Hey, special thanks to the CLASSY White Sox fans – I’m sure the following will shock you. Twins third baseman Nick Punto went diving into the stands on Wednesday after a foul ball, and said the following transpired: “Some guy spilled beer down my leg. A little kid told me, ‘You (stink)!'” I love it! Now that’s the Chicago way!
Bring on the Tigers and their gum-chewing gang that keeps pretending it’s 1984 all over again. The Twins are ready this time, and with Franchise, Radke and Santana going for the hometown nine, another SWEEP is in the forecast, baby!
Chicago, we barely knew thee…
Decided at the last minute to jump into the minivan with Sara and Jake and take in the Twins-Cleveland tllt on 7/14/06. Worked over a scalper (sort of) for some great seats about 15 rows off of home plate, got to see most of a Twins’ 3-2 win, watched Gardy get tossed from the game after an ump blew a call at third base, then Gardy went and “politely” kicked dirt around the third base bag. Classic stuff.
Also enjoyed the chance to take some action photos of Joe Mauer & Justin Morneau, the new “M&M Boys,” and spend a night at the ballpark with my family. Heck, even T.C. Bear was cute!
The Minnesota Twins’ web site is reporting that Francisco Liriano has been named as a last-minute All-Star replacement for the injured Jose Contreras! Yes! Baseball karma comes through! There was no way Liriano, who is 10-1 with a 1.83 ERA despite being in the starting rotation for less than two months, deserved to stay home. Even though MLB.com RIGGED the last-chance voting, Liriano STILL made it in! FYI, why can MLB.com tell us instantly who is leading the votes and how many were cast and such, but they won’t make the vote totals PUBLIC and list them? I smell a conspiracy. Some of the players who have won the “last chance” votes in recent years just “happened” to fit perfectly into MLB’s plans for hyping the game. After I saw Liriano had lost out, I was ready to PUNCH A.J. myself! Glad to see things worked out.
Somebody needs to tell the Detroit Tigers it’s not 1984 anymore. The Twins can’t catch a break it seems, but despite that the past few weeks have been some of the most exciting I can remember since I began following this club in 1981, so long ago the Metrodome was brand new, the air conditioning didn’t work and Kirby Puckett was still in junior college.
After another book signing for The King’s Game outside the Metrodome on Saturday (July 1), I worked over a scalper – and believe me, I enjoy the give-and-take with these guys almost as much as the game itself – for a ticket 10 rows behind the Twins’ dugout, I took in yet another fantastic, electric game. I sat next to a group of 20-something college buddies, one of whom proudly wore a Milwaukee Brewers painter cap (circa 1983, back when the things were actually cool, just like the mesh baseball hats that are coming back once again, I note with irony).
I had a blast talking good-natured trash with the fun-loving Brewers fan, who – as all Wisconsin-reared fans do – ripped on every aspect of Minnesota sports he could, pointing out the gigantic Land O’ Lakes milk carton in right field that lights up whenever a Twin homers.
“Wow, where do they keep the refrigerator in the Metrodome to keep that milk carton cold?” he asked, mocking us. He also disparaged Kirby Puckett, said Joe Mauer has a rag arm and stood like Joaquin Phoenix in “Gladiator” and gave the Dome crowd a “thumbs down” anytime the Twins did something well.
And I loved every minute of it!
The best was when the Twins rallied off Milwaukee’s Mr. Shaggy, a.k.a. Derrick Turnbow, in the bottom of the eighth inning to first tie the game, then take the lead. The crowd of 35,000-plus stood the whole inning, cheering and chanting and clapping, and I actually thought of The King’s Game and the crowd scenes in the novel, because this is what I imagined it feeling like – an entire stadium, pulsing, shaking, coming to life before my very eyes. And when Michael Cuddyer hit that scorching triple into left-center to tie the game, I grabbed that stupid Milwaukee painter cap off my neighbor’s noggin, gave HIM the thumbs down and taunted him with all things Twins. I also yelled at Turnbow to get a haircut, and he left the mound later that inning to a standing ovation from Twins fans.
THIS is why I love baseball live. What a fun ride the young Twins are taking us on in 2006, and with all this momentum, the new stadium on the horizon, etc., it feels like we’re about to enter another golden era of Minnesota Twins baseball.
So this Liriano guy is pretty good, eh? The 22-year-old is now 9-1 with a 1.99 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 81.1 innings pitched. Another eight shutout innings today against Milwaukee, with 12 strikeouts and just three hits allowed. I think Justin Morneau said it best recently. He was being asked about whether or not he was excited to see Roger Clemens returning to the mound against the Twins for the Rocket’s first start. Morneau said something to the effect of, “Actually, I’m more excited to see Liriano pitch again.”
Can you blame Morneau? Francisco The Fantastic is other-worldly. Oh yeah, and he’s a 22-year-old rookie who didn’t even get into the starting rotation until May 19! In his nine starts so far, six times Liriano has given up 3 or fewer hits in a performance. He has gone 8-1 with a 2.29 ERA and 62 strikeouts since joining the starting rotation. Any questions????
If Francisco The Fantastic doesn’t get into the All-Star Game, it will be a travesty up there with “Dewey Defeats Truman,” the 2000 Election and Bert Blyleven not being in the Hall of Fame.
Again, THANK YOU to the San Francisco Giants for one of the worst deals in MLB history – the Twins got Liriano, Joe Nathan and Boof Bonser for A.J. Pierzynski, who spent one season in SF, was labeled a team “cancer” by the pitching staff and cut loose the following winter. Meanwhile Minnesota gets an All-Star closer, superstar pitcher who is already better than Johan Santana and a nice back-of-the-rotation guy in Bonser. I still shake my head at that one, though Twins G.M. Terry Ryan just says, “We got lucky” when the media asks him about the deal.
Here was my day – I knew Johan Santana was going to do something special today when not once, but TWICE we spilled bright red fruit smoothie drinks at home and sent the juice splattering everywhere, but neither time did so much as a drop get on my Santana jersey. Yep, it was meant to be.
So we go to Saturn for an oil change. Simple enough. An hour later, my two-year-old can’t stop climbing around all the showroom cars, I also have a cracked serpentine belt and now the repair is like $80.00 and the game starts in 45 minutes! Whatever.
I pay the bill, crank up the car, it makes a funny clicking noise. Oh well – off onto Interstate 94 to race down to the Dome. On the 5th Street exit ramp the car completely DIES and lucky for us I’m able to semi-steer off onto the side of the street after gliding down the ramp.
Car is totally dead. The Dome is about 100 yards in front of us. I call AAA. They send the tow truck to the wrong CITY – New Brighton instead of Minneapolis. After a few more frantic phone calls, false alarms and my buddy Mark hanging out with Jake and me under a tree, the AAA truck shows up about 90 minutes after the first call.
The mechanic informs me I need a tow and drops us at the Dome. Race in, catch Santana throwing yet another gem, the Twins continuing to look like the ’27 Yankees at the plate, and an easy 6-3 win.
Some kid named Joe Mauer goes 2-for-3 with a walk, and he rakes Dodgers “pitching” (we use the term loosely) for a cool 11-for-13 (.846) with a walk and six RBIs for the three-game series. He’s now hitting .392 for the season. Did I mention he’s still only 23 years old and refuses to show any trace of ego or arrogance?
Get a lift back to the station from Mark, and the car is waiting. New alternator, electrical this, diagnostic that, charge this, blah, blah, blah … $503.83 is the final tab. But hey, I didn’t have to pay for parking!
This is getting RIDICULOUS. Mauer has now gone 8-for-9 over the past two games, and he STILL has probably one more at bat left in tonight’s (Tuesday) game. After going 4-for-5 last night, ho hum, he is 4-for-4 tonight with 4 singles. Right now Joe Mauer is OUT OF HIS MIND!!!
This run is remiscient of Kirby Puckett’s amazing weekend in Milwaukee back in 1988 when he went like 10-for-11 in a pair of games against the Brewers. Hey, did I mention Milwaukee is coming to town this weekend?
Meanwhile the Twins after tonight will have won 13 of 14 games. Someday, the White Sox and/or Tigers might actually lose a game too.
Did I mention Joe Mauer is AWESOME?
Sheesh, Mauer is so incredible I didn’t even get to Francisco Liriano’s amazing job – AGAIN – tonight. How exciting is it to be a Twins fan right now?