Friday, September 29, 2006

Thank you Brad!

I remember almost 10 years ago when the Twins first showed signs of hope in their dismal late 90's. There was a man who came through in 1997 to give the Twins some glimmering hope that things were soon to get better. His name was Brad Radke.

1997 brought about the first 20 game winner for the Twins in years. It gave fans a little bit of hope, even with Chuck Knoblauch going to the hated Yankees.

Thinking back, Radke was the difference of this team. At the time, high priced Twins were going elsewhere, like Chuck. Radke was a player that the organization wanted to keep, a player to build a team around. It was a mutually beneficial relationship. The Twins needed Radke to keep some stability. Radke needed the Twins to make good on their promise of building a good team around him if he stayed.

His presence brought much needed stability, for the Twins and the fans. In 2001, the Twins finally looked like contenders again. In 2002 they reached the postseason again, and even got to the ALCS.

Now the man comes back late in the season from a torn labrum and a stress fracture to start at least one more game for his team. I say "his" team with meaning. Yes, Joe Mauer might be leading in the batting average race, Morneau might be up for MVP, Santana for Cy Young, but Radke is senior.

Thank you Brad for 12 great years.
Thank you Brad for giving this team the stability that helped them get where they are right now.
Thank you Brad for pitching through pain.
Thank you Brad... for being a Minnesota Twin!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The fun has just begun

What a ride!

25-33 at one point. 68-30 since. Possible batting champ. Possible MVP. Definite Cy Young. Best bullpen. Center Fielder going ape. Boof goin' bonkers!

I have not had this much fun following the Twins in a long time. 02-04 were great, but this year there's just something special about this team. 2 more wins and they will have beaten all their records from those three years in the playoffs. And even if they get those wins, they still may end up as Wild Card winners. Don't matter, we're still in the big show, and we all get to see some games into October.

White Sox... good show. You played hard and you made the race fun. Good luck next season.
Tigers.... here we come. We ain't done yet. And I hope we see you in the ALCS.
Yankees... third time's a charm.
A's.... Wear out them Tigers the best you can.
Mets.... Don't blow it.
Cardinals.... Don't choke.
Dodgers.... try hittin four against OUR bullpen.
Royals.... Get really mad... around Friday.
Red Sox... what the hell happened? You guys are in THIRD now.
Blue Jays... Hope Burnett was worth it.
Cubs... there's always next year :-)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Home Stretch

Ah, the final week of the season. The Twins have managed 6 straight series wins... without a single sweep. Oh well, winning series is what it's all about. The Twins have done very well in that department.

Pretty much the only story this week will be the Twins and Tigers sprint to the AL Central finish line. A's pretty much have it wrapped up, they just need a couple wins this week. Yankees have been done for about a week now. Home field advantage will also be decided. The Twins have a tough road, being 1.5 games back. They need to overtake the Tigers completely in order to get the division, since the Tigers have the advantage in head-to-head play.

The White Sox are done (but not officially). They'll be playing spoiler this weekend. No repeat, no nothin'. Red Sox are done as well (officially even!). A new curse is dawning.

In the National League, the Cardinals are trying to make things interesting by getting swept by Houston, leaving their magic number at 5 and Houston only 3.5 back. But hey, they didn't lose it on a walk-off hit last night!

San Diego and Los Angeles are sparring in the west, for a division title and the Wild Card. Philly ain't out of it yet either, as they actually LEAD the wild card. Either way, it's all futile unless one of these teams can crack the armor of the mighty Mets.

I'm looking forward to some playoff action. The upside of the Twins playing the Yankees, is that the games will likely be primetime. I just hope the third time's a charm for the Twins.

Go Twins, Go Cards!

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Who the hell is this Jeter guy? And why the hell is he the top candidate for MVP?

Gammons was saying on ESPN that Jeter deserves to get MVP because of how he helped turned his team around, stating that at one point, they were 5 games out of first, behind the Red Sox, and that his leadership was the difference.

Wait a damn minute.

If you want to take that logic, how about looking at a player who did something very similar under much more challenging circumstances. The Twins were 8 games under .500. As far back as 12 games behind first place Detroit. One player, who struggled earlier in the season, started to find it at about the same time the Twins started their streak in June. He carried this team on his back and helped spark the offense to become better than it has in years!

Oh, and he's 5th in batting average, 2nd in RBI.

Justin Morneau.

I don't understand the logic of the baseball experts. You can't logically pick Jeter without strongly considering Morneau under the same circumstances. No, Morneau is not "captain" in name, but by and large his offense has helped carry this team like no other. In fact, I think his successful run at 30 home runs has also helped start an offensive renaissance in Torii Hunter, who's damn close to hitting 30 himself, including 13 in Aug and September.

The Twins were further out of first (and the WC), further below .500, with fewer financial resources than the Yankees, and in a MUCH tougher division. I know where my vote's going.

Every minute counts!

For just less than an hour yesterday, the Twins were tied for first place in the AL Central.

Then the Tigers won. :-(

But no matter, the Twins have taken 5 straight from the BoSox this season, and they look to take the entire season series with Santana on the mound tonight. But, I don't want to get too boastful, after all, the Twins did lose in his last start, and he is going against Beckett, a decent pitcher. But I'm still confident that we have as good a shot tonight as we've had the past two.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Road Trip

Last night, I was heading to Bloomington-Normal, IL for a small road trip. On the way there, I started listening to "Three Nights in August" by Buzz Bissinger. Interesting book on CD. I really liked some of the stories about LaRussa and Dave Duncan and some of the plights of the Cardinals. However, on the way back (I left around 9 central time), I paused the CD to listen to another great radio program.

I was able to get the Twins on CCO again, and with luck they were still on and in the eighth inning. Hearing about Morneau's 5 hits was quite a pleasure. Now, Morneau is 5th on the leaderboard for average. Huh? That's right. He's the fifth best hitter in the AL. If he catches up to Jeter, will that help his chances for MVP?

When they reported the Sox-Tigers game score, 7-0 Chicago, I clapped and cheered, knowing the Twins were now only 1/2 game out. But then I thought about it. Now matter who was winning, I was going to cheer. If Chicago lost, that meant a 5 1/2 game lead over the Sox, and that would be very nice as well. But knowing that the team's only 1/2 game out of first place in the Central, especially considering where they were the first game after the All Star Break (12 games out), is something amazing.

I do hope the Tigers get in, it would be a shame for them to collapse and let the Sox in. The Tigers have played tremendously this season. But I want THEM to play the Yankees.

Oh, and I heard a little birdie say that the Twins would be on ESPN on Thursday. Santana vs Beckett. I may just have to traverse over to my mother's house (I don't have cable) to watch the game with another Twins fan.

Go Twins! and *shudder* go White Sox

Sunday, September 17, 2006

How's that for a series?

That was probably the most unexpected way to take a series from Cleveland, with the only loss coming on a Santana start. But I'll take it. What makes it even better is the fact that Chicago and Detroit play each other next week, while the Twins take on the BoSox. If the Twins can put together 2 or 3 wins, they can make up some great ground on their two competitors.

After this weekend, the Twins have moved 4 games in front of Chicago, the biggest lead they've had this season in the Wild Card race. They are also just one game out of the Central division lead, which is the closest they've been since opening day. Not only that, the Twins are playing excellent on the road, going 21-8 since the All-Star break. They have finally pulled to one game over .500 for the year. And they still have the best home record in the majors at 50-24.

By going four up on the White Sox, they have now put themselves in a position, where if they carry the same record for the next ten games as the Sox, the last three games will be rendered unnecessary. Although, it would be kind of nice to clinch against them, which they may get to do as far as the Central Division if they're still in the race with the Tigers.

As for Santana's loss, at first I was bummed, but now I figure that if he had to lose one down the stretch, that one was okay. Plus, Silva picked the team up on Saturday, and Baker today. The biggest worry about the Twins a month ago, the rotation, has been able to do a fine job and keep these guys in the race.

The offense is starting to produce again as well. They do have hiccups like Santana's game and the finale against the A's, but overall, it seems like they're getting more runs each game. However, they're still leaving a ton of guys on base and hitting into too many double plays. It's like they get things started, but just can't finish it off. I guess they need to take Mike Redmond's lead and "smell the RBI."

13 games left. I can't believe what this season has brought forth. In June, I was just hoping for them to get back to .500 by the break, they got to 8 games over. In July they caught the Sox and I was just happy that they were in the race for the Wild Card. Now they're a game behind Detroit and fighting for the division. Heck, they're even close enough for a shot at home field, and maybe even best record (thanks Pittsburgh!)

There's just one thing I don't want - another subway series. The Mets can be in it, fine. But keep the Yankees out. They haven't been the story this year. It's been the Twins and the Tigers. They deserve the spotlight. The Tigers would be the only team I would be okay with the Twins losing in the playoffs. The Yankees, while doing well, have obviously won thanks to the pickup of Abreu. People say it's Jeter, but things started to turn around when Abreu came to them. Just another example of them buying their way through the season, and I'm sick of it.

The Twins and Tigers have won mainly on young talent and teamwork. I want to see them battle it out in the ALCS, just like in 1987. And of course, like 1987, I want to see them win in 5. And like in 1987, I'd like to see them win the Series. And... just because I'm in St. Louis, I'd love for it to be against the Cardinals, so I wouldn't have to travel 500 miles to see a game in person.

This is the year to be a Twins fan!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Momentum killer

Wow.... just.... wow.

For the last week, Twins fans everywhere were ripe with anticipation in seeing Francisco Liriano come back and pitch for this amazing team. Wednesday, the hype became reality as he finally took the mound.

But then the third inning came and like that, the hype, the anticipation, the dreams... shattered.

Francisco Liriano threw a pitch that popped something in his elbow and ended his 2006 season for good. And Twins fans everywhere are all thinking, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

But I am here to bring hope. The Twins won their previous 5 games WITHOUT Liriano. They also got to where they are now (1 1/2 games behind Detroit, 1 1/2 games in front of Chicago) without his help for the last month. Yes, Liriano helped immensely durring June and July, and I want to take nothing from that, but I mean to say that this team is not built around him alone.

The Twins have the best pitcher in the majors in Johan Santana. They have the best average in Joe Mauer. They have a genuine slugger in Justin Morneau. They have the best bullpen in the league, including a very reliable closer. They have Cuddyer who's having a career year. And they have the pirahnas who never quit. As wonderful as it would have been to have Liriano back, I'm okay with him sitting out to get healthy. This team has done amazing things when they've hit the rough patches.

When their veteran offseason pick-ups didn't work, the Twins went with the young talent, and it worked. When Liriano went down, Radke picked it up. When Radke went down, Bonser picked it up. When they won 19 of 20 and only gained a game and a half, that didn't stop them. They have overcome Chicago, they have beaten Detroit, and now Oakland, without needing Liriano.

There is something magical about this season. I feel it. Every one of the players have had something amazing happen. From Bartlett finally getting his chance, to Radke's playing through pain, Punto's amazing year at 3B, Cuddyer's outstanding year in RF, Mauer's run at the batting title, Morneau hitting 30 HR, Tyner playing near everyday, and last but not least, Santana pitching a normal season for him... which beats anyone else's best season.

This ain't over. Far from it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Pure Momentum

I think the Twins won last night on momentum alone.

I love it how Frank Thomas hits a home run in the fourth, thinkin' he's all that. Then angry Cuddyer (I'm calling him Hulk from now on) comes up in the fourth to answer with a two run shot. Beautiful. Hunter adds another solo shot in the 6th, and the Twins offense shows up again for a 9-4 win.

God Bless Silva. After pitching 6 shutout innings against TB, he took himself out of the game for the good of the team, except the bullpen just happened to blow it that night. I think Silva realized after that game that this team does need him, and that they believe in him more than he believes in himself. Last night, he throws 7 innings and gives up just that Thomas home run. Boy did Silva find the perfect time to get back on track.

I was thinking about the season this morning, and I realized something. Since the Tigers beat the Twins 33-1 in their first meeting in April, the Twins and Tigers split their games 8-8 the rest of the season. In fact, since the All-Star break and the Twins renaissance, the Twins actually went 6-4 against the Tigers. They have also gone 7-2 against the Sox. When it comes right down to it, the Twins got down early in the season agains the Central, but since then they have come on strong and come out swinging. But yet they've had trouble with the Royals (except for that four game sweep).

I'm curious to see how Guerrier does tonight in his first start of the season. I hope they can keep this momentum going. I REALLY wish I was off on Wed so I could watch Liriano pitch. But alas, I'll have to settle for Gameday.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

It just keeps getting better

It doesn't stop.

It just keeps going.

This season can't get any better, can it?

THREE games back of the Tigers. The same Tigers that earlier this season were unreachable. The same Tigers that lead by 11 games at the All-Star break. (and 12 the first day back). The same Tigers that beat the Twins 33-1 in a weekend series earlier this season. The same Tigers that were 9-2 against the Twins in their first 11 games.

It can't get any better.....until you realize that Santana is pitching tomorrow.

I'm gonna need a minute to breathe this in.

Tomorrow afternoon, the Twins very well could be TWO games out of the Central division lead.

Tonight, Boof pitches an excellent game even though the offense wasn't spectacular. But it was enough, and the Twins are guaranteed a split, but are likely going to get a win.

Oh, and Baker's not starting on Tuesday, Guerrier is!

Oh, and Liriano is scheduled to be back next week!

Man, I live for this!

Something Positive

So, looking through my archives, I've realized that I've been posting mainly when something bad happens. Today I'm going to break that. I'm going to rave about last night's game. Mostly because I was actually able to listen to the Twins go ahead.

For a couple weeks now, the offense has been frustrating. Not many runs. Hits, yes, but no capitalization. Last night, down 4-2, Morneau comes through with a big double to tie the game. Then Hunter follows up with a single to take the lead. My wife laughs every time something good happens and I pump my fist in excitement. Then she explains to our children that "Daddy's team is winning."

I'm excited also because with Santana pitching on Sunday, I feel fairly confident that this team can at least split, if not win this series. And the further this season goes, while the Twins stay in the WC lead, the more exciting this whole race becomes. But again, it's just so unfortunate that one of the great AL Central teams will not make the playoffs. It's a shame because each one deserves to be there.

I'm looking forward to following another great game tonight. Hopefully the Twins can pull out a victory and have a good shot at a series win.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Visual Stimulation

Living in St. Louis, it's rare that I get to actually see a Twins game on TV. Last night the Twins were on ESPN2, so I had a rare chance to see my team live.

But why did it have to be this game?

I've been saying for almost two weeks now that this offense is just frustrating to watch. I can think of no better term. Last night I watched Castillo get picked off, and double play after double play after we start off right by getting the leadoff man on. Then to make things worse, I see two big defensive blunders, both involving Cuddyer.

On the first one, a single was hit to Cuddyer with a man on first. Cuddyer, who had made a brilliant throw earlier to nail someone at third, tried to go for the runner at third again. Big mistake. The throw missed the cutoff man and the batter got an extra base out of it. Runners on 2nd and 3rd. An inning or two later, a dome double was hit. High into right center field, and no one called for it. That's the second time I've seen that happen, and remember, I don't get to watch the Twins often!

Finally, I have to make a comment about Rondell White. I know he's a veteran, and a nice guy, but get him the hell out of this lineup. I saw two at bats in particular last night, and I couldn't believe this guy has a major league contract. The first one in question was about the 6th or 7th. Rondell struck out on a ball at his chin! How does anyone think that a ball like that is a) a good pitch to try to hit or b) anywhere near the strike zone. I was in awe that he could swing at a pitch like that. In the 9th inning, he did it again, making a weak pathetic swing that resulted in a "fly" ball to shortstop. Rondell looks terrible out there. Now that we have Nevin, and expanded rosters, there is no reason for him to be in the lineup as much as he is. Let Tyner play LF, let someone with an average higher than .224 play DH. Either Nevin or somebody. Hell, now that we have a third catcher, put in Redmond at DH and have him bat seventh.

Didn't the Twins learn their lesson about lackluster veteran talent early in the season? Remember Batista? Castro? Rondell White? This team has always done better this season with the young guys in there. It's time to "stop the insanity" (thanks SBG) and cut this guy loose.

A radio broadcaster made a good poing about the Cardinals that relates to this. He mentioned that Tony LaRussa is too dependent on veteran players believing in what they've done in the past, and believing that that's enough reason to keep using them. Hence, why he keeps going to Isringhausen when he's had 10 blown saves. Rondell White is not the same player he once was. He's past his prime, and he's bringing this team down. The Twins are in a pennant race, and they cannot afford to depend on a player because he was good 5 years ago. They need to depend on players who can get it done now!

With that said, the Twins managed to stay ahead in the Wild Card race as the White Sox experience much of the same helplessness that the Twins did last night, losing to Cleveland 9-1. It's the first time since the All-Star Break that the Twins didn't immediately lose the WC in their first game home. They're still on the blasted pattern though of losing home games after taking a WC lead on the road. Hopefully that will stop tonight. All we need is one of the pitchers outside of Santana to get us a win. This will be the Twins last good opportunity to make something happen in the Central race itself. It's time to stop piddling around and play like the home team we should be.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Silva's not the only one with an upset stomach

Twins fans everywhere are reeling after a hard loss to the Devil Rays on Wednesday night. Heading into "Take Me Out To The Ballgame," everything looked golden for the Twins. 2-0 lead. Silva goes 6 IP with no runs. Neshek comes in. 15th straight against TB looked imminent.

Then the moon went full.

Neshek gives up a couples of bombs, and hence, the lead. And the offense, which apparently fell asleep thinking all would be fine, never woke up. And the Twins, let a golden opportunity to come to within 3 games of the Central lead slip away. Now I'm concerned they're going to start on their streak of losing the wild card lead despite going ahead on the road.

The Twins have now had the wild card lead four times. Every single time, they've gone into the lead on the road. Every single time, they've come home and lost at least two games before getting it back together. And now we have Detroit at home, for four games. It happened in late July. Remember, we swept the Sox to tie for the lead (until the Yankees won that night). Then we headed home to play the Tigers, and we lost two straight, and barely won the third.

It's bad enough that the Twins are missing Liriano and Radke, but to start to lose the offense that they rode all year long, and now to have the bullpen hiccup, those are not good signs. The last thing this team needs now is for their good legs to start buckling.

But yet, I still feel good about this series with Detroit. Three months ago, I couldn't have imagined being this close at this point in the season. Their destiny lies before them, and no better time to make a statement, than this week in Detroit.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Bad and Worse

Okay, the last week, the Twins have played like dirt. They've scored more than 3 runs only ONCE, and have gone 3-4 in their last 7. The offense looks shabby and Silva looks worse. Yet somehow, in those 7 games, the Twins are still in the same place, 1/2 game in front of the Sox.

So, how bad are the Sox playing? Well, both the Twins and Sox lost 2 of 3 to KC. Thank goodness, because I was about to go crazy after the Twins lost 2 of 3, so it didn't feel too bad that KC did the same thing to our rivals.

Now the Twins have a nice set against TB. While the Twins have had a rough time getting by KC, they have had no trouble against the Rays, winning their last 13 against them. If they keep it up, and Boston can get back into the groove against the Sox, the Twins might be able to get a little bit of a lead.

And even more important, this weekend, the Twins will have a great opportunity to play some catch-up with the Tigers, as the kitties come to town for four. And which lucky pitcher is going to miss the series? Silva. Shucky darn.

If the Twins are up by the time Liriano gets back, I foresee the Twins staying in front until the end. Keep it up boys!