A couple things:
I couldn’t help but notice the drubbing that took place in the Bronx on Saturday. With a bit of glee. Even though the Tribe are in the same division as the Twins, I just couldn’t help but smile with awe when I first caught the score on CBS Sportsline. Knowing that Wang was scheduled to start that game though, it didn’t come as much of a surprise. If the league gave out an anti-Cy-Young-award, I think he would have already won it for the season. And on Sunday morning I caught the New York Post headline that made my day prior to the Twins’ sweep of the Angels that I attended later on:
Of course, it hit me later that I had seen this before. Looks like the Post stole the Daily News headline from a few years ago, when the Yankees were crushed 22-0:
And who gave ‘em that 22-0 thrashing? The Indians. Aug. 31, 2004. When I checked for that date earlier today, I ran across this tidbit — prior to that game, their worst loss was way back in July 1928, a 24-6 defeat. The team? Who else!? The Indians. Albeit, that one took place in Cleveland, so it might not be as mystical as first appears. ESPN.com ran a great side tidbit on the context of the Indians-blowing-out-the-Yankees dynamic though. Take a look:
Interesting. Maybe this was just another serendipitous moment in Tribe-Bombers baseball. Probably not though. Sure seems to me (and everyone else for that matter) that the new Yankee Stadium is the Coors Field of the East. When pop flies and end of the bat tips end up in the seats, there is a serious problem that needs to be dealt with. If the Yanks had a left handed slugger like Ruth or Maris today, they’d have a good chance of hitting 80 or 90 home runs in a season. Maybe they should have tried to sign Adam Dunn in the offseason?
Something’s gotta give here — New York has just retooled to rely less on power, and are relying heavily on right-handers in their pitching department. This is a recipe for disaster. The opposition has the advantage, it seems, in the Bronx now, whatever the opposition happens to be. Let’s not discount the notion that out-of-town players are no longer intimidated by the haunted mystique that the old Stadium oozed. It sure seems that, payroll or no, the Yankees have become just another American League team this year. They’re still the Yankees, but Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle…. they never stepped foot in this building. I don’t think it’s far fetched to equate it to the Senators leaving for Minnesota, yet a Senators team showed up in DC in ’61 anyway. Yeah, they’re the Senators, but, also, they’re not.
The other thing that has bugged the heck outta me was what I noticed while watching the Twins game on Saturday night. The Twins, wearing their (arguably) 1982 throwback Saturday-NIght-Specials!!! at the Metrodome, need to get on the same page. We’ve got Redmond behind the plate, as well as Jerry White and and Scotty Ullger at the first and third base coaching boxes, respectively, wearing the late ’70’s flapless helmets; we’ve got the hitters wearing the current navy helmets, which, with the uniforms, harkens to the 1973 unis, and on the field, we’ve got the “throwback” red caps, even though they are actually just the alternates from a couple years ago. Real throwbacks wouldn’t be as dark of a blue on the brim or logo, and the logo wouldn’t have as much raising in the embroidery. Sheesh.
But the kicker is that someone completely forgot to sew Delmon Young’s number on the front of his jersey. Everyone but the bat boys have the front #s, but for some reason Delmon was left out of the group. Was this some sort of statement, or just a bush-league screw-up from the clubhouse people?
But, two things are bugging me.
One, when in the world are people going to learn to stay until the end of the game? Twice for the Twins in two weeks, we have improbable comebacks at the Metrodome. I guess I just don’t get it. Dick Bremer was right. “If you left the game early, shame on you.” Indeed. Valid reasons like sickness or an emergency provide exemption. I doubt that’s the excuse for the majority that left though. If they lose, then they lose, but what if they win? You’ll have a great memory for years to come.
Two, what is the deal with the bullpen? Last night it was Crain. Four earned in 1/3 of an inning? The walks are killing. Every base runner seems to snowball into a big inning lately. The Angels loaded the bases so many times I lost count.
But worst of all was how the Angels scored their ninth run. A strike out. K, reach 1B, steal of second, advance to 3B on an out, sacrificed home. A late run without the benefit of a hit or walk. Unbelievable. No one is going to remember that, because, after all, the Twins ended up winning. But I’ll remember. And I’m betting Gardenhire will remember.
We’ll see how Juan Morillo pans out. But I believe it is a good thing that Humber is gone. He could not prove that he could be depended upon. I think it takes a lot of guts for Bill Smith to already dump one of the key figures in the Santana trade, but it needed to be done, and it was the right thing to do. Simply wanting dividends from such a contentious trade for the Twins does not guarantee results, and sometimes it’s wise to say that enough is enough. It’s a step, but I think the bullpen as a whole needs some retooling. Maybe just some extra work with Andy? I dunno.
Elsewhere, I noticed that Marmol picked up a save for the Cubs yesterday. Sweet Lou is passing it off as Gregg wasn’t warmed up, otherwise it would have been him. I’m wondering if he’s playing politics with that. Marmol should have been the closer from the beginning of the season, and something tells me that this is going to start becoming a closer-by-committee scenario for the Cubs. Or outright competition. I’ll keep my eyes open throughout the season.
…or almost two weeks in, at least. I don’t think anyone could have fathomed that, even only after two weeks, we would be looking at the Marlins as the top team in the bigs. We all thought that the Birds (O’s and Jays, that is) would be battling it out in the AL East — it’s just that we thought they would be battling for the 4th and 5th slot, not the 1st and 2nd. And it looks like the Mariners are playing how everyone thought they should be playing before last season.
Unfortunately, these pleasant surprises for the baseball world have been a nightmare for Twins fans like me. Are Gardy and the boys simply unlucky in having to face the teams that are pitching well and murdering the ball at the plate? Or are these teams faring well against an overrated and lackluster Twins team, getting a jumpstart against a weak Minnesota opponent this year? ‘Course, it’s difficult to say. But the fairweather reactions of Twins fans usually don’t come this early in the season, nor are they as easily provoked.
My wife keeps telling me it’s a long season, but I think the Twins (and Twins fans) ought know by now that every game counts. If we all didn’t get that message in ’06, then we sure should have received the ugly confirmation of it last year.
What I have seen so far in this Twins season are a lot of leads being blown various times throughout a game. “Here, why don’t you just take the lead back. We don’t want it.” Of course, that’s a negative attitude and an inaccurate assessment of the reality of things, but c’mon already… the gopher balls and the inability of the bullpen (or starters, for that matter) to hold a lead are exhausting to watch… or listen to. Dick Bremer doesn’t help matters on television — he feels like a pallbearer calling the game when it swings out of the Twins reach. At least John Gordon calls a good game on the radio and touches upon the failures with a “Well, that’s baseball for ya, folks.” type of attitude.
And behold, as I type, Blackburn just blew a 2-0 lead over the Angels in the fifth inning. Angels lead now 3-2. The same Angels team that has struggled to score runs this season. Ohhhhhh well.
Yes, dear, it is a long season, indeed.