"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, April 27, 2007

An Open Letter to Boof Bonser

Dear Boof,

Long time no chat. How's the family? Get any new tattoos lately?

So, you're probably wondering why I'm writing you during the season, when you're so busy. I know you've got a lot on your plate right now, but...oh, to hell with it. I'm not going to pussyfoot around. You're a big boy, you can take it.

You know the strike zone? It's right where it's always been. Seriously. It did not move in the offseason. It sure as hell didn't get bigger.

Speaking of getting bigger...mix in a salad every once in a while, there, ol' buddy. You do not want people to start calling you "Ponson the Younger".

Actually, I hate to say this but you need to hear it. You've gotten sloppy. With the pitching, with the training, with everything. Sixteen walks in a bit under 26 innings, Boof? Come on. You only gave up 24 walks in over 100 innings last season. Seven homers in your first four starts? And what's this crap with only going five innings a start? You're supposed to be a workhorse! Get with the program!

The thing is, you're elevating your pitch count early in the game with all those walks. And then you get yanked in the fifth, or early in the sixth, because you've got runners on and over 100 pitches under your belt, right next to all those offseason cheeseburgers.

This is not cool, man. You're making the bullpen pitch innings that you're supposed to cover. Don't you think maybe Juan Rincón and Jesse Crain would like a game off now and again? And poor Pat Neshek. Pitching like a meerkat on meth is hard on the joints, Boof. Let the little guy relax once in a while.

We expect better from you, Boof. We need better from you. Frankly, with Sir Sidney in the rotation, we can't afford to have anyone else screwing up. You've got to step up and become the leaner, meaner starter you were meant to be! I believe in you.



P.S. Just because I believe in you doesn't mean I'm going to take any more of this crap. This is what they call "tough love". Shape up!

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

It Could Be Worse?

While TBL has not personally had the pleasure (?) of seeing Matt Chico in action, Larry Dobrow of CBS Sportsline (who, it may be worth noting, is not exactly TBL's favorite sports journalist, though he is on occasion hysterically funny) claims he's much, much worse than the train wreck that is Sir Sidney Ponson.

Sidney Ponson and Jeff Weaver should be pitching in Triple-A: Oops. Rather, they should be placed in restraints and secreted off to a secure location, for their safety as well as our own. The idea that the Twins, an organization that should know better, is once again sacrificing early-season games at the altar of a "proven veteran" boggles the ol' noodle. It's not as if either organization lacks better and cheaper options under its own roof (Matt Garza and/or Glen Perkins in Minnesota, Ryan Feierabend in Seattle).

And yet neither Ponson nor Weaver can claim the title of 2007's worst starting pitcher -- that would be the Nationals' ghastly Matt Chico. Watching his starts is like watching XXX: State of the Union in Swahili, minus the subtitles. His last one, in particular, was a masterwork of demented artistry: not only did he walk the opposing pitcher twice, but one of his pitches ended up in the stands. Both he and Nationals fans are as deserving of your pity as a motherless child.
--Larry Dobrow, "From A-Rod to Big Z, how it all went wrong"
This got me to thinking. How is Sir Sid stacking up amongst the worst of the worst in this young season? Off to the stats!!

"Top" 10 Worst Starters by ERA (3 or more starts)

American League
J WeaverSEA13.91311.02417203702.45
B McCarthyTEX10.20415.02517326712.07
J WestbrookCLE9.15419.2242061111321.78
M BatistaSEA8.83317.125174241211.67
S PonsonMIN8.44421.135206191202.06
J TavarezBOS8.36314.01913316901.79
K IgawaNYY7.84420.224185391311.60
J SeoTB7.66422.136194161111.88
O PerezKC7.54522.233191081001.81
C FossumTB6.94423.129184331101.37
League Leader:
D Haren

There's Ponson, the 5th-worst starter in the AL by ERA ranking. By WHIP, he's 3rd, after Weaver and McCarthy, respectively. He's also 3rd in home runs surrendered (Boof, alas, is first, but otherwise off the Leaderboard of Suck) and OBA [on-base average].

National League
R Vanden Hurk
W Miller
M Redman
C Hensley
B Myers
M Pelfrey
J Williams
J Patterson
J Schmidt
Z Duke
League Leader:
T Hudson

Hm. No Mark Chico. Turns out he's 14th, by ERA. WHIP is another story...

Chico's line, for the record:

M Chico

So, at what point do you declare the Ponson Experiment a failure? Now? After another start? Two? Three? June?

Is he even showing signs of getting his crap together? Let's gawk at the game-by-game numbers for a minute.

@ KC

He's had one outing that was okay, except for the walking and the brevity. The other starts have just flat-out sucked. That's a .750 SA (sucking average), my friends.

Unless he can string together 3 or 4 quality starts--in a row--I say chuck him next time he stinks. We've got some kids doing pretty darn good in Rochester, maybe you've heard of them? Garza and Slowey. Some fellow named Cummings (about whom TBL knows nothing of importance) is also putting up some fine numbers out east. Oh, and there's this guy named Perkins, happens to be in Minnesota already...

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sweep + Sleep Deprivation

Today, TBL has (under the nom de plume "infield") gotten rather silly over on BatGirl.

Post reproduced below, for archiving purposes:

Ode on an Assbat
(with deep and sincere apologies to John Keats)

Thou still undent'd length of maple wood,
Thou foster-child of Sucking and slow Curves,
Pine-tar'd historian, who canst thus express
A hitless tale more surely than our rhyme:
What soul-sucking legend haunts about thy shape
Of left-handers or righties, or of both,
In KC or the paths of Jacobs Field?
What men or gods are these? What bunters loth?
What mad putouts? What struggle to reach base?
What fouls and ground-outs? What wild swinging strikes?

All baseball games are sweet, but those we win
Are sweeter; therefore, ye young Twins, play on;
Not with the assbattery, but, more endear'd,
Swing at the pitch that falls within the zone:
Fair youth, beneath the lights, thou canst not leave
Home plate, unless thou can those fastballs smack;
Bold batter, never, never canst thou hit,
Swinging now this assbat--yet, do not grieve;
But proclaim, fie!, upon that curs'd wood,
After this wilt thou swing, and it fall fair!

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

South Pause

In the twelfth inning, the seventh man to bat was the first to make an out. And that about sums up the last, pathetic chapter of a game that began with 11 innings of close, exciting baseball.

Up until the twelfth, the Twins managed to hang in there despite the departure of our starting pitcher after five innings and an injury-plagued lineup hitting erratically against a Cleveland club that was pitching well and smacking the ball all over the field. Silva was laboring from the beginning, throwing around 20 pitches an inning and, succumbing to those middle-inning jitters he gets when he's not given any run support, getting knocked out of the game by a three-run fifth inning which pushed him over 100 pitches on the night. And after that, it was an all-out Bullpen Revue for the Twins as Perkins cruised through a couple of innings, Rincón struggled through a scoreless inning-plus, Reyes walked the only batter he faced, Neshek did that voodoo that he do so well, Crain sailed through a 1-2-3 eleventh, and then...

Well. Let's just say Crain's 12th wasn't so uneventful. Nor was Nathan's.

Not that the Twins batters can be excused. Four of the nine went hitless on the night, and only one of those took a walk. Starter Jeremy Sowers did pitch well, I don't want to take anything away from him, but he's no Johan Santana. The Twins still have a rare knack for making average lefties look like minor demigods--they're hitting .245/.280/.638 against lefties this season. That .280, by the bye, is the worst OBP in the AL against lefties at the time of this writing.

It certainly hasn't helped that Luis Castillo has been out with a sore leg during this rash of lefty encounters (four of the last five games), seeing as he's pretty darn good against the southpaws. And there's nothing quite like your leadoff guy getting on base to give the rest of the lineup a little confidence.

Luckily, this spate of lefty starters is over and the Twins will only face one lefty in the next five games, KC's Odalis Perez on Wednesday against our very own Sir Sidney Ponson. I recommend drinking heavily before, and possibly during, that one. Unless you're Sidney Ponson.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Emblems of Belief

Some of you may remember the story of fallen Sgt. Patrick Stewart and his widow's quest to have his VA-issued gravestone inscribed with a pentacle, the symbol of their Wiccan religion.

Mrs. Stewart and other families of Wiccan soldiers both deceased and living had submitted requests for the approval of the pentacle symbol to the VA only to be stonewalled for years, without even being given the courtesy of a decision in the negative. Nor were they given any reason (however lame) for this consignment to bureaucratic limbo. All despite the facts that Wiccan soldiers can (and do) have that listed as their religion on their dog tags and are allowed to hold religious services/ceremonies in military installations.

Well, the VA finally caved.

Wiccan symbol OK for soldiers' graves

The Wiccan pentacle has been added to the list of emblems allowed in national cemeteries and on government-issued headstones of fallen soldiers, according to a settlement announced Monday.

A settlement between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Wiccans adds the five-pointed star to the list of "emblems of belief" allowed on VA grave markers.

Eleven families nationwide are waiting for grave markers with the pentacle, said Selena Fox, a Wiccan high priestess with Circle Sanctuary in Barneveld, Wisconsin, a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

The settlement calls for the pentacle, whose five points represent earth, air, fire, water and spirit, to be placed on grave markers within 14 days for those who have pending requests with the VA.

"I am glad this has ended in success in time to get markers for Memorial Day," Fox said.

The VA sought the settlement in the interest of the families involved and to save taxpayers the expense of further litigation, VA spokesman Matt Burns said. The agency also agreed to pay $225,000 in attorneys' fees and costs.

The pentacle has been added to 38 symbols the VA already permits on gravestones. They include commonly recognized symbols for Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and Judaism, as well as those for smaller religions such as Sufism Reoriented, Eckiankar and the Japanese faith Seicho-No-Ie.

Now, is it just me, or would it not have saved more taxpayer dollars and been more immediately "in the interest of the families" to just allow the pentacle on the gravestones from the get-go? 'Cause then there wouldn't have been the lawyers and the settlement and the families without even a damn gravestone to put over their fallen soldiers who died in the service of the great and mighty US of A and its freedom of religion.

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Friday, April 20, 2007


Hey, two sweeps out of five series in the new season! Even the most fervent of doomsayers might just crack a smile at that one.

Now, I have to admit, I missed it. I saw a grand total of about six innings of the three-game series, on account of having to get up at oh-hell-hundred in the morning to report to my little grey box o' gloom at The Company*. And on Thursday evenings I have a knitting group, so I missed most of the one game that was on at a decent hour. Alas. Judging from the box scores and postgame writeups, it was an amusing series!

Looks like Bartlett's bat is thawing, while Morneau, Castillo, and Mauer are riding those hot streaks. Santana got his mojo back, Ortiz continues to be surprisingly good, Silva's pitching well enough to stay in the rotation, and poor Pat Neshek got knocked right out of his tall socks. (Glad I missed that.)

Up next, the Kansas City Royals Landed Gentry. Before you all breathe that big ol' sigh of relief, recall that last season we were 12-7 against KC. That's a winning record, but hardly a blowout.


4/20: MIN RHP S Ponson (1-1, 8.18) vs KC LHP O Perez (0-2, 9.26)
4/21: MIN RHP B Bonser (0-1, 6.89) vs KC RHP Z Greinke (1-2, 3.95)
4/22: MIN RHP R Ortiz (3-0, 2.05) vs KC LHP J De La Rosa (1-1, 4.34)

*Speaking of The Company...

We had this corporate thing yesterday, at which one of the Grand High Muckety-Mucks attempted to revive flagging morale after record losses and a ~15% workforce reduction by bludgeoning all us Disgruntled Peons into submission with buzzwords and acronyms. Standard corporate fare. Anyhoo, he was going on about how we could save money by making sure we're not duplicating efforts. Someone needs to buy Mr. Muckety-Muck a thesaurus, because while we all knew he meant 'duplication', what he intoned so solemnly was:

"There's a lot of duplicity in this organization."

And yes, I actually managed not to burst out laughing. Although I certainly would have if we weren't having layoffs.

Making it all even more perfect, the meeting was in a conference room inside the Park at MoA (formerly Camp Snoopy), underneath part of the roller coaster. So the background noise to our ever-so-cheerful gathering was ominous rumbling and muffled screams.

All of which just goes to show, sometimes even upper management actually gets it right.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Remembering Jackie Robinson

There was supposed to be a whole nice post about the late, great Mr. Robinson and his legacy, with a few pictures to top it all off. Alas, the annual early spring bout of mystery allergies smacked TBL upside the head around the fifth inning yesterday, and now she's on her fourth dose of Benadryl and about as coherent as wet lint.

Suffice it to say that no mere blog post could possibly do justice to the legend that is Jackie Robinson, and that although TBL has had her issues with Torii Hunter in the past (usually with a runner on first and less than two outs), he was without a doubt the right Twin for the honor of wearing #42 on Sunday.

Carl Crawford wore #42 for Tampa Bay.

Torii at the bat.

Kubel's got some kind of zen thing going on in the background.

Think we could get him to wear his socks the right way again?

First base coach Jerry White also wore #42.

[The originals are 1024 x 768. Click to get the full size.]

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Props to a Fellow Blogger

I know it's nowhere near the end of April yet, but this is the post of the month. Hands down.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Series Wrapup and Roster Moves

Twins 8, Bankees 1 jillion

So, yeah. The first two games were, how do I put this? Execrable. Horrendous. Agonizing. Wretched.

Everything sucked. The pitching. (An object lesson in "throwing" versus "pitching".) The hitting. (What hitting?) The defense. (Don't get me started.)

And then came the third game. Seriously, can we give enough love to Ramon "Radke's Shoes" Ortiz? I speculated toward the end of spring training that Ortiz might just turn out to be another patented Rick Anderson miracle, and while the jury's still out, he's been great and he seems to think he's learned something here:

Ortiz was asked how he got through the fourth inning [when he allowed a single and a walk with no outs].
"You know what happened?" he replied. "I've got a good pitching coach."
(Star Tribune)

Last night, he went eight innings (the first Twins starter to reach the eighth, much less finish it) on 93 pitches versus the Damn Bankees. That ain't easy, my friends. Especially not for a guy without much movement on his low-90s fastball and a career ERA of 4.82. If I had been betting which starter would have the best outing in this series, I would have picked Boof. And I would have been so very, very wrong.

Also, for once? No errors! This is of great help to the pitcher, a fact which heretofore had slipped the fielders' collective mind. And hitting. There was hitting! With runners on! From the middle of the lineup! Who knew you could win a baseball game that way? Our Twins, always breaking new ground.

Speaking of the fielding, my boy Bartlett has kind of been stinking up the joint lately. And the "kind of" is probably an instance of unjustified generosity on my part. But let's give him this--he's admitting it.
"I'm not hitting that well, but I'm not frustrated about my offense right now," Bartlett said. "I do feel good and it's a long season, so I could have a couple good games and be right back up there. The defense -- it is bothering me because I take so much pride in that. It's just ridiculous how bad it is right now."
Gardy offered him an out, but he wasn't taking it:

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Tuesday that there has been an issue with the way the FieldTurf has been combed so far this season, leading to some bad hops in the infield. The adjustment back onto the turf after spending all spring on grass is often cited as an issue for some players, but even with Gardenhire's assertion, Bartlett didn't want to use any excuses for his poor play.

"I thought about that the first couple days, but last year, when I got called up, I thought it was easy," Bartlett said of the woes possibly coming from adjusting to the turf after being on grass all spring. "But it's just not the turf. I'm throwing balls away, and balls are popping out of my glove. It has nothing to do with the field."


He got the night off last night, partly to rest a tweaked muscle and partly to let him relax mentally. He should be back on the field (and, one hopes, back to his old self) tonight.

Unavailable for last night's game were relievers Jesse Crain (sore shoulder) and Juan Rincón (family emergency). Both are expected to miss at least one more game. With Dennys Reyes and Pat Neshek needing a day off after being used heavily of late, that left Gardy with a bullpen of Matt Guerrier, Joe Nathan and, in case of extreme emergency, Sidney Ponson last night.

Do you develop a nervous tic at the mere thought of Ponson coming on in relief against the Bankees? I sure do.

But the paucity of bullpen arms led to a roster move after the game--third catcher Chris Heintz was sent down so that Glen Perkins could come up and help out in relief. Let's see...hard-throwing lefty who also features a good curve and a high strikeout rate? Yeah, we might just find a use for him if we try really hard.

Tonight marks the start of a 4-game series at the Dome against Tampa (3-5). The probables:

4/12: LHP Fossum (0-1, 17.18), TB vs RHP Silva (0-1, 1.80), MIN
4/13: LHP Kazmir (0-1, 6.75), TB vs LHP Santana (2-0, 2.77), MIN
4/14: RHP Jackson (0-1, 6.35), TB vs RHP Ponson (0-1, 12.71), MIN
4/15: RHP Seo (0-1, 9.64), TB vs RHP Bonser (0-1, 6.97), MIN

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Thank You, Juan

After the cancellation of Friday's game due to extreme cold, Juan Rincón sounds off on the vagaries of scheduling:

"Am I wrong? I thought we had a dome," pitcher Juan Rincón said. "If we're going to play a series with the White Sox this early, why not in Minnesota, where we still have a dome?

"Tampa Bay opens in New York. Toronto, with a dome, opens in Detroit. I must be getting really stupid, because I don't understand."

Juan, honey, you're not the one who's getting stupid. We've all been scratching our heads over stuff like this (and other such moments of beaurocratic brilliance from the MLB) for years.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Temporary Relocation

TBL, under the nom de plume "infield", is guest-blogging on BatGirl today.

Post reproduced for archiving purposes:

Scattered Notes on a Chilly Series

Twins at Chicago
4/7: Twins 0, Whine Sox 3
4/8: Twins 3, Whine Sox 1

Infield has been brought in to pinch-blog for Batgirl, as BG is entirely occupied trying to prevent Baby Dash from running up a monumental long distance bill while romancing Riley Grace Nathan.

It was a long, cold weekend in Chicago. The game was canceled Friday, on account of the glacier encroaching on right field, but intrepid ground crews imported from Canada attacked with blowtorches and boiling water and managed to drive it back into the stands in time for Saturday's afternoon start.

Some comments on the abbreviated series...

  • Mark your calendars for July 6th, on which date the Twins and Sox will play a doubleheader to make up for Friday's missed game.
  • Sir Sidney, who was scheduled to pitch on Friday, will instead be making his first appearance in a Twins uniform on Monday in Minnesota, versus the Bankees.
  • Silva started a game, and neither the world nor the season came to an unfortunate end. (Yes, infield was a little surprised, too.) In fact, he gave up only one run in 5 innings of work, despite getting into a couple of jams.
  • Rondell White apparently pulled a calf muscle during pre-game workouts while skipping onto the field. Sometimes truth is funnier than BatGirl.
  • Sunday, after a frantic locker room search between the second and third innings, Santana found his control in his locker, underneath his spare glove.
    "Whew," Johan was overheard to say, "I was starting to think I'd left it in the Dome. God only knows what the Gophers football team would have done with it."
  • Is infield the only one who found the GameDay picture of Sox reliever David Aardsma a wee bit disturbing? Something about that psychotic-clown grin...

  • And finally, some sassy stats:
    • The Twins are on pace to go 130-32 on the season.
    • Justin Morneau is on pace to hit 65 homers.
    • Johan Santana is on pace to accumulate 240 strikeouts and (less sassily) 80 walks.
    • Jason Tyner is on pace to steal 65 bases--33 of them on his knees.

Our boys are on their way home to face the Bankees and the Rays for three and four games, respectively. Rumor has it that on Sunday, the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's major league debut, Torii Hunter will not only be wearing the number 42 (by special permission of the commissioner), but he will be also be wearing his socks the right way. Bring your cameras!

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Saturday Catblogging

No, my name isn't Jonah. Why do you ask?

Whoa, man, that was some heavy catnip...

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Aw, Crap

Twins-Chicago game postponed

CHICAGO — It's cold and blustery in the Windy City, and that's forced the Chicago White Sox to cancel their game tonight against the Minnesota Twins.

The Sox say the extremely cold temperatures and winds that are forecast for tonight forced them to postpone the opener of their three-game series against the Twins.

The team says the game will be rescheduled, but no date is set yet.

The Sox and Twins have afternoon games scheduled both tomorrow and Sunday.

Temperatures in Chicago are below freezing today with wind chills that are dipping into the teens. And there's a possibility of snow flurries in the forecast for tonight.

Well, there went my plans for the evening. I suppose I could vacuum... (Yes, dear readers, TBL's wild, merry-go-round existence continues at its usual breakneck pace.)

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Where’er the Surge May Sweep

(with deep and sincere apologies to Lord Byron)

Ortiz before the batters! yet once more!
And the mound bound beneath him as a steed
That knows his rider. Welcome to our roar!
Swift be the sign called, wheresoe'er it lead!
Though the strain'd arm should quiver as a reed,
And the scuffed ball go fluttering through the gap,
Still must he pitch; for he will not concede
This hit, this run. Come error or mishap
Where'er the surge may sweep, the Twins shall yet prevail.

There's nothing like a nice sweep to start your season off on the right note, is there? The excitement of Opening Day, the nail-biting anxiety of a close second game featuring the Worst Stolen Base EverTM, the warm glow of a total pounding to wrap it all up.

TBL was there last night, and had a truly lovely time, catching up with a friend she hadn't seen in a while and watching her boys make the Baltimore Orioles look like the Kansas City Royals. And the Orioles are not a bad team. Far from it. They've got Aubrey Huff and Miguel Tejada and Erik Bedard and a number of other guys you've actually heard of in a glad-he's-not-in-our-division kind of way. And yet, the Twins handed them their asses on a platter. With a nice garnish.

They knocked Jaret Wright out in the third inning, and Cuddy almost knocked himself out with a foul tip to his own face in the fourth (he left the game to go get stitches). With Joe Nathan at the hospital welcoming his new daughter into the world, the boys knew they needed to prevent a save situation, so they got themselves a big honkin' lead early on and never let it go. Nathan showed up anyway, in street clothes at the end of the game, to take part in the victory celebrations.

The Twins got 11 hits (remember last April, when they'd get that many in, oh...a week?), took six walks and capitalized on three errors on their way to a 7-2 victory. Ortiz and friends, in the meantime, surrendered six hits, one walk and an error. Welcome to Minnesota, Mr. Ortiz. You done good.

Now, the boys are off today, then they head to Chicago to face the as-yet-winless Wind Sox, putting Silva (*gulp*), Ponson and Santana up against Vazquez, Danks (who?) and Contreras. If you need some baseball today, go cheer Cleveland on as they try for the sweep over Chicago. TBL is more than willing to share first place with anyone who embarrasses the Sox.

In other news:
  • ...Twins catcher [Joe Mauer], who was 6-4 last season, has pushed past 6-5 and is approaching 6-6.
    The team lists him at 6-5 in the media guide, but Mauer acknowledged that he is actually 6-6 "wearing shoes."I've been growing ever since last year," he said Wednesday. "I don't want to get too big, or I might have to move [positions]."
    Mauer, who turns 24 on April 19, wishes this unexpected spurt would stop.
    "Hopefully I'll grow the other way," he said. "I'd like to get a little stronger, but I don't know about taller."

    TBL sez: Why is a tall guy getting taller, whilst TBL remains too short to reach her favorite cereal in the grocery store? Life is not fair.

  • Twins staff members winced when they saw the results of J.D. Durbin's debut with Arizona on Wednesday: two-thirds of an inning pitched, seven hits, seven runs (all earned) in an 11-4 loss to Colorado in Denver. The Twins lost Durbin on waivers last week.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

At Long Last, Baseball Season

The Twins season began, as so many have, with a strike thrown by Brad Radke. Only this time, he wasn't in uniform, and it was the ceremonial first pitch. That pitch was delayed for several minutes by the standing ovation which greeted Radke as he jogged out to the mound. I was a little surprised by this. Not because Radke didn't deserve the adulation, but rather that he deserved it for years without getting it until now.

Better late than never?

Then there was what one presumes was a lovely tribute to the late, great Herb Carneal, but over the Dome's crappy sound system I only caught about every fourth word. The pictures were nice, though. Someone left a comment on Batgirl recently saying that they pictured Herb Carneal, Bob Casey and Kirby Puckett getting together in the afterlife to watch the season opener. I'm sure they did--even death couldn't keep any of those guys from a Twins game.

The Dome was packed. It wasn't just a sellout, it was a blowout. You could hear the great concrete fishbowl groaning under the weight of nearly 49,000 Twins fans. (Well, okay, 10,000 Twins fans and 39,000 people looking for an excuse to drink.) I have the same seats this year that I've had for the two seasons prior. A friend has the two seats directly in front of mine, and together we and our guests form a tiny island of sanity, as well as Juan Rincón's personal cheering section.

There was, of course, a jackass right behind us. There usually is. And last night included the additional joy of another one row back and a few seats over. (TBL is a magnet for jackasses. Also, street preachers. But I digress.) If the gentleman with his young daughter who held his tongue until near the end of the game and then finally, politely explained to Jackass the Second that his behavior was unacceptable in a venue with children present (only to be loudly berated for his trouble) happens to be reading this: kudos to you, sir.

Oh, but the game. The game was brilliant. Johan Santana strode to the mound like he owned it (he does) and, facing the first batter of the season, did what he does best--struck the poor bastard out. Looking.

And in his first at-bat of the season, Joe Mauer did what he does best--got a hit. So then Justin Morneau had to do what he does best (eh!)--hit a homer. And Torii Hunter isn't about to be left behind, so he hit one, too.

For the record, boys? TBL likes the back-to-back jacks. Very much. Especially against the tough lefties like Erik Bedard.

Then--whoops!--Johan lost the lead in the fourth when he gave up a walk and three doubles (was he just toying with them, do you think?), but the Twins came right back and loaded the bases with one out, and Jeff Cirillo said "Hello, Minnesota!" with a single that scored Cuddyer to tie the game up. Third base coach Scotty Ullger had a senior moment, confusing Justin Morneau for someone who can run, and sent him from third only to be thrown out at home. Alas.

Johan got back on his game and went 1-2-3 in the fifth, which got our hitters back out there while still in a scoring mood. Luis Castillo opened things up with his hundredth hit of the game, Punto doubled and Mauer walked, and hey presto, the bases were loaded with no outs. Cuddyer struck out and Castillo scored on a passed ball to Morneau. (The passed ball and the wild pitch have got to be the most disheartening ways to blow a tie. I mean, really. Ouch.) Then Morneau hit a two-run double and by all that's holy and by all that's right and by the blessed voice of St. Herb the Accurate, he was safe, goddammit. That was a double, not a single and a putout, and TBL demands a revision of the stats!

And Hunter doubled through a hail of curses and boos directed at the second base umpire, putting the Twins up by three at 6-3.

The rest of the game was more sedate, broken only by a Tejada solo homer for the O's and a fielding error that allowed Jason Tyner to score for the Twins. Miracle of miracles, a whole game with loads and heaps and piles of baserunners for the Twins passed without anyone hitting into a double play. Not even Torii.

The ninth rolled around with the Twins leading 7-4 and in the perfect end to a darn fine season opener, His Twitchiness, Joltin' Joe Nathan, came in and smoked some fastballs past 'em for the save.

Now that's the way you start a season!

Tonight, BOOOOOOOOOF Bonser goes up against Daniel Cabrera. Wednesday, TBL's heading back to the Dome to witness the Minnesota debut of Mr. Ramon Ortiz against Jaret Wright.

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