Tagged: Twins

So Far to Kazuo

kazuo matsui astros.jpgBillboards 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.

Peace,

Jeff

The Non-Baseball Fan Guide to the Playoffs

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.
__________________________

Kent_Hrbek_Finest.jpg

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.

-Jordan

The Filibuster

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?

Ramon
Chicago, IL

_______________________________

Jeff_seatbelt.JPG

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.

-A

***SEND US YOUR FILIBUSTERS****

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 kraulung@gmail.com. 

***Photographic evidence of Jeff dressed up in what he likes to call “Jane Heller drag” always welcome.

RSBS Undercover: Jeff as a Yankees Fan, Day 1

jeff as yankees fan.jpg

Yeah, I got a big mouth.

Sometimes it gets me in trouble.  Sometimes it gets me… opportunity.

So that’s why when I told Confessions of a She-Fan author, Jane Heller, that I would throw all my postseason fandom towards the Evil Empire as long as she celebrated series clinchers with pics of she boozin’, I didn’t even think to… well, think.  At least, not too much anyway.

But what’s done is done.  And now I’m in.  With the Reds eliminated, I don’t have anything to lose this postseason… so gimme an interlocking “NY” and watch me chamelonize into a slithering, spoiled, seedy Yankees fan…

Jeff as a Yankees Fan, DAY 1:

7:30 a.m.
I put aside my normal breakfast of greek yogurt and blueberries for an authentic New York Jewish bagel. It’s so authentic, it insults me and tells me to go back to Hobboken.

9:45 a.m.
I tune into Sportscenter and am pleasantly surprised to see my newfound team featured in every, single, friggin’ segment.  Yeah, son! Yeah!

1:35 p.m.

Riding the bus, I see some chumwad in a Red Sox cap.  I am brought to my knees with an overwhelming sense of disgust, nausea and uncontained anger.  I march right up to him and say, “Hey, buddy, how’s the number 27 sound to ya? Huh? Yeah! Eat it, son! Eat it!”  Then the bus stops and I get off as fast as I can.

4:45 p.m.
The office manager was able to send out five faxes, five emails and five phone calls to our customers — all within one work day!  So I showed him I cared by giving him a shaving cream pie in the face.

6:15 p.m.
I turn on Sportscenter and am pleasantly surprised to see my pinstripers featured in every, single, friggin’ segment!

9:30 p.m.
Some jape wearin’ a Twins cap walks by my house so I yell out “Go Yankees!” and he flips me off so I moon him then he throws a rock at my window and then I shoot him.  In the face.

10:45 p.m.
Ohhhhhh what a day.  This Bronx Bomber stuff is really taxing; but it is good to go to sleep knowing that I rest on top of the sports universe — that all professional sports franchises in all corners of the known galaxy must look up at me, in my great big pinstriped bed.  Happy and relaxed, I flip on the t.v. and let Sportscenter and its endless Yankee-love-fest woo me to slumber.

– – –

To be continued…

Allen’s 2010 Post-Partisan Playoff Preview

original_tea_party.jpg

Every year about this time a magical transformation takes place.  Normally sane people go stark, raving mad as they cheer their favorites to the finish.  The coolness in the air mirrors the coolness in neighbors’ stares as some new item of support gets unfurled in the yard.  Promises get made only to be broken soon thereafter.  And that’s just in the world of politics.

We are truly a blessed country because every fall we not only get the insanity of the baseball playoffs, we also get the truly mind-numbing inanity of the November elections.  But this year is extra special because in addition to the antics of Democrats and Republicans, we also get the often unbelievable but usually entertaining shenanigans of the Tea Party.

Over here at RSBS we’ve made a tradition of putting together our annual playoff preview and this year is no exception.  But each edition needs a theme and this year, in honor of our Teabagger friends, the theme just kind of put itself out there.  Let’s get to it.

National League

green_tea.jpg

Like the NL, green tea has pomp, circumstance and history.  The Chinese have been drinking the stuff since Europeans were letting blood to cure sickness and avoiding baths in the belief that water would kill you.  Although it may have never gone away in the Asian world, the green stuff has experienced quite a renaissance in the West with the discovery of all it’s anti-oxidant properties.  Likewise, with the NL finally in the driver’s seat after winning home field advantage at the All-Star game, you have to think they’re feeling a little renaissance of their own is due.  But renaissance in what flavor?

Starting in the east (naturally, since we are talking about tea), we have the two-time defending league champion Phillies, the Japanese green tea of our preview.  It’s classic, you know it and you know you’re probably going to see it again.  Not only that, it just makes sense.  Seriously, how would your bento box taste without the tea accompaniment?  It belongs.

Meanwhile, the Lipton green tea of the NL, Atlanta’s own Braves, somehow found a way to get Bobby Cox back into the playoffs.  Sure, it may not have been your first choice but it will get the job done.  However, it’s also only going to get you so far.  More on that later.

In the heartland, the Reds find representation in the classic Gunpowder variety of green tea.  No one is quite sure how the tea got its name, maybe because it’s rolled into little pellets, maybe because it expands explosively when it hits the water.  But there’s one big problem here.  The way you know the quality is from the size of the balls.  Smaller balls, better quality.  Dusty Baker and his team aren’t exactly known for their small balls.  Do you remember that brawl with the Cardinals?  The Reds, their balls are a little too big.

Finally, out west we find the Giants, the Moroccan mint tea of the baseball world.  It tastes good, there’s a lot to like but something’s a little off.  Maybe it’s not strong enough, maybe there’s too much sugar but for whatever reason, it’s only good in small doses.  That’s probably all right, though, since all we’re going to get from the Giants is a small dose when they exit during the first round.

American League

black_tea.jpg

Black tea found a home in the west but purists still sniff at its lack of tradition.  Sure, it may have more caffeine, it may keep you going but where’s the ceremony?  Now the fans of black tea will argue that theirs is still a noble tradition and despite their blends and flavors and addition of milk, the tea is still central.  You’re not going to have any luck sliding that argument by the tea dogmatists, though.

Since black tea is a western thing, we’ll start out west with the preview as well.  That means we dive straight into a steaming cup of Irish breakfast tea, also known as the Texas Rangers.  Nolan Ryan owns the team and you don’t get much more Irish than that.  However, in the land of black tea, the English reign supreme.  Sorry, Nolan.  It just wasn’t meant to be.

This leads us to Minnesota where the Twins find themselves represented by….wait a minute!  That’s not tea.  That’s herbal tea!  C’mon guys.  I can steep dirt in water and call it tea but everyone is going to know it’s just mud.  Herbal tea is nice when you have a cold but it’s not “tea.”  Hm, I guess that’s kind of fitting since the Twins are a “playoff team” but aren’t really a playoff team.  Or at least won’t be for very long.

From here we find ourselves back east again with two very different teams.  We start with the Rays, the Massala Chai of the baseball world.  There are a lot of flavors going on there, it’s new, it’s hip.  And it definitely works for awhile.  The question is, when the chips are down and you have to pick just one, do you go for the spicy stuff or something proven?

And what could be more proven than the English breakfast tea that is the Yankees.  Personally, I don’t like the stuff but a lot of people do.  Not only that, it’s strong and it gets the job done.  Sure, the tradition may not go as far back as the NL but when you can throw around names like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Yogi Berra, you got something going on.

World Series
So what happens next?  Well, it’s pretty simple.  We line them up and see who lasts the longest.  I apologize to everyone who lives west of the Mississippi but when I read the leaves, their fortunes don’t look good.  Texas, Minnesota, San Fran and Cincy all go down in the first round leaving us an east coast finale in both leagues.  I’m sure this doesn’t bother the broadcasters who will be reading tea leaves of their own and I’m sure they’ll be even more happy when the Yankees and the Phillies emerge to once again do battle in the World Series.

So, it comes down to this.  Japanese green tea vs. English breakfast tea.  The fact of the matter is, anyplace else in the world the green tea wins hands down.  But this is America and the Anglo-Saxons decided to let all their chips ride on black a couple hundred years ago.  Good thing they did because the Yankees win again.

-A

The Filibuster

Once again the Twins beat up the AL Central and might even catch
the Yankees for the best record in baseball.  Can we reasonably say at
this point that the Twins are the best run team in baseball?
 
Rob

Duluth, MN
_______________________________

chairman mauer.jpg

All biases aside, Rob, to say the Twins “beat up” the AL Central sorta glides over the fact that, outside of the White Sox, the Twins really had no competition going into the season to begin with; that the White Sox totally derailed (twice!) only made the Twins look more dominant.

But I understand your want, your desire, your dream to cast the Twins in a plushy role like that of the highfalutin, media-darling Yankees.  Well, brother, dream on… ‘cuz, reasonably speaking, the Twins ain’t the Yankees. 

Nor are they the Rays.

Nor the Phils.

Hell, they’re not even close!

In my opinion (which happens to be right), those three are the best teams in baseball right now.  And when you add the qualifier of “best run”, well, sorry.  I really can’t look any further than the best teams.  Period.

Are the Twins good?  Yes.  Are they capable of going all the way?  Sure.  Can I slot them in as the best run team in baseball?  No way!

Believe me, I tip my cap to the entire Twins organization.  They build from the ground up.  They instill in their players the concept of playing the game the right way.  They do the little things well and fundamentally, they are as sound as a team can possibly be.

But when the pressure is on, they fail.  When they need to win the big game, they don’t.  Not yet, at least.  And going into a short series with Liriano, Pavano and Duensing isn’t quite as mortifying to the opposition as going in with Hamels, Halladay and Oswalt (lookout!).

To me, being the best run team in baseball would require, at the very least, a track record of winning when it matters the most — a trip to the World Series would be even better.  But the Twins haven’t been in that situation since Danny Gladden hit leadoff and Barry Bonds had a normal sized forehead.  And despite all the good things the Twins’ brass has done in recent years, can I really celebrate a front office that let Johan Santana go for Deolis Guerra, Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber and Kevin Mulvey?!?!?!?

No way.

I love me some Joe Mauer and Delmon Young just as much as the next baseball dork, but, let’s be honest with ourselves: they ain’t scarin’ anybody.

Yet.

Hate me ‘cuz I think the Twins’ are the weakest playoff link, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

(Chairman Mauer image courtesy of Twinkie Town)

***SEND US YOUR FILIBUSTERS****

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 kraulung@gmail.com. 

***Information that pins Mr. Krause as a closet Tea Bagger also welcome (he won’t stop talking about Christine O’Donnell, you know. Just sayin).