Sunday, April 30, 2006

Links of the Day for 5/1/06

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Has there ever been a weekend this soul-crushing, this hope-draining, this mind-numbingly awful? Three straight days of dark clouds, slow rain, and utter baseball humiliation can suck the life right out of a guy, to the point that, when Intern Sam woke up Sunday morning to discover that all of the cedar planks holding his patio fence together had rotted away at both ends and fallen into the driveway, his first thought was, “Well, of course they did. Planks rot, rain falls, supremely talented first basemen swing at the first pitch and pop it up with men in scoring position, and starting pitchers give up nine earned in less than an hour of work.” It’s hard to stay rational and look for solutions at a time like this, and a quick glance around Twins Territory indicates that most of us aren’t even trying…

  • It’s now official – the Twin Cities sports press has turned on the Twins, with a ferocity I wouldn’t have predicted even a week ago. This morning on KSTP-AM’s Sunday SportsTalk, Pat Reusse and Jim Souhan spent the 11-o’clock hour indiscriminately ripping into nearly every Twins player and coach. (Sorry, there’s no archived audio available online.) Their joint assessment: Torii Hunter is pouting over the loss of Jacque Jones and the rest of the core group from the ’01-’04 seasons and is making no effort to correct his swing or offer leadership in the clubhouse; Brad Radke is ready to retire and doesn’t seem to care where his pitches go anymore; the coaching staff seems completely at a loss as to how to even begin turning things around (Reusse added, probably correctly, that if Tom Kelly were still the manager, Hunter would either be taking better at bats or would be in a platoon situation in center field); and the team as a whole will be lucky to win 75 games this season.

    Hyperbole aside, (and particularly in Radke’s case, the Strib’s twin rays of sunshine almost have to be a bit off base – a pitcher who has been the embodiment of professionalism his whole career suddenly decides to go out in a blaze of indifference? Brad may indeed be cooked, but it’s unlikely that he’s dogging it on purpose,) it’s hard to argue with much of what was said on the show. Meanwhile, there’s no shortage of increasingly desperate suggestions from the fan base…

  • Jason Williams and Gordon Wittenmeyer did another of their conversation columns this weekend, trying to come up with reasons to keep the MetroDome around once the new stadiums are approved. (Yes, we know, we’re jinxing everything. Sorry. We’ll take full responsibility if Zygi Wilf and Larry Pogemiller actually succeed in derailing the ballpark. But they probably won’t.) It’s a short column, because, c’mon. The Dome is a useless heap of concrete and Teflon and the dynamite can’t be placed soon enough, and anyone who says otherwise either hates baseball, or was born after 1980 and has never left Hennepin County.

  • From the Putting It All In Perspective File, former Twins reliever Steve Howe died in an auto wreck late last week, and got what amounted to one final sad shake of the head from the baseball world for his trouble. If Barry Bonds is the poster boy for everything that went wrong with baseball in the 1990s, Howe (along with Dwight Gooden) represents the cocaine-soaked roller coaster that was major league life for all too many players in the 1980s. Howe could have been one of the best relief pitchers of his generation, and all too briefly, he was. But it didn’t last, and Howe became just one more cautionary tale coaches could use to remind rookies that life has consequences.

  • On the plus side of baseball life in the Twin Cities, the first St. Paul Saints preseason game is this Thursday. Forgotten about them, had you? Mike Veeck’s team may have lost some of its considerable luster over the past few seasons – an increase in annoying commercial tie-ins, the Twins’ three-year run of playoff baseball, several controversial league changes, and the loss of legendary PA announcer Eric Webster all contributed to a sense that the Saints weren’t as “special” as they had once been – but a night at Midway Stadium is still one of the best bargains in town, and contrary to what you might read elsewhere, the baseball isn’t half bad. Oh, and if you think the diehard Saints fans (and yes, there are plenty) aren’t a bit worried about what a new Twins ballpark might mean to them, you’ve got another think coming…

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