Happy thoughts

Looking over my tweets and blogs from the first week of the season there's a surprisingly snarky streak to them all. I'd always thought of our little outpost in the Twins blogosphere as a happy place, and yet it seems like the stinktastic 2011 has colored our perspective on the team's early struggles.

For example, on Thursday I turned on the game over lunch, in time to see that the Angels had already run up a 5 run lead. A student came into my room to hear the score and then joined me in a 5 minute commiseration of an already woebegone season. Two hours later, as I took the track team for a work out the Twins had fought back to tie the game. An hour after that, students and teachers and others walking down the street were bouncing along elated at a win, and a win that featured homeruns by Mauer and Morneau no less.

I felt terribly guilty and vowed to be more optimistic for the series against the Rangers (after all, we have some sort of mojo that has bedeviled Texas (and very few others) for two years now) and yet, the more I watched the snarkier I became. 

For instance, while I was quite pleased with the Twins' signing of Ryan Doumit over the offseason (he was switching from my 2nd favorite team--Pittsburgh--to my first after all), I was significantly less impressed as he took a flyball off the gut in the field, and grounded into double plays with a consistency not seen since Delmon Young. 

I bemoaned another injury to a pitcher, pointed out the awkwardness of Chris Parmelee's "bat-drying" technique, I even picked on hapless middle relievers Jared Burton and Matt Maloney for their doofy hipster beards.  Honestly, how could a game that's supposed to be fun turn me into such a crank.

So I'll try to be enjoying the game more freely today as I go to Target Field for the first time. I will not mutter about errant throws, or insinuate that I know more about who to sign than Terry Ryan (the guy has been in baseball longer than I have been alive after all). I won't huff and puff over strike threes or boo one of our own (I doubt that any player hears it and suddenly goes: "OH! They DON'T want me to play like I have been!! Boy do I feel silly!")

I do however reserve the right to tell the Twins to avoid bases loaded situations. In the immortal words of Rebel Leader Admiral Phinneas Q. Ackbar:
Bases loaded and no outs? Looks like they've got us right where they want us

Think happy thoughts everybody!


Deja Vu All Over Again

After three games in Baltimore things look a little grim for the Twins. After last season's stinkfest fans are carefully attuned to the ups and (especially) the downs. So every little foible fels like a harbinger of another doom-tastic year.

Cheer up Charlie...or Lexi...
(Credit Patrick Semansky Tri-City Herald)
Not to encourage the pessimists, but it sure seems like the 2012 Twins are emulating the 2011 Twins as much as possible.

Impotent hitting with Runners on base: CHECK!

Lack of quality starts from the rotation: CHECK!

Goofy errors at the worst possible moment: CHECK!

Flukey injuries to seemingly healthy players: CHECKMATE!!

Unfortunately it doesn't get much easier for the Twins as they embark on a 16 game swing against sure fire playoff contenders: Los Angeles, Texas, New York, Tampa Bay and Boston. If you play like that against Baltimore...well...yikes...

Tomorrow, the Twins' home opener will begin at the same time that I'm taking our High School track team on a long distance slog. And while some might say that watching the Twins and running long distances are exercises in futility, I'll gladly do both because no matter how you feel at the beginning, the middle, or the end, it's the journey that makes it worthwhile.


Opening Day Prediction Time!

It's Opening Day (for the third day in a row!) and as we Peanuts settle in for the first game of the season (after a lunch date over Tibetan food) we thought we should offer a few last tidbits to savor before the game begins.

First, congratulations to the newest member of the Peanuts from Heaven Hall of Fame. We're proud to induct those players who make it fun to watch a Twins game, they don't always need to be the best players, just the ones who help us enjoy it. This year a crowded field led to just one honoree: Michael Cuddyer.

Congratulations Cuddy, and those who voted, please know that other near winners (Thome & Nathan) and not so near winners (Young, Slowey, Kubel and Crain) will be back on the ballot next year along with any other Twins who depart this season.

But now is not the time to fixate on those who are no longer here, now is the time to think about the long season ahead. Clearly, since this is a Twins blog, we are biased. So for impartial analysis we turned to our newest analysts: Sid and Minnie...our pets.

So after much asking and much more flopping on couches here's how the pets see the 2011 MLB race.

AL--as called by Sidney the Dog
Also Rans: Yankees, Orioles, Royals, Mariners, A's, Angels (whenever these teams were mentioned Sid either stared dully out into space or sprawled out trying to sleep...not a good sign)

Juuuust a bit outside: Twins, Blue Jays (He appeared vaguely interested, but that might have been because food was near by)

Playoff Teams: Red Sox, Rays, Indians, Tigers and Rangers (I assumed licking his chops was a sign of excitement, rather than the fact that even he could play better than every Cleveland Indian)

Winner: Tampa Bay Rays--3 WHOLE LICKS!! Congrats, Joe Maddon, you've got the backing of our little mutt.

NL--as called by Minnie the Cat
Also Rans: Mets, Braves Cardinals, Reds, Astros, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Padres (in each case she was looking down at the ground...just like she does before she vomits up a hairball)

Juuuust a bit outside: Marlins, Nationals, Cubs (she put her head just to one side, as if considering it, then....nah!)

Playoff Teams: Phillies, Brewers, Pirates, Giants, Rockies (Her eyes were up in that hopeful "I'd like more food please!" look cats sometimes get)

Winner: It's hard to know for sure (I skipped all my "Cat Body Language" Courses in college) I'm going to guess that her adoring demeanor after I mentioned the San Francisco Giants makes them her pick to win it all (though the Pirates should savor the fact that she gave you an ear wag).

So our pets predict a Tampa Bay V.s. San Francisco World Series. But at the end of the day, we can all agree that the ultimate winner is adorableness!

Enjoy opening day!


These Season Previews are Not Yet Rated

We really appreciate those intelligent, dedicated Twins bloggers who can analyze the minor league invitees, pick apart pitching motions and scrutinize batting stances until the Twins' prospects for the coming year can be understood by anyone with half-a-brain.

But we aren't those bloggers. 

To us Spring Training is less a time to be studied and obsessed over and more like a trailer for the movie. Unfortunately, it's a trailer that goes on past the end of the average fan's attention span. So, if you've blown off checking out the Twins and Twins analysis until now DON'T WORRY!! We've got you covered with the following trailers! Just check out whichever one best meets your attitude as a fan and you'll be well prepared for the months ahead.

Trailer 1: For Optimists

Trailer 2: For Pessimists

Trailer 3: For Realists

Whether you're an optimist, a pessimist or a realist please vote in our poll at the right to help us know just how the denizens of Twins territory are feeling as the season gets started.


Back at last

The regular season is so close you can taste it, and we Peanuts are back from our long hibernation with our season preview posts. Later in this week we'll post our preview of the Twins season (the optimistic, pessimistic, and realistic points of view) and predictions for the year ahead from the smartest analysts we know.

But first, the reason for the prolonged delay between posts. It turns out that it's easier to post about things when you don't have a full time job to attend to. With Stinky in her cube, and me tapdancing for 80 kids a day there's a lot to get done. So most of our days are filled with the reading of e-mails and essays on personal heroes or meaningful innovations. After work we've got choirs to sing for and track teams to coach and as if that weren't enough, we've just packed up our entire household and moved into a new home.

One thing that comes along with moving is chronicling just how much baseball stuff we have: a piece of Target Field artwork; bobbleheaded Joe Mauer; framed photos of Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner (bought during one of our earliest dates); signed balls; at least five kinds of TC hats and books like Crazy '08, Baseball in the Garden of Eden, The Glory of Their Times and Shoeless Joe. Moving also unearths prized possessions you forgot you had (particularly when your parents want to unload long dormant boxes in their basement).

That's when you discover this:
Yes, that would be a treasure trove of baseball cards, acquired when I was about 5 years old. I was convinced every card would feature a Hall of Famer, a legend in the making. Almost 25 years later I can see a whole lot of Frank DiPino's and Lance Johnson's and very few recognizable anythings. But with the benefit of hindsight I can chuckle at Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams before he had a mullet; Dave Concepcion in his final days; Kevin Seitzer (pre-glory days) and Chris Bosio (sans goggles). But there are a few particular names that stand out:
Clockwise from Top Left: Ron Gant, Mike Socia, Ken Williams, Jamie Moyer
This quartet will get no plaques or plaudits but I can remember them all clear as day. I remember Ron Gant getting pulled losing his balance scampering back to first in the '91 series. I remember Mike Socia winning the '02 series (coming back from his debilitating stint on the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant Softball Team). I remember Jamie Moyer making the Rockies last week (and making the Rockies back when he was minor league in the Paleozoic era). And I remember Kenny Williams, not from his playing days, but just from being a nice guy to a punk kid working in PR for a rookie league club in Montana.
Clockwise from Top L: Roy Smalley, Les Straker, Tim Laudner, Chili Davis
Sadly, from my tonnage of cards there were maybe 5 Twins cards, perhaps they were held back from packs after they won the World Series. But in none of my stacks of cards was there a Kirby or a Hrbek, there were two members of the FSN Team in Roy Smalley and Tim Laudner (even if I can't remember them playing a game. There's also a then rookie Les Straeker with his lofty hopes before a DL trip ended his career. And there's Chili Davis three years away from being "my guy" on the '91 Twins. But of all the piles of cards there are only two that really stand out.

TK looks thoroughly managerial here. Chaw shifted off to one side, looking askance at some shenanigan by the dugout. Pondering exactly how to say "shape up or ship out young man"...actually he probably would just say that. With TK's number set to be retired later this year, we are proud to salute him.

Best of all, there's this card of last year's retired number honoree: Bert Aberforce Blyleven. It might be a little better if there was an "I heart to fart" shirt, but as the most decorated and revered player in my baseball card collection we'll settle for his grizzled beard and death stare as some sort of absurdist ploy to strike fear into the hearts of his enemies...and also set up the curve ball.

Now that I've sorted through all these cards, and all the books and all the knick-knacks and doodads that comprise our Twins fandom, it's time to turn our eyes to the field and root root root for the home team. We're glad to be back (and if you are looking for a Danny Cox baseball card...give me a call)