Day of Rest… or Football

5 Oct

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Alright, I truly don’t know what more to write or say about the Twins run of late. Going 16-4 over your final 20 games to reach a tie with the team you’ve been chasing… that just doesn’t happen, does it? And yet, it did. That’s exactly what has happened. And as I have had to say here several times the last couple of weeks, I so love being completely wrong. I have counted the Twins out too many times, and I think logically so. But logic doesn’t always win, and the Twins have defied all logic. Three weeks ago, the team was seven games behind the Tigers, and five games below .500. They are no ten games over .500 (86-76) and in a tie with the Tigers.

Going into this final weekend, the Twins had to win all three games if the Tigers won just one game. And that’s what happened. The Twins got a very good start from Jeff Manship on Friday night. It was his first big league win. On Saturday, Nick Blackburn outdueled Zack Greinke for seven innings on short rest. On Sunday, Carl Pavano came back on short rest and earned another win. The offense certainly showed up, scoring 31 runs in the three games against the Royals. Jason Kubel, Delmon Young, Michael Cuddyer, Matt Tolbert and Orlando Cabrera all came up with huge, timely hits. Joe Mauer was pitched around quite a bit, and he and Denard Span just continued to get on base. The bullpen struggled a bit, no question, but they have been solid for the most part too.

The Tigers were beaten on Friday night and Saturday by the White Sox, but they had Justin Verlander ready to go on Sunday, and he came through with his 19th win. Ryan Raburn went 3-4 with a walk and two home runs. Even Magglio Ordonez contributed with a 4-4 day.

That sets up a second consecutive one-game playoff game for the Twins. Last year it was against the White Sox. This year it will be against the Tigers. Last year, it was in Chicago. This year, the Twins will host the game.

Post Game Tribute

Although I listened to most of the game on the radio, I was home in time to watch most of the post game introductions. It was so fun, and at times emotional, to watch all of the current and former Twins players be introduced. Here are a few things I thought or noticed:

  • Seeing some of those guys who were on the 1987 and 1991 teams come back again was very cool. Seeing guys like Tom Brunansky, Randy Bush, Gary Gaetti, Greg Gagne, Al Newman, Steve Lombardozzi, Gene Larkin, Chili Davis and Juan Berenguer brought back a lot of great memories.
  • How about the ovations that were given to the guys who played for the Twins earlier this decade? Jacque Jones, Corey Koskie and even Denny Hocking were greeted with loud applause.
  • All I kept wondering was how much former players who were on winning teams are appreciated. Guys like Koskie or Bruno or Gags, or Lombo, are still considered heroes around here.
  • It was great to see Pat Neshek and Boof Bonser participate despite rehabbing in Ft. Myers the entire season.
  • Joe Nathan, Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer seemed to love being part of the All-Metrodome team, especially Mauer who had to have followed all of the players mentioned.
  • I can’t help but wonder how some of the younger Twins players, like Jeff Manship, Armando Gabino or even Denard Span, Delmon Young or Carlos Gomez understand what was going on there. I know we have heard how Ron Gardenhire is encouraging his players to make sure they’re understanding and appreciating and truly enjoying this pennant race. But that type of program has to give those young players and appreciation for what they’ve got and those who came before them!
  • All but four players on the All-Metrodome team were in attendance. Torii Hunter is playing with the Angels, but he left a video message. Johan Santana hasn’t played with the Mets but must not have been allowed to attend. He left a nice message. Chuck Knoblauch was charged with domestic assault about a week ago, so he was unable to attend.
  • Of course, Kirby Puckett was also not there. A video tribute was incredibly touching, and left many fans in tears. John Gordon was the emcee, and he was clearly choked up. That was perfectly understandable!
  • Puckett’s son was the person who removed the number one from left field. The Twins have been counting down the number of games remaining in the Metrodome for the last two seasons. Another touching moment.
  • I couldn’t help but wonder how old a person would have to be to really appreciate and remember the players and the World Series from 1987 or 1991. I was in 7th grade for the ’87 World Series. I was a junior in high school for the ’91 season. I just can’t help but wonder if anyone under the age of 30 can really understand and remember those seasons.
  • Likewise, how old does someone have to be to really understand how good Kirby Puckett was? He hasn’t played since 1995, so that’s 14 years, and you figure no one under the age of at least seven, maybe ten, really probably understood. So, does anyone under the age of 25 really understand what Kirby Puckett was to the Twins and on the baseball field? How do you explain his impact to someone younger than 25? I’m not certain. He never won an MVP award like Justin Morneau. He won just one batting title, whereas Joe Mauer has already won three. Mauer may soon surpass Puckett in the hearts and minds of those of us old enough to remember him, his talent, his power, his speed, his defense and much more. But Mauer doesn’t not have the personality, the charisma, the ‘it’ factor that Puckett had, and he probably never will. I don’t know. I think it is an interesting question.

Anyway, here are some other quick notes I would like to post while researching:

  • Jason Kubel came into the game hitting .296 with 96 RBI. The assumption would normally be that he would fall just short of two impressive milestones. Well, a 3-4 day with two, three-run home runs certain helps. He ended Sunday with a .300 batting average and 102 RBI. Obviously he can’t have RBI taken away, but because Tuesday’s game will count as a regular season game, Kubel will hopefully be able to maintain that .300 average.
  • Delmon Young also homered twice on Sunday, both solo home runs. I think the two home runs took a combined three seconds to leave the ballpark. Young now has 12 home runs on the season. He has been on a tear. He has at least two hits in each of the last five Twins games. He is 11-21 in those five games. In the three games this weekend, he went 6-11 with a double, three home runs and ten RBI. I would say that is showing up!
  • Joe Mauer went 0-3 with two walks in the game. According to Travis Aune, Mauer will win the AL batting title this year, unless he goes 0-15 on Tuesday.
  • Nick Blackburn officially is a Big Game pitcher in my mind. After an incredible first half this year, he was horrible in July and August. But he has come up huge in his past four games. In those four starts, he is 2-0. He has given up five runs over 27.1 innings. And his start on Saturday, on short rest, was the most impressive.
  • Carl Pavano also pitched on Sunday on short rest. He pitched well enough for 5.2 innings for his 14th win of the season.
  • On Tuesday at 4:00 central time, it will be Scott Baker taking the mound against Rick Porcello.

So Monday is an off day. Twins fans probably need it. I guess we could watch the Vikings and Packers on Monday Night Football. However, be sure to join me for the SethSpeaks.net NIGHTLY Minnesota Twins podcast at 9:00 central time. Please note that this is a different time from the last two weeks when I have been starting at 10:00 central time. I am hoping to have a few guests join me.

If you have any questions, comments or predictions, leave them in the Comments section.

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19 Responses to “Day of Rest… or Football”

  1. mike wants wins October 5, 2009 at 8:11 am #

    This last week has been pure entertainment. Took my youngest to the game on Friday. When Delmon came up, he sarcastically said “Delmon, your favorite player dad”. To which I replied “He’s been on fire lately. I think he’s going to get a big hit here”. That was a fun moment. Here’s hoping I get to take him to a playoff game or two…

  2. Han Joelo October 5, 2009 at 9:11 am #

    I know its all been said and thought, but woohoo! I saw my first Twins game of the year thanks to the national broadcast on Saturday, and it couldn’t have been a better one.

    I admit I was pretty cynical after Thursday. To the point I thought they’d orchestrated the timing of the Sano announcement so as to soften the blow. As far as letting Greinke pitch to Mauer, why not? He’d owned him, and if I’m Hillman I want to let the young ace take a shot. Win or lose, its a growth experience. Of course, the next time Greinke is involved in a game with playoff implications, it will probably be with another team…

    Delete this last part if it falls in the jinx category, but would the Twins pitch Blackburn on three days rest again on Wednesday? What choice would they have? And then Pavano on Friday, after that, I don’t know.

    Good to see Liriano (and Duensing and Crain) pitch well. Have we seen his last start?

    The last part is the fantasy baseball league I am in is counting the stats from the game tomorrow, and I was able to fill my team up with Twins players. I’ve got everybody except Cuddy and Young. I even have Valencia and Ramos on the bench for no good reason.

  3. Noah October 5, 2009 at 9:14 am #

    I am 27 years old…”I couldn’t help but wonder how old a person would have to be to really appreciate and remember the players and the World Series from 1987 or 1991. I was in 7th grade for the ’87 World Series. I was a junior in high school for the ’91 season. I just can’t help but wonder if anyone under the age of 30 can really understand and remember those seasons.”

    What a load of crap…anyone under 30?!?!?!?!?!, I remember both these series like they were yesterday…I was 5 during the first one, and it really sparked my interest in baseeball, in 91 I remember every second of that series, it was what really hooked me on the twins for life…I knew every player, starter etc.

  4. Seth October 5, 2009 at 9:49 am #

    Noah, 30 was just a round number… maybe I should have said “anyone under the age of 27?”

    Han Joelo – indications would be that Duensing will start Game 1… not sure if they would go with Blakburn on short rest again. But it’s possible.

  5. Ruth October 5, 2009 at 10:29 am #

    Re: your comments comparing Kirby Puckett with Joe Mauer. It’s true that Kirby had a more bubbly personality, but Joe has a more solid character. In years to come I can’t imagine that we’ll be hearing about him cheating on his wife or getting arrested for sleazy behavior in bars. Joe is unfailingly kind to fans and respectful to everyone. In my opinion he is head and shoulders above Kirby!

    I was at the game yesterday and it was great fun to see all the old players who came back. I am well over 30 so I remember them well :-)

  6. Michael October 5, 2009 at 10:49 am #

    We can only hope that we will not see any one cheating or making horrible choices. But to say that we have a good handle on these players private life/personality is silly. Our views on professional atheletes are shaped by the media whether that be television, print, online as well as through our intuitive beliefs about character. Do I think Mauer is a good guy, yes. But do I know Joe Mauer or any other professional athelete, the answer is no.

  7. Ryan October 5, 2009 at 11:46 am #

    I am 25, and I cannot remember the ’87 World Series at all; I do remember the ’91 Series, but only in flashes (I was, after all, just 7 years old). I don’t really remember too many specific details of the games, just flashes from 6 and 7.

  8. Seth October 5, 2009 at 11:48 am #

    flashes which, fortunately, have been engrained in our memory over and over over the last 18 years…

  9. rosterman October 5, 2009 at 11:52 am #

    Interesting comments about Puckett.

    I gew up with the Twins of the sixties, and Killebrew was my king, although you had the fine men of Carew and Oliva also playing ball.

    I’m not sure who is the Twins gems of the 70s up to 85. Then you had the Puckett-era, but you can’t fault a couple of other names like Hrbek and Viola in that mix.

    Then you had the Mauer-era, where he overshadowed the Hunters and Morneaus, for example.

    Joe’s time will last maybe 10 more years, so the next big fave is still playing sandlot ball in junior high at the moment.

    Who is the 1970-1985 kings? Blyleven? Smalley? Castino could’ve except for the injury. Any suggestions?

    Twins icons: Killebrew, Puckett, Mauer.

    Twins superstars: Oliva, Carew, Viola, Hrbek, Hunter, Morneau.

    Supporting players: Jim Perry, perhaps, msot of the closers, some of the rookie-of-the-years……

  10. mbrian33 October 5, 2009 at 12:02 pm #

    Ruth,

    During his career, Kirby was also exceedingly kind to fans and respectful to everyone. Everyone loved him, and kids loved him so much the Twins marketed a “Kirby Bear”. At the time no one could imagine what would come later for Kirby anymore than you can now imagine it from Mauer.

    The truth is that we don’t really know these guys.

  11. Scooter October 5, 2009 at 12:36 pm #

    Seth, I read your blog pretty much daily, and look forward to your insight and info, especially on the kids in the minors as we don’t hear much about that elsewhere. But, on your question on how old do you have to be to appreciate those guys on from the 87 and 91 teams I think you are selling some of us short. I am 26 years old so that puts me at 8 years old when the twins won in 91. I can’t even count how many games I went to with my dad that year and I can safely say that it was that year that made me the twins fanatic I am today, to where I read any and every bit of info daily I can find on the twins and anything twins related from the minor leagues to this current club. I stayed up late with my dad watching every pitch of every game in that 91 series. Pucket, Shane Mack, and Scott Ericson were the epitomy of baseball to me and I tuned in everyday that summer to watch my team play. It was and still is to this day the most memorable season in sports I can remember, and the only thing that would have possibly been even close was that 98 vikings team, just because of how they went about their business by blowing teams out pretty much every week. But, i just wanted to put my two cents in about how old you have to be to appreciate…and I don’t know a ton about that 87 team I’ll admit, but that 91 season cemented at least one 8 year old into a lifetime bond with his team even through the rest of those 90’s drought years in which it would have been easy for a young kid and teenager to forget about a team not goin very far and move on. Keep up the good work Seth!

  12. Obie Holmen October 5, 2009 at 1:13 pm #

    Kirby will remain the most popular Twin, but Joe Mauer will eventually become the greatest Twin to ever play the game, and maybe one of the all time greats for any team. He will finish this year with the highest batting average ever recorded by a catcher in the major leagues. Of course, no AL catcher had ever won a batting title, and now Joe will have three by age 26. His offensive stats this year are unprecedented for anyone wearing the “tools of ignorance.” And, he is the best defensive catcher as well. Barring injury, who knows what heights he will attain.

  13. Sword October 5, 2009 at 2:09 pm #

    I am SO excited for this game!! I really didn’t think this would happen, but I really hope they can win on Tuesday!

  14. mike wants wins October 5, 2009 at 2:27 pm #

    I don’t think it is quite as sure that Joe is the best defensive catcher in the league anymore. It is clear he’s the best hitter, and is a good to great defensive catcher, but I don’t think it is clear he’s the best anymore.

    As for Kirby vs Joe, they were/are both beloved by the fans. I think Kirby had 10x the personality, but even when he overshadowed the other guys, they still got “fame and fortune”. I think somehow Joe has less personality, but overshadows the other guys on the team even more than Kirby did. It must be the MN connection, as there just isn’t another reason for him to overshadow his teammates even more than Kirby did.

  15. SoCal Al October 5, 2009 at 5:45 pm #

    Anyone taped the Twins Royal games? Does anyone think they’ll make a dvd about the Metrodome for sale?

  16. Michael October 5, 2009 at 7:06 pm #

    Rosterman,

    The icon from the 1970 to 1985 era is Rodney Cline Carew. As someone born in 1967, I modeled my batting stance after Carew.

  17. Todd October 5, 2009 at 7:18 pm #

    “So, does anyone under the age of 25 really understand what Kirby Puckett was to the Twins and on the baseball field? How do you explain his impact to someone younger than 25?”

    If you’ll allow me, a 24 year-old Twins fan, to retort:

    Screw. That.

    I was lucky enough to have parents who taught me early the pleasures of baseball, so I guess I was an early adopter… heh. It really is in my blood.

    Having witnessed his first career grand-slam, fallen asleep in the front porch hammock listening to Herb Carneal, having hung the “I can handle smoking fastballs…” poster on my bedroom wall for years and jumping up and down when he won All-Star MVP in 1993, having been allowed to stay up late on a school night to watch game six and taken out of school the day after game seven to go to the dome for the rally…
    I have simply those two words: “Screw. That.”

    I understand your logic, see how you could think that, but Kirby’s legacy is so much bigger than you’re giving credit for…

    You make a really good point, though… that future generations run the risk of not fully understanding Kirby’s impact on the game is a travesty. We need to ensure that our children to know Kirby’s importance to baseball.

  18. Han Joelo October 5, 2009 at 10:14 pm #

    The first sports team I began rooting for was the rookie-era Dan Marino Dolphins. I guess I was 9 or 10. I followed them through his whole career and have tried to stay true through the various regimes (and quarterbacks) since, but thats hard to do in Idaho.

    Kirby had the same effect on me with baseball. I didn’t even like baseball before the ’87 world series, but that team, not just Kirby, but especially Kirby, (and Kirby and Jack Morris in ’91) have made me into a huge fan of baseball, and I filter it through those teams and the style they played.

  19. scot October 7, 2009 at 6:37 pm #

    I agree that Kirby will probably always be the the most popular Twins player ever. I was around when they won their 2 world series and and I will never forget the noise when Kirby hit the winning homerun in game 6 of the 1991 series. GO TWINS!

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