Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Rhetorical question, How did the Twins get back into contention? Starting pitching of course. Good pitching trumps good hitting so who could possibly derail our winning streak when our starting rotation was rolling ? One man - Ron Gardenhire. The Gardentool planted the seeds of defeat during friday nights 7 - 4 victory which gave the Twins six wins in a row. Carlos Silva, on a night his sinker was diving, was removed from the game after only 77 pitches. Can anyone please tell me why? Juan Rincon came in and not only nearly gave up a game tying 3 run home run to Adrian Beltre but ended up throwing 27 pitches to get through the 8th inning rendering him unavailable for saturday nights game which naturally went extra innings where the Twins lost. In the last week we have seen Romero used for 1 pitch and Rincon used for 2 pitches as our "manager" blows through his bullpen operating under the assumption that baseball is a 9 inning game and when he is taken by surprise by the concept of a 10th inning he is usually already reduced to his plan B - Terry Mulholland. In Gardy's defense, I'm not sure if an adequate amount of outside air is being pumped into the Metrodome so maybe not enough oxygen is reaching his brain. Could we hook up an oxygen mask in the corner of the dugout which Gardenhire could suck on during the game or would that violate MLB's rules against using performance enhancers? Bud Selig's hobbies dont include playing baseball, anyone who has seen him attempt to throw out the 1st pitch knows that, however he does enjoy studying his urine sample collection. The players have to surrender their 5th Amendment right not to incriminate themselves but managers are relatively free to improve their decision making skills by any means necessary. I'm for any substance, legal or illegal, which could tranquilize our manager into staying in the dugout longer because when it comes to removing our starting pitchers, Gardenhire clearly has a premature evacuation problem. And if the Gardenworm keeps taking his medicine someday he might even begin to comprehend managerial necessities like when to pitch out (lacking the instinct to guess right perhaps Gardy could steal a sign this century) or the hit and run which has been placed on the endangered species list under Gardenhire's reign of error.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Stand on the Seattle shoreline and you can watch the sun set on the 2005 Twins season after another loss to the Mariners last night. As much as I would like to believe the horses in our rotation are capable of running off a 35-15 streak to end the schedule, it just aint gonna happen. Seems like yesterday the Mariners helped to fuel our 3 year playoff run giving us David Ortiz and Joe Mays for not much more than a bag of baseballs. I remember Mays out of the blue going 17 - 13 and was immediately rewarded with a 20 million dollar contract. I recall David Ortiz rising to a leadership position in the locker room and spearheading our offense into the playoffs. Then like a bad dream the combination of the organization's desire to get Matthew Lecroy more at bats and the local media slapping the "injury prone" label on Ortiz made people barely notice when he was allowed to slip away from the artificial gloom of the Metrodome and sail off into the real world of sunshine where he found international fame and postseason immortality - not only did most fans fail to notice his departure the few that did scolded me with the same refrain "Ortiz sucked when he was with us" - .... really ? who hit cleanup for the Twins during their ALCS season of 2002 ? David Ortiz hit 20 HR's and drove in 75 runs in 2002 while appearing in only 125 games. Allow me to beat a dead horse, Joe Mays was given 20 million dollars but 1 year later the front office having discussed the matter with manager Gardenhire determined Ortiz wasn't worth the 2 million he was scheduled to make in arbitration. So now I am left to ponder when the Twins will get another shot at the playoffs, whether we didnt piss away the 3 year window of opportunity that we had (2002-2004 we only needed to play .500 ball to win the A.L. Central...those days are over), and what exactly has Seattle done for us lately? Ah Yes, Bret Boone. The Twins scooped him and his .200 average off the Safeco Field grass and deposited him into our plastic metrodome baggie. Always the master of putting together a lineup card, Ron Gardenhire saw to it that in Boone's 1st appearance as a Twin he batted 3rd in the order. But enough about Boone's memorable contribution to the 2005 season, I cant help but reminisce over the Seattle Mariners 2004 donation to our team... catcher/old man Pat Borders (claimed August 31st just in time for Gardenhire to put him on our playoff roster). For those of you who care to remember, catcher Joe Mauer wrecks his knee early in the season - yet another injury victim of Hubert H. Humphrey and his inflatable Humpty Dump/professional baseball stadium. Henry Blanco steps up and becomes our brick wall, arguably our best defensive player, and far more important to our success than Ron Gardenhire (ask any Twins pitcher if you dont believe me). Flashback to the 2004 playoff series against the Yankees ....NY is up 2 games to 1 but trailing by a run in game 4 when Henry Blanco hits a homerun to jump start a 3 run inning and the Twins take a 5-1 lead into the 8th inning. By this time Gardenhire was dipping into the bullpen for the 3rd time having first removed Santana due to pitch count concerns (yes Gardy was counting pitches in an elimination game) and the Yankees took advantage of our manager's incontinence tying the game at 5 in the top of the 8th and here comes the Twins to bat in the bottom of the inning. Guzman grounds out, Rivas pops up, and to the plate walks Blanco (2 for 3 with a HR). Two outs - no one on base - and the very real potential that this game could go countless extra innings. Did it occur to our manager that we might need to keep our only catcher in the game? Gardenhire, clearly confused, pinch hits for Blanco removing him from the lineup so that Pat Borders can take center stage in our last playoff game to date. Keep in mind Borders had been with the team long enough to amass 42 at bats. A passed ball by Borders in the top of the 9th moves runners to 2nd and 3rd but the Twins get out of the inning. 10 minutes later in the top of the 11th A-Rod hits a 1 out double. Do you think Joe Torre might want to get that potential winning run to 3rd base with only 1 out ? Henry Blanco had the respect of base stealers and opposing managers, but who respects 59 year old catcher Pat Borders ? In case you already blocked out the memory, A-Rod steals 3rd base against Gardenhire's hand selected extra inning battery of Kyle Lohse and Pat Borders. Then Borders proceeds to drop the soap on a slippery Lohse lowball and as the ball is rolling around behind home plate A-Rod trots home to score the series winning run. Ok, so it was ruled a wild pitch but those of us who were able to watch the end of that game can be our own official scorekeeper and we know it was another passed ball by Borders and yet another priceless post season memory courtesy of Ron Gardenhire.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Terry Tiffee hits 4th in the batting order and the Red Sox cleanup. In a game the Twins had to win to stay viable in the race for the last playoff spot, Ron Gardenhire took a .200 hitter with 3 career major league home runs and roughly 100 career major league at-bats and had him hit cleanup. As fate would have it, Tiffee twice came to the plate with the bases loaded and naturally he was unable to keep Gardenhire from looking foolish (this same clown dropped Stewart from the leadoff spot and watched our new #1 hitters go a combined 0 for 32 before realizing he made a mistake). The worst part of his decision to bat Tiffee 4th is that Joe Mauer certainly aint gonna see a whole lot of good pitches batting 3rd so Gardy not only takes one of our least feared hitters and bats him cleanup but he takes the bat out of the hands of our best hitter. To add insult to injury Gardenhire said to the Star Trib after the game "We have the right guys up there.....when are we going to drive in a run?" (as always quick to blame the players never himself or his coaches...i.e. Gardenhire laughing in the dugout in New York Wednesday after a terrible decision by Ullger to send Boone...and Newman's equally poor decision Sunday to hold up our fastest runner Nick Punto who represented the go ahead run). I guess coaching mistakes amuse Gardy and he's deadly serious when players mess up (assuming the failure to move runners over is the fault of the player). Manufacturing runs has been in steady decline since "players manager"- "good guy" Gardy took over for that unfriendly old stickler Tom Kelly who wasted time schooling the players on the fundamentals of situational hitting. Under Gardy's leadership the players can now feel comfortable around their manager. So what if they can only turn 10 hits and 5 walks into 1 run.