Friday, June 17, 2011

Twins Tweets

Once upon a time, there was a site called that blogged every damn weekday. And along with a more lengthy column, that site used to regularly feature an area called Twins Takes, that spewed out shorter observations about the previous day’s Twins games.

Then came Twitter.

It’s not entirely accurate that Twitter has caused me to post less. I posted less before Twitter, but it has absolutely turned into a channel for my Twins Takes. And Twins Takes was often a starting point for a lot of longer takes that turned into columns. Combine that with three independent businesses and a couple of increasingly independent children, and I’m down to once per week.

(Eight years – that’s all I ask. I promise I’ll be writing someplace everyday about this team in eight more years. That’s when everyone goes away to college.)

In the meantime, there are the tweets.

I know they’re only 140 characters, and truthfully, they aren’t the most fun 140 characters to write. So let’s expand a little bit on some of the tweets from yesterday’s win over the White Sox.

9:45 AM - 80 degrees, sunny & a weekday #Twins game. After waiting for this for 27 years, this will NEVER get old.

I wasn’t just waiting 27 years for a gorgeous outdoor baseball game in Minneapolis, I was waiting 27 years for Minneapolis to be a baseball city, as opposed to a football city. I’m not sure the switch has happened – sports radio will tell you it hasn’t yet – but it’s trending that way. And yesterday was a perfect example.

Before the game, we sat in Smalley’s Alley and talked with a stranger about the Phillies rotation. Then we sat in our seats and talked with friends about how “Mr. Dinkelman” is what some crazy lady would name her cat. And afterwards we sat at Kieran’s talking about whether we would root for Detroit or Cleveland to win.

These are baseball conversations in a baseball city. I don’t get a baseball city very often, but I did yesterday, and I’m getting it more and more often. I like that.

11:35 - @TomPelissero @PMac21 Any guess who Perkins will replace? Please tell me it isn't James.

The Twins need bullpen help, and have since…well, further back than the beginning of the season. Meanwhile, in Rochester, Chuck James was putting up OBSCENE numbers: 37 K in 28.1 innings, giving up just 18 hits and 9 walks and a 1.57 ERA. But other guys kept getting called up. Finally, it was his turn.

I can understand the club’s hesitation. James doesn’t have outstanding “stuff,” but he’s been incredibly effective in AAA and he carried that forward into his time with the Twins. In seven games, he pitched five innings, gave up only ONE hit, walked two, and gave up no runs. And sure enough he was the guy sent down yesterday.

I haven’t looked through the guys and their options situation, so maybe he was the obvious choice for those reasons. But regardless, it sucks. I literally can’t think of anything more he could do to show he belongs on this roster. But that’s not what bums me out most about this move.

We would like to think otherwise, but a competitive team in major league baseball doesn’t have that many opportunities for players to compete in a true meritocracy. There is too much history, too much pressure, and too few opportunities. The Twins bullpen this year has mostly been the exception to that rule. I can’t believe this team doesn’t need Chuck James, no matter with which hand he’s throwing. I’m bummed because I thought I was seeing a meritocracy, and now I’m not sure.

1:10 PM - AJ being AJ (A Jackass). Sliding into 2b to take out Nishioka when it isn't a DP situation.

I got a little flak from some folks over this tweet, and I’ll withdraw it if the replay proves me wrong. But here is what I saw from up the right field line.

There are two outs and AJ Pierzynski is on first base. Alex Rios hits a slow ground ball that Nishioka fields and steps on second base for the third out. AJ Pierzynski, as if the double-play was possible, slides hard into second base to take out Nishioka, who hops over him and then tosses the ball to the pitcher’s mound.

If the double-play was possible, that might have been an aggressive, but clean, slide. But the double-play wasn’t possible. The moment Nishioka stepped on that bag, AJ was out. So either AJ had a brain cramp and forgot there were two outs, or it was a bush league play.

2:20 PM - I find our new DP combo adorable.

I’m not crazy about Nishioka, and haven’t been since I saw him play. In the short-term, he looks overmatched. In the long-term, I’m more hopeful, as he’s just 26.

But I gotta say, I enjoyed watching him and Alexi Casilla in the middle infield today. They weren’t perfect. Nishi had an bumbling error. The two of them clearly need to work on their timing on double-plays, too. But they are both fired up, both on their toes, wear their emotions on their sleaves and they looked like they feed of each other’s enthusiasm a bit. It was fun to watch them. And that gives me some hope.

(Now stick Nishi in the nine spot and let him get his legs under him.)