Jim Crikket’s final report: He gets fooled again

Posted on March 27th, 2008 – 6:42 PM
By Howard

Section 220 correspondent JimCrikket provides his third and final report from Florida. We thank him for his fine work and wish him a safe return to Iowa.

So my spring training adventure wrapped up today. A few days in Orlando at a conference before heading home. As I got ready to head to Sarasota, I read that Cedar Rapids was getting snow today. I felt awful about that. But not for long.

Anyway… as for the game against the Reds…

Fool me once, shame on you… fool me twice… well, you know the rest.

Yes… I did it again. I bought two tickets. This time it wasnt ALL my fault. I actually asked the guy if the ticket he was selling me was in the shade. “No… right down by the Twins dugout.” Now, I shoulda known. How often is “Row NN” anywhere near the dugout? Anyway… I sat 5 rows from the top, in the shade, to watch the last few minutes of Twins’ batting practce, then left the stadium and got a second ticket.

By now the green grass, blue sky and cold beer is becoming something I’m just taking for granted. I expect it.

So let me tell you what I saw today that I didn’t expect.

I didn’t expect Nick Punto to get the only Twins hit in the first several innings. In fact it was the only swing that even came close to a hit for a while.

I also didn’t expect the drought to be broken by a Jason Kubel triple.

I didn’t expect Nick Blackburn to be almost unhittable for several innings. (OK, I didn’t REALLY even expect to see Nick Blackburn pitch… since some member of the media who shall remain nameless had informed us before I left for the game that Boof Bonser would be pitching today.) More about Blackburn in a moment.

I admit I left the game early… after Joe Nathan’s inning on the mound and Brendan Harris’ ground out to start the top of the 8th. That’s when I saw something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. There, just a few cars away from where my rented Ford Escape was parked were four full grown adults trying to fit in to a Mini Cooper. And yes, they were wearing Twins gear.

Since, once again, there wasn’t a lot of offense for me to get excited about (although I admit I found it cool to see a Ken Griffey Jr., home run… while I’m sure Jesse Crain didn’t think it was so cool.) So I chose to get excited about watching Blackburn pitch. You know many of these kids have the arms and have the stuff to pitch at the major league level. But you’re just never sure if they have the smarts to do the job. Nick Blackburn has the smarts.

How do I know? During the first time through the Reds order, he faced Griffey and Adam Dunn each with nobody on base. He walked both hitters, Griffey in the first inning and Dunn in the second. Smart man, that Blackburn.

I’ve seen Griffey before. I had not seen Dunn until today, other than on television. Folks, that’s a big man. If I were pitching to him with nobody on base, I’d be rolling the ball up there to keep him from having any chance to hit that thing back up the box at me. I remember watching Frank Howard with the Senators as a kid going to Twins games at Met Stadium and thinking he was huge. He was. Dunn is every bit as impressive, at least size-wise.

Oh… and I have to admit, I couldn’t help but wonder if Crain wasn’t secretly wondering why he got to come in to pitch the sixth inning and face the heart of the Reds order, while Mr. 47 million Dollar Man, a.k.a Joe nathan, was saved for the 7th and the bottom of the order. I know I woulda been.

I’m ready for the games to start counting… I suspect the players are too.

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