Mental Block

9 Jul

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I assume you all read the title and assumed I was talking about myself, but that is “Writers Block!” No, I’m talking about the apparent Mental Block that the Twins and their fans seem to have when it comes to the New York Yankees. Yes, they have an amazing tradition and history of incredible success. Yes, they are a team full of very talented players. No question. The lineup they rolled out last night was very good. But they are not invincible. The last couple of years, they didn’t make the playoffs.

The players all seem to feel a little extra pressure when they play the Yankees and it is quite evident on the field, especially with the bats! Perfect example of that was Michael Cuddyer’s bases loaded horrible at bat strikeout against a struggling AJ Burnett that probably was the key at bat in the game.

And to make it worse, the announcers keep reminding us of how great the Yankees are. And again, they are good, and they have great history. But to hear over and over again that “you can’t make any mistakes against the Yankees” or “you have to do all the little things right against the Yankees” or “You can’t beat yourself against the Yankees”, is a little ridiculous. I mean, think about it. You can’t do those things against the Red Sox either, or the Tigers, or the Royals. And seriously, Ron Coomer, we know you used to play for the Yankees and you’re still buddy-buddy with a couple of the guys, but you work for the Twins telecast.

Finally, the Twins have good players in their own right, and many of them matchup very favorably with the Yankees counterparts. Joe Mauer is the best catcher in the game. Justin Morneau doesn’t have to take a back seat to anyone at 1B (OK, maybe Pujols, but everyone has to do that). Denard Span is maybe the best leadoff hitter in the league. Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer and Joe Crede have provided good power at their positions. The starters are all capable of performing well, even against this lineup. Joe Nathan is every bit as good and as dominant as Mariano Rivera, just doesn’t have the playoff experience to get that same recognition.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong! Maybe it is something else?! What do you think?


16 Responses to “Mental Block”

  1. rosterman July 9, 2009 at 10:20 am #

    Well, the Twins have played close games against the Yankees this season. Earlier, it was pitching, especially the ability of a bullpen to hold the lead. Throughout the season, the Twins have died in key situations — unable to advance the runner. They have at least three holes in their line-up daily.

    Interesting that last nights game had no Yankee strikeouts. Somehow, of all the teams, the Yankees work the Twins for walks.

  2. mike wants wins July 9, 2009 at 10:39 am #

    They haven’t made the playoffs, but their record has been as good or better than the Twins. They are competing against the best teams in baseball for a playoff spot every year. They just have better players, especially at the “bottom”. They don’t have three to five gaping holes in the lineup like the TWins do. Young, Casilla, Punto, Tolbert (Crede to a lesser extent) have been so bad that they cancel out the greatness of Mauer and Morneau. If those guys were just below average, the Twins would be better.

    The Twins starters are good to very good. But, they don’t have great pitchers with great stuff. This is a staff of 2-4 type pitchers. No one looks like an ace at all.

    The Twins are an above average team, but they aren’t very good or great. The Yankees have the third best record in the league (and had more wins than the Twins last year, and added two great players). What do people expect? The Yankees should beat the Twins. They have more talent, more money, less holes.

    • Peterb July 9, 2009 at 7:33 pm #

      Mike hit the Twins problems right on the head. In summary: good starters, but not a dominant one. Extremely, weak at the bottom of the order. This is basically an ownership problem as they traded away players that they need right now. Plus, they have the money—-Wealthiest owner in all of baseball, and the third richest in all of North American sports.

  3. MHFESQ July 9, 2009 at 10:46 am #

    Completely with you Seth. There is no doubt the Yankees are a very good team. I think (this year at least) we’ve just come down on the wrong side of the coin. Luck does play a big factor in baseball, and when you lose 5 games by a total of 6 runs, that screams bad luck to me.

  4. Dome Dog July 9, 2009 at 11:51 am #

    Seems to me that the good teams are the ones that figure out how to win one run ball games, not the lucky teams.

  5. mike wants wins July 9, 2009 at 12:44 pm #

    Dome Dog, I think that stats show that teams that win a lot of one run games in one year, are no more likely to win one run games the next year, but i could be wrong on that. I think one run games are mostly about luck, but I’ll see what I can find on line about those studies.

  6. Glanzer July 9, 2009 at 1:07 pm #

    You nailed it. The Twins aren’t losing to the Yankees because the Yankees are that much better than the Twins. The Twins are losing to the Yankees because they look intimidated! Especially our pitchers. And even Gardy just has this scared look on his face. The Twins truly are afraid of the Yankees.

  7. Dome Dog July 9, 2009 at 2:01 pm #

    Maybe one run games are mostly about luck MWW. I’d be curious to see if you find anything about that. I guess my thought is just that the better team wins more often, so it doesn’t surprise me that the Yankees have won more games than us this year (I think it is a bit fluky that they’ve won EVERY game, but not most of them).

  8. jps July 9, 2009 at 4:21 pm #

    Seth, I couldn’t agree more. The Twins made more baserunning errors, more errors in the field, and played with that already-beaten look the whole series. I know sometimes it doesn’t help to be playing with anger, but if I were them, I would be pulling a Koskie (2003?) episode after every one of these losses. But you can channel that anger on the field as well. There comes a time to say “we’re not going to take it”, and we’re going to beat these *&%-ing guys. I know, they need to watch major league!!!

  9. Kunza July 9, 2009 at 5:37 pm #

    These guys are professionals – they don’t get intimidated by teams —-

    It is quite simple – the Twins are just not as good as we want them to be. The Yankees are that much better of a team and have fewer holes than the Twins. I’m sorry but when you are running Nick Punto, Carlos Gomez, Delmon Young, Brian Buscher, Matt Tolbert and even Joe Crede and Michael Cuddyer – you are so far behind talent wise at so many positions

    Morneau vs. Teixeira (most would probably take Tex)
    Punto vs. Cano (is this a joke?)
    Harris vs. Jeter (Yankees big time)
    Crede vs. ARod (Yankees double big time)
    Span vs. Damon (toss-up)
    Gomez/Young vs. Cabrera/Gardner (Yankees- by default)
    Swisher vs. Cuddyer (advantage Yankees again)
    Mauer vs. Posada (finally a clear cut Twin)
    Kubel vs. Matsui (toss up?)

    Blackburn vs. Sabathia (Sabathia)
    Baker vs. Burnett (Burnett)
    Slowey vs. Pettitte (Pettitte)
    Liriano vs. Chamberlain (Chamberlain)
    our #5 vs. their #5 (who knows)

    Nathan vs. Rivera (Rivera)

    So there you have it. We have only 1 clear cut player better and about 6 or 7 clearly way behind.

  10. Kirby July 9, 2009 at 9:39 pm #

    I agree with most everything already written but I would add this to the list of reasons why the Twins are so awful against the Yankees: In boxing they say styles make for great fights. They can also make for bad ones. Such is the case for the Twins vs. Yanks. How many of those wins since 2002 for Minnesota are thanks to Santana or Frankie when he was healthy in 2006? There are exceptions to every rule but more often than not you can’t hold the Yanks offense in check unless you have pitchers who can miss bats. And on offense you must be able to punish NY pitchers when they do get in trouble with patient power hitters. This is not the Twins philosophy (pitcher who fill the strike zone to pitch to contact) while running up numerous free swinging little power laden line-ups.

    Watch who beats the Yanks and how they beat them (whether it’s the Twins or another team). This is how the Rays got into the mix in the AL East last year. This is how the Red Sox beat them so consistently. An occasional soft tosser might beat the Bombers on a given night or a light hitting team may bash them but more often than not it works the other way.

    Why they do it is probably as simple as “it costs money to get power pitchers and power hitters”. The result is the “price” the Twins pay in getting bashed by the Yanks & Red Sox so frequently.

    This “philosophical/roster/financial” issue also is a reason why the Twins have one only 1 playoff series since 2002 despite their great run of winning Central Division titles.

    Go Twins!

  11. Leslie Monteiro July 10, 2009 at 6:20 am #

    There is no mental block.

    The Yankees are just the best team in baseball.

    The Twins are a mediocre team

  12. L.M. Griffin July 10, 2009 at 7:37 am #

    It is more than ironic that the one really close game we gave the Yanks — a game 2 loss by one run — featured the early 2009 Rochester Red Wings pitching staff ….. Swarzak, Keppel and Mijares. Apparently they had not been pre-programed with awe and fear.

  13. Michael M July 10, 2009 at 7:47 am #

    I don’t understand “intimidation” and have no clue how that translates into anything verifiable. Simply put, as others have noted, the Yanks have more established players at more positions than the Twins have. Mojo, luck, whatever has nothing to do with it. Winning one run games is a result of skill not luck (key hits at key moments, key outs at key moments) and this is where talent and experience make a difference.

  14. scot July 11, 2009 at 11:50 am #

    The Yankess blew out the Twins in the first game but the other 2 games could have been won and I was there for both of them. One or 2 key hits would have put us on top and Both Morneau and Cuddyer had a terrible series.


  1. Linktastic | Twinkie Talk | A Minnesota Twins Blog - July 10, 2009

    […] Do the Twins have a mental block about the Yankees? (Seth Speaks) […]

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