Tuesday, September 28, 2010

THIS DAY IN TWINS HISTORY: Kirby Puckett plays last game, 1995; leaves field after hit by CLEV. Indian pitcher Dennis Martinez pitch.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Horror of Horrors: Umpire Phil Cuzzi Revisited!

Above: Phil Cuzzi looking properly positioned to make the call.
Melky Cabrera went like a bat out of hell to get to Mauer's ball.
If I'm the umpire, I'd factor a player's body language as I'm
making the call. Ah, but that would be second-guessing, wouldn't it?
Mauer's hit kicking up dust even! Maybe flaming,
smoking divots would help our distracted

Much maligned umpire Phil Cuzzi was back at it in last night's (Sunday, Sept. 26, 2010) game, acting as the homeplate umpire for the Red Sox - Yankees game in New York.  Obviously, he's honing his ability to achieve the unbelievable!

Observers estimate he called seven different pitches "balls" which should have been strikes for Sox reliever Jonathan Papelbon, pitching in the 9th inning. This ultimately helped the Yankees tie the game at 3, in a game they won later in the 11th inning. The electronic "Pitch Tracker" system that gives feedback to League Officials backs up this analysis. Tsk, tsk.

 Acting as the left-field umpire in Game Two of last year's Divisional Playoffs on Friday, Oct. 9, Cuzzi blew a foul-ball call when Joe Mauer led off the 11th inning with a line drive down the line for what should have been a ground-rule double. Two pitches later, Mauer did single, but the Yankees eventually were able to get out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam and went on to win, 4-3, on a Mark Teixeira home run in the bottom of the inning.

I'm not especially enamored with the idea of instant replay, but repeated instances like this may give me a change of heart!

The horror...Look at it...LOOK AT IT!

May Your Taters Fly Far!
Twinkler Out

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"Don't Call Them Twinkies," A New Twins Fight Song For You! By Craig Finn And The Baseball Project

Here's the new ditty By The Baseball Project & Craig Finn.

Song author and lead vocalist Craig Finn of The Hold Steady
could pass of a long-lost brother of Hall of Fame pitcher Bruce Sutter.
 With thanks for photo and accompanying info
 courtesy of  MPR: The Current.

Not sure I'm sold on it.  A couple more listenings, and I might be seen running down Sunrise Avenue, Homer Hanky a-wavin,' screaming "Glory Hallelujah!!" Doubltess, Missus Twins Twinkler would endorse that.

The band — which also features Steve "The Toy Cannon" Wynn of Dream Syndicate, R.E.M.’s Peter "John" Buck and Scott "Mr." McCaughey, Zuzu's Petals drummer Linda "Miss Jane" Pitmon — deliver a working-class hardrockin'-jangly-I-tore-my-pants-on-a-barn stud of a song to go with other between-inning hits like John Fogerty’s “Centerfield” or “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Finn drops some nostalgic lyrics about legendary outfielder Kirby Puckett:

"In the fall of '87, I was pretty much in heaven / I got my licence and a girlfriend, and the Twins had won the pennant," he quivers on the cut.  Finn is tentatively scheduled to appear on the Minneapolis/St. Paul 1500 am radio postgame segment on Sunday, Oct. 3 to discuss the song. But as we well know, rockers are notoriously unreliable and footloose and fancyfree, so that's subject to change...

BTY: I know you've been dying to know: personally, I've never liked the "Twinkies" tag.  That's because I know it originated (at least in my recollection) during the '80s, before the Championship season, as a slightly derisive moniker for team when it, well, sucked.

Of course, I've always been kind of partial towards the original 1961 "Win! Twins!" song by Ray Charles (not THAT one) and Dick ("Don't Call Me Richie") Wilson.  It is available in the sidebar for your eternal happiness.

AND AS IF you haven't heard it, here's a video with the song mentioned above, played as background ambience: it was played during the Twins Legends game a few weeks ago as the portly and disheveled former Twins players took to the field!

May Your Taters Fly Far!
Twinkler Out

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

RUMOR MONGER CENTRAL: reports of Span's eye irritation injury during postgame fiesta (errant sprays of Tom Moore Ginger Ale) without merit!

Denard And The Twins Clinch Am. League Central!!!

No, he's not auditioning for a role in "Cheech n' Chong UP in Smoke Part IV."
Heckuva game for Denard and the boys last night! Rally in 8th, coupled with
White Sox LOSS in Oakland assured them of a spot in the ALDS!
Due to late time of the Chicago loss in Oakland last night, Twins players didn't have long to celebrate due to the early wake up time for today's game.  A much different scenario may have taken place had there been a happy hour (or two) for the players to make mischief. To quote Star Tribune Twins beat writer LaVelle E. Neil: "With no game on Thursday things might have reached The Hangover level, complete with tigers, chickens and nude men locked inside trunks of cars."

Here's hoping it wasn't too late a night for our boys, celebrating
their win! 12:10 start to today's tilt against Cleveland. Whatever,
it probably made it difficult for the Spanner to make morning
church services today!

May Your Taters Fly Far!
Twinkler Out

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ace Writer Joe Posnanski Dishes On Our Twins, Target Field & Jim Thome For Sports Illustrated!

Jim Thome at Target Field, Sept. 21, 2010 issue of SI
Observing the fashions of other middle age men helps me avoid the Fashion Faux Paus Black Hole, despite what my thirteen-year old daughter may tell you. And I'm not talking about black socks and Bermuda shorts.

To wit: I can't tell you how many times this past summer I've seen some of my fellow over-the-hill gangers running shirtless for exercise. Or worse yet, sporting lycra (form-fitting) shorts.  It's as if they're admiring their own body in the mirror before heading out, laughing that fake Frenchman's laugh "Ah-hoah-hoah-hooah, leet de weeman see my beautiful body az I glii-iide past.  Hu-hu-hooooah!"

Gentlemen, please.  You're not ripped like Lance Armstrong. You have abs like the Pillsbury Doughboy...you're embarassing yourself, your wives, children, girlfriends, and probably your house pets.  Especially you guys more wolf-manly than the rest of us skinny, hairless breeds. Stop it. Now.

By way of comparison, Joe Posnanski (see"The Cover," blog link) avoids the sports writing faux paus of hyperbole, overuse of cliches (i.e., "Jim Thome is hitting like a beast" - uh, great stuff...), and instead writes with insight and good research.  He grasps how hard it is to play the game at a high level.  He treats players with respect, and isn't a "homer" (his passion for the K.C. Royals, though obvious, is understated, and never annoying).

Another 500 Homerun guy playing for a team in the midwest,
 Eddie Mathews:inaugural edition of SI, Aug. 16, 1954
Thanks for revisiting a wonderful template, SI!

There's a ton of great reactions to the SI cover photo in the link above. The mag hit the stands today, and by all means, take a gander on Joe's take and that of his fans at his blog. If you like good writing and Twins info, don't miss this one!

Or at least buy a copy for the Twins fanatic in your family. They'll be indebted to you forever! Or at least be too busy reading to not go running shirtless.

That Minneapolis skyline above is lookin' pretty hot! I predict this cover will really do a lot to download the Target Field image into the nation's collective mindset!  

May Your Taters Fly Far!
Twinkler Out!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

1960's Snapshots from Twins Territory: Young Jim Kaat

It's as if even the young, studious Kaat couldn't wait for the
star seeking fan to finish with the portrait shot so he could get
back to his throwing session at Tinker Field in Orlando!
Jim Kaat was just kind of a gangly young guy in 1962, about the time this picture was taken.  He was about to establish himself that year as one of the best lefthanders in the American League. He won 18 games that year, with 5 shutouts.

Jim had a wonderfully economic windup and delivery, whichleft him in perfect position to field his position after the pitch.
It was also the year he was injured in a game on July 25th.

A pitch he threw was grounded right back at him on the
mound by the Angels' Bubba Morton.  The ball skidded on the wet Metropolitan Stadium grass, and
James Lee Kaat, 1966 Topps
Card. Would have won the
Cy Young Award that year, were
it not for another lefthander,
crashed his lips into his teeth. Both second baseman Bernie Allen and Harmon Killebrew remember seeing bits of Kaats teeth embedded in the ball after picking it up to remove the bloody sphere from the ball game.

Kaat left the game (Austin Daily Herald story pdf) to visit the doctor and dentist but still showed up, amazingly, at a post game party hosted by none other than Bernie Allen. Allen blurted out his surprise that Kaat still had the wherewithal to make an appearance after his ghoulish day.  Kaat, in his true, gritty fashion merely reminded him "Well, you did invite me, didn't you?"

May Your Taters Fly Far!
Twinkler Out

Enjoy the classic Kaat windup!

The Man With The Golden (16) Glove.  Only
Greg Maddux has surpassed him, with awards
for 18 seasons of gold glovin.'

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I Wish You Could Have Jesse's Url: Crain Pitches Most Dramatic Inning of The Year!

And we all thought he was toast in May!
The inning by the formerly forlorn reliever is summarized by Phil Mackey at  ESPN1500.
Good stuff, great game! SWEEP THE SOX!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Not To Sound Critical, But, Geez, Kent Hrbek Sure Is Lookin' Puffy...

This video feature from Fox North from last weekend festivities at Target Field sure had some neat moments from the Twins Legends Game, as part of the 50th Anniversary Weekend celebration.

 And to be sure, that game was also memorable for the freakish spectacle caused by our favorite little Bloomington Kennedy alum, Kent Hrbek. While chasing a Gene Larkin foul, gentleman Kent bored a collie-sized divot in foul territory.  Behold:

Rumors that Kent is being contacted by organizers of the coming ice age to
gouge out new river beds and landforms in Minnesota are completely untrue.
Here's to Kent embracing the idea that being a sportsman can also include activity that burns megacalories, and not just arcing a flycast rod over the waters of Itasca. Love ya, ya big lug!

May your taters fly far,
Twinkler Out

Classic Twins Game of The Week: Jim Thome Booms Walk Off Homerun! Aug. 17, 2010

Jim Thome follows through on his game-winning homerun on August 17,  the first "walk-off" homer
ever hit at Target Field in Minneapolis.  The 581st of his career, and he cranked the living crap out of it.
Jim has since hit his 586th career dinger (on Tuesday, 9/8/10, 6th inning off
Luke Hochevar) which narrowly missed hitting the flagpole in right field. It tied him
with Frank Robinson for 8th on the all-time homerun list. He passed THAT on Sat. night, 9-11!

TURN DOWN YOUR VOLUMN for the above video to see the big tater! Thome's shot can also be seen in this official Twins MLB video, which gives the standard camera shot from centerfield.  Irritating drunk driver (another evil white male) psa precedes the clip!

Jim Thome's game winning homer on Aug. 17 (see box score and game details at this link) was huge in this modern Classic Twins Game of The Week. It was spectacular. It brought to mind the past glories of a Harmon Killebrew, bashing a big fly just before the All Star break in 1965. And it was hit off the Chicago Stinking White Sox' best reliever, Matt Thornton, in the 10th inning, nobody out, with one strike, to drive in Delmon Young to give the Twins a 7-6 victory! And it gave lefty reliever Ron Mahay a cheap victory, who came in to get out the last Sox hitter in the top of the 10th after Chicago tied the score. The Twins went up four games over their division rival with this win. Boo-yah!

Numbers Schmumbers
Thome has given the Twins amazing production for a one-year, $1.5 million investment this off season, hitting .278/.407/.636 with 22 homers, 16 doubles, and 52 walks in 297 plate appearances. Among all AL hitters with at least 250 plate appearances Thome leads the league in slugging percentage (.635) and at-bats per homer (11.0) while ranking fourth in OPS (1.042) behind only Justin Morneau, Miguel Cabrera, and Josh Hamilton. He's also good at making those chocolate chip muffins too, I hear.

America, Rock & Roll, Shaving Cream Pies & A Chevy Hit & Run Over Jon Rauch
Twins fans love this guy as if he were one of their own.  He comes across as a ego-free team player, and humble as Dudley Dooright. He's always passing off credit meant for him to his teammates and the other team, for the love of Pete Redfern!! Go ahead - watch him on the bench during TV games - you're liable to see him giving away hitting nuggets to younger players such as Dan Valencia. A coincidence that Valencia is now a rookie of the year candidate? I think not!

Speaking of nuggets: it took a lot of them for partial closer and complete knucklehead Jon Rauch to give Thome a shaving cream pie in the face (see stupid baseball player pranks) during a post game interview.

And again, from another angle, with more of humble Jim discoursing on his exploits...

Probably a lucky thing for Rauch that Big Jim didn't relieve him of his head from his shoulders after that stunt!

For another day...


May YOUR taters fly far too!
Twinkler Out

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Bizarre Game Ending Play at 3rd Base Gives Twins 6-5 Win!

Despite the resulting argument by Ranger's Manager (and
former Twin Ron Washington, middle, in cool shades) the
Rangers were the unfortunate victims of the baseball rule book!
With the Texas Rangers driving to tie the game, the unexpected happened: on a Vlad Guerrero basehit (click to see video!) base hit up the middle, one run scored to push the score against the Twins and reliever Matt Capps to 6-5. Unfortunately, trailing runner Michael Young, seasoned veteran, overran third, his momentum carrying him close and into contact with third base coach Dave Anderson.

Under baseball rule 7.09, "It is interference by a batter or runner when, in the judgement of the umpire the base coach at third base, or first base, by touching or holding the runner, physically assists him in returning to or leaving third base or first base."

Third base umpire Alfonso Marquez immediately called runner Young out, even though it appears to be incidental contact.  Does that constitute "assisting" the baserunner? Doubtful, but it amounts to a nice, early Christmas gift to all of us in Twins Territory...I think therefore it's a GREAT RULE (of course, there may be other opinions as to its application, in this instance). Thus, the ruling held, giving the Twins a three game sweep of the Western Division leading Rangers!  Great timing as the Twins' nearest rival, the Chicago Stinking White Sox, won their 6th consecutive road game out of a ten game swing.  The Twins currently hold a 3.5 game lead in the American League's Central Division.

Great day and weekend, as the Twins celebrated their 50th Anniversary in the American League, culminating in the hilarious Twins "Legends" game that preceded the contest. Videos and photos of the same will folow!

May Your Taters Fly Far!
Twinkler Out

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sports Illustrated Writer Steve Rushin Spins Fine Yarns on his childhood job with the Minnesota Twins

Steve Rushin on his childhood job with the Minnesota Twins - Steve Rushin - SI.com
Kent Hrbek, as a relative beanpole
early season, 1982. in SI feature. 
Steve does marvelous job conjuring up the late '70's and early '80's era, with names like Hosken Powell, Butch Wynegar, Bombo Rivera of the Twins (plus stars like Reggie, George Brett, Rollie Fingers).  A read that's definitely worth your time, and of inclusion on Classic Minnesota Twins. Steve also defended the Twins when they were up for contraction in this excellent November, 2001 piece he did for the magazine.
He was never a star.  And he never hit .300.
But did Tony Oliva ever get write-in
votes for student council rep? Well, did he??!!

May Your Taters Fly Far!
Twinkler Out.