Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category
Steve Benen’s article says that the economy has improved during President Obama’s time in office. Considering the state it was in in late September, 2008, it’s almost impossible for it not to be.
Benen’s chief argument appears to be the job growth during President Obama’s administration. Benen’s chief sub-argument apparently is that private sector job growth should be the only measurement of job growth. That’s an incredibly silly argument since robust economic growth is needed to sustain the public sector.
The reason why there’s been so many jobs lost in the public sector is because we’ve had anemic economic growth. The euphemism for anemic economic growth is “the new normal”, which is a remnant philosophy that I first heard during the Carter administration.
At the time, interest rates were sky high. (When a friend of mine bought his first house, he paid 16% interest.) Experts talked about the likelihood that we’d never see interest rates lower than 9%. The economy was so bad that Sen. Hubert Humphrey teamed with Rep. Augustus Hawkins to push through the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment And Balanced Growth Act to artificially spur job growth.
Another storyline amongst liberals was that the presidency was just too big for 1 man. Conservatives like George Will argued to the contrary, saying that the presidency was too big for the current president, Jimmy Carter.
Will was vindicated when President Reagan took command in 1981.
As an amateur baseball historian since the mid-1960′s, I well remember Baltimore’s fiery manager Earl Weaver. George Will, a huge baseball fan, once wrote this about Mr. Weaver:
Time was, the Baltimore Orioles’ manager was Earl Weaver, a short, irascible, Napoleonic figure who, when cranky, as he frequently was, would shout at an umpire, “Are you going to get any better or is this it?”
The point of the baseball analogy is to give a political answer to Earl Weaver’s question. With President Obama, this is it. Things won’t get better. The economy won’t see any dynamic growth spurts. There won’t be any dramatic job growth numbers as long as President Obama is president.
Certainly, we won’t see job growth like September, 1983, when 1,100,000 jobs were created. Yes, that’s 1.1 million jobs created in a single month. We won’t see 11,000,000 jobs created in 4 years while Bill Clinton was president and Newt Gingrich was Speaker. That’s creating an average of 275,000 jobs per month for 4 years.
By contrast, President Obama hasn’t strung 3 straight months of 275,000 jobs growth together.
Americans don’t yet know that things will improve decisively with a conservative in the White House and the GOP controlling the House and Senate. They’ll soon know that, though. That’s what campaigns are about.
History is repeating itself. Once again, we elected a man who isn’t qualified for the job. Once again, our president is arguing that the economy is stagnating and it’ll never get better.
Americans know better than that. They know that this administration is what’s holding this nation back. We haven’t gotten lethargic, which this president has suggested. We’re just treading water until we get a real president again, one who isn’t prone to making stupid decisions about gas pipelines, a president who isn’t prone to letting regulatory agencies kill important jobs.
Technorati: President Obama, Jimmy Carter, Hubert Humphrey, Humphrey-Hawkins Act, Unemployment, New Normal, Misery Index, Democrats, Reagan, Newt Gingrich, Job Growth, George Will, Earl Weaver, GOP, Election 2012
Based on information contained in MAPE’s statement, thinking people must ask these simple questions:
- How long have MAPE and other PEU’s been coordinating with Gov. Dayton and the DFL on Dayton’s shutdown?
- Have MAPE and other PEU’s planned on a lengthy shutdown?
Here’s the information on the MAPE website:
Shutdown Eve Vigil and Cookout Join your fellow state employees and concerned citizens as we witness a solemn and historic event, the literal closing of the Capitol symbolizing the state government shutdown. Prior to the vigil, there will be a cookout at 411 Main from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.
Shutdown Eve Vigil
Pre-Vigil Cookout Thursday June 30th
State Capitol Steps
Shutdown Eve Cookout
Thursday June 30th
411 S Main St
We know this is a very stressful time for state employees. If you have questions about the memorandum of understanding, health insurance or other issues please call our information line at 651-287-9672.
In addition, MAPE is working with other unions to hold a shutdown resource fair where members can seek guidance and assistance. The Resource Fair will be 3:00-7:00 PM on Wednesday June 29th at 411 S Main St in Saint Paul.
Ongoing Events: Throughout July, MAPE members will continue to show solidarity and put pressure on elected officials to end the budget impasse.
End the Shutdown Rally As we approach the one-week mark of the shutdown we will return to the Capitol to ask our elcted leaders to compromise and find a solution.
Wednesday July 6th 4:30 to 6:30 PM
State Capitol Front Steps
Team MAPE Legislative Phone Bank Help us contact MAPE members in key legislative districts and ask them to call their legislators.
Tuesday July 5th
MAPE 1st floor 3460 Lexington Ave North Shoreview, MN
Coalition Ring of Fire Lit Drops Drop literature in targeted districts asking constituents to contact their legislators.
Saturday July 9th 10:00 AM
Multiple locations around the state
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Team MAPE Legislative Phone Bank Tuesday July 12th
MAPE 1st floor 3460 Lexington Ave North Shoreview, MN
Coalition Ring of Fire Lit Drops
Saturday July 16th
10:00 AM Multiple locations around the state
Contact email@example.com for more info.
The most noticeable thing in MAPE’s statement is what isn’t there. Notice that these dates didn’t include the routine disclaimer that all dates are subject to necessity. The next most noticeable thing in MAPE’s statement is that they’ve got these events scheduled out over the next 3 weeks. That’s pretty extraordinary event planning for something that might be concluded without a shutdown.
As a passionate, lifelong Twins fan, it was difficult to read this news:
Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew said Friday he will no longer fight his esophageal cancer and is settling in for the final days of his life.
The Minnesota Twins released a statement on Friday from Killebrew, who said he has “exhausted all options” for treatment of the “awful disease” and that the cancer is incurable.
“It is with profound sadness that I share with you that my continued battle with esophageal cancer is coming to an end,” he said. “My illness has progressed beyond my doctors’ expectation of cure.”
The 74-year-old Killebrew said he will enter hospice care.
“I am comforted by the fact that I am surrounded by my family and friends,” he said, thanking fans and well-wishers for their support and encouragement. “I look forward to spending my final days in comfort and peace with (wife) Nita by my side.”
One of my favorite memories as a teenager is thinking back to the night I met Mr. Killebrew. He was the featured guest at the grand opening of the St. Cloud Crown Auto store on Division Street. Every kid that played Little League or sandlot baseball was there. (Or so it seemed.)
Harmon wore as big a smile that night as he did throughout his illustrious career. Throughout his illustrious career, Harmon was as great an ambassador to the game as has ever lived. Simply put, Harmon wasn’t just one of the 5 greatest home run hitters of all time (behind Ruth, Aaron & Mays). Harmon was a true fan of the game. Besides, he was one of the greatest gentlemen to ever play the game. (In that respect, the Twins have his modern-day equivalent in Jim Thome.)
Let’s remember that Harmon essentially played his entire career in spacious outdoor stadiums. As spacious as Target Field is, it would be swallowed up by Old Met Stadium with room to spare. Just to the right field side of center field was 430 feet. The power allies were 365 feet in left, 370 in right. Down the lines were 343 in left, 330 in right.
Had he played in the Metrodome, I’d argue that you should’ve tacked at least another 100 onto his home run total.
Typical Harmon home runs weren’t the type that just landed 6-7 rows deep in straightaway left. They were “no-doubters” as Herb Carneal used to say. I remember watching Harmon shatter a seat in the upper deck at the Met on the nightly news. It was estimated that that ball travelled 535 feet. Suffice it to say that the wind wasn’t blowing out that day.
Joe Garagiola had a saying reserved for the biggest mashers. He’d say [fill in the name] can hit the ball out of any park in America, including Yellowstone. That would’ve fit Harmon to a Tee.
Now baseball is losing one of its greatest ambassadors, one of its great gentlemen. It’s a sad, sad day for this over-grown teenager-at-heart to think that the man who provided so many great memories will soon be leaving us.
If baseball had more Harmon Killebrews, it’d still be the most popular sport in America. In fact, America could use more decent, straightforward people like Harmon.
Harmon, I’ll miss hearing you in the Twins booth twice a year. May God pour out His blessings on you.
Yes, yes, yes. John Boehner is the new Speaker. Congratulations. Now for the important stuff: Rikalbert Bert Blyleven is finally & officially a member of the most elite fraternity in sports: the Baseball Hall of Fame.
This ends what’s been the longest ongoing travesty in modern sports history. That Bert wasn’t picked a decade ago tells me that too many baseball writers don’t have a flipping clue about Bert’s greatness.
I was reminded today that people used to criticize him for tipping his curve by sticking his tongue out. On FSN, Roy Smalley summed it up perfectly, saying “That’s like saying Nolan Ryan tipped his fastball by grunting.” Mr. Smalley, you’re exactly right. It wasn’t like a hitter was going to hit Ryan’s fastball or Bert’s curve when they had it working.
I can recite Bert’s impressive numbers from memory: 287 wins, 3,701 strikeouts, 60 shutouts, 242 complete games during a 23 year career. That only tells part of Bert’s story.
Bert was a great teammate, possibly the greatest prankster in MLB history. He also took alot of pressure off Frankie ‘Sweet Music’ Viola, which allowed Mr. Viola to relax and blossom into the Twins’ co-ace in their first Twins’ World Championship season.
TK will tell you that he was a better manager anytime he handed the ball to Bert, which is typical of TK. What TK, Kent Hrbek and Tim Laudner will tell you is that Bert was as great a competitor as has ever played the game. How great a competitor?
In Bert’s last season with the Texas Rangers, Bert was out for different parts of the season with a groin injury. In September, he pitched a game against the Angels. (Back then, they were known as the California Angels.
Late in the game, the eighth inning, Bert reinjured himself, prompting a visit by the pitching coach. The coach asked Bert how he was. Bert’s simple reply was “Look at the scoreboard.” Bert carried a no-hitter into the eighth. The message was sent. That’s the night Bert threw his only no-hitter.
I remember watching the 87 World Series. ABC assigned Al Michaels, Tim McCarver & Jim Palmer to cover the Series. In Game Two, Bert’s curve was really working. I remember Palmer ridiculing the Cards for “sitting on Bert’s curve.” Palmer added that “It’s not like they’re going to hit it anyway.”
At the end of this, I’m still left with this thought: How the BBWAA didn’t elect him to the Hall of Fame a decade ago is one of life’s biggest misteries, one of life’s greatest injustices.
Congratulations, Bert. You’ve been a Hall of Famer in my mind for years. It’s great that the BBWAA finally noticed and gave you this richly deserved honor.
This afternoon, the Twins took another step towards proving that they’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the AL this October. While it’s true that the Twins pitching staff still has to prove that they can put win streaks together with well-pitched games, 2006 phenom Francisco Liriano’s performance today has Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson smiling.
After a bumpy start, Liriano settled into a grove, striking out eight Red Sox hitters in an efficient 7 innings of work. After throwing 37 pitches the first two innings, Liriano used a mere 97 pitches total for his 7 innings. That’s an impressive average for a ground ball pitcher. It’s just short of fantastic for a pitcher with 8 strikeouts.
Once Liriano got command of his fastball, the Red Sox hitters started taking more defensive swings. They weren’t getting around on Liriano’s fastball, which was routinely timed at 93-95 mph. That made them all the more susceptable to Liriano’s slider, considered by some to be among the best in the game.
What the Twins have lacked in pitching consistency has been more than made up for by the Twins’ hitters. Today, the Twins’ backups combined with Jason Kubel, Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer for a 15 hit attack. included in this year’s Twins’ reserves is Jim Thome. Today’s batting order was Span, followed by Orlando Hudson, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, Jim Thome, Jason Kubel, J.J. Hardy & Nick Punto.
It’s worth asking these questions: When was the last timt the Twins had a 7th hitter as dangerous as Jason Kubel? Or an eighth hitter as dangerous as J.J. Hardy?
Beyond the potent lineup & Liriano’s dominant pitching, one thing hasn’t gotten the recognition that it deserves: the Twins’ defense. This is another stunning fact. Thus far this season, the Twins have played 10 games & committed just 1 error. The Twins are the only AL team that still hasn’t allowed an unearned run this season.
The final mind-blowing stat that Twins fans should smile about is that they’ve won their first 3 series this year against the Angels, White Sox & Red Sox. Last year, those teams had a combined winning percentage of .558. The Twins lost their season opener to the Angels, then reeled off 5 straight wins before losing in Chicago. Now they’ve won the series against the Red Sox in impressive fashion.
People are noticing. Now it’s a matter of sustaining a high level of play for the rest of the season. With this lineup and with the Twins’ defense & pitching, this should be a fun season to be a Twins fan.
Yesterday, I heard another person talking about whether Curt Schilling should be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Everytime I hear that question, or when people ask whether Tom Glavine should be a first ballot Hall of Famer when he retires, I see red.
It’s time to dispense with the niceties.
As a Twins fan, I don’t know how people can talk about Curt Schilling without first talking about the disgrace the BBWWA heaps on itself because they haven’t inducted Bert Blyleven & Jack Morris into the Hall of Fame already. It isn’t that I think Tom Glavine & Curt Schilling aren’t HoF-worthy. It’s that I’m certain that Bert Blyleven & Jack Morris are worthy.
Let’s examine things from a statistical perspective. Bert Blyleven struck out 3,701 hitters over a 22 year career, a figure that’s still in the top 5 all time, even surpassing the great Walter Johnson’s totals by almost 200. He threw 60 shutouts, which still is in the top 10 all-time. He threw 242 complete games, far outdistancing Mr. Glavine’s or Mr. Schilling’s statistics.
That’s before we start talking about his curveball, which, when he was on, was simply unhittable. Other than Nolan Ryan’s fastball, Bert’s curveball was the dominant pitch of his era.
That’s before talking about his 287 wins & his winning 2 World Championships. That’s before talking about all the wins he would’ve gotten had he played on good teams all his career. Had he played on his era’s equivalent of the Yankees or the Braves, you’d likely be talking about adding an additional 50 wins over his career.
Jack Morris is also Hall-worthy. Baseball writers like talking about Schilling being HoF-worthy because of his bloody sock game in the ALCS. There’s no denying that that was one of the great games of postseason history. There’s also no denying that it pales in comparison to Jack Morris’s complete game, 130-pitch, 7-hit shutout masterpiece of the Braves in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. I’ll admit that I’m biased because I’m a Twins fan who watched every pitch of that game. That said, that isn’t Mr. Morris’s only qualification.
Mr. Morris won 3 World Series chanpionships. Each time, he was the ace of the staff. He also finished his career with 254 wins, nearly 70 games above .500.
As much as Mssrs. Blyleven & Morris deserve to induction into the Hall of Fame, they pale in comparison to Tony Oliva’s credentials. Tony O is the only player in history to win the batting title his rookie season. To prove it wasn’t a fluke, he demolished the so-called Sophomore jinx to repeat as AL batting champion.
Tony O was the greatest hitter I’ve ever watched. That’s significant because I watched Rod Carew, Kirby Puckett & Joe Mauer on an almost daily basis. While those names don’t match Ruth, Gehrig, Dimaggio & Mantle, they aren’t chopped liver either.
To this day, Rod Carew will state without hesitation that Tony O was his hitting mentor. That alone should be Hall-worthy.
That’s before talking about his winning 3 batting titles in his career. That’s before talking about his winning a Gold Glove for defensive excellence.
The reason why Tony hasn’t been inducted into Cooperstown is because, in August, 1968, he suffered a debilitating knee injury. He wasn’t the same since. Nonetheless, he still rebounded to win another batting title. Had they invented arthroscopic surgery before that time, he probably would’ve put up spectacular numbers, possibly even gawdy, numbers.
As it was, Tony O still averaged 170 hits per full season, certainly an impressive figure.
It isn’t a stretch to say that Tony Oliva was one of the top 25 hitters of all time, which certainly should qualify him for Cooperstown alone. Mix in his 3 batting titles & his Gold Glove & you’ve got solid Hall of Fame credentials.
It’s time that the idiots in the BBWWA stopped asking whether Curt Schilling should be a first ballot Hall-of-Famer & finally correct the injustice they’ve visited upon Mssrs. Oliva, Blyleven & Morris.
Anything less is unacceptable.
I just finished listening to John Hinderaker & Brian St. Paul Ward interview Clark Griffith. With Opening Day right around the corner (Monday), I’m prone to thinking about the Griffith family’s legacy.
First, let’s start by saying that Calvin Griffith’s Twins were the last team who made their living off of the baseball team. That meant, in the free agency world, that they couldn’t pay big dollars for their players. That meant losing players like Rod Carew and Harmon Killebrew through free agency.
That also meant that they had to have a prolific farm system to replenish their talent & stay competitive.
That they did with gusto. It also meant that they had to make great trades. That they also did quite well. In 1982, Calvin moved the Twins into the Metrodome. It’s also the year that they started a youth movement that culminated with Carl Pohlad accepting the World Series trophy in 1987.
1982 marked the year when Frankie ‘Sweet Music’ Viola joined a couple Twins’ farmhands named Gary Gaetti & Kent Hrbek in the lineup. That’s also when they added Tom Brunansky to their starting lineup by trading second baseman Rob Wilfong & relief pitcher to Gene Autry’s California Angels.
Not surprisingly, Cal won that deal. HANDILY. Brunansky quickly learned how to play the right field baggie better than any player at the time. Many was the time he’d barehand the ball off the baggie & hold a runner to a single. Those foolish enough to run on him in those situations usually got thrown out handily. (That isn’t unlike what Michael Cuddyer’s been doing the last couple years.)
Another Twins farmhand played a major role in their winning the 1970 AL West division championship. His name is Bert Blyleven. Not surprisingly to true baseball insiders, Bert was part of the 1987 rotation, along with Sweet Music & Les Straker, that brought the World Series Trophy to Minnesota.
While it was Mr. Pohlad who accepted the trophy, the team was built by Calvin Griffith.
Another key addition to the Twins’ championship teams was a fireplug from Triton Junior College in Illinois. His name was Kirby Puckett.
After Jim Eisenreich, who played his high school ball here at St. Cloud Tech, was put on the disabled list, the Twins called up Kirby. In one of the great Twins’ stories of all time, Kirby arrived by commercial airlines to Anaheim, where he hopped on a taxi, which he took to Anaheim Stadium. The Twins clubhouse guys had to pay the taxi driver. That night, all Kirby did was start his major league career with a 4-for-4 night.
The Twins of the 1970s were a good team, with their best team that didn’t win the AL West was 1977. That group could hit & hit & hit some more. Lyman Bostock, who was later tragically killed in the prime of his career, teamed with Rod Carew & Larry Hisle to form an offensive juggernaut. That’s also the year that Sir Rodney his .388, at the time the highest batting after since Ted Williams’ hitting .406.
During the 1960s, the Twins had a great pitching staff, highlighted by Jim ‘Mudcat’ Grant, Jim ‘Kitty’ Kaat, reliever Al Worthington, Camilo Pasqual & Jim Perry. We shouldn’t forget Tommy Hall & Boswell, either.
In 1969, another Twins farmhand played a crucial role in the Twins winning their first division title. That man was Rich Reese, quite possibly the best fielding first baseman in the game at the time. Reese, Kent Hrbek & Doug Mientkiewicz are easily the three best defensive first basemen in Twins history.
With this being the Twins’ last season of domed baseball, we’re about to come full circle. We’ll finally play our games outdoors again. Alot has changed since Calvin Griffith sold the Twins to Carl Pohlad in the summer of 1984, not all of it good.
What still can be said, though, is that the Twins still play the game right. Their farm system is still one of the best in baseball. They still respect the game. Thanks to the Twins’ system, men like Tom Kelly & Ron Gardenhire would fit into Calvin Griffith’s organization as they fit into Carl Pohlad’s organization.
That’s a tribute to the Griffith family. Thanks to their traditions & skill, Twins fans like me have had alot to cheer about Twins baseball. Personally, I’ve been enjoying Twins baseball since my first game in August, 1966. That Sunday afternoon, I watched the Twins score 9 runs in the bottom of the 8th inning to defeat the Baltimore Orioles. Later that year, I watched those same Orioles sweep the defending World Champion LA Dodgers, shutting them out the last 3 games of the World Series.
Finally, no article chronicling the Twins history would be complete without mentioning Tony Oliva. Fans back then gave him the nickname Tony O. Baseball writers simply knew him as the best hitter of his time. He still is the only player in major league history to win a batting title as a rookie. He’s also the only hitter to back that up by winning it again his sophomore season.
There aren’t many people who can say with a straight face that they taught Rod Carew the nuances of hitting. In fact, there’s only one. His name is Tony Oliva.
Twins fans have had alot to be thankful for the last 40+ years, thanks in large part to the foundation that Calvin Griffith built.
Thanks Calvin. Twins fans really owe you & your family alot.
Technorati: Minnesota Twins, Calvin Griffith, Tony Oliva, Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew, Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti, Bert Blyleven, Frank Viola, Tom Kelly, Ron Gardenhire, Jim Kaat, Jim Perry, Metropolitan Stadium, Carl Pohlad, Metrodome
I can’t believe I almost forgot this but it’s time to wish Harmon Killebrew a happy birthday. Harmon turned 72 today. It seems like just yesterday that I was watching Harmon playing at Metropolitan Stadium down in Bloomington. (Yes, it was first called Metropolitan Stadium before it got nicknamed The Met.)
My first Twins game was in August, 1966, against the Baltimore Orioles at the Met. When the Twins rallied for 9 runs in the bottom of the 8th inning, Harmon & Tony O were in the middle of the uprising.
I can’t honestly claim to have attended the game when Harmon hit a shot into the upper deck in left against the Angels but I was there the next day when Haromn hit one off the facing of the second deck against lefty Lew Burdette. Utterly crushed the ball. The ball hit off the centerfield side of the scoreboard, which meant it was in the power alley portion of the outfield. Easily 450+ feet.
Harmon was a gentleman’s gentleman, too. I’m proud to say that I met Harmon in St. Cloud when Crown Auto opened at 24th & Division. He came there & signed autographs for well over an hour. What’s neat was that Harmon smiled the entire time. He was joking much of the time.
If I’m sounding like a Twins homer, well, that’s because it was impossible not to be if you grew up during that era. With Harmon, Tony Oliva & Rod Carew anchoring the batting order & with Jim Kaat, Jim Perry & a young Bert Blyleven (Bert was a 19-year-old rooking 1970) anchoring the pitching staff, the Twins had a ton of talent.
BTW, if Harmon played today, he wouldn’t have finished with 573 HR’s, which was 4th best at the time. This Baseball Almanac diagram shows the difficulty of hitting a ball out in the power allies. It was entirely possible to hit a ball 405 feet into the leftfield power alley & get robbed of an extra base hit by Paul Blair. In today’s game, a ball hit 405 feet in a power alley wouldn’t even warrant a chase. It’d clear every park in America, with the exception of Yellowstone, by 20 feet. More times than I care to remember, Harmon had doubles that landed at the base of the 430 foot sign just to the rightfield side of centerfield.
That’s only one side of Harmon, though. Harmon still shows up in Ft. Meyers every spring to work with that year’s power hitters. Many is the lesson that Justin Morneau & Michael Cuddyer have learned from Harmon. In future years, I’m certain that players like Jason Kubel & Delmon Young will learn from him, too.
That’s part of the Twins’ magic. Rod Carew & Tony Oliva teach the kids hitting, with Rod working with guys like Denard Span, Alexi Casilla & Carlos Gomez on bunting. Paul Molitor spends time workingh on baserunning.
Now you’re seeing why it’s easy being a Twins fan. If you love baseball played right, it’s impossible not to love them. They play the game right. Day after day, game after game, season after season.
I’d like to think alot of that’s happened because it all started with Harmon. Happy Birthday, Harmon. You’re the best.
Despite losing a three game series to the Chisox this week, people are noticing that this Minnesota Twins team isn’t a team to be taken lightly. Friday’s Twins news couldn’t have been much worse. The results from the field, though, gave the team, and their fans, reason to hope.
The worst news of the season came Friday evening when the Twins announced that Pat Neshek would be sidelined the rest of the season with a torn ligament in his elbow. Nick Punto was scratched from the starting lineup with a sore left hamstring. Brendan Harris left the game after injuring his hamstring, too.
With all that bad news, you’d think they wouldn’t have a chance to defeat the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox. But defy the expectations they did, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, then reclaiming their lead in the next inning.
Boof Bonser didn’t have good stuff tonight, though, which was why he lasted only 4+ innings, giving up 6 runs while throwing 96 pitches. Nobody in the crowd of 25,000+ would’ve been upset if that’s how the game ended.
Unfortunately for Boston, they aren’t the only talented young centerfielder. Friday night’s game was the first that pitted Jacoby Ellsbury, the man at the center of last winter’s Johan Santana trade talks, against Carlos Gomez, the man who is the centerpiece of the Johan Santana trade to the Mets.
Neither player disappointed the crowd, with Ellsbury stealing his 14th base this season and throwing out Delmon Young at the plate with an assist from Dustin Pedroia.
Unfortunately for Bosox fans, he was the second best centerfielder in Friday night’s game. That’s because Carlos Gomez’s ninth inning at-bat against Jonathan Papelbon changed the game. That’s because Gomez stole his 14th and 15th bases tonight. That’s because his 15th steal of the season got him to second base with two outs in the ninth.
Young Mr. Gomez didn’t stay there long, though. He raced home with the winning run when Mike Lamb blooped Papelbon’s 1-2 cutter just inside the leftfield line.
This week has been a coming out party for Gomez. He’s shown improved patience at the plate in big at-bats. He also became the first Twins player to hit for the cycle since Kirby Puckett hit for the cycle on Aug. 1, 1986.
Ellsbury is the more polished player right now but Gomez is improving week to week. Once he reaches his potential, Gomez and Ellsbury will be the elite AL centerfielders for a decade or more.
What’s impressive to me, though, is how this Twins team didn’t quit when the World Champions took a 6-5 lead. Bonser didn’t pitch well. The defense was adequate at best. The keys were the hitters having a good approach at the plate and the best bullpen in baseball pitched shutout ball the rest of the way.
Beating an elite closer like Jonathan Papelbon with a come-from-behind walkoff basehit is definitely the right way to open a homestand.
Watching last night’s Twins game was as fun as fun gets for a Twins fan. Livan Hernandez pitched a masterful complete game. To say that he wasn’t the best player on the field, though, is understatement.
If someone wanted to nominate Nick Punto, who set a personal best with a 5 RBI night, as the best player last night, most nights they’d have a strong argument.
Not last night.
Carlos Gomez, affectionately nicknamed Go-Go by his teammates, simply took the game over, starting with his opening at-bat. That’s because young Mr. Gomez became the first Twins hitter to hit for the cycle since Kirby Puckett turned the trick on August 1, 1986.
Critics will say that he’s erratic, which I agree with…for now. He led off the game with a homerun on Mark Buehrle’s third pitch. Gomez didn’t break out a homerun trot reminiscent of Justin Morneau or Michael Cuddyer. His trip around the bases was more of a blur than anything.
The blur was back in his third at-bat, a line drive triple into the right certfield gap. That was followed by a double which White Sox centerfielder Nick Swisher misplayed, allowing Gomez to get to third standing up. Gomez’s miraculous night at the park was capped off when he pounded one into the dirt. Sox reliever Ehren Wassermann got a glove on it but couldn’t field it cleanly. Shortstop Alexei Ramirez barehanded the ball and threw to first just missing getting the out at first.
Wednesday night should get Twins’ opponents worried because Gomez is still learning the game. He’s still raw. He’ll have a number of ups and downs this season. When he gets everything figured out, though, he’ll be a dominant offensive force. He has more range than Torii Hunter ever had. Gomez’s arm isn’t as accurate as Torii’s but it’s a mistake to think you’re gonna run on him.
One other think about that game in 1986: Bert Blyleven struck out 15 Athletics that night, including his 3,000th career strikeout. He also pitched a complete game. The next morning, Kirby stole the headlines.
Let’s just say that Livan Hernandez can relate to Bert after last night. That’s what happens when a charismatic centerfielder takes a game over.