By Joe Christensen
You’re sitting in church, and your brother whispers some hilarious comment, and now you’re both helpless, trying to contain the laughter, knowing it’s the last noise everyone else wants to hear at this moment. … But you can’t control it. One of you wheezes, trying to hold back, and now it’s only funnier, so you both burst out laughing, and you’re completely embarrassed because everyone is watching you. But dang … that was funny.
I can imagine that’s how the reporters felt walking into Manager Ray Miller’s office on April 25, 1999, after his Orioles squad had blown another game to fall to 4-14 on the season. Miller was so angry, he punched one wall and fired a plate of food against another. The PR staff tried to calm him down, but he waved the reporters in, and started his press conference while the food was still dripping from the wall.
“We pitched like a bunch of 12-year-olds,” Miller said. “If you have any more questions, go out into the clubhouse. They’re the ones making all the money. Have them explain to you how they did and how they performed in front of 47,000 people.”
I wasn’t there that day, but our Vikings writer, Kevin Seifert, was covering the Orioles then for the Washington Times. Tracking today’s Twins/Blue Jays game on my computer, sitting there through that 11-run sixth-inning, I could only imagine what the postgame mood would be in the Twins clubhouse. The 1999 Orioles pretty much knew they were finished the day of Miller’s explosion. Do the 2007 Twins have the same feeling today?
A buddy has been riding me all year about my preseason prediction that the Twins would finish 95-67. He keeps e-mailing updates, so I’m well aware that the Twins (51-50) would need to 44-17 the rest of the way for that prediction to ring true. Got a call from him today during the sixth inning. He was on a drive to Duluth, listening to the game on XM. He said he stopped off for a few minutes to buy a chicken sandwich, came back to his car, and in that short time, the Blue Jays had scored six runs.
You have to laugh on days like these, folks. Maybe the Twins should be sellers instead of buyers. Some of you have been convinced of this for weeks. I’m still not 100 percent sure. Wise people have taught me never to make rash judgements about a team during terrible stretches like this. Teams are never as bad as they look sometimes, and they’re never as good as they look at other times.
Getting outscored 26-5 in this series at Toronto, the Twins looked like pretenders, not pretenders. But I think it would be smarter for Terry Ryan to evaluate the Twins as the team that lost three one-run games to Detroit last week. To me, that was their defining stretch. Not a great team, by any measure, but not an awful team either. One that needed to trade for offensive help weeks ago.
Now, buried in the wild-card standings – 7.5 games behind Cleveland, 4.5 behind Seattle, 3 behind the Yankees … and tied with the 51-50 Blue Jays – it’s time to seriously contemplate the seller route. Trade Hunter? Trade Castillo? Trade Nathan? Many of you are convinced those deals should have been made yesterday. I’ll continue analyzing it through the weekend and get back to you. The season didn’t end today. Let’s see if they can pull themselves off the canvas for three games in Cleveland.
And before TR trades away the franchise center fielder, wouldn’t it be nice to see him try that one-more-hitter experiment for a week? Just a thought.