Thursday, October 19, 2006

The bitterness continues...

Twins: 96-66, AL Central Champions, amazing comeback season from 12.5 games back, lost in first round.
Tigers: 95-67, AL Wild Card Champions, lost division on last day, in World Series
Cardinals: 83-78, NL Central Champions, worst record of all playoff teams in 2006, in World Series.

Yes... I'm really bitter right now.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

ALDS Game 3: Oakland 8, Twins 3

I don't wanna talk about it :-(

Okay, I will.

About the time of the third error, I started to realize that this team did not DESERVE to be going further. 5 errors in 3 games. Oh, and that does NOT include Torii's misplay on the inside-the-park homer. The A's didn't make mistakes, and they made sure the Twins paid for every one of theirs.

Radke was not sharp, giving up two home runs in the first 3 innings. Putting the Twins in a 4-0 hole early. Hunter started the comback with a home run, but then ended it when he was thrown out at home. Can't blame him for that though. I would have sent him as well. It was a good throw by Bradley, and a marginally bad call by the umpire.

Morneau's error in the 7th set up the finishing blow - a 3 run double by Marco Scutaro, who became the hero of the day.

Radke, tis too bad the final game was this way. I thank you again for a wonderful season.

Twins, I think it's time to work on the fundamentals during the offseason.

A's, congratulations, you played great baseball, and good luck to you and your quest for a title. You showed this fan how great your team is and how dangerous it is to take you lightly. We thought the A's would be easier than the Yankees, clearly, that was not the case. Good luck.

Tigers, so you DID throw those games in KC! I'm beginning to think that Ozzie let us win that last one :-) Good luck to you too.

Yankees, go to hell (j/k). Good luck, but I don't really mean it. I hope the Tigers beat you into submission and all that money Steinbrenner spent goes to waste.

Cardinals, how the bleep do you do it? 5 games over .500 to finish the season and you're about to get past the first round... AGAIN!

Anyway, right now I'm very bitter. I'm bitter that the Twins played so badly. I'm bitter that lesser teams are making it past the first round while our guys are going home. I'm bitter that the Yankees are the golden child of ESPN even though they spend more money than the government. I'm bitter that the Twins had such a great season, and ended on such a downer. It would have been one thing to lose the series closely 3-2, but they got stomped 3-0.

The day will get brighter once the Yankees lose.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Pregame: Game 3

I'm prepared.

I thought about today's game this morning, and I'm prepared.... for a let down. I need to be, otherwise, when it does happen, I'll be in a worse mood if I don't prepare a little bit.

The A's have lost 9 straight games when faced with an opportunity to eliminate their opponent. The Twins have a knack for ending bad streaks for other teams. Plus, with Torii's play on Wednesday, I think a lot of the life has been sucked out of this team. So, instead of remembering 2006 as the Twins 3rd World Championship, we're going to have to remember 2006 has many other things.

- It was the first year the Twins had anybody hit 30 homeruns since 1987.
- It was the year we remembered Kirby Puckett after he died in March.
- It was Brad Radke's swansong, and he will be remembered for his guts and determination.
- Johan Santana's second Cy Young award.
- Mauer becoming the first AL catcher to win the batting title.
- Cuddyer's emergence
- Liriano's amazing rookie year
- Punto's head first slides
- Morneau's emergence as a power threat and RBI guy.
- An incredible regular season where the Twins found themselves 12.5 games back in June, 10.5 games back in early August. Took a share of the Central lead on the 159th game, and won the division on the last day of the season.

There's plenty to remember about this season.

Now, just because I'm prepared, doesn't mean I want the Twins to lay down and die this afternoon. I would be very disappointed if this became an early blowout. I want to see them keep winning. And I'd love for Radke to be the hero the pull this team from the mire. But I'm prepared for their fate. I'm going to take the pessimistic/realistic view point, and be happy if/when they turn it around and pull off a victory.

Good luck boys, and bring home a winner!

ALDS Game 2: Oakland 5, Twins 2

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed.

Torii Hunter's outfield misplay of a single by Mark Kotsay turned into an inside the park home run that set the momentum clearly in the A's favor. Boof pitched 6 innings and gave up only 2 runs in another great outing by a Twins starter. Morneau and Cuddyer hit back to back homeruns in the 6th to tie the game. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough, and the Twins are heading to Oakland down 2-0.

Torii's play is going to be his "Buckner" moment. And I'm not sure the Twins are going to be able to recover. But it's more than just that play. Their offense has been stagnant. Three of their four runs have been solo homeruns. They are 0-14 with runners in scoring position. The offense has just completely shut down.

Punto continues to play good 3B, making another great catch that I first thought was a replay of the one he made in game 1. However, his batting and (first) base running leave something to be desired. He hasn't been able to do much with the bat lately, of course, neither have a lot of the Twins. When I hear of people saying they want a "real" 3rd baseman and move Punto to 2nd, I just think "Why?" Why fix what ain't broken. Punto is fine at 3rd. It's batting 2nd that I'd question at this point.

The biggest question mark for the Twins coming in was starting pitching. With only Johan, a rookie, and two shaky veterans, nobody thought their starters would be worth a darn. However, the offense, defense and bullpen, all considered strengths, have let the Twins down this series.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

ALDS Game 1: Oakland 3, Twins 2

For the first time in 36 years, the Twins lost the first game of a playoff series. Hard to imagine the Twins winning 8 straight openers, but they did. Yesterday, though, they were "hurt" bad by the Big Hurt, Frank Thomas. 2 HRs including a 9th inning blast that ended up being the difference in the game.

Great pitching performances by both Zito and Santana. Zito comes out on top for only giving up one run in 8 innings. Santana looked great even with giving up two runs, but the offense wasn't able to capitalize on good opportunities.

During lunch, I was able to watch 3.5 innings. The first thing I saw was a wasted opportunity. Punto swung on a 2-1 count at a pitch at his head, putting him at 2-2 instead of 3-1. On the next pitch, Castillo took off and was caught at second. Punto was elminated on the first pitch.

The other thing I saw too much of was Twins swinging at the first pitch. The reason Zito was able to go so long was because we kept making it easy for him. He walked Castillo twice and has had a habit of doing it. 99 walks during the regular season. Knowing that, the Twins should have been patient and waiting on the right pitch. Notice the Yankees/Tigers game went almost 4 hours. Why? Because the Yankees take 4-5 pitches before they see what they want and they usually do something good with it.

The big Twins highlight was Santana's pitching and Rondell White's homerun. Punto also made a fantastic catch in foul territory that could've been the Twins "Bartman" incident. But instead, Punto comes up with the ball and the Twins got a much needed out.

Today, they play other day game with Boof Bonser going against Esteban Loaiza. I'm not too worried about the 0-1 start. The Twins know all too well that winning the first game does not mean the series is over. Heck, the A's should know that as well. They've been up 2-0 twice and failed to close the series. The Twins also shouldn't feel out of it just because Johan lost. When the Twins went 7-3 on their latest road trip, two of those losses were Johan starts, the rest of the team went 7-1.

I'm not worried about the pitching (much). I am a little concerned, and have been for some time, about this offense. They do create lots of opportunities (singles and such) but many times fail to capitalize with a 2-out RBI, or a big home run. I think it's time to clear the sinuses and "smell that RBI."

Go Twins!

P.S. I freakin' hate the Yankees.

Monday, October 02, 2006

What a season!

Unbelievable! You wanna talk about a photo finish, THAT was amazing. After struggling for the first 2 months, the Twins, down at one point 12 1/2 games, come back not just to match the Tigers, but to overtake them and win the American League Central. All year, I dreamed about them doing it. I hoped that they could pull it off, but all with a healthy skepticism that thought that realistically, there's no way they can actually pull it off.

They proved me wrong.

And a BIG thank you to the Kansas City Royals, who got hot at just the right time (after playing the Twins!)

Hunter hit his 31st home run, but fell just short of 100 RBI with 98.
Morneau became the first Twin to hit 30 homers in 19 years.
Mauer won the batting title!

Now the Twins get to play Oakland, more importantly... at HOME. The Twins went 5-1 against them at home this season, and 6-4 overall. The Tigers get the Yankees, and boy will I be cheering for the Tigers this week!

This has undoubtedly been the best regular season ever for the Twins. At least for the fans. It started out horrible, but the last 4 months cannot be beat. A stretch of games going 19-1. Coming back in July to tie the Sox. Taking the Wild Card lead by the end of August, and catching up with the Tigers, and never having the division lead by themselves until October. How do you follow that up?

With a World Championship?