After yesterday's loss--which I did not see but which was described to me by my father, fellow blogger and friends as: "a hosing," "a total screw up," and "completely f*ing ridiculous"--I'm reminded of the great quote from Casey Stengel (the dentist turned mediocre outfielder turned genius manager of the Dodgers, Braves, Yankees and Mets): "I been in this game 100 years and I see new ways to lose 'em I didn't know existed before"
That has been the Twins season in a nutshell. When not losing on a record setting bullpen implosion, we manage to lose on three errors by the same shortstop (even when we keep changing the shortstop throughout the season), or on suddenly impotent hitters, or four umpires completely misunderstanding the major league rule book. It's not even games, we lose players in shocking ways too: there was the flu virus that sidelined four guys for a week, feet that got injured while turning a double play, and leaping for a home run ball, and the mysterious "bi-lateral leg weakness".

I can't explain it. Nobody I knows can explain it. I might have doubted our ability to make the playoffs this year, but I never expected it to be bottom-of-the-majors bad (and neither did anyone else apparently). So I have no other recourse but to plea with the baseball gods, the bringers of spring and sunshine and hot dogs and those little frozen lemonade cups: please, for my own sanity, MAKE IT STOP!


Dr. Cakeburn's Delicious Arsenal

At some point, in the long ago archives of this blog, Stinky and I decided that Nick Blackburn was the Twins pitcher with enough determination and pitching savvy to not only win ballgames but to accomplish these feats using baked goods. Last night, in our dark and dreary hour of need Dr. Cakeburn once again came to deliver a much needed complete game victory. How did he do it? Through his delectable arsenal of pitches of course! Here now, the Dr. Cakeburn display case of pitches.

Chocolate Fondant Fastball (with liquid center and raspberry seams)--Chocolate is delicious, melting chocolate is extra delicious, chocolate + melting chocolate + raspberries = most delicious and dangerous fastball ever.

Zebra Cake Sinker (See image of Blackburn at top of post)--a little junky, chock-full-o-preservatives--but impossible for hitters not to lunge at.

Chewy Chunky Change-up Cookie--A classic that appeals to everyone (has unfortunate side effect of getting smacked out of the ballpark, as in Miguel Olivo's homerun last night)

Rhubarb Crumble Curveball--If you've ever tried to eat rhubarb crumble with a straw you have some idea of how hard it is to hit this pitch when it's working right.
(Side note: Why did I try to eat rhubarb crumble with a straw?)

The "Can-of-Whoop(ie)-Ass Pie" aka Slider--A little whimsical, a little badass, all delicious.

Dr. Cakeburn used all these pitches (except the Chewy cookie) to great effect last night and in the process beat Doug Fister; whom he had "hooked-up" with last season. (We assume that Bert meant this in a totally non-suggestive way...but it sure seemed like there was an awkward tension while both were warming up in the bullpen, and I swear I saw Blackie tell Fister "I never wrote because I thought you'd never write back.")

Seriously though, congrats to Nick Blackburn and the rest of the boys on a much needed win; especially with Blackburn's house and home perilously close to the most recent outbreak of tornadoes in Oklahoma. You're a fine man Nick Blackburn, an excellent pitcher and one heck of a diabolical genius/baker.



That loss was extremely frustrating to say the least. As Gardy said in the post-game last night, an unfortunate inability to hold onto a 3 run lead overshadowed some great performances by a number of players and, especially, an amazing and heroic return to the lineup by Jim Thome. It's really hard for me to continue paying attention to the game when it becomes so depressing and stressful, so my mind starts to wander to thoughts of unicorns and butterflies, or occasionally Harry Potter.

Which leads me to this point - has anyone else noticed the striking similarities between the Twins bullpen, and Dementors? If not, I will list below the resemblances below:
- They suck all the fun and joy out of life.
- They make you feel cold and dead inside.
- They ruin everything.
- They often cause the loss of sports matches, such as Quidditch, or Baseball.

So this leads us to the obvious question - who is Voldemort? My first thought was Trevor Plouffe, mostly because I kind of hate him right now and wish he would go away so we could bring in another infielder who is actually capable of not screwing something up in every single game. But then, I remembered the second purpose of this blog (besides Twins silliness) - making fun of the Yankees. So then I decided that Voldemort is probably Derek Jeter, because really don't we always need an excuse to blame something on Derek Jeter?

"But wait," you say. "Isn't Derek Jeter already a vampire?"
Why yes. Yes he is.
Does Voldemort also drink Unicorn blood, making him also kind of a vampire?
Is Drew Butera, in fact, a unicorn?
Does that last fact have anything to do with baseball or anything else?
Not really.
I rest my case.

Now, I will go buy a bottle of scotch to drink away the frustration.



Yesterday my mother, die-hard fan that she is, seemed close to tears as she tried to explain why the Twins have lost so much this year. Finally she just said: "they're just snakebit."

After this weekend it seems like a pretty good descriptor. How else do you explain losing despite loading the bases in the 9th, trailing by one run with Kubel and Morneau coming up? or losing with our two best relievers coming in with a three run lead in the 8th? or losing on a sac-fly that scored a man who reached third on a feeble groundball booted by both the shortstop and center fielder? One way or another we seemed destined to lose on a single tricky play that loused up all the hard work that came before it.

But rather than bemoaning this series, or the dumb flukey luck that seems to go against us every other day, I'd like to take a moment to note one thing that got under my skin. In the fourth inning Juan Miranda hit a home run to give the D-backs the lead, now I'm not going to complain about Miranda or the gopher ball, or the loss--but I will complain about the fan who got the ball (you can see his reaction here).

Clearly this grown man was happy that he caught a baseball, happy that his team was on it's way to winning it's 6th straight game, probably happy that he had gotten to drink some beer. But why, on earth did that inspire him to look down at little Ben Revere and shout "YOU SUCK!"? (He also boasted of this to local broadcasters--as twitter confirmed)

Really random Arizonan? Ben Revere sucks? Do you realize that Ben Revere plays baseball in the major leagues while you pay for the chance to watch him? Do you realize that, even as a rookie, he has more hits in the major leagues than 99.9% of other Americans (including you)? Do you think the he sucks because he was unable to jump 25 feet in the air to rob Miranda of the home run? Does he suck because he doesn't own a jet pack with which to take away that home run you caught? If Ben Revere sucks because of any of those things...then pretty much everyone sucks...including you. Seriously this guy really makes me want to change the "ck" in Dbacks to a "g"...but this is a family blog...so I'll let you readers do that yourselves.

In a just world, this idiot would get his comeuppance, Ben Revere would prove he does not suck and the Twins would come away with a win. But instead, we remain as we have been all season...snakebit.


Sweet Dreams, Bitter Breakfasts

Strangely, the Twins' West Coast road trip has actually given we Minnesotan baseball nuts a measure of hope (a rarity for any trip towards the Pacific). The offense started to gel, home runs started to soar, and we started to think that maybe, just maybe we'd have a week where we won more games than we lost, starting a positive trend that would carry into June and then July and then keep the Twins rolling towards the most unlikely division title of the past decade.

Then came Arizona. [Cue the heavy sigh]

For the last two nights I have turned away from games when we have lead and when I have a party to go to or heavy eyelids. I genuinely feel happy with the team's performance at these moments, not ecstatic or rapturous, but happy. It's nice to see a few long balls. It's comforting to feel like the veterans are doing everything possible to regain their form. It seems that no matter how bad the season has been a dedicated few will stubbornly fight to salvage it. And I dream that good days are just over the horizon.

Perhaps that's over confidence, perhaps it's the assumption that these are the Diamondbacks of old, perhaps it's just the desperate hope that things are going to get better. Whatever the case, when I look at the score again in the morning my sweet dreams are dashed and the bitter reality of another defeat sets in.

Bitter though the morning box score check is, I can't blame on any player, not the losing pitcher, not the error-prone defender, not the golden sombrero hitter. You win as a team, you lose as a team, and right now--inexplicable as it is given the Twins talent and recent history--we are certainly losing as a team. It's tough to swallow my morning yogurt, granola, bacon or tea with that taste in my mouth...but a few hours later we look forward to the next game and hope that the day will end with sweeter dreams ahead. That might seem crazy, but if you're a baseball fan you're used to believing in crazy things.

So, after whatever that was last night in Arizona. We offer this musical suggestion:

(You could disobey the request of these adorable children...but we wouldn't recommend it.)


Meet Minnesota Capps

Twice in one day! (I couldn't resist)

Here's a special little photoshop based on the votes in a recent poll for a new Matt Capps nickname. Congrats Matty boy you will henceforth be known as Minnesota Capps and we will, frequently use this image to depict your greatness.
We like to picture Capps like this. Spending 8 innings hustling the rubes on the road, mocking Paul Newman and his namby-pamby salad dressings, then turning up cool as ice to seal the deal and get a Twins win.

Congrats Matt Capps, you've officially been welcomed to the Peanut fold.

Which came first? Bad pitching or Bad hitting?

Apologies little legumes for the absence of posts over the past few days/weeks. First the final rush of schooling distracted us, then moving back to Minnesota took up some time, and without an internet connection in our new abode blogging remains a challenge. HOWEVER, we are back and raring to go for the rest of the season.

There's a lot we could write about (and we will, just you wait). Being a fan in the bad times, positive signs during the west coast road trip, the legacy of Harmon Killebrew, the future of veterans and rookies, aureuvedic cures for Joe Mauer's legs, but I wanted to start by presenting something I've been thinking about throughout the big move back to Minneapolis: where does a bad ball-team start: with the pitching, or with the hitting?

This season, Twins fans have had to see a bit of both bad hitting and bad pitching. The starters are suddenly walking batters, tossing fat pitches that get hit a long way and leaving games far earlier than we would like. The relievers have been a similar hodgepodge of erratic deliveries and ugly outings. When the pitching is that bad, it makes hitters try twice as hard to hit...and that leads to swinging at ugly pitches, and that leads to a bad offense and that leads to losses.

But at the same time, the offense has been dismal all by itself. Runners are stranded like the crew of the SS Minnow, "Home Run" seems to be a dirty word, a .200 average seems positively robust. And when the offense is that bad, it means pitchers can't make a single mistake, which leads to living on the edges of the strike zone, which leads to walks/fat pitches and that leads to losses.

So how exactly did our team start to suffer? Was it bad pitching that begat bad hitting, or bad hitting that begat bad pitching? I honestly do not know. I doubt anyone in the Twins organization does (otherwise they'd have taken steps to fix it by now). Conveniently, the last couple of games have shown what can happen when the Twins get both good offensive production and good pitching...though of course which one came first is debatable....


Rituals OR A Little Silver Beacon of News

Stinky and I have been having a tough time watching the Twins play of late (bad signals, crossed wires, recalcitrant bartenders, etc.), so we can't quite give a break down on the merits of Plouffe V. Casilla or Rivera V. Revere, but we can tell a little story about why we love the game. Last night, as the Minnesota 9 concluded their series in Boston, we were out to eat with Nick, a friend of mine from Bowling Green, and through it all Stinky used her blackberry, to scratch that baseball itch.

To be sure, the blackberry does not exactly give you the same feeling that attending a game or watching it on TV does. It looks about like the symbol at the right. Green blobs for balls, red ones for strikes and always the same little man in his spotless, white uniform waiting for the pitch he wants. We huddle around this little screen and sigh, and shake our heads and hope against hope that when the Twins bat there will be little blue dots labeled: "In play run(s)".

It wasn't until Nick was there that I realized we might look a little silly to the outside observer. To the uninitiated (like Nick) we seem almost mad, pleading for a little silver beacon of news to justify our faith and reward our patience. If you aren't a baseball fan, it seems odd: "why let something like that consume your life?"

Well (I reasoned to Nick), it probably has something to do with the rituals of baseball in general and being a fan in particular. More than any other sport, baseball players feel the need to establish a specific series of motions or gestures before they swing or pitch or catch the ball. I know that Joe Nathan's going to do at least two horse flutters with his lips before he throws a pitch. I know that Delmon Young's going to wag his tongue when he starts his swing. When you play the game you have to have repeatable mechanics to have consistent success.

When you're a fan you often feel the same way. I hold my breath during double plays. Other people I know wear lucky shirts well past the point of sanitation, or have their own rally postures (one of my relatives puts a purse on top of their head). Going to the ballpark itself is even more of a ritual. You sing specific songs to mark the progress of the game: "The Star Spangled Banner" pre-game; "We're Gonna Win Twins" when they take the field; "Take me Out to the Ballgame" in the 7th; "It's a Beautiful Day/We're Gonna Win Twins" after a victory. You take your meal at the time that feels right (I always try to wait for the 3rd inning for peanuts and a dog/pulled-pork sandwich, and a frozen lemonade for dessert in the 8th). You clap, you jump, you cheer as the situation arises. And the next time you go to a game, you'll do it again.

But what I find most impressive of all is how we share the rituals of the ball game. A banker and a bricklayer cheer at the same time, a schoolteacher and a supermarket cashier sing simultaneously. I love how we share these rituals, how we connect through the act of watching a game and being fans. So, huddling over the top of Stinky's phone (even as the Red Sox ruined a perfectly good comeback attempt) was something I loved to do and something I guarantee that I will do again. To some it might seem like baseball consumes my life, but I think that it keeps me connected to the rituals of a larger community. And it let's me do something I love every single day. Even when we lose, sharing that with all of y'all makes it a pleasure to watch the game.


Little things

It's not always easy to keep things in perspective. For example, right now, we peanuts are getting pushed and pulled in umpteen different directions as we balance school work, moving cross-country, job applications and event planning. It's easy to take little things and make them seem much bigger than they are (as when I became convinced that a decision about which cookbooks to keep before moving back to Minnesota would profoundly affect my ability to obtain employment as a teacher).

Baseball can be the same way. A small set of examples from a particular player or from a particular series can seem like a horrifying, disastrous trend toward oblivion (i.e. Joe Mauer struggling for 9 games becoming a sign that his career is almost over). The same little things can give you premature delusions of grandeur too (i.e. I came up with the irrational belief, based on one inning in Baltimore, that Jim Hoey would repair the bullpen, destroy opposing batters and fix the national deficit). Whatever way you slice it, the little things can seem like your own personal Everest: terrifying or exhilarating depending on your mood.

One of the things I like best about baseball is how valuable it is to "do the little things right". For so long that's what the Twins have done: run the bases well, pitch with pin-point control, advance the runners when you need to, make smart plays in the outfield. That's something the team has been missing the last month or so, but in Chicago it seemed like we'd started to work on the little things again. I didn't see any bone-headed gaffes in the field (though Matt Tolbert nearly running into Rene Tosoni came close); I did see a little more savvy for players at the plate (except for poor Drew Butera).

There are other little things that make me almost want to declare the Twins to be back like Backstreet (i.e. Kubel continuing to hit for power, Cassilla not making soul-crushing errors, winning two games against our division rivals and that whole Liriano thing). But I think it's better for me not to make any one game or single performance into too big of a deal. The Twins will lose games in future, there will be good times and bad, but as long as you enjoy the little things you'll be a serenely happy fan.
So relish the little things that make up the baseball season and that make the Twins the Twins: Kubel's smirk when he hits one hard, Denard chasing one down in the gap, Justin scooping throws from the dirt and Francisco eating his own shirt from nerves. The individual plays and moments might not make or break the season--but they do mark the season and they do make it fun to watch the games.


Day-off Daydream: Trades I can make in my mind!

Sorry for sparsity of posts recently, unfortunately it will likely continue for the next few weeks as Stinky and I both work our fingers to the bone on final exams for grad school. GOOD NEWS THOUGH! Grad school's almost over for good, Stinky bought a TV that will get the Twins games, and I'll be coming back to Minnesota so we should be back on the blogging trolly before the Twins are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

Of course, it sometimes feels like that day might come sooner rather than later. You know it's been bad, I know it's been bad. As my father (known on this site as Mr. No Ass--NA for short) said on Saturday: "They aren't fielding well, they aren't pitching well, they aren't running well, they aren't hitting well....pretty hard to win when you can't do those things". There have been many suggestions on how to fix this situation from throughout the Twins blogosphere (including a fine plan from Seth Stroh's who is known for his fine plans and love of children's movies).

We peanuts do not do fine plans. We do not do statistical analysis. But we do do imagination (heheh, "doodoo"). With that we present trades we think the Twins could make in our imaginary world of amusement!

1. Acquire SS Jose Reyes from the Mets as a portion of the Wilpon's payout to Minneapolis victims of Bernie Madoff.
Win-win here. We get a talented shortstop for the season, and the Mets owners get a slight relief from their impending legal troubles! With over 200 Madoff victims in the Twin Cities the $10 million Reyes makes this year seems like a start to compensating defrauded investors.

2. Send Dusty Hughes back to the farm, or ranch, or cattle drive and bring up Frank N. Stein to bolster the relief corps.
Fixing from within here...literally. We drop one of our more ineffective relievers, then take the best parts of all our old pitchers (Carlos Silva's sinker grip, Brad Radke's tendons, Bert Blyleven's brain...or wait...maybe not that) and put them into one super pitcher named Frank N. Stein! (Pictured at left: Farm System director Jim Rantz overseeing the creation of Frank N. Stein)

3. Sneak into Colorado in the middle of the night, and swap Steve Holm for Jose Morales then run away before anyone can tell it was us.
We may need a catcher who gets hits more consistently than our current catchers (non-Mauer division) and since we have long supported Jose "Aquapig" Morales we fully support pulling the bait and switch on the Rockies. Sure we made a legit trade with them this offseason, but they forgot to call "No Backsies" so, I'm sure this will be legit.

4. Trade the blue ox from the Jim Thome commercial for magic beans.
Great value to get here. We've already shot the commercial with the blue ox, so that's done as much good as it can do. And given the rate of 3 beans/Cow, we should easily pick up like 28 beans for a blue ox! Then we use said beans to heal our injured players, grow massive bean stalks to block home runs at Target Field (we're never going to hit any there anyway) and still have some left over for a rainy day!!

There's our plans folks, if anyone wants to pass this along to Messers Gardenhire, Smith or Pohlad, please remember our finders fee. (A couple Tony O Cuban sandwiches)