I mean...Francisco's cruising, and the Royals seem eager to end the season (hence their habit of meekly tapping every other pitch to an infielder). But we seem to be equally interested in getting out of town and going to Baltimore. (Though, why anyone in the world would want to go to Baltimore is beyond me.)
Everyone is swinging, but why? Fortunately, my mother, between knitting one and purling two spotted a problem in the first inning. Quoth the Queen of Chants: "Is that Brian Runge behind the plate?"
Brian Runge. The umpire whose very name co
nnotes gloom, doom and militias from Khartoum is behind the plate.
Brian Runge. The man who got Milton Bradley so mad the outfielder tear his ACL arguing a call. The man who thought Brendan Harris calling time was the same thing as Brendan Harris announcing: "please let the pitcher throw the ball, at my head if at all possible". The man who actually bumped and provoked Carlos Beltran and Jerry Manuel. The man our esteemed and beloved Garden Gnome thinks is a total knob.
Brian Runge. The worst umpire in America.
I'm sure he's a nice man outside of the park. A man his family and friends love. A man who breaks for broods of ducklings that cross the street and bakes pecan pies for elderly neighbors. But in the park he's a terror.
I normally have great patience with umpires. I umpired little league baseball and softball once upon a time and know that there are few jobs more difficult, or more soul sucking. (I know from first hand experience that getting called a "f***ing s***head" at age 13 by a grown man you've never met before is not real good for one's psyche. So just imagine getting that on a daily basis from several thousand people.) But for Brian Runge, his goading of athletes and utterly irrational calls, I have nothing but disdain.
As my mother, award winning sweater maker, noted, Runge seemed to think that every pitch thrown in the first inning was a strike. Even a ball thrown to Joe Mauer which literally went down the chalk line of the opposite batter's box. So why did that turn us into Wild Wavers of Wood?
Think about it: if an umpire's going to call anything thrown any where remotely near your bat, you can either swing at it and have a 25% chance of getting on base, or not swing at it and have a 100% chance of not getting on base. Thus our talented hitters could not do what they have previously done. They could not be patient, and whoop the ever-loving-tarnation out of the Royals...they could not get the Cisco Kid the win he so rightly deserved, they could only lose. Lose because of Brian Runge (and the bullpen...which sucks).
Why does Brian Runge do it? Why did he turn this into the one insane game of the series? Why? Because Brian Runge is the mortal enemy of the Minnesota Twins. A pox on his hotel room I say! A POX!! May the sheets be too tight! And the cable on the fritz! And may there only be wash cloths for toweling purposes! And the pillow mint, slightly moldy! SLIGHTLY MOLDY, I SAY!!