May 21, 2003

10 and 2

I'm writing this blog entry on Wednesday afternoon, as I wait for the air-conditioner repair guy to show up. My mom says she has been told he will arrive sometime "between 10 and 2."

I have a question: Why is it okay for certain service people to give you a window of time for arrival that stretches from 10 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon? Why is this accepted, when it would never be accepted at a dentist's office or a doctor's office or any other sort of appointment in the entire universe? Can you imagine calling up your dentist and them telling you to show up and wait in the waiting room, and that you'd be taken sometime between 9:30 and 1:30? Of course not.

Yet, every cable guy or plumber or air-conditioner repair guy gets to leave himself a nice 4-5 hour window in which he'll "probably show up."

Of course, it's not like I have anything else to do today. Although, if not for the "10 and 2" appointment, I'd definitely still be sleeping!

Since I appear to have some time to kill, let's take a little trip around the majors and see what's going on...

Twins first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz sprained his ankle the other day against the White Sox. I was watching the game and he definitely "rolled it" pretty good, so I figured he would be headed for the 15-day disabled list. Then I read the next morning that he would likely be out for at least 10 days and I was sure he was going on the DL. Then I read this in the paper on Tuesday:

"Twins first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz will undergo treatments for his sprained ankle in the Twin Cities, and is expected to meet the team in Seattle on Friday, a Twins spokesperson said Monday.

Mientkiewicz became a candidate for the disabled list when he sprained his ankle on Sunday. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire initially said he wanted to put Mientkiewicz on the DL, but Mientkiewicz argued he could quickly recover. He will miss the team's series in Oakland. The team hopes aggressive treatment of the injury will enable him to play in Seattle.

If Mientkiewicz suffers a setback, the team likely will place him on the DL and promote Michael Cuddyer from Class AAA Rochester."

This seems very strange to me. The Twins have had a ton of minor injuries to their hitters lately. Jacque Jones, Matthew LeCroy, Bobby Kielty and now Mientkiewicz have all missed several games with injuries and Kielty has been limited to DHing and pinch-hitting for at least a week now. All the injuries have caused some very "interesting" Twins lineups, including several games with Mientkiewicz out in right field and several more with Denny Hocking out there.

And yet, with all the injuries, none of those guys went on the DL. So, now that Mientkiewicz is going to be out for at least 4-5 days and probably closer to 10, why would you want to leave yourself short-handed yet again, just to avoid losing Mientkiewicz for a day or two more than he needs to be out? Would you rather play the next week or two with only 24 players or would you rather call Michael Cuddyer up, play with a full roster and let Mientkiewicz take his time recovering and bring him back into the lineup a couple days after he's 100%?

It seems like an obvious answer to me. Playing games with a short roster and then trying to rush a player back from an injury isn't worth it when all you get out of the deal is a couple extra games from Doug Mientkiewicz.

The Twins have made some interesting decisions in regard to player health recently and this certainly makes me wonder what's going on.

Pedro Martinez missed his start on Tuesday against the Yankees because of a "back strain." I am glad to see the Red Sox treat Pedro cautiously. In the past they have talked about being careful with him but, as I have pointed out on this blog, they haven't always actually done so. There is no reason to risk further problems to one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history over a single regular season game in May, Yankees or no Yankees.

Plus, the Sox won the game anyway. Who needs Pedro?!

One of the things that comes along with Pedro being so incredibly great and also incredible fragile is that I am always worrying about if he is pitching like Pedro Martinez or not. Every time he struggles or every time I am watching him and he stretches out his back or grimaches, I get worried that it is all about to come to an end.

For example, at the beginning of last year, he appeared to have completely lost it. Then, he turned it around and ended up having a very good season. Then, early this year, he appeared to have completely lost it against the Orioles, when he gave up 10 runs in 4 innings in his 3rd start of the year. And, a couple of weeks ago, my Twins knocked him around pretty well.

So, is Pedro being Pedro this year? Well, if you take out that disastrous start against the Orioles (it was cold that night, maybe Pedro got stiff or maybe he was sick or something...), here are his "new" 2003 stats:

GS     ERA    IP     K    BB     H    HR

8 1.50 54 57 13 36 3

Wow. That is definitely vintage Pedro.

Pedro has made a total of 9 starts this year (including the really bad one). Here are game-by-game performances:

Innings Pitched: 7 , 8 , 4.1 , 7 , 7 , 7 , 9 , 5 , 6

Earned Runs Allowed: 0 , 1 , 10 , 0 , 0 , 2 , 1 , 5 , 0

I'd say that's pretty impressive. He has allowed 2 or fewer earned runs in 7 of his 9 starts, including not giving up a single earned run in 4 of them. The fact that he has one completely awful start and one pretty bad one and still has a 2.83 ERA is amazing. has this thing where they ask their "experts" a "Question of the Week." This week's question: Who has the better outfield, the Reds or Braves? Rob Neyer, Jayson Stark, Tom Candiotti and Rob Dibble were asked.

Here are some quotes from what they said:

Neyer: "The Braves have not only the best outfield in the National League, but the best outfield in the world."

Stark: "No matter how much you love where Dunn and Kearns are going, or how much you admire where Griffey has been, it isn't then. It's now. And right now, who has a better outfield than those three guys in Atlanta?"

Candiotti: "You can't go wrong with either outfield, but if I had to pick one, I'd take the Braves."

Okay, so all of these guys made an actual decision. And then you have "Dibs"...

Dibble: "I wouldn't give an edge to either outfield -- they're both awesome. So I say it's a push. I love 'em both."

Why? Why even act as though you are "answering" the question that was asked of you? Why would even ask him in the first place? I could have told you he wasn't going to give a real answer. The only active player he has ever spoken about in a less than a 100% favorable, wishy-washy way is Ichiro!, during his rookie year - and that was just because Ichiro! comes from another country and Dibble thought he wasn't "man enough" to handle the big leagues here in America.

Dibble is a main cast member on "Baseball Tonight" and I must say that, partly because of him, the show is now almost completely unwatchable.

A couple of years ago, I used to watch Baseball Tonight almost every single night. It had a lot of Peter Gammons and some Jayson Stark, a little Tim Kurkjian, some Dave Campbell and the occasional Harold Reynolds.

It was a good show. They showed all the highlights, added a few somewhat interesting comments, discussed the news of the day and occasionally did some interviews with players.

Now, all of a sudden, Karl Ravech (the main host) thinks he should be the one dispensing opinions, instead of just hosting the damn show. Karl Ravech!

The other night, when Mientkiewicz hurt his ankle, Karl Ravech started talking about how the injury was going to "seriously hurt the Twins because they don't have any depth." I wanted to punch him through my TV set. The Twins don't have any depth?! I don't think it is hyperbole to suggest that the Minnesota Twins have more hitting depth than any team in baseball right now.

Possible 1B/DH/LF/RF:

Doug Mientkiewicz

Todd Sears

Matthew LeCroy

Bobby Kielty

Michael Cuddyer

Jacque Jones

Michael Restovich

Justin Morneau

Dustan Mohr

Lew Ford

Mike Ryan

And I am probably forgetting someone too!

Please, just host the show Karl! If we wanted to hear all of your brilliant comments and opinions, why would ESPN bother with journalists like Gammons and Stark or ex-players like Reynolds and Dibble? Why not just make it "Baseball Tonight with Karl Ravech," since I'm sure everyone is dying to hear what some talking head that is really good at reading a teleprompter thinks.

And Harold Reynolds is just a walking, talking cliche. Everything is about "moving runners over" and "defense is 90% of the game" and all that other junk that I've heard 50,000 times.

I still really like Peter Gammons and Jayson Stark. They don't just rattle off cliche after cliche and they occasionally have some interesting information to pass along. Bobby Valentine is new to the show this year. He is interesting and definitely not 100% favorable to every player (which is great), but his voice makes me cringe a lot. Still, I would take him and his voice anytime over Rob Dibble, who is just completely awful.

I was watching the other night and Dibble was talking and he literally spit all over himself. In the middle of his little speech, stuff came flying out of his mouth and he stopped talking, wiped his lip with his hand and said, "Oops, sorry about that." I laughed for 10 straight minutes.

If the boys at Baseball Tonight want to learn how a great sports highlight/analysis show works, they should turn on TNT sometime and watch "Inside the NBA" with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley.

Ernie Johnson doesn't try to hog all the air-time and he doesn't try to editorialize or spew his opinions. Instead, he actually acts as the host of the show (what a concept!) and lets the "talent" do the talking. And Charles and Kenny are actually willing to express opinions on the show that are not cliche-ridden and 100% favorable to every single player who ever played the sport of basketball.

Here's my recipe for a better Baseball Tonight:

Less Karl Ravech. More Peter Gammons and Jayson Stark. Less cliches (Harold Reynolds). Less Rob Dibble spitting on himself. Seriously.

You know the show is getting bad when it is called "Baseball Tonight" and a person as completely obsessed with baseball as me can't stand to watch the damn thing. When there comes a point that someone is interested in watching the show but cannot do so because they can't stand to listen to the people on the actual show, there is something wrong with said show. How Karl Ravech turned into an authority on baseball is beyond me.

Incidentally, I know that at least one cast member of Baseball Tonight actually reads this blog, so I probably just cost myself a reader and probably any shot of a job at ESPN that I had! I can't help it though, it frustrates me that a show I used to love has changed so much and has become so bad. (By the way, to that BBTN cast-member, I did say that "I still really like" you on the show, it's the other guys that I could do without).

Oh, and don't get me started on "SportsCenter." Two words: Stuart Scott.

I think I am allergic to his voice. Booyah!

Today's picks:

Philadelphia (Padilla) -140 over New York (Astacio)

Atlanta (Reynolds) -140 over Cincinnati (Dempster)

St. Louis (Tomko) -100 over Houston (Robertson)

Texas (Lewis) -145 over Tampa Bay (McClung)

Oakland (Halama) -145 over Minnesota (Mays)

Kansas City (Affeldt) +170 over Seattle (Meche)

Total to date: + $1,345

W/L record: 92-89 (3-4 yesterday for -105)

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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