September 3, 2003

Timing is everything

So I'm sitting in my Visual Journalism class jonesing like crazy because I'm missing the afternoon Twins game. It wasn't on TV, but I would definitely have listened to the radio broadcast, as unbearable as that can be. Instead, I'm listening to the instructor talk about the class objectives and what type of stuff we will be working on this semester - you know, all that fun stuff. Then he has us do a little work on the computers and shows us the basics of working a Macintosh.

Then, at around 3:30, he says that if we are finished with the little assignment he gave us, we are free to go. I head out the door of the Murphy Hall (the journalism building) and as soon as I hit daylight, I whip out my walkman and headphones and frantically tune in the Twins game. When I finally get it tuned to WCCO, here is what exactly I heard...

Dustan Mohr will come on now to run for Morneau. The Twins still have some life left here in the bottom of the 9th. Two outs and Mohr on first.

Shannon Stewart to face Anaheim closer Troy Percival now. Here's the first pitch to Stewart...

He lines it.....IT'S GONNA BE A FAIR BALL!


The throw comes to the plate and he's gonna be out.....



THE TWINS WIN!!!!!!!!!!! THE TWINS WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I really don't think I can even do the moment justice. It was so damn exciting simply because I had absolutely no idea what was going on and the very first thing I heard was that they "still had some life in them" (in other words, they were losing) and then 10 seconds later I heard an extraordinarily exciting play (and a thrilling call on the radio, kudos to John Gordon...for once).

It was unbelievable and I'm sure the people around me on Church Street probably thought I was a lunatic. I'm not sure exactly what I did, but there may have been a first-pump involved and I think I let out some audible form of celebration too, not to mention the big goofy smile I probably had on my face.

I hesitate to say that was one of the most exciting minutes of my life, simply because it makes it sound like I definitely need a new life. But really, it was. I imagine hearing it like I did, without any prior knowledge of the game or even a perfect understanding of what was going on made it even better than if I had been listening the entire time.

I tuned in having no clue what was going on or even if the game was still being played. Immediately I was down, then way up, then down again, and then BOOM, the Twins just won the game. And even then I wasn't quite sure exactly what happened.

Now that I have gotten a good look at the play on TV (thank god for ESPN), it is my (admittedly biased) opinion that what Dustan Mohr did was perfectly legal and a "clean" play. The throw beat Mohr to the plate by a minimum of 10 feet and it appeared as though Anaheim catcher Bengie Molina figured Mohr would let up and he could just put a soft tag on him for the final out of the game. Of course, Dustan Mohr has been known to crash into the wall down the right field line in the hopes of catching a foul ball that lands 30 rows into the stands, so Molina probably should have known better.

It turns out Bengie Molina broke his wrist on the play. It's why he dropped the ball to allow Mohr to score and it's why Shannon Stewart was able to scamper home with the winning run. Almost immediately after Mohr knocked into him, Molina went down. And he stayed down. Troy Percival actually covered the plate and took the throw that Stewart narrowly beat, and Molina didn't get up for at least 5 minutes following the game. Twins and Angels were huddled around him.

When Molina stuck out his glove to make the tag, Mohr barreled right into him and knocked the ball loose and Molina down. Had Molina been protecting the ball with his right hand, I think he would have held onto the ball and most likely lessened the blow from Mohr quite a bit. Instead, he simply held out his glove hand, with the ball inside, and it took the brunt of the contact. I have mixed feelings about players crashing into catchers at home plate in general, but if it is a legal play and is not frowned upon, what Dustan Mohr did was perfectly fine with me.

Interestingly enough, almost an identical play happened in the Red Sox/White Sox game last night. With the game tied at 4 in the bottom of the 8th inning, Aaron Rowand was on second base. Magglio Ordonez hit a ball into the left field corner and the Chicago third base coach sent Rowand home. Manny Ramirez picked the ball up quickly and relayed it to Nomar Garciaparra, who made a strong, accurate throw to home plate. The ball beat Rowand to the plate by about the same distance that it beat Mohr, but there were two big differences.

First of all, Boston catcher Jason Varitek got the ball in his glove and then protected it with his other hand. Second, Aaron Rowand came in with a full head of steam and looked ready to do exactly what Mohr did to Molina, but he made a half-hearted attempt and ended up stumbling to the plate as Varitek slapped the tag on him and then ripped his glove away like a matador - exactly what Molina should have done.

The inning ended still tied at 4 and then David Ortiz hit what ended up being the game-winning homer the next inning. Two identical plays, two different reactions by the base runners and two different reactions by the catchers. Twins win, White Sox lose, and now the standings in the AL Central look like this:

                W      L     GB

Minnesota 73 66 -
Chicago 73 66 -
Kansas City 71 66 1

As a Twins fan, all I can say is that we've got 'em right where we want 'em. I stand by what I said last month, which is that the Twins will stay within striking distance and then win this division in the final days, thanks to a very easy schedule during the season's last two weeks. For more on that, including an in-depth breakdown of the schedules of all 3 AL Central contenders, check out my entry from August 22nd, entitled:

"And down the stretch they come!"


As most of you have probably noticed by now, I put a link to "PayPal Donations" up on the upper left-hand side of this page last weekend. I felt sort of guilty doing it at the time, since it is not totally unlike begging for money. But I did it anyway and didn't expect much to come of it.

Boy was I wrong! I have to say that, after less than a week with the link up, I am sure that I have some of the most generous readers around. For whatever reason, yesterday was a particularly good day for donating money to unemployed college students, because I got 5 different donations.

I want to thank Dave for being the first person to give me a donation. I want to thank Steve and Craig for also donating last weekend. And now this week, I want to thank Jason, Alan, Phillip, Brian, Tom, Kristen (yes, a female!), Andy and Jeff.

You don't really "get" anything for your donation, but I've checked around and it officially counts as your "Good Deed of the Day." I've also been told that anything over $25 assures you a place in heaven, although I haven't been able to confirm that as of yet.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank everyone who has donated and say that the amount of donations in the short time the link has been up has absolutely shocked me and it makes me feel good that you guys like this blog and my writing enough to send me some of your hard-earned money. Oh, and keep it coming boys (and girl), I figure with another 50 donations or so, I can pay for all of my books this semester!

Link of the Day:

John's Dodger Blog - "The blog of John Wiebe, fan of the Dodgers and baseball in general"

Today's picks:

Kansas City (Voyles) +180 over Arizona (Johnson)

Total to date: + 2,765

W/L record: 225-222 (3-2 yesterday for +25.)

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

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