Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Hurting

What hurts most is that this series could've been won. Instead, it was lost.

All of the lopsided differences, all the salaries, all the statistics, all the intangibles - all of it could have meant nothing. This could have been a reminder of how little we know, of the wonder that can be contained in a single game, of how inequalities can be overcome.

When I see a matchup like this last series, I think of an interview I conducted with Terry Ryan five or so years ago. I was quantifying some players and at some point, he felt the need to point out "The game is a GAME." He wasn't trying to emphasize that it was unimportant. He was pointing out that there are a million different ways to win a game. Some play it one way, and some play it a different way.

The Twins tried to play this series by leaning heavily on their pitching and stringing together hits. They did so because they just didn't have enough power to do it any other way. Joe Mauer was being pitched around, Justin Morneau was out (as was Joe Crede), and Jason Kubel might as well have been blindfolded.

They also, by the way, didn't have the speed, or at least don't know how to use it. Denard Span and Nick Punto were both decent threats, and Orlando Cabrera showed he can still guile his way around the bases a bit, but that's where it ends. One could argue that Carlos Gomez should've been in the lineup more, but anyone stating that needs to be sentenced to actually watching Gomez.

Gomez, of course, was responsible for a couple of miscues over the weekend, as were several other Twins. Any number of things could have gone a little differently - umpire calls, baserunning blunders, laughable at-bats and (maybe above all) reliever implosions. If any number of them goes some other way, everything is different.

That's the problem with playing the way the Twins were forced to play this series - there is so little margin for error. Those rallies and innings that you're trying to chain together are only as strong as the weakest link. And yet, two of the three games were there for the taking, like an umpire sitting ten feet from a fair ball. They were RIGHT THERE. Sometimes several times.

That's what hurts the most. Not that the Twins were a better team. I think by almost any objective measure, they weren't. But they still could have won this damn thing. Instead, they lost it.

I've got a whole list of things to talk about this offseason. For those Phils fans out there who are hoping this site will once again become the Phils Geek site, I think you'll be disappointed, though The Voice of Reason™ and I will certainly be watching those games. But I just anticipate too much Twins stuff to talk about this offseason.

Don't believe me? Well, you can start with 137 pages of offseason analysis, if you like. That's how long the new TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook is, and you can download it now at I'll talk more about it tomorrow when we officially release it and dive into the offseason, but if you can't wait to turn the page (and who could possibly blame you?) click on over there and check it out.


Twayn said...

It was still a fun season with two very different endings -- an exuberant and unlikely one to the regular season, and a depressing but predictable one to the postseason. Thanks once again for all the time and effort you put into sharing it with us.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it amazing how the Twins stray so far from "Twins Baseball" when they get to the postseason? It's not a new trend, and not just with the Yankees. Yes, it goes back to Juan Rincon's implosion against Ruben Sierra in 2004, which was preceded by yet another blown save from the inimitable Joe Nathan. But do we also remember two huge gaffes from Torii Hunter, the last being Mark Kotsay's inside the park HR in 2006? How about the popup that started the 2002 ALDS (and subsequent eight year run including five division titles) that Radke and Mientkiewicz watched fall between them?

And now we have unconscionable baserunning blunders from Gomez and Punto. Two plays where the runners should have run to the base and stood on it while the play happened around them. We also have Joe Nathan imploding yet again against his home town Yankees -- and throwing a ball into CF to boot.

We love to talk about Twins baseball -- doing things the right way, productive outs, solid defense, etc., etc. We saw it as recently as last Tuesday night -- but then it disappeared into the abyss of playoff baseball once again.


David Wintheiser said...

In the interest of fairness, I am compelled to comment on this new TwinsCentric product.

When the trade deadline guide was announced earlier in the year, I noted the seemingly short shelf-life of the product (just a few weeks until the non-waiver deadline, then another month until the waiver deadline). Had it been offered inexpensively, I'd probably have bought it anyway, but a $10 price tag seemed too much to stomach.

The offseason GM's guide, on the other hand, has twice as many pages (and from TG and company, I'm confident that translates to twice as much goodness), will keep you company during the entire off-season, and still costs just $10.

I am so there. As soon as I get my next paycheck, anyway.

Well done, sir.

shannon said...

Just a thought on the Twins v. Yanks... From listening to Gardy's post game comments that he holds the Yankees in such a high regard that the players end up playing like they are in extra innings trying to hit a 5 run HR from the first at bat. Like Terry Ryan said it's just a game and if you are good enough to be on that field then you are good enough to win. I was at 162, 163 and 166 and the team that played with such abandon against teams they though they could play with, played like they didn't belong on the field with the Yanks. Thats the whole thing in a nutshell.