Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Consolation prize

Lost in all the bitter disappointment over the Castillo trade was the joy in a pretty sweet win at the Dome last night. It was nice to see the Twins get off to a quick start--with Tyner getting on base in the first inning as the leadoff man. Bartlett followed with another nice single and Mauer brought both Bartlett and Tyner home. It seems like a long time since we've had something to cheer about in the first inning.

Tyner had a great night. 3 hits. One of those hit the baggie in center field and Tyner turned it into a triple. The throw to 3rd was off the mark and for a moment there I thought Tyner was going to make it home. I swear, if Tyner gets another homerun this year--one at the Dome, I'm celebrating by buying a Tyner shirt.

Baker pitched a gem. 8 innings. 7 strikeouts. No walks. 2 hits and only 1 earned run. He definitely deserved the win.

Mauer had 2 nice hits. We need Morneau, Hunter, & Kubel to produce more runs, but if we string together more games like last night we have a shot. My hope is that TR actually acquires a bat for us today and the players feel a bit better about Castillo's trade.

A series of wins would sure help console fans and players alike.

Monday, July 30, 2007

So long, Castillo. We'll miss you.

The opportunity to see Castillo in a Twins uniform again is gone. Castillo was pulled out of batting practice this afternoon and given the news of his trade to the Mets. I was at the game and no such announcement was made to the fans in attendance. The trade was widely known by game time however. I understand that we were not likely to keep Castillo next year, but if we are expecting to make a serious run for the playoffs, Castillo will be sorely missed.

I hate this part of baseball. Baseball players gone without a goodbye.

Who will be next? One can't help but wonder.

Obviously, the players are not happy to lose a veteran .300 hitter for players that won't help this year. Just hours before a game they had to say goodbye to a friend who they knew always played hard. Yes, it's a business. But sometimes these decisions suck.

As a fan, I will miss watching Castillo's incredible acrobatic catches in the field and his ability to find a way to get on base.

So long, Castillo. We'll miss you.

In Uniform

Tonight we're headed to the game to see the Twins take on the Royals. I wouldn't take the Royals lightly these days--they have the best record in the division since the All-star break. They took series in Boston and Detroit this month. I think it's quite possible that they WON'T end up in last place this year. (I would enjoy seeing Chicago take that honor.) They are hitting well, more consistenly than the Twins it seems. Still, I think the Twins know they need to keep winning...so it will hopefully be a good series going in our favor. (It's a 4 game series and a split ain't good enough...it has to be 3 out of 4 at least).

It occurs to me that tonight could be the last time I see some players in a Twins' uniform. Hopefully, the wins in Cleveland have put off any fire sale. We don't need to get rid of anyone. We could use a quality bat and even a relief pitcher (Rincon of yesteryear seems to be gone).

It's obviously on the minds of the players. Hunter was quoted as saying: "I look around and see Johan [Santana] walk in and think, 'Maybe that's the last time I joke around with him like that. I look around and see Joe Nathan, Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer -- both who I've watched grow as hitters. I mean, it's tough. This might be the last time I play with these guys."

In the past two days, rumors have perhaps been the strongest about trading Castillo. Castillo has commented, "It hurts a little bit, the trade rumors. I want to stay with the team and try to finish my year here. I don't have any control over that. I just try to still be focused on winning the game, but I have to be ready if something does happen."

Why, in god's name, would we want to trade one of the few players who has been consistently hitting .300 or better all season? This man plays with such heart, such intensity...I know, it's about looking forward...we're not going to keep him next year...Blob, blob, blob. Are we making a trade for someone who can help us today? I don't think so. That, my friends, is stupid.

Hopefully I'll see these guys (and the rest of the roster) in Twins' uniforms tonight. And many more nights to come. I'll be standing up and screaming my lungs out when they take to the field tonight!

On a side note: Has anyone noticed of late that the St. Paul Pioneer Press seems to have a better sports section, at least baseball coverage (compared to the Mpls paper)? The Sunday edition definitely gives a better overview of player/team stats, not just of the Twins, but the entire American & National leagues. Today inside the front page of the sports section they featured a fun interview with Neshek. It's better in print, but otherwise, check it out here.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A reason to smile

There were actually many reasons to smile tonight.

Starting with Tyner's homerun. It was a fun moment for a dugout that has had little to smile about on this roadtrip. Tyner's homerun loosened up the team and it was a nice reminder that while team wins are what they're gunning for right now, it's always good to celebrate the individual victories. Hats off to Tyner for playing a great game and giving Twins fans the first something to smile about in a long time. (Plus I think Tyner at least tied the throw on that punt, so that should have been Tyner's 3rd hit.)

Santana. Santana pitched a quality start. 12 strikeouts. 4 hits. 2 earned runs. I think I saw some some ass shaking tonight.

Buscher. Buscher is showing some promise in his first 2 starts. His game-winning RBI brought home the winning run in the 9th inning. How long has it been since we've won a game in the 9th? It feels like an eternity. Welcome to the majors.

The Twins bullpen. After some dismal outings of late, the bullpen kept us in the game tonight--actually brought us the win. Neshek was back to his stellar self and Nathan got the job done without drama. Way to go.

It wasn't the most convincing of wins, but I sure feel a whole lot better than I have after the past 5 games. It's a tough road ahead, but with 5 games against Cleveland in the next 10 days, we have the opportunity to pull closer to Cleveland.

And that's how it's done--one game at a time.

Tyner hits 1st career homerun!

There has been little to cheer about during recent Twins games, but such a moment came in tonight's game. In the 3rd inning, Tyner hit his first career home run! What joy for Tyner, his fans, and the team! Everyone can use that little morale boost.

It was fun watching the team congratulate Tyner when he made it to the dugout. The smile on Tyner's face told the story--how good it must feel to have that monkey off his back. The camera shot I liked best was tiny Wayne Hattaway giving Tyner a huge bear hug in the dugout.

Way to go Tyner!

Let's hope the rest of the team takes your lead tonight!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Season Countdown

2007 Baseball Calendar
(remainder of the season)

07-27-2007 - Hall of Fame Induction Weekend Begins 1 Days

07-31-2007 - Non-Waiver Trade Deadline: 5 Days

08-31-2007 - Postseason Eligibility Lists by Midnight: 36 Days

09-01-2007 - Active Roster Expands from 25 to 40: 37 Days

09-30-2007 - Final Games of the 2007 Regular Season: 66 Days

10-23-2007 - 2007
World Series Begins: 89 Days

Wow...this baseball season is winding down faster than I would like. And even if the Twins don't make it to the playoffs, I want to enjoy what baseball is left. I'm actually anxious to get past the trade deadline and not have to wonder any longer who's staying and who's leaving.

On Sunday I bought tickets for 3 future Twins games. The first game is next Monday when they come home from Cleveland (where they have hopefully been shaking some ass). And then I bought tickets for 2 games in mid-August against the Texas Rangers. I picked those games not because we're playing the Rangers, but because that weekend we're celebrating the '87 World Series title. A reunion of the '87 players is planned--and I can't wait to see who's all there. Too bad Puckett isn't around to be part of the festivities.

Like I've said, win or lose, I plan to enjoy all the baseball I can before the end of the season. The losses since the All-star break have been painful--in part, because they make it more improbable we will make the playoffs. They were also painful because they were just such awful games for the Twins. 13-1 vs Toronto? Ouch.

As a baseball fan, I am an optimist; but at a certain point, also a realist. If we are eliminated from the playoff picture (and I'm not ready to throw in the towel yet), then I can move on and still enjoy baseball. Playoff-bound or not, I hope the guys can still play quality baseball.

Many times the integrity of a team is revealed more in how they deal with defeat, than in how they deal with victory. Look at Kansas City--even though this season finds them in the bottom of the pack (again), they are still going out there and shaking some ass. They played well against Detroit and Boston--teams that are considered much better than them.

I just want the Twins to play with the same integrity they've played all season. I take pride in the fact that they are a team that never says "die". I take pride in the fact that they still play with heart, even when they're losing. Yes, being swept by Detroit and Toronto was ugly. But there is no time to lick our wounds. Tomorrow we open a series in Cleveland, a team we have lost 5 games to this season (the only 5 times we've faced them).

We need to go out there and Shake some ass!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Shake some ass!

I can just hear it now...the media is going to have a field day with Santana giving up 4 homeruns. The bloggers probably will go to town as well. Man, all I know is that it is so discouraging to see Santana struggle on the mound. Word has it that Santana wasn't feeling 100%...which isn't hard to believe given how he pitched. Has Santana ever given up 4 homeruns in a game? He just didn't seem to be his usual self. He was pitching hard, but didn't have his usual finesse. He didn't seem to be in "the zone"...that place he goes to when he's throwing like blazes, mixing up his pitches and fooling the batter to swing wildly at a pitch. You can tell he's in the zone when you see that little butt wiggle before he throws the pitch. I'm not the first one to notice that butt wiggle...a co-worker mentioned it today.

I love seeing that little butt wiggle...it means we have a good chance of winning the game.

On the positive side of things, our favorite Canadian had a good night--2 homeruns for Justin Morneau. I believe these were the first homeruns Morneau has hit in Canada. Hunter also got a homerun. That makes 28 for Morneau and 21 for Hunter. It would be nice to see them both break 30 again this year. I think Morneau has a good chance to reach 40 homeruns.

But what was that ugly play with Tyner and Punto in the 5th? If you ask me, that was the deal breaker. If we had been able to bring them home, I think we could have pulled out a win.

I do not feel witty following a Santana loss. Morose would sum up my mood. I want to sit aound and pout about the loss. I think I might. I'm going to sulk until the Twins can pull out a win. Hmmm...there better be some butt wiggling going on out there tomorrow night. That's right, shake some ass, get in the zone, and make some magic.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Win or lose

It was good to see the Twins win last night. Again, the bats came alive and that made all the difference. And geez, how does Kansas City beat Detroit in Detroit? Kansas loves to be the spoilers and more power to them, but I hope they're not so hot when they come to town at the end of the month.

In reading many of the other blogs, it seems the sweep by Detroit has many a fan writing off the Twins for the season. I won't say that it wasn't like a self-inflicted shot in the foot. It hurt. But all hope is not lost. The season isn't over by a long shot.

And till the end, even if the Twins are mathematically out of the playoff picture, I'll be watching the games rooting the team on. I'll be watching the game for the pure joy of it. November and the end of the baseball season comes soon enough. Until then I'll be lovin' every minute of it, win or lose.

For me the joy of basball cannot be found in nitpicking how poorly the game was played, who screwed up or who should be traded. Yes, I will on occasion bemoan lack of hit support and a pitcher's lack of prowess on the mound. I will definitely bitch and moan about the Twins' management not keeping or acquiring talent that would help the team win (Pohlad, open up your wallet. We all know you've got the money. This team is your legacy). But I do not find joy in focusing all of my attention on the win/loss column.

Baseball is woven into the fabric of my life. Sometimes the baseball season becomes a marker for what was happening in my life. In '87, the Twins' post-season ride to the World Series title carried me through a pretty dark period in my life (the initial weeks of my separation from my first husband...it was ugly). What I choose to remember from that time, is the joy and hysteria that was felt in this town as the Twins kept winning. I played hooky from work and went to that incredible ticker tape parade. I still get goosebumps when I remember it.

I remember attending one of the closing series against the Brewers a few years back ('05 I believe). The Twins were already "out of it" but I attended the game knowing that my opportunity to enjoy a ballgame would soon be gone until the next spring. I sat behind 2 dads with their young sons--Brewer fans. Normally I hate having opposing fans sitting next to me (at least vocal ones). But this was different. It was a joy to watch these dads enjoying the game with their young sons--obviously on a roadtrip to take in this game. The Brewers led most of the game, but in the late innings the Twins mounted a rally (initiated by Shannon Stewart) and won in the bottom of the 9th. That day those boys learned that the game is never over till the last out. And I was reminded that a comeback win is exciting whether you're going to the playoffs or not.

In one of those last games that season, I was also present to witness Morneau's first career grandslam. That is a goosebump memory as well.

And of course, my ultimate goosebump baseball memory--being proposed to on the Jumbotron on September 8, 2006 (that story is coming). Matt Garza was the starting pitcher, but not doing so hot (we were losing). Around the time of the proposal, Garza was pulled and Neshek came in. The bats came alive and we won (Neshek getting the win). I think it would have been a sweet game whether we won or lost, but the victory made it sweeter.

So there it is--I'm in it for the long haul. Yes, I will be grouchy when we lose games. And my mood will take a lift when we're winning. But I plan on watching game #162, playoff bound or not. And when that game is over, I'll be counting the days until the Twins take the field again.

(For an excellent blog on "watching the game when the going gets rough, check out Thursday's entry at A Fan's View from Section 220-- http://www.startribune.com/blogs/sinker/ )

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Twins Unplugged

Well, me and Curveball forego last night's game, but tonight made it to Baseball Unplugged at Champs in Burnsville. Cuddy hosted and was accompanied by Garza and Neshek.

It was the first time we've gone to this event and we learned a few things. First, be there at least 2 hours before "the show". The place was packed! We got to the restaurant an hour before the festivities were to start and it was standing room only. We waited 45 minutes for a table on the patio. We ate our dinner on the patio while listening to the "interviews" and then questions from fans. Following the question period, there was a trivia contest, complete with prizes, followed by more door prizes. (The final door prize was an autographed Harmon Killebrew bat! Not shabby at all!)

At 8:30 p.m. an autograph line was started. We practically sprinted to the line, but was still quite a ways back. Due to the injury to his thumb, Cuddyer was not signing autographs--but was willing to take pics with fans. Garza and Neshek were signing--one item per fan. At 8:45 we had moved all of 6 inches--the line was pretty bunched up in front. I was starting to wonder if we would ever make it to the front...sure enough, a Twins representative soon arrived announcing that the signing would end at 9 p.m. Optimistically, we stayed in line...which was starting to move a little faster. We got closer and closer and finally were able to take the steps up to the Twins' table. And then the Twins representative reappeared...first declaring that we were the last 2 through and then allowing the 2 fans behind us to go through the line.

Whew! I was thrilled to be able to make it through the line...not that I'm a big autograph person (that would be Curveball), but after that wait...I managed to snap a few pictures and get a few graphs. I had Neshek sign a "card" of his appearance in a "witch" costume last year (part of rookie hazing).

All the players were generous with their time, good-natured, and willing to take pics...but it had been a long day--that started early with an afternoon game that didn't end up in our favor...and it was easy to see they were tired and ready to call the day done.

Tomorrow there's another game...a start to another tough series. Man, we need those guys to come back to the field fresh. We're behind you guys. We know you're playing hard. Go for it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Happy Birthday Torii!

Happy Birthday Torii!
Today is Torii's birthday. Let's hope he has a fantastic birthday filled with homeruns (a grandslam would be nice!) Maybe the Twins could throw in a birthday present...like a new contract perhaps!
Here's a link to a nice slideshow about Torii's rise to "the top" in baseball. Check it out--

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Baseball Unplugged

Besides going to Wednesday's game (Santana pitching), me and Curveball are considering going to Baseball Unplugged on Thursday night. Michael Cuddyer hosts, with Matt Garza and Pat Neshek as his guests that evening. It's held in Burnsville from 7-9pm. More information can be found at the official Twins site-- http://www.twinsbaseball.com/

It's an afternoon game, so they will be done with Detroit at that point. Hopefully, we'll be celebrating another sweep.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Quote of the Day 7-16-07

Castillo in reference to his triple hit Sunday in the 9th inning--

"When I come in today, I think I have the day off, but we don't have any more time. I tell these guys, sometimes I hit a ground ball right to second base, shortstop, and I don't run hard, so I got reserve when I need to do it. I know my knees bother me a little, but when the play came, I forgot everthing and I did something for the team."

Thank you, Castillo!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Get the job done

"They take everything they can get
and give nothing in return."
--Rod Carew, regarding the Twins management

Rod Carew said the above at the time he left the Twins. I think Hunter (and a great many Twins fans) may be thinking the same in regards to Hunter's situation. I'm growing weary of the debate. There should be no debate. This thing should have been done a long time ago. Hunter should stay and the Twins need to find a way to way to make that happen. And it is becoming abundantly clear that the longer the Twins wait, the more it is going to cost them. It may already be out of their reach.

I've been a proponent of keeping Hunter long before this career-breaking year. Besides his quality performance game after game, Hunter provides much, much more to the team. It is something quite hard to put a pricetag on. Hunter provides leadership in the clubhouse and on the field. He plays with a love for the game and the fans know it. Last night when I was at the game and waiting for the players to run out on the field, I noted that Hunter, as usual, led the team onto the field. As he was running onto the field, he caught a ball with his usual aplomb. The fans love it. I couldn't help but wonder how much longer we'll be able to enjoy that show.

Hunter has made it clear that he would like to stay with the Twins. I think if Ryan would have pursued negotiations into the start of the season, this thing could have been taken care of. And we no doubt, could have signed Hunter for what now would be considered a steal. But I can see with each series that Hunter is more and more open to the possibility that he will be playing elsewhere. And I think Hunter is feeling so jerked around by the Twins that he no longer is so sure he wants to stay with the Twins.

Who can blame him? As we were preparing to leave Chicago last week, the White Sox signed Buehrle. While I would rather Buehrle play for the National League and not be a thorn in our side, I thought it was a good move for the Sox and the fans (let alone Buehrle). Get the drama over with and make the deal. They did what they needed to do. Come up with the money to sign a player who helped the team win. And they managed to it with the season in full swing. Amazing. See, Terry Ryan, it can be done.

Now, Seattle has done the same thing and signed Ichiro Suzuki to a five-year deal. What they're paying him and whether he's worth it, is a whole other story. But they got the job done. In fact, Seattle signing the deal just made it a whole lot harder for the Twins to get their job done.

And they have nobody to blame but themselves.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Home Run Derby

Justin Morneau may have come up short in the Home Run Derby tonight, but the Twins still had a homerun winner. T.C. Bear pulled off a repeat victory in the Mascot Home Run Derby. T.C. took the prize with 9 homeruns, beating out Bernie Brewer who had only 6 homeruns. T.C.'s win garnered tickets to the Homerun Derby for this lucky Boy's Club member.

You're the prize slugger, T.C!

Friday, July 6, 2007


I just returned from a bit of R & R with the hubby, which thankfully spared me of some of the fiasco in New York. Happily I was back home tonight in time to catch Game 2 of the Twins' slugfest in Chicago.

How sweet to see Morneau hit 3 homeruns tonight...the first Twins player to do so since 1973. 6 homeruns total for the Twins in Game 2 and a shutout to boot. (Kubel hit a Grand Slam in Game 1!) Garza did o.k. I think. He put some people on base, but managed to keep his cool and get the outs when he needed.

The low point of the game was seeing Red taking that nasty hit from Thome's bat (Red needed 7 stitches). Seems like the White Sox should have lost their DH as well, but I guess we managed to survive that little disaster. I wouldn't be surprised to see Red catch tomorrow, but I think he should take at least a day off. The question is: Can we make it to the All-star break without calling up Heintz?

Early game tomorrow. Let's hope the Twins' bats show up to win again!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Neshek montage

Here's a link to a fun youtube Neshek montage.




Have you voted yet?

Let's go team!

#350. Hmmm. I can respect 350 wins by Clemons. But not on our time. We gave Thomas his 500th homerun. Yay! Rah Rah! But enough! Let the opposing teams earn their milestones against some other team. Granted, it gives us a little bit more attention on Baseball Tonight, but for all the wrong reasons.

And now: Boof. Boof, I love ya. I love the fact that you legally changed your name to Boof. I love how you pitch the first 5 innings of the game. But what happens in the 6th? The game runs 9 innings, so asking you to pitch through 6 or 7 isn't asking for much.

And Rincon. What's up? Last year I stayed nice and relaxed when you came into the game. Now I get tense wondering how many runs you might give up.

And to all the hitters: Let's start swinging the bats. Make the Yankees bring out their relievers! Get some men on base and bring them home! Show those Yankees up!

Silva, this is not the time to falter. Pitch like you have your last two outings. Show them your stuff! I think you have another complete game in ya!

Oops! I mistakenly wrote this entry on my other blog, so it is doing double duty. Never can have too much baseball blogging!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

All-Star team selection

I thought the Twins may have pulled off another sweep. I found it a disappointing loss. Baker pitched great and deserved a win. But alas, it's hard to win ballgames when you can't get anyone across the plate. I hate those kind of losses. I mean if we play like shit, we deserve to lose. I can get fired up about that and feel sort of pissy about the lousy effort or mistakes even. But when we play well and a win is within our grasp--well, that kind of loss just doesn't set well. I can pout about that all night.

Hitting throughout the series was good overall. Mauer even hit his first career grandslam on Friday night (another pitching delight by Santana). The bats need to stay alive going into New York. I can't stand it when we lose to the Yankees. Even when they're playing bad, we seem to let them get to us. Enough! I want to go into New York and kick some butt. Maybe then we won't have to listen to the ESPN announcers drooling over Jeters and all the other Yankees. Oh ya, right, they're the blessed Yankees, baseball immortals. We are just the lowly Twins, with the reigning MVP, batting champ, and Cy Young winner on the roster. C'mon Twins--we have more baseball royalty on our team. Play like you own the Yanks! Let's kick some ass!

On a different note--The All-star team was named today. Something just isn't right about how this team is selected. The Twins have 3 players going--Morneau, Hunter, and Santana--but none of them were selected by fan votes. Big market players definitely have the edge. I could gag over the fact that the Yankees have 3 players on the team when they are definitely playing only mediocre ball. I love David Ortiz, but he's selected as the first baseman when he's only started seven games at first base all season. Um, anyone hear of Morneau--2006 MVP and first baseman extradinaire. It's nice to know that the players themselves selected Hunter & Morneau. Leyland selected Santana. Mauer is not on the team, which I can almost understand with his lengthy stint on the DL.

I'm not even sure the timing of the All-star game makes sense. Ya, it's nice to have a "break" mid-season, but there are two big disadvantages to this as well. First, any player on the All-star team takes a risk of suffering an injury that could hurt their team for the remainder of the season. That's part of my relief that Mauer isn't on the team--let him rest. Second, since the game is mid-season, the accomplishments of the prior year seem to have already been forgotten. And yet, we don't really know who will have that MVP season or who will be the batting champ or who will pitch like a Cy Young winner.

Hey, we still have the chance to name one more Twin to the All-star--Neshek is in the Final Vote consideration. I think Nathan deserved a shot as well, but it would be mighty fine to see Neshek enjoy his chance to be an All-star. Here's the link to the voting--