigers, Royals
I know what you are thinking: how bold of him to pick the standings EXACTLY as they finished last year. The Twins are looking too good right now not to be in first, and the White Sox looked pretty good when we met with them. I don't buy the hype with either the Indians or the Tigers, but because of the Detroit bullpen (or lack thereof) I think the Indians will slide into third. It's true what Dmitri Young says; the Indians and Tigers will be competing this year, but not as he envisioned.
P.S. The Royals flat out stink.

She-Ra says: Twins, White Sox, Cleveland, Detroit, KC.

TBL asks:
 or  ?

Bubblemint says: High socks or no socks, that is the question.
I guess for me, it depends on the player. I always liked Dougie with his socks up...Rivas too, but when the whole team did it, it was odd for me. I suppose I could get used to it if they did it all the time, but for the most part I'd have to say no socks. I truly believe only certain players look good doing it.

TwinsJunkie says: Always felt like more of a traditionalist so I have a soft spot for knee-highs. When I played (until 7th grade) I always wore them even though the flies could bite right through them.

She-Ra says: Oh, the beauty of a graceful, well-developed calf muscle! Catchers and portly DHs are absolutely exempt.

TBL asks: What one thing that the Twins haven't done the past three seasons would most improve their chances of getting to the World Series this year?

Bubblemint says: I'd like to see us spend a little money to get a big hitter. A really dependable DH.

TwinsJunkie says: To be honest, nothing THAT important. The fact is, we could've very well been in the world series last year; and I guess the biggest thing we do have is another year of playoff experience under our belts.

She-Ra says: This one's easy - beat the $%^#@!* Yankees!

Double play complete, the ball returns to the mound.

Bubblemint asks: What's your take on the Sheffield vs. Boston fan incident the other day?
[editor's note: the questions were originally asked in mid-April, it just took a while to get all the responses together]

TBL says: At first I thought it was just stupid and rather disgraceful on both sides, but after seeing the replays it really seemed like the fan was just being a little dumb, trying to get a ball without checking to see if the fielder was coming after it. Sheffield should be used to grasping hands when he's fielding near the wall--he needs to control his temper. I'm sure it's very annoying when ball-hungry fans reach into the field of play, but frankly it's something every outfielder and corner infielder has to deal with at some parks. Get angry if you lose a play you could have made? Yes. Lash out physically? No.

TwinsJunkie asks: What is the funniest sports joke and/or heckle you've ever heard?

TBL says: My favorite heckle is one I'm finding plenty of occasion to use this season, now that I'm seated level with the first-base ump: "Hey, ump! Bend over and use your good eye!"

I can only think of one joke at the moment, but I do love mocking the ViQueens...
Q: How do you keep the Vikings out of your yard?
A: Erect a goalpost.

She-Ra asks: Why oh WHY is Corky Miller still on the roster instead of Terry Tiffee--and how long before they shake things up?

TBL says: Corky Miller is on the roster because someone (presumably Gardy and/or Terry Ryan) got it into their heads that Mauer is made of spun sugar, and that if his leg breaks off at the knee we couldn't possibly make do with only two backup catchers--yes, I'm counting LeCroy--for twelve hours while someone flew in from Rochester or New Britain.
The good news is they're increasing Mauer's catching duties on a more accelerated schedule than they were talking about during spring training. Back then they hadn't anticipated having him catch more than three games in a row until closer to mid-season, and he's already done four a couple of times with no apparent difficulties.
I think they're still going to be overly cautious about making roster moves, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a trade involving Miller or LeCroy next month if some other team offers it to Ryan. Unless such a trade opportunity does arise, though, I don't envision them paring down to three catchers until right around the All-Star Break.
Free Terry Tiffee!

Thus endeth the inning. Many thanks to Bubblemint, Twins Junkie and She-Ra for playing! And thanks for reading, everyone!

1 rejoinders:

Third Base Line sounded off...

RE: Corky Miller and Terry Tiffee.

Oh, how wrong I was! Mere hours after this post was published, Corky was outrighted to Rochester (he will have to clear waivers) and Tiffee was recalled to MIN.