Sunday, April 16, 2006

Links of the Day for 4/17/06

powered by Intern Sam

  • Hockey fans in this state have gotten used to the reaction of the Canadian press every time the Wild manage to beat a team from Up North – it runs something along the lines of “that’s not hockey, the trap should be banned, Lemaire has ruined the sport, they’re so boring that our team was lulled to sleep, waaaaaaahhh.” Standard stuff at this point, and it’s no coincidence that the whining always comes loudest from Vancouver, where the Canucks seem to have frequent trouble with The Cult Of Jacques.

    So why bring up that particular bunch of sour grapes on a baseball site, on a weekend in which the Twins finally earned a measure of respect from the mighty Yankee empire? Well, because of this. And this. Annnnnnd this. That, kids, is what you call a New York hat trick – all three tabloids whining in unison about not getting the calls. And lest you think this was a one-night bitch session, here’s how the NYC papers covered Friday’s Twin win.

    Yup, you read it here first – Ed Montague is a one-man Yankee-wrecking crew, and he’s clearly either blind, retarded, or on the Minnesota payroll. Returning to reality: were some of Montague’s calls questionable this weekend? Sure, particularly the Castillo no-swing in the 9th inning on Saturday. But if the New York beat writers were actually interested in umpire quality (rather than in endlessly whacking beehives with sticks, which tends to be what passes for sports journalism in Gotham) they would also have noted that Jerry Layne’s bizarrely shaped and wildly inconsistent strike zone almost cost the Twins their ninth-inning comeback, that Posada’s tag of Morneau on Saturday was as phantom-like as Mauer’s tag of Posada on Friday, and that there is no team that benefits more from “superstar” calls than the Bombers.

  • Having grown up in small-town Pennsylvania (well within range of radio signals from both Philly and New York,) Intern Sam is all too familiar with the demented ravings of Yankees radio voice John Sterling. You know Sterling – he’s the bleating cementhead behind “Annnnd the Yankees win! THUH-UH-UH-UH-UH-UH-UH-UH Yankees winnnn!” He does this every time they win. And they win a lot.

    Intern Sam spent his childhood assuming that New Yorkers must like this sort of foolishness, but this was before he moved to Minnesota and was informed that John Gordon had somehow managed to hold down a play-by-play job here for the better part of two decades despite the fact that nobody likes him and he can’t pronounce the word “Ibanez.” Anyway, it turns out that Sterling is regarded with some disdain in the Big Apple, and one of the Post’s veteran snipers laid into him this weekend for a couple of blown calls in the Twins series.

  • The PiPress’s baseball writers had an interesting conversation about MLB’s George Mitchell-led investigation into steroid use by Barry Bon… um, we mean, by any number of major leaguers who may or may not be threatening to break a beloved home run record. Jason Williams and Gordon Wittenmeyer agree that there isn’t much of a chance that the players are about to start ratting each other out to Mitchell, but GW believes that “anything that keeps the hammer down on this issue is important right now.” He may be right, but with Friday’s revelation that a second grand jury is now hearing evidence that Bonds perjured himself during the BALCO investigation, we tend to agree with Will Leitch over at Deadspin, who fears that “we’re really starting to veer dangerously toward ‘We Will Take Him Down At Any Cost’ territory.”

  • Lost in the tumult surrounding Saturday’s dramatic comeback win was the increasingly damaging presence of Rondell White in the cleanup spot. In case you missed the game, Joe Mauer had the bat taken out of his hands twice in key situations, because Joe Torre (who is a fairly observant guy) knew he had the equivalent of the pitcher’s spot in the order due up next. White obliged Torre with a routine fly-out to center, and an awful-looking strikeout. (He also looked helpless with men on second and third and nobody out in the bottom of the ninth, when merely putting the ball in play would likely have tied the game.)

    Despite White’s total ineptitude at the plate, Gardenhire has trotted him out in the cleanup spot for all twelve games the Twins have played, and in Sunday’s blowout loss (in which White went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts,) the crowd began to turn on him early. The booing reached a cascade by White's final at-bat, which is probably a good thing, simply because it puts pressure on Gardenhire to do something, anything, to alleviate the problem. There’s plenty of statistical evidence saying that batting orders don’t matter, but the simple fact is that White is now so bad that he’s costing Joe Mauer at-bats, and that cannot be allowed to continue if the Twins’ want their newfound offensive prowess to last. There might not be a need to bench him completely, but there is no longer any justification for putting his termite-infested bat anywhere but the bottom of the order. (Nope, there wasn’t a link anywhere in that rant. We’re just sayin’...)

  • Seth Stohs has the latest on the status of the Twins’ ballpark proposal – the next hurdle is the House Tax Committee, chaired by the Shoreview Republican known around the Capitol as “Dr. No,” and as you might expect, the good doctor has a crafty plan rather transparently designed to highlight public opposition to the Hennepin County sales tax. The Twins are pleading for fan support to counter the Krinkie offensive.

  • Finally, continuing our series of links to local sports columnists who dazzle us with the blindingly obvious before pounding us over the head with brazen leaps of logic, ol’ Sid has been doing some thinking, and has come to the considered conclusion that Joe Torre is a pretty good baseball manager, and that most of his success is due to the endless patience and unwavering support of Sid’s close personal friend, George Steinbrenner. We’d like to share our favorite sentence of the column, but we just can’t decide between the simply preposterous (“I don't know of anybody more loyal than one Mr. Steinbrenner”) and the grammatically impenetrable (“To nobody's knowledge, [Torre] hasn't received a brain implant since he joined the Yankees, and he was just as smart a baseball manager then as he is now,”) so we’ll just leave y’all to sort through the swamp of Hartman’s prose on your own time. Have a good week…


Anonymous said...

Well I dont think the fans were booing to send Gardy a message...the guy is struggling, I never thought I would meet a Minnesotan who would twist the knife like that. Pretty crappy fan behavior if you ask me.

AdamOnFirst said...

Yankees fans are a bunch of spoiled whiners. After the Friday night win (which I attended), I had the followign coversation with a Yankees fan (and I quote directly).

Me: Hey, we took care of you guys tonight.

Yankees Fan: Yeah, well, they played a night game last night so they didn't get in 'till three in the morning.

Me: We've got Santana and Radke coming up now too.

Yankees Fan: They're not very good.

'Nuff said about that.

As for White, I don't thik he needs to be benched. I would be strongly agains thim being benched. He is cetainly struggling, but his track record is very clear; he is a good hitter. Early in the season, h ewas looking good and hitting the ball VERY hard. He knows how to lay off the sucker pitches. Now, he is pressing BIG TIME. He could be benched for like two days just to try and get his head in gear. If he keeps struggling, Gardy could bust out his memories of Koskie and say something inducing an extreme desire to destroy a chair.

In the end, I'm not worried about White. In fact, I find it a bit optomistic since or offense is going along pretty good right now and our shiny new cleanup DH isn't doing anything. He'll help a ton when he busts out, and that will balance out the loss of batista and Castro coming back to earth/their-actual-ability-and-history.

Just wait, White will come around, but it does suck that he is doing so (sucking) right now. The fans can boo him if they want, I don't really care. Frankly, it may motivate him. I can't wait until he busts out and we can really embrace him.

Intern Sam said...

Despite my formative years in the Philadelphia area, I am not generally fond of indiscriminately booing players on my own team. However, White is not only struggling, he is taking mindless at-bats in crucial situations and digging himself and his team deeper in the hole with every plate appearance. Over the past six games of this homestand, he has single-handedly stranded an astonishing 22 baserunners, and has consistently swung at pitches so far out of the strike zone as to make one wonder if he might be closing his eyes and using the Force. The fact that the team has continued to win despite these facts is a nice salve, but unless you actually believe that no baseball player should ever be booed, I challenge you to name a situation more deserving of it. White is a veteran player, not some star-struck rookie, and he was brought in for one reason: his bat. I hope to the heavens above that he gets himself together, and soon, but as long as he continues to occupy the cleanup spot and hit under .100, I don't think you can fault fans for being a bit vocal about it.

Anonymous said...

White's struggles are no secret, but booing a player 12 games in just shows ignorance

AdamOnFirst said...

I really don't have the angrey reaction many of you do to the booing. I don't think the fans are partcularily unjustified booing him. He was supposed to come in and be our big cleanup DH. He is sucking right now.

At the same time, I remain fully confident he will work it out and we will love him very soon.

Intern Thomas said...

I was saving this for tomorrow, but your rant on Rondell was perfect, so I'll post it here--from Fire Joe Morgan :

Gotta love their headline.

AdamOnFirst said...

Gardenfire is one of the worst tactical managers around, but this isn't why.

SBG said...

It's amazing that the Grand Jury that is or isn't convened in SF is such big news. Oh wait, it might be negative news about Barry Bonds. Run with it!

It's going to be very tough to convict Bonds of perjury. Not only to they have to prove that he lied, but that he lied about a material fact. If he lied about his own steroid use, that may not be a material fact in the investigation, which was about BALCO. As far as we know, he DID say he used topical cremes supplied by BALCO. That is a material fact, and apparently, he did not lie. Whether or not he knew that they were steroids is probably not material. And if he was buying horse steroids from a guy in the alley, well, that's just not material to the purpose of the Grand Jury.

Intern Sam said...

Agreed, SBG. This kind of legal overkill when it comes to baseball is the reason I made sure to link to Will Leitch's take. Leitch has been very hard on Bonds over the years, but like you (and me,) believes that the perjury charge is verging on the ridiculous. It's interesting that, despite the cultural dominance of the NFL, baseball is still the only sport that inspires U.S. politicians to intervene whenever they feel the public is being somehow taken advantage of. (Interesting parallel here to the court charges brought against Todd Bertuzzi and Marty McSorley in Canada after committing what some pols deemed assault during a hockey game.) Something about having a "national" sport seems to make legislators overreach...