Thursday, June 17, 2010

Philadelphia Phillies Stream of Consciousness

The Twins finished up their homestand by practicing their take-out slides at second base against Ubaldo Jimenez and the Rockies, which helped them to drop to five and four on the homestand. Next, they head to Philadelphia to take on Ryan Howard and the Phillies. I don't know much about the two-time defending NL champs, but I know I like their uniforms. Do any other professional teams make such use of that burnt-maroon color? What's that color called anyway? Regardless, I think it's great. It's a trademark color, easily identified with the team. Of the top of my head, here are the only other quintessential baseball team colors in the bigs:

Marlins = teal
That's all I can think of. You could say Dodgers branded with blue and the Reds with red, but there are tons of pro teams that use those generic colors. I guess there are even a bunch that use teal. But there are none that use the Phillies shade of red/brown. See? It doesn't even have a name.

Anyway, the Phillies are 34-30 headed into the weekend, trailing Atlanta and New York. Notice that? The Twins get to play the top three teams in the NL East. Maybe the AL Central and the Twins will finally gain some respect once they turn them into mince-meat. It would be a real black eye if they failed to do so.... And they're off to a nice start after losing two of three to the Braves last weekend. Gee-whiz.

So Roy Halladay is pitching against the Twins on Saturday. Big deal. Unlike Ubaldo Jimenez or Johan Santana, the Twins have faced Halladay many times when he was with Toronto.

Note: In eleven starts against the Twins since 2001, Halladay is 8-1 with a 2.73 ERA.

Also, Nick Punto finally gets the chance to face the team that traded him away for Eric Milton. That should provide some motivation.

Prediction: Phillies take two of three as Twins field Sunday lineup including Punto, Valencia, Plouffe, Tolbert, Harris and Butera.

A Unique Vantage Point - Target Plaza.

Last night my friends and I decided to bicycle down to Target Field and hang around outside on the plaza. It was a nice little evening, and I highly recommend the experience to any Twins fan who doesn't have tickets to every game.

The plaza is a beautiful space, with green grass, huge baseball gloves and topiaries. Although the field isn't viewable, there are speakers carrying the radio broadcast of the game placed throughout the plaza. Which allows you to follow the action while you sit on that big gold glove or eat a sandwich. Also, you can bring your own beer and drink it all on the plaza. Of course, picturing me sitting cross-legged on the concrete drinking a beer and eating a sandwich outside a sports stadium might make you think I have nothing better to do. Or perhaps I wandered over from Mary's Place.

But I do. And I didn't.

I'm just drawn to Target Field like a moth to a lamp. It's fun to be around fellow Twins fans and soak up that outdoor baseball atmosphere. And make parents feel uncomfortable while they snap pictures of their kids on the big glove while we drink beer behind it.


Here's a really junky video I shot last night. As you may have noticed, i've had an awful case of bloggers block lately, so I was playing with the idea of doing some video blogs. Result: poor. I need to get an external mic and write down material prior to shooting the piece.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Are injuries part of the game? Nah, let's complain anyway.

Nice disabled list management, Twins.

First, J.J. Hardy injures his wrist sliding into third base on May 4th, after which he was placed on the DL on May 6th. He finally came back onto the roster on May 25th. In his brief time between DL stints, Hardy hit just 5-for-38 with two RBI. After a cortisone shot and watching his batting average tumble from .250 to .217, Hardy returned to the DL. He hasn't swung a bat in weeks.

Adding to the problem is Orlando Hudson's wrist that was injured when he banged into Denard Span on May 30th. The Twins thought he'd be good to go a couple days later in Seattle. But he wasn't instead. Finally, finally, he was placed on the DL on Tuesday, June 8th, a full nine days from when he was injured.

Which is fine, except that everyone not named Delmon Young has been scuffling lately. Re-enforcements from triple-A aren't doing much. Plouffe, Valencia and Tolbert can't hit second in the batting order. They're like 3-for-40 hitting in that spot, or some other made-up statistics that illustrates futility. Indeed, the call-ups from Rochester are making Twins fans wish for Alexi Casilla, but he quietly landed on the DL a couple weeks ago.

I blame the nurses strike.


From LaVelle's blog:

Hudson can hit righthanded but is unable to hit lefthanded and it's not clear when he'll be able to. There is a chance that he won't be ready to play in time for the three-game series in Philadelphia this weekend. So second base might continued to be manned by Matt Tolbert and Nick Punto until further notice. Trevor Plouffe remains with the club, and no roster move has been announced. Danny Valencia is in the starting lineup. J.J. Hardy said his left wrist felt a little better, but he's not yet ready to swing a bat.

Alright. Closed circuit to Twins GM Billy Smith: Update your trade deadline NEED list to include a shortstop and a second baseman.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Teaching BronxBoi sabermetrics: BABIP

This is probably a terrible idea, but our judgment here at AH! is often clouded by our gigantic bleeding hearts for those that are uninformed. In this spirit I will attempt to educated the always-controversial Bronxboi in the ways of sabermetrics. He tried his own hand at sabermetrics, and I don't think anyone but himself was too impressed. So, in our first (and possibly last) installment we will be learning about BABIP.

Soup: You ever hear of BABIP?


S: alright, great. Got that out of your system?

BB: TWICE AS FAR WITH A CANDY BAR! Hahahaha. I'm so JK-ing. Yeah I know a lot about Bopit. I beat my nephew, Brian, at it like 4 times in a row last Easter.

S: No, idiot. BABIP! Batting Average on Balls In Play.

BB: I like the "Flick it!" It reminds me of when people in cartoons get boners.

S: My god.

BB: Remember when the priest on the Little Mermaid got a boner?!?! That shit was CA-RAY-Z

S: Seriously, focus for a second. This is important. BABIP is important in evaluating both pitchers and hitters. It gives you an idea on...

BB: What's Jeter's?

S: Well, I don't know off the top of my head. I'll look it up.

BB: I bet it's really good. Proly like 100.

S: No. The highest BABIP you can have it 1. League average is around .300, but it varies depending on specific players. If a player is young or in his prime and his BABIP drops significantly below his career norm and his flyball, groundball, and linedrive ratios stay relatively the same...he's probably been the victim of bad luck.

BB: Derek Jeter creates his own luck. Oh, and I'm sorry. I suppose the New York Yankees just lucked themselves into 27 World Series Championships?!?! Whatdaya think of your lucky BABIP now, sir? Irregardless, I think it's unconceivable.

S: Well, I tried.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Perfecto Devalued: 1998 Twins say thanks.

Once upon a time in Yankee Stadium, Tom Kelly's Twins couldn't manage to get a runner on against lefty David Wells. The 35 year-old had thrown just the 13th perfecto in the history of major league baseball. Perfecto is spanish for Perfect. Minnesota didn't exactly have a team of all-stars in 1998, trotting out players like Brent Gates and, I'm not kidding with this one.. Jon Shave.

It was a depressing time to be a Twins fan. The Yankees were on their way up, helping push the gap between the rich and the poor in baseball. And along came this half drunk, overweight 35-year old with a mustache to completely embarrass the poor team from Minnesota. At the time, this moment was a very big deal.

It's not a big deal anymore.

Before David Wells, there had been only 12 perfectos in modern baseball history. Since then, there have been five.

Indeed, it seems that almost anyone can throw a perfect game these days. Dallas Braden threw one this month. So did Roy Halladay. Jon Sanchez would have pitched one last season except for an error committed by his shortstop. Mark Buehrle got his last year.

Of course, there's poor Armando Galarraga. The Tigers pitcher retired all 27 batters he faced, except the last out he got wasn't ruled an out. He became the victim of the worst regular season call in the history of baseball. Yes, it's the Tigers. But still, it's a black eye for all of baseball. And it would have been a real feather in the Twins cap as it would have further devalued David Wells' accomplishment twelve years ago.

That right David Wells, Minnesotans are no longer embarrassed that you threw a perfect game against the Twins. So there.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Jumping on the complain train

The Twins are on pace to win more than 95 games this season, but that doesn't stop the media and fans from complaining about the team. The high level of interest and big expectations seem to be causing many reactionary worries about the lack of a Jon Rauch out-pitch and Mauer's power outage.

Here's my only baseball-related criticism I have is this: The games on the west coast start too late. As I write this, it's 10:45pm and the Twins-Mariners game is in the 5th inning. I've never understood why they begin their games at 9pm in Seattle, Anaheim and Oakland. Don't those people have jobs they need to wake up for?