Why are we listening to this?

That was my wife's question to me on Friday night as we drove to Culver's to use a buy one get one free coupon. We got the coupon at a ballgame this summer...a Saints game. Driving to Culver's to redeem it, listening to the Twins (a team that didn't even win me a scoop of ice cream this year) struggling against the Indians, it took me a second to think of an answer to that question.

Then I did.

1. It's the Twins.
2. It's baseball.
3. I love it.
4. I love hearing Josmil Pinto walk up to Mumford & Sons.
5. I love hearing the crack of Oswaldo Arcia's bat.
6. I love picturing Brian Dozier's mullet billowing in the breeze when he dives to make a play.
7. I love the thrill of the crowd when Pedro Forimon does his job.
8. I love the mystery of which Trevor Plouffe is going to turn up on any given day.
9. I love the dream of Josh Willingham getting his stuff together.
10. I love Ryan Doumit hobbling in the field, the basepaths, and up to the plate.
11. I love remembering that in a world of image-obsessed, ego-maniacal, stat-crazed athletes, there is a guy like Joe Mauer who will keep the same hair cut, the same "help the team" approach to hitting, and the same god awful interview skills day in and day out.
12. I love Dick Bremer's childlike enthusiasm.
13. I love making fun of Cory Provus for forgetting the count, the inning, the score and the names of half the players
14. I love the daydreams and rambling memories of Dan Gladden and Bert Blyleven.
15. I love imagining goofy photoshops for Terry Ryan.
16. I love Glen Perkins pitching well whether it matters or not.
17. I love envisioning Bobby Cuellar playing frankenstein with relief pitchers until we have what we need to keep a lead (just in case we ever get one)
18. I love the "surprise in every bite" style of pitching you get from Samuel Deduno.
19. I love the awshucks luck of Andrew Albers
20. I love the stubborn persistence of hardluck Liam Hendricks
21. I love Gardy tantrums.
22. I love having ready made arguments with my mom.
23. And with my dad.
24. And with my father-in-law.
25. And with all the wonderful blog-dwelling fans in the internet.

And most of all, I listen to it, because I miss all of those things for the three-four months of the year when the Twins aren't around.

Oh, Twins, you shouldn't have!
Really...you shouldn't have.
As it happens, I didn't actually have to list all those reasons, the first three were enough to remind my wife why she listens to it too. (As was looking at the St. Paul Grill's Scotch Menu to see a Talisker 25 as her victory drink for correctly predicting the Twins record this year.)

I realize that there's more and more of a push from fans to demand answers, a better product, and greater accountability from a franchise that values loyalty and community over production and success. But as long as there are games to be played and players to be cheered, I'll be a helpless, silver-lining loving fan first, and a critic a very distant second.

The season's over now, and in the absence of the Twins we'll have to make do with other amusements. We'll be riding the Pirates bandwagon for as long as that ride lasts. We'll be watching the Minnesota Opera try to fend off the Kansas City Lyric Opera for the Central division opera crown (it helps that we started our season with Kelly Kaduce!--who sounds like her name should be chanted like "LEWWWWW" Ford's once was). We'll think about the World Cup a little (okay, I'll think about it a lot and my wife won't think about it at all.) We'll obsess over Sherlock and Downtown Abbey with the same intensity that we put into obsessing about the winter meetings and MLBTradeRumors.com.

But rest assured, that wherever there is love to share for the Twins, wherever there is irrational hope to be promoted, and wherever there a dumb jokes to make...we'll be there.


The Great Twins Scotch Bet: Ready for the Final Act

It's sweet of you to keep trying Pedro, really, it is.
Entering the final week of the season there are many dramatic moments left in Twins territory. We could see a team clinch the central division, we could see a team clinch the wild card, neither of those teams could be us...but still...drama!

Still there are a few people who are hoping to see the Twins win a lot this week (other than fans of Texas, Kansas City, and New York). Well..there's one...well there's me. After all, I've got a bet with my wife and father and law on how many games the Twins can win this year

Again, the wagers are
Stinky: 0-69 Wins
Scruffy: 70-74 Wins
Gouger: 75-81 Wins

Where We Are Now
The smart one is the one on the left
It's official...the Gouger is out, his prediction of a .500 record was pretty hard to believe back in March, it was even harder to believe last week when he needed the Twins to win 11 games in two weeks. So we know that he'll buying a scotch, the only question is for whom.

Stinky's got the best chances if the Twins lose 3 or more games this week. And since they'll be facing the top two teams in the Central division (both of whom are still fighting for playoff spots) there's a very, very good chance of that happening.

Stinky: No more than 4 wins
Scruffy: At least 5 wins in the last 7 games

Gut Feeling
Here's a shocker. My wife is right. She was right. She will be right for the foreseeable future. As much as I want to imagine an incredible, amazing, staggering rise from the ashes to victory over two rivals, punctuated by triumphant interviews with Brian Dozer in which his southern drawl says: "this one's for that scruffy blogger who thought we could win marginally more games than standard oddsmakers predicted! You've earned a scotch just for having faith!" it's not going to happen.


The Plouffe Paradox

Last Friday, I attended what will likely be my last game of the year. As you would expect, I ate more than was good for me, and watched the Twins go down in ignominious defeat.

I also heard a noise I had never heard before at the ballpark.

There were men at first and second with one out when a ground ball rolled harmlessly to Trevor Plouffe. One out, easy as pie...but did he throw the ball to second base for the double play? No. No he did not.

I've heard fans boo; I've heard fans jeer; I've heard fans scream and cry and gnash their teeth in frustration, but until that play I had never heard fans make this noise in unison:


It took me a while before I realized what that was. It was the sound of resigned disappointment. It was the sound of hundreds of Twins fans having a reaction that was not only instantaneous, it was bred from months and now years of watching Trevor Plouffe play baseball.

YAA--it starts with excitement, potential, possibility, familiar thrills.

Waaahhhhh--then comes disbelief, sharp, incredulous, dumbfounded.

Ohhhhh--then there's recognition, a sense that this has all happened before, particularly when there's that number 24 on the jersey.

Uuuggghh--finally there's dismay, dissatisfaction, and acceptance that this is our lot in life. As if to say: "Of, course you did that, Trevor, of course you did."

Best of all, the sound can be reversed for a pleasant appreciation of underrated talent (only this time, when Trevor Plouffe is at the plate). A single, a double, the rare high arching home run. They're all moments of pure Plouffey pleasure starting with rumbling fear (uuuggghh), recognition (ohhhh), disbelief (waaahhhhhh) and excitement (YAA!)

That's what Trevor Plouffe adds to the Twins: a familiar face and even more familiar reaction. Whatever else we think of the Twins, whatever we think they ought to do in the offseason, who they ought to fire, hire or blow up in a quest to reverse the bad juju, we can all agree on Trevor Plouffe.

Maybe Plouffe's doing it intentionally. Maybe, like Haley Mills (or more accurately, like Lindsey Lohan), he's offering us a Parent Trap like chance to rekindle our love for each other.

Good Plouffe!
If we're torn between whether to rebuild the pitching staff internally or cast our lot amongst the free agents--Trevor Plouffe reminds us that we can all agree on his crappy fielding.

If we're arguing fiercely over whether Joe Mauer ought to move to first base or keep his catching gear--Trevor Plouffe reminds us that he too can hit from time to time.

If we're arguing over whether Trevor Plouffe totally stinks or only mostly stinks...well...you get the idea.

In a season of lost causes and hopeless false starts, it's important to appreciate the little things: Trevor Plouffe uniting us all in agreement is one of them. Bravo Trevor, Bravo.


The Great Twins Scotch Bet: Part Deux

001twins 9-15.JPG
If I win that 18 year old Highland Park, you get a taste Josmil
As some of you might remember, we Peanuts have found a way to make the last few weeks of yet another lost season slightly interesting: GAMBLING!

Okay, so we don't have any real money on the line, just requests for Scotch that we likely would have spent money on anyway, but still, every little bit of interest helps the cause. And we have Stinky's dad, the Gouger, in on the action too...sadly he won't be in on it for much longer

To refresh your memory: the wagers are
Stinky: 0-69 Wins
Scruffy: 70-74 Wins
Gouger: 75-81 Wins

Where We Are Now
Despite initial success against the Angels and A's the Twins quickly reverted to their uninspiring ways (including on Friday night for what will likely be our last live game of the year). After today's stunner over Tampa, the Twins stand at 64-84 for a winning percentage of .432. Based on that winning percentage the Twins stand to win 69.9 games, which some would call mathematically impossible...but then again this is baseball...what's that...even in baseball it's impossible to receive credit for a partial victory? Oh...never mind then.

Here's what we're rooting for heading into the final two weeks of the season.

Stinky: No more than 5 wins
Gouger: No more than 3 losses
Scruffy: Anything between 6-8 and 10-4
Gut Feeling
All of the sudden a three game set in Chicago is really really important. If the Twins sweep then I'm in a fantastic position. If they get swept I'm pretty well dead to rights because there's very little chance of our posting a winning record against Oakland, Detroit and Cleveland as they fight for the playoffs and we fight for...what's that thing...the opposite of the shame-y feeling we have at most Twins games? Oh yeah! Less Shame!!


The Great Twins Scotch Bet

Kevin Corriea: Determined to Win My Wife a Scotch
At the start of the year my wife (aka Stinky), her father (aka Gouger) and I made a bet. The winner of this bet would win two glasses of scotch (redeemable at any time they chose), the losers would buy said scotch.

The subject of the bet, naturally for a set of Twins fans, was how many games the Twin would win this year, so as we near the end of the season, it seems only right to check our progress and odds of winning the bet. (What else is there to root for this year?)

The Wagers
Stinky: 0-69 Wins
Scruffy: 70-74 Wins
Gouger: 75-81 Wins

Where We Are Now
The Twins stand at 61-80 for a winning percentage of .433. Based on that winning percentage the Twins stand to win 70 games (or 71 if you prefer the science behind predictionmachine.com). The team has 21 games left. which means we're each rooting for the following outcomes.

Stinky: 8-13 or worse wins or less
Scruffy: 9-12 to 13-8
Gouger: 14-7 or better
Gut Feeling
For the time being the math is in my favor. But I'm increasingly hard pressed to see how the Twins can win even 9 games, especially as they face a string of playoff teams. Fielding a team of Rochester's best against the A's and the Rays this week seems like the recipe for an underwhelming week. Maybe they could pull something off against the Angels (if Pedro Hernandez gets his act together) and maybe they can sneak one from the A's...but more than two seems unlikely.


Getting the Band Back Together

Years ago, back when there were frequent playoff berths and easy jokes to crack amid winning seasons, we debuted a segment called: Sargent Gardy's Lonely Hits Club Band. Part Beatles homage, part McLaughlin Group homage, all goofy. Few people read them...but I was amused enough to make a t-shirt in their honor. I was wearing that t-shirt yesterday when my father-in-law sent the following text message: "Morneau is gone-hope they can get him back next year."

My wife and I reacted as most fans did, simultaneously upset and yet hopeful that Morneau gets a shot at the World Series. But soon enough I realized that Morneau's trade would officially end Sargent Gardy's Lonely Hits Club Band...in Minnesota...but now that three of the four members are in the National League, perhaps it's only the beginning.

 Below is the first installment of their reunited panel discussion show, almost four years in the making:

[Theme Music plays, lights come up on four men in various far flung hotels, all wearing Beatles inspired military regalia]

McNeau: Welcome, at last, to the reunion of Sargent Gardy's Lonely Hits Club Band. The most elite roundtable of baseball minds ever to play in Minnesota.
Ringomez: AND MEE!!!!
McNeau: I'm Justin McNeau, the adorable one, and with me as always are Denard Spannon in Washington....
Spannon: The cerebral one.
McNeau: Brendan Harrisson in Round Rock Texas...
Harrisson: The quiet one.
McNeau: And Carlos Ringo-mez in Milwaukee...
McNeau: Gentlemen, I'm new to this whole playing for a totally different team, what is the best part of going elsewhere?
Spannon: You have the magical appreciation of a new realm of potentialities which, of late in Minnesota, have diminished in attainability to becoming a mirage of athleticism in a desert of despair.
Harrisson: Yeah...the chance to win is nice, but I really like getting to know real people elsewhere, beyond the bright lights big city scene [the other three snicker], seriously [snickering grows louder] I don't need to play in the majors [everyone just laughs] I AM MY OWN MAN!
McNeau: Good one Brendan...Carlos, what's your favorite part of playing elsewhere?
Ringomez: CHEESE CURLS!! Oh, and I hit home runs now!!
McNeau: Sure you do...
Spannon: No...actually...he does...
McNeau: Huh, well, issue number two, what differentiates the National League from the American League? Brendan?
Harrisson: There is a real beauty in the purity of having pitchers hit.
Spannon: Even if they hit better than you do?
Harrisson: They do not!
Ringomez: Hehe! Brendan can't hit!
Spannon: Ancient systems are uninteresting to me, we are only whatever we can be in the moment. The National League has won more recent all-star games and the world series. This is the thrill of what is immediate and makes it truly both a and the present.
Harrisson: Even if your team's barely over .500?
Spannon: At least my team's playing in front of more than 500 people!
[Everyone begins talking at once]
Harrisson: You guys are too fixated on the fame and the popularity of what we do, what about the art behind it! My sitar teacher's been telling me that I need to focus on my own sense of inner peace, and that's what I'm doing, if you can't respect that...
Spannon: Winning isn't everything, that's part of this culture's over emphasis on competition that no one appreciates the little things any more, these fasco-capitalist oligarchies pretend we can only be happy if we win; but winning is lots of things, like enjoying your family or teaching Bryce Harper not to say "bro" as often...
Ringomez: I have a  love-ly bunch of coconuts! deedle-dee-dee! There they are all standing in a row!! Bum, bum, bum! Big ones, small ones, some as big as your head...
McNeau: Gentlemen! Seriously, I'm kind of freaking out. I'm not an MVP any more and while Minnesotans had happy memories of my glory years to keep the cheers coming, what if Pirates fans boo when I only get a single and strike out three times?
Spannon: Embrace the victory of the self Justin. You are strong and powerful and you can help them have their first winning season in 20 years, they might not love you, but they'll thank you.
Harrisson: And even if they don't, it doesn't matter. You're a good person, with a family and a successful career. Besides, when you return to Minnesota, they'll still cheer for you.
Ringomez: And you are a good mentor! You make winning easy and playing fun!!!
McNeau: Thank you guys. As we wrap up today's analysis, do you guys find yourselves missing anything from Minnesota?
All: Joe's Sideburns.
McNeau: I thought so.