A little story

Once upon a time there was a relief pitcher for the Minnesota Twins who thought that he was actually early 20th century philosopher Frederich Nietzsche. He wasn't really, but this did not stop him, or uninformed bloggers, from believing it was true.

One snowy winter day in December 2010 (the 11th to be exact), Jesse Crain and his teammates decided to take a stroll through downtown Minneapolis. "Dudes," said Delmon Young. "Why are we walking in a blizzard?"

"I have no idea, but this is super fun!" cried Matt Tolbert, leaping and bounding over snowbanks and laughing with joy. "He stopped in wonder at the top of a hill from which he could see the metrodome. "Wow guys!" he said in a half whisper. "Look at it, it's so beautiful and magical! Like a giant fluffly marshmallow."

"Yeah," said Justin Morneau, tearing up a little. "Remember all the great memories we had playing there? Like when Torii burned half his face off sliding across the astroturf?" They all chucked and shook their heads, remembering his shriek of horror as he realized the friction had set his jersey on fire.

"Good times, good times." Said Kevin Slowey. "Well, even though we don't play there anymore it's good to know the ol' dome will always be there, to preserve our precious mem-". At that moment, there was a deafening tearing sound and the roof of the metrodome slowly collapsed in on itself like a sadly deflating balloon under the crushing weight of a gazillion points of snow.


"No," Jesse Crain replied calmly. "There isn't. God is dead. You disgust me with your backwards Christian morality. Behold the power of ZE UBERMENSCH!" He put his hands on his hips and tried to tower imposingly over his teammates but nothing really happened. "That's just silly," Denard Span replied. "God is not dead. He is alive in all of us. I talk to him before every game."

Jesse laughed. "Ridiculous. Everyone knows that faith is just the same as not wanting to know what is true." "But," Denard replied, "we can concieve of the existence of God, therefore he must be real."
"Um, no," replied Jesse. "I can conceive of unicorn, but that doesn't mean unicorns are real."
"They totally are," said Tolbert.
"No they aren't," said Denard. "But horns are real, and horses are real - and it is only because these two things exist that we can conceive of a Unicorn. God is That Than Which None Greater Can Be Conceived - and because we can concieve of this, it must be real."

"Agh!" Jesse cried. "You and your ontological reasoning! You think you can win but you can't! I can't conceive of that...anything...YOUR MOM!!!" And with that he exploded in a tiny puff and turned up four days later in hell. Or actually it was the White Sox clubhouse, but they're pretty much the same thing.

This deeply confused the White Sox front office, and when Ozzie Guillen first saw him his immediate reaction was to attack him with a fishing pole screaming "DON'T LET IT EAT ME!"... but soon they all just got used to him being there and decided to let him stay.
And that's how Jesse Crain became a White Sock.
The end.

Yes, I am writing this instead of my 15 page strategy paper which is due tomorrow. Shut up. I totally have my priorities straight.


The Getting or the Gathering

During this, the holiday season, our airwaves are inundated with stories that remind us of what this time of the year is really all about: kindness, compassion and loving concern for our fellow earthlings. Occasionally, we lose sight of this holiday spirit and fixate upon shiny new gadgets or sparkly baubles or free agent baseball players worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Because this is a baseball blog, I'll focus on the last one of those things (although, my i-Pad IS very very shiny). {Note, for best results, read this post along with the music at this link}

In the wake of the trade that sent JJ Hardy to Baltimore, a subtle sense of depression has infiltrated the normally peppy Twins blogosphere. Hardy's salary had to be cut to afford a new pitcher, but we can't seem sign one. And while our rivals have wrapped up big names (Victor Martinez in Detroit; Adam Dunn in Chicago; Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford in Boston), the Twins front office seems to be dreaming of sugar plums and hoping that Santa delivers a free-agent miracle into their stockings.

In the eyes of many this is a source of vexation. We seem to have reached a plateau--competing for the title, but never winning it--and while other teams keep coming up with the funds to pay sixth starters, long relievers and reserve infielders multiple millions, we insist on asking obscure, inexpensive youngsters like Duensing, Slama, Burnett, Tolbert & Plouffe to do what higher profile back-ups on big clubs do. Such unproven-no-names and best-case-scenarios "is what differentiates [the Twins] from the big spenders out east, and its the exact kind of thing that will keep them from ever being able to surpass the Yankees in team talent" (according to the wise old dean of Twins Blogdom, Nick Nelson).

Such painfully frank analysis, especially from a blogger of Nelson's calibre, makes the whole game of baseball seems like a foregone conclusion; an equation that will invariably end in pinstriped easterners holding a big gold trophy. Faced with this impending failure, despair has permeated the Twins blogosphere. "We're screwed," they say. "We're dead," they say. "We've got no chance to compete" they say. Without quality free agent acquisitions our team may as well shuffle loose the mortal coil and join the Pittsburghs and Seattles of the world. (Or, to return to the holiday theme of this post: we pout that unless we have that expensive new player all the other teams are getting, the whole year will be ruined and we'll never be happy again.)

Far be it from me to say Nick Nelson is wrong, but I will (politely) disagree with the gloom and doom that has blossomed in the wake of his (and others) concerns. Maybe it's just the season-- the warm feeling inspired by one glass of egg nog too many or too many viewings of A Muppet Christmas Carol--but I can't summon the same despair. This is the time of year to embrace the spirit of the season and the people who surround us. Instead of fixating on the things that we don't have or the material possessions that we desperately want, now is the time to concentrate on how being with other people brings out the very best in ourselves.

Celebrating the holidays is not unlike being a baseball fan. You find reason for hope even in the darkest part of the year. You learn to celebrate and express gratitude for what you do have rather than what you don't. You spend quality time with your nearest and dearest and remember that, though they can drive you crazy, you're tied to each other for a lot longer than one day.

So, if you're convinced that life won't be worth while unless the Twins put a cool dirt bike of a player like Derek Lee or Brandon Webb underneath our tree come the 25th, take a deep breath. Remember, there's hope for every team every season. Remember, others (in say, Cleveland) would love to be at our "plateau". And remember to enjoy this time with your fellow fans no matter who joins the fold. Even if all we get is a pair of socks named Nick Punto, it's the holidays, its not about the getting, it's about the gathering.


The Most Magical Winter Meetings Ever!

On Sunday I provided my annual predictions for what the Twins would do at the Winter Meetings. Today I provide my annual recap of the Twins activity during the Winter Meetings using the only journalistic skill I have....a fevered imagination laced with pop culture references.* (For previous years of examples click here or here)

10:55 AM--Upon hearing the announcement that George Steinbrenner was not elected to the Hall of Fame, the entire Twins front office sheds a collective tear of gratitude that Bert Blyleven's (hopeful) induction to Cooperstown will not be overshadowed by legions of Yankee fans paying homage to a multi-billionaire.

4:10 PM--The Pohlad family offers Cliff Lee eight thousand lakes over seven years. They are turned down.

8:21 PM--Team officials have a dinner meeting with the agents for Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka regarding a potential contract for the next three seasons, but nearly ruin their chances by failing the oh so crucial business card exchange at the beginning of the meeting.

10:56 PM--In a desperate attempt to save the potentially disastrous negotiations, a slightly tipsy GM Bill Smith commandeers a local karaoke machine and delivers an soul stirring rendition of Cee Lo Green's "F*** You!".
11:00 PM--Even though he hates the cultural stereotype, Nishioka and his agents can't resist Cee Lo Green, and hop up on stage to join Smith in an encore. (Meetings are described as "productive")

5:12 AM--In an effort to beat the crowds, Smith and his deputies stand outside the gates to the Magic Kingdom in order to get on all the cool rides first.

11:42 AM--Tiring after their ninth roller coaster, Smith wonders if four prospects and all day ride passes would be enough to get Royals Pitcher Zack Grienke in a trade.

11:43 AM--Smith sees "Buzz Lightyear's SpaceRanger Spin" and wisely holds on to his most valuable assets.

7:20 PM--To make a good day even better Smith picks up the 6th Season of Lost on DVD from a "Discount Bin" in one of the many Disney stores ("C'mon," Smith is heard to remark "the finale wasn't that bad!")

3:01 AM--Halfway through rewatching the final season of Lost, Smith regrets ever letting go of Matt Fox.

7:17 AM--In an attempt to get over the loss of Matt Fox, Smith goes through an address book full of old, often injured pitchers hoping to impress one of them with his knowledge of Lost.

12:23 PM--After Octavio Dotel, Rich Harden, Brandon Webb, and Chris Young greet his theorizing with awkward silence, Smith drowns his sorrows in appletinis with Nick Punto (for old time's sake).

5:58 PM--After a few too many appletinis Smith offers Carl Pavano a two year contract worth $20 Million, and offers Carl Pavano's mustache a 3 year contract worth $36 million.

9:14 PM--Despite an impassioned argument by his mustache, Pavano decides to wait for a better deal.

6:26 AM--After Orioles GM Lee McPhail bogarts the bacon bucket at the hotel's make-your-own omelette station, Smith agrees to trade JJ Hardy to the Orioles in exchange for two relief pitchers, the bacon bucket and three kinds of cheese.

10:38 AM--While packing up for the flight home a Twins official trips over long ago misplaced infielder Brendan Harris. Having filled all their suitcases the Twins have no alternative but to include Harris in the trade with the Orioles.

*Please note: All depictions of Bill Smith in this post are made out of affection for his acumen, the belief that he can take a joke, and jealousy of the fact that he is far smarter than I am.


The Winter Meetings: The Happiest Place on Earth...if your name is Cliff Lee

On Monday, while the rest of us freeze our patooties off, Bill Smith and the Twins front office staff will start a week in Orlando, Florida. In between riding the teacups and losing their money to one of the few businesses that makes the New York Yankees look impoverished, they'll try and set up the Twins for a run at the 2011 World Series. As is our wont on this website, we'll suggest just what we can expect to happen--and offer a suggestion for just how the Twins Staff can use their surroundings of the Magical Kingdom to their best advantage. (P.s. click on the years to see some of our brilliant analysis from 2009, and 2008)

1st: We sign one fairly solid reliever--Clearly I misspent my youth. Instead of writing, reading and arithmetic I should have been working on one great split-finger fastball. If only I had read this opinion piece from Roy Halladay when I was a boy! Brandon Fuentes, Johnny the (G)Rauch, Matty Gurrier and (our homie) Jesse Crain (Ze Ubermensch) are all ready to pick up big paychecks in exchange for throwing a horsehide spheroid.

With so many members of our bull-pen due for raises, we can probably wave good-bye to most if not all of them. But if we're lucky, we could trick one of them to ride Space Mountain with us, and subtly ask them to re-sign them at a reasonable cost. If we ask this just before we plummet down into one of those super sweet neon lit tunnels, then they'll scream out "YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY" and we'll claim they agreed to terms with us! (Deceitful, perhaps...but if you've got any better ideas I'd love to hear them).

2nd: We sign Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Sounds like Nishioka actually is pumped to be a Twinnesotan including those magic words: "I don't think I will give up the idea of going to the majors because of the amount of money"--somewhere, heaven, hell, as a reincarnated goat herder in Tasmania, Carl Pohlad is smiling.

So, after offering $5 million just to talk to him, we can seal the deal with a couple million and a quick glimpse of the glitz and glamour he can expect to find in the Twin Cities!...........Or we could get him into Disney World. (You know, just on the off chance that tater-tot casserole sushi leaves something to be desired.) And if we sign him in Orlando we can promise to take him back to Epcot's Japan section anytime he gets homesick!

3rd: We pick a pitcher or two off the scrap heap. Remember Sidney Ponson and Darren Oliver and Livan Hernandez...you know, the retread guys who nobody else was to keen on so they ended up in Twins uniforms for various lengths of time? Yeah, it's time to do some more of that. And after it worked so well with Carl Pavano can you really blame us?

But sadly, while it worked well with Pavano, he's over our little rebound rendez-vous and setting his sights on somebody with plenty of money and little intelligence (c'mon Mets, you know your cue when you hear it!). So--who's it going to be Bill Smith? Former Cy Young winner Brandon Webb? Former flash-in-the-pan John Maine? Former/Current shoulder-injury hazard zone Freddy Garcia? All of them are available, but to tell who is really worth signing take the whole lot of them to the It's a Small World Ride with a bucket of balls--whoever decapitates the most animatronic moppets before the end of the ride gets the contract!

4th: We toy with the Pittsburgh Pirates just a little bit more. Stinky and I have made no secret of the fact that our National League homeboys are the Pittsburgh Pirates (commemorating the 50 year anniversary of beating the Yankees in arguably the greatest game of Yankee beating ever!). So if the Twins and the Pirates do a little business together, we'd love it!

Turns out that the Pirates are sweet on every female Twins fan's favorite shortstop: J.J. "Sexxypants" Hardy. And nearly got him in a trade...but like a big brother teasing his sibling at Blizzard Beach, we laughed off their plea to play with the cool kids. (Not that I harbor any grudges against my big brother or anything...sniff) C'mon Twins make something happen, if we sign Nishioka, JJ's expendable anyway so trade him away for that nerdy Ross Ohlendorfer guy--we wholly support the idea of more nerds on the pitching staff (especially if Jesse Crain leaves town)

5th: Souvenir Shopping. We say this every year, but seriously...very little actually happens at the Winter Meetings, and if the first month of the offseason is any indication, the Twins aren't really keen to do anything anyway. So, you know what Bill Smith, it's cool if you just want to chill with your co-workers, ride Splash Mountain, check out the Pirates of the Caribbean stage show, you probably won't miss anything anyway. But would you mind picking up about 800,000 of these little beauties for all of us back home?.....Thanks, you're the best!


Oh, god! The Hot Stove!!

If you're a frequent reader of this blog (and if you are, we love you) you might be wondering why we have not been written anything of late. Well, Stinky, has been hard at work on various things, and I have been celebrating the sacred holiday of Gardygiving (which involves eating way too much for weeks on end and basking in eternal gratitude to the one true Gardenhire). But we're back and here we be with a quick check on the last few weeks in Twins news and notes:

Joe Mauer and Delmon Young finish in the top 10 of AL MVP voting
It's not as cool as a big shiny trophy, but just remember Joe Mauer had a down year and Delmon Young still gets ripped by 90% of Twins Fans, and suddenly it seems like quite the accomplishment. But I still bet Stinky's dad call's him Delmont

Chibbe Lotte Marines standout and slap base hitter could do well in a big ball park like Target field, and the fact that the Twins are willing to spend money just on the opportunity to potentially sign the guy sounds pretty good to most fans. But perhaps the most interesting part of this is that Nishikowa makes art during commercials, and commercials during art.

I don't know about you, but I prefer my shortstops with just a hint of artistic genius.

and...oh yeah

Responses from our friends, allies and acquaintances
Sparky: It's cool, but Terry Francona shoulda--(Scruffy: I'm gonna stop you there...No)
Denard Span: "Congrats to the best manager in bestball! Way overdue"
The Knitting Queen: Good for him!
Tim Pawlenty: Let us rejoice and give blessings in honor of Gardenhire the noble and most high! (Scruffy: "Way ahead of you Timbo")
Batgirl: "Feel great disturbance in Force. As if millions of Internet cranks cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced"
Seriously though, way to go Gardy--you the man--or gnome...you can be whatever you wanna be, you're Gardy.

We don't want to make too many promises here, but both Stinky and I are hoping that once grad school comes to a mid-year hiatus we will have a little more time to nerd it up. In the mean time, simmer little hot stove...simmer!


Checking the Stove

I'm tempted to put off posting until tomorrow so we can say something about the Manager of the Year vote and the overdue recognition of Ron Gardenhire that will either be even more overdue or just...due.

But since this is my one real free day of the week, I'm going to celebrate by thinking about baseball.......ahhhh.....and the pain just fades away :)

Big Twins News from the Past Week
With the economy the way it is precious metals are worth more than ever before, and lots of people are investing heavily in such commodities...Joe Mauer plays baseball with them. (He also won the less coveted Bronze Shinguard and Copper Jock Strap)

Morneau also dislikes concussions, the Yankees and Brussel Sprouts. But according to the super-nerds at ESPN's Stats and Info Blog maybe he should like it. According to the USDA he should also like Brussel Sprouts...but unless they're wrapped in Canadian Bacon Justin isn't buying it.

And in a related story...those of us in Grad School are seriously doubting our decision to dedicate our lives to academics instead of baseball.

And Twins Fans from Bismark to Moscow thank the Lord that Danny V is not the second coming of Marty Cordova.

Finally, a fun link from Cody over at North Dakota Twins Fan that we can seriously get behind--baseball players and the periodic table of elements: a winning combination!


Weekly Hot Stove Check/Guest Post

Now that we're definitely in the off-season, expect our blogs to be a little less frequent because (as we might have mentioned a few other times) both Stinky and I are poor Grad Students with precious little time on our hands. However, we will try to post once a week (let's say...Tuesday!) to sum up Twins news in a sassy little bit of punditry:

TWINS HOT STOVE NEWS: Week of November 2nd-November 9th
Last time a Minnesota team brought back a 40-year-old legend who seemed to be his old dynamic self...well, that would be this year with Brett Favre wouldn't it? However, Twins fans should not fear a Favre style devolution into clubhouse drama. When Jim Thome texts he uses the Gutenberg printing press.

Moreover, they even fail to be listed as a team who made a bid by various news agencies :( I wouldn't worry about the Twins lack of presence in Asia, it just means that we can have a leg up on all the future European and African prospects...think we could sign Didier Drogba?

True story: the only time I've ever seat hopped in my life was to get down close in the Metrodome's left field so my buddy (Joe Fawbush) could yell out: "JACQUE! JACQUE!!! YOU RULE JACQUE!!!". I'm sure it sucks to be told your career is over, that the game you gave your life to has passed you by; but in a ballplayer's golden years I hope that the memories of kids and fans screaming in joy outnumber the memories of the boos and hisses, the aches and pains. If you ever need a reminder Jacque, send us a line...we'll tell you "YOU RULE" just because, you do rule, and you deserve it.

Stinky and I talked after her buddy Tyler posted this on Thursday and we both thought it deserved to be on the site proper (just in case you, like my mom, avoid the comments sections for fear of being called an idiot, or poop-face or a poop-faced idiot). Don't worry, it's free of insults but rich in Lost related brilliance:
You want LOST characters? I'll give you LOST characters.

Delmon Young = John Locke. Not Smoke Monster Locke, just regular Locke. He so clearly has some supernatural gift, but made a series of boneheaded decisions (getting Boone killed, not pushing the button, throwing a bat at an umpire, eating) that made us all wonder whether he could truly make it on the island. But he came up big when it counted (trying to keep Widmore's boat crew off the island). Hopefully Delmon doesn't suffer the same fate as Locke.
Carl Pavano = Desmond Hume. Unsung, underappreciated, but super clutch. Name a bad Desmond episode. Just one. You can't. He always comes up clutch. "The Constant". The "You're gonna die, Charlie" episode. The "Desmond figures out that everybody's actually dead" episode. All great, all of them. Likewise, whenever the Twins needed a huge start (such as when Blackburn and Slowey managed to give up 15 runs in 3.1 innings in consecutive starts) Pavano comes up big.
Drew Butera = Penelope Hume nee Widmore. This should be obvious.
Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau = Sawyer and Jack Shepard. 'Cause the ladies need something to fight over. Also, Justin Morneau is Jack. This will be important later.
Brian Duensing = Sayid Jarrah. Kept on the bench for long periods of time, but he is utterly ruthless when released upon the unsuspecting masses. Torturer, murderer, lover, husband. He has the whole package.
Francisco Liriano and Francisco Liriano's left elbow = Sun and Jin Kwon. Just masterful from the start. I dare you to watch the Season One finale and not bawl at their goodbye scene. Unfortunately, they were ripped apart at the end of Season Four with all of us wondering if we would ever see Jin/Liriano's elbow ever again. After two long years apart, they were finally reunited in a beautiful, touching manner and we all cheered and hugged and cried. Of course, Sun and Jin were quickly killed, but I don't really like to talk about that.
Ron Gardenire = Hugo "Hurley" Reyes. Lovable guy, always good for a laugh, whether it's building a golf course on a deserted island or tooling around in a 1970s VW bus. Also a little bit crazy. And when he's handed the reins of the Twins/Island everybody kind of said "Huh? Him?". But he led the team/island to an era of prosperity that nobody thought possible.
Jim Thome = Ben Linus. I understand the thinking behind making Thome the Smoke Monster, but here's the thing. The Smoke Monster's the bad guy. Always. Thome spent 15 years playing for the Indians/Bitch Sox and when he signed with the Twins everybody was all "Fine, we'll take him. But we're not going to play him much. He'll pinch hit when we really need him but he'll never be a true Twin." Then Jack/Morneau died and Hurley/Gardy turned to Ben/Thome and said "I need you to be my number two." And Thome responded, "You know, I've been doing this island/baseball thing for a long time and I've always been the bad guy. Maybe it's time I started using my knowledge/Thunder Stick for good." And that's how I ended up owning a t-shirt that says "When Teddy Roosevelt said 'Speak softly and carry a big stick,' he was talking about Jim Thome."
JJ Hardy = Claire (whatever her last name is). Missing for extended periods of time due to injury/kidnapping/disappearance, and when he/she finally came back at the end of the season/series, he/she didn't really perform to expectations.
That's all I've got for now. I'm pretty sure there's a Joe Nathan as Eko or Nathan/Neshek as Boone/Shannon floating around somewhere. But I've spent the last 45 minutes at work on this so I should probably do some actual work now.

No Tyler, no you should not! Keep the nerdery coming and if you have any: "The Twins are like ___FILL IN THE BLANK GEEKERY_____" than you too can be given a guest post spot like Tyler. Seriously if you see the parallels between the Twins and Lost, the Twins and Unicorns, the Twins and Harry Potter, and Star Wars...bring it on...we love the nerds up here in peanut heaven.

Until next time,


Shakin' it up

Go San Francisco woooooooooooooo.
And now that that's out of the way... OK just kidding, I love San Fran. I lived there for almost a year and I'm sure all my bay-area friends are freaking out with happiness, but secretly I was kind of rooting for the Rangers. I think being a Twins Fan has made me unable to not root for the underdog in any given situation (as evidenced by the fact that my honorary NL team is the Pirates... seriously).

Since it is now officially the offseason, I thought I should address the fact that there will probably be a LOT of changes on the Twins roster this offseason. What will our team look like next spring? And, more importantly, who will populate the cast of characters we both love and mock? Here's a glimpse of who could go (and some unsolicited opionions):
Jim Thome (aka The Smoke Monster): He is the only LOST reference on this blog. Plus he's just awesome, and he's a nice guy. I can totally picture him grilling burgers with my dad. Verdict - KEEP.
Carl Pavano (dirty-stache): On the one hand, his moustache looks like a dead rodent. On the other hand, he was nominated for an award because of said moustache, and also he's pretty good at baseball. Verdict - KEEP.
Jesse Crain (Ze Ubermensch): While I do love to make Nietzsche jokes every once in a while, and while Jesse Crain is an extremely nice dude, he also gives me a heart attack every time he walks to the mound. Verdict - Meh.
Matt Gurrier: I don't think he has a character on the blog actually (Scruffy please correct me if I'm wrong). But we do need someone in the bullpen, and he's not bad. Verdict - Meh.
John Rauch: He has a freaky neck tattoo, and if I never again see his bad-ass video on the big screen at Target Field, I might cry. Verdict - KEEP (hey, I never said my opinions were based on facts or rationale).

Kubel - sort of surprising, sort of unexpected. He didn't have a great year and although I love the dude, and he looks a lot like my friend John, both Scruffy and I were leaning towards "trade him."

Punto - sad, but not necessarily surprising or unexpected. Nick Punto is awesome... I have always been a fan, never a hater. I know he was on the DL twice this year, but if the organization is gong to keep someone around for that long, they can't do it out of friendship and good feelings forever...eventually they need to reinvest that money in someone who will produce. I get that. But I'm still hopeful he won't go.

What are your thoughts? We want to know!! Especially if your thoughts involve unicorns, cake, or other characters from LOST.

(and yes, I am in class right now. boom.)


World Series Game 5: "Fairy tales do come true..."

(Click here for audio accompaniment to this blog)

If you're my friend "Solid" you're laid up with back pain and desperate for good news.

If you're loyal Twins fan/friend "T-Dubs" you're still partying hardy in a down town promenade.

If you're frequent reader/commenter/friend-of-the-blog "Margo" (HI!!!) you're just glad a certain other "Dubs" is going home for the winter.

And if you're a fan of the orange and black, of great pitching and steady fielding, of clutch rookies and young-at-heart veterans, of baseball...just great baseball, you've got to be happy for the San Francisco Giants, 2010 World Champions.

This is a team that won a playoff berth on the last day of the season, a team that had to plow through living legend Bobby Cox and the dominating Phillies just to make the World Series, and a squad that was summarily dismissed as a long shot against a more potent Rangers line-up. (Sidenote to Rangers fans: though the scores suggest otherwise, it was a close series; a good series, and a series that shows how unpredictable baseball can be, thanks for the run, and for destroying the Yankees--we owe you {a little})

For 50 years the Giants have plotted and planned and failed. They've tried and they've tried and they've always come up short (occasionally painfully short: See '62, '89, '02). Several Giants fans have described their fandom as torture and--while certain prisoners of war might disagree--any fan who loves a team truly, madly and deeply from February through November is familiar with that kind of tumultuous pain (unless you're a Yankees fan).

I know this because I spent a large part of my night canvassing for the election, and almost every other house included someone with the game on. Coming to the door they'd mutter about the Indians, or sigh in their Red's t-shirt, or adjust a White Sox cap dreaming of what might have been. Even afterwards, on the phone, I could hear my mom's anguish over what might have been had the Twins just calmed down for a minute.

But here's the great thing: no matter how much each individual wished their own team had a shot at the World Series they were still watching those left standing. They were yelling for Buster Posey (a generational contemporary of most students), they were screaming for Josh Hamilton (an inspirational story of redemption), they were like little kids, even though they had no vested interest in the outcome. My dad sounded thrilled at the cerebral brilliance of the pitchers, like he wanted to get back out onto a field in Libby, MT and throw one more time. Heck, even I felt like a teenager as I heard "Edgar Renteria delivers" flashing back to (sorry Tribe fans) 1997 and his 10th Inning, series winning single that made me smile--even though I lived half a continent away.

For right now, there is no back pain, no hangover, nothing at all to detract from this moment for Giants fans. Willie Mays is smiling, so is Juan Marichal, and Danny Gladden, and Solid and T-Dubs and everyone else who likes seeing a deserving team triumphantly dog-pile like a pack of little-leaguers. Whoever you are, wherever you are it's a great moment to be young-at-heart.

World Series Game 4: There's a Light at the End of the Tunnel CLOSE YOUR EYES!!

(Preface: I'm trying not to be as cranky as I have been in the past, so I'm just going to say this and this is going to fill my whining quota for the day: "Dear Fox, I know that subtlety isn't your strong suit, but I think even my niece could have paired "Monster Mash" and Aubry Huff's homerun...and she's 22 days old today. Please try to stretch your creativity. Love, Scruffy" Okay, complaint over)

One victory is all that stands between Los Gigantes and a title that has eluded them for half-a-century. And with many friends out San Francisco way, I do hope that they are happy with their team's performance thus far, truth be told, I'd be pretty happy for them if the won.

But I'm still not ready to say goodbye to baseball. Sure it's November, and its almost too cold to sit and watch baseball for three hours at a time; but the end of the season means that the game goes away for four cold sad months. And if it's all the same to you guys, I'd rather wait as long as possible before saying goodbye.

I know that for true Giants fans the trophy can't come soon enough, but for the rest of us, we could use just a few more days, just a little while longer, just three more games before we put the gloves in the closet and force ourselves to work on that thesis that's due in...holy cow...four months? C'MON BASEBALL!! HELP A GUY OUT!!


World Series Game 3: Effective Problem Solving

How do you get back into a series trailing two games to none? Have guys who have hit well throughout the rest of the season, hit well again.

How do you endure a third straight game of Joe Buck? Talk to your friend in Seattle and put the game on mute until the computer screen freezes and your spared any more inanity.

How do you convince your undergrad neighbors that they don't actually HAVE to turn up the bass while butchering their way through a game of Rock Band when you want to go to sleep?


No seriously, I'm asking: How do you convince your undergrad neighbors that they don't actually HAVE to turn up the bass while butchering their way through a game of Rock Band when you want to go to sleep?


World Series Game 2: Congratulations are in order

Congrats to Matt Cain and all the Giants fans who have found clever word plays to be made of that name ("Cain is Able!" "You Cain't Touch This!" "Beware the CandyCain forest and go home to your Gumdrop Mountains!"--okay that last one wasn't really there...but I'm not as smart as San Fransiscans.)

Congrats also to CJ Wilson, the Peanuts From Heaven favorite non-Minnesota pitching nerd. You pitched well...you deserve better than an L in the history books and we hope you get another shot at the big W.

And congrats to Joe Buck and Tim McCarver who proved once and for all that they could count: "That's the fifth straight ball.....six balls in a row....seven consecutive balls...and that's eight straight consecutive balls in a row!...NINE! etc." This of course took place during the disastrous eighth inning when, with two outs, the Texas bullpen became the gang that couldn't throw straight.

I wondered: what was the cause of this debacle? Could it be a release point problem? Over worked arms from last night? Changes in the strike zone throughout the game? Honestly, I have no idea because instead I was treated to Buck and McCarver impersonating The Count on Sesame Street. Thank god they didn't talk about batting averages ("Josh Hamilton is hitting: 1...2..etc, etc....345....346 with runners in scoring position!! bah-ah-ahhhhhhh!!!")

Here's hoping we have some thrilling games ahead (and that we don't have to say goodbye to baseball in a scant 4 games)


World Series Game 1: The forgotten thing about duels...

At least one person ends up wounded or dead.

That, in retrospect, was the flaw with all the hype and analysis of the first game of the world series. All we heard was pitching duel this and pitching duel that, and what we got was one of the highest scoring World Series games ever. Turning that duel into a draw, and sending both Lee and Lincecum off the mound, bloody, battered and a little bit astonished.

Was Cliff Lee awesome coming in? Yup. Was Tim Lincecum a two-time Cy Young winner? You betcha. Was it reasonable to assume that two great pitchers, in the so-called "year-of-the-pitcher" would make game one all about the pitchers? Yes.

And therein lies the other flaw: we keep expecting for patterns to hold, for the favored team to win the game in the manner proscribed by the stat-crunchers and pundits throughout the internet--the same stat-crunchers and pundits who didn't give either of these teams much chance to make the World Series in the first place.

Nothing can be predicted. Nothing can be foretold. And predictions are bound to proven wrong.

Hmm...maybe we can use that to our advantage...I PREDICT THE WORLD SERIES WILL BE BORING! (heh, now we're in for a good one)


Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

Stinky and I have been talking throughout the LCS and, strangely that's how we feel. It's odd to be elated in Twins territory right now, I know. But if we put aside our personal pain for a minute we can see happy people, and deservedly happy people at that. There's no doubt about it though, we should be happy for them, no matter what we feel personally.

Last year it was the Yankees V.s. the Phillies, pure pinstriped snootery v.s. what some have called "the Red Yankees". It was hard to watch...in part because so many teams go decades without world series trips or victories and those two teams seem to be ensconced in championship entitlement. Where was the underdog? Where was the heart? Where was the basic human dignity that any other team would have brought to the table?

Mercifully, though the same series was in the offing this year, we will be spared the pain. Instead we'll see one team who has never ever been to the World Series (Texas) play a team who's last World Series Title came before the Rangers were even created. We'll see my compadres in grodie hair (Lincecum and Wilson...an inspiration to the kids, both of you) versus the single greatest ambassador of nerdery in America today (CJ Wilson). And in the end one group of fans who have been waiting for 50+ years will finally get their reward.

It stinks that we lost. It stinks that we lost to a team that played like chopped garbage against the Rangers. But it's over and done with now, we can obsess over postseason strategizing (to arbitrate or not!!) or we can watch and love the last few minutes of summer before succumbing to the long dull winter. So bring on the World Series and the joy and pain associated with it. As long as there's human decency afoot I'm a happy man.

P.s. I know Stinky's got her favorite, maybe if we all ask politely she'll come and tell us why.


Heavy Duty Hardware

As the playoffs role on, Stinky and I wanted to make a small shout out to a Twin who had a great season and deserves to take home an award that recognizes his superb contribution to not only Twins Territory but all of America. You can help him obtain this accolade by following the link below and casting your vote in recognition of his awesomeness:

It takes a great man to wear a psuedo-caterpillar on his upper-lip all year, to with stand the taunts and jeers of visiting teams and remain strong in the face of adversity. Carl Pavano did all that AND avoided the embarrassment of getting foodstuffs trapped in his lip jacket.

A Man, a Minnesotan, A Mustachioed Defender of Freedom!


Clash of the Talking Heads Playoff Edition!

**Note: with so much ink being spilled over the various championship serieses, I decided to wait until I had something meaningful to say before blogging again. Then I reversed that decision when I realized I could do more snarky commentator analysis!

Tonight's Contestants: Ernie Johnson, Ron Darling and John Smoltz (the flagship team of TBS coverage, responsible for both the Yankees/Twins divisional series, and the ALCS)

Credentials: Ernie Johnson has been an announcer for over 30 years but, as an Atlanta boy, has been largely confined to Ted Turner's monolithic hold on NBA games, it wasn't until TBS bought out the division series' that he won the right to get back into baseball. Ron Darling pitched 12 years for three teams, made an all-star team and now announces for the Mets telecasts (he also speaks Chinese and French!). And John Smoltz is so flippin' accomplished that his wikipedia page doesn't even condescend to mention a piddling announcing job: 8 All-Star appearances, a Cy Young award, pitched in 5 World Series, and an accomplished accordionist.

Analysis: With most two-man teams you get two perspectives: play-by-play from a guy who's really just a big kid with a well modulated voice, and in-depth analysis from a former player. If you add a third man to that mix and you would hope that he offered something different...not in this case! Darling and Smoltz are both pitchers. Darling and Smoltz both know what's happening on the diamond. But, while Smoltz delves into minutia to explain just why release points and elbow angles and stutter steps by lead runners make such a difference, Darling ends up paraphrasing the action in his own words. Personally, I think Darling is dead weight, but he does provide some of the worst tangential comedy you could ask for when you're trying to watch a baseball game!...So...bright side?

Meanwhile Johnson is reasonably serviceable in the play-by-play chair. Much better than the jack-wagon Chip Caray we all learned to hate last year. Johnson is less prone to Yankee-induced-drooling than Caray was, though, as always, the Yankees induce lots of unnecessary amazement (Jeter jump throws! (and-doesn't-get-the-base-runner-but-that-doesn't-matter-because) HE JUMP-THROWS!!!!). The biggest problem for Ernie Johnson the baseball announcer is that he's battling 20 years of Ernie Johnson the basketball announcer. I keep waiting for him to say: "And the Portland Trail Blazers take the field!" or "Great shot to right field by Dirk Nowitzki!" or "what do you think Charles Barkley?!?" He never does of course, he's too professional to do that but his hyper-active enthusiasm makes more sense in the up-and-down ceaseless action hard-wood game than the languid, philosophic diamond-based game. And when the lulls are most pronounced he's clearly casting about for any topic to get a laugh out of his buddies in the booth (Darling's amenable, but John Smoltz for laughs NO MAN!!)

Rating: 2.5 Blylevens. There's nothing spectacular about TBS coverage team, though Smoltz is great for the nerd in me, and it's always fun to cock an eyebrow of doubt at Ron Darling's mannerisms. But as long as we're stuck with national coverage, these guys will do fine.


And then there were four

So we're out of the playoffs, as are Bobby Cox, those devilish Rays, and the communists of Cincinnati (just kidding Reds fans!). Sadder still for me, I'm back in Ohio away from the warm, tater-tot-casserole scented embrace of Minnesotans. But if anything can pick me up and give me new hope it's cheering for a new team in the Championship and World Series.

One of the nice things about being in a constant state of transit for 11 hours at a time, it gives you plenty of time to ask irrelevant questions (If tuna is chicken of the sea, and manatees are sea cows, what is sea bacon?) and plot blog related shenanigans.

In that spirit I'm happy to give you a set of recommendations about which team you ought to cheer for in the next round of playoffs. But rather than listing their pros and cons, I just popped a few variables into Netflix and saw what they recommended. (In case you've not yet encountered the awesomery of Netflix: after listing things you generally like--shown at left--recommendations are generated on the right, but of course, it's not just baseball!)


Season in review: DAG NABBIT!

(Please forgive the delay in this post, it's always easier to write about heartache when you've gotten a little bit more distance from the moment it all turned to crap)

Sunday an incredible day today. Shining sun, warm weather, leaves turning all golden and gorgeous and whatnot, and yet, for the first time since March there's no baseball to look forward to. It just doesn't feel right. It doesn't feel like we should be done yet, our team was too good, our stadium too pretty, our season too fun to be over so soon. But no matter how much I hope for a breaking news bulletin that says: "18 Yankees tested positive for steroids yesterday, they will forfeit all postseason wins and be permanently disbanded"...I don't think it's going to happen, so it's time for a long cold winter of bupkus.

Let's be honest about this: The New York Yankees are very good at baseball. They play better than we do most times we play them, and, not coincidentally they win most of the games we play against them. Now, that doesn't mean that I think they're a better team than we are, or that we are doomed to an endless slog of postseason failure, it just means that they are entitled to a little success now and then...of course, they've had 27 seasons of success...so...they've had their turn, now it's time to share with the other children. But "play well with others" has never been part of the Yankees' mission statement.

So, we lost, again...and while I wish I could say that I inured myself to the loss...I was pretty bummed. Watching the last outs with Stinky at the Country Bar in Uptown, you could just feel an encroaching sadness as we all sat, sipped our drinks and silently started our countdowns until spring training. We are, once again, part of the vast majority of teams who spend the winter muttering "wait 'til next year..."

Personally, I don't like to naval gaze about defeats, no talk radio, no ESPN analysis, just a little time to heal the wounds. Stinky made probably the best analysis I've heard as we walked out of the bar, which is that while we have a great team that does well over a long season, they aren't really built for the playoffs. In the playoffs you need one or two dominant front end starters. Since most of these pitchers cost about as much as a lifetime's supply of solid gold ice cream parfaits, we don't usually get them. (Even our attempted trades for guys like Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt get shot down, presumably because Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt don't want to be awesome). And, while Liriano can dominate at times, he doesn't do it consistently (unlike Johan...sweet, sweet Johan), and without consistent pitching our hitters feel like they have to do it all themselves.

During the regular season our hitters don't get so neurotic because you can lose one day and get another chance for the next 7 days in a row, but in the playoffs, you lose one day you only have two more shots, and that's it. So our hitters freak out when we fall behind because there's no margin for error, so everybody tries to be the hero rather than just being their regular old awesome selves (witness, Messers Mauer, Kubel, Thome, Cuddyer and Valencia who swung for home runs approximately 180% of the time). But if we have great pitchers, there's less chance of falling behind and, as a result less need for our line up to press. So we need a pitcher or two, and as I see it, we've got two options, one: have every Twins fan sell their liver so we can afford to sign a great starter who will shut down teams in the playoffs; two: kidnap and brainwash Felix Hernandez, Zach Greinke and Ubaldo Jiminez.

Those plans should work, but until then all we have is the old standard: "Wait 'til next year". There's a long legacy of "Wait 'til next year" teams. The Brooklyn Dodgers were always close but no cigar in the 40s and 50s, the Red Sox had regular runs at the title that came up short from the 60's to the 80s, the Braves fell flat in October throughout the 90s, and this last decade, it was our turn. Painful as these experiences were it made the final victory all the more memorable, of course, we hope not to wait quite as long as the Red Sox did, but we'll win again, and when we do...awesomeness.

So, I guess there's nothing left to do but wait for awesomeness. (Oh, and sell my liver)


Slump Busters

Okay...so optimism didn't seem to work a whole lot better than despondency. We've now reached 11 straight post season losses and, 8 straight against the Yankees (losing a lead each and every time), home field's no kinder than the road and we're once again at the brink of elimination. Even the opportunity to blame the umpires hasn't softened the hard fact that we're staring down the barrel of the ol' elimination cannon once again.

This is still just a slump, a massive slump, a baffling slump, but a slump never the less. Everyone goes through them and then, with a little bit of good fortune, snaps back out of it. The problem is we can't seem to figure out what that little trick is to snap back to reality. Rally caps? No. Counterclockwise homer hanky waving? No. Flying from Ohio to Minneapolis for game 2? No. I still feel certain that somehow, some way there's one tiny thing that, once done differently will lead to our success in the postseason.

So what's it going to take to snap out of this slump, oh Gods of baseball? Do we sacrifice Danny Valencia to the ladies of New York? Should Orlando Hudson take a vow of silence? Do we need to surgically remove Rauch's tattoos, make everybody play the whole game with Groucho Marx mustache glasses, make every Twins fan watch the game upside down? Do you want that greatest of sacrifices: the Chairman's sideburns? PLEASE DEAR GODS OF BASEBALL GIVE US A SIGN!!!!!!


All our problems can be solved...with songs and monkeys

Since Stinky was at the game I hope that her graduate school gives her the time necessary to describe the actual events, situations and emotions of last night. I will simply say two things (and accompany them with movin' pictures):

1) In re: this New York Times Article about our "Damn Yankees" attitudes. I think the only power strong enough to complement my attack monkeys is the power of musical theatre (and for some reason watching this song this morning did make me feel better...of course, I am a theatre geek, but still...start hummin' boys!)

2) I stand by my claim from yesterday that the only way to get a monkey off your back is with a smarter, stronger monkey (possibly armed) and you know who else agrees with me? Stephen Colbert. (Seriously if we plague the yankees with monkeys, gonna be harder for them to hit with men in scoring position/hit at all.)

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Langur Monkey Security
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionMarch to Keep Fear Alive


Monkey on our backs

Lots of people have little nagging annoyances, small things that lurk in the shadows of your life and just pounce when you least expect or want them to. Call it the monkey on your back, the depressing little cur that makes you feel like garbage and turns you from a reasonable person into a quaky, shaky mess.

Like a lot of people, I used to smoke. Not a lot, I never made it to a pack a day, but I did make it an unfortunately frequent habit. Having one after work, or two before bed; what difference did it make? I would smoke in private, and return to my compadres a little smelly, but much the same as I was before. I always wanted to quit but had a hard time doing it. When I finally did quit (about 18 months back) it was not without temptation to regress. Even recently walking to and from class with young people puffing away all around me, I thought about grabbing a pack just to quiet my nerves during the thesis-writing process. So, that's my monkey; maybe for you it's chewing your nails, or a maliciously passive-agressive ex-boyfriend/girlfriend, or, like the nation of India, maybe it's actual monkeys.

I think, for the Minnesota Twins, it's not smoking, or nail chewing, or malicious ex-es, or even real monkeys. The monkey on our team's collective back is a simple little thing called: getting whomped by the New York Yankees. No matter how good we feel, no matter how awesome things seem to be going, when those pinstriped punks turn up and we fall behind just a little bit everything seems to get approximately 10 million times worse. We try not to dramatize it too much, we try to play it cool...but...they just...SUCK! They win...and we lose...and we're left scratching our heads with a collective sense of "what just happened?"

This is tough, painful even, but it's made a little worse by the snide condescension that many Yankees fans throw our way. I mean, cigarettes never jumped out of their packs and called me a loser...sometimes monkeys I met in India seemed to be talking about my goatee...but, they were monkeys, they might have thought I scalped a relative. The Yankees? The Yankees seem to take some perverse pleasure in pointing out our failures...in reminding us of how we are unlike them (what with only two World Series titles as opposed to 27). Heck a New York newspaper published this little gem on Monday, assuming that the outcome of our series was a forgone conclusion.

I know that the Twins players have said they don't care, that New York is just that way and so be it. I also know Yankees do not write this newspaper, and that they are probably, pretty nice guys. I'm sure they take playing against us very seriously, it's just that many of their fans are so arrogant and smug that it feels like we're playing with the weight of several million snobbish brats squatting on our backs point out our failures...like a troop of particularly virulent monkeys.

Some day, we'll loose the Monkey off our back. I rarely crave cigarettes, in part because I have friends who remind me that I was a lot smellier than I remember, and that they want me to stay healthy and alive. I've helped friends ignore malicious ex-es, and seen nail biters change their ways. So I'm sure the Twins will find a way to dump the Empire State sized monkey off our backs...someday. Maybe we should try the Indian solution to "monkeys on the back"...MORE MONKEYS!

Good luck Twins, I'll keep the strategic monkey reserves on standby should we need them.

P.s. The New York Times has an article about this same dilemma, but with much more of a musical theatre reference. This might be over-dramatizing, but it's entertaining.


A definition for the day:

Interminable (adj.): 1. Seemingly endless 2. The days between the end of the regular season and the start of the postseason.

In an effort to pass the time before the game...once again, let us all bask in the reflected glory of our great and glorious: Chairman Mauer.

(Note: you could watch this video 540 times before game one...but we here at Peanuts from Heaven encourage you to eat, communicate with loved ones and only watch it 529 times.)


Season in review: How do you graph a feeling?

Leaves are turning, rain is freezing and channels are flipping to football in much of the country. But for we fans of the Twins, there's still a little slice of summer to savor as we enter the post-season for the sixth time in the past decade.

Of course, it was never a foregone conclusion, and to prove that I've tried to chart how I felt about this season. Focusing on three main emotions as a fan: Confidence (that we are on the right track and everything will be okay), Concern (that we're deader than dodos, discos and d'alliteration) and Nauseous Confusion (for the plain ol' WTF moments that come up in every season). Below the graph is an explanation of the highs and lows I felt personally...if you didn't that's fine...you probably don't suffer from queasiness the way I do...and there's no drammamine for baseball.
Confidence: signing Mauer, opening Target Field, generally playing like badasses
Concern: Why can't we get a sweep?
Confusion: "Why does the ethics board need 90 billion copies of my research proposal?"

Confidence: Continued excellence, Kubel's walk off in New York
Concern: We can't seem to win bupkus on the Eastern seaboard
Confusion: "It's nice to feel weather again, but baseball players need to toughen up and play in the snow gol' darn it!"

Confidence: We're winning more than we're losing (barely)
Concern: Interleague is hard.
Confusion: "Why won't these African tv execs show baseball from the upper midwest?!?!? And why is everyone listening to that damn Waka Waka song!?!?!? AND DEAR GOD, YOU'RE A BUS DRIVER, DON'T IMPERIL YOUR RIDERS!!"

Confidence: We're still in the race, and no longer have to be distracted by the world cup
Concern: Bad build up to the all-star game, decline in pitching, and: "Justin, get up Justin, please oh please oh please get up Justin"
Confusion: "Who is this kid at third and what has he done with Nick Punto? And should I care?"

Confidence: Learning to love Danny V., feeling quite pleased with our bullpen
Concern: White Sox are still lurking...and...oh god...they got Manny.
Confusion: "Will MLB.tv's blackout policy allow me to watch ANY games?"

Confidence: We're close...we're close...we're close...WE WON!!
Concern: ...Uhhh...guys...shouldn't we win a few against the worst teams in the division?
Confusion: Seriously...they're the Royals! How can they score that many?

Confidence: Home field, and a good campaign by all...well done fellas
Concern: Yankees...but...meh...
Confusion: "What am I going to do after the season ends?"


Canuck Heads v.s. Clutch Hair

Today's game was another battle between forces of good and evil. In the evil corner you have the Toronto Blue Jays, a team determined to reach new levels of foreign jerkitude. They have been eliminated from the playoffs for a month, but continue to insist on trying to win games (you don't see the Dodgers or Mariners doing that!). What's more, as the lone representatives of Canada in Major League Baseball, they do a great disservice to the noble people of the great white north by ignoring the Canadian value of fairness. By hitting a crapload* of home runs against a team that can't hit any in the cold Minnesota air this team has sullied the mighty maple leaf!

*Here's a helpful metric conversion for our readers in foreign lands: a crapload is equal to approximately 24 hogsheads.

In the corner of good was, as usual, the Minnesota Twins. And once again it would not be easy, what with many of our regular players nursing injuries and our pitchers battling stinkitude. Sure enough, held to one run through 4 innings, it wasn't promising. Having our starter waver, wasn't comforting and given the bullpen's experiments in stinkitude recently (all relievers wanna be like starters, ya know) good seemed to be doomed.

A Delmon double to start the 9th? Promising. Mauer and Valencia pop-flies to put us on the brink of disaster? Not so much. (Sidebar: Danny V. We like you, and the home runs you hit, but sometimes base hits are just as cool as homers, so, relax a little okay young fella?) Then Jason Kubel walked (because Running is Stupid), and our beloved Jose "Aquapig" Morales did the same leading to "Sexi" 'Lexi Casilla: who compensates for below-average hitting with above-average facial hair.

Why does that facial hair matter? Think about it man, at crucial moments in the history of our world, great hair has provided the critical boost to those who defend us all from encroaching evil. Samson, Ulysses S. Grant, and today: Alexi Casilla. Huzzah for the forces of good, and huzzah for the power of great hair*!
*Note: In case Alexi Casilla won the game due to his own athletic prowess, we reserve the right to call on the power of great hair again this postseason.


If a Homer Hanky waves in Ohio...does it still have power?

As the Twins blogosphere has diligently reported, the Twins have spent the last week playing like a large pile of dog poo. Or, actually, dog poo would probably do a better job of confusing opposing batters than our starters have this week (they are stinking much more than dog poo, more like...roadkill wrapped in a month-worth of college freshmen's laundry).

But as easy at is to mock the team when they are down, and believe me I have many more similes and metaphors in mind, it really isn't really productive. What's more it just doesn't feel like the fan I want to be. I'm much more inline with bat-girl, who recently tweeted: "The voices in Batgirl's head are telling her this is all her fault."

The voices in my head say that too. Some people might think I'm crazy to car that much, but I honestly feel like I should be able to do something, say something, write something which will somehow stop the slide, change the momentum and save the day for all Twins Territory. I might be a little crazy, but let's be honest, who doesn't have their own personal little traditions? Why on earth do we think that turning a cap inside out and angling it 48 degrees to the right will somehow inspire our hitters to stage a comeback? Why do we yell/plead/pray/scold the bullpen to throw just one good pitch, just one good pitch, come on, you can get out of this inning with just one good pitch? Do we really imagine that Orlando Hudson will look up in the stands, see our rally caps and think: "thank god that guy changed his hat, NOW I'll be able to hit!!!!"? Do we hope that in his post game interview Jesse Crain will say: "yeah, it was a struggle, but once I heard Mrs. Swanson in section 18, row 20, seat 7 tell me to try my slider again, I knew I'd be okay. Part of this win's for you Martha!!!!"? WHAT WE DO DOESN'T EFFECT THE GAME!!!

But we do it anyway. Sure, it's ridiculous, it defies logic, it turns sane, intelligent, normal people into a crazed pack of cursing maniacs; it also lets us feel like we can do something to help the people we care about. My mother used to squirm like mad while my brothers and I played sports, not because she was possessed, but just because she felt so connected to us that squirming in the stands was the next best thing to standing beside her boys as they faced the oncoming hordes. We have spent 159 days and nights with this team, and while we've never shared a meal or had a one-on-one conversation, we feel deeply connected to them, and a would, if they asked, stand arm in arm one the diamond with them. We would gladly tackle Derek Jeter before he could cross home plate, or reach down and pick up Delmon so he could catch a fly ball from on top of the wall. We see them trying, and struggling and ultimately failing and we want to do something, ANYTHING to help them.

So, even though my arm feels like it's about to fall out of its shoulder socket, I'll keep waving my little square of white-cloth whenever we have a man in scoring position. I'll wave it in the middle of my small apartment, surrounded by my research, fully aware that my neighbors must think that I'm nuts. I'll wave it while hollering for JJ to break his bad luck and get something through the infield. I'll wave it, even though the only people who can see me are college kids stumbling home after a night at the bars. I'll wave it because I can't be there, because I can't swing for them, because I want to feel like I'm doing something and because I hope that somehow, Joe Mauer's psychic powers will read my concern and redouble his efforts on my behalf. I'll do it because I'm a little crazy, but if you've spent 159 games watching this team and you don't really care about the players and their successes and failures, then you're much crazier than I am.


... Silver lining found! (sort of)

OK, so now that the Twins have lost 5 straight (brutal) games to the 3rd and 5th place teams in our own division it's getting tough to be optomistic. One of our loyal readers (who may or may not be my dad... ) still tried though:
Dad: Ahh we'll be fine. In '87 the Twins lost a bunch of games right before the playoffs.
Stinky: True. Dick and Bert mentioned that as well. They also mentioned that those losses were mostly because of lack of run support, not s**ty pitching like is happening now.
Dad: ....oh. true.

Even Gardy said the starters aren't pitching worth crap...and that is basically a direct quote. Gardy is PISSED.

1) We're losing to teams we should be grinding into particles so tiny even my mom's food processor would be impressed.
2) Our starting pitching is terrible.
3) We're completely screwed
4) My sinuses hate me.

...but at least I had pie for breakfast.


Find the Silver Lining!

Time for a little blogosphere fun time: try to complete the following sentence.

Sure the Twins have lost 4 straight games to two mediocre teams, and sure our starting pitchers have given up 20 earned runs while only averaging 4 innings pitched during that span, and yeah, Mauer hasn't played in a week, and Thome hasn't played in a week, and JJ Hardy is back in Minnesota with a balky knee and Gardy got hit in the head with a ball; but at least...

Potential answers:
  • at least the Sports Illustrated cover jinx is about to expire!
  • at least Twins games are less predictable than 98% of television.
  • at least the world's scientists have constructed the elusive robot fish.
...how are you making yourself feel less nauseous about this losing streak?


The bright side (we hope)

Okay, this weekend wasn't very good. And while doomsayers may begin to hide out under the covers before the postseason begins, we take solace in the law of averages.

It's exceedingly rare for the Twins to lose three straight (first time it's happened in 28 days) so now that we've gotten that out of the way in the regular season, we don't have to do it again in the postseason! (And it happened without Mauer or Thome...so...)

Plus, we made life in Detroit a little more bearable, which is always a nice way to repay a city that gave us Mo-Town.

You're welcome Detroit, now go beat up on someone else, please.



Honestly, I had a queasy feeling after Pavano looked sketchy in the early going, I nearly turned it off after the Tigers took the 7-5 lead, thinking that this would be another fury inducing extra-inning affair, and while cursing "Bing Travel Updates" (flights to MSP dropped to $200...for a minute...when no one was looking...thanks for the update 11 hours later Microsoft, really helpful) I also found time to vent my spleen on umpires, our failures with runners at third and Phil Coke--creepy looking dude. Serious.

Doctor Stats wrote in a text: "Equal parts frustrating and exciting. And we're only half way"

But noone said it better than Stinky did last night: "Dear Twins--wtf? Love, Stinky"

WTF, indeed my friends, WTF indeed.

Now let us never speak of this again.


Baseball in BG #2 (f. Dr. Stats/CPH & Jen, the Lonely Yankees Fan)

5 months ago I wrote about watching the Twins v. Tigers at a bar here in Bowling Green, Ohio. And while much has changed since that date (the gulf oil spill, tea party primaries, Justin Beiber's hair...) some things are constant. Like Liriano V. Verlander, and good friends who love baseball.

So it was to the aforementioned bar we went, Dr. Stats down from Michigan with his master's degree in tow, along with his fellow Tigers fan CPH and our amigo Jen*, a lonely Yankees fan in the den of AL Central fury.

*Note: Jen is the nicest Yankees fan I've ever met, which might make me view the whole team differently except for the jackassery that other Yankees fans engage in while I'm sitting in a class minding my own business.

Sadly (as Stinky put it in a text) tonight's game "isn't going so well..Correction--didn't go so well at all". Liriano felt sick (perhaps he had some of the same sketchy Labatt's beer we had in BG...it was awful...but it was SO cheap!) and Gardy got tossed on a call so bad even the Tigers fans amongst us mocked it.

Still the evening was educative (and not just because we're all education grad students), in the course of many wings and beers I gleaned the following:

1) We might not realize it, but the Twins are to the Tigers, what the Yankees are to the Twins, an unscalable roadblock which seems unflaggingly determined to ruin our lives. As CPH and the doctor told me, since our victory in '87 came at the expense of El Tigres, they have never forgiven us, and no matter how lopsided last night's game got, neither of my comrades in text books thought it would carry over to the next day (I'm not so sure).

2) But just because there's a mild undercurrent of hatred flowing from Detroit Rock City to the Mini-apple, doesn't mean there isn't some respect too. For one, there's mad love for Gardy: no nonsense, dedicated, kinda-like a cooler form of Santa. For two, there was general consensus that Ty Cobb is arguably the greatest player in baseball history. I love him, they love him, if it weren't for all the racism, everyone else would love him too. (Heck! Stinky made him an honorary, alternate reality Twin!)

3) Jen is impervious to my Yankee-bashing. No matter how snide I
get, she shakes her head and laughs it off (Maybe because her team has 27 world titles and pretends that their drunken home run king was an angel--see picture at right). As she said: "I've come to expect no less from you."...I just hope she doesn't expect anything more from me either.

4) If a total stranger asks you "how's it goin' in there?!?" in a public restroom, there is no response, except slack-jawed stupefaction. This is fact, and cannot be denied.

There will be more baseball in BG outings (hopefully with a little less bathroom weirdness), I only hope I learn as much then as I did last night.


Reactions to the Division Title

While it was a stirring triumph at Target field today, the big story today is, and will continue to be the fact that the Minnesota Twins have won the American League Central. While many people saw this as a forgone conclusion, it didn't stop several hundreds of fans from staying to cheer when the champagne corks popped.

But even if you didn't stay up to celebrate, chances are you're pretty happy today. And you're not alone, all throughout Twins Territory there's much smiling, cheering and pride in our triumph. Below is a sampling of reactions to the title from a range of Minnesotans:

Winona Ryder (actress): "The Twins won? Oh, that's great! You know...that reminds me about something funny that happened on the set of my new movie!...."

Walter Mondale (former Vice President): "Hells yes mutha-truckah!!! That's how we roll 'Sota-Style, son!!! UNGH! Yo, Rockerfeller! I whupped you at VP-ing, I'll whup you post-season, PUNK!!"

Bob Dylan (musician): "mummlewummlezweeezilezwazzleZWAY!"

Garrisson Kiellor (writer): "Truly this autumn bloom, sprung from blush of spring, shines and will shine in our memories today, tomorrow and ever after. For in memory we find eternal sunshine and summer and the smell of hot dogs and the sound of a laughing, roaring crowd whose joy sustains us through the long winters of our discontent. For what is joyous today becomes no less joyful as sepia tones etch them in our minds...........Basically, I'm happy is what I'm saying."

Brett Favre (athlete): "Uhhh....football?"

...and finally, speaking for pretty much everyone I'll quote my partner in crime Stinky:
Well done Twins you earned it!