What happened to the Twins?
Saint Paul, MN
Ah, yes, the Minnesota Twins. What did happen to those paragons of fundamentally sound baseball? An analysis of such depth requires patience, dedication and an insatiable hunger for the truth, so I put the RSBS interns to the task and they have provided the following slide show:
Nope, not even the healthy return of Morneau could make the pain of the above image go away. In fact, 2012 sorta seems like a good time to reset everything. Surprisingly, the Twins do have some decent offensive production (Mauer, Morneau, Willingham, Plouffe), but their pitching has been atrocious. Like, Kent Hrbek farting in your face type of “atrocious”. The average ERA of their six starters is over 5 and they have been blown out (lost by 5+ more runs) 23 times so far. And the bullpen? YIKES! Don’t ask them to hold a lead ‘cuz it’ll be difficult!
Like old baseball men love to say, “You’re only as good as your pitching”, and, well, when your pitching resembles the bottom of a porta-potty and the rest of the team can’t stay healthy, awful is pretty much what ya get. Don’t believe me? Ask the perennial sCrUBS.
Hate me ‘cuz I made you look at that famous Mauer back hair guy again, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Jeff (and interns)
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Sports Illustrated‘s annual Fortune 50 list of the 50 highest-earning American athletes list is out and Major League Baseball is heavily represented. In fact, 36% of the athletes are baseballers — some better than others (looking at you, Barry Zito). And while I’m sad to see an star like Floyd Mayweather, Jr at the top, one who eschews real glory at the highest level for a comfortable place atop boxing mediocrity, I am glad that baseball players are makin’ that pay-puh. It makes me feel less suicidal when I pay $8 for a 16 oz beer.
Here’s a quick rundown of the highest paid American baseball players and their overall ranking among American athletes in parenthesis.
1. Alex Rodriguez (6)
Too bad for the Yankees A-Rod can’t be young and steroided like the good old days. His health is just going downhill from here.
2. Derek Jeter (9)
He can do no wrong. I would pay this man a bazillion dollars a year if I could. And since Albert left me, I have no problems admitting my 17-year Jeet man-crush.
3. Joe Mauer (12)
Really? 12th highest paid American athlete overall and third highest Major Leaguer? I would feel better about this if he could hit it over the Target Field fence once in a while.
4. Vernon Wells (17)
PSSSHH!!!! I just ruined my keyboard with a mouthful of coffee.
5. C.C. Sabathia (20)
Mo’ money, mo’ foooooooooooooooooood!
6. Mark Teixeira (21)
Nothing says $23 million a year like a YEEE-HAW JAW!
7. Prince Fielder (22)
I have a feeling if I make one more Prince Fielder fat joke then I’m going to be… eaten…
8. Adrian Gonzalez (25)
He may have lost his power stroke, but with $21 million a year I’m sure he’s strokin’ plenty of power.
9. Justin Verlander (28)
A man’s man, I would prefer to see Verlander at the very top of this list, or at the very least, have the opportunity to rifle a fastball at Mayweather’s head.
10. Cliff Lee (29)
Way to go, Phillies. You’re making Clifton Phifer look bad.
11. Ryan Howard (32)
While many of my Cardinal fan brethren choose to hate on Albert, I prefer to hate on Howard, the man who made signing Albert impossible.
12. Roy Halladay (35)
Way to go, Phillies. You bring in the best pitcher in baseball to get you over the hump then s*** the bed three years in a row.
13, 14, 15. Barry Zito, Carl Crawford, Albert Pujols (Tied for 36 overall)
One of these things is not like the other…
16. Josh Beckett (44)
Is it me or has he gained like 40 pounds since he was traded to the Red Sox?
17. Jake Peavy (45)
Up until this year, I thought dude was done. Yes, the crow I’ve been eating tastes bad.
18. A.J. Burnett (49)
Huh? How did A.J. get on this list? I’d like to know the same. He should’ve signed two contracts, one for each of his personalities. At least he’s been living up to it ever since his worst day ever.
Hate me ‘cuz I didn’t make the list, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right!
We all know people who are absolutely inscrutable. You study the face but you have no idea what’s going on behind the eyes, what gears are turning inside the head. It’s maddening.
That’s why I like Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner. There is absolutely no doubt what either one of them are thinking:
Pelosi – “Oh my god, I’m so happy I think I might cry!”
Boehner – “I will wait until they become tears of sorrow then lick the salt from your face.”
Maybe that’s why I like baseball as well. Guys get emotional and even when they’re wearing a game face like “Bulldog” Hershiser, it’s not hard to imagine what they’re thinking. Kind of like these guys:
Napoli – “C’mon, let’s get this guy…..oh my god, we’re all gonna die!”
Doumit – “Die? I don’t wanna die! Wait a minute, where are you going!?”
Oswalt – “Not gonna lie, my balls are tinglin’ a little.”
No inscrutability there.
Everyone does. Right?
22-year veteran. Stand-up, lunch pail guy from Peoria. No nonsense, just give me the bat and let me hit ’em far. Defensively challenged, yes, but in a funny ha-ha way (not a funny-sad Carlos Lee way).
That’s Jim Thome. And everyone loves him for it.
Except one thing: Jim Thome still doesn’t have a ring.
All around the world and I – I – I – I can’t find my baby…
This, of course, is true despite his strong efforts to land on a contending team. He had several chances with the Indians before going to the Phillies. But just as the Phillies were developing into a powerhouse, Thome left for the newly crowned World Series champion White Sox after the ’05 season. He then wandered in south side purgatory before getting a shot with the playoff-bound Dodgers in ’09, then signed with an up-and-coming Twins club that nosedived him back into the lap of Cleveland — a team that just couldn’t hang around the top long enough to give him another shot at a championship.
So he resigned with the Phillies. Best pitching staff in the Majors. Potent offense. Okay, anemic offense. But they were supposed to be potent. Doesn’t matter anymore.
Thome is in Birdland now. And while I love the move and think the young kids in Baltimore are gonna learn a heck of a lot from the old man, I really don’t think the Orioles are going to contend for the World Series title.
I just hope Jim is cool with another spin around the world, so he can find his bay-beh…
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
In 1991 the Minnesota Twins won the World Series in 7 games. In the final game of the Series, a single in the 10th was the hit that won it. Seven months earlier, 52 hits rained down on Rodney King and led to the LA riots in 1992.
I don’t think anyone would say that Rodney King was a good guy. The 1991 beating was the result of a DUI stop following a high-speed chase. But I also don’t think anyone would say he deserved to get his ass handed to him by a bunch of racist LA cops. With the videotaped beating and the subsequent trial of the officers, King became a cultural touchstone. The LA riots only added to the legend and King’s plea, “Can we all get along?” became part of our national vernacular.
20 years later, King has left the building. It’s odd to think about how someone who really only had a bit part to play in history ended up becoming so important to the recent history of the United States. I’m pretty sure just about anyone alive at that time remembers the beating, the trial of the officers and the ensuing riots. But how many people remember Jack Morris’ 10-inning shutout that clinched the Series for the Twins and clinched him the Series MVP trophy? King may not have been a hero. He may not have even been that good of a person. But his story still redefined a moment in American history.
So much awesomeness has taken over the baseball-politico world lately — 2011 finally found itself a no-hitter, Al Qaeda lost its head, Glenn Beck still doesn’t have his own network — that we thought it’d be nice to share an equally surprising story.
Lucky for you, the RSBS interns dug up somethin’ real niiiiiiiiice.
Most people know about Doc Ellis’ LSD-aided no-hitter… it’s just more fun to hear him tell it in his own words:
Tomorrow, February 13, 2011, will mark RSBS‘ third year anniversary! And, dear readers, I can honestly say that the pure joy associated with co-writing this little corner of the MLBlogosphere knows no limit.
Perhaps the most soothing lesson I have learned the last three years is that I am not alone.
The world is full of baseball dorks!
And the interwebs make them easy to find.
Where once I was shunned, asked to change the subject, to curb my obsessive-compulsive instincts for all things baseball, now I have found solace and freedom and ecstasy knowing that I’m just one of many brilliant baseball fanatics eager to share his voice. To borrow a line from Chico Escuela, “beisbol (and technocracy) has been berry good to me.”
And this shrinking of the universe is no more relevant then when attending MLBlog summits like the one I had earlier this week with displaced Dodger fan turned Minnesota Twins supporter, Randy Stern, author of The Heirloom. Though we had never officially “met”, our mutual understanding of one another was immediately apparent as our conversation dipped and turned and shimmied all-things-MLB. Hell, we’ve been reading each others’ work for a couple years now… and if you can’t get a good grasp of who someone is through his/her writing, then something ain’t right. (Maybe you need reading glasses?)
So on this lazy Saturday afternoon before Big League camps open up to start another exciting season, take a second to reflect on the beauty that is this MLB online community; and know that if you’re ever in the Chi, you got a friend in me!
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right! Especially today!
Billboards in New York City touted his valiant arrival. Buzzing baseball elite charged that he would revolutionize the Mets. Everyday fans scurried to find a suitable nickname for their new best player they’d never heard of.
It was the Spring of 2004 and if you asked me to speak some Japanese, even I probably would’ve said: Matsui-san. Kazuo Matsui-san.
Because I, too, joined the hype.
But why? Why was the baseball world so enamored with an import player whom no one knew anything about? Why did we allow his persona to be so pumped up with pomp, such expectation, sight unseen?
Indeed, Ichiro Suzuki changed the landscape of Major League Baseball — allowing for the mysteriously effective small-ball game to reinject itself into the big boppin’ steroidfest it had become. His mannerisms, his character, his magnetism — on and off the field — were a throwback to the baseball heroes of old. Marveled by his talent, we the US American public accepted and celebrated Ichiro for resurrecting respect in a league where little remained.
So I get it. I understand why we started to get excited about the Japanese baseball contention.
But, the fact is: for every Ichiro Suzuki there’s a Kosuke Fukudome, a So Taguchi, or worse, a Kaz Matsui. For every Hideo Nomo, a Kei Igawa, Hideki Irabu, Daisuke Matsuzaka.
And while it makes a good headline that the A’s and Twins are going out and bidding top dollar for the rights — yes, just the rights — to negotiate with Hisashi Iwakuma and Tsuyoshi Nishioka respectively, I still can’t help but feel sorry for the failure both are being set up for in the future.
American, Dominican, Venezuelan, Canadian, Japanese… there’s only one Ichiro.
And as proved by Kazuo Matsui’s silent saunter back home this offseason, expecting anything but is a guarantee for disappointment.
Hate me. Whatevs. Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Jeff and Allen have been very busy all season long and with the playoffs in full swing, they thought it might be nice to bring in some relief writers. Today their friend from college, Jordan, gives us his take on the playoffs.
Man, it really is great to see Tommy Lee out there thrilling the crowd again. And this time instead of sticking it to Pam Anderson, he’s sticking it to the Yankees, picking up right where he left off last year. I’m happy for the guy, though. It’s a real achievement and hopefully it makes up for taking all that crap from Nikki Sixx for all those years. And playing for the Mariners. Now that’s a motley crew, right? Right?
Meanwhile Henry Rollins found an ideal moment to get back into form. Sure, he’s had a rough season and the last couple years weren’t the same with the injuries and all. But hey, what do you expect when you go from fronting Black Flag to playing shortstop for the Phillies?
But the Phillies also made the bold move of picking up Matt Holliday and turning him into a pitcher. It’s like the anti-Rick Ankiel. Considering that first round no-hitter he threw, it appears the Phillies get the last laugh. In all honesty, I didn’t see it coming either.
And of course the Yankees are loaded from top to bottom. Is Roger Clemens still playing? No? Uh, ok. Well, at least they still have Kung Fu Panda, Chien Ming Wang. I think that’s his nickname. He is Chinese after all. Or is he Korean? I always get them mixed up.
Anyway, the point is, I love the baseball playoffs and they’re even more exciting than usual this year with all these familiar names and faces in new places. I’m still a little bummed that my Twins didn’t do better but really, they just haven’t been the same since Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek left.
First Allen picks the Yankees to win it all, then Jeff becomes a “Yankee
fan”?!??? What’s in the RSBS kool-aid or is this just the
people-pleasing part of politics you’re following?
Whoa there, Ramon. When you start talking all crazy like that, it sounds like somebody wants to be sedated. The answer, like usual, comes down to a much simpler calculus. For Jeff, he is a down-on-his-luck esort who regularly sells his services to the highest bidder. In this case, he lost a challenge with Jane Heller and, as escorts do, he has to put out. Nothing to be ashamed of. It is the world’s oldest profession after all.
On my side the answer is even easier. I’m a realist. I don’t like the Yankees. I don’t want them to win. But when I sit down and do the math, the numbers say they win anyway.
I was having this argument with a coworker recently. He’s a big Twins fan and took offense at my saying they weren’t a legitimate playoff team. In fact, he wanted me to post a retraction. But the sad fact of the matter is that while one or two guys off the Twins might be able to start for the Yankees, pretty much everyone in the Yankees’ lineup could have started for the Twins. When you’re overmatched like that, it may be inspiring to go ahead and fight against the odds. And who knows, you might even come out on top from time to time. But those odds also say that you’re probably going to fail.
Here’s the straight truth, Ramone. The Yankees have no reason not to win the World Series. They have the most loaded team in baseball. But I’d love to see them fail. I’d love to be wrong. I also would love to see the Lions go to the Superbowl for once but that’s not going to happen either.
So, politics aside, here’s a quick breakdown of what is happening at RSBS. Allen understands reality, Jeff lost a challenge. You can be sure that both of us are secretly (and not so secretly) cheering for whoever the Yankees are playing, though.
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Something on your mind? Want to see Jeff and Al sweat (separately, not together, eww)? Think you got a real stumper? Send us your Filibuster question(s) by commenting or emailing them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
***Photographic evidence of Jeff dressed up in what he likes to call “Jane Heller drag” always welcome.