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  • September 2006
    S M T W T F S
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Sports Column

Published here.

Column Published

Just when I thought my column had been rejected completely, the editors at the Bleacher Report decided to put it up on their website. It’s available here.

Twins Column

I wrote this for an online sports magazine but they decided not to publish it, so I’m just going to throw it here.

Twins suffer from too many great stories

On Monday night this week, the Minnesota Twins secured their 4th playoff appearance in five years and the fifth consecutive winning season for Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. It is also on the 3rd time in the history of the game that a manager has had 4 playoff appearances in their first five years as a manager. It was easy to criticize Gardenhire earlier in the year when the Twins were below the .500 mark but it would be difficult to find many flows in the way he has handled a team of youngsters and veterans in Hollywood like fashion. Of course, the tale of Ron Gardenhire is one of many stories this Twins team has to tell.

There’s always the story of the Twins Rochester team, the “Red Wings” beat the Twins in a scrimmage game during spring training. Who was on that Rochester team? A young left handed pitcher named Francisco Liriano, a goofy right handed relief pitcher named Pat Neshek, the man who legally changed his name to “Boof” who would go on to win 4 straight games for the Twins in late September; then there were guys like Tyner, Bartlett, Rabe, Tifee and Kubel. These minor leaguers who failed to make the team in April would later go on to carry the water for the team as their veterans and free agents would fail.

The cast of characters doesn’t end with the rookies. There’s always the tale of the Twins veteran back up catcher Mike Redmond. Redmond had never played more than 89 games in any year when he was the back up catcher for the Florida Marlins. Redmond did get to be the primary catcher a couple of years with the Marlins though he platooned with rookie catchers. Otherwise, he was playing behind Ivan Rodriguez and Charles Johnson. He is one of the few members of the Twins this year that has a World Series ring. (Louis Castillo and Shannon Stewart also have Worlds Series rings.) He came to the Twins as a career sub .300 hitter and he has since hit .311 last year and is hitting over .340 this year. When he isn’t playing in the field he’s the number one cheerleader on the bench.

Redmond might be hitting over .340, but so is the man in front of him. Joe Mauer might go down as the first catcher in the history of baseball to lead the majors in batting average. He would also be the first catcher to ever lead the American League in hitting, something thought impossible since the DH rule was instituted in the American League in 1973. He will be the first catcher to have batting crown since Hall of Fame catcher Ernie Lombardi did it in the National League in 1942. The only other catcher to do it was Bubbles Hargrave in 1926, again in the National League. Not bad for a third year player who just passed his 23rd birthday. Of course, Mauer is a veteran compared to Matt Garza, the Twins starter who was in college last year and has progressed from “A” ball this year to pitching key games in the Twins pennant race.

Then there’s former and future Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana. This year, he’s leading the Majors in Wins, ERA and Strike Outs. In the last three years pitching for the Twins he has gone 55-19 with 692 innings pitched, 748 strikeouts and an ERA well under 3.00. He’d be an easy MVP candidate for the Twins if it weren’t for the fact Justin Morneau has come out of nowhere to become the first Minnesota Twins in 19 years to have over 30 home runs (a feat Torii Hunter has also recently accomplished) and is second in single season RBIs for the Twins franchise all time behind Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew. Morneau went from being a .248 hitter to top ten in the American League for RBIs, Home Runs and Batting Average. There’s still Rondell White, Michael Cuddyer, crafty veteran Brad Radke and the Twins Bullpen to talk about.

The Twins suffer from too many great stories. It’s sort of like those Russian novels we all pretended to read in High School (or am I alone here?) with many characters and lots of stories. In those novels you would attach yourself to a character only to find out that character was killed off two or three pages later. Hopefully for us Twins fans the season doesn’t end like a typical Russian novel, in tragedy.

On the whole MDE thing:

This is unfair. Michael (Brodkorb) has rarely posted on the 6th District race on MDE. I think there are legitimate concerns about his blog and the Kennedy campaign (which is going nowhere fast).

From Eva Young.

I think the “dirt” on Michael Brodkorb isn’t really dirt at all. “Conflicts of Interests” is a phrase used by people who can’t convince people with their ideas.

The Last Minnesota Execution

I would have thought there’d be more information on the actual crime, the heinous nature of it or the certainty of guilt. Instead we get a very sympathetic view of the last person executed in Minnesota.

I have been reminded…

That it is my 25th birthday today. I wasn’t even going to mention it on the blog, but I know certain friends of mine would vandalize other comment threads in a vain hope to get a reaction out of me as I never celebrate nor acknowledge my age.

Ask me about my pessimist philosophy

JHankers from RHH has been accusing me of utopianism and blinded optimism in the comment thread of this week’s Twins podcast. I’ve been harping on the guys from RHH pretty much since the creation of their blog. I would like to defend myself against the comments JHank has made about me, but first…

I want people to understand that I “grok” pessimism. I was voted “Most Pessimistic” by my High School class “back in the day” and I have even written on pessimism. I used to brag about my pessimism. I used to jokingly call myself an “optimistic realist.” I have even suggested that the only people who are truly happy are pessimists; they’re never dissappointed with anything since they always expect the worst.

Pessimism is easy. It’s hard to be an optimist, it’s hard to go out and believe in what you’re doing, believe in people or believe in yourself. All a pessimist has to do is bitch, complain, drink beer and go to bed without having put himself in a situation where he could be right. A pessimist doesn’t put himself in a position to succeed. And why not? All a pessimist has to do to “succeed” is not fail as much as he pessimistically thought he would.

Decide for yourself, are the guys at RHH pessimists?

Bill Gilles on July 7th

The Twins have a great core of young players and these exiting veterans will provide the Twins the salary space to keep players such as Mauer, Morneau, Nathan, Santana – AND if they move in July the other young pieces to fill out the lineup and bullpen.

I wish this were the year, but it’s not. Maybe I’ve been a Cub fan for too long, but my advice to the Twins is wait till next year!

Just Hank on July 29th:

Down 3-2 to the Tigers in the bottom of the 10th:

L Rodriguez substitute for J Rabe.
L Rodriguez grounded out to first.
R White flied out to right.
J Tyner struck out swinging.

Friday’s final Tigers 3, Twins 2

If the Twins have to depend on any of the above-mentioned players for late-game heroics, I would rather they not make the playoffs and keep guys like me focused on the NFL and Big Ten Football come September. It really is an embarassment that late in the game the Twins are trying to match up against a team’s closer by subsituting something named Luis Rodgriguez to bat for something named Jash Rabe.

If you Twins fans really think the team can stand pat with names like these in the lineup, you should put down the magic Kool-Aid and switch to the Acid-laced orange juice.

Just Hank on July 31st:

What did the Brooklyn Dodgers used to say? Oh yeah, “Wait until next year.”

Just Hank on August 2nd:

This Homer will be watching Liriano’s next two starts very closely. Cross your fingers and hope the Franchiso Liriano doesn’t screw his arm up, or the Twins or cooked. That’s a promise. Every start Liriano misses is another loss for the Twins.

Bill Gilles on August 3rd:

I hope the twinks can shake it off – because the fact is, they cannot afford to lose a single series and hope to make the wild card. In the span of a week, they have already dropped 3 games behind the Red Sox and 2 behind the pale Sox.

The Twins play KC this weekend – and they need to take advantage of a weak opponent and get a sweep. Another series loss could very well be the end of the playoff push.

Just Hank on August 4th:

I say, let’s give this supposed ace (Matt Garza) the chance he deserves. That’s the only way the Twins will have a chance to stay in the race. Because Boof and Baker the Neck Breaker aren’t helping the cause.

Just Hank on August 8th:

In related news, Twinkies 9-3 loss to Tigers and probable loss of Liriano, makes playoffs look bleak. But isn’t this how the entire season has been. A see-saw of hope and despair. The fans’ outlook lives and dies with each win or loss.

Aaron on August 16th:

I became completely divorced from Twins baseball

Aaron Solem on August 16th:

I consider myself a “Twins realist.”

In the same post Aaron told me I was right about JHank and Bill being pessimists.

Aaron on August 16th:

Our lack of faith in the Twins isn’t pessimism – it’s “strategery”.

Aaron on August 30th:

I’m starting to get very worried about the Twins playoff chances. They only have 1.5 legitimate starting pitches on the roster right now (Santana and what’s left of Radke’s shoulder). And the White Sox are really going to find their stride in the coming weeks.

Tonight the Twins have Boof, tomorrow Johan, and then the Yankee’s take batting practice on Friday against Silva.

Even though the Royals were hitting Garza hard last night, he only gave up two runs. They got the pitching performance they needed and couldn’t come through on offense. If the offense keeps producing like this while the Sox beat up on the D-Rays, the Twins are going to be in trouble.

Aaron on September 5th:

The Twins season just doesn’t make sense. Nothing has made sense since the off-season.

This season has not made any sense, nor will it by the end of the year. Every time I count the Twins out they just continue to claw back. I don’t know how and I don’t know why. They shouldn’t.

Just Hank on September 8th:

No matter how good the Twins pitching turns out to be in the last few weeks of this season (it’s a little dicey right now), the squad won’t be able to sustain its WC lead unless the bats come to life.

Aaron on September 8th:

I still root for the Twins every night (and I will tonight), but I am very wary about their chances to win the Wild Card. The White Sox would literally have to give the Twins the Wild Card at this point.

I guess Gardenhire better go get his shinebox now? Those guys could depress a hyena. Sure, Pat Reusse and Sid Hartmann were just as bad, and Aaron Gleeman was a wet blanket until last month, but come on.

I went back and reviewed some of my Twins podcasts to see if I was really suffering from some sort of inebriation. At the end of May (week 7) I suggested the Twins could play above the .500 level. In the Week 11 podcast I suggested the Twins could win the division. Week 18 (early August) I said the Twins would win the Wild Card.

I have either listened to or watched every game the Twins have played this season, sometimes having to catch a replay. I have researched the players, looked at the stats and called the season as I saw it. To me it looked like the Twins had exactly what they needed to win, and I didn’t lose hope when the injuries started to pile up since the one thing Twins GM Terry Ryan does is stock up on young prospects. They dug deep and found a way.

As for JHank and the rest of the “realists” at RHH, they can do just what Randy Quaid’s character in “Major League II” did, just as the Twins are on the verge of proving their worth they can turn their shirts and caps rightside out again, rejoin the rest of the fans and claim “I didn’t see it coming but now I’m happy and one of us again.”

It would be another pessimist victory.

GOP Press Release:

Minnesota To Host 2008 Republican National Convention

St. Paul- Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Ron Carey made the following statement today regarding the selection of the Twin Cities to host the 2008 Republican National Convention.

“We are thrilled Minnesota will be the host of the 2008 Republican National Convention. Minnesota is the best place in the United States to live and we are excited to showcase our state to the entire world.

“We believe this election will be decided on the banks of the Mississippi River. We look forward to helping nominate the next president of the United States.”

What Your Bathroom Habits Say About You

You are very independent and self-centered. You don’t solve other people’s problems – and you don’t expect them to solve yours.

Your idea of fashion is jeans and a t-shirt. Clean, if you’re lucky.

You are a little shy and easily embarrassed. You often wonder if you are normal.

In relationships, you are practical and realistic. You have a romantic side, but you only let it out when it’s appropriate.