Portraits of Frustration: Milton Bradley Edition

This is my photo of Joe Mauer’s sac fly on Friday that ended up in the stands thanks to the Cubs right fielder forgetting how many outs there were.  If I had the time and/or inclination I would superimpose a thought bubble over the entire crowd, reading “What the hell is Milton Bradley doing?”

Poor Ryan Theriot.  Waiting for that throw that will never come.

Earl Battey, Where Have You Gone?

Fantastic game Friday afternoon, tons of fun to take in a Twins victory at Wrigley.

We were amazed at the number of Twins fans. I heard the TV announcers mentioned the great turnout of Minnesota fans, but it was really something to behold. Mrs. Mak and I kept track of the Twins jerseys that we saw, and we were able to collect most of the regulars.

We ended up with 15 of the 25 on the current active roster – Span, Cuddyer, Mauer, Punto, Delmon, Gomez, Crede, Crain, Baker, Buscher, Morneau (#27 and #33), Nathan, Liriano, Guerrier, and Slowey (we also saw a blank #20 – not sure if it was a Tolbert fan or not).

I was surprised not to see any Kubel jerseys but the others missing are more understandable (Ayala, Blackburn, Dickey, Henn, Mijares, Swarzak, Redmond, Harris)

We also saw a whole bunch of former Twins names on jerseys, enough to almost fill out an entire lineup.

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Musica

New Music

Dredg – The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion – I really liked Dredg’s previous three albums, although I would have to say the most recent (Catch Without Arms) was my least favorite.  I’ve only had this one for a day, but I’ve listened to it a few times and it seems like it’s very much along the same lines as the last one.  I’m less than impressed so far, but I’m still listening and giving it a chance to grow on me.

Random Ten Songs

Gave Up – Nine Inch Nails – Broken
Ain’t It The Life – Foo Fighters – There Is Nothing Left To Lose
I Will Dare – The Replacements – Let It Be
The Canyon Behind Her – Dredg – Live At The Fillmore
Mark David Chapman – And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Madonna
Whatever Happened To… – Onesidezero – Onesidezero
Slither – Velvet Revolver – Contraband
Take It Like A Man – The Offspring – Ignition
Salt Of The Earth – Rolling Stones – Beggars Banquet
River Euphrates – Pixies – Surfer Rosa

Random Ten Story

Quickly, I gave up trying to influence her moods.  It’s all wasted energy anyway, ain’t it? The life we had was beautiful, and I will dare now to say I was happiest then.  She was always in danger of hurtling over the edge of the canyon behind her into paranoid rages accusing everyone of double crossing her.  She knew me this time as Mark. David Chapman was my previous alias (my own twisted humor), and when she asked “Whatever happened to your birthmark?” I knew she was on to me.  I felt the cold feeling of fear slither into my stomach, but I resolved to stick it out.  However she decided to punish me, I would take it like a man.  That was the part of me that came from my father.  He wanted me to be a practical, salt of the earth, responsible child.  He got off easy, once he was discovered as a foreign agent, his body was dumped unceremoniously in the River Euphrates.  After a night of baring my soul, I had to wake to a tear-stained letter lying on a cold pillow and lose her forever.

Series Preview in Blog: Chicago Cubs

The Twins travel to Wrigley to finish off their road trip (3-4 so far).  Meanwhile the Cubs come back home to where they haven’t lost a series since April.  Both teams are hovering right around .500 (Cubs are currently on the good side, 29-28) so I’m fully expecting the teams to somehow find a way to split this three game series.  I’ll be at the first game, so expect pictures sometime soon.

–PROBABLE PITCHERS–

The Cubs thus far this season are pretty simple.  The starting pitching has been very good.  The offense and bullpen have struggled to keep up.

Slowey v. R. Wells

The first six starts of Randy Wells career couldn’t have gone much better while he was in the game.  He has allowed eight runs in his six starts, which the Cubs offense and bullpen has turned into an 0-2 record thus far in 2009.  There’s not much one can say about that other than “Welcome to the Cubs, rookie“.

Swarzak v. R. Harden

This is the first start of Harden’s since coming off the DL, and he’ll be on a pitch count for Saturday’s start.  Harden has looked pretty good in his rehab starts, but the Twins lineup is a bit different from a AAA lineup (for example, we have Tolbert, Gomez, Casilla, Buscher, Punto, … you know what, never mind).

Baker v. T. Lily

TLAmerica

Ted Lily has been very good this year so far.  He’s only given up two runs in his last three starts and he’s starting to draw comparisons to great men, like Chuck Norris.  If you’re looking to jump on the Ted Lily bandwagon, here’s your instruction manual, and here’s an introduction to the necessary vocabulary.

Nameless Evil Henchman #4

New Music

Coil – Horse Rotorvator – Way back in December, when I started this 80’s kick I’ve been on recently, I asked for suggestions from the fine fellows of SBG Nation.  AMR suggested I give Coil a listen, that it was kind of a precursor of Nine Inch Nails.  Well, I don’t know if you know this about me, but I have been known to listen to some NIN now and again, so I vowed to give it a shot.  To make a long story short(er), this album was tough to find, but now I’ve got it and I like some of the songs quite a bit.  Favorites are currently ‘Slur’, ‘Ostia (Death of Pasolini)’, and ‘Blood From the Air’.

Random Ten Songs

Sail Away – Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Rust Never Sleeps
Freak Scene – Dinosaur Jr. – Bug
The Patient – Tool – Lateralus
Gone Away – The Offspring – Ixnay on the Hombre
Old Man – Neil Young – Harvest
New World Order – Onesidezero – Is This Room Getting Smaller?
We’re Going to be Friends – The White Stripes – White Blood Cells
Bottom – Tool – Undertow
Bab’s Uvula Who? – Green Day – Insomniac
I Lost All My Money at the Cock Fights – Minus the Bear – Highly Refined Pirates

After ‘Sail Away’ and ‘Gone Away’ I half expected the Pixies’ ‘Gouge Away’ or Tool’s ‘Crawl Away’ or … ah, screw it, here’s another list.

Neil Young – Sail Away
The Offspring – Gone Away
Pixies – Gouge Away
Tool – Crawl Away
NIN – The Day the World Went Away
Nirvana – Stay Away
Led Zeppelin – Over the Hills and Far Away
Black Keys – Give Your Heart Away
The Offspring – Gotta Get Away
Deftones – Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)

Random 10 Short Story – making its triumphant return.

My plans to hop a boat and sail away from this disaster vanished as soon as Nameless Evil Henchman #4 came through the door.  He looked terribly out of place in his tailored suit amidst the freak scene that was the 42nd annual tri-state rooster showdown.  He spotted me right away (as if he didn’t know I was there before ever venturing in here).  Once he was face to face with me, he told me the patient man I had grown accustomed to had gone away.  I asked him if the old man was ever going to get tired of following me and just forget my debt. Apparently not, I was treated to a rant about how this Nameless Evil Henchman was different from the previous dudes I had dealt with.  He was here to instill a new world order for me, and if I had any thoughts about how we’re going to be friends he was going to disabuse me of that notion.  I told him he had anger issues, and if he wanted to get to the bottom of them, I knew a great therapist.  He turned purple.  He said, once he was through with me, he was going to hang one of my fingers on his trophy wall right next to Bab’s uvula. Who? I asked.  Never mind, he snarled, you’ve got more important things to worry about.  You’re telling me, I agreed, I lost all my money at the cock fights, can you spare me some cash? He told me I was hilarious and walked away.

You don’t know the half of it I thought as I rifled through his newly pilfered wallet.

Series Preview in Blog: Seattle Mariners

It seems like the Twins and Mariners have played each other a ton already this season. But we’ll give it another go this weekend, this time in Seattle. Let’s see what USS Mariner and Lookout Landing have to say one more time.

Yesterday was an off day for Seattle, and as it came almost exactly one third of the way through the season, it seemed like an ideal time to take stock of the team and the season. The Mariners are 26-28, in third place in the AL West (5.5 GB).  Like any team, there are overachievers and underachievers.  Minnesota will face two of the starting pitchers on the “likely to get worse” side of things, so hopefully regression is swift and severe for them.  The next step after taking stock of the team is to survey the options for improving it.  One of the biggest weaknesses has been the middle infield positions, and unfortunately for the Mariners, that deficiency runs pretty deep in their organization.

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After One Third of the Season: RISP

Here are the numbers for runners in scoring position (and how often they drive them in).  See the post below for the 2-out numbers.

Player Chances Driven In %
Mauer 37 19 51
Morneau 77 27 35
Young 42 13 31
Kubel 67 18 27
Cuddyer 81 21 26
Punto 55 14 26
TEAM AVERAGE 25
Span 72 17 24
Buscher 24 5 21
Harris 38 7 18
Crede 55 10 18
Tolbert 28 5 18
Morales 17 3 18
Redmond 19 3 16
Casilla 45 7 16
Gomez 33 4 12

After One Third of the Season: 2-out Hitters

Here are the numbers for the Twins with runners in scoring position and two out through the first 54 games of the 2009 season.

Player Chances Driven In %
Mauer 14 6 43
Crede 17 6 35
Young 18 5 28
Morneau 26 7 27
Punto 16 4 25
Morales 9 2 22
Span 32 7 22
TEAM AVERAGE 20
Kubel 36 7 19
Cuddyer 37 7 19
Casilla 11 2 11
Harris 19 2 11
Gomez 14 1 7
Tolbert 14 1 7
Buscher 14 1 7
Redmond 10 0 0

After One Third of the Season: Advancing Runners

Looking at players’ ability to move runners up in situations with none out.

The last column is the number of bases the runners advanced per 100 plate appearances.

Player Chances Advanced BA/100
Punto 28 24 86
Cuddyer 32 27 84
Redmond 13 10 77
Mauer 11 8 73
Casilla 23 15 65
TEAM AVERAGE 60
Tolbert 12 7 58
Buscher 14 8 57
Harris 20 11 55
Morneau 31 16 52
Kubel 22 11 50
Crede 24 11 46
Span 17 7 41
Young 15 6 40
Morales 6 2 33
Gomez 10 3 30

Planet Heldon D

This is a story in four parts. It’s kind of an obvious metaphor, but that’s half the fun. a metaphor (it’s been pointed out that it actually isn’t that obvious).

Part One – 12 feet tall (@ Scrawlers)

There was no sense of motion, but I knew I was gathering speed and falling toward the planet. With foreboding, I noticed the strength of the gravitational field. I worried about being torn in half as the pain of my joints being stretched beyond their capacity passed from discomfort to excruciating.

The force was too strong; the planet pulled me in before it pulled me apart. Its only effect was to stretch me into a 12-foot giant. Significant time would pass before I adjusted to limbs too long and weak to combat the constantly crushing constraint of the amplified gravity.

Part Two – 9 feet tall (@ Scrawlers)

The others here have shown me their plan to get off this planet. A tunnel boring through the entire world. Once complete, the insane gravitational force will slingshot something (or someone) through the tunnel, generating enough velocity to escape.

Days I slave with them to elongate the tunnel. I outwork them easily; gravity hasn’t had time to crush me yet. Towering over them at nine feet tall, I still have hope. Nights are spent staring into the bottomless darkness, wondering how much work can be squeezed out of me before I’m like them? How far left to go?

Part Three – 6 feet tall (@ Scrawlers)

This is the last of the vessels. They are the interstellar version of messages in bottles, potential tickets off this demented desert island. The vessel drops into the tunnel, whistling terribly as it accelerates toward the center of the planet. I immediately scan the horizon. Other spotters are better situated than I am to confirm successful launch, but, stretching to my full six-foot height, I can see our final hope shoot across the sky, emerging from the other side of the planet as a tiny meteor.

None of the other vessels have come back. That should give me hope.

Part Four – 3 feet tall (@ Scrawlers)

I don’t know how long I have been here, I can only mark the passing of time by my diminishing height.  Based on the others, at three feet tall it’s essentially over for me.  Soon the compression will progress to the point where my internal organs are crushed and the planet will finally be victorious over the last of its inhabitants.

This is no sure thing, but I know I cannot stay here.  My muscles, mangled by stretches and compressions, are too weak to achieve any kind of jump, so I awkwardly tumble forward into the bottomless pit.

Series Preview in Blog: Cleveland Indians

My word is this team bad on the road. Just think if the Twins had an experience like the Yankees in Cleveland and got kicked out of their hotel.  Half the team probably wouldn’t even make it to the ballpark.  Gardy would have to send Justin, Jason, and the three Joes to rescue all the lost utility infielders.  At least we don’t have to worry about that for this series as the Indians come to Minnesota for three games. The Indians are at 22-31, 8 games behind Detroit, in last place in the AL Central. They are 10-17 on the road, only winning one road series all season (v. the Royals two weeks ago). The Twins are a different team at home, going 10-3 in their last four home series.

First off, blog entries concerning the Indians were few and far between recently. Apparently the city’s focus was on some basketball tournament. I’m not sure if the Cavaliers exit from the NBA playoffs is responsible for the general malaise evident on some sites, or I guess it could just be the default setting for Cleveland sports fans, watching teams go down in flames, just to see them burn, but it doesn’t seem like anyone is too excited by the team on the field (but Rick Vaughn bobblehead night will always bring a crowd).  That’s partly due to the fact that the guys who are supposed to be carrying this team aren’t on the field (the Indians disabled list is starting to read like Robot Santa’s naughty list).

–PROBABLE PITCHERS–

Slowey v. D. Huff

Swarzak v. C. Lee

Baker v. F. Carmona

The starting rotation has been the cause of a lot of the problems for Cleveland.  Of the three starters the Twins will face, only Cliff Lee has pitched consistently well.  Injuries have been an issue for the starting staff as well, which is part of the reason that Huff and Carmona are still in the rotation despite a series of rough outings.  Cleveland has usually had a pretty good staff in recent years, but it seems like the plan to have young arms come in and pick up for the veterans that inevitably leave, hasn’t quite panned out the way it was supposed to.

Pitcher’s Duel in Beloit

Lewis-crop

A week ago, the Snappers beat the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 4-0 in a game that didn’t see any scoring until the eighth inning.  Joe Testa started for the Snappers and pitched the first three innings before giving way to Bradley Tippett (I assume this was by design, because Testa certainly wasn’t struggling – his line:  3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 SO, 0 BB).

Pitch-crop

Tippett picked up right where Testa left off (his line: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 5 SO, 1 BB) and completely shut down the Timber Rattlers lineup.  The only hit off Tippett was an infield hit due to a poor throw by the third baseman (picture), and each Snappers pitcher only faced one hitter over the minimum in their outing.

The picture below was the theme of the day, it seemed like the ump had a large strike zone and all the pitchers (Beloit and Wisconsin) were dealing pretty good.
YerOut

Wisconsin would end up winning the strikeout race – starter Wily Peralta would strike out 10 in six innings (including five straight and eight of ten Snappers in innings 3 through 5) – but with neither team scoring it was clear the first team to score would win.

Wisconsin Pitchers –
K K K K K K K K K K K K

Beloit Pitchers –
K K K K K K K K K

Beloit finally broke through in the eighth inning against the Timber Rattlers bullpen.  It started off with back-to-back one-out walks, which brought up James Beresford who delivered a line drive off the third baseman’s glove that scored the eventual game winner.

The inning snowballed from there for the Snappers, with a two-run single from Ramon Santana (see picture) and a sacrifice fly from Jon Waltenbury.

It was a fantastic game to watch. Both teams played excellent defense, pitched extremely well, and then we got to see a dramatic late-inning rally and a Snappers win. An ideal day at the ballpark. (Here’s a link to all of our photos from the game)

Beat the Streak

YESTERDAY (5/31)
STREAK TODAY (6/01)

Scott Hairston

(2 for 4, HR)

Current Streak – 10
Longest Streak – 10

Y. Escobar
T. Hunter
W. Bloomquist*
J. Votto*
M. Young*
T. Helton
C. Ross
H. Ramirez
M. Tejada
B. Zobrist
A. Callaspo
M. Ordoñez
S. Hairston

* = no official at-bat

Casey Blake

(0 for 1)