My hard drive is now fixed and seems to be working just fine. I’m really glad this happened now and not during the semester, since it would be very, very difficult to get any work done without my laptop. I’m also really glad I decided to back up all of my important files, otherwise I would have lost everything and would basically be screwed. In the meantime, a lot of important stuff happened while I was gone:
The Twins win the series!
I mean the weekend series against the Cardinals. You know, I too find the fact that St. Louis is so unapologetically a baseball town to be quite endearing. I do like football, and I am a Vikings fan, but even I have never understood why the Vikes are so beloved in this town. Unlike the Twins, the Vikings have never won anything important and, if anything, actually have a reputation for choking in big games. They haven’t brought us anything more than shame and embarrassment, and yet people love them more than any other sports franchise in this state. Go figure.
Sadly, the Pioneer Press laid off 11 people, including Twins’ beat reporter Phil Miller. The Press’ Twins’ coverage was pretty minimal at best, now I guess it’ll be non-existent. Which is just one more reason why I have always preferred the Star Tribune.
Justin Morneau homered in three straight games, one of which was this lovely shot that landed in the fountain at Kauffman Stadium. He came out of yesterday’s game against the Royals with a groin injury, but it doesn’t sound too serious and he should be back in the lineup tomorrow night against the Tigers. As of right now, there is no need for a “F*ck! There goes our season!” post.
The Twins actually got pretty banged up during the series finale in Kansas City. Mike Redmond had to come out after he got hit in the arm with a foul tip, and apparently he has a bruised forearm and might be out of commission for a bit. Nick Punto also had to leave the game with back stiffness, after Jose Guillen tried to take him out on a questionable play. Um, Guillen does realize that taking out Punto actually kind of helps the Twins, right?
The Sean Henn experiment is over, let the Brian Duensing experiment begin.
The Wolves sort of did the NBA equivalent of taking a bunch of wide receivers in the draft. Actually, I think that the Wolfies did the right thing, for once. It makes sense for a team as devoid of talent as the Wolves to take the best available talent in the draft, since it will take more than one draft to fill all of the holes on the roster. The Wolves will probably have to address most of their needs through trade, and now they actually have the assets to do so. Of course, if the Wolves are still only winning 25 games five years from now, I will be writing an entirely different post.
Michael Jackson, well, it’s no secret that he had a lot of problems. But if there is a more perfect pop album than Thriller, I have yet to hear it. And it spawned the greatest music video of all time.
Oh, yeah, I guess Minnesota finally has a new senator. Meh. I guess now is as good a time as any to post this video:
Something very rare happened yesterday: every Minnesota team that played a game actually won. This pretty much never happens. There isn’t a great deal of overlap between the schedules for all of our major sports franchises anyway, and the results are rarely so favorable when they do. Usually one team wins while the rest of them lose. Or, most likely, all of them end up losing.
- Twins beat Cardinals, 5-3
Kevin Slowey continued his bid to be a dark horse candidate for the 2009 AL Cy Young, giving up two runs on eight hits in six innings. He also recorded five strikeouts, including a big one against Albert Pujols with the bases loaded. The only runs he gave up came off of a two-run homer by Rick Ankiel, and as I’ve mentioned before, he does have a tendency to give up the long ball. Jesse Crain also bounced back from his awful appearance against the Reds, in which he gave up four runs on six hits in one inning, by pitching a scoreless eighth. Jose Mijares was the only Minnesota pitcher who really struggled on the mound, nearly giving the game away in the ninth. He gave up one run on three hits, and had runners on second and third with one out before getting the next two batters to ground out.
The good news for Cardinals fans is that Chris Carpenter looked really good for the most part. He did give up four runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings, which isn’t as bad as it sounds when you consider that he also struck out seven batters. Trever Miller and Chris Perez also pitched well, which is very good news for a team whose bullpen had its own share of struggles last year.
By the way, Twins’ infield prospect Chris Cates made his Spring Training debut in the later innings, too. This is only kind of interesting because, at 5′ 3″, Cates is the shortest player at any level of major league baseball (he’s actually just slightly taller than I am). He looks like a little kid:
- Wild beat Oilers, 3-2
Another game that is essentially meaningless, as the Wild are not going to make the playoffs. By beating Edmonton at Rexall Place last night though, they at least helped to ensure that the Oilers won’t make it, either. It was also really good to see Mikko Koivu back on the ice after sustaining a serious knee injury the last time they beat the Oil.
Actually, Niklas Backstrom is the only reason the Wild even won this game. They still turn over the puck way too much, and if Backs hadn’t been so sharp the Oil would’ve made them pay for all of their careless mistakes (much like the Flames did on Saturday). The Wild could still theoretically make the playoffs if they win every single one of their next six games. This is simply too much to ask for a team that hasn’t won two in a row in over a month, and hasn’t won three in a row since Thanksgiving. Considering that the Wild also have the Flames and the Stars on the schedule (two teams they have struggled to do much against the entire year) I think it’s pretty safe to say that the season is almost over with now.
But hey, at least Bemidji State is having a pretty good run in the NCAA tournament. The Beavers upset heavily-favored Notre Dame on Saturday, and stunned Cornell last night on their way to their first Frozen Four appearance in school history. I’ve written before that I started following college hockey when the North Stars were shipped out of town. And while my beloved Golden Gophers failed to even make the tournament this year, it is good to see at least one of our hockey teams in the playoffs.
- Timberwolves finally win a game!
Yeah, they beat the Nets. But a victory is a victory for a team that has only had twenty-one of them this year. I thought the Wolves were at least going to surpass last year’s grand total of 22 wins, but with only eight games left on the schedule, I’m not so sure. Sadly, if the Wolves were in the Eastern Conference, they would probably have a decent chance at making the playoffs this year.
By the way, I have now updated my blogroll. I added three new MLBlogs that I like a lot, as well as a couple of Twins pro blogs. If you haven’t yet, please check out Plouffe!, written by Twins infield prospect (and guitar player) Trevor Plouffe. He’s got some great stuff on there about his former roommate Delmon Young, and some cute pictures too!
Scott over at I’m Not a Headline Guy wrote a lovely entry explaining his devotion to the New York Yankees. And it got me to thinking about my beloved Twinkies, and, well, why they’re my beloved Twinkies. Of course, a lot of it has to do with the 1987 World Series, which I am just barely old enough to remember. Nobody expected the ’87 Twins to win it all, and with good reason I might add. They finished with a mediocre 85-77 record, which was good enough to win the weak AL West division, but was the worst winning percentage of any playoff-bound team in history (a record that would stand until the 83-78 Cardinals won it all in 2006). The 98-64 Detroit Tigers were heavily favored to win the AL pennant, with most analysts predicting a sweep of the supposedly hapless Twins. Instead it was the Twins who nearly pulled off a sweep of their own, beating the Tigers four games to one to clinch the ALCS and advance to the World Series for the first time since 1965. Once again, the Twinkies were up against a heavily-favored opponent in the St. Louis Cardinals, who were about to make their third World Series appearance in six years. And once again the Twins would pull off a stunning upset, beating the Cards in seven games and clinching their first World Series title since moving to Minnesota in 1961 (and second in team history). Frank Viola, Kirby Puckett, Dan Gladden, Gary Gaetti, all those guys on that team would become great heroes in Minnesota sports history.
And then there was the ’91 World Series, the greatest World Series of all-time. This Series had everything: dramatic walk-off home runs, fantastic pitching performances from youngsters Tom Glavine and John Smoltz and veteran Jack Morris, wrestling (Braves fans still haven’t quite gotten over that one), a new MLB record for extra-innings WS games, and two teams that had finished in last place in their respective divisions the previous season. This time around the Twins weren’t exactly considered underdogs, having finished the regular season with a 95-67 record. They steamrolled over the Blue Jays in the ALCS, winning four games to one on the way to their second World Series title in four years.
The Braves would prove to be a much more challenging opponent, however, and the Twins would have to grind out five one-run games and three extra-innings games before clinching the title. The most dramatic game of the series, however, had to be game six. The Twins were facing elimination, having dropped three straight games to Atlanta, including a 14-5 blowout in game five. The Twins took a 3-2 lead into the seventh inning, when Atlanta 2B Mark Lemke scored on a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded to tie the game. The score remained even until the bottom of the eleventh, when Kirby Puckett untied the game with a solo shot off of Charlie Leibrandt to left-center field. That shot, and Jack Buck’s now-famous call, has to be the single greatest moment of my entire childhood. The Twins would go on to win game seven in ten innings, with a walk-off bloop single by Gene Larkin. Jack Morris pitched a ten-inning masterpiece (yes, you read that right, ten innings) in that game, which to this day is one of the best pitching performances I’ve ever seen. Good times.
There’s been a lot of other good stuff since then, too. The 2002 team was amazingly talented, and looked like they were going to bring us another championship. Alas, it was not to be. The Angels made sure of that. The 2006 team made an incredible late-season run to win the division. Unfortunately that was as far as the Twinkies would go, as they would then get swept by Oakland in the ALDS. They really got under Ozzie Guillen’s skin that year, too. That’s always fun.
And of course, there’s this guy:
Come on, admit it. You know you love him. Even if you aren’t a Twins fan.
- I love the Wild, too, even though I complain about them a lot
Hockey in Minnesota is like hockey in Canada. Or football in Texas. It’s just what you do. It’s what we’re good at. If your hockey team has any Americans on it, chances are pretty good that they’re from Minnesota. Or that they once played for the Golden Gophers. I started off as a North Stars fan when I was a little kid. They weren’t very good for the most part, though they did make a run for the Cup in 1991. But then a very bad man decided to move the team to Dallas after the 1992 season. I was heartbroken. I cried like a little girl (of course, I was a little girl, but that’s beside the point). And I was also torn. I wanted to cheer for my Stars, even though they weren’t really my Stars anymore, because they took Mike Modano with them. And I loved him. But, like any other bitter divorce, the animosity I felt for my ex-team was too great and I just couldn’t get over it. I couldn’t bring myself to cheer for any other NHL team either. It just didn’t seem right. I was a die-hard hockey fan without a team.
So I decided to fill the hockey void in my life with my hometown Gophers. I mean, they’ve done some good things:
It just wasn’t the same as having a professional hockey team, though. So when the NHL granted Minnesota an expansion franchise to open for the 2000-2001 season, I was absolutely thrilled. Though I wasn’t crazy about the team name (what the heck’s a wild?), or the logo (or the home unis, blech), I was excited to have an NHL franchise back in Minnesota. And though the team itself hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations, it’s been better than most of the old North Stars teams. And we have new heroes now:
- I root for the Vikings, and to a lesser extent, the Wolves, too
Why? Because somebody has to, that’s why. Oh there was a time when the Vikings were good. The Vikings of the late ’60s and early ’70s were some of the best football teams to never win a championship, but that was before my time. I remember the 1998 Vikes, though I’ve spent the past ten years trying to forget the NFC Championship game. And the current team is actually pretty good, it’s just missing a few key pieces. Like a starting QB. And special teams that can, um, not give up so many touchdowns (I mean really, when your punter is trying to make a tackle you know you’re in trouble). And some decent play-calling (which, by the way, helps out the starting QB a lot).
I’m not a huge basketball fan, but I do have a soft spot for the Timberwolves. I kind of feel sorry for them because they suck so bad. It’s not their fault, they’ve been mismanaged for years. And before Al Jefferson went down they had a pretty good shot at being a mediocre team this year. At least they aren’t the worst team in the league, so there’s that.