Sunday, October 31, 2010

Game of The Week: Sunday, Oct. 1,1967 Twin vs. RedSox : "The Impossible Dream"

I'll tell ya now.  Sox won, 5-3. El Crappo! But this post is a nice vehicle for viewing the young Rod Carew, in his rookie year.  Sweet! Bad part: having to see dumb baserunning by Ted Uhlaender!  Ugh.

It was the final game in the season ending 3-game set.  One win (1) would have sent our Twins to the big dance.  And...the Sox swept! Guess it's an exercise in torture, my posting another feature on a late season big game Twins loss...but this one is of the "Sweet Sorrow" variety, with thanks to William "Billy Ball" Shakespeare.  It's art, I tell you.

1967 was the year the Red Sox trotted Carl Yastrzemski out to left field, and layed 8 athletic supporters at the other positions on the diamond.  He single-handedly won the pennant for them that summer. Sure, they did have Rico Petrocelli at short and Reggie Smith in center, solid, but not the players they would be. Sure,  George"The Boomer" Scott was in the upper echelon of the League's first sackers. But c'mon...with Harmon, Tony Oliva, Rod Carew, Cesar Tovar and Bob Allison in your lineup, you sort of like your chances! Not to mention a dang thing about that poor devil, Zoilo Versalles, playing in his last game as a Twin.

This game put the Sox over the top, and into the World Series. Dean Chance was the loser that day, in his last start in an otherwise great first season with the Twins.  The game also marked the last appearance of Jim "Mudcat" Grant, too, in a Twins uniform.

Carl Yastrzemski again came up big for the home team.  He went four for four in this game, and threw out Bob Allison at second on an attempted double in the top of the 8th.  He represented the go ahead run, had he stayed at first.  He tested Yaz' arm in left, and payed for it.  Essentially, Yaz would have thrown out The Savior Himself too, had He elected to run; so good was the Big Pole (if you'll pardon the expression) in big game situations, during his Triple Crown Year.
I'm sorry you had to see this, kids.
Go ahead, click on the line ups in the link above. DARE YA!  You would never have guessed the Red Sox were in any way a match for what was perhaps the best Twins team ever fielded.  The Twins were 3rd in the league in runs scored (.671), 4th in batting average (.240), 4th in homers (131), 6th in fielding (.978), and 2nd in team ERA (3.14). The Red Sox were 1st in runs scored (722), 1st in batting average (.255), 1st in homeruns (158), 9th?? in fielding (.977), and 8th in team ERA (3.36). Harrumph!

Ultimately, it set the scene for rebuilding for the great 1969 Twins team.  More on that later...

FYI: Sox lost to the St. Louis Cardinals and Bob Gibson in seven games in the World Series.  So there.

Nice face, Yaz!

At least not having the Twins in the World Series made the famous Jose Feliciano*  rendition (see below vid) of the "Star Spangled Banner" possible.  Who would the Twins have forwarded for the job? Merv Griffin?  Oooooooh! Maybe a Jimi Hendrix appearance at Met Stadium, coming on the heals of the Monteray Pop Festival...?  Nothing wrong with dreamin."
OK, maybe that would have heralded an outbreak of reefer madness on the great state of Minnesota, allowing the likes of him into sunny Bloomington.

*not to be confused with the Red Sox' Jose,  hurler Jose Tartabull (the father of Danny Tartabull, FYI).

May your taters fly far!

Twins Twinkler is OUT!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Snapshots From Twins Territory: Bernie Allen 1962

Everybody's All-American: Bernard Keith Allen, looking as 
if he was fresh out of Boy Scout Camp. Why his
mother let him out of the house, I'll never know.

 Use your imagination, and you can almost hear it...
Rookie Twins announcer Herb Carneal: "And Kaline grounds it to Rollins-he fields it, over to Allen, steps on second..on to Vic Power at first, and Kaline...he-eeesss's OUT, a double play..."
The Twins that summer, along with Bernie Allen,  were still fresh out of the box that summer of 1962. It was also the year of the Telstar Communications Satellite, The Cuban Missle Crisis, the release of the first Beach Boys single, "Surfin," the first African-American, James Meredith, to enroll and attend the University of Mississippi, and, by the way, the birth year of the blogger guy you know as The Twins Twinkler.

Second baseman Allen placed third in the American League Rookie of The Year Award voting in '62 (behind future Twin Buck Rodgers (2nd) and Tom Tresh (1st)). He was an All-American shortstop out of Purdue University, where he was also the Boilermakers starting QB.  He and his crew beat the Gopher football squad in 1960 at Memorial Stadium in Minneapolis by a score of 23-14. This game gave him an insight into Minnesota sports fans, with fair, good-natured treatement given him and his teammates as they left the field.  This factored into his thinking when he chose to sign with Calvin Griffith and the Twins.

He took Billy Martin's place at second, having a fine year , as the Baseball Reference site shows.  This was an accomplishment in that he merely avoided having the demure Martin bash his lights out.  But factored in too were his twelve homers and otherwise excellent offensive and defensive numbers, and you then had a candidate to fill the organization's ongoing second base vacuum. He was chosen for the 1962 Topps Rookie All Star Team. He appeared to have "the right stuff." Or, so it seemed...
Bernie Allen 1963 Volpe Portrait, Twins
Team Set. Disembodied heads frighten me.

Bernie Allen, 1963 Topps Card
 This May 21, 1962 article from Sports Illustrated, written by Walter Bingham, gives a fascinating insight into Allen, Rich Rollins, Sam Mele, and the early season Twins of that year.

 Unfortunately, the league pitchers adjusted to him, and his output dropped the next year, in '63.  Not surprising, as might be expected for a guy having only 327 plate appearances in 80 games.  It's a tough game! In 1964, he was injured while receiving a lousy throw* on a double play ball from the mercurial Zoilo Versalles, leaving him vulnerable to the hard slide from the baserunner, Don Zimmer.
*as described by Jim Thielman in "Cool Of The Evening"

His knee was shredded.  It eerily predated the injury Rod Carew would suffer six years later, ; on a similar play, the '69 Batting Champion was taken out by Brewers first baseman, Mike Hegan. Only after surgery and rigorous workouts did Sir Rodney resurrect his career!

Calvin Griffith's team doctor decreed that Allen didn't need surgery. As it turned out, quite the opposite was true.  Allen eventually was put under the care of orthopedic specialist Dr. Don O'Donoghue.  The same fellow eventually worked wonders with Gayle Sayers, Willis Reed and scores of other athletes. Looking back, it's tempting to slam the cork and yarn stuffing out of Griffith, but his inactivity was rather in line with the way club owners conducted in player affairs back in those days, going on the cheap. Months after the injury took place, Allen was finally put under the knife.

Fellow Purdue teammates and alumni
Joe McCabe and Bernie Allen,
Spring, 1964. PINSTRIPES!

 So out of sync with the current state of sports medicine, and giving the professional athletes every benefit of the doubt with each flinch and facial tic.  Sports teams today do everything possible to avoid risking permanent injury to one of their "investments." Now, it's not considered unusual for a current Twin like J.J. ("The Iron Horse") Hardy to start only 95 games out of 162 during the 2010 season, with his various ailments.

          A-Ha! Does my little eye spy Harmon Killebrew (3)
          and Vic Power (28)in the background?

  Ultimately, Allen's story is a one of a man who fought his way back. Only through intelligence, grit, and positive thinking did he return to baseball and the Twins. Pitching coach Johnny Sain bolstered his attitude with what we would today call "self-help books," a mode that had proven successful with Twin pitchers like Jim Kaat.  Sain was ahead of his time!

Allen's career never sulfilled the promise that it hinted in that summer of '62, but he did sustain a long career. He finished his career with the Yankees and then a few games with the Expos, in 1973 (see link above for stats). John Swol on his excellent Twins Trivia  site has posted an interview he conducted with Allen from a while back.  Not especially a man of many words at this time of his life!

May Your Taters Fly Far!
Twinkler Out

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Days like this!( When The Twins Go Down Without A Whimper )

The Twins lost the third straight in the final game of their best of five 2010 Divisional Playoff against the Yankees. 

So, I guess Van Morrison and this Charlie Brown comic will have to summarize the shock and pain of that event:

The bellering was heard all
over Twins Territory, from a newly
energized fan base unfamiliar with our
Twins recent, ignominious playoff history.

Here's a recap of the series, with fan reaction. Some visceral, interesting reactions from fans. Yet, taking anything seriously from the mouth of radio scribe Dan Barreiro is not something any of us should do:

I decided Van The Man best summarized the angst: life and it's struggles sprinkled with rare days of glory.  John Lennon's video, goodbye.

Ugly, ugly series!

Later, May Your Taters Fly Far!
Twinkler Out

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fangraph's ALDS Game One Preview For Twins vs. Yankees

ALDS Game One Preview: Minnesota

I've been trolling the Fangraphs baseball site lately. I'm not sure what in the name of Chip Hale all the numbers and acronyms are all about, but I'm pretty sure I like it. I see guys on its staff of contributing writers who are currently enrolled in college level economics and mathematics courses- pretty useful stuff if you're producing a site that basically shoves reams of game data imaginable into a great, churning vat, and blurps it all out in an orgasmic spree of meaningful analysis.

Anyhow, check out U of Wis.-Madison scholar Jack Moore's piece on the Twins vs. Yankees. Highly engrossing, more satisfying than a wad of Ballpark Chew. I'm sure he'd give my brain a mental dropkick, trying to differentiate between +WPA and -WPA. I'd most likely end up asking him if he was related to the inventor of Tom Moore soft drinks, off-balance and confused about what I could add to the baseball talk.

May Your Taters Fly Far!
Twinkler Out

Classic Minnesota Twins Game Of The Week: Ray Scott Announcing Game One of 1965 WS - October 6th, Third Inning Highlight!

From 1962 Twins Scorecard: Herb Carneal's first season at the mic for the Twins.

THE CLASSIC of 1960's Twins classics!  The Twins jump all over the Dodgers and starter Don Drysdale in Game Number One, scoring 6 runs in the third inning.  Drysdale is pitching only because Sandy Koufax elected to sit out the game as an observance of Yom Kippur, the holiest of Jewish Holy Days.

Twins radio announcer Ray Scott is tabbed to work the national telecast for NBC with the Dodgers Vin Scully.  He's superb, especially when he has to fill air during the pitching break after Drysdale is removed!  Love the way he plugs the upcoming football games coming up on the network!

Sound quality isn't so hot for first 45 seconds, like the production quality.  But, it's a very entertaining 4 plus minutes, if I must say so myself!  Lovin' those boater hats and old-timey organ fills by the Metropolitan Stadium organist. Enjoy!

May Your Taters Fly Far!
Go Twins! Beat The Yankees!
Twinkler Out!
More from the ad above, August, 1962 Twins Scorecard.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

End of the Season - So Long Twins: The Boys of Summer

Danny V: hopefully the answer at third, delayed for so long
after the departure of Corey Koskie.
I mean really...

There's nothing to feel sorry about. I don't mean to whine.  My team is in the playoffs, even if it is going to be against the Evil Empire once again. Delmon Young (see fine Fanhouse story) finally looks like he's fulfilling all the predictions and promise for the Twins. Slugging Jim Thome has been a joy, so many big moments, rocket shots to right field to oooh and ahh over, as if they were July 4th Spectaculars.  What a man! Danny Valencia is the surprise of the year over at third. Very cool! My team now plays in the best baseball park on God's Green Earth.  As of this writing, I am the champion of my fantasy baseball league.

Glad I was wrong about Delmon being a putz.
And yet...

Opening Day April 12th at Target Field: the personification of a
Twins fan's greatest dream!
The regular season came to an end today with a 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays. This marks the start of the long, cold winter for me, playoffs or not. I am SO not ready for that! There's that emptiness that's hard to define, but surely there. Which sounds incomprehensible and inane to the non-fan, but most definitely emblematic of the end of another season in my life: the kids are getting older and more distanced from the days of childhood & family time, while my middle aged body barks after another afternoon of raking in the yard.
Yes indeed, kids, that
Henley fella takes himself
pretty seriously, doesn't he?

The "Boys of Summer," as first defined by Dylan Thomas and embellished by Roger Kahn in his incredible 1972 narrative of the star-crossed, 1950's Brooklyn Dodgers, was given a soundtrack by Don Henley in his 1987 hit from the album, "Building The Perfect Beast."While being totally unrelated to our little game of stick and ball, it DOES help flesh out the feeling of overness, of finality...

I can already see your eyes rolling.  Yes, yes, yes, I know not having the morning paper boxscores to peruse anymore until spring does not equate with a love affair gone sour. No more lazy Sundays with the radio play-by-play blaring in the back yard is hard to call a wistful "tragedy." Texting family and friends about game events, or checking Tim Kurkjian's Twitter feeds is a pale hose replacement for angst-filled love letters.

Tim Kurkjian aint too happy about regular
season ending soon either. His take on Yankees-
Twin matchup.
Not to mention that Jason Kubel frollicking across the beach in his one piece on Lake Calhoun is no match for Henley's video goddess...

But there's no mistaking, the care free, meandering summer that we thought would never end is OVER.

"Look around - leaves are brown...And the sky is a hazy shade of winter." - Simon & Garfunkel

What will happen in the playoffs against Jeter, A-Rod and the Yankees, I can only conjecture. The talent disparity between the two rosters has been undeniably reduced since even last postseason. Whatever the case, it will surely add to the lore that has developed between these teams, either to the pain of several playoff losses in this decade (which I don't want to go into), or to the glory of a team still in it's prime, seeking the prize at the end of the quest! Sort of like that team from Brooklyn, so long ago...

So long fellows.  And beat those din-dang-sons-of-a-rattle-snake Yanks...they have to put on their batting gloves one hand at a time, just like you!  And then come back in spring, hopefully after the warm afterglow of a championship attained! See ya on the Twins Winter Caravan and at Twins Fest....

Dr. Morneau & Co. showing Orlando what that concussion felt like.
Or perhaps administering a beat down for a dumb baserunning play...

May Your Taters Fly Far!
Twinkler Out

Snapshots From Twins Territory: Bill James Recalls Dustup Between Earl Battey & Camilo Pascual

Famed baseball statistician guru and historian Bill James recalls this episode from a Twins game at Kansas City's Municipal Stadium in the middle 1960's, when the home team was still named the "Athletics," and not yet the expansion Royals:

"At one point in the contest, there seemed to be a mixup between Earl Battey and Camilo Pascual. Battey appeared to want Pascual to throw something other than what the Cuban Curveballer had in mind. After every pitch, Battey would throw the ball back harder and harder- harder than Pascual was pitching it, in fact. This continued on for several minutes, and a buzz had started in the grandstand over what was going on. Odd, because they were known to be good friends, the amiable Pascual and the Twins field general behind the plate. I tried to find out later what the matter was, but never did learn exactly what their differences were that day." 
Snapshot of Pascual, early 1960's springtraining.
Sam Mele & Camilo Pascual

Battey in the moment that would spell the downturn of his career
 - injured against railing in the 1965 World Series in L.A.
Recalling the old pro behind the mic, signing off after game broadcasts, I say:
"So long everybody!" (Herb Carneal)