Use your imagination

At a time like this/when everything looks hopeless/…

Monday, August 10th, 2009

…it’s time for haiku.

Because we’re not tackling the weighty issues of the day, I don’t feel like I’m doing a disservice by not taking apart the weekend.  If you want the rapid rewind version, it’s something like: Bad umpiring… Swarzak melts down… more bad umpiring… Can Pavano pitch every day? … Baker?… Cuddyer!… Look at Delmon go DEEP! …  Gardy calls out Harris … Guerrier loses lead on doinks … Twins 5 1/2 games back with 51 games to play.

But, instead, let’s try to wrap our feelings into 17 syllables in the traditional 5/7/5 format.

I know things are bad
But if we show discipline
Maybe it will rub off

Hunter Wendelstedt
Second-generation ump
Daddy must be proud

Pavano pitches
Everything’s right for a day
Then Baker falls short

Cuddy and Delmon
Go deep and even deeper
Announcers wet pants

Cabrera gets hits
But his range playing shortstop
Creates a trade-off

Guarding the lines late
That’s a baseball axiom
Don’t need to be told

Kansas City, Cleveland
Are the next two opponents
Six-and-oh seems right

I could do more, but it’s your turn…

Punto’s home run haiku

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Nick Punto goes deep
Hope all of you were watching
Mauer’s one for sixteen

When teams are winning
This stuff begins happening
Guys come through like this

What if Andy Griffith had owned the Twins?

Friday, January 9th, 2009

A somber week for local baseball on all fronts, most notably Carl Pohlad’s death. Patrick Reusse offered up an unflattering report on how Bill Smith has spent the off-season and Nick Punto wants to play for Italy in the World Baseball Classic, which is sad in the fact that it was the biggest on-field personnel news of the week.

Against that backdrop, it feels necessary to point out a comment made on the last post, in which someone noted: “I’m not old enough to remember Andy Griffith running the team…”

Taking the initiative, the frequent-and-witty commenter Ask Kleiner opted to take a look back at the Mayberry 9 — here’s the team photo album — and offered up this lineup analysis:

Inspired by the presence of one poster who thinks Andy Griffith once owned the Twins, here’s my Mayberry batting order:

1. Floyd Lawson, 2B – Not to be confused with Sal Maglie. Constantly fidgeting, Floyd would have to bat first. He’d go out of his mind having to wait. Light-hitting, of course, the scrappy scissors jockey nevertheless had a way of agitating the opposition.

2. Opie Taylor, SS – Just about the time Opie was starting to get interested in girls and rock music (The Sound Committee, anyone?) he also became a helluva glove man with a fast-developing throwing arm. Not so hot with the stick because of his youth, he nevertheless was adept bunting Floyd over to second.

3. Howard Sprague, RF – This was a tough decision. Straight-laced to a fault and a momma’s boy to boot, Sprague was a surprisingly clutch offensive player, as evidenced by his flirting with that 300 game at the bowling alley.

4. Andy Taylor, 3B – No question here, he hit both for power and average and served as a calming influence within an infield that was otherwise beset with garden-variety personality clashes. They routinely spun his cap around at Mount Pilot, but he dealt with it with customary aplomb.

5. Goober Pyle, LF – The grease monkey got to work on his Cary Grant impersonation out there in left. Though an unorthodox hitter, he had a career OBP of .366, largely because his penchant for wearing his pants so high confused the umpires.

6. Otis Campbell, C – Portly in the mold of many catching greats, drunk in the mold of others, Otis was a surprisingly steady backstop. Give him day games off that follow night games and you could write his name on the card 140 times a year. Had a little pop, but no wheels.

7. Aunt Bea, 1B – Her constant fretting over things no one cared about grated on her teammates, but her motherly, protective nature in fielding throws from Opie and Andy overrode any character concerns. Ideally, you’d want a first-sacker with a little more pop, but the ol’ gal could still get around on a fastball if you didn’t dress it up too much.

8. Ernest T. Bass, DH – The mercurial mountain man lacked the attention span to play a position in the field, but had a way of sparking rallies at the bottom of the order. Not the hitter is brother Randy was, but better on the bases.

9. Barney Fife, CF – His battle with nerves gave us no choice but to bat him here. Slight in stature, this emotional tinderbox overcame his lack of comportment to become a solid centerfielder. Offense was another deal entirely. Without the support of that noted Mayberry slump-buster Thelma Lou, One-Bullet Barney would have been relegated to utility detail.

Thanks, AK. Back soon with more baseball. (And for those of you frustrated that there’s not more Twins content on the Twins blogs, well, there’s not much Twins news out there, right?)

Hi, I’m Carl Crawford…

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

carl.jpg… and I want you to attend my baseball school.

I know you’ve always wanted to learn the game from a major leaguer who plays the game my way and is surrounded by teammates who are coming of age doing things, as we say in Tampa Bay, the Ray way. And because you’re in Minnesota, you’ve seen just what I’m talking about.

I’ll teach you how to make a diving, skidding catch in foul territory with a runner on third and one out in the eighth inning of a tie game. And I’ll teach you how to make it within feet of the other team’s closer, one of the best in the game, while he’s warming up for the ninth inning. In no position to make the throw home? No big deal, my friend. You’ll even get the other team’s radio guy to mutter, “Catch it! Catch it!” because even he wants you to succeed!

I’ll teach you to say things like: “I still figured it was just one run. Hopefully we could come back and score two runs. … I wasn’t worried about that run too much but I understand what I did.”

And if that’s not enough I’ll teach you to run the bases! Remember last year at the Dome? A 2-2 tie and Ben Zobrist led off with a single. Then I came to bat and hit the ball high, hard and far to right field. Remember that? I ran head down to third base, thrilled with my good fortune. Of course, Ben had stopped at third and we both ended up being tagged out. We lost that game by one run, too!

I have teammates and special guests who used to play for us (We call them x-Rays) who will teach you too. Defensive whiz B.J. Upton will show you how to ignore a cut-off man while throwing the absolute tar out of the ball so that any batter can take an extra base! Our new shortstop Jason Bartlett (Remember him, Twins fans?) will teach you how to pi$$ off your pitcher by skipping a throw on a two-out ground ball. And x-Ray Brendan (Mitt) Harris will teach you the ol’ grounder-rolled-up-my arm trick, which turns potential 1-2-3 innings into game-tying adventures.

And there’s more! Jonny Gomes, who’s been thrown out 40 percent of the time when trying to steal during his career, will teach you how to test Joe Mauer’s arm — and how to run in from right field to start a fight during an exhibition game! And my manager, Joe Maddon, will do his ever-popular seminar on “playing the percentages the Ray way,” which means pulling the lefty reliever and bringing in the right-hander to face Mauer and Justin Morneau. How can something that seems so wrong turn out so right?

Camp will end with my ever-popular seminar on throwing former teammates under the bus. I could never figure out which one was Elijah Dukes and which one was Delmon Young. So after they got traded I ripped both of their sorry behinds when I reported to spring training and they were x-Rays who were far, far away.

Part old skool, part contemporary baseball! It’s the Tampa Bay Ray way and it’s here to stay because, after all, we’re always a year or two away.

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Fill in the ______ blanks, get me back up to speed, win a prize!

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

I was out of town for a couple of nights and then decided there were needs more pressing than watching this weekend’s games. That’s what happens when you’re following the progress on a game with half an eye on the ESPN bottom-of-the-screen crawl. Angels 2, Twins 1… Angels 6, Twins 1, click. Saturday morning: Angels 10, Twins 1.

So help me out here and fill in the blanks. (Copy the text below into the comment field and have at it.) Creativity is a plus; coarse language is a minus.

The winner, who will receive a fabulous prize, will be announced later this week.

Demoralized and distressed from losing 2 of 3 games in Kansas City to start their road trip, the Twins flew to Anaheim, hoping in their hearts to _____________, while knowing in their heads that _______________.

“Hey, guys, look! It’s Disneyland!” exclaimed ____________, as the plane landed. “Maybe Terry Ryan can find a bat there. I hear that ________________ is available.”

“Bah!” groused the the ghost of Jeff Cirillo. “I might have only come to play once every 3 or 4 days. But at least I had a clue when I was in the batter’s box. Not like ____________ , __________ and __________.”

All talk in the plane came to a halt upon hearing a voice the Twins thought was in their past. The silence lasted about a minute, or about the same length of time as some of the team’s batting innings have lasted recently.

“Hey, Jeffrey Happypants,” said Johan Santana, breaking the quiet while looking in the general direction of the ghost’s voice. “Three at-bats in 12 days with the D-backs, huh? They must be thrilled to have you, pal. I sent Terry an IM when you left that said ‘+ by -. Not like losing Castillo.’ ”

But Cirillo’s ghost was a bad omen. After the 1-0 loss in Kansas City, the Twins lost the opener in Anaheim 10-1 when their light-hitting second baseman smoked a grand slam and they won 4-3 night when their light-hitting second baseman hit a two-run homer.

Meanwhile, the Angels taunted the Twins on Sunday by having their light-hitting second baseman be the DH for the first time this season. They won 6-2. Asked about it afterward, Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher laughed, played with his Rally Monkey and told reporters: “_______________.”

It was a disspirited group of Twins who got on the plane Sunday night for the trip to Seattle, where they will play 3 games against the Mariners and start off by facing the King, Felix Hernandez, on Monday night. Michael Cuddyer, who is hitless in 6 of his last 8 starts, said that as soon as the team arrived in Seattle, he was going to visit Kurt Cobain’s grave and _______________ in an attempt to find some hits.

Meanwhile, Nick Punto made Joe Vavra promise that Vavra would come up to his hotel room and throw batting practice to him on Punto’s Wii, where Punto has created an buffed-up avatar named “Nicky Baseball” that looks suspiciously like _______________ and routinely sprays virtual line drives.

And Justin Morneau, who has as many RBI this month as Smalley, Coomer and Gladden, tried to put the situation in perspective.

“I know I’ve been swinging the suck-bat,” Morneau said. “But it could be even worse.”

Conversation stopped again as the Twins waited for him to continue.

“Well,” Morneau explained. “___________________________________________, eh”