Well, there it is. The home nine dropped three of four to Toronto over the weekend, and to hear some Twins fans tell it, you’d think that the sky had fallen. The reality is that this series will likely have very little to do with whether the team can hang on in what is sure to be an ultra-competitive wild card stretch run. (After all, the Twins currently sit a relatively paltry 2½ games behind the White Sox for the wild card lead, with twelve games left to play against the other contenders. They also continue to have the most favorable overall schedule among the teams gunning for the last playoff spot.)
- In what has become one of Intern Sam’s favorite features in the local media, PiPress beat writers Jason Williams and Gordon Wittenmeyer debate the Liriano-less future, and what it portends for Minnesota…
- Even with a nice 3-1 start to their road trip, the Blue Jays are still under a fair amount of scrutiny, thanks to their (understandable) inability to keep pace with the free-spending Yankees and Red Sox, and their (less understandable) inability to keep their clubhouse problems in the clubhouse.
Ever since Shea Hillenbrand was dispatched to San Francisco with extreme prejudice, speculation has been rampant that Jays manager John Gibbons isn’t handling his team well and could lose his job over it sooner rather than later. But Toronto sportswriter Geoff Baker says that it just doesn’t make any sense to make Gibbons take the fall now.
- Apparently, Matt Garza is operating with something less than 20/20 vision, due to his rather ill-advised decision to lean into a high inside paintball shot back in high school. Garza was actually blind in his right eye for nearly a year after the accident, during which time he continued to pitch high school ball. Lens replacement surgery corrected much of the damage, but Garza’s depth perception in the eye is still nearly non-existant. The Twins, by the way, still plan to start Garza this Thursday against Cleveland, and are even considering going with a 13-man pitching staff for the balance of the season.
- Over at City Pages, G.R. Anderson is about ready to admit that he may have been wrong to suggest that the Twins bench Justin Morneau…
- It’s officially time for all baseball fans to begin paying attention to their team’s minor league system. Rosters expand on September 1, and it’s always nice to know who’s earned a call-up, and whose career prospects have taken a dive. (Here’s a hint: Dave Gassner and Glen Perkins, respectively.) It’s also nice to know that Erubiel Durazo is no longer a threat to bring his extended run of offensive mediocrity to the Dome, where we’ve had quite enough of such things lately. For all the news that matters on the minors, Roger over at TwinkieTown has you covered…
- Kevin Costner returned to Dyersville, Iowa this weekend for the first time since filming wrapped on Field of Dreams. As most Midwest baseball fans know, the site and its famous cornfield-ringed ballfield are a major tourist attraction these days.
Costner’s appearance was sponsored by Netflix, and the actor apparently pitched batting practice to a big group of kids, and played a set with his band (yes, Kevin Costner has a band) before settling in to watch the flick with a cozy crowd of 5,000.
The most surreal part of the Field of Dreams movie site has always been the fact that it is actually owned by not one, but two landowners, and they do not like each other even a little bit. Naturally, this came into play during Costner’s visit. “The Lansing family, which owns the farmhouse, right field and most of the infield, elected not to take part in the event. So officials closed off their property, forcing moviegoers to plant their folding chairs in left and center field.” The Lansings also reportedly threatened to have James Earl Jones killed if anyone in the crowd tried to run the bases.
- Finally, Rick Shefcik has a nice roundup of new baseball books to add to your summer reading list – tops on the list may be an outstanding new biography of Roberto Clemente by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Maraniss.