The Twins open a four-game series against the A’s tonight in
Fremont Oakland. There’s a pretty good scouting report on the White Elephants here. I’d like to believe the Twins will take the series (really I do), but the way things have been going lately, they’ll probably be lucky to avoid being swept.
It’s no secret that the Twinkies have had trouble scoring runs outside the teflon confines of the Metrodome. At least now we know why.
Tom Glavine isn’t happy that the Braves released him, and is considering suing to recover the $1 million signing bonus he would have received if he made the active roster. I guess it’s understandable that Atlanta would rather give its most prized pitching prospect a job instead of a 43-year-old with arm problems (especially since his performance has been less-than-stellar the past couple of seasons), but one has to wonder why they even bothered to re-sign Glavine in the first place.
Glen Perkins was roughed up in his first rehab start, surrendering five runs on six hits, including a couple of home runs, in four innings. So he’s basically picking right up where he left off before going on the DL. Um. so how healthy is Glavine, then?
The Nats are planning shell out big bucks to sign this year’s can’t-miss pitching prospect Stephen Strasburg in the first round. Will Strasburg be the one to save the franchise from itself? Of course not, this is the Nats. They can’t do anything right. Not even fireworks.
Speaking of can’t-miss prospects, Alan Schwarz notes that there really is no such thing. At least not where pitching prospects are concerned.
I am a huge hockey fan. I should be excited about the Stanley Cup Finals. But watching Detroit (probably) win its second consecutive cup, and 12th in team history, is just sort of anticlimactic. At least we get some good Jersey Fouls out of it.
The uproar over Alex Rodriguez and his bum hip has made me realize how nice it is to cheer for a team nobody cares about. Joe Mauer, Joe Nathan, and Boof Bonser have all had their share of ailments so far (some of them devastating), and yet the mainstream media has barely even noticed. While ESPN has been covering the A-Rod drama nearly 24/7 and obsessing over what Brian Cashman needs to do to ensure that the Yankees make the playoffs, we here in Twins Territory have had to keep up with the progress of our injured players through the local papers (both of them). The injuries to all of these players, like the injury to A-Rod, could potentially cost the Twins the season. But at least I don’t have to hear about it.
There is one other benefit to having little media coverage of your team: nobody cares if they lose. It’s true; the Twins could go on a 20-game losing streak (God forbid) and ESPN would barely even mention it. Could you imagine what it would be like if that were the Yankees or the Red Sox? tWWL would be in full-on panic mode, with all of their analysts talking nonstop about what kind of fire sale the team needs to have. They would spend hours agonizing over what went wrong, and calling for the firing of everyone in the front office. In some ways I kind of felt bad for Yankee fans last year. Every time I turned on the television, I had to hear about how they weren’t going to make the playoffs and that they were a laughingstock because they spent so much money to finish in third place. I can’t imagine Yankee fans really enjoyed having that thrown up in their faces all the time.
Oh, sometimes it can be difficult to be a Twins fan. You often have to watch your favorite players walk away once they become too expensive. But when you realize that Torii Hunter is getting paid $90 million to hit about 25 homers a season for the Angels, you appreciate the $7.2 million Jason Kubel even more. After awhile you tend to think of your favorite players as your children. It’s fun to watch them come up through the system and develop into well-rounded individuals, but eventually they have to grow up and leave the nest. You wish them well, but you know that it’s in the best interests of everyone involved if you just let them go.
Besides, you always have more babies at home to worry about.
I am not trying to disparage large-market teams in any way. Nor do I think the fans of such franchises should abandon their beloved teams and become Twins fans (though that would be nice. The Twins could always use more fans). I just don’t really want the Twins to ever have the sort of media coverage those other teams endure. I realize that the sort of unlimited financial resources these franchises enjoy comes from overexposure by the mainstream media, and I admit that sometimes I wish the Twins had that kind of money. Still, I don’t think I could take it if I had to hear about my teams’ shortcomings every time I turn on the friggin’ television. Obviously I don’t need any help getting all worked up over nothing.
- Twins shutout Reds 3-0
This game wasn’t all that interesting, either, except for the fact that Glen Perkins has been pitching well. I realize that it’s only spring training, but this is still good news. Perk was very inconsistent last year, to say the least, with September being his worst month by far. He didn’t make it past the fifth inning in any of his starts and was having trouble locating his pitches. Considering that he is projected to be the fourth starter (Blackburn has knee issues and the Twins want to take a conservative approach), he’ll have to start pitching more like he did in August.
And Jason Kubel had an RBI single, extending the good spring he’s been having so far.
- Joe Nathan Aching Shoulder Watch:
Nathan threw a full bullpen session the other day and reportedly feels fine, so I’m calling off the watch for now. He even said it himself: “I haven’t felt this good in four years”, whatever that means. Also, Nick Blackburn’s sore knee apparently isn’t bothering him anymore. The starting rotation doesn’t have much depth so this is obviously very good news. While Philip Humber or R. A. Dickey could potentially fill out a spot if necessary, whether or not they could do so competently is another matter. Anthony Swarzak and Rob Delaney look like very promising prospects, but the organization feels like they need more seasoning in the minors. The same could be said about Jason Jones (who will probably end up being a reliever, anyway). While I initially thought the Twins could probably get away with an eleven-man pitching staff, maybe there’s a need to carry twelve pitchers after alll.
Oooooh, I almost forgot. Our old friend Dennys Reyes, aka the Big Sweat, has signed with the Cardinals for two years and $3 million, plus incentives. Reyes was mostly used as a situational lefty during his time with the Twins, and he’s been a very good one at that. The Cardinals had one of the worst bullpens in the league last season (or so I’ve been told), and this signing gives them some much-needed depth at a reasonable price. He isn’t going to solve all their problems, though, since he tends to be shaky against righties and probably wouldn’t make a good closer.
- Wild defeat Sharks in OT, 4-3
This game is worth
mentioning because it is going to go down as one of the greatest in
franchise history. The Wild were down 3-0 in the middle of the second
period, after playing so terribly throughout the first. It looked as
though they were going to lose their fifth straight game and fall
completely out of the Western Conference playoff picture. I was about
to change the channel when captain Mikko Koivu deflected a shot into the net for the first goal, which ignited the unbelievable rally. Minutes later, defenseman Kim Johnsson found Pierre-Marc Bouchard all alone a the blue line, and he beat Brian Boucher over the shoulder for the second Wild goal. There was no stopping the Wild after that, as they kept pressuring the Sharks until they finally gave in.
Of course, Boucher inadvertently helped them out with some sloppy goaltending (and bad ice):
Zidlicky was simply trying to clear the puck into the offensive zone and head off to the bench for a change. He had no idea he’d scored until he saw his goal on the jumbotron. I doubt the Wild would’ve been able to stage such a comeback if Evgeni Nabokov were between the pipes, but I don’t care. This team hasn’t won a game since they beat the Blackhawks on Feburary 22nd at United Center. I will take a win of any kind at this point.
The Captain saved the best for last, though, when he scored the game-winning goal with a mere 20 seconds left in overtime:
Yep, that’s about how I reacted, too.
The Wild are now one point away from making the playoffs, with about 19 games left to play. I still don’t think they’re going to make it, but I’ll be happy if they just finish the season with a winning record.
Now that the Arizona Cardinals are playing in the Super Bowl, there’s been a lot of talk about how their fans are all bandwagoners. Cardinals fans have been mercilessly mocked by bloggers and the mainstream media alike because apparently they didn’t exist before this season (that’s not exactly true, they do have at least one devoted fan). A lot of people are wondering where all of these people have been in the last 20 years, when the Cards were terrible. Because, you know, true fans stick with their teams no matter what, through the good times and bad. Neither rain, nor snow, nor a 13-game losing streak prevents real fans from cheering on their beloved teams.
I admit it, we Minnesotans are notorious front-runners. I remember about a decade ago, when the Twins were routinely losing at least 90 games and the Dome was like a ghost town. Back in those days you could actually sit there and count the number of people in the seats (which was often more interesting than the action on the field). Sometimes I look at all the people in the stands now and wonder where they were before 2002. The Twins aren’t the only ones who’ve had to deal with fickle Minnesota fans, either. The Timberwolves continue to struggle to fill seats, even though they had the best record in the NBA in January (yes, you read that right). Although Minny is considered a football town, the Vikings have had a lot of trouble selling tickets to games these past eight years, when they would barely finish above the Lions. This season, of course, when the Vikes made a big splash in the free-agent market, and then went on to win ten games and make the playoffs, you couldn’t even buy tickets if you wanted to. Fickle, fickle, fickle.
The exception, of course, is the Wild. Wild games always sell out, no matter how pathetic the team might be. It’s not just because Minnesotans are crazy about hockey, either. It’s because we have already suffered the loss of one hockey team. We’re not going to make that mistake again.
It’s not that we only support our teams when they’re winning. We love them all anyway, even when they suck. We wouldn’t spend so much time complaining about those losers if we didn’t care about them. It’s just that we Minnesotans are
cheap a thrifty bunch. We’re not going to spend $60 a pop for nosebleed seats to watch the Vikings stink up the field. Not when we can watch them stink from the comforts of our own homes (or not. And if the game does get blacked out, well, that’s all the better). And why should we? If the team is terrible, but people go to the games anyway, the front office has no incentive to make improvements. If people continue to buy a crappy product, management will continue to produce it. By boycotting games, we fans are sending a strong message that we disapprove of the quality of the product on the field and the idiotic moves the front office has made. Eventually, this boycotting pays off and the front office puts together a quality product (or moves it to a more lucrative market, whichever comes first). It’s not a coincidence that the Twins, Vikings, Wild, and now even the Timberwolves have finally put together winning teams. We fans haven’t given them much of a choice.
I also have no problem with people who finally get fed up and just give up on their teams. I mean really, how long are fans of the Lions, Pirates, Chiefs, and Maple Leafs supposed to suffer? These teams have been dishing out emotional abuse on their devoted fanbases for decades, and I don’t blame these people one bit if they simply refuse to take it anymore. Good for them, sometimes a divorce is the only way to fix a bad marriage.
Of course, when and if your team decides to win again, I’m sure they will be more than happy to welcome you (and your money) back into the fold. No hard feelings, and no questions asked.
At least there is hockey to fall back on. I promise this will (mostly) be a baseball blog. And when the Twins decide to do something, I’ll write about it. Until then, two of our other teams were busy tonight in games that have some huge implications.
- Wild thump ‘yotes 6-3:
This was a win that this team sorely needed. After a losing two games in a row to teams that they really should’ve beaten (the Flyers and Blue Jackets), the Wild came back and had their way with Phoenix at the X. For a team that has had such a pathetic offense (they are ranked dead last in the league in even-strength scoring) and has generally looked asleep on the ice as of late, they had no trouble finding the back of the net tonight. Four players : Andrew Brunette, Mikko Koivu, Cal Clutterbuck, and Owen Nolan each had a goal and an assist. And while the Coyotes certainly made things interesting by pulling within one goal in the third, Clutterbuck and James Shepppard answered with a goal apiece to put the game away.
This game is huge because there are currently four teams tied for third place in the Northwest Division, and only four points separating the Wild from second-place Vancouver. The Wild dug themselves a huge hole in December, when they went 3-9-1, and cannot afford to lose these types of games if they hope to earn a playoff spot.
- Wolves fall to Miami,99-96
I don’t really think anyone expected the Wolves to win this game, even though they’ve been riding an incredible hot streak. But this loss was still disappointing because they were actually leading the Heat the entire game. Well, until the last 2:42 minutes, anyway. In typical Wolves fashion, they managed to squander 5 point lead in the last few minutes, although this is not nearly as devastating as their Dec. 30th loss to Dallas in which they p****d away a 29 point lead and ended up losing 100-107.
Randy Foye was absolutely on fire tonight, with 29 points and 8 assists. Unfortunately, he was outdueled by Dwyane Wade, who had 31 points and 8 assists. Foye did his best to make sure Wade’s hands were full trying to defend him, but in the end it just wasn’t enough.
Although the Wolves have now fallen to 11-26, it’s encouraging to see them playing so well together. It kills me to admit that Kevin McHale might actually be doing something right, but the team is showing so much life under his tutelage it’s actually kind of scary. And while I am going to banish any thoughts of making the playoffs from my mind, it looks as though the team might actually finish at .500. After the abysmal start to the season, and the past few seasons in general, that would be quite an accomplishment indeed.