"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

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Inherited Runners Redux

Back in May, I tried to tell Gardy about JC Romero and inherited runners. But he just didn't want to hear it. A few days later, he dismissed these concerns in an interview with the Star Trib's LaVelle E. Neal:

"He didn't throw the pitch where he wanted it, but he has been throwing the ball fine," Gardenhire said. "I know you guys keep all these mad stats about runners inherited and stuff."

But now, with 102 of 162 games under our belts and the trade deadline looming (presumably Romero is on the market, if anyone wants him), it seems like a fine time to revisit that critical relievers' stat.

Crain, J 47.029827.5%
Guerrier, M39.114214.3%
Mulholland, T 40.117529.4%
Nathan, J44.2200.0%
Rincón, J46.213215.4%
Romero, JC39.0291344.8%
stats provided by ESPN.com

The staff average excluding Romero, by the way, is 22.7%, which would translate into six or seven fewer runs so far. What that would have done for the team record, who knows? But if runs are like gold, as they say, then Romero's looking like a lousy investment.

And he's not getting any better:

The longer he sees regular work with runners on, the more poorly he handles it. It looks like they tossed him into the deep end in 2002, and he swam. Since then, they've been unable to forget that fabulous year and unable to remember the horrors that have occurred in the meantime.

Gardy, darling, these aren't "mad stats". These are a trend, and a bad one. Do everyone a favor--put Romero in to start innings, where he thrives, exclusively. He'll be happier, you'll be happier, and we'll be ecstatic.

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Friday, July 29, 2005

Boundless Groundless Optimism

Friday evening. The beginning of a new weekend, the end of a long week. The beginning of a new series for a Twins team that desperately needs a fresh start. Ah, can't you just smell the optimism!

So Mr. Third Base Line and I settled in with a couple of Fuji Apple Chicken Salads from Panera (they're fabulous, try one) and turned on the game. We were promptly treated to four and a half innings of a pitcher's duel. The Twins were holding their own, excellent! (Except that Torii Hunter got injured in the first inning, but it doesn't look season-ending or anything.)

And then we saw something we've never seen before.

Three errors on one play. Try to conceive of that, if you will. Having trouble? Here's a play by play:

Runners on first and second, two away. (Errors with two outs just add insult to injury, don't you think?)
--Johnny Damon singles on a line drive to right fielder Jacque Jones. Bill Mueller scores.
--Jacque Jones (RF) throws to Joe Mauer (C), who lets the ball skip between his legs and bounce toward the dugout. Catching error on Mauer. Tony Graffanino scores.
--Carlos Silva (P) fields the ball in foul territory and throws to Joe Mauer (C). Throw goes wild. Throwing error on Silva.
--Justin Morneau (1B) fields the ball in foul territory and throws to Luis Rodriguez (3B) in a pickoff attempt (Damon caught between 3rd and home). Rodriguez throws to Joe Mauer (C) and hits the runner with the ball. Throwing error on Rodriguez.

I think I just felt my soul shrivel.

The official scorer did not record an error against Silva, but I stand by the account above--that throw was atrocious.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Paging Professor Trelawney

One day, we'll look back on this season and laugh.

Well, all right, not laugh, precisely. I expect it will be more a failure to pull out our own hair while making weird little gasping noises in the backs of our throats than an actual laugh. But really, that's almost as good, considering.

We'll look back, and we won't render ourselves follicly challenged, and we'll say:

Hey, it wasn't all bad. April was fun. Also part of June. And that bit in September, remember that? That was excellent. And then we took the money we'd been saving for playoff tickets and we went to San Antonio in October and saw Sea World and the Alamo and when we accidentally left the tourist areas we even witnessed evolution in action. It was all very educational, and the scar's nearly gone, really.

Besides, that was the year Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer finally got their first full seasons in the majors, and look at them now. They needed that experience. It's kind of like prison, I think--once you've been there, you'll do whatever it takes not to go back. Except they didn't do anything wrong, of course, unless getting drafted counts.

Carlos Silva really matured that year, too. Oh, and wasn't it Jesse Crain's rookie season? I think it was. He's really something now, isn't he? I wish we hadn't traded him for Juan Gonzales in the offseason. That was the beginning of the end, my friends, not 2005!

That was the year we finally got rid of Luis Rivas, too. Remember him? Adequate glove, hit like the Queen Mother...post-embalming? Wonder where he is now. Actually, wait, no I don't.

Besides, no one remembers the 2005 Twins anymore. You say "2005" to a baseball fan, and all anyone talks about is how George Steinbrenner went into that irreversible coma due to an apoplectic fit after Derek Jeter's uniform pants ripped up the back seam on a play and the whole world got an eyeful of his lucky, lacy red thong. (And Jeter's much happier in San Francisco, so all's well that ends well.)

No, upon reflection, 2005 wasn't so bad. I mean, hey--at least we weren't the Royals!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Notes from the Soul-Sucking Cubicle

She was doing nine to life
working for The Company.
--the Levellers, "Outside/Inside"

Hello. My name is Peon, and I work for The Company.

I joined The Company in 1996, when it was small, and casual, and friendly. It has grown quite a bit since then, and become much like other companies. It has also grown a second face. Recently, one face looked very sad and apologetic when it informed us that money was very, very scarce and as a result they were going to have to lay off 10% of the technology peons. The other face was busy making toasts at the corporate managing director conference in Hawaii. Who knew it was cheaper to meet at a Hawaiian resort than in your own headquarters? Perhaps we should re-think our lease.

In the last few years, The Company has been pursuing a program called "Associate Engagement". "Associate" is a nicer word for peon, and "Engagement" basically means a peon's emotional investment in his/her job and in The Company itself. You see, there was a big nationwide study a few years ago that indicated a high level of "engagement" among workers resulted in greater job satisfaction and higher productivity.

So The Company, being duly concerned about its peons' happiness productivity, implemented an annual Associate Engagement Survey to gauge the level of contentment among its worker bees and presumably to try to fix areas of dissatisfaction. This survey is given every fall, usually in late September or early October.

The first few times, after the results of the survey came in around the new year, The Company would exclaim over the questions which received poor ratings, and the issues would be hashed and rehashed ad nauseum for the next six months. The Company would build new informational websites for our benefit, set up anonymous call centers where we could report problems, and gather all our managers together for a conference in a tropical paradise to try to puzzle out why those of us left behind in the swirling snows of Minnesota weren't beaming with pride to work for such a fine and caring organization.

Last year, they gave up on those tactics, and took the much simpler approach of releasing the next survey's questions to management several months before the survey and instructing them to discuss these questions with their team. By "discuss", of course, they meant "prime the peons to rate everything a 5 out of 5".

So our managers give us the questions one by one, and ask us to air any reasons we might have for rating that question less than a five. And then they explain to us, very gently, why our problems aren't really what the question is about, so of course we can't in good conscience consider trifling little difficulties like layoffs when faced with the survey.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret they don't think we're bright enough to have figured out. They don't actually give a rip if we're happy or productive--they just want us to say we're happy and productive on their little survey so they can show the survey results to their investors as proof that not only is their money safe with The Company, but they should invest even more.

I could admire their sheer nerve and Machiavellian lack of conscience if they weren't so ham-handed about it. A little subtlety would go a very long way. It might even be worth a 3.

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Monday, July 25, 2005


So. Here we are.

Halfway, plus a bit, through the season, over eleven games behind first in the divison, and hanging on to a first-place wild card tie by our fingernails after two solid months of slipping down the standings. We've got an excellent pitching staff and an offense so wilted no pitching staff could possibly compensate.

We also have three paths open to us. Now is the time to choose.

1. Sit Tight
Hope for the best with what we've got. Lock down the roster, take some extra BP, and pray for a quick and thorough end to The Slump. Trust the current players and staff to suddenly figure out what they've been doing wrong all year. The chances of this method working sufficiently to see us into the postseason are approximately nil, but would preserve what many believe to be a lineup capable of contending in future.

2. Roll the Dice
Make a trade, or two, or three. Inject new blood into the team. Make staffing changes. Take risks that would have been unthinkable three months ago. Spend some money if necessary, just get some hitters to back up our pitching staff. Make an all-out run for the wild card. This might actually work, but could also diminish our chances in following seasons.

3. Build for Tomorrow
Withdraw with dignity. Release players and/or make trades for prospects purely to open up roster spots. Bring up hot prospects and give them some major league experience. Use their successes to light a fire under the veterans. Focus on future seasons, and take any improvement in the current situation as a bonus. Chances of immediate success (such as winning the wild card) are slim to none, but the risks are also minimal.

Now, dear readers--weigh in. Which option do you pick? I'll write a column in a few days about the relative popularity of each option.

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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Twins News

Organizational brain cramp averted!

DETROIT -- Twins first baseman Justin Morneau is staying put.
Early this week, manager Ron Gardenhire had entertained thoughts of sending the struggling slugger to Triple-A Rochester as part of a pending roster move Saturday.
On Friday, Gardenhire decided against the drastic move.
"We're not going to mess with Morneau," Gardenhire said. "[Hitting coach] Scotty [Ullger] thinks that he's getting closer. We're going to eliminate [Morneau] from the process."
Organizational brain cramp pending:

A second roster move will come after Sunday's game, when Baker has likely returned to Rochester. The club originally contemplated calling up another pitcher but might now consider a hitter instead.
Should a pitcher be summoned from Rochester, hard-throwing reliever Travis Bowyer would be a deserving candidate for his first big league callup. Bowyer has a 1.71 ERA in 39 games with 19 saves. If a position player is sought, switch-hitter Terry Tiffee could get the nod in what would be his fourth recall of the season.
@#&%! How many times do I have to say it, Gardy?

And finally:
Reliever Juan Rincon's grievance hearing for his 10-day steroids suspension has been set for Tuesday in New York while the club is in town. Rincon was disciplined in May for testing positive to a banned performance-enhancing substance, but has maintained his innocence.
Good luck, Juan.

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Friday, July 22, 2005

More Open Letters

To: Johan Santana, c/o Minnesota Twins

Dear Johan,

Listen, I know you've been busy and all, so I'll keep this short. This whole thing you're having with the lack of control and the not striking people out, and the walks and stuff? I was just thinking, maybe since you're not doing so great you might want to stop shaking your catcher off all the darn time? 'Cause it's just barely possible that he could have better ideas than you do right now. Just a thought.

All the best,

To: Jason Bartlett, c/o Rochester Red Wings

Dear Jason,

Hi! Long time, no correspond. I assume you're too tired after all those hits every day to send your loyal blogger an email. That's okay, I'd much rather have the hits! Of course, I had thought you and your hits would be here in Minnesota by now, but every organization has its stupid moments, right? Keep it up, they'll pull their heads out of their asses someday soon.


To: George Steinbrenner, c/o Eighth Circle of Hell

Dear George,

Nice starting rotation.



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Twins 10, Tigers 5


Well, well, well.

Wouldja look at that?

The Twins not only extended their winning streak to three games, they also won a game by more than a run for the first time in about a decade. And they did it despite:

  • Santana's continuing shakiness
  • the most boneheaded umpiring crew since, well, the last series, who:
    • ruled that a foul ball off a Detroit bat was a homer
    • ejected Brad Radke for objecting to said home run call
    • warned both benches after Detroit starter Jason Johnson threw behind Nick Punto (who had the effrontery to bunt in a run during his previous at-bat)
  • their 1-3 hitters going a combined 2-for-16
  • two wild pitches and a passed ball from the Twins battery
  • a bases-loaded-with-one-out situation which (as usual) produced no runs

The Twins were ably aided in their victory by the Tigers defense, which combined for four errors and two unearned runs, and the Tigers pitching staff, which combined for three wild pitches, a balk, seven walks and eight earned runs.

Catcher Joe Mauer continues to treat AL pitching with polite contempt, going 2-for-3 with two walks and three runs scored and raising his season average to .311. Meanwhile first baseman Justin Morneau, the slumping half of the M&M boys, caught a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel he's been wandering blindly through, going 1-for-2 with three walks and a run scored. Recent acquisition Bret Boone went 2-for-5 with two RBI, reminding us why the Twins traded for him in the first place.

With the three-game win streak (and a corresponding three-game losing streak by the Whine Sox), the Twins infinitessimally narrowed the Sox division lead to ten games, and reclaimed first place in the AL Wild Card race over the [censored] Yankees.

All in all, not a bad night's work.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Short Takes and Rants

Short takes from Monday:

  • Jason Bartlett went 4-for-5 with two homers, three RBI and three runs scored for AAA Rochester. Remind me why he got sent down?
  • Before the game, the Twins congratulated Rafael Palmeiro on his 3000th hit. He received a standing ovation. Classy.
  • Did you know that Carlos Silva leads major league pitchers in double plays induced? It's true!
  • Speaking of Silva, he pitched 9 innings on 83 pitches.
  • The hitting still isn't there, but the fielding is coming back strong for the second half.
  • Rumors are swirling of a possible trade involving Twins lefty JC Romero and Boston third baseman Bill Mueller. Intriguing.

With Fans Like These...

...who needs the White Sox?

As the Twins slide steadily down the standings, I've noticed a disturbing trend at the Dome. Every game, there are more hecklers. And not the good kind--no, I'm talking about the ones who heckle the home team while wearing a home team jersey and/or home team cap. And these aren't even funny hecklers. They're just mean. And some of them even wait for the Dome to fall quiet so as to improve their chances of being heard by their chosen victim.

Last night Bret Boone's first, unproductive at-bat drew cries of "trade him back!". Five games into his Minnesota career, and he's being treated this way. Morneau's failed pinch-hitting appearance resulted in one lovely gentleman in our section attempting to start a "we want Mientkiewicz" chant. (Note to Dumbass--Mientkiewicz is hitting .224 this season.)

I've seen and heard Twins fans by the hundreds booing Twins players. Real fans don't do that. Got it? Booing poor slumping Justin is not going to make him hit. Booing free-swinging Torii is not going to help him focus. Booing Juan Rincón is not going to turn back time and make that homer an out.

This team is underperforming. No one's arguing that. And fans should feel justified to bitch, moan, gripe and complain all they want, but we don't push it on the players. For their ears, we cheer. They need to hear that. They've got their own problems--if they didn't, we wouldn't be complaining!

It's frustrating, I know. So terribly frustrating. But that's no excuse for turning on your team.

Does Anyone Remember What the Big Stick is For?

Speaking of underperforming, how 'bout that hitting? Our boys are a collective .198/.255/.531 since the break--that's last in the league in BA, OBP and OPS.

Le sigh. Le swoon. Le tantrum.

Let's check for trends.
April: .274/.342/.753
May: .260/.314/.705
June: .270/.322/.750
July: .257/.318/.693

Hmm. Consider June, if you will. There was that amazingly hot streak of about ten games, and then the rapid descent into utter suckitude. If you discount that hot streak as "just one of those things, albeit welcome" (and I do), what we're left with is a distinct downward trend from the beginning of the season.

For those of you tired of hearing me harp about hitting coaches, you might want to skip the next couple of paragraphs.

See, I seem to recall the Twins bringing in such names as Tom Kelly, Paul Molitor and Tony Oliva to work with the boys during spring training. In fact, I personally witnessed some of this hitting instruction. And sure enough, the season started with a newly-patient Jacque Jones hitting .353 and leading the team in walks through April, a Justin Morneau who, despite having his signature power limited by lingering weakness from offseason illness, stroked base hits to the tune of .439, and a Lew Ford who was driving in runs all over the place despite dissatisfaction with his new DH role. There was Matthew LeCroy, hitting over .300 in limited duty, and Joe Mauer doing what Joe Mauer does best--knocking the ball into the gaps.

Sure, a few guys started the season off in slumps, but that always happens. The team as a unit was hitting pretty darn well, except for that whole bases-loaded thing. And then...well. Then the long, agonizing slide from skill through competence and mediocrity all the way down to farce, which is where the curtain opens on our heroes today. And I do have to wonder how much of that descent was the result of having and then losing access to good hitting instruction.

How many promising young hitters have arrived with great fanfare from the minor leagues only to fall on their faces with the Twins? Think about Restovich, Cuddyer, Bartlett and Morneau. Think about David Ortiz's years here, and Jacque Jones' declining career average. Allow yourself, just for a moment, to imagine what Joe Mauer's perfect swing could metamorphose into in this atmosphere.

There's been a definite element of mismanagement, too. Sundappled Wood delved into that subject in loving detail yesterday. Why is Bartlett hitting .321 in AAA while his replacement slogs along at .235, and our only infielder hitting over .260 is utility rookie Luis Rodriguez? Why did we trade for a .240 hitter to replace a .250 hitter (not that I am in any way a proponent of re-installing Rivas at second)? Who the hell is our third baseman now, anyway?

Maybe the next roster move should be sending hitting coach Scotty Ullger down to Rochester and bringing up Rich Miller. And maybe someone needs to sit down with Gardy and remind him that sometimes his favorite players aren't the ones who are going to get us a win.

Trades are all well and good, but they're no substitute for getting the most out of the guys you've got. Do that, then fill any remaining holes. Change should have a purpose beyond change itself. The players who are this team's future are struggling--I'd much rather see that addressed than see any more moves made purely to salvage what may already be a lost season.

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Monday, July 18, 2005


After an inexplicable half-season hiatus, Carlos Silva has resumed wearing his uniform pants the right way! This inspired TBL to whip out her trusty digi-cam and snap some shots of Silva and the other properly-attired players in the game. (Game commentary will follow, tomorrow.)

SilvaAh, there's the Silva we all know and love.

GibbonsBaltimore's Jay Gibbons.

And, for (to the best of my knowledge) the first time ever:

FordLew Ford!
You look wonderful, darling. Don't ever go back.

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Friday, July 15, 2005

It Begins

Welcome to the second half!

Okay, so it didn't get off on a very good note, with the Twins dropping an early lead to lose 3-2 to the Angels last night. The good news is they lost against a good lefty, it was a close game and, well, it wasn't exactly our ace up there. Not that Lohse isn't better this year, but...yeah. It's Lohse. There's always a three-run inning, you know?

The bright spots of the evening were Bret Boone's Minnesota debut (no hits, but wow, does he throw bullets or what?), an excellent-except-for-that-one-inning start by Kyle Lohse, and an unassisted double play by Matthew LeCroy at first base (yes, you read that correctly).

And now, TBL's random suggestions for improving what's left of the season:

  • Say it with me, folks: A HITTING COACH!
  • Double plays--let's turn more than we ground into, hmmm?
  • Three AL pitching staffs have given up more home runs than ours. Tampa Bay, Toronto, and Seattle. Ouch. Keep it in the park, boys.
  • Being eleventh in the league in runs scored isn't helping.
  • It would be really, really nice to have more than one regular (Mauer) hitting over .300. Or near .300, even.
  • Our pitching staff leads the AL in complete games and fewest walks allowed. Keep it up!
  • Stability at third base. Just pick someone, already! (My vote's with Punto.)
  • Oh, Canada! This team needs Justin Morneau on an extended hot streak, and soon.
  • Trade for a starter, or at least to free a slot for Baker. We've got Lohse, Mays and about five excess ML-ready infielders to mix and match for a deal.
  • Three words: daily bunting clinics.
  • Three more words: win close games.

  • Read More

    Wednesday, July 13, 2005


    It's official!

    NHL, Players Reach Deal to End Lockout:
    NEW YORK - The NHL and the players' association reached an agreement in principle Wednesday on a new labor deal, ending a lockout that wiped out last season.
    The sides met for 24 hours starting Tuesday afternoon to hammer out the collective bargaining agreement that will return the NHL to the ice. In February, commissioner Gary Bettman canceled the season, making the NHL the first North American sports league to lose a year because of a labor dispute.
    Both sides still need to ratify the deal, which is expected to contain a salary cap. That process is expected to be completed next week, the league and the union said in a joint news release.
    It took all night and then some for the final round of negotiations to produce an agreement.
    The sides met for 10 straight days in New York, and it became clear Wednesday morning - the 301st day of the lockout - that they weren't going to leave the room without an agreement in hand.
    The expected salary cap will likely have a ceiling approaching $40 million and a minimum somewhere between $20 million and $25 million.

    Oh, hallelujah. A baseball offseason with more to offer by way of entertainment than a choice between crappy re-runs or throwing the housecat into a snowbank.

    Let's play HOCKEY!

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    Monday, July 11, 2005

    Twins Acquire Boone

    The Twins get Bret Boone for a player to be named later, with the Mariners picking up practically the entire remainder of Boone's salary.

    Good deal?

    Maybe. Boone has been phenomenal. Unfortunately, most of that was two years or more ago.

    Has he sucked because his team sucked?

    Again, maybe. A lot of people (including the Twins front office, which ain't exactly stocked with morons), seem to think the excitement of a pennant race will bring out the best in him.

    Is he a better option at second than a healthy Nick Punto?

    Probably not. But second isn't Punto's only position, and we do have that glaring vacancy at third.

    Is he a better option than Rivas?

    Probably. Even if he hits for a Rivas-like average, he's got way more power, and that means something to this team. It means runs.

    Does another "veteran presence in the infield" open the way to bringing Jason Bartlett back?

    God, I hope so. I really, really do. Castro's been fabulous in the field, but Bartlett was fine and we really need bats. Castro's, ah...not so much with the hitting. Bartlett just needs a little time to work through the scouting reports, that's all.

    Who's playing where?

    If no further moves are made, I'm betting: Boone at second, Castro at short, Punto at third, with Rodriguez and his hot bat spelling all of them at times. What we do when Abernathy and Cuddyer are ready to come off the DL is anybody's guess.

    Trade an excess infielder for some pitching?


    And now, dear readers---what do you think?

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    Friday, July 08, 2005

    Another Look at the Numbers

    The good news is that the Twins seem to have broken out of their long streak of lousy games. The bad news is that they've started a new streak of bouncing wildly between greatness and hideousness.

    The first half of June was fabulous. Much of the second half, not so fabulous. The beginning of July has been a roller coaster. Some people will tell you it all evens out. Let's check on that theory, using the last 30 days as our frame of reference against the rest of the year. Year-to-date figures are presented in [brackets].

    From June 8 through July 7, the Twins have played in 27 games, for a record of 12-14 (.462) [46-37 (.554)].

    The team ERA is 4.44 [3.75], with starters pitching an average 6 2/3 [6 2/3] innings per start and posting a 4.60 [4.01] ERA. Relievers put up an ERA of 4.20 [3.09]. The pitching staff has given up 30 [93] home runs, 72 [165] walks, 8 [17] wild pitches and 10 [22] hit batsmen while recording 161 [498] strikeouts. The pitching staff ranks 10th [4th] in the AL based on ERA.

    Twins hitters are hitting .262 [.268] with a .736 [.744] OPS, 25 [79] home runs, 171 [501] strikeouts and 81 [258] walks. They have stolen 19 [55] bases and been caught stealing 8 [25] times. They have grounded into 18 [76] double plays. The offense ranks 10th [7th] in the league based on BA and 10th [10th] based on runs scored.

    Minnesota fielders have completed 292 [915] assists and commited 16 [54] errors in 1025 [3224] chances, leading to 9 [29] unearned runs, for a team fielding average of .984 [.983]. Twins catchers have caught 5 [23] baserunners stealing while allowing 11 [29] stolen bases and 3 [6] passed balls. The field ranks 9th [10th] in the AL based on fielding average.

    In sum, the hitting lately is more or less on a level with the season as a whole (though I will take the opportunity to point out that the season as a whole has been pretty lousy on the run-producing front), and the fielding has actually improved.

    So. It's the pitching, then. ERAs are shooting upward, balls are flying into the stands, walks are piling up, batters are getting plunked and wild pitches abound. The whole staff, with the possible exception of Juan Rincón (1.64 ERA / 0 HR / 13 K over the last 30 days, and yet he's hit two and walked five...) seems to have lost its collective location and/or control.

    I'm guessing that part of the problem is a staff worn out from trying to compensate for lousy run support. If the hitters pick it up (unlikely, given that they're already hitting about as well as they have the last few years), the pitchers can relax. The All-Star break might help, at least temporarily.

    Tell you what, though--we really need that patented Minnesota Second-Half Surge this year. Cross your fingers, get out your lucky rally cap, and for the love of the game, find this team a hitting coach!

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    Baseball, Softball Tossed From London Games

    Baseball, softball tossed from London Games:
    SINGAPORE (Reuters) - London will stage a reduced Olympic Games in 2012 after baseball and softball were wiped from the program in a controversial vote on Friday.
    London's showpiece will now feature 26 sports rather than 28 after International Olympic Committee (IOC) members rejected proposals to replace the axed sports with two from rugby sevens, golf, squash, karate and roller sports.
    Baseball and softball failed to win a majority of votes in a ballot of members at the IOC Session at the Raffles complex and became the first sports to be cut from the Games since polo in 1936.
    In a farcical display of bureaucracy, IOC members went through seven rounds of voting to decide which two of the five would-be Olympic sports should be put up for a vote to give them Olympic status.
    Having selected squash and karate, the members then overwhelmingly rejected their bids to join the Olympic program.
    The last Olympics to be staged with just 26 sports was Atlanta in 1996. The minimum number of sports required for an Olympic Games is 15, while the maximum is 28.
    'Today was a decision to put quality over quantity,' IOC communications director Giselle Davies said.

    No baseball in the Summer Olympics. I don't believe it. That's the only damn thing I watched! (Not that they televised it often, mind you, and then usually in the middle of the night. But that's what VCRs are for, right?)

    For your edification, here are the sports the IOC, in its infinite wisdom, considers of higher quality than baseball:

    Football (Soccer)
    Modern Pentathlon
    Table Tennis

    Handball? HANDBALL?!?! This is more important than baseball? What the hell is "Modern Pentathalon"? Who decided that basketball, a sorry excuse for a sport if there ever was one, has more value than the "great and glorious game"? What the hell is hockey doing in the Summer Olympics? And don't even get me started on table tennis...

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    Wednesday, July 06, 2005

    You Might Be A Reenactor If...

    ...you spend a lovely summer afternoon in the fabric store hunting for the perfect lace to trim your new bloomers.

    ...your swords are more polished than your silverware.

    ...you're insulted if someone refers to your garb as a "costume".

    ...you know what a bodice chiller is.

    ...you own and use a bodice chiller.

    ...you hoard golden dollar coins all year in anticipation of Fest.

    ...you know what a baldric is.

    ...you own and use a baldric.

    ...you'd rather have the Museum Replicas catalog than the Victoria's Secret catalog.

    ...you secretly (or not-so-secretly) long to own a cannon, trebuchet, catapult and/or tall ship.

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    Tuesday, July 05, 2005

    Holiday Weekend Recap

    Edging Ever Onward
    The Twins have won seven of their last eight games and have gained two games on the Whine Sox. Cleveland continues to breathe down the Twins' collective neck, holding on just one game behind Minnesota.

    Looking Forward
    Scott Baker, a hot prospect and brief callup in a bullpen role, will offer the fans a glimpse of the (probable) future tonight as he makes his first major-league start in place of the (literally) stiff-necked Radke.

    Lowering the Tone of the ASG
    I don't like the All-Star Game. It bills itself as a game between the best players from each league, but invariably it is the most popular or the most recently and spectacularly successful, instead. Large-market teams send flocks of players (of whom few are truly deserving) courtesy of the sheer volume of voters they can command. The tie-game fiasco and the resulting dumb-as-bricks decision to tie home-field advantage in the World Series to the result of the ASG reduced it from farce to fiasco in my eyes. I didn't think it could sink any lower, really. And then they named Kenny Rogers to this year's AL All-Star Team.
    Excuse me, does that 20-game suspension for repeatedly assaulting an innocent cameraman not include the All-Star game? 'Cause it should. Especially since "this one counts".

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    Friday, July 01, 2005

    Infield: Life on the DL

    Twins' Williams Devastated by Injury:
    Minnesota's Glenn Williams learned the hard way this week that baseball can be as cruel as it is rewarding. After toiling in the minor leagues for more than a decade, the Australian-born infielder's major league dream was fulfilled when the Twins bought his contract from Triple-A Rochester on June 7 to provide some depth for an injury-depleted infield.

    Williams did more than just fill in. He batted .425, with at least one hit in every game he appeared in, showing a patient approach at the plate and a steady glove at third base. Williams had actually taken over as the regular at that position, in place of Michael Cuddyer, and started his sixth straight game when disaster struck.

    Diving back into first base on a pickoff attempt Tuesday night, Williams' hand hit the dirt awkwardly - forcing his right shoulder, a joint he had surgery on in 1999, to pop out.

    The diagnosis was a dislocation. The recovery timetable is at least six weeks, if not more.

    His chance of making an impression in spring training was mostly wiped out by a pulled groin, and he was sent to the Twins' Triple-A team in Rochester, N.Y. - beginning his 12th minor league season.

    Then came health problems with the big club, though, and Williams was recommended as being the most ready for the majors.

    "We trust the staff," Gardenhire said. "He proved them right."

    Unfortunately for Williams, he'll have to wait a while to keep proving his worth. Seen crying in the training room the night of his injury, Williams - who turns 28 on July 18 - was devastated by his setback.

    My first reaction to hearing about Williams' injury was: "Oh, that poor guy. How horrible."

    My second, hard on its heels, was: "%@$#! We finally get a third baseman who might actually turn out to be competent, and now this!"

    Williams' injury, as sad and devastating as it is to him, the team and those of us fans who can still bear to confront infield plays with our eyes open, is only the latest in a string of infield disabilities and more minor injuries.

  • April 12th: Justin Morneau to 15-day disabled list with a concussion after being hit by a pitch.

  • May 31st: Luis Rivas to 15-day disabled list with a strained oblique of mysterious origin.

  • June 2nd: Nick Punto to 15-day disabled list with a pulled hamstring on a stolen base attempt.

  • June 17th: Brent Abernathy to 15-day disabled list with strained shoulder after colliding with a wall during a fielding play in foul territory.

  • And now Williams' dislocated shoulder.

  • In between these DL-worthy injuries we've seen many a game missed due to pulled groin muscles, hit-by-pitches, unidentified illnesses, and (most recently) dizzy spells. In Wednesday's game, Michael Ryan played third base for several innings. Michael Ryan, the outfielder. The spare backup outfielder. And yet, "shortstop of the future" Jason Bartlett continues to languish in AAA after being royally hosed by the organization the first time he hit a slump. But I won't go farther into that particular rant today.

    Suffice it to say, the last thing a struggling team needs is an infield held together with duct tape and prayer. But at least the pitching staff is healthy.



    I shouldn't have said that.

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