"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

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

As the Rotation Turns

As a Twins fan, one comes to expect certain things. Things such as clinging to underperforming players well past their expiration date (everyone remember Tony Batista?). Thus, it was stunning to see the Twins actually release Sir Sidney "Hit Me Again" Ponson as early as mid-May; TBL had projected him getting the boot in late June, shortly after hordes of belligerent fans burned TR in effigy on the plaza.

Now, in another startling move made whilst the season is still young, Ramon Ortiz, who was the main subject of yesterday's post, has been demoted to the bullpen. Ortiz will be assuming the long-relief role formerly occupied by Matt Guerrier, while Guerrier (who has distinguished himself by actually getting batters out) will be filling in for Jesse Crain, Glen Perkins and Dennys Reyes in late-innings short relief. There are, of course, a couple of other relievers--fresh from Rochester--out there in place of the three injured, but Guerrier will be the one who gets trotted out there when the game is close.

Someone will be called up on Thursday to replace Ortiz in the rotation and make Friday's start in Oakland. The smart money is on Kevin Slowey. No word yet on who will be sent down to make room on the roster.

Is anyone else all a-twitter to see Slowey pitch? TBL is!

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Series Wrapup

Twins 4, Jays 3
Twins 8, Jays 9 (13 innings)

Twins 4, Morneau 3, Jays 2

Now THAT, friends and neighbors, is what TBL likes to see. A series win--the third in a row!--and the lone loss a close one indeed. Highlights of the series included Justin Morneau, Carlos Silva's 7-inning, 2-run start, two sizzling saves by Joe Nathan, Michael Cuddyer's career high 5-RBI game, and the major league debut of lefty relief pitcher Jason Miller, who tossed a perfect inning.

The only real blot on a lovely series was Ramon Ortiz's start. For those of you who weren't paying attention, he started the game in which the Jays scored a lot. He made a fabulous beginning with the Twins, but even TBL's irrational goodwill has worn down to tattered shreds in the last month. Observe:


Looks like the lines for two different pitchers, doesn't it? One disturbing note, given the current condition of the Twins' bullpen, is that he averaged 4 1/3 innings per start in May. The mind boggles.

That wouldn't have been acceptable with a healthy bullpen, but when we've got three relievers on the DL? Something must be done. I would suggest that Ortiz come down with a strained quad or somesuch, go on the DL, and use those 15 days to pull himself together while the Twins avail themselves of the red-hot arm of Kevin Slowey.

The coaching and managerial staff have been, as one would expect, evasive on the subject of why Ortiz has taken such a nosedive. After this last start, however, Gardenhire was making noises about "seeing where we're at" with Ortiz, which one can only assume means re-evaluating his presence in the rotation. His next scheduled start is on Friday; TBL intends to keep a close eye on the whereabouts of Slowey in the meantime.

Up next: the despicable Whine Sox

5/28, 1:10
Jose Contreras, RHP (4-4, 3.71) vs. Johan Santana, LHP (5-4, 3.05)

5/29, 7:10
John Danks, LHP (3-4, 3.78) vs. Boof Bonser, RHP (3-1, 3.88)

5/30, 12:10
Jon Garland, RHP (3-3, 3.43) vs. Scott Baker, RHP (1-0, 3.29)

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Mistress Of All I Survey

Sometimes living alone sucks.

I've been on my own for six months now, and 99% of the time I love it. My space, my rules, my style, my stuff, my way. No roommates, no family, no compromises. I've got a meatless kitchen and a toilet seat that's always left down. I've got four closets all to myself. (No, I have not filled one with yarn. Yet.) I know where everything is, and it doesn't have to make sense to anyone else.

When I don't feel sociable (which is often) I can shut the door and throw the bolt and ahh...blessed solitude. If I'm writing, no one wanders in and accidentally blows my concentration all to hell. No one tries to talk to me during CSI, or dares to suggest that holding knitting projects is not the ultimate function of the coffee table.

However, there are times when I want to be around other people, to talk and laugh and interact, yet everyone I know is busy (I don't know very many people, actually) and there's nowhere to go but home. So I go home and shut the door and try to talk to the cat, but it's just not the same.

The cat, frankly, doesn't give a shit if you had a bad day and were hoping for an evening out with your friends to make up for it. Nor does the cat care in the least when you've got a raging case of writer's block, and furthermore the cat is utterly useless if you want to bounce plot ideas off of someone.

The cat also can't give you a hug when you need one, or smack you upside the head and tell you you're being a dumbass when that's what you need. The cat does not point out ever-so-delicately that the outfit in which you're trying to leave the house makes your ass look like a dirigible ready for launch, nor does the cat remind you that you're out of toilet paper, veggie burgers, and whiskey. (You know, the essentials.) The cat loves getting backrubs, but has yet to reciprocate.

Humans are hardwired to be social creatures. Even raging introverts like me have to get out there now and again. And when we're thwarted in that design, the primal brain becomes convinced we have been abandoned by the tribe and will promptly die. No amount of logic and reason will convince the primal brain otherwise, because it is not so smart. It is the primal brain which leads us to feel like crap when we find ourselves watching the Cubs game on television a few minutes before midnight on a Friday when we'd hoped to be down the pub with a pint and some old friends, even though these things happen and there's really no reason to get at all despondent about it.

Don't get me wrong. I love my new life. I adore my on-my-own-ness. I relish my privacy and my utter command of one tiny, overpriced, cat-fur-covered piece of the universe.

But once in a while...

...every so often...

...just occasionally...

...one percent of the time...

...it sucks.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Staying In Touch

Rangers 1, Twins 7

Time for TBL to catch up on her correspondence.

Johan Santana
c/o Minnesota Twins
Minneapolis, MN

Dearest, darling Johan,

Oh, my. We all know you're usually en fuego, but last night? That was something special. Thirteen strikeouts! (Is it warm in here?) And run support! The boys actually gave you run support! After your last couple of starts, I was starting to think you had inherited the Curse of Radke. Glad to know that's not the case. And before that, I admit there were a few times I suspected your evil lookalike might have made a comeback. But luckily for all of us, you were just having a bad day.

In the midst of all the injuries and the imploding and the sucking, your en fuego-ness is an inspiration to us all. Except maybe Morneau, I can never tell what he's thinking. Darn stoics.


Justin Morneau
c/o Minnesota Twins
Minneapolis, MN

Dear Justin,

Two massive, towering homers and five RBI! Be still my beating heart. And this was your third multi-homer game of the season already. Some people actually think that smirking bastard Jeter should have won the MVP? Hah!

Truly, you are Canada's finest export.


P.S. You can crack a smile every now and again. It's okay. Really.

Kevin Slowey
c/o Rochester Red Wings
Rochester, NY

Dear Kevin,

Judging by your 1.76 ERA and the Twins ever-expanding disabled list, I think you're going to be needing this.


George Steinbrenner
c/o New York Yankees
Ninth Circle of Hell, Hades

Dear George,

I snicker in your general direction.


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Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Anyone out there starting to think this team is cursed? Yeah, me, too.

The current state of the Twins' disabled list:

RHP Jesse Crain, 15-day as of 05/16/2007 (out for the season)
LHP Francisco Liriano, 60-day as of 03/24/2007 (out for the season)
LHP Glen Perkins, 15-day as of 05/22/2007
C Joe Mauer, 15-day as of 05/06/2007
IF Alejandro Machado, 15-day as of 03/24/2007 (may be out for season)
OF Josh Rabe, 15-day as of 05/10/2007
OF Rondell White, 15-day as of 04/05/2007

Jeff Cirillo and Lew Ford have served 15-day DL stints and returned to the lineup. And those are just the serious injuries. Off the top of my head, I recall that Nick Punto, Jason Bartlett, Torii Hunter, Dennys Reyes, Michael Cuddyer and Luis Castillo have all been unavailable for multiple consecutive games at some point in the season thus far. I'm probably missing a few guys with that list.

And oh, look--we now have a bullpen with no lefties. As if the Twins' pitching wasn't enough of a question mark. Isn't that just dandy? Then again, the lefties we did have in the bullpen weren't exactly setting the league afire...

What it comes down to is that the Twins are sitting in the toughest division in baseball and missing the reigning AL batting champ, who also happens to be an elite catcher, their starting left fielder, the hottest young lefty starter since Johan Santana, another young lefty (future) starter who they were depending on for some bullpen help, a promising young infielder, an oft-used middle reliever, and a backup outfielder. For the next few days, they also have to contend with the unavailability of their lefthanded specialist and the probable unavailability of their starting shortstop, along with the usual worries about the bum knees of their second baseman, their outfielder/DH, and their current left fielder.

So yes, they got their butts whupped 14-4 by the Rangers last night, but given the current state of the roster, I'm amazed they managed to put nine guys out there every inning.

No official word from the Twins on who will be called up to replace Glen Perkins, but the Rochester Red Wings site is saying that the major league club has purchased the contract of lefty Carmen Cali. Cali is 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in 16 2/3 innings of work over 12 games for the Red Wings. He has walked 6, struck out 5, and has a 1.14 WHIP. Cali is not currently on the Twins' 40-man roster, but I believe there is one spot available due to Liriano being on the 60-day disabled list.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Two Out of Three, Etcetera


Looks like a certain team remembered what those big sticks are for. Also, those weird leather things that look kind of like hands. And where the strike zone is. And how it's only funny if your guy hits the ball out of the park.

Sure, we were all hoping for the sweep. We were all hoping Scott Baker would pitch the complete game on Saturday (TBL will never quite understand why he wasn't allowed to). But we all know that with the way these guys were playing the last couple of weeks, winning one game against the resurgent Brewers would have been good. Winning two and staying close in the third was practically a miracle.

'Course, it turns out that Dennys Reyes gave up the winning run at least in part because that problematic shoulder flared up again, a fact of which both he and the trainers who knew about it failed to inform the manager. Who would not have put him in a tie game if he had known.

Now, that's enough to drive an honest fan crazy, it really is, but TBL is going to curse the name, person, and ancestry of Reyes tomorrow. Tomorrow is soon enough to worry about Crain's absence, Reyes' shoulder, Ortiz's 11.74 May ERA, Santana's lack of run support, the generalized streakiness of Twins hitting, Castillo's knees and the deeper meaning of the infield fly rule. Tomorrow is soon enough, because Mondays suck anyway.

Tonight is the time to luxuriate in the first series win since April. Yes, April. It really has been that long. And to remember that the Twins actually beat a lefty starter on Friday. So enjoy, fellow Twins fans. Savor it. And if you have some time on your hands and a spiritual turn of mind, praying probably wouldn't hurt.

Up next: Twins at Rangers

5/21, 7:05
Carlos Silva, RHP (2-4, 3.56) vs. Vicente Padilla, RHP (1-6, 5.77)

5/22, 7:05
Johan Santana, LHP (4-4, 3.26) vs. Kameron Loe, RHP (1-3, 6.21)

5/23, 1:05
Boof Bonser, RHP (2-1, 3.91) vs. Robinson Tejeda, RHP (4-3, 4.53)

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Unbearable Triteness of Sucking

Cleveland 15, Minnesota 7
Cleveland 7, Minnesota 1
Cleveland 2, Minnesota 0

For the second start in a row, Johan "Godlike" Santana went six innings or more, allowed two earned runs, and lost. Today, he also got a season high in strikeouts.

But that's not the worst of it. Oh, no. Over the three game series, the Twins flailed their way through 22 scoreless innings at bat. They badly lost a game in which they scored seven runs. The MVP got beaned, and no one retaliated. They lost a middle reliever to the DL, likely for the rest of the season. They posted a .217 batting average (despite the seven-run game) and a 6.75 ERA (which doesn't reflect the six unearned runs). Oh, and let's not forget the eleven walks they handed out, while taking only four.

And those are just the numbers. Numbers don't show you sloppy bunt attempts, negligent throws, or generalized incompetence. But the TV sure does. Actually, TBL is pretty sure that the sixth inning of Tuesday's game is permanently burned onto her retinas. Last night she woke up at three in the morning, clutching a very unhappy cat and screaming, "No, Jesse Crain! Don't leave that pitch up to Grady Sizemore!"

One can only hope that this, right here and now, is the darkest of darkness which is purported to come just before the dawn. Because if TBL doesn't get herself some dawn soon, she's going to get upset, and because of that she'll have a wee bit too much wine, which will cause her to write long, weepy letters to Jason Bartlett asking why can't he field anymore and why does he suck at bunting and where are his tall socks, and those splotchy, recriminating messages will upset him, and if the shortstop isn't happy ain't nobody happy, and no good can come of it, ever.

Next up: 3 games at Milwaukee. Our pitchers have to bat. Yeah, that'll help...

5/18, 7:05
Boof Bonser, RHP (1-1, 4.33) vs. Chris Capuano, LHP (5-1, 2.93)

5/19, 6:05
Scott Baker, RHP (0-0, -.--) vs. Dave Bush, RHP (3-3, 5.47)

5/20, 1:05
Ramon Ortiz, RHP (3-4, 4.89) vs. Claudio Vargas, RHP (3-0, 2.93)

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

An Open Letter to the Twins

Dear Twins,

Tonight, you lost to the Cleveland Native American Stereotypes by a score of 15-7. And now, a question for you:

Why must you crush TBL's soul?

SIX UNEARNED RUNS, boys. SIX! You can't blame all that on Punto, even though he made the error. At some point after an error, someone has to suck it up and get somebody out. Otherwise, innings go on forever and six unearned runs score. You see how that works?

Granted, even without the unearned runs, there would have been losing. But 9-7 sounds so much better, don't you think? It sounds like the losing team (YOU) might have actually had a prayer at some point in the whole endless, godforsaken game.

Also, why must you waste all the beautiful scoring on a game in which you at one point trailed by 12 runs? Save some for tomorrow! Silva, he gets twitchy without the run support, and now TBL is afraid you're all going to be swinging like sedated orangutans for the rest of the series. (Well, except for you, Justin. You are obviously en fuego, and TBL is loving it.)

What is TBL supposed to do with you all? If the pitching holds up, the hitting flops. If the hitting gets going, the pitching implodes. And the fielding, it has been not so good all year. Why must you do these things to your fans, who only want to adore you and cheer for you and thumb their noses at the Whine Sox? Why?

Just tell me that.



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Monday, May 14, 2007

See Ya, Sidney

TBL is guest-blogging (as "Infield") over on BatGirl today.

Post reproduced below for archiving purposes:

The Infield Report: Bonfire of the Inanities

Late Saturday night, Sir Sidney Ponson sat in front of his locker in the Twins clubhouse. The rest of the team was gone, except Torii Hunter, who was touching up the surgically precise edges of his goatee across the room.

Sidney pulled an undershirt off of a hanger, gazed at it for a moment, sighed deeply, and dropped it into the box at his feet. He took a glove off of a hook on the side, gazed at it for a moment, sighed deeply, and dropped it into the box at his feet. He picked a pair of shoes off the floor, gazed at them for a moment, sighed deeply, and dropped them into the box at his feet.

All this sighing was starting to get on Torii's nerves. It made it hard to concentrate, and a man needs to concentrate when he's got a diamond-edge razor in his hands. He set it down.

"Hey, Siddy, what's up? Why the long face?" he called, towelling shaving cream off of his legendary cheeks.

"I got designated for assignment," Ponson gloomed, heaving another deep sigh.

"Aw, man, that sucks. What were you supposed to do--it's obvious you're cursed. And getting uncursed, it ain't easy. I should know."

"Do you think it was my glove, Torii?"

"Might've been."

"Or maybe my cap?"

"Could be."


"Hard to say, Siddy," Torii opined. "If I could tell something was cursed just by looking at it, 2005 would've been real different."

"Hoo yeah. For me, too. And 2004. And 2006. This season, obviously. And--"

"You know," Torii interrupted hastily, because he had a feeling that list was going to go on for a while. "You gotta get this curse under control if you want to catch on with another team."

"I know, I know, but what can I do?" Sid wailed.

Torii pointed at the box, and at the locker. "Burn it. Burn it all."

"Even my lucky glove?!?"

Torii gave him The Look. "Just how lucky you think that glove is, Siddy? I gotta say, the empirical evidence just isn't there."

"You're right, Torii. You're right." He sighed a sigh so massive that locker doors fluttered in the breeze. "It all has to go. It's my only chance. Do you think they'll let me start a fire in the parking lot?"

"You, no. Me, definitely. You finish cleaning out that locker, and I'll meet you out back in half an hour, ok?"

"Okay. And thanks, Torii. You're a swell guy."

"Aw, shucks," Torii blushed. "I know that."

Half an hour later Ponson hauled his box out to the back lot to find a crackling bonfire and Torii rummaging through a grocery bag on a folding table.

"I ran to the store for some snacks," Torii said with a grin. "Curse-breaking is hungry work. We'll eat after."

"Excellent!" Sid exclaimed, instantly feeling much better about the whole enterprise.

"Well, go on," Torii urged. "Toss that stuff on there. A quick break is easiest."

And Sidney threw his cursed posessions one by one onto the inferno. As each thing caught fire, he felt a little lighter in his heart, which had been heavy indeed. Torii tossed in the new hat he'd been wearing the last couple of games, because he was starting to have a bad feeling about it.

"Sometimes we just need to let go of things. Like old undershirts, and sucking," Sidney said philosophically.

"Word," Torii agreed. "C'mon, man, let's roast us some grain dogs while the fire's high."

Ponson started to nod, then froze. "Grain dogs?"

"They're good. And low-fat. I got the Mexican Chipotle kind. Spicy!" He skewered a couple of zesty dogs and handed one to Sidney. They toasted them over the burning wreckage of Ponson's days with Minnesota and ate them on soft buns with mustard and sauerkraut. And by the time the flames guttered out and they had swept the ashes away, Ponson had learned that fire purifies and that tasty food doesn't have to go straight to your massive belly.

At the end of the night he walked Torii to his car. "Say, Torii? I was wondering something."


"How'd you get all that wood on short notice? I hope you didn't do anything silly like spend a ton of money on a rush delivery just to make me feel better."

"What, that stuff?" Torii said, climbing the ladder into the driver's seat of his massive vehicle. "Shoot, that was just a pile of assbats that were laying around the clubhouse. You take care of yourself now, Siddy."

"You, too, Torii. And thanks!"

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Friday, May 11, 2007

They Only Have the One Between Them?

Today in "Poorly-Edited Sports Headlines":

(It's even funnier because it's the Yankees...)

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An Open Letter to Johan Santana

Johan, my (lamentably platonic) love, do me a favor.

Please be muy en fuego tonight.

The Tigers are coming to town, and they are very much en fuego themselves. It would be tough to beat them under the best of circumstances, but these are not the best of circumstances, are they, Johan?

Because the Twins are not en fuego. The Twins are not even en tepid. They are hitting like a municipal summer team after Bob who works at the liquor store treats the boys to a keg before the game. And that's against righties. Against lefties, they are hitting like blindfolded kindergarteners trying for a piƱata.

And tonight they will be facing Mike Maroth, who is indeed a lefty. We could save a lot of heartache and prime Friday drinking time by skipping the bottom of innings 1-6.

It gets worse. For your en-fuego-ness (should you choose to exercise it) will be pitted not only against the sizzling bats of Detroit, but also against the boneheaded adventures of your own team. There is not just poor hitting in Twinsland, Johan, you know this. In order to counteract the few hits that do somehow squeak through cracks in the wall of ineptitude, the boys have taken to making baserunning mistakes that would get a twelve year old kicked out of Little League. Mistakes like advancing to third on a grounder to third. I am sure you also experience the instant throbbing at the temples that witnessing such blunders gives me.

But take an ibuprofen, Johan, and soldier on! For tonight I bring with me to the Dome a friend who is not so much a baseball fan. Mostly I think she just wants a night away from the kids. But you see, I have an agenda. Like the homosexual agenda, only not so well decorated. I hope to turn my friend into a baseball fan, and through her, her children.

However, given the exceptional suckitude of the Twins offense, you are my only hope of opening her eyes to the wonder and majesty of baseball. The wonder and majesty of you, Johan CyTana.

You don't have to do it for me. You don't even have to do it for her. But do it for her two adorable little boys, who would look ever so cute in tiny Twins gear. Do it for the children, Johan.

Be en fuego.



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Thursday, May 10, 2007

South Pause, Redux

Okay, this whole every-lefty-is-Cy-Young-reincarnate thing? Getting old. I ranted a bit about the team record against lefties a couple of weeks ago, but as nothing has changed, I'm prepared to start pointing some fingers.

Among those with more than 5 at bats versus lefties, our best hitter, at .333, is Joe Mauer. Let's all take a moment to sigh deeply, here. Following him with a .317 is Torii Hunter, who is in the midst of a freakishly hot hitting streak.

Jeff Cirillo, who was supposed to help end our lefty woes, was injured to start the season and has only seven at-bats and two hits (.286) against southpaws. Jason Kubel, who has not in general been hitting well at all, is posting a very respectable .276 average versus lefties in 22 ABs. Jason Tyner follows with a .267, and then everyone else is .250 or below.

Bartlett, a righty, and Punto, a switch hitter, should be doing better than their .235s. The fact that both hit well over .300 against lefties last year makes this even harder to swallow. Cuddyer, another righty, is posting a .217 (.297 last season), while hitting lefthanded doesn't make Morneau's .216 forgivable, especially since that's .099 below last year's mark.

Even a spare outfielder shouldn't be allowed to hit .200 against southpaws if he bats righthanded (I'm looking at you, Josh Rabe), but Luis Castillo wins the Sucking Cup by a mile with a staggering .194.

In a rather brutal case of life refusing to be fair, the Twins have compiled 429 at-bats against lefties this year, far and away the most in the league--second place goes to the A's with 348. And the Twins hit .245 against them, 12th in the 14-team AL. But it gets worse--they're last in OBP and 13th in OPS.

But what can you do? Make Glen Perkins take his bullpens by throwing BP?

Leaving aside the question of lefties for a moment, because it's wildly frustrating and no solutions present themselves to this under-caffeinated brain, I'd also like to mention the power outage.

For those of you who haven't been paying attention, the Twins are last in the league in home runs. Hit, not surrendered. (That's a whole 'nother post...) They have 18. Justin Morneau has 8 of them. Torii Hunter has 6. Which means that the other 14 guys who have batted for the Twins this season have combined for 4 homers in 895 at-bats. Or, approximately one homer every eight games.

And while you all know me to be a great proponent of "small ball", I believe our Twins have crossed the line into "miniscule ball" and would be well-advised to hit the snot out of the darn thing, already.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

What Mauer Means

The Twins will be without starting catcher Joe Mauer for at least two weeks after an MRI revealed a strain in his left quad muscle and the team placed him on the 15-day disabled list.
Mauer has been battling a sore quad for nearly the entire first month of the season, but he only felt the increased pain and stiffness in his leg on Friday night while running the bases in a game against the Red Sox. He came to the park on Saturday and took batting practice before having to pull himself out of the lineup.
And after seeing the results of Mauer's MRI on Sunday morning, the Twins made the decision that it was most important to give the catcher time to let the injury heal.
"He's a catcher and squatting a lot, so we have to let this thing calm down," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's been fighting it and trying to play through it. Now, it's just time to let it get better. There is some swelling in there and we have to protect that young man. We need him down the road."

Obviously, losing the reigning AL batting champion sucks, especially when much of the rest of your lineup is injured or slumping or both. Losing a damn fine starting catcher in the same person really sucks, even when you have (arguably) the best backup catcher in baseball to fill in.

But while that .353 batting average will be sorely missed, Mauer means a lot more to this team that a hit every 2.83 at-bats.

"A good catcher is the quarterback, the carburetor, the lead dog, the pulse taker, the traffic cop and sometimes a lot of unprintable things, but no team gets very far without one." --Miller Huggins
I don't care how good your pitching staff is, it's going to struggle without a decent catcher. A bad catcher causes arguments, stress, wasted time, and missed plays. A competent catcher allows a staff to do their jobs with a minimum amount of fuss. A good catcher can elevate a pitching staff into more than the sum of its parts.

Out here in the stands, we don't really know how much direction Joe Mauer takes from the dugout, how many strategies have been agreed upon before the game, or what the guy on the mound thinks of the guy behind the plate. What we do know is that you don't often see a pitcher shake him off, that he's caught a Cy Young winner twice and the best bullpen around several times, not to mention handling prima donnas like Kyle Lohse and JC Romero without ever visibly losing his cool.

We know that he's one of the best-fielding catchers in the league, the numbers bear that out. We know he's got a fair arm, good range, a low error rate and that he compiled those numbers over a whole lot of innings. We know he's one of the very few starting catchers in baseball this season who has yet to post either an error or a passed ball.

Various members of the Twins staff are struggling mightily at present (and certain of them would be struggling if they could be made to put that much effort into the task), and while Mike Redmond is a damn fine backup catcher, he's not used to catching every day. The weeks ahead will wear on him, physically and mentally.

"In baseball, my theory is to strive for consistency, not to worry about the numbers. If you dwell on statistics you get shortsighted, if you aim for consistency, the numbers will be there at the end."
--Tom Seaver
The Twins have a number of wildly streaky hitters. Perhaps every team does, I don't know. My attention to other teams generally doesn't extend past how they play the Twins, whether their results are helping or hurting the standing of the Twins, and whether or not they're beating the Bankees and the Whine Sox.

But Mauer? Mauer's pretty steady. Every player has little slumps and little hot streaks, and he's no exception. When I say "wildly streaky", I mean weeks hitting within spitting distance of the Mendoza line, followed by weeks hitting like Ted Williams, with only rare bursts of normalcy in between. And on any given day, you don't know if you're getting Mendoza or Williams. With Mauer, you're pretty sure you're getting Mauer.

His .353 currently leads the team in batting average, and that's no surprise. Nor are his .446 OBP (far and away the team leader), his 16 walks, his 10 doubles, his .927 OPS, his low strikeout rate, his 14 RBI.

But I'm talking about consistency, and you can compile those numbers in streaks. How about the fact that the numbers he's putting up this year look a lot like the ones he put up last year? That's a start.

In 28 games this season, he's gone hitless in only seven. Once he had back-to-back hitless games...with two walks in each game. He's had three three-hit games and more 2-hit games than I'm willing to squint at the game log to count. His season low average thus far is .324, which he dropped to on April 13th. His season-low OBP of .375 also came on that day.

Speaking of OBP and average, he's had the highest of any starting player on the team in every full season he's played thus far. He's also taken the most walks. Good swing, good eye, great hitter.

Consistency. Gotta love it. Gonna miss it.

So are the Twins doomed without Mauer? Of course not. There are still at least 22 major-league players on that 25-man roster. But trying to work through a slump in a tough division just got a whole lot harder. The guys who have gotten off to a slow start don't have the luxury of time and space and patience any longer. There's a great, gaping hole in the lineup and either it gets plastered over or the Twins lose ground they'll find it difficult to make up down the stretch.

Up next, the Whine Sox (14-14, .500) at the Twins (16-15, .516).


CWS - Javier Vazquez, RHP (2-1, 4.02)
MIN - Boof Bonser, RHP (0-1, 4.55)

CWS - John Danks, LHP (0-4, 5.02)
MIN - Ramon Ortiz, RHP (3-2, 3.23)

CWS - Jose Contreras, RHP (2-3, 4.88)
MIN - Carlos Silva, RHP (2-2, 2.75)

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Curiouser and Curiouser...

"This losing streak is bad for the fans...but look at it this way. We're making a lot of people happy in other cities."
--Ted Turner

What an odd week it's been in Twinsland. It felt like a bad week, but it was a .500 week. The numbers were (by and large) very good, the results were (by and large) mediocre. Strange reversals occurred--Ponson looked like an honest-to-gosh major league pitcher out there, while Nathan blew a save. Punto hit like a madman, while the formerly red-hot Cuddyer started to slump before somersaulting down the basepath and into a back injury.

The Twins lead the league in hitting over the last seven days but stranded 60 baserunners. That is not a typo--sixty. They were second in pitching (behind the Royals; truly the Apocalypse is nigh), but lost half their games. Joe Nathan and Jesse Crain each picked up a loss in relief, while Carlos Silva and Sidney Ponson reeled in wins. The team committed three errors (all of them last night), but allowed only one unearned run.

They won in blowouts and lost in close games, and while blowouts are fun, those close games are what get you to the postseason...or not. There's no reason to worry (yet), but a little consistency will go a long way against the Red Sox this weekend. The Twins need to turn their rather dismal home record around and remember that what they do on the field is the only thing that can make up for suffering through Dome food and the Dome itself.

TBL will be there on Saturday to personally witness the en fuego-ness of Johan Santana. Woo-hoo!


BOS - Tim Wakefield, RHP (2-3, 2.59)
MIN - Carlos Silva, RHP (2-1, 3.10)

BOS - Julian Tavarez, RHP (1-2, 7.58)
MIN - Johan Santana, LHP (3-2, 3.60)

BOS - Curt Schilling, RHP (3-1, 3.15)
MIN - Sidney Ponson, RHP (2-3, 6.67)

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

What Do You Dial For the Fashion Police?

Ah, spring, when a young(ish) Twins fan's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of finding some capri pants and maybe a top to go with her so-cute new sandals.

You know what? They don't make clothes for actual women anymore. TBL is not sure they ever did.

TBL recalls being fourteen and approximately as wide as your pinkie finger and having no problems at all finding clothes that fit just wonderfully. But TBL kept on getting older until one day she woke up and had hips and a butt and other things that grown women have in real life. And suddenly, the shopping? Not so easy.

Here's the thing: the average American woman is 5'4" and wears a size 14. TBL is 5'3" and does not wear a size 14, but neither does she wear a size 2. And yet, all the pants which fit the curvy bits have great swathes of extra fabric flapping about the legs and/or pooling about the ankles. And all the tops which fit the curvy bits either drape tentlike over the rest of the torso or look as though they were applied with a vacuum-sealing device of some sort.

As a bit of an aside, while TBL is pleased to see the sport clothing manufacturers producing more gear for the female baseball fan, far too much of it is pink. Those of you who know TBL in real life, take a minute to picture her in pink. Try not to laugh so hard you injure yourself, please. This blog does not carry liability insurance.

But back to the fashion industry--TBL has female friends in every size you can imagine, and we all find that the task of acquiring clothes that fit nicely and are appropriate to both our personalities and our ages falls somewhere between "Herculean" and "Sisyphean".

So tell us, why are 95% of the clothes in the stores made for only two kinds of women--the pencil-thin, hipless, buttless, boobless wonder, or your color-blind Auntie Edna who thinks muumuus are appropriate to every occasion?

Most women fall somewhere between the two. And what we want is not so terribly complicated. We want clothes that fit. Comfortably. Over real bodies. We want to be able to look professional without looking frumpy. We want to be casual but still have waists that are easily identifiable. We want to look (and feel) sexy, not trashy.

We want to walk into stores and try things on without having our self-esteem bludgeoned to bits. It's okay--it's normal--for a woman have a convex belly and dimples on her thighs. Why should she hide under floral-print tents just because she doesn't spend three hours a day at the gym or--goddess forbid--she had a baby and her body changed? Why are we made to feel ashamed of having a woman's body, not a boy's? Perhaps more to the point, why do we allow ourselves to be shamed?

But no matter how good (or otherwise) we feel about our bodies, hardly anyone is making decent clothes for them. We do the best we can, we hunt through store after store, picking up this here and that there and too often settling for something vaguely adequate because it's the best we can find. We learn to alter our own clothing (get a serger, ladies, you'll love it) and keep an eye out for our best girlfriends' sizes while we're in the stores, because they do the same for us and we can all use every bit of help we can get.

We buy stuff that isn't comfortable because it looks okay, and stuff that looks like hell because it's comfortable. We come home with things that neither look nor feel good, because we think they might be great when they soften up in the wash, or after we drop that five pounds we've been meaning to deal with. We end up with closets bursting and drawers overflowing and nothing to wear.

Guys? You wonder why she has so many clothes? This is why.

It's stupid. Piles and mountains and racks of clothes in store after store all over the world, and no one who isn't a size 4 and under can find a thing that they really like. Who designs this crap?

Who decided that TBL is too short for her own hips, and that if she doesn't want to wear a sack over her chest, she must be determined to skirt the very edges of the public decency laws? Who decided that the most gorgeous, sexy women TBL has ever met should disappear under yards of shapeless fabric just because they had children? Who decided that you only deserve nice clothes if you're 5'8" and measure 34-22-34?

And, ladies, we can't hang this one on the guys. TBL is certain that there are, in fact, men out there who honestly prefer the stick-figure vision of femininity, but she has yet to become acquainted with any of them. The (straight) guys, they do like the curvy bits.

You know what the really "in" thing is this summer? The empire waist. That's where the top or dress is cinched (usually with a band of some sort) directly under the breasts and flows loosely from there. This style looks delicate and lovely on any woman who has an A cup and no hips. On the rest of us--which is most of us--it looks like maternity wear.

And to judge from what is available in the stores, they all expect TBL to voluntarily buy this stuff and spend the summer looking pregnant. Aside from the fact that FPC would fall catatonic at the mere thought of becoming a grandmother, TBL does not wish to spend her summer explaining that no, she does not want or need a used stroller for cheap.

You will not find any answers here. TBL is just venting, and putting some questions out there. And maybe hoping that if enough of us think about this, and get annoyed about this, and find a way to stop buying crap that's barely serviceable and mostly undesirable, someone in the fashion industry will wake up and say, "Excuse me, but why don't we try something completely off the wall here, and whip up some clothes that make people look and feel good? I've got a hunch they might sell."

And if, in the course of your daily life, you should stumble across some capris which would actually be capri-length and not wader-length on a woman of normal height, and which do not in any way resemble a hot air balloon or, alternatively, body paint, do drop TBL a line. She's still looking...

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

April Recap

Now, the Twins have never (to TBL's recollection) been much of an April team. Slow out of the gate but picking up speed down the stretch is more their style. This April, though, not so bad. I'll compare to recent years in a moment. First, the quick hits:

The Good
The Twins posted a winning record on the road--and not just by a game or two, but 7-4. They also fared well against East and West teams, and in one-run games. They hit more doubles in April than any other AL team.

The Bad

The Twins didn't do so well at home, sealing a .500 home record on the month by eking out a 1-0, extra inning win against the Royals in their final home game for April. the pitching staff is third in the league in most home runs surrendered.

The Ugly
The Twins were 5-7 against other Central teams. Ouch. They're also last in the league in home runs.

So, not a stellar month, but not half bad. It could have been--and has in recent memory actually been--much, MUCH worse.

YearWLPctRankGBvs Evs Cvs WHomeRoad1-run
20071411.5602nd (T)1.56-45-73-07-77-45-2
(Unfortunately, the MLB standings page doesn't work "as of" before 2005, which is why my numbers run a bit thin before that...)

So, if this team holds to its usual pattern of not really getting going until June, they are going to be en fuego through the summer months. And that's an idea we can all get behind!

And, last but not least:

Who Was Hot
  • Ramon Ortiz, 3-1, 2.57 ERA, 35.0 IP
  • Joe Mauer, .369 BA, .465 OBP, 15 BB, 0 PB
  • Juan Rincon, 1.86 ERA, 11.17 K/9
  • Torii Hunter, 1.003 OPS, 5 HR, 13 2B, 4 SB
  • Michael Cuddyer, 17 RBI, 6 outfield assists

Who Was Not
  • Sidney Ponson, 1-3, 8.44 ERA, 16 BB, 7 HR
  • Jason Bartlett, .239 BA, 6 E, .943 FPCT
  • Dennys Reyes, 7.04 ERA, 2.61 WHIP
  • Nick Punto, .220 BA, .304 OBP
  • Mike Redmond, .259 BA, .298 OBP

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