Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Opening Night

What do you do on Opening Night? Watch baseball. AND talk baseball with a gathering of 30 to 40 Twins fans, which Bat Girl was kind enough to host at the Park Tavern in St. Louis Park. The game was, well, kinda disappointing really. I mean, you don’t make us wait 186 days for a baseball game and then make us watch a loss, do you? Do you?!?

But it was great fun nonetheless, primarily because it gave us a chance to talk baseball and then to talk some more baseball. In case you missed it, here were the top nine topics.

9. Juan Rincon – You can criticize Gardenhire, and god knows I have, but he does know how to handle a bullpen*. He found exactly the right time to bring in a reliever who needs to regain some confidence after coming back from an arm injury. He got him involved early in the season. He didn’t throw him right into the fire. It was a nice move, and Rincon’s 1.1 scoreless innings were a great building block.

Incidentally, on my way home, Rick Anderson revealed something interesting about the Rincon stint. He said that while Rincon was pitching, Anderson went into the clubhouse to watch it on TV. It’s not a mystery why. Anderson wanted to get a better feel for Rincon’s location and speed. It’s not often you hear a coach admit that we have a better view on our living room sofa (or Park Tavern bar stool) than they have from the dugout.

*Unless it’s the 12th inning in Game 2 of the ALDS in Yankee Stadium. Then he chokes.

8. The Boy™ – I still think the Twins might want to investigate replacing Wayne Krivsky with The Boy™ as a lead contract negotiator. This morning The Voice of Reason™ found herself saying to a six-year-old, “No. Thin Mints are NOT breakfast food.”

Nice work, son. When you’ve reached the point where you’re pressing for a concession that Girl Scout Cookies are the start of a nutritious breakfast, you’ve already won. Eat your heart out, Scott Boras.

7. Chili Davis –I have nothing to back this up, but Rondell White is going to have a monster year. He’s so reminiscent of Chili Davis, that it’s a bit eerie. While discussing this topic, Bat Girl’s close personal friend draws a sharp breath and admits that all she needs in life is another Chili Davis. Her husband is, mercifully, not around to hear this.

6. Jesse Crain gives up the long ball, ruining a potential Twins comeback. I’ve been in denial all offseason about his lack of strikeouts last year. I don’t see any reason to stop now. So stop talking. Go away. La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la…..

5. The Chatty Chatty Princess™ – She big timed me last night and didn’t want to come to the party. Seems she’s getting too old for this silliness. I’m blaming it on this book she’s reading about this girl that gains confidence and stuff by resolving the problems of Greek gods. Stupid self-esteem. Someone’s going to pay for that.

4. Tony Batista – First, Batista hits his first homerun as a Twin. As soon as it goes out, everyone looks at Aaron. Aaron, meanwhile, looks around in the vain hope that nobody saw it. Heh, heh. Frightwig’s table and I decide we all need to leave some choice comments on Aaron’s site tonight. Good times.

3. Jason Bartlett – He’s not on the field. He’s not in the stadium. And yet that’s all anyone wanted to talk to me about. What’s the deal with Bartlett? Why didn’t they keep Bartlett? What’s going on?

You got me, but I’m not buying the leadership thing. For weeks, I wondered if there was something going on that we can’t know about – like they don’t like the way he’s conducting himself off the field, or in the clubhouse, or something. But that just doesn’t jive with everything I’ve heard about him, and everyone tonight was equally baffled.

Then Twins Talker gave us the rumor du jour, which is that the Twins wanted him to play winter ball, but he refused, and this is their way of sending him a message. That seems petty and small, but it would make sense with the code language that Gardenhire uses when talking about demoting him.

So the answer is that I don’t know, and Twins Talker doesn’t know, and I’m not entirely sure that the Twins really know. But we sure are talking about it a lot.

2. Opening Day – I found a new reason to continue my quest to make Opening Day an official holiday – because then people give you presents. TVOR came through big time with a small $.99 packet of pistachios. They should be to Opening Day what chocolate bunnies are to Easter.

1. Johan Santana - My guess is you’re going to read a lot of quotes today about how teams are going to struggle when they face Roy Halladay. That’s true, but the Twins scored three times tonight off of Halladay and had their own Cy Young candidate on the mound. The Twins didn’t lose tonight because of their offense. They lost because Santana left a slider up against Overbay and a change-up up against Molina. They lost because Santana made mistakes.

That isn’t totally unheard of for Santana early in the season. And it doesn’t mean a thing in the larger scheme of things. But don’t assume that last year’s story line was last night’s story line. It wasn’t.

Still, a nice night, and not a bad start to a new season. It’s good to be back. It is really, really good to be back.


Nick N. said...

I have nothing to back this up, but Rondell White is going to have a monster year.

Here's how you can back it up: White has a line of .301/.387/.501 with RISP in the past three years and he's hitting behind three guys who have historically been OBP machines.

The middle of the Twins' lineup was disappointing last night, but Halladay is my pick for AL Cy Young. Here's hoping they will fare better against Towers.

-p. said...

Oddly enough, I was in Cincinnati this past week, enjoying the clouds and the chili drenched spaghetti (it exists), when I dragged my wife to the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. Which is wonderful.

I might also add that if the Twins get their stadium they might want to consider making their own Hall of Fame, modeled after this one. But they won't.

Anyway, to drag this back to my point and the connection to your article, I didn't realize that the Queen City of Cincinnati considers Opening Day to be a holiday. There are raucous parades and people skip work and the whole town goes batty. I've never heard of another town going so ballistic for the beginning of the season as this.

dlarso01 said...

-p. Most of StL skips work for day games in the middle of the season, let alone Opening Day. I'm a fish out of water being a Twins fan in StL area, but I have to admire the Cards fans. And they know how to build a new stadium...

beach64 said...

Ah I remember opening day when I lived in a major league town. It was quite common for about 100 kids to have a dentist appointment opening day. The line would stretch through the halls to the principal's amazement. It was also common for the vice principal to be filling in that day since the real principal was at his own dentist appointment. Ah the memories.