Update

Another nice wind for the Twins yesterday. Here’s Dozier getting ‘er done:

Twins 3, Giants 2, Berrios gets his 5th win.

Local press seem to think that this can’t last. I disagree. (Yeah, I’m the guy that thought they’d be in the series last year. Maybe I was just a year off? An 0-9 start can throw you off for awhile.)

Probably too early still to be thinking about magic numbers.

Nice story on the Twins website about tomorrow’s starter for the Twins, Nik Turley. Nik’s spent 10 years in the minors, including a spell in an independent league, after being drafted in the 50th round by the Yankees in the 2008 draft. He was released in 2014 by the Yankees “after experiencing arm-tightness” (Those Yankees!) and spent most of 2016 with the independent Somerset Patriots. He did pretty well there, and the Twins picked him up. And now he’s done pretty well in the minors: 45 strikeouts in 24.3 innings at Chattanooga, with a 0.37 ERA. 39 strikeouts in 28.3 innings in Rochester, with a 3.49 ERA.

That’s not a lot of innings to go on. They may be rushing Nik a bit, but Santiago has gone on the DL and the Twins need a pitcher, so what the heck. Let’s go Nik!

Turley reminds me of Chris Colabello. He’s with Cleveland’s AAA club right now, Columbus, hitting .229 with five HR. I wonder what happened with him? In 2015 he hit .321 with Toronto, with 15 HR and 54 rbi. In 2016: .069 batting average, 2 hits in 29 at bats. And then he hit .180 in AAA at Buffalo. Very very odd.

Well a little research turns this up: PED, and an 80 game suspension. Damn.

Very very unfortunate.

Here’s a nice shot of Colabello I took a few years ago. One of my favorites:

Here’s hoping that Chris can get back on track.

 

 

the old ball yard. Redwing Minnesota.

ballpark d fr - mtpmcg615 sm - 7852

It’s been a good long while between posts. Life…

And it seems that the Twins are in the pennant race! Okay, well, not exactly. Trying to nail that last wild-card spot for the playoffs does not quite equate to a pennant race. Still, it’s perhaps as close as we get now a days, since the loser of the Wild Card race is eliminated, done, see ya’ next year. And it is the best of all possible worlds, to have meaningful baseball games to play in September. So we are enjoying it, come what may. It’s been an interesting season for the Twins; new manager, losing their star pitcher for half the season, Torii Hunter, the arrival of All the Young Talent, Buxton, Sano, Rosario, Hicks, Duffy, and all the rest. And there’s a lot of ball yet to be played!

I also noted that Big Papi, David Ortiz, has hit #500 for his career. What if the Twins had not cut him loose at the end of 2002?  Surely a low point in Terry Ryan’s career…

Anyway. Congrats to Big Papi. Stay tuned…

take me out to the library

This just in:

You’ve probably all seen the recent article in the Library of Congress blog, but for those who may have missed it, I’ll recap.

The Library of Congress is taking some (large facsimiles) of its vast collection out on the road, though not very far. They’ve opened up an exhibit at the National’s ball park, with some 30 large-scale reproductions of the Library’s baseball treasures. The Library contains the world’s largest collection of baseball material, including such items as photographs, newspaper clippings, baseball cards, sheet music, and even the first baseball film (1898), by… who else? Thomas Edison.

Edison - 1898 - the ball game

Perhaps not an Academy Award winner.

On display will be many pictures of interest to loyal Twins fans, covering the bygone days when the Twins were known as the Senators, and Walter Johnson ruled.

Best of all, from the standpoint of all us fans who don’t live out in Washington, the exhibit is also online. So check it out. Well worth the price.

Meanwhile, speaking of the Twins, they have been playing some pretty good ball. They’re up tonight, 10-0 in the bottom of the 8th, and Eddie Rosario, making his major league debut, hit the first pitch he saw for a home run in the third inning. Welcome to the big leagues, Mr. Rosario!

The Twins will be 2 over .500 if they hang on to win this one; tip of the cap to Kyle Gibson, with six innings of shutout ball.

Uh, make that 13-0, as Vargas piles on in the 8th with a three-run homer.

Happy Birthmonth, Frank Chapman!

Looking at today’s baseball birthday’s I see that Ducky Medwick was born today, in 1911. His parents named him Ducky, but most people called him Joseph Michael. How could you not like a ballplayer named Ducky? Joe Medwick c fr sm - 1937 - Dixie Premium

Ducky was a member of the famous “gashouse gang,” the Cardinals teams of the ’30s, and he could hit the ball some. He won the Triple Crown and NL MVP in 1937, when he hit .374 — yes, .374 — with 31 home runs and 154 runs batted in. He finished up with a lifetime batting average of .324.

In the 1934 World Series Medwick got taken out of the seventh game in, in Detroit. Apparently the Tigers fans didn’t like the way he slid hard into third base after hitting a triple, and were throwing a lot of garbage at him out in left field in the bottom half of the inning. (The Tigers fans were used to a more genteel style of play, such as Ty Cobb used to show them, where he would slide carefully into third base on a triple and then dust off the opposing third baseman after the play was over.) Anyway, in order to get the play going again, and, they medwick in left pelted 1934 world seriessay, for Ducky’s own safety, Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, baseball Commissioner, who just happened to be there that day, ordered Medwick off the field. To be fair about it, he also ordered the Tiger third baseman out of the game too, a guy named Marv Owen.

Above you see a picture of Ducky standing out in left, the fans pelting him with garbage, an image from the newsreel available on shutterstock. After the game, (which the Cardinals won, 11-0, winning the series,) Medwick said “Well, I knew why [the Tiger fans] threw that garbage at me. What I don’t understand is why they brought it to the park in the first place.”

A good question.

This is Charlie Ferguson, Philadelphia Pitcher in the 1880s. This is not Frank Chapman, but perhaps Charlie knew Frank? In any case, Frank probably dressed something like this when he was pitching for the A's that day.

This is Charlie Ferguson, Philadelphia Pitcher in the 1880s. This is not Frank Chapman, but perhaps Charlie knew Frank? In any case, Frank probably dressed something like this when he was pitching for the A’s that day.

And what about Frank Chapman? Frank was born sometime in November, (might as well call it the 24th) in 1861, and broke in with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1887, the starting pitcher on 22 July against the Cleveland Blues. Chapman gave up six runs, four earned, in five innings of work. Eight hits, two walks, four strikeouts, and oh for two at the plate. He got credit for a complete game, as Blues starter Mike Morrison declared a forfeit, with the Blues ahead by two, after a heated argument with the umpire. So, complete game, but he doesn’t get a victory or a defeat. I wouldn’t have thought that was possible.

That was it for Frank Chapman’s career in the bigs. Perhaps he was disenchanted with the experience. But another odd thing about this is that for years they thought Frank Chapman was Fred Chapman, (who was born on 24 November) and this appearance by Fred Chapman would have been when Fred was just 14 years old, making him the youngest player ever to play in the majors. (Such as it was.)

But it wasn’t Fred after all, as shown in research by SABR guy Richard Malatzky. So, well, never mind. It just goes to show, you never know. Who’da though you could pitch a complete game and not get a win or a loss? That’s the way baseball go. You just never know.

Which led me to Joe Nuxhall, who is actually the youngest guy (or so we believe at this point in time, to the best of our knowledge) ever to play in major league ball. Joe was just 15 (well, 15 years and 361 days, to be exact) when he pitched two-thirds of an inning for the Reds on 10 June, 1944.

Joe got the first guy out in that game. But then gave up five walks, two hits, a wild pitch, and five runs before being pulled. In 1945 Joe decided to finish high school, and then he went back to baseball, and came up with the Reds again in 1952, and was a pretty decent pitcher for them, making the All-Star team in 1955 and ’56.

Anyway. Happy Birthday Ducky, Fred, Frank, and Joe Nuxhall too, (a bit late on Joe, July 30th.) Good game, all.

Hiatus? Extended All-Star Break? Lacuna? Summer Vacation?

In the summer time the days are long, but time also passes more quickly. I have fallen behind on the baseball blog. Here it is, almost the All Star Break! The most exciting meaningless game of the year! And in My Home Town! How can I pass that up?

Well, it’s pretty easy, actually.

But I did get to see the Twins play the hated Yankees last weekend, July 5th, and they even won the game, in extra innings, on a little bouncer in front of the plate, which was retrieved by the Yankee catcher and then tossed down the right field line, letting the winning run dance home. The Twins never beat the Yankees, so this was nice to witness in person.

I brought my camera to the game, and will share some shots over the next few days. Here’s one (photoshopped-up a bit) of Twins starter Yohan Pino – another one of those guys who’s labored in the minors for 10 years and is finally getting his shot.

pino e ds dg fr - mtpmcg714 sm - 5381

 

Pino’s been having a great season at Triple A; his first start in the bigs was pretty good, then he had some troubles the next two, and then he pitched well against the Yankees. So we’ll see what happens.

2013 Twins Recap, Part Deux – Well What Did You Expect?

As I predicted, (along with everyone else), the Twins did not have a very good season in 2013. While we might be disappointed by their final win-loss totals, we are not surprised. Terry Ryan came in facing a long rebuilding process, and, as the Twins have always done, they are rebuilding from the farm system, looking to develop tomorrow’s stars “the old fashioned way,” drafting talent and bringing it along.

And yet… still… that new stadium… all that new revenue…

No.

No, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sure you could go out and buy the best talent available, just throw great heaps of money at the problem, buying up all the most talented free agents on the market in some sort of sad, desperate attempt to “build” a winning club. Where is the joy in that sad mercantile endeavor? Oh, sure, you may win a few more games, maybe even a World Series, if everything goes right. Big deal. Given the financial wherewithal and the proper amount of desperation, anybody could do that. Such as the Yankees or the Red Sox. There’s no thrill in that. You are hardly overcoming great odds in that scenario. You’re stacking the deck, the cards are in your favor, and given even a modicum of luck, the outcome is predictable. What a sad, hollow, pathetic existence that would be.

No, much better to study the youthful prospects, comb the waiver wires, and carefully appraise the unproven talent available to your limited budget. Much more interesting that way.

I just hope I live long enough to see it all come to fruition.

(That being said, It’s nice to see the Twins spend some money on some pitching!)

The pitching in 2013 was not entirely bad. Just the starting rotation. The bullpen was in fact a respectable bunch. Led by Glenn Perkins (2-0, 2.30 ERA, 36/40 saves), most of the relievers had not-bad seasons: Caleb Thielbar (3-2, 1.76 ERA), Anthony Swarzak (3-2, 2.91 ERA), Jared Burton (2-9, 3.82 ERA), Brian Duensing (6-2, 3.98), Ryan Pressly (3-3, 3.87), and Casey Fien (5-2, 3.92) – all were fairly reliable. The starters, though. The starters. What can be said about the starters? They lack confidence, I would say. As well they should. It will be interesting to see what rises from the ashes of the rotation next season. Kevin Correia, who performed better than all expected, probalby has earned one spot. Sam Deduno, the lone bright spot in the 2013 rotation, certainly has to be in the second spot, if healthy. And now, it turns out that free agent acquisitions Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes will be in the next two spots. That leaves Diamond, Albers, Worley, Hendriks and Gibson vying for the last spot. I’d also like to see them sign Mike Pelfry again as well, he had some good stretches last season, but with the addition of Hughes and Nolasco, I suspect we won’t be seeing any more of Mr. Pelfry. I’d bring him back though; I think he could have a good year ahead of him. It’s probably too soon to be expecting young Meyers to make the club, but that would be nice. They talk about him as though he’s a top of the rotation talent, so perhaps he’ll push his way onto the scene.

Was it surprising that the Twins signed Hughes and Nolasco? Nolasco, perhaps. Hughes is the sort of questionable talent that the Twins have taken chances on in the past. Such as Pavano, Corriea, and Pelfry.

The hitting in 2013 was also not entirely bad. There’s Joe Honeyswing Mauer, of course. And Bull Dozier surprised, swatting 18 round-trippers. There were some youngsters – Arcia and Pinto in particular,  that impressed towards the end of the year, and there was some promise to be seen in Hicks and Collabello. But, overall, the offense was pretty much a mess. We can hope for improvement next year, as we always do.

Looking ahead…

Joe Mauer Portrait c fr sm

Mauer’s move to first base is a good move, but not for Mr. Collabello, who needs a chance to play. It would be a shame to see him languish at AAA, but backing up Mauer he doesn’t look to get many at bats. Perhaps as DH?  I think we need to get Mr. Collabello a month of every day play, and see what happens.

The catching position is a big question mark. Doumit? Pinto? Pierzynski? Collabello? I’ve always liked Pierzynski. He’s about 100 years old, though, and defense was never his strong suit. Plus, he’s “in demand” as a free agent. (Plus I just read that he signed elsewhere.) Plus, we should be playing younger guys, not plugging the lineup with senior citizens. Perhaps Mr. Herrmann? The door to the catcher’s spot is wide open, and there’s no telling who’s going to walk in there.

Bull Dozier looks set at second.

Florimon at short. I must admit I’d like to see Bartlett come up here as back up, but we’ll see how he fares in training camp.

Plouffe at third.

The Alabama Hamma, Josh Willingham will patrol left field in 2014, and rebound from his injury-ridden 2013 campaign.

In centerlield we’d all love to see young Aaron Hicks turn into another Kirby Puckett.

And in right, Arcia, perhaps?

Time to post this, before something else happens and I need to rewrite again.

More later.