"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

Friday, November 17, 2006


Ladies and gentlemen, your 2006 American League Cy Young Award winner.

Our very own Johan Santana was unanimously voted the Cy Young winner after tying for the league lead in wins and independently holding the league lead in ERA, strikeouts and innings pitched. That's the Triple Crown plus one, folks.

This almost makes up for him getting screwed out of the award last year.

And finally, in this week's edition of Concepts That Make Your Eyes Cross, here's what Johan had to say about his own performance:

"In the future, I want to be consistent from Day 1. We're still
making adjustments. I still believe that I can be better."

Read More

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ryan Named GM of the Year

Ryan is TSN's Executive of the Year

NAPLES, Fla. -- Minnesota Twins longtime general manager Terry Ryan was named the 2006 Major League Baseball Executive of the Year by The Sporting News on Monday night during a reception for the general managers at this year's annual meetings. He won the honor for the second time.

Two executives from each big-league club voted for the award, which was won last year by Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro and in 2004 by St. Louis GM Walt Jocketty.

Ryan, who also won the award from The Sporting News in 2002, received 15 votes, four more than the Marlins' Larry Beinfest and seven more than both Oakland's Billy Beane and Omar Minaya of the Mets. Ryan also won the award in 2002.

"Everyone in baseball admires what Terry has accomplished, sustaining a winning team with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball," said John Rawlings, The Sporting News' vice president and editorial director. "He has proven to be an excellent talent evaluator and a very patient leader. When the Twins got off to a rocky start, Terry never panicked, and the team ended up only one loss away from the best record in baseball. Terry -- and he will graciously credit his staff -- is very deserving of this award again."

Ryan replaced Andy MacPhail as general manager in 1994, when MacPhail left to become president of the Cubs. Under Ryan, a former scout and player-personnel director, and manager Ron Gardenhire, the Twins have won the American League Central title four times in the last five years.

This year the Twins came roaring back from a first-half deficit and won the division title over the Tigers on the final day of the season with a 96-66 mark, the second-best record in the league behind the Yankees and third-best in baseball behind the Yankees and Mets.

Read More

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Today's the Day

Well, what are you waiting for?
Get out there.

Read More

Monday, November 06, 2006

Notable Americans: Prudence Crandall

Prudence Crandall (1803-1890)

Founder and headmistress of a private school for girls in Canterbury, Connecticut, Prudence Crandall caused a furor by admitting a black student. Many of the other students were subsequently withdrawn by their families, prompting her to re-dedicate her institution as a school for black girls.

When Crandall's "School for Young Ladies and Misses of Colour" began attracting students from several states, the Connecticut legislature passed a law prohibiting the education of black students from out-of-state. She defied the law and retained her students, once serving a short jail term as a result. In 1834, mob protests forced the school to close and its founder to leave the state.

She continued to teach throughout her life and to champion equal rights and the education of women.

Read the Wikipedia article on Prudence Crandall here.

Read More

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Notable Americans: John Eder

John Eder (1969-present)

As a member of the Maine House of Representatives, currently serving a second term and running for a third, John Eder is the highest ranking elected official to come from the Green Party of the United States.

Leaving an abusive home at 15 only to land in a facility for troubled youth, John Eder briefly studied philosophy at the college level before becoming disillusioned with college life and, still grappling with the traumas of his early life, dropping out to study at his own direction while working at a bus station.

Soon he struck out with little more than a backpack to travel the country, supporting himself by doing migrant farm work. He often involved himself in the communities he passed through by volunteering his time, labor and activism toward various social justice causes. In the course of his travels he met many people and came to feel a great hope for America and belief in the essential goodness of its people.

Settling in Maine in 1997 (initially in a solar-powered shack in the mountains) he became involved in the state Green Party and rose to the position of party co-chair. When a seat opened in the Maine House of Representatives in 2002, party leaders asked him to be the party candidate.

Running against one other candidate, a Democrat, Eder piled up endorsements from organizations, individuals, businesses and newspapers on his way to a decisive victory. Declining the traditional path of small-party officials--caucusing with one of the two major parties--Eder sought and won recognition of himself as the Green Party Caucus, securing an additional measure of influence in the legislature.

Democratic legislators succeeded in a redistricting move prior to the 2004 election which separated Eder from much of the district he had been elected to represent and placing the residence of another legislator (a Democrat) within the new borders. In response, Eder simply moved to a new home inside the redrawn district and handily defeated two opponents, the incumbent Democrat and a Republican challenger.

Eder constitutes a critical swing vote in a legislature otherwise split 74-73 between Democrats and Republicans. He has been active on tax reform issues and also champions a variety of equal rights and conservation causes.

Read the Wikipedia article on John Eder here.

Read More

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Notable Americans: Frances Perkins

Frances Perkins (1882-1965)

Born in Boston, Frances Perkins earned her master's degree in sociology from Columbia University in 1910 and in the same year was named head of the New York Consumer's League, a position she used to press for better working hours and conditions for blue-collar workers. In 1911, she was eyewitness to the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, an event which affected her profoundly.

On her marriage in 1913, Perkins went to court to retain her maiden name and succeeded. Over the next several years she held various positions in state government, including member and eventually the first female chair of the New York State Industrial Commission. Appointed state industrial commissioner by Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1929, she reduced female workers' workweek to 48 hours, expanded investigations of factories and pressed for minimum wage and unemployment insurance laws.

In 1933 Roosevelt, now President of the United States, appointed Perkins as Secretary of Labor, making her the first female cabinet member in US history and the first woman to enter the presidential line of succession. In her twelve years as Secretary of Labor, Perkins played an essential role in forming and implementing Roosevelt's New Deal programs and in the creation and approval of the Social Security Act.

Read the Wikipedia article on Frances Perkins here.

Read More

Friday, November 03, 2006

Notable Americans: John Muir

John Muir (1838-1914)

The third of eight children, John Muir was born in Scotland and immigrated to America at the age of eleven. Though he had little schooling after the move to Wisconsin, in his youth he became a prodigious inventor, creating such things as a thermometer so sensitive it would register the body heat of a person standing several feet away and an alarm clock that worked by tipping the bed and thereby ejecting the sleeper.

Leaving his family's Wisconsin farm for Madison in his early twenties, he came to the attention of several people associated with the University of Wisconsin. Despite his lack of formal education, he was admitted to the university. An early botany lesson inspired in him a passion for the natural world and the wilderness--perhaps a natural product of his rural upbringing when combined with newfound scientific understanding--and for over two years he pursued an eclectic course of study focused on the natural sciences.

Muir spent the next several years working as an industrial engineer (mostly in Canada, perhaps to avoid the Civil War) and taking wilderness trips whenever he could. In 1867 an accident on the job deprived him of the sight in one eye, and the other soon went dark in sympathy. His eyesight did return, slowly, and at the end of this experience Muir felt he had been reborn. He resolved to spend his life among the sights of nature that had been denied him during his recuperation.

Muir walked a thousand miles from Kentucky to Georgia. He turned south, hoping eventually to walk to the headwaters of the Amazon in South America, but he was laid low with a case of malaria in Florida. He rambled across the south of the country and ended up in California instead. There, his quest for wilderness immersion led him to Yosemite. He spent six years there, working as a shepherd, a sawmill operator, and a tour guide, all the while studying the natural world around him.

In time he married and settled near San Francisco, running a fruit farm and writing about his experiences in the natural places of the country, though he often travelled to wilderness sites. In his later travels he became deeply concerned about the effects of domesticated animal grazing on wilderness areas, pushing for protection of the Sierra high country and pushing for the introduction of the Congressional bill that would create Yosemite National Park. The bill eventually passed, but while it did protect the high country it left the Yosemite Valley under state control. Muir then formed the Sierra Club in 1892 to promote conservation efforts.

In 1903, President Roosevelt visited Yosemite National Park with Muir, who told the president about state mismanagement and exploitation of the Yosemite Valley. Roosevelt urged the conservationist to show him "the real Yosemite", and the two men set off on their own for several days, hiking through the back country and sleeping in the open. With the president's support, the Sierra Club pressured Congress to protect the valley, and in 1905 ownership of the valley and of Maiposa Grove were transferred to the national park and placed under federal control.

"Why should man value himself as more than a small part of the one great unit of creation? And what creature of all that the Lord has taken the pains to make is not essential to the completeness of that unit - the cosmos? The universe would be incomplete without man; but it would also be incomplete without the smallest transmicroscopic creature that dwells beyond our conceitful eyes and knowledge."
--John Muir, A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf

Read the Wikipedia article on John Muir here.

Read More

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Notable Americans: Alice Paul

Alice Stokes Paul (1885-1977)

Alice Paul was a leader of the American suffragist movement and instrumental in securing women's right to vote in 1920.

Born into a Quaker family, Alice Paul reached educational heights rarely seen in women of her generation. She received her BA from Swarthmore College and her MA in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. She then pursued further postgraduate study in England at the University of Birmingham and the London School of Economics before returning to the University of Pennsylvania to complete her PhD in political science in 1912.

As an activist with Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) and the National American Women's Suffrage Association (NAWSA), she frequently ran afoul of the authorities and was once force-fed while on hunger strike with other WSPU members.

Paul formed the National Womens Party (NWP) in 1916 with like-minded friends and, relying on activist tactics she had learned in Britain, made headlines with demonstrations, pickets, hunger strikes and other such attention-grabbing activities. She and a number of followers were arrested in 1917 for conducting a peaceful, silent picket of the White House. The charges against them were "obstructing traffic", for which dubious crime they were confined to a workhouse.

In protest against poor conditions in the workhouse, Paul organized a hunger strike which was joined by other inmates. The attendant press coverage along with continuing demonstrations by the NWP's free members and sympathizers finally pressured the White House into acknowledging in 1918 that women's suffrage was an important issue. Two years later, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution granted American women the right to vote.

The right of citizens in the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Having secured this essential liberty, Alice Paul dedicated much of the rest of her life to fighting for the Equal Rights Amendment, which remains in limbo as of this writing, requiring ratification by three more states to append it to the Constitution. Five states*, it should be noted, ratified the ERA only to later rescind it.

* Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kentucky and Tennessee.
The ERA has been ratified only by the House or the Senate (not both) in Nevada, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Missouri, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida.
States which have never even partially ratified the ERA are Utah, Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Virginia.
All other states have ratified the ERA.

Read the Wikipedia article on Alice Paul here.

Read More

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Notable Americans: Hiram Revels

In this week before the election, I think we've all heard quite enough (and then some) from and about the candidates in our area. Over the next few days, TBL will endeavor to remain in the political spirit of the season without beating the metaphorical dead horses, by presenting information on some interesting characters from our nation's political past.

Hiram Rhodes Revels (1827 – 1901)

The first African American to serve in the U.S. Senate, Hiram Revels represented Mississippi during Reconstruction. The son of a free man of mixed race and an emancipated slave, Revels was born free in 1827 and trained as a barber before studying at a Quaker seminary, Knox College, and a black seminary prior to being ordained as a minister. He served as both chaplain and soldier in the Union Army during the American Civil War, returning to the ministry at war's end.

After being elected to the post of city Alderman in Natchez, MS, then to the state senate, he was selected to fill the last year of the Senate term formerly held by Jefferson Davis, who had left the US Senate to become President of the Confederate States of America. During his short term in the Senate, he worked with little success toward racial equality.

After leaving the Senate, he went on to serve as president of Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College and later as interim Secretary of State for Mississippi.

Read More

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Well, Yes, But NEXT Year...

There may not be crying in baseball, but there sure is swearing. To get all of the cursing out of her system following the ALDS sweep, TBL required a week and a half and seven different languages. Did you know that it's possible to get banned from BabelFish?

But oh, think of next season, when we will not have Juan Castro or Tony Batista clogging up the infield and, in the latter case, occasionally the basepaths. We will have Jason Bartlett all year, or else we will have Twins management in traction and TBL begging for bail, one or the other. We will have Francisco Liriano, and the reigning Cy Young winner, and Pat "Skippy" Neshek.

Juan Rincón will get his groove back, or else, and Jason Kubel will be healthier. Justin Morneau will go for 40, and Joe Mauer for .400. Boof Bonser will get 15 wins and three new tattoos, and Nick Punto will be the shortest third baseman ever to win a Gold Glove.

It'll happen. Just you wait.

P.S. Check out the remodeled and expanded TwinsCards.com (there's a link in my favorites, under "Baseball Blogs"). They've added all sorts of non-card memorabilia and are adding more all the time.

Read More

Friday, October 06, 2006

Well, That Explains It

No wonder they lost the first two!

St. Paul Pioneer Press: TWINS' 'BIG FELLA' IS BACK

The Minnesota Twins will have a familiar face back in their dugout today.

Wayne Hattaway is again with his beloved team in Oakland, Calif., likely pacing the clubhouse and ribbing the players in his Southern drawl. 'Big Fella,' as Hattaway is known, is a team legend, a clubhouse guy and the organization's most outlandish cheerleader.

Sidelined by cancer surgery, he's had to watch games from the clubhouse or his living room for the past two weeks. Players and coaches who cared for him since his rare diagnosis of breast cancer have missed his ubiquitous presence.

"We miss his cackle," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We need that cackle back. He's been our good luck charm."

A slight, nearly blind man of 66, Big Fella has been a familiar figure with the minor leagues and the Minnesota Twins for more than 50 years. He was hired in 1963 to help Twins minor leaguers, and, for the past five years, he's worked part time to keep the clubhouse running from day to day.

"It's been depressing me to not be there," Hattaway said. "I'm more upset about that than I am the cancer. There ain't nothing I could do about my illness, but I could be there for the team."

Read the whole article. It's great.

Read More

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Finnegan Was A Realist

It ain't over 'til it's over.
--Yogi Berra

On June 7th, many Twins fans (I admit to being among them) had already dusted off the familiar mantra of "maybe next season". Our team was awful. Worse than awful, on occasion. The hitting was pathetic, the fielding erratic, and the pitching was just fine unless the hitters actually got something going, then it imploded. It wasn't just Murphy's Law, it was Finnegan's Corollary* out there.

And then, hey, whadda ya know, something or somebody reminded our boys that spring training was OVER. I imagine they looked at each other, dropped their eyes to their feet, blushed a little, chuckled like people do when they've just said something really embarrassing into the sudden silence after the music stops, and went out there to start playing like it mattered.

After a while, it did matter. They climbed out of the division cellar, had a poke around the living room, trotted upstairs and rifled through the drawers a little, pulled down the ladder to rummage through the attic, and before we'd had a chance to absorb the fact that they were a shoo-in for the wild card, they'd snuck out the back door with the division title and Ozzie Guillen's dreams clanking against each other in a pillowcase.

Now, this situation we find ourselves in after two ALDS games is not good. It is, as a college friend of mine used to say, double-plus-ungood. I'm not going to feed you a line of crap about how it doesn't matter, they were just working the bugs out, they'll come back no problem.

It matters. There are problems. The biggest one being that the team we saw Tuesday and Wednesday was not the same team that went medieval on the AL's ass for the last four months. Same names, same numbers, different team. I can't explain it. I could theorize, but believe me, you do not want to hear it. My most plausible explanation to date involves cloning, moon phases, and mushrooms of questionable origin. This is how baffled I am.

The thing is, these guys have been counted out before. Remember what happened? Lightning can strike twice. Ask that forest ranger who's on every Discovery Channel show about lightning ever made--he's been hit like five times. This team can climb out of the deep, dark pit of despair they not only dug for themselves but voluntarily jumped into.

And if they don't? Remember the season. They did the impossible. It was stunning, amazing, unbelievable, magical. Nothing that comes after it should be allowed to take that away from us, or to tarnish it in any way. We're all greedy, we all want more, want a win, another series, another trophy. Of course we do. But what we have already been privileged to witness is more than we ever dreamed we'd have, on June 7th.

I'm proud of my Twins. And that's enough. If it has to be.

*Murphy's Law: Anything that can go wrong, will.
Finnegan's Corollary: Murphy was an optimist.

Read More

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

And As For Game 2...

Read More

ALDS 1: In Pictures

No time for a postmortem this morning, so here, have some photos. If you click on them, they'll pop up full sized.

These and many other Twins photos will appear on my Flickr page in the offseason, when I've time to sort them all. If you want the original of any of these (taken at 2048 x 1536), drop me a line.

Read More

Monday, October 02, 2006

Oh. My. Deities.

There are words to describe this season. There are. And they will come to me eventually. But right now, oh, I just have to wrap all the wonder around me and hug it to myself like a warm sweater on a cold night.

And it was a very cold night--do you remember May? I am no longer young enough to think of four months as a long time. I remember May. I remember trudging up to Gate F and handing my ticket to the nice lady who's been there longer than I have, feeling like I was being punished for something I didn't do. And the game hadn't even started yet. But I went.


Because I'm an unrepentant baseball addict.

Because I love my Twins.

Because I paid so freakin' much to sit in a plastic bubble gnawing on a congealing veggie burger while Tony Batista and Juan Castro played endless rounds of "Lot's Wife" in the infield.

Because even in the darkest days Johan Santana and Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer and Juan Rincón had the power to make me giddy with joy.

Because I was not-so-patiently waiting for the return of Jason Bartlett and the day (presumably soon afterwards) when I could point to him and, with my other hand, thumb my nose at the Twins management.

And because that tiny little optimist inside me, of whose very existence I am constantly resentful, kept saying they can't suck forever.

The tiny little optimist was right. Bartlett stormed back to the big leagues and joined Nick Punto and 'Cisco Liriano and Pat "What the Heck Was THAT?" Neshek and a bunch of other faces both new and old in making me ever more giddy with joy. There were wins upon wins upon wins. There was crash-bang-BOOM to every field and Radke throwing the ball with his left ventricle because his heart was all he had left and holy crap we're in third, we're in second, we're the wild card, we're the AL Central champions.

We are. Those 25 guys on the field, I love 'em, and they did all that running and hitting and pitching and smelling 'em and yes, they are the pirahnas, but we the fans are the river. This is our party, too.

And I know it's trite, and I know it's overused, but it's so true I have to say it:

This was magic.

Read More

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

In Case You Missed It

TBL was fortunate enough to be at last night's game, and to have her trusty digicam with her. If you missed the on-field festivities, here are a few shots that somehow got taken without someone's waving hand/cap/head in the way.

You should be able to get a larger version by clicking on the images; full-size versions of at least some of these will eventually appear on my Flickr page.

Read More

Ladies and Gentlemen, #34

There's been a good bit of talk this season about how the number 34 keeps popping up for the Twins since the death of THE #34, Hall of Famer and legendary centerfielder, Kirby Puckett.

To refresh your memories:

  • The Twins have worn the number 34 on their right uniform sleeves all season, as a tribute to Kirby.
  • The ballpark bill, after years of wrangling, cleared the state Senate on a vote of 34 in favor, 32 against.
  • The Twins won their 34th game of the year (May 10th at Rangers) 4-3.
  • The Twins' 34th road game was a win (June 8th at Mariners, 7-3). The start of a 9-for-10 streak that put the Twins at .500, this game is marked by most analysts as the game in which the Twins season turned around.
  • Their 34th home game was also a win (June 25th vs the Cubs, 8-1). The Twins had 34 at-bats in this game.
  • After starting off the season with two months of consistent sucking, the Twins put together a stunning seven-game winning streak (in the midst of a 21-for-23 rampage starting June 8th) to pull to the .500 mark on June 18th, putting their season record at 34-34.
Chalk up one more. Last night, in the bottom of the eighth inning of the win that officially admitted the Twins to the 2006 postseason, the Twins' greatest slugger in 19 years stepped to the plate. He had inexplicably gone over a month without a home run, but on a 3-2 count Justin Morneau swung his mighty bat with two runners on.

And hit home run #34. To center field.

How about that?

Read More

Monday, September 25, 2006

Media Round-Up

Blogger's note: TBL is mad busy lately, what with the baseball and the cubicle and the piracy and the very occasional need for sleep, not to mention the other writing projects which have been as sadly neglected as this blog. So, y'know, there will be posts when TBL has a few minutes to spare and enough caffeine to string together a sentence.

From twinsbaseball.com:

Nathan's save made him the first Twins pitcher to record at least 35 saves in three consecutive seasons.

"We need a whole team effort," Nathan said. "We need runs scored, our starters to pitch well, the other hands in the 'pen getting us there, so I think this stat is definitely more of a team effort, and this milestone recognizes what our team has been able to do."

Nathan's comments are a reflection of the Twins' team mentality. And with Minnesota's magic number at just two, it leaves open the possibility to clinch a playoff berth as soon as Monday, if the Twins beat the Royals and the White Sox lose in Cleveland.

TBL says: Go, Cleveland!

Also from twinsbaseball.com:

Players try many different things to get through the long season, but it's what shortstop Jason Bartlett hasn't done that's been the key to his success.

With his start on Sunday, Bartlett extended his streak of consecutive games played to 92. It's by far the longest stretch that he's ever played in his career.

"I think it's all mental," Bartlett said. "I talked to [former Twins infielder] Ron Coomer the other day about it and he agreed that to keep going, you tell your body that it's not tired and remember it's all in your head. That's what I'm trying to do."

But while this stretch has been tough, it's also given Bartlett the chance to show how consistent he can be at the position. His dominant presence at shortstop has made the Twins hesitant to give him even just one day off while the club pushes for a playoff spot.

"I think it's a character builder for Bart," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Knowing he can do it and still find a way to go out there and get it done. ... [He's] a little worn out, but it's something he's really learning from."

Gardenhire has been so impressed with Bartlett's play that he described the 26-year-old on Sunday as the most consistent shortstop the organization has had since Greg Gagne, who played for the Twins from 1983-92. Bartlett has made so many routine plays recently that an error in the second inning of Saturday's game was a bit of a surprise to Gardenhire.

"When you see him throwing the ball low yesterday, you were just like, 'Wow,' because he's been so consistent," Gardenhire said. "Bart's really has done everything that you can ask this year. His performance been great for this team."

Knowing that those types of errors, which came a little more frequently for him last year, are now looked at with surprise is something that has given Bartlett a lot of pride.

"I think my presence out there helps the team, and that's big for me," Bartlett said. "With me and Nick [Punto] on that left side, I think the pitchers have more confidence. They know that a lot of balls are going to be caught. It's good to be the guy out there that can give the team confidence."

TBL says: So, is that enough "leadership" for everyone? Good. Because if TBL sees any stupid moves with our shortstop next spring training, TBL's going to have to come down there and bang some noggins together. TBL's pacifist ideals do not extend to mismanagement of her baseball team.

Still twinsbaseball.com:

Matt Guerrier had been waiting a long time for his first Major League win, and his teammates sure made it worth the wait.

Guerrier's eyes were a tad blurry after Saturday's win, as he was doused with champagne and a shaving cream pie. Considering that Guerrier had gone 88 appearances without a victory -- the longest active streak in the Majors -- it seemed to be an event worth celebrating.

But with falling just short of earning a win so many times, Guerrier said it wasn't until he got in the clubhouse that he really let himself appreciate the win.

"A couple times this year, I did think about getting a win out there on the mound, and it affected the way that I threw," Guerrier said. "This time I tried to put it out of mind ... it's just good to get it out of the way."

TBL says: Well good for Mr. Underappreciated. Nice to see his teammates made a big deal of it for him.

And one more from twinsbaseball.com:

And while there is quite a bit of excitement around the club at the prospect of just making the playoffs by earning the Wild Card, it's not the only thing the team is looking to secure this week. There is a feeling that the division would mean so much more to the club that has dealt with plenty of obstacles this season.

"We want the division," Bartlett said. "It would be such an extreme to go from 12 ½ games out to win the division. That would really be an amazing story."

TBL says: That is a story TBL would very much like to write about. Get hopping, boys.

From TwinCities.com:

If they win the division, they would have completed one of the greatest comebacks in major league history. Minnesota was 12½ games back on May 27. Only five teams have recovered from being 12½ or more games out to finish in first place, recently Seattle in 1995.
TBL says: Shhhh! Don't jinx it!

From StarTribune.com:

Twins catcher Joe Mauer put himself in terrific position to win the American League batting title heading into the season's final week, but he'll have to fend off two Yankees to do it.

Mauer went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer in Sunday's 6-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles, pushing his average to .347.

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is officially second in the AL, at .339. But Jeter's double-play partner, second baseman Robinson Cano, is batting .341.

Cano missed 35 games because of a hamstring injury, but he needs only four plate appearances tonight at Tampa Bay to get back on the leaderboard and 22 more before the season ends to qualify for the title.

Players need 502 plate appearances, or 3.1 per game, to qualify for the batting title. Mauer has 582. If he holds on, he'll become the first catcher to win the AL batting title, and the first catcher in either league since Ernie Lombardi in 1942.

"You guys keep reminding me about it, but I haven't really thought about it," Mauer told reporters after Sunday's game. "All I know is we've got to win two more games to get to the playoffs, so I'm pretty excited about that."

TBL says: Is it just TBL, or is Joe Mauer too good to be true? He's young, he's cheap, he throws out basestealers, he calls a good game, and he's led the AL in batting practically since spring training. And he's also friendly, humble and selfless?
TBL is far too cynical to buy this. He must kick puppies in his spare time or something.

Read More

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Alas, Poor 'Cisco

I think the Twins' site headline and subtitle sum it up:

Worst realized with Liriano injury
Young star's short comeback ends with a thud

Check any blog, local newspaper or major sports site and I bet you'll find a post or three about this sudden end to Liriano's season and what it means/might mean/could mean to the Twins' playoff chances. So I'm not going to go into detail about that. Seems obvious to me--he's out, he might need surgery, he could even miss a year, and this does deal a blow to our postseason hopes. A fatal blow? Time will tell, but I don't think it's necessarily so.

I heard the comment yesterday, "I hope this doesn't turn Liriano into another Joe Mays." I'll let you take a moment to massage that wince out of your facial muscles. But as painful as the thought is, the wrong injury at the wrong time can derail any career, no matter how promising. And again, only time will tell. And waiting sucks. For him, infinitely more than for us.

Here's hoping for the best.

Good luck, 'Cisco. See you in the spring...?

Read More

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Wiccan Sign Allowed on Soldier's Plaque

For those of you who have been following this story with me over the past several months, here's a welcome update.

Sgt. Stewart's memorial plaque (but not his headstone) WILL bear the symbol of his religion. Not (alas) because the VA finally got off its collective ignorant ass and approved the pentacle symbol, but because the State of Nevada (bless them) stepped in and dealt with the situation.

Wiccan Sign Allowed on Soldier's Plaque
RENO, Nev. - The widow of a soldier killed in Afghanistan won state approval Wednesday to place a Wiccan religious symbol on his memorial plaque, something the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs had refused.
'I'm honored and ecstatic. I've been waiting a year for this,' Roberta Stewart said from her home in Fernley, about 30 miles east of Reno.
Sgt. Patrick Stewart, 34, was killed in Afghanistan last September when a rocket-propelled grenade struck his helicopter. Four others also died. Stewart was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
He was a follower of the Wiccan religion, which the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does not recognize and therefore prohibits on veterans' headstones in national cemeteries.
But state officials said they had received a legal opinion from the Nevada attorney general's office that concluded federal officials have no authority over state veterans' cemeteries. They now plan to have a contractor construct a plaque with the Wiccan pentacle - a circle around a five-pointed star - to be added to the Veterans' Memorial Wall in Fernley.
'The VA still has not determined yet if a Wiccan symbol can go on the headstone,' said Tim Tetz, executive director of the Nevada Office of Veterans Services. 'But we have determined we control the state cemetery and that we therefore have the ability to recognize him for his service to his country.'
Wiccans worship the earth and believe they must give to the community. Some consider themselves good witches, pagans or neo-pagans.
The Veterans Affairs' National Cemetery Administration allows only approved emblems of religious beliefs on government headstones. Over the years, it has approved more than 30, including symbols for the Tenrikyo Church, United Moravian Church and Sikhs. There is also an emblem for atheists.

Now, to correct the headstone problem. If you haven't yet emailed the VA to protest their inaction, now's the time.

Read More

Monday, September 11, 2006

Un-freakin'-believable (In A Good Way)

Think back two months. It was just a few days before the All-Star Game, and although the Twins had a very good June, they were about a jillion games out of first place in the Central Division. And before June? Loading the bases with no outs and failing to score was less surprising than squeezing a run or two out of the situation. I do believe we led the league in stranded runners. On the rare occasions that the Twins hitters remembered that you have to get back home before the third out to score, the pitchers were so confused by these unprecedented happenings that they completely fell apart out there.

Now, if you went into the All-Star break believing that the Twins had a real shot at the playoffs, I'd appreciate it if you'd drop me a line. I'd like to question you extensively with a view to figuring out how anyone so optimistic survived to adulthood.

And then, you know, after the All-Star break the hitting continued and some mistakes were rectified and some pirhanas were specially shipped in from Rochester, NY. But behind the fierce hitters with their pointy teeth was a rotation of JOHAN!, The Duct Tape Shoulder, CISCO!, The Amazing Longball, and I Can't Bear to Watch.

But CISCO!, it turned out, was pitching through some pain when maybe he should have been talking to a doctor about that pain, and the end result was a trip to the DL and a rotation of The Duct Tape Shoulder, JOHAN!, The Amazing Longball, I Can't Bear to Watch, and Oh Please God No Not Again.

And then, of course, The Duct Tape Shoulder became The Broken Shoulder, which led to the Amazing Vanishing Pitcher. So then, for a while, the rotation was JOHAN!, The Amazing Longball, I Can't Bear to Watch, Oh Please God No Not Again, and This Is A Top Prospect?.

And somehow, don't ask me how, I really don't know, in the midst of all this chaos and nail-biting and hair-pulling and the sudden reappearance of whole racks of ass-bats, the Twins have pulled into the Wild Card lead and snuck up on the Detroit Tigers in a big way and with just a couple more steps they'll be able to reach out and grab that kitty's tail and give it a little kitty coronary, 'cause those Tiggers sure didn't see the Twins coming, did they? But you can't blame them, because NOBODY saw the Twins coming.

Along the way, I Can't Bear To Watch has transformed himself into Boof Bonser: Serviceable Starter, and This Is A Top Prospect? has edged his way into the role of Hey This Kid Might Be Okay. Also, we hear that CISCO! may pitch in the bigs again as early as this week.

And now, the cherry on TBL's sundae, her favorite undervalued longman is finally getting a shot at the rotation.

Guerrier gets a starting nod

MINNEAPOLIS -- Matt Guerrier has been waiting a long time for his first Major League win.

Having gone 87 appearances without a victory to make him the active leader among Major League pitchers, Guerrier has shown plenty of patience in waiting out his first "W."

That patience might not have to last much longer, as it was announced on Saturday that Guerrier will get the start on Tuesday in place of Scott Baker. It will be the first start for the right-hander in the Major Leagues since he made two for the Twins in 2004.

"I'm not saying it's going to be easy," Guerrier said of getting that first win. "I'll be on a pitch limit and everything, but I'll go out there and see what happens."

Getting back to being a starter, the role in which he has spent most of his career, is something that Guerrier had hoped he'd get the chance to do. There had been musings, with the Twins' recent rotation struggles, that Guerrier might get another shot as a starter, especially after he threw 49 pitches in his outing against Detroit on Thursday.

"People have always said stuff like, 'Do you think this is something that's going to come?'" Guerrier said. "I didn't really even think about it. I didn't want to think about that and have it not come, but I was very excited when [Anderson] told me today."

So, the rotation now reads: JOHAN!, The Amazing Longball, Mr. Underappreciated, CISCO!, and The Serviceable Starter.

Now, if Silva can just find his sinker (last sighted somewhere south of Birmingham) and the pirahnas keep those teeth nice and pointy, we'll be nigh invincible.

Read More

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Hit Parade

Seems like the only hits for the Twins lately are the kind you take, not the kind you make.

Castillo injured
...leadoff hitter Luis Castillo [left] the game in the sixth inning because of a sprained right ankle.

Manager Ron Gardenhire said it was a mild sprain that might keep the second baseman out for only one or two games.

"He's a pretty tough guy, so he'll want to get back out there as soon as possible," Gardenhire said. "But you never know with an ankle. That's a tough thing to have in the infield when you're stopping and going and all those things."

Cortisone shot ineffective for Radke

Twins veteran Brad Radke had another setback with his right shoulder Wednesday, and the team made plans to promote Scott Baker from Class AAA Rochester to take his next turn in the rotation.

That will come Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

After Johan Santana pitches today against the Kansas City Royals, the Twins will head to New York with these three pitchers lined up to face the Yankees: righthanders Carlos Silva, Baker and Matt Garza.

The bigger concern Wednesday was Radke, who left Friday's game in Chicago after two innings because of shoulder pain.

Radke, who has been pitching despite having a torn labrum in that shoulder, returned to the Twin Cities the next day to have another cortisone shot. Before trying to play catch Wednesday, he was still hoping to take the mound at Yankee Stadium.

"It's tolerable, I guess," Radke said. "We'll see."

After the short throwing session and a meeting with General Manager Terry Ryan, manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson, Radke said he would withhold comment until a later time.

"He doesn't have any arm strength, and he's still got a little bite in there," Gardenhire said. "We're going to skip a start and see if a little rest here will do him good."

Radke will try to play catch again early next week, Gardenhire said, and depending how he feels, the team will determine when and if he can return to the mound.

Read More

Well, That Sucked

"O, that way madness lies; let me shun that!"

8/29: Royals 2, Twins 0
8/30: Royals 4, Twins 3

Strange days, my friends. Strange days. And what's a blogger to do?

The normally mild-mannered Batgirl has taken to swearing the air blue, Twins Junkie prefers not to dwell on it, Twins Geek reminds us how much the Royals suck (which only makes it seem worse, really), Aaron Gleeman bemoans the sudden lack of hitting, and TBL? Well, to be honest, TBL's been keeping company with the whiskey rather often of late.

Our boys have gotten 11 hits, 3 runs, 1 error and 0 wins in two games against the Royals. The Bleepin' Kansas City "There's a Postseason In This Game?" Royals. They got shut out behind Matt Garza, who finally went out there and showed us why he's out there by pitching 7 2/3 and striking out 7 while giving up two measly runs, and then blew a lead behind Boof Bonser, who struck out 8 in 5 1/3 innings while allowing 3 runs (the last of which was surrendered by Jesse Crain in relief).

So, to sum it up, the two big question marks filling our #4 and #5 rotation spots got their acts together, went out there and pitched fairly well against the worst team in baseball, and lost because their teammates couldn't seem to score runs against the worst team in baseball.

"Hey, guys, welcome to the big leagues! Here's your jersey, your glove, and your lube. What's the lube for? Oh...you'll find out..."

This afternoon Johan Santana takes the hill. One hopes that before the game he will treat his teammates to a nice lunch and one serious ass-whoopin' for dessert.

Now, where's my whiskey?

Read More

Thursday, August 24, 2006

An Open Letter to Matt Garza

Dear Matt (may I call you Matt?),

After your first start, I thought to myself, "It's okay, he's just nervous. No worries."

But after your second start, I must admit that I thought to myself, and may have actually said aloud, "He is SO not ready for the big leagues."

I was wrong. Sorry. My bad.

Last night, you not only located your fastball--which had been, um...something of an issue for you, previously--but you also threw pitches that were not fastballs. Color me stunned! And behind that innovative combination of fastballs and not-fastballs, you pitched five innings without giving up an earned run. And then, of course, you got to hand the ball to the rootin'est, tootin'est bullpen in the major leagues.

I think that when the Twins call on their bullpen, it would be courteous to offer the opposing team some Kleenex, don't you? And maybe a nice hug.

Oh, and congratulations on your first ML win.



Author's note: Um, well, it seems BatGirl and I both decided to catch up on our correspondence today. Though imitation may well be the sincerest form of flattery, this was just an amusing coincidence. :)

Read More

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Going in Circles

Ever had your feelings hurt, and though you know you have the right to feel that way, you aren't really sure if you have the right to feel quite as deeply hurt as you do?

And so you keep worrying at it like a dog at a bone, and you turn it over and over in your mind, and you wish you could just decide that

no, it wasn't actually that bad and you're being a ninny about it
, or

yes, it was that awful and you're perfectly justified

because either way, you could shelve it in among your life experiences and start moving past it. But you just can't figure it out and you stand there hugging it to you, not knowing whether to file it under "Really Shitty Things That Have Happened to Me" or "Mildly Shitty Things That I Took Too Hard". And really, you'd be more than happy to set it aside, unresolved questions and all, but something as simple and everyday as checking email serves as a reminder, so the next thing you know a couple of weeks have gone by and you realize that you've spent most of your free time staring at the TV and brooding instead of doing something productive like writing or exercising or wrangling the herd of dust bison under the bed.

And after all that, you still feel kind of broken inside. What then?

Ah, hell, I don't know.

Back to baseball next post.

Read More

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Thing About Justin

So, Justin Morneau hit his 30th home run the other night, ending a 19-year drought for the Twins, during which every other major league team has had at least three 30-HR hitters. And that is fantastic. But the next time he came up to bat, they flashed his stats down at the bottom of the screen and I said (out loud, despite being home alone at the time) "Whoa, he's hitting .322!"

Somewhere along the way I got so used to Justin's average being right around .260, and I stopped paying attention. I focused, as so many of us have, on his sheer awesome power. The thing about Justin is that those homers are so impressive, and frequent, they kind of steal the scene. But is the longball really all there is to Justin Morneau?

I browsed the leader boards to find out.
(minimum ABs to qualify was, at the time of this writing, 353)


Well, clearly there's room for debate as to which is actually the best hitter on the team--Justin or Joe? And Justin (like Joe) is obviously one of the elite hitters in the league. And, hello? 3rd in the majors in RBI while on a relatively light-hitting team (cumulatively speaking, though the last two months have been just delightful).

Anyway, there you have it. Justin Morneau: Well-Rounded Hitter. He's not just for homers anymore.

Ain't it grand?

Read More

Infield's Dubious Adventure

Still sharing guest-posting duties, with RD while BatGirl is out of town. RD got Justin's 30th. I got the Twins being stymied by the Jays. Sometimes life just ain't fair.

(TBL posts on BatGirl as "Infield". Just so you know.)

Twins 0, Jays 5. Darnit.

By the time Infield slipped out of work today (a little early, truth be told) she was tired and cranky on account of not getting much sleep last night after having some tattoo touchups that evening (word to the wise: save it for the weekend. What was Infield thinking?), and she was all hopped up on Advil Cold & Sinus 'cause something is going around the cubicle farm and it's got her in its crosshairs.

Infield got home promptly at 5:00, dashed inside, donned her "Nathan Saves" shirt, grabbed her trusty scorebook and was back outside in plenty of time to catch the 5:15 northbound, which should get her to the Dome in plenty of time to get some Joe Mauer sideburns which would not be worn (oh, no!) but instead sent to BG, because Joe is BG's boyfriend, not hers.

Infield has chosen not to own a car because of the global warming and the price of oil and the fact that she learned to drive in south Texas and they don't have snow there, plus she has all the depth perception of a drunken moose. Also, ever tried to park in Uptown? Not good. Usually busing works out nicely, especially with the traffic anywhere near downtown being completely psycho early of an evening, but today? The Metro Transit let Infield down.

The 5:15 deigned to appear at 5:35, and proceeded to meander from Uptown to Downtown in twenty-five freakin' minutes. This is a ten-minute trip, people! And what with the walk to the Dome from Hennepin, Infield got there well over an hour after she left home, and there were no more sideburns, leaving Infield to hope that someone else had the same idea and was not riding the Bus of the Damned.

In a case of small-world-meets-big-BatCommunity, Infield's season seats are located directly behind Wonder Woman's season seats, and it turned out that WW had had the same idea about getting some of those sideburns to BG, but had gotten there even later than Infield.

Then the game started, and Silva looked good and it seemed that perhaps the worst of Infield's day was behind her. But then four innings passed without anyone scoring, and Infield started to get a little nervous because she knows Carlos likes some run support, and can get kind of antsy without it. And sure 'nuff, in the 5th Carlos loses the no-hitter to Lyle Overbay and the shutout to Bengie Molina, who solved the Torii Hunter problem by sending his homer both over Torii's head and off to one side.

But he stopped the bleeding after that, and Infield thinks pretty much every Twins fan there figured, "Eh, two runs. This is a good-hitting Twins team. Two runs is nothing to fret about." And perhaps the Blue Jays thought the same, because in the seventh they went for the insurance. Loading the bases with one out, they then scored when Carlos and Joe got their signs crossed up a little. Carlos seemed just a tad upset when Joe, who was set up low and in, couldn't get his glove on that wild pitch up and away. Oops?

Carlos seemed even more upset two runs later, when Gardy gave him the hook. The Jackal stalked back to the dugout, filled a paper cup from the Gatorade bucket, and threw that cup against the wall in the mildest-mannered bout of pitcher rage Infield has ever witnessed. But that's Carlos for ya.

Pat Neshek came on then, did his little sidearmer bouncy dance and struck out Frank Catalon-howtheheckdoyouspellthat. And Frank took a couple of steps toward the dugout and then looked back over his shoulder at Neshek with this expression like "Is this guy for real?", and Infield and Wonder Woman got a nice (and only slightly hysterical) giggle out of that.

Neshek got out of the inning with a second strikeout, and the Twins did, um, nothing in the next half-inning. Then Jesse Crain started warming up and Infield asked Wonder Woman if maybe Luis Rodriguez could pitch instead? And WW pointed out that was maybe a touch harsh, and in all fairness Infield had to agree, but with Lohse and Romero both gone someone in that bullpen has to make Infield all twitchy, and Crain is the lucky winner these days 'cause she has a huge, squishy soft spot for Willie Eyre, who wears his socks the right way and was very charming to her at the last TwinsFest.

But Crain did fine, and then Guerrier did fine, and in between the Twins did nothing again, and finally one more round of nothing in the bottom of the ninth and there's yer ballgame.

So Infield closed her trusty scorebook, turned to Wonder Woman and said, "Well, crap. Now I have to go home and write something funny about this game."

And WW winced a little and said, "Ooh, there wasn't really anything funny about this one."

Preaching to the choir, Wonder Woman. Preaching to the choir.

Read More

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Reasons We As a Society Are Doomed, #579

Now, you folks know that I'm usually all about the baseball. And when I'm not about the baseball I'm about the cats and the knitting and the piracy and the Levellers.

But sometimes I run across news items that make my head pound and crushes whatever sense of optimism I may have blindly acquired lately. And when that happens, I choose to share that news with all of you. Because misery may love company, but despair relies upon it.

Found through CNN.com (full article available through title link):

Convicted Child Molester Receives Probation

HOUSTON -- Jose Bernabe Flores, 30, was convicted of molesting a 7-year-old girl. The conviction carries a sentence from two to 20 years in prison. But, since Flores has never been convicted in the past, he was eligible for probation, which is what a jury gave him.

He lives down the street from Dunbar Middle School. The sentence has families in the neighborhood furious that a child molester will be living near their children.

A judge placed conditions on Flores' four years probation. He cannot be within 1,000 feet of places where children gather, such as schools and parks. He cannot be alone with any child, including his son. Flores must also register as a sex offender, undergo counseling with a sex therapist and submit to random lie detector tests.

But, when Flores' defense attorney asked him in court if he would comply with the conditions of his probation, Flores said, "I'll think about it."

It's been said that profanity is the refuge of a limited mind, or words to that effect, but frankly I don't have much to say right now that's suitable for public consumption.

You mark my words, though--ten to one he kills the next one. That shuts 'em up real good, as many a convicted pedophile has discovered.

Read More


Until last night, the Twins had not had a 30-home-run hitter since 1987, when some guys called Hrbek, Brunansky and Gaetti all did it. That, for the mathematically challenged, is nineteen freakin' years.

The 1991 World Series Champion team rose to greatness without one. All the long Sucking Seasons between that team and the resurgent 2001 Twins had none. The 2002-2004 Playoff Perennial Twins had none.

But we've been taunted a few times.

1988: Gaetti hit 28
1991: Chili Davis launched 29
2002: Torii Hunter delivered 29

On the other hand...

1992, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000: no one even reached 20. Man, did we suck.

But now, thanks to Justin Morneau (who could have cracked a smile just this once, really, we wouldn't have held it against him), that long dry streak has ended.

Now. There are 49 games left, and we haven't had a 40-HR hitter since Harmon Killebrew smacked 41 in 1970. TBL wasn't even born then.

Take a hint, Justin.

Read More

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Liriano Update

It's official.

Liriano to Land on Disabled List

The Twins have long taken precautions to protect the health of All-Star rookie Francisco Liriano, knowing the type of talent the phenom possesses.

On Tuesday they took another precaution, as the club decided to place the left-hander on the 15-day disabled list due to the pain he has been experiencing near his left elbow.

An official move had not yet been made as of early Tuesday evening, but manager Ron Gardenhire confirmed the club will place Liriano on the disabled list and recall another pitcher to fill his spot in the rotation.

It likely will be either Scott Baker or Boof Bonser that will get the call up from Triple-A Rochester to take Liriano's place on Saturday against the Blue Jays.

Liriano will undergo an enhanced MRI by team orthopedic physician Dr. Dan Buss on Thursday afternoon upon the team's return to Minnesota. This type of MRI will call for dye to be injected into the elbow to try to determine what may be causing the pain.

Though the cause of the pain is unknown, the decision to place Liriano on the DL came mostly due to the fact that the pain has persisted after it had appeared Liriano had gotten back to full strength over the past 10 days.

Since his start was skipped on Aug. 2, Liriano had maintained that through taking anti-inflammatory medication and getting a bit of extra rest that the soreness had gone away. But after his start Monday, Liriano admitted the pain hadn't really disappeared but he pushed through it so that he could keep pitching.

The Twins coaching staff was upset by the fact Liriano kept the pain hidden from them. With a young arm, the Twins don't want to take any unnecessary risks of injury, and they tried to explain that to the 22-year-old on Tuesday afternoon in a meeting during which they discussed the importance of being honest about injuries.

Read More

Twins Win!

Yes, that's right, our boys finally won a game at Comerica Park. My profound reflections on the game have been posted on BatGirl.

I had some fun with an inning-by-inning commentary the last time I subbed for BG, so I'm dusting off the idea again tonight as the Twins tried for their first win of the year in Detroit.

1st inning
Nothing but ground ball outs. Huh. Weird.

(MIN 0, DET 0)

2nd inning
Since when does Dimitri Young hit triples??? Detroit takes an early lead. Surprise, surprise, surprise...

(MIN 0, DET 2)

3rd inning
Little Nicky Punto, tiny superhero, puts the Twins on the board with a one-out double, and Chairman Mauer sacrifices himself for the good of the people to plate the tying run.

(MIN 2, DET 2)

4th inning
Leadoff hits are good. Leaving runners stranded on third is bad. Especially when you're playing the Tigers, who see something like that and then decide to taunt you by loading the bases with no outs. And if you're Jason Bartlett and you're not wearing your socks the right way tonight, which explains a lot, you stand out there in the field and you watch Radke's bum shoulder start to smoke and you really, REALLY wish you'd hiked up your pants and knocked that runner in, because maybe that would have taken a little wind out of their sails before they came up to bat.

And then Craig Monroe smokes one to left, but there's Jason Tyner snatching it out of thin air and going all Liriano on their asses, grooving a beauty of a fastball from the outfield straight down the center of the plate to Mauer for the out and the funky double play. And lo and behold, Radke teases Sean Casey into a popup and somehow they don't score.

(MIN 2, DET 2)

5th inning
You know what's as good as a leadoff hit? A one-out double and an error. And you know what's even better? A Chairman Mauer RBI double after that.

Now, here's an interesting question. If you're a pitcher, and you and your catcher get your signs crossed up and he's sitting low and in and you pitch up and away to Doctor Morneau and (oops!) tag the umpire in the arm, do you pretty much figure your strike zone will be the size of a pea for the rest of the game?

(MIN 3, DET 2)

6th inning
The home plate umpire is cursed. How else do you explain getting hit twice in as many innings?

(MIN 3, DET 2)

7th inning
Radke goes seven. This is exactly what the bullpen needed. And look, we have a lead! A lead nowhere near big enough to make me feel at all comfortable, but hey.

(MIN 3, DET 2)

8th inning
The home plate umpire is most decidedly cursed. Who's ever seen an ump get hit thrice in a game before? I certainly haven't.

(MIN 3, DET 2)

9th inning
Hey! No throwing at Bartlett's head! That's my #2 boyfriend right there!

Loading the bases in the top of the ninth with a one-run lead is good. Driving insurance runs in with a groundout is even better! Watching them walk Doctor Morneau to reload the bases is simultaneously disappointing and kind of funny. Watching Sweetcheeks ground out to the pitcher, however, was not funny at all.

As the bottom of the inning opens, Dick Bremer starts talking about all of Detroit's exciting walk-off wins this season. Shut up!!

Twitchy resists the Bremer jinx through two outs, then coughs up a walk and a single. Uh...Joe? Stop that! But by inducing a popout to Cuddyer in right, Joe says, "the nail-biting may cease".

And then he thought a little, and he added, "Until tomorrow."

(MIN 4, DET 2)

Read More

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Oh, Bloody Hell...

From the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

Francisco Liriano likely is headed to the disabled list after the rookie pitching phenom continued to experience pain near his left elbow during the Twins' 9-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Monday night at Comerica Park.

Liriano, forced to leave after four innings, was near tears as he spoke to reporters after the shortest start of his young career. He said he experienced pain in a different muscle near his elbow than he did last week, adding that he is more concerned about his latest setback.

"I couldn't throw my fastball, changeup or slider — everything was bothering me," said Liriano, starting for the first time in 10 days after being skipped in the rotation last week. "I don't know what to say. It's getting worse."

The entire Twins organization could be on the verge of tears as the 22-year-old Liriano's Cy Young-worthy season is in limbo. In the worst-case scenario, injuries such as this have led to Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery. But the medical staff is optimistic the injury is not that serious.

Perhaps an encouraging sign for the Twins is that Liriano's velocity was up Monday. His fastball was clocked on the stadium radar between 94-97 mph. Liriano, who gave up four runs on 10 hits, is scheduled to be evaluated by team physician Dr. Dan Buss after the Twins return from the road trip later this week.

"We're not going to take any chances with him," manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Veteran pitcher Carlos Silva spent a few minutes after the game talking quietly with Liriano as he dressed at his locker stall. Silva said he told Liriano not to risk his promising future by trying to pitch through pain.

"He needs to be a hero for a long time — not a hero for just one year," Silva said.

Sigh. Take care of yourself, 'Cisco. Silva's right. One season isn't worth risking a career, especially when that season's chances are on the slim side anyway.

2 p.m. update:
Matt Garza (a product of the 2005 draft!) has been called up from AAA Rochester and may start for the Twins Friday at Minnesota versus the Blue Jays. Mike Smith has been sent down. Still no further word on Liriano's condition.

6 p.m. update:
Fox Sports Net is reporting that Liriano has been placed on the DL and that either Baker or Bonser will be recalled in his place. No official announcement on the Twins site as of yet.

Read More

Monday, August 07, 2006

Francisco Liriano, Literary Hero

Are you sitting down? You should sit down. You are (probably) not going to believe what I stumbled across at Borders on my lunch break.

There is a book about Francisco Liriano.

Click the picture to go to Amazon's listing for this title.

Throwing Bullets by Roy Rowan apparently chronicles the lives of Liriano and teammate Justin Olson as they pitch for the New Britain Rock Cats in 2005 and compete to be the first promoted to Rochester. I don't know if it's any good or not, as it's only been in my grubby paws for about 10 minutes, but I really thought you all should know about it!

I'll post a quality report when I finish it.

Damn, I can't believe I have to work the rest of the day...

Read More

Weekend Recap

This post first appeared as collaborative guest-posting on Batgirl. TBL is appearing under her nom-de-plume, "infield".

infield: Well, RD, how about that? The Twins sweep the Landed Gentry in four games. Though it would probably be more accurate to say that Kansas City swept themselves. Every one of those gajillion walks they handed out was just another bristle on that broom.

RD: You couldn't be more right, infield. And, quite frankly, while some are saying that sweeping the Royals is a bit like beating your little sister at arm wresling, a sweep is a sweep is a sweep this time of year. If they want to keep sending Ambiorix Burgos to the mound and Reggie Sanders, the Royals' answer to Tony Batista, to the plate, so be it.

infield: Very true, RD. Of course, the Twins were working with some substitute players, too, but with considerably more success. I tell ya, the Twins farm system must have some kind of Miracle Gro for Prospects, because Minnesota gets itself a bumper crop of surprisingly good players every year.

RD: Well, position players, anyway. Two of the Jasons -- Bartlett and Tyner combined Sunday for nine hits and Josh Rabe made a fine catch in left field. If only the auditions for the No. 5 starter would go so well. Bonser, Baker and Smith sounds more like a law firm than a roll call of those recently auditioned. Mike Smith -- 3 innings, 80 pitches, 1 glove throw. I don't suspect we'll be seeing much more of him. But the important numbers are this: 4 games, 4 victories, 630 frequent flyer miles between Kansas City and Detroit, where the Twins begin a BIG 3-game series Monday against the Tigers.

infield: That fifth starter is a conundrum. Lohse traded, Baker and Bonser racking up their own frequent flyer miles, and Smith picking a very bad time to give Crazy Pepe's Chug n' Toss a whirl. I do wonder who we'll see in five days, RD. I'm all for giving Shaggy a shot, but I know a lot of folks out there are salivating over the thought of Matt Garza. And speaking of the phenomenal performance of Jason Bartlett today, I'd just like to point out that his 5-for-5 day came when he decided to wear his socks the right way for the first time this season. Coincidence? I think not.

RD: Amen to that, infield. And as long as we're pointing, I'd like to point out that it feels good to walk away from a game to see an excellent movie,as I did Saturday when Sweet-n-Sassy suggested seeing "Little Miss Sunshine," which by the way is NOT the Jeremy Bonderman story. I suspect that Batlings will be paying undivided attention to the games over the next three nights, although Monday is a travel day for Batgirl and we wish her all the best as she and JEB set forth on their Eastern adventure.

infield: You know what gives me hope, RD? Hope for the upcoming series and for the rest of this season? It's the way this team is sucking it up and soldiering on, despite the no doubt crushing knowledge that Batgirl can't be with them right now. Just look at all they've accomplished since her cable got turned off. It's inspiring, it really is.

RD: Speaking of inspiration, RD feels inspired to end our report with some haiku, if that's OK. So here goes:

Batgirl has gone East
Where she'll resume writing soon
Twins kick a$$ for her

Read More

Friday, August 04, 2006

Clutching at Straws

This post first appeared as a guest-posting on BatGirl. (Her nickname guide is here.)

Author's note: BG is off for a few days bravely claiming a portion of Red Sox Nation in the name of Twins Territory. Substitute bloggers will attempt to keep you rabble amused in the meantime.

Twins @ Landed Gentry, W 8-2

Half an hour before the game Thursday night, a knot of Twins huddled in the visitors clubhouse in Kansas City.

"Well, who's it going to be tonight?" asked Radke. "I can't, I'm starting. I have to go warm up!"

"I could do it," offered Luis Rodriguez.

"Hah. You did it yesterday, and look where that got us!" snorted Little Nicky Punto.

"Well, you did it Tuesday, and that was just as bad!" Lil' Rod retorted huffily.

Radke rolled his eyes and grabbed his glove. "I gotta go. You guys work this out." And he left.

"That was NOT just as bad!" yelled LNP. "Yesterday we had THREE errors!"

"One of them was yours, stupid!"

"And one of them was yours, clutz!"

"Hey, now, everybody settle down," said Torii, stepping between LNP and Lil' Rod. "I did it on Monday, and we kicked ass, so I'll do it again."

"Ummm..." interrupted Lew Ford, adjusting his reading glasses. He was peering at a small leaflet. "It says here each team must send, at minimum, seven different players in succession."

The others looked at each other uneasily.

"And, ah, what exactly does that mean?" wondered Sweetcheeks.

"It means," said the voice of Pat Neshek, emanating from a pile of fan mail twice the size of CC Sabathia, "that you can't do it again until six other people have. Four now, since there have been two since you."

"Crap," said Sweetcheeks. "Why do we have to do this, anyway?"

Lew flipped through the leaflet. "It says here the Commissioner thinks it will add interest to the game."

LNP suggested an alternate use of the Commissioner's time which caused Lil' Rod to blush a fiery red.

"Can you breathe in there?" Dr. Morneau asked the pile.

"Yep, it's all good." Neshek affirmed.

"Hey, guys, what's up?" wondered Josh Rabe, coming upon them on his way back from extra BP.

"We're trying to figure out who's going to do it tonight," the good Doctor explained.

"I'll do it," Rabe shrugged. "I feel lucky." And off he went, bat on his shoulder, whistling a merry tune.

"Think he'll be okay?" Lil' Rod fretted.

"He said he felt lucky," Morneau said philosophically. "We'll find out soon enough."

Rabe made his way through the corridors until he reached a special room hidden beneath home plate. The umpire crew chief and Kansas City shortstop Andres Blanco were already there.

"You're representing the Twins?" the umpire asked.

"Yes, sir!" Rabe said brightly. "And I feel lucky! Shall we?"

"All right," said the umpire. "Turn around, both of you. And no peeking!"

Rabe and Blanco turned around and stared at the wall. Rabe resumed his cheerful whistling.

"Stop that!" hissed Blanco, who was very nervous.

"You may turn around," the umpire announced. They did, and he was holding two straws in his clenched fist, carefully arranged to appear the exact same length.

Rabe and Blanco looked at each other, then at the straws. Two hands shot out, both straws were plucked. They held their straws up next to each other, and saw that Rabe's was clearly longer.

"Woo-hoo!" cried Rabe, jumping up and down. "We get to play baseball!" He ran off to share the good news with his teammates.

Blanco threw down his inadequate reed. "Crap," he said glumly. "Ass-ball."

Read More

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Eternal Quest for the 5th Starter

Hey, Scott Baker! Good to see ya! How's the fam--

Oh. You have to go? So soon? Well, take care.

Boof! Ol' buddy, ol' pal! How the hell are you?

What? Already? Okay...best of luck. Say hi to Baker for me.

Mike Smith? Good to meet you! What's that you're doing? Unpacking? Ah, say, not to rain on your parade or anything, but you might want to hold off on that...

Read More

Monday, July 31, 2006


So. The trading deadline is at 3:00 CDT. We know two things about the Twins vs. the market:

1. The guys every other team wants (Liriano, Garza, Santana, Morneau, Kubel, etc.) are not on the block.

2. Kyle Lohse is.

Which leads me to the conclusion that we've got what amounts to zero chance of making a trade for a major-league player. The Twins won't pay the price, and no one will give us an ML-ready player for Hittable McTantrum over there. That said, we might still work a deal for some prospects, and you can never have too many prospects. Especially since the organization's been raiding Rochester like it was a fridge and they were on Ambien.

Mind you, we're still looking at some roster moves. Hunter's coming off the DL tonight, and Guerrier is within days of returning. I've gotta think that, salary or no salary, Lohse is as likely as Eyre to be on that plane to Rochester when Guerrier is ready, assuming Lohse is still a Twin. Not that Eyre is pitching any better than Lohse, but we still have hope for Willie's future.

I'd like to leave you with one final, yummy thought that has nothing to do with the trading deadline.

It's July. Justin Morneau has 28 homers already.

(Pray to whatever deity/ies you see fit that he stays healthy!)

Edit, 11:00 a.m.: Lohse has been traded to the Reds for a Class A RHP by the name of Ward.

Read More

Friday, July 28, 2006

Wrapped Up, With a Bow

When you've got the best backup catcher in baseball, you don't let him go.

Minnesota Twins catcher Mike Redmond has accepted a two-year contract extension with a club option for 2009.

The 35-year-old Redmond has been backing up Joe Mauer, who leads the majors with a .375 average. Redmond is batting .333 with eight doubles and 14 R-B-I's in 29 games this season.He's played errorless ball while throwing out 38 percent of his potential base-stealers since joining the Twins before last season.
(Associated Press)

Read More

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


I tell you, I have had the most abominable case of writer's block the last couple of weeks. I don't think I could have managed the rent check if I'd needed to fill that out. And blogging? Pffft. Out of the freakin' question.

Nothing loosens the proverbial tongue like a sweep of the Whine Sox though, eh? Now there was a thing of beauty, what with the BOOM! And the STRIKE THREE! all over the place.

And how about Jason Bartlett, huh? (Ignore that smacking sound, it's just me hitting TK across the nose with a rolled-up newspaper.) Can that kid play or what? He hits! He fields! He runs! After the last five years or so, did anyone in Twinsland still remember that shorstops were supposed to do that?

Speaking of blindingly obvious roster moves, Pat Neshek's been a great addition to the bullpen. I love watching the hitters after they see their very first Neshek pitch. Batters of all nationalities and levels of experience invariably make the exact same face, the one that looks remarkably like Wile E. Coyote when he has that split second to wonder why he's suddenly running on thin air.

Meanwhile, Jason Tyner is the clear winner of this month's AL Award for Best Performance by a Guy Who Really Quite Desperately Wants to Stay in the Majors. Good job!

Oh, and one more thing. I'd like to give a big ol' round of applause to Michael Cuddyer for wearing his socks the right way on Sunday. Ya looked good, Cuddy.

Read More

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Limping Boldly Onward


Since last I b*tched about the rash of injuries plaguing the Twins (on Friday), our boys continue to fall like dominoes.

Approximately five minutes after coming off the disabled list, Shannon Stewart went back on after re-aggravating his plantar fascitis Saturday.

Then Hunter left the game Sunday due to extreme pain from a "tweak" in his foot which occurred about a month ago, and which he'd been hoping would just go away eventually. Turns out "tweak"="fracture". Ouch. Onto the DL with you!

Monday, Jack-Of-All-Positions Nick Punto (who is a tremendously valuable resource with half the team on the DL) jammed his trick knee. Oh, the joy. He's not on the DL, but they're not saying he'll play tonight, either.

Now, two or three injuries in a row is one thing. Sometimes you just get a little cluster, it's all part of the law of averages. But when six guys go down in a week? Well, I expect to see some funky-looking person dancing around the Dome waving incense and a rubber chicken, or whatever you need to wave around to take this damn hex off, and I expect to see them soon. Surely after the last couple of seasons TR's got a got a good witch doctor on speed dial?

Read More

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sunday Catblogging: Caption This!

Read More

Friday, July 14, 2006

This Was A Break?

Seems like every year the Twins (and presumably every other team out there) heads into the All-Star Break saying something to the effect of "we can really use these three days off to heal up all those nagging little injuries and get strong for the second half".

But our Twins, ever the young rebels, seem to have left "healing up" and "getting strong" off the ol' to-do list. Why do I think this?

First: Jason Kubel is now sore in both knees.

Jason Kubel knew he'd have to deal with soreness in his surgically repaired left knee all season.

He just didn't expect to deal with it in his right knee, as well. But lingering soreness in both knees caused the left fielder to be scratched from Thursday night's lineup.

Only recently did Kubel begin having problems with both knees. He said he's been feeling it in each knee for about a month.

Kubel didn't inform the coaching staff of the knee issues until last week, on the club's road trip to Kansas City and Texas. He hoped the pain would settle over the three-day All-Star break, but Kubel was still sore just walking around his apartment in Minneapolis over the past few days.

The cause of the pain is unknown. The outfielder was told by others who suffered similar knee injuries that soreness would linger and sometimes spread to the other knee.

"I don't know if I'm favoring the other knee or not, or if it's the turf or anything," Kubel said. "It's just been getting sore. It's nothing serious, I can work through it. There are just good and bad days, and the last week has been bad."

Kubel said he feels pain mostly when he starts moving after having rested for a while, but that it really flares when he's making plays on balls in the outfield and running the bases.

Second: Lew Ford hurt himself in the first game back.
It seems that left field is a spot prone to injuries for the Twins this season.

In Thursday night's game against the Indians, left fielder Lew Ford strained his right external oblique muscle during a fifth inning at-bat, forcing him to exit the game. Following the Twins' 6-4 loss to the Indians, Minnesota placed Ford on the 15-day disabled list and selected the contract of outfielder Jason Tyner from Triple-A Rochester.

The club is hoping Kubel will be ready to start in left field for Friday's game.

The Twins were already limited at the position prior to Ford's injury, as Shannon Stewart is still dealing with a sore left foot that caused him to miss 33 games already this year. While Stewart has been playing as the designated hitter for the club, Gardenhire is hesitant to use him in the outfield at the Metrodome, with the wear that the Fieldturf can take on injuries.

Third, of course, we're still waiting to hear what's up with Carlos Silva.
Problems with the knee are nothing new for Silva. Last season he dealt with a torn meniscus. He underwent surgery on the knee in late September, and said that the pain he felt Friday was similar to what he felt before. As the outing progressed, Silva said, he felt he couldn't push off his back leg due to some pain. He will undergo an MRI on Monday to see if the injury is serious.
That MRI was, by the way, LAST Monday, the 10th. And yet I for one have heard nothing. Have you?

And last but not least, Matt Guerrier and Rondell White are both still on the DL.

Now that you've digested all those injuries, allow me to present you with a little hope for the future:

Garza moves up

The Twins promoted righthander Matt Garza to Class AAA Rochester after he went 6-2, 2.51 in 10 starts at Class AA New Britain. It's a promotion worth noting because Garza could position himself for a late-season look if he does well.

Garza was the Twins' first-round pick in the 2005 draft, meaning he's rocketed through the system in just more than 13 months as a pro. He began this season at Class A Fort Myers, where he was 5-1, 1.42 in eight starts before moving to New Britain.

Read More

Friday, July 07, 2006


Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is open and the crew is heading downtown tonight to see it. Needless to say, we are all beside ourselves with anticipation. And the Renaissance Festival is only five weeks away!

In honor of the movie, here's a fun little quiz--which Pirates of the Caribbean character are YOU?


TBL is (somewhat to her surprise) Captain Jack Sparrow. Savvy?

Read More

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Roster Move

Well, they've optioned Boof Bonser to Rochester. According to the press release, they'll bring someone up before Friday's game.

Who will it be? TBL's thinking Scott Baker, maybe?

Let the speculation begin!

Update, 7/6: Pat Neshek got the call and will be joining the team in Texas. This is his first major-league assignment. Congratulations, Pat!

Read More

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

At the Half

81 games. Halfway through the season. Sounds like a prime time for a round of "On Pace"! (If I remember, I may check back at the end of the season to see how the "pace" held up.)


Justin Morneau is on pace to hit 42 homers, drive in 142 runs, and steal 2 bases.

Johan Santana is on pace to strike out 262 batters, win 18 games, and make us all fall hopelessly, if platonically, in love with him all over again.

Joe Mauer is on pace to get 212 hits, hit 44 doubles, take 72 walks, and be mobbed by screaming teenagers behind Gate D.

Juan Rincón is on pace to notch 24 holds, give up 0 home runs, and appear in 76 games.

Jason Kubel is on pace to turn Shannon Stewart into a DH.

Kyle Lohse is on pace to be the primary cause of 1,427 ulcers.

Torii Hunter is on pace to score 98 runs, commit 2 errors, and hit into 24 double plays.

Joe Nathan is on pace to save 30 games and drink WAY too much coffee.

Michael Cuddyer is on pace to hit 6 triples and 4 grand slams.

Jason Bartlett is on pace to be hit by 8 pitches and get jerked around by the organization for 126 games.

Francisco Liriano is on pace to be Rookie of the Year.

Read More

Monday, July 03, 2006

Week in Review, and Stuff

Okay, so I didn't get back mid-week. Sorry! I was having so much fun watching the Twins I didn't want to dull the high by thinking about it too much. But then I realized all the dust on the blog was making me sneeze, so here we are.

First things first.

VOTE FOR FRANCISCO LIRIANO! He's up for last man on the AL All-Star team, and, y'know, 'Cisco can pitch a little. You can never have too much pitching, right?

Now, what did the Twins do in the last week? Let's see...looks like they won, and then they kicked some butts, and then they took some folks to school, and then they opened a can of whup-ass, and then they utterly crushed the competition, and then they did some more winning. So, yeah, good week.

I repeat: Who are these people, and what have they done with my Twins?

And I add: Can they stay indefinitely?

But seriously, I love most of the moves they've made in the last month or so, especially with the position players. Jason Bartlett should have been our shortstop since Opening Day...2005. Tony Batista was an experiment, and not a bad idea in theory, but the experiment didn't pan out and that was obvious pretty early on. Castro's a great utility player, but both Punto and Rodriguez are younger, faster and cheaper. And Jason Kubel belongs in the major leagues. He definitely needed that stint in AAA, as spring training simply isn't long enough to come back after a year out injured, but I was thrilled that they brought him back as soon as possible.

I'm somewhat less confident about the pitching moves, but I can see where they came from.

Liriano belongs in the rotation. Bonser's had his ups and downs...the jury's still out on him. Still, we needed someone and he had more than earned his shot. I'd rather see Scott Baker in the bullpen than Kyle Lohse, but Baker's not making $3 million and I just have to think they're running Lohse out there in hopes that some other team will make them a decent offer before the trade deadline. I'm not sure what it would take to turn Lohse's potential into actuality, but the Twins obviously don't have that answer either.

I do wonder how much more slack Jesse Crain and Willie Eyre will be given. Exciting young pitchers, both of them, but going through extended rough patches. Very extended, in Crain's case, although the last couple of weeks he's seemed much more in command. But with Guerrier possibly back in Minnesota in a couple of weeks and five Rochester pitchers sporting ERAs under 3.00 (and the whole staff under 4.50), I can't imagine the leash is very long. Especially for poor Willie, who doesn't have Crain's advantage of a pretty darn good major-league track record prior to this season.

Well, that's about all I've got for now. The Twins open up a series in KC tonight with Johan "K" Santana on the hill. I know Liriano is fabulous and all, but it's still Santana whose changeup makes my knees buckle right along with all those batters'...

And just to keep those good feelings rolling, I'll leave you with a recap of everything that's happened since the last time the Twins lost a series:

vs. Baltimore: won 2, lost 1
vs. Boston: won 3
@ Pittsburgh: won 3
@ Houston: won 2, lost 1
vs. Chicago (NL): won 3
vs. Los Angeles: won 3
vs. Milwaukee: won 3

Read More