... 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!


How it could still go horribly, horribly wrong

While most other Twins blogs are concentrated on roster debates, rotation scheduling and the never-ending debate: "rest the starters or go for home field", we heavenly peanuts are remaining cautious. After enduring two years worth of nail gnawing playoff intrigue we won't celebrate until the fat lady has sung, showered, slipped into street clothes and slammed down a post-performance Pink Squirrel (this kind, not this kind...though that would be entertaining).

While I know it's unlikely, we could still lose the central. If the entire team assumes they have it won they might succumbs to "Glee Fever", forfeiting the rest of the regular season in order to practice their dance routines and medley homage to the music of Poison and 2 Live Crew. And if the White Sox win 12 in a row while our plucky underdogs are striving to triumph over the Yankees Men's Chorus (a pack of animatronic Derek Jeters performing perfectly synchronized renditions of Cotton Eyed Joe), then we'll be out of the playoff picture entirely.

It's close, very close, and as long as we avoid the temptation to "Gleek Out" I think we'll be okay...though it would be great to watch that medley homage after we clinch the division. Keep the music buried deep inside you Twins! (At least for a couple more days)

P.s. Big thanks to the BOOF! for beating the White Sox last night. We owe you big fella!


An unpleasant definition

While Stinky is enjoying "Talk-Like-A-Pirate Day" at the Minnesota Renaissance festival, I watched the Twins game...and by the end of it wished I had driven from Ohio to the Ren Fest instead.

As mad as Gardy and pretty much everybody in the dugout/stands/watching at home was by the double play debacle, perhaps we can understand the confusion by reviewing a page from the dictionary issued to umpires by Major League Baseball:
Catch (v.): 1) To seize, hold, intercept or otherwise ensnare. 2) Or not, I guess, I mean, "truth" is so subjective, so go ahead and define things however you want, I don't care, I'm just a dictionary

Where's your Best Selling Philosophy NOW, PUNK?!?!?!?

I admit, I've got a chip on my shoulder when it comes to the A's. Being a baseball fan in the early part of this millennium you couldn't stop hearing about the baseball genius of the Bay Area, and how he was taking a plucky bunch of unwanted players and turning them into a winning force! There were almost monthly magazine profiles, there was a best selling book, there was a cult following around the executives (?!) who built the team, and then there was that team itself, the only team that plays in gold and green, bringing long hair and surprising swagger to the role of scruffy underdog .

Only problem was, I (like most of the people who read this blog) was a fan of that other scruffy underdog filled with a plucky bunch of unwanted players who turned themselves into a winning force. Only we did it with out the magazine profiles, best sellers, cult followers and long hair. We did it with old fashioned, boring, fundamental baseball. Catch the ball, take the extra base when you can, scratch out any hit available to you and don't swing for the fences, pick up your teammates.

So it was with a pang of jealousy that I watched the A's get the credit while the Twins toiled in anonymity. I know that the "Moneyball" concept was more about making an intelligent investment in underutilized resources than any one man; but I felt like "mastermind" GM Billy Beane developed a bit of an ego around all this adulation, as though he personally had somehow made baseball a better game and deserved all the credit for crunching the stats, turning a beautifully complex game into an inevitable end of a mathematical equation.* (And never mind the fact that it was up to the players {several of whom have been linked to steroids} who were doing the actual work, and winning the actual games.)

Yet here we are, a decade later, and while the Twins are poised to make their 6th post season trip in 10 years the A's have slowly slipped into irrelevance, buried alive under lofty expectations and an inability to keep up with shifts in the market. But hey, Brad Pitt's going to play Billy Beane in a movie...so I guess that's as good as being competitive, right?

I know I shouldn't gloat, I should hope that more talented players bring a storied franchise back into relevance and offer some entertainment to those loyal few who keep turning up in Oakland (especially for the upcoming series with Chicago...the A's definitely deserve to win that series), but if from time to time my jealousy and stubbornness gets in the way, I hope you A's fans/players/executives forgive me...I'm clearly not as smart as Billy Beane, so what do I know?

Oh yeah, I know that we won yesterday.

The Rube

P.s. I'm also not as smart as my father, who, on labor day made the following prediction: "The sox have run out of magic and will go 2-9 over their next 11 games." I laughed, surely a team who had just finished winning 7 straight wouldn't do that poorly against the Tigers, the Royals and us?...Tigers record over their last 11 games: 2-9. Maybe Brad Pitt should play my dad in a movie? Or at least, Clooney...yeah...Clooney's got the right salt and pepper hair thing.

P.p.s.*If I'm wrong and Beane is a genuine sweetheart of a guy, I'm sorry. It just doesn't come across in the press.


Credit Supraction with the Assist

For those new to the blog, you may have noticed various crazy random happenstances that helped the Twins during this series, a phenomenon we have defined as: "Surpraction". A tactic which combines the sudden shock of "surprise" with the perpetual discombobulation of "distraction" (Surpr-action). We at PFH have lovingly chronicled moments of supraction* pretty much since our inception and have long credited two masters of the art: Michael "Magic" Cuddyer, and Delmon "Holy-Crap-I-Can't-Believe-That-Worked" Young. (See image below)
And while most of this season has depended on more traditional skills such as "playing well," and "being talented", from time to time Supraction rears its head and deserves a shout at, as was the case this series when not once BUT TWICE! we managed to drive in runs with balls which caromed off third base leaving various Pale Hoser Third Basemen Surprised, Distracted...SUPRACTED YO! So congrats to Jason Repko and Danny Valencia for learning this fine art, if they didn't Delmon and Cuddy might sic their albino tiger on them.

*Note: I realize that "Supraction" might be better spelled with another "r" before the "p", but we rule this blog and we rule that spelling is for sukers.

Finally, while there is much to celebrate with this sweep, we feel obliged to acknowledge the good people of Chicago, and in an effort to promote cultural understanding at the end of this long season, we provide the following chart so that we can all communicate more effectively. Please refer to this chart whenever you want to find common ground with the White Sox fan in your life.


And still...it's not over

One more game in Chicago, but I refuse to let myself get too excited. I could make bold proclamations, furious statements of aggrandizement which say to all the world: KNEEL BEFORE MAUER, FOOLISH FANS OF FOOLDOM!!!! But that just wouldn't be right.

Instead I will once again advocate a default position of intense trepidation. Never forget that terror strikes the moment you least suspect it, as the cinematic classic Mega Shark V.s. Giant Octopus teaches us:

Sure, many people say that we have the division locked up, but if Mega Shark jumps out of Lake Michigan and eats the Twins charter plane tonight, then we'd probably have to forfeit the season to the White Sox...so you never know. All I'm saying is don't get too confident just yet.

P.s. Here's an article from the New York Times to offer still more proof of what we've long suspected...The Yankees are Villains.


Pretty good night...

Gotta admit, any night spent with a pennant race is a fun night, but last night, after hours of thesis work, that game was particularly enjoyable. Managing to mute Hawk Harrelson was fun; calling my parents and hearing their play-by-play several seconds ahead of the MLB.tv feed was even more fun and over the course of the night I learned several things about my parents:
  1. My dad (NA) and I are pretty comfortable swearing in the middle of a play (Beckham's dropped force out), but not at all in casual conversation. (I might be a masters candidate, but that doesn't mean he can't give me a whupping if he so chooses.)
  2. My mom (The Knitting Queen) roots according to her moral compass, as is evidenced by her "c'mon Jesse strike out Ramirez and sit all these Chicagoans down. CHEATERS NEVER PROSPER!!!!"
  3. NA's love of Yoga-based serenity still allows him to laugh at the karmic retribution of Rios dropping Span's double.
  4. The Knitting Queen is quite techno-savvy (she even learned how to follow a certain Tweeter whose re-emergence from her bat-cave bring much happiness to our souls!)
But despite all this joy, and the win I want to again remind everyone that IT'S NOT OVER YET! so cool your jets ESPN, Star Trib, Chicago Tribune, and all manner of other punditry. As our man Denard said: "We still have business to finish." What is that business Denard? "we've got to hopefully...kill their dreams"

If anyone can kill dreams, I'd put money on Denard, skulking in the shadows of White Sock minds, pouncing while the White Sox are happily asleep, dreaming of Bud Light with Lime waterfalls, and new disgusting ways to grow facial hair. Once inside these dreams, Denard will triumph...for he is our ninja:


Simmer down now

I have to go dive into the library and work on thesis things for the next several hours (thereby earning my baseball fix tonight) but I just want to say, to all those pundits and opinionators who are proclaiming the Twins a great team, a playoff team, a team that might sneak up on the Yankees & Rays and will have no problem with the White Sox:


Stop it! Don't jinx us! Where's some wood to knock on? Oh, right my desk! [spends next minute knocking on wood...winces in pain... then continues]

The White Sox are a great and noble foe, a team that could certainly make a run and has definitely played better than Texas of late. So clearly this series will be tough. To exacerbate this toughness let's all practice low expectations and anticipate the eventuality that Ozzie Guillen's Tweets will morph into ravenous birds who peck out our hitter's eyes while defecating on our pitchers heads. Then, like a blinded/poo-headed herd of cyclopes, the Twins will stumble through the midwest before falling into Lake Michigan and drowning.

As long as that doesn't happen, I'll be happy, and so should you baseball pundits!



Our apologies for not posting this weekend (internets and whatnot). Suffice it to say, it was a pretty good weekend. Friday let something to be desired, but as Stinky pointed out "we were bound to lose one eventually". Saturday was thrilling, but took so long that sleep conquered both the authors before Jim Thome took over the land of Cleve. And special Sunday thanks go out to the Knitting Queen who called me up with gleeful updates as O-Dog & Slo-Dog gave us a series win.

{Sidebar: Dear Twins, I would like to see a sitcom featuring the comical misadventures of Orlando Hudson & Kevin Slowey. It will be titled: O-Dog & Slo-Dog and it will be awesome. Thank you in advance, Scruffy Rube}

But this series victory brings us to a rather critical juncture in the season: 3 games in the South Side of Chicago against our closest rival. I'm sure that most people are already crunching the various permeutations of potential out comes (games-ahead, magic numbers, etc.); and while it's true that we can't lose first place, we can sure lose the momentum we've built up since losing three in Texas (going 12-3 is pretty nice).

This is one of my favorite parts of baseball. While other sports have more playoff spots to fight over, the teams involved rarely play games of consequence against eachother in the final weeks. Head-to-head contests in football might not happen between contending teams in different divisions, and in basketball you've got so many teams in the post-season that you need to be truly mediocre to be in danger of missing out...ooh! mediocrity, how dramatic!

But for the Twins, we will spend the next 20 days playing 19 games against 6 teams. While 5 of those teams may want to beat us for a psychological boost going into the offseason (or, in the case of Detroit, just to be mean) the Chicago White Sox have a vested interest in beating the snot out of us, stealing our mojo and ruining our dreams of Target Field in autumnal glory. I won't say "the division is on-the-line" but I will say that "the champion of our regional subzone of the American League may point to this series as crucial to their success" (cliches are silly).

But as geeked up as I am, we will have to wait one whole day to find out what happens next. So until then, send good vibes, take deep breaths, and watch a potential teaser trailer for O-Dog & Slo-Dog (at the bottom of this post).


On sweeps and Capps

On last night's broadcast Dick & Bert referenced a statistic that in 18 opportunities to sweep the opposition the Twins had only done it 6 times. Last night that percentage went up slightly, but still, it appears that we just lack that killer instinct (as evidenced by Matt Capps continually giving the other guys just enough runs to make it close).

Maybe we're all just too Minnesota Nice to break the spirit of the opposing team. Maybe when we're playing host we feel like the gracious thing to do is to let the opposition go with a parting gift, and we just can't summon the gumption to give them a gag trophy like the one at the right. Maybe the music playing on the clubhouse boombox has a subsonic subliminal message recorded by all the players' mothers repeating over and over again: "You play nice now! Don't be rude! Nobody likes a showoff!"

Maybe one or all of those things are true, maybe, as former manager Leo Durocher said: "Nice guys finish last", and maybe we need to have the killer instinct if we want to go farther in the post season. But if a team is a reflection of their home town, then by gum the Twins ought to be nice because Minnesotans are nice. We're the Mary Tyler Moore town for crying out loud! Cruelty just isn't in our DNA, and speaking personally, I like it better that way.

So call me a "weenie" or a "fwaydie cat!" or a "@#$%!@#%!!!!" if you want to. Just don't call me a Yankpire.


Meet the New Twins!

Sure we could gloat about last night's win over the Kansas City Royals...but Kansas Citizens are nice people and being rude to nice people would be as Un-Minnesotan as store bought hot dish.

So instead let's take a look at the team's September call-ups, the scruffy youngsters that we hope will step up their game just in time to boost us into the post season.

C: Jose Morales: Morales actually has some stretch-run experience having played with the Twins last year which should help despite being sidelined with various injuries this year. But his biggest asset is the fact that he, like the two writers of this blog were born as aquarians in the year of the boar...making us: AQUAPIGS!!! That kind of cosmic good fortune bodes well...even if it is the weirdest potential superhero ever.

P: Pat Neshek: When last we saw Sir Sideshow Pat, he had left the rest of the bullpen in oodles of trouble and gone off in quest of a healthy arm to pitch with. Now he has returned and while it's not clear if he'll ever be as dominant as he once was, he is still pretty darned entertaining, and is, therefore, one of our favoritests.

IF: Trevor Plouffe: Plouffe has been up and down a lot this season, offering relief for Nick Punto and JJ Hardy. He doesn't hit real well, but he fields like a pro and his last name sounds like a dripping faucet...which could drive the opposition insane, and that's always a plus.

P: Glen Perkins: You might remember Glen from such seasons as last one (when he started out great and then did not so great and then did down-right bad) and the off season (when he got all uppity about the whole "the-Twins-are-conspiring-to-stop-me-from-making-money" thing, so we tried to trade him but couldn't). So, basically Glen Perkins is a good left handed pitcher in a fairly awkward situation. It's sort of like in romantic comedies when two significant others are thinking of breaking up, but they go to a big party/wedding/cross-country road trip with a chimp together anyway hoping that they'll recapture the magic...hmm...I have an idea for screenplay...

OF: Ben Revere: Arguably the happiest guy on the planet right now, Revere got called up from Double A to provide much needed defensive relief for our outfield. He struck out in his only at bat last night, but that doesn't change the fact that now we get to make Revolutionary War jokes...for that alone Revere is awesome.

As of now these are our best hopes for a late season spark...but maybe, just maybe, if the concussion fairies smile on Mr. Morneau we'll have one more bit of magic left in our hats. God speed new guys, we believe in you!


Musings on a day full of baseball

With Labor Day comes two things: a sense of impending doom (as it relates to both schoolwork and the impending winter devoid of baseball) and enough grilled meats to choke the state of Idaho. I decided to spend the day reading some articles related to my thesis and flipping through as many baseball games as I could on MLB.tv. Below are my thoughts on the day

First the Twins Game:
  • Oh my gosh! I think I see my parents! Matt Tolbert nearly hit them with a foul ball! {**upon further review...no, no I didn't see them, no Matt Tolbert didn't hit them**:(}
  • Jim Thome hits a homer off the flag pole: does that count as an attack on our freedom?
  • This means that I am left in an extremely agitated state hoping that our bullpen can endure.
  • I really wish that Ferdinand the Bull was in our bullpen, all zen and awesome and cool under pressure...sigh...if only fictional characters weren't fictional.
  • Perhaps Matt Capps is our Ferdinand the Bull...only slightly bigger
  • My parents call to tell me about their time at Target Field, and my dad makes a prediction: the Sox have run out of magic and will go 2-9 over their next 11....I predict that he will not remember this prediction in 11 days.
And then my haphazard thoughts on everybody else
  • I wonder how the Florida Marlins feel about still having teal in their uniforms, and I wonder how long it will be until late 90's nostalgia makes teal common again
  • Geico got some air time on a Yankees broadcast by hiring a plane to fly a banner reading: "Hi Michael K, Geico". Sure enough the Yankees broadcaster, Michael Kay, giddy at seeing his name read out the whole banner...how much did that run you Geico?
  • Right after I flip to the Blue Jays and Rangers the Jays hit two home runs and score five runs. Clearly this was all my doing, and I expect to be made an honorary Canuck...
  • ...or maybe I need to go on the federal payroll, because right after I flip to the Nationals/Mets game, the Nats rookie short stop hit a home run. I was being slightly facetious before...but maybe I am this awesome.
  • Despite winning a game against a division leader the Pittsburgh announcers sound like cubicle dwellers, dreaming of freedom, then sighing and returning to their TPS reports.
  • Though I can't watch the White Sox in Detroit (Baseball assumes if you have internet you have cable tv) I can see small red squares advancing bag-by-bag, strangely, I care a lot about those little red squares, delighting when the Tiger squares score, and mourning when the White Sox squares score....I end up mourning more than delighting.
  • After the Twins win, I switch to the Brewers, and they hit a home run to cut the Cardinals lead in the bottom of the ninth. Seriously, I've got some kind of mojo working today!...of course the Brewers lose in the end...but let's not talk about that.
  • I'm pretty sure that purgatory looks a lot like the Oakland Coliseum, people trapped in a massive void separated from each other by an unfathomable distance hoping for something, anything to happen...or maybe it's just the similarity between the Coliseum and North Dakota....
And finally:
  • Is it possible for announcers to sexually harass a player? Juan Gutierrez might have a case given the fixation Arizona's announcers have with his buttocks. "Look at that big ol' Fanny! Can't hurt him" "No sir!" "Big ol' Fanny gettin' in the way!" "The Big Glut!"....
There's my thoughts on the day...sorry that it was relatively random, I suppose if I had a twitter account this would be there...but I am not a Twit. Thank you very much.

Hope you're all coping well with your labor day grilled meat hangovers, and remember as sad as the winter may be, spring will come again, I promise.


YAY...I guess...

It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether I win or lose.--Sandy Lyle

I suppose I should be elated that the Twins pulled out a squeaker last night. We got to one of the best pitcher's in baseball this season, Blackburn looked good, and we kept our lead over the White Sox.

But to tell the truth I feel a little guilty about this one. I know a win's a win and we need all the help we can get right now, but another bullpen combustion had me a little frazzled. Winning on a little known rule doesn't change the fact that our whole bullpen looks like it desperately needs a week in the Caribbean to get their groove back. And you could see it on the faces of the players too, not smiling much as fireworks went off, not much exultation or jubilation just a whole lot of: "holy hell...I can't believe that just happened" with a slight dollop of "what goes around comes around."

If we were in the Rangers' place, I'm sure the Land of 10,000 Lakes would be screaming for blood*. But remember Texas, you have an 8 game lead in your division...you can spare a couple of games (especially since we've walloped the A's and the Angels for you). Plus, now the baseball gods owe you one. There's a marvelous karmic symmetry in baseball and the next time you have a golden chance to cap a stellar comeback, I'd wager on your success.

Of course, the flip side of that is that the Twins now owe the Baseball Gods one.......Eep. OH! WAIT!!! We should have won on Thursday but didn't so this was the Baseball Gods paying us back! Isn't that right baseball gods? (If this is right please give no sign)

THANK YOU BASEBALL GODS!!! And thank you labor day for a lazy monday with nothing on the agenda but baseball and beef products...mmm...happiness.

*(Note: since it's Minnesota, it probably won't be screaming as much as politely suggesting through passive aggressive notes written on church bulletins that "if it's not too much trouble could you please die a painful death...you know, if you feel like it.")


Something bigger than ourselves...

Last night (after the game) I was out having a scotch and chatting with my friend Nick. Nick can't stand sports, any sport, all sports; and when I explained to Nick that I had happily stayed up to around Midnight four nights in a row to watch (or at least listen to) Twins games he seemed stunned. Why would an intellectual (read: NERD) like me spend so much time emotionally consumed with something out of his control?

I explained thusly: We all like a good epic: whether it be Harry Potter or Titanic; Ben-Hur or a Dickensian serial novel; a 3 hour + Elizabethan tragedy or The Illiad. Homer and Virgil's heroic warriors became demi-gods in the eyes of their audience, and those heroic archetypes endured through literature up through the present day. But for some people, it's more meaningful to have a demi-god you can see and hear and touch. And that's what sports offer us: an epic story (162 games) filled with heroes (your local team) and villains (Cou*Yankees*gh!) who are immediate and tangible.

Today's heroes can seem every bit as epic as those from antiquity; but they are far more realistic in stature...at least, they are on the baseball diamond. Only the tall seem to survive in basketball, only the massively muscled survive in football; in baseball both the tall (Mauer) and the short (Punto); the skinny (Neshek) and the not so skinny (Mijares) can be a child's idol.

And that's where Jim Thome comes in. At about 6'3", 240 lbs he's big, but not superhumanly large, and he's been about that big for the past decade. He seems like your average guy, trim in his youth, growing into his full frame and developing a bit of a paunch as he approaches the big 4-0. Jim Thome is just like us...only a little bit more.

And so yesterday, listening on the radio as Jim Thome smashed two more home runs in his epic career, I smiled and cheered. I wanted the good guy to triumph. I wanted a pretty average-looking Joe to come out on top in the end (ahead of those lesser demi-gods who sought to be more like the gods than the mortals, and turned to syringes to help that quest). I want to believe that someone like me, who puts in the effort can reach a higher plateau.

I watch baseball to connect with something bigger than myself: something epic, something majestic, something deeper than the every day world of facts and figures and long-forgotten theses. Baseball is not the most important thing in the world, or in my life; but it's my favorite story, and I'm glad I get to see part of Jim Thome's story, and to cheer him on as he goes.


Another victory for low expectations

After what Stinky so accurately described as Thursday night's crapfest, we held a heavenly peanuts confab at which we discussed just how badly this weekend's series with the Rangers would be. The general consensus was that Target Field would probably blow up, and that flying monkeys would probably be implemented at some point (to tear apart the straw man known as JJ Hardy).

This was all before we discovered that Matt Fox was going to start the game. For those who don't know Matt Fox's story: he is currently looking for work after the end of a 6 year stint on the epic sci-fi series Lost. And despite an Emmy nomination for Best Actor in a drama, he appears to be at an impasse in his career...so, reasoned the Twins, we might as well use this untested rookie to start a crucial September game against a division leading rival. (After learning of this, we Peanuts merely hoped that a few players escaped the vortex of suck swirling around Target Field.)

And yet! Things turned out rather well...Matt Fox (and his trademark heavy breathing) made it 5 innings, the offense churned out some clutch hits and we won the game.

But before we all throw our hands in the air, and wave them about like we just don't care...remember, the lower your expectations are, the better surpassing them will be. We still don't expect to win a game, and remain concerned about explosions, vortexes and flying monkeys. So Twins, just stop those three things from happening, and you'll have a happy pair of Peanuts--and happy peanuts are delicious peanuts.



So now I feel bad for talking trash about Scott Baker's facial hair, because a) he is hurt and b) he's growing it for charity. So Scotty B, I'm sorry for my unnecessary and superficial insults, and for insinuating that you would ever become intoxicated near a buffalo. You're still my favorite and are totally adorable.

p.s. the beard still looks terrible.



I will warn you right up front, this is a post written in frustration.
Tonight was ridiculous. We should have had it wrapped up in the 8th but instead...well, you saw what happened. I will try to direct this post at those towards whom my frustration is aimed and who are responsible for this ridiculousness, and for the fact that I am writing a baseball blog at 12:30 on a Thursday. I usually don't like to vent my anger and frustration towards my own team but sometime you just have to let the beast out of its cage:

Dear Joe West - thanks for the worst call ever in the world, and for just generally sucking at life. (on a related note - thanks to Gardy for being awesome and totally bad-ass, and for randomly throwing a towel in anger. little things like this make me believe that the world is still a good place).

Dear Scott Baker - while you are not directly responsible for anything that went wrong this evening, I just think you should know that your face looks terrible. Like, really bad and not in a funny way. You look like you got drunk last night, rubbed glue all over yourself and then fell face-first onto a buffalo, and while it might be fun to tell your teammates "man, I totally fell on this buffalo last night with glue on my face it was so crazy!", nobody wants to look at that. Not OK, Scotty B ...not OK.

Dear J.J. Hardy - please learn to catch and throw the ball. I realize this is a lot to ask of you as a professional baseball player, but hey, a little effort and skill never hurt anyone. Like, when the ball rolls past you, you should probably catch it...and then, I dunno, maybe throw it to first base within a reasonable amount of time? I'm not an expert or anything, but it's just a suggestion. I don't think this is too much to expect. I mean yes, you look kind of pretty and stuff, but like the song says, baby it's a wild world and it's hard to get by just on a smile. Jesus never smiled.

...OK that was a lie, but it just seemed like the thing to say.

It's very late. I have to bake a cake in the morning. I'm going to bed.

Fun...or something like it

Looking back through some of our best blogs I decided to pay homage to Stinky before she goes to the game tonight by recreating one of her best ideas (right up there with an army led by Attack Zebras, and a desert that combines cake WITH pie). So, time for FUN WITH CHARTS!
(only...being me, I had to Apple-software it up)

First, a chart chronicling joy v. anxiety at crucial points in last night's game
And second, a little chart that should explain how I'm trying to divide my time back at school
WHEEEEE!!! DATA ANALYSIS!!!! Now that I'm having fun, I hope that those of you who can actually watch/go to the games are doing the same.