July 20, 2003

Breaking my silence (well, sort of)

Back on July 14th, I wrote the following:

"I am so completely frustrated/annoyed/confused with the Twins right now that I have decided I will stop writing about them until they get back to .500. I may throw in an occasional Johan update or a note about a trade or something, but if they don't get to .500, they won't have the honor of having thousands of words devoted to them on this blog. I'm sure that'll motivate them!"

Amazingly, just a few days after I said that, the Twins made a rather large trade, at which point I broke my self-imposed ban and talked about it. However, I can assure you that, following the Kielty/Stewart trade, my plan was to continue with my self-imposed ban on lengthy Twins discussion. Of course, as the famous quote goes, "No plan survives contact with the enemy."

Going into the all-star break, the Minnesota Twins had lost 8 games in a row and 22 of their last 28. In addition to that, they made what I believe to be a very poor trade during the break. It was not a particularly fun time to be a Twins fan and the team morale, in addition to the fan morale, seemed to be at rock-bottom.

Then, this past weekend, something completely unbelievable and incredibly remarkable happened: The 54-39 Oakland A's came to the Metrodome for a 4-game series and started, in succession, Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, Mark Mulder and Ted Lilly.

The Twins beat Hudson 6-2 on Thursday. The Twins beat Zito 3-2 on Friday. The Twins beat Mulder 9-4 on Saturday. The Twins beat Lilly 6-4 on Sunday. It was the first time since April of 2001 that "The Big Three" of Hudson, Zito and Mulder have taken the loss in consecutive games.

To be honest, I have absolutely no idea how a team can look so bad for so long, appear to be completely demoralized as a unit, and then turn everything completely around and take 4 straight games from one of the best teams in baseball, beating 3 of the best pitchers in baseball in the process.

Also, to be honest, I don't really care how they did it. Maybe Bobby Kielty was secretly hated in the clubhouse and had a reputation for stealing purses from elderly women and taking candy from children, and getting rid of him was all that was need to turn things around. Maybe Shannon Stewart, despite going 1-8 in the first three games of the series before getting 4 hits in game four, is such a wonderful human being that he changed the entire mood in the clubhouse, resulting in better pitching all around and better clutch hitting.

Whatever it was, it worked - and man am I thankful it did!

Of course, technically, even with the 4 straight wins over the A's, the Twins are still just 48-49 and not yet at or above .500, so I really shouldn't be writing about them like this.

I really shouldn't tell you that Johan Santana made his second start as an official member of the starting rotation on Friday night and was absolutely brilliant, outclassing Barry Zito in a battle of awesome young lefties. And I really shouldn't tell you that Rick Reed, Brad Radke and Kenny Rogers all pitched well for the first time in a long time, with Radke getting his first win since May 16th. And I really shouldn't tell you that Doug Mientkiewicz hit huge home runs in both game three and game four of the series or that Torii Hunter made a game-saving diving catch in the 9th inning of game two or that Joe Mays pitched two brilliant innings out of the bullpen in game four.

Since they aren't yet at .500, I really shouldn't tell you all those things. So I won't.

What I will say is that it's nice to be a fan of a team that is back to playing how they are capable of playing and it's wonderful to see them start the second-half of the season so well after ending the first-half so poorly. It's confusing as hell, but it's still wonderful.

I'm so sorry I couldn't write about the Twins today, but I did make a promise that I wouldn't do so until they got back to .500 and one thing I always do is keep my promises. Check back when they get to .500 and maybe I'll talk about them a little bit. It's a shame too, because if I could talk about them, I would show you these really cool pictures of Johan Santana from Friday night...

                     IP     H     R     ER     BB     SO     HR      ERA

Johan Santana 7.1 4 1 1 1 7 0 2.84


If you have a chance to watch the Oakland/Kansas City game tonight (8:05 ET), make sure you do so. It will feature the major league debut of stud pitching prospect Rich Harden. In a short time, he'll be the reason why Oakland's "Big Three" is Oakland's "Big Four" and, trust me, you'll want to be able to say you saw him pitch his first game in the big leagues.

Link of the Day:

This is something I have been thinking about doing for a while now. Basically, there are a ton of awesome websites out there, many of which are featured in my links on the left side of this page. I visit quite a few of those sites on a semi-regular basis, but I don't always get a chance to give them the "plugs" that I think they deserve. So, what I am going to do (for a little while, at least) is have a featured "Link of the Day." I might feature a site with a really great article currently posted on it or a blog of a team that is making headlines or, most likely, just one of the many great websites that I enjoy. Today's link...

Eisenberg Sports - "A seemingly regular rant on baseball, college football, and whatever else gets my attention"

Today's picks:

Houston (Redding) -120 over Pittsburgh (Fogg)

Milwaukee (Kinney) +110 over Cincinnati (Acevedo)

Texas (Dickey) +130 over Baltimore (Hentgen)

Oakland (Harden) -110 over Kansas City (Snyder)

Total to date: + $1,065

W/L record: 174-172 (2-0 on Friday for +240, putting me back over both 1,000 and .500.)

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

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