Star Wars – A Futile Hope

Twins 7,  Royals 2                                                                      Record   20 – 37  13.5 GB

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…

Jedi manager Obi Ron surveyed his new recruits, heaved a sigh of dismay, and muttered into his beard, “This is a sad day indeed, for this game’s lineup is the sorriest bunch of players I’ve seen in a long time.  Trying to teach these guys how to use the Force is hopeless.”

His fellow master Ander Son overheard him and replied, “Oh, that we had not lost so many already to the Dark Side, otherwise known as the DL.”

“Why is “Dark Side” abbreviated “DL”?

“Ah, it is a mystery, Obi Ron.”

“Just say you don’t know, OK?”

Certainly, Obi Ron.”

“And knock off the Obi Ron stuff already.  Call me “Gardy.”

“That I cannot do, Obi Ron.  It would not be proper. Though I have heard that the usurper Darth Ullger has been known to show disrespect in that manner.”

Obi Ron waived his hand in the air as if to end that line of discussion.  “Where is the young Jedi Mauer?  We need him badly.”

“But that is what I was referring to.  The Dark Side has captured him, along with his fellows: Morneau, Thome, Slowey, Kubel, Nishioka, Nathan, Perkins, and Span.  Who knows when we shall see them rejoin us?  We shall have to make do with these lesser known troopers:

            Ben Revere

            Alexi Casilla

            Michael Cuddyer

            Danny Valencia

            Delmon Young

            Brian Dinkelman

            Jason Repko

            Rene Rivera

            Matt Tolbert


 With another sigh, Obi Ron called young Alexi to his side and began to patiently instruct him in the ways of the Force.  “Use the Force,” he said, “It is your strength and will lead you to victory.”

“No problem, man.  I catch the ball and step on second.  That’s the  force!”

 Obi Ron steeled himself to correct his protégé, but thought better of it and merely patted him on the back.  Then he looked over the rest of the lineup card.  “Whoever heard of a Jedi Knight called Rene or (he shuddered) Dinkelman?”  The name of the number 3 hitter was a puzzle to pronounce, so he decided to call him “Cuddy” and pretend it was meant as an endearment.  No, you sure didn’t get Jedi wannabees like you used to.  He had a good mind to call up his son Tobi Wan.  Surely he was at least as good as some of these bozos.

And then, the contest began.  Their foe tonight would be from the realm of Kansas City and were of Royal blood.  And their pitcher went by the name “Luke.” (Whoa…déjà vu.)  Also, he had been told that one of them had in days past been known as “The Mexicutioner.”  That sounded ominous.  He looked at his team sitting eagerly in the dugout. 

 “I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” he said to no one in particular.

Imagine his surprise when they emerged 2:58 hours later victorious and young Alexi had garnered 4 hits, 2 RBI, and was the hero of the game!  Even Brian (shudder) Dinkelman got his first major league hit and made a great catch in the outfield.  Almost more astounding, the game ended with his team committing no errors.  Really. 

Obi Ron walked quietly back to the clubhouse and pondered the 2011 season so far.  Yes, they had just won only their 20th game and yet were still the worst team in baseball.  It was not likely they would have the wherewithal to erase the 13.5 games they trailed the division leading Indians.  But this night…a young Twin learned to use the Force.  Knowing Alexi, he would probably forget how by morning.

But for tonight it was enough.


A No-No for Frankie!

Twins 1,  White Sox 0                                            No-Hitter by Francisco Liriano


frankie.jpg                          Finally…finally, something for a loyal Twnzfan to get excited about!  Francisco Liriano, pitching for his job, did that and more so by throwing the first Twins no-hitter since Eric Milton in 1999!  It wasn’t always pretty with 6 walks and an unfortunate bad call on a fielder’s choice that might or might not have made a difference, and a great play by Danny Valencia saving the day…Oh, this just won’t do.  The only way for Twnzfan to express this is in…(drum roll, please)…poetry!



 (with apologies to Lennon/McCartney)


Frankie almost gave his job away,

now it looks as though he’s here to stay,

Because of what he did today.



The game has ended and no hits I see,

Frankie did it so courageously,

123 pitches don’t come easily.


White Sox

tried their best, after all, they got 6 walks,

Kubel’s lone home run was enough,

our Frankie rocks!



Baseball wasn’t an easy game to play,

Losses made him want to hide away,

But Frankie’s changed that all today.


Why he

pitched so well, I don’t know, I couldn’t say,

Fielding by Valencia may indeed have saved the day.



Fans had little chance to shout, “Hooray!”

This game helped to drive the boos away.

Let’s hope a winning streak begins today.




The Day of Rest

And, lo, there was a spirit of rejoicing in the beleaguered land of Twins Territory and many inquired why this might be so. 

“Have you not heard?” the inhabitants replied, “This day our warriors are taking their day of rest from their recent forays against the Royal Knights of the realm of Kansas City.  Three times they went forth to battle the foe and thrice were they turned away in defeat, their weapons blunted and ineffective, their once -proud defense shattered and in disarray.”

This is a sad tale indeed, but surely it is only due to the strength of such a mighty opponent that such a thing was possible.  All men must tremble at the sight of those Royals.

To this the inhabitants murmured in dismay, “Nay, if only it were true.  The Royals are but a middling army, not at all like the fearsome foes of the East, that Evil Empire whose very name causes the Twins to grow faint.”

Then by all means they must with certainty plot their paths to avoid that enemy at all costs.

“Yea, it is the will of the Count Selig and his minions that the Twins venture no more to the city of New York in this season.  It is also a certainty that those Yankees will entreat us to battle upon our own soil come August of this year.  But that is yet 4 months before it shall come to pass, so we shall not think of it till then.”

Then it is a good thing for them to take this day to put poultice to injuries and to renew their strength.  Mayhap they will journey home and take much time for this replenishing of body and spirit.


Is there a problem?

“Unfortunately, the time for rest is only for this day.  On the morrow the Twins must test their valor against a most unwelcome foe who has truly vexed our good men for many a year.  Their fiendish leader will urge them to show no mercy and his soldiers are eager for the fight, having also suffered defeat in measure this fortnight past. They wait for us wearing the color of blackest night.  The Dark Lords Guillen, Pierzynski, Quentin, and Buehrle.  Indeed they are waiting.”

Must this be?

“Alas, it has been decreed, and cannot be undone.”

This is a daunting future.  I can see no good in it.  Why then do you rejoice today?

“Ah,” the Twins fans nodded knowingly, “Do you not see?  If there is no battle today, there can be no defeat.  In other words, today the Twins can’t lose!” 


The Blame Game…Don’t Get Me Started

Game 26                    Twins 2,  Royals 11             Record 9-17

            Silly me.  Here I always assumed the pitchers who came into the game in the late innings got their name because they brought “relief” to the starting pitcher by taking over and finishing his noble task when he became too tired.  I didn’t think it was because their performances were so bad that everyone would be so “relieved” when they were taken out. Mercifully, today’s Twins/Royals debacle has ended, thus allowing us various fans to: A) Retreat to our crying closets, B) Work on that plot to kidnap Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson and replace him with an android, C)  Start a petition demanding that manager Ron Gardenhire switch jobs with mascot TC Bear for the month of May (or longer, depending on results).  Yes, it will be a step down for TC, but he might be able to pinch hit now and then, too.  Goodness knows he could scarcely do worse than the lot we have in there now.  D)  Take an online course Android Construction 101, E) Slit our wrists, or F) All of the above.  (Note:  Rick Anderson was actually replaced by an android several years ago, so B and D above are unnecessary) 

Where, oh where is Matty Guerrier when we need him?  Oh, yeah…the brilliant minds running this organization let him go for naught and said that whoever we put in his place would “step up.”

Warning:  The following information is graphically painful and may not be suitable for sensitive fans who remember the good old days.

Matty Guerrier has pitched in 12 games and has allowed 5 ER’s all season (3.14 ERA) but all 5 were in one game!!!  So except for one game against the Cubs, he has an ERA of .000!  The only reliever on the Twins staff better than that is (gasp) Glen Perkins at 11 games and only 1 ER (.75 ERA).

            OK.  Right now there is so much going wrong for the Twins, it seems cruel to pile on the criticism, so I will just say that the Front Office hamstrung this team from the get-go with some questionable moves resulting in downgrades at several positions, and neglecting to have any depth either on the bench or in the minors, then assuming we could still win.  Unfortunately, no Sam Fulds wait to be called up in our system.

            Also, it has to be said that some of what has transpired is just plain bad luck.  Nishioka breaks his leg after only 1 week.  Our best players (Joe, Justin, Delmon, Pavano, Slowey, Thome) all get sick or injured around the same time.  

            It’s times like these that one wonders how the fans of perennially losing teams remain loyal.  My son was so angry and frustrated after tonight’s fiasco of a game.  We want someone or something to blame, because if we could identify the cause, maybe we could fix the team.  After so many division titles in the last decade, we Twins fans have gotten used to winning.   I knew that if I bought a ticket to go to a game, the probability was good that they would be victorious.  And you know, it seems silly, but true fans will understand that when you follow a team faithfully you learn about the players themselves. You grow to like them and even if you never meet them, you care about them and want them to succeed because, well, they’re your guys.  It hurts, actually hurts, to see Justin Morneau make an error at first base, when we all know what a terrific first baseman he is, and how hard he works at the game of baseball.  That’s the most difficult part of all these losses and being in the cellar of our AL Central.  We know our guys are better than this, but these aren’t our guys.  We have a group of strangers in our dugout and we don’t know them.  Who is Rene Tosoni?  He may be a fine fellow, but we want our Delmon tippy-toing around out in Left Field.  Cuddy isn’t supposed to be at 2nd base.  And most of all, we need our Joe back behind the plate.  We need guys who can put some runs on the board so Nathan can relax and get his confidence back.  We want to see Danny Valencia with his smile and his swagger and Jim Thome pointing his bat toward the seats and planting a homer there.  Maybe some changes need to be made.  Maybe this is the first real challenge Gardy has had as manager and he needs to step up along with his players.  We forget these players are (most of them) young men and maybe the coaches need to remember that young men may need someone to criticize them or give them advice or loosen them up or, whatever.  Much as I feel like giving up on this team, I can’t.  They’re my guys.


P.S.  Actually, we are kind of where we thought we’d be, right?  Battling those pesky White Sox?  Just not for last place.



No Gain…Lots of Pain

Game 12                                Twins 3, Rays 4                    Record 4 – 8

            Yesiree, that trade last year is looking brilliant this morning!  You know, the one where Bill (Mr. Megamind) Smith and Company gave the Washington Nationals our best minor league player, catcher Wilson Ramos, for closer Matt Capps, because, of course, we had no need for a back-up catcher who can actually hit (noting that our All-Star/MVP catcher has never lost any time to injuries and we never had to depend upon our back-up…see, Mike Redmond), and although we had an fairly adequate closer (Jon Rauch), why not have 2 fairly adequate closers? 

OK…Twnzfan will admit to being a teensy bit testy this AM.  Last night’s loss was painful on so many levels!  First, there was Carl Pavano’s well-pitched game (8 shutout innings) that should have given him his 2nd win of the season.  Second is the lackluster “hitting” with men in scoring position (11 men LOB).  By far the worst, however, was the gut-twisting spectacle of witnessing 2 blown saves in 2 innings by our illustrious 18+ million-dollar closer committee (Nathan/Capps).  Now, Twnzfan is well aware that closers on occasion will blow saves, and though Nathan has had some rather hairy innings so far, Capps has been pretty reliable, it is just such a shame to waste Pavano’s good outing.

The bigger picture here though has to be the extremely dubious wisdom of having Bill Smith at the helm of the Twins’ decision-making ship.  Whoa…that metaphor could do with some improvement, but Twnzfan has to finish this blog, and has no time for tedious editing.  I know what you’re thinking.  Since when has this blog been subject to ANY editing, tedious or otherwise?  Anyway.  I find myself increasingly thinking that the Pohlad family is not being well-served by their Front Office.  Despite the many critics of Carl Pohlad who called him cheap, his sons have been anything but.  They seem sincerely intent on producing a winning team, and have opened their not inconsiderable pocketbooks to help insure that this is so.  Unfortunately, while some of the personel decisions seem to have been very wise (i.e. Picking up Pavano, Rauch, Fuentes and Thome in 2009 and 2010) some of the others are so flawed they may be destroying the team’s chances for years to come.  Yes, that is a dire prediction indeed, and no one hopes to be proven wrong more than this Twnzfan, but, I will admit, I am worried.  These years while we’ve had the M & M boys in their peak should be the ones to go all out at finding a winning combination, but the organization seems content to define “winning” as grabbing another AL Central crown.  Fun as that is, the early post-season exits are beginning to wear on even the most ardent fans.  Add to that, the fact that our Division foes are not sitting on their gloves in their own organizations, and things do not bode well for our Guys.  Every other team in the AL Central has sought to improve their rosters in 2011, while the Twins not only did not bring anyone new into the fold besides Japanese star Tsuyoshi Nishioka, they totally dismantled their once-reliable bullpen by letting Rauch, Crain, Fuentes, and Guerrier go without ceremony.  Fuentes wanted to close and was expensive, but at $5 million is $2+ million less than Capps.  Also, though the Twins have long prided themselves on their emphasis on the basics, their defense has taken a hit recently as well.  Our middle infield with Casilla and the Second Baseman du jour  is a far cry from the double-play combinations we’ve had in the past.  The JJ Hardy/ O-Dog duo from last year was injury-plagued, but when they were healthy they were excellent defenders. Yes, I know that we can’t have everything our little hearts desire, but generally the principle is that a team might be willing to sacrifice a bit in defense for an increase on the offense.  Or vice versa, as in Drew Butera.  He can’t hit worth beans (though he did have a timely one last night, which goes to show, you never can tell, eh?), but he is a good defensive catcher.  Which brings up the question on all of our minds, “Why was Alexi Casilla offered the full time job at Shortstop?  Or anywhere?”  He’s a fun little dude, but his job in the majors should be as a utility guy available to pinch run, etc. 

So, what do we do?  It’s not too late, but there needs to be a re-evaluation now, before our Division rivals leave us in the dust. 

CatcherJoe Mauer needs a conditioning coach if he doesn’t already have one.  Much as I like him, we may have to look outside the organization for a better back-up than Butera.

1st Base Justin seems to be hitting his stride.  Make sure he gets his days off, so he can be with us in September.

2nd Base – Make a decision on who will play the position until Nishioka returns from the DL.  Nobody is being allowed to play there long enough to see who is best suited for it.  Note:  Not Casilla.  To be considered:  Luke Hughes, Trevor Plouffe, Tolbert, Cuddyer, ?

Shortstop – I have no idea…surprise me!  Trade for Tulowitzki?

3rd Base Danny Valencia has a lock here. 

Outfield – May be settled if Cuddy stays at 2nd base.  Span is looking like his 2009 self.  Delmon needs better plate discipline.  Kubel OK.

Pitching Pavano, Duensing, Blackburn, OK. Keep Liriano’s body, see if Brad Radke will loan his pitching brain, now that he no longer needs it. 

Bullpen – I’m sorry…It’s too painful to think about it.

Bench Thome seems to be coming around.  The rest – ?

Minor Leagues – we need improved scouting to look at some power arms and bats and just all-around better players.  Yes, our success has meant we don’t get the high draft picks, but the best players aren’t always ranked highest.  The Twins used to be renowned for their excellent scouting system.  Let’s get that reputation back!

All is not lost.  It’s still early, but let’s not let it get out of hand.  Look at the Rays.  They lost some really good players and yet their management has adapted the slogan “Find Another Way!” for this season.  Sounds good to me.  Just wait till after we leave town, OK?

Go, Twins!

Twnzfan’s Believe it or Not Quiz

The 2011 season has gotten off to a strange, unpredictable and sometimes wacky start.  After exhaustive research Twnzfan has compiled the data for this quiz.  All in fun, of course.

1.  Which team has an 8-game winning streak going and leads their division with a record of 8-2?    San Francisco    Cleveland

2.  Last week, both of these managers argued the same close call at first base.  Which one was ejected and then proceeded to symbolically eject the entire umpiring crew?   Joe Maddon    Ozzie Guillen

3.  Two teams are tied for the lead in team home runs with 18 each. How many have the Twins hit as a team?     3       8      12

4.  True or False – Now that MLB has a strict 100 game suspension for 2nd time drug violation, no one would be stupid enough to use PED’s much less get caught.       

5.  Match the catcher to his 2011 record:

Joe Mauer             8G  30AB   2R   7H  0HR   3RBI    5SO  .233 AVG

Wilson Ramos      6G  17AB   3R   7H   0HR   0RBI   5SO   .412 AVG

6.  These 2 teams are tied for last in the AL East:

      BAL    BOS    NYY   TB   TOR

7.  The Twins have 16 XBH so far.  Where does that rank them against the other 29 teams?     12th    24th   30th

8.  Which team leads the AL East with a 6-3 record?

    Yankees       Orioles

9.  Who has the best beard in baseball?

     Brian Wilson    Ryan Franklin    Kevin Youkilis   Jason Werth



1.  Cleveland.  The Giants are last in the NL West.

2.  Joe Maddon provided the drama this time!

3.  A shameful, embarrassing, measly 3

4.  A shameful, embarrassing False, and “So long, Manny”

5.  Unfortunately, they ARE matched.

6.  Boston and Tampa Bay

7.  30.  Dead last.

8.  Baltimore Orioles lead the East!

9.  Trick question.  They are all equally unattractive.


Hope you enjoyed the quiz.  To all of you underachievers wearing baseball uniforms, let’s get going!  Twnzfan will be at Target Field tonight rooting for the home team.  Go, Twins!


Home Opener

Game 7                            Twins 2,  A’s 1                 Record 3-4

   You know, I think this team might be kind of fun this year when they finally decide to start hitting in the first half of the game!  Still no hits in the first inning in any of the games they’ve played!  That’s not so good.  Plus, not waiting until the late innings to get going will be a lot easier on the fans’ blood pressure as well 🙂 

That said, how great was it to get a win today, with RBI singles by Mauer and Span, Pavano pitching 8 complete innings, and best of all seeing Joe Nathan back where he belongs, on the mound in the 9th collecting save #3 of the season?  Touching that he was able at last to bring his bag of dirt from the Metrodome pitching mound to Target Field and sprinkle it on the mound there, a ritual that was delayed a whole year because of last year’s Tommy John surgery.  He still needs a little more speed on his fastball, but looks really good, and much as I didn’t like the acquisition of Matt Capps last year, he is definitely a plus to have in the bullpen.  Hope they find out what is wrong with Slowey’s arm soon.  Of course, if every starter went 8 innings like Carl did, the bullpen questions become moot (Did you notice, I used the word “moot”? I’ve always wanted to work that into the blog somewhere).

   Really tough about Nishioka’s broken leg, but he seems to be taking it well and the fans gave him a big ovation today for what that’s worth in the recovery process.  I’m surprised they aren’t putting a cast on it.  Dr. Twnzfan would always opt for the extra protection, but since I received my medical knowledge from Dr Pepper, perhaps I’m not the ultimate source for advice.   We all want him back as soon as possible.  This interruption may put him back where he started.  Get well soon, Nishi.

Twnzfan will be in attendance tomorrow.  She would greatly appreciate the opportunity to witness many runs being scored (by OUR team), great pitching and another win.  Yes? That would put us at .500!  Go, Twins!