Baseball Notes: Mailbag, Managers on the Hot Seat & DFTU

Hello again everybody...

Welcome to the end of another work week. Minnesota's finally scheduled to have a spring-like weekend. And that has me in a pretty cheery mood. That may change once I write the DFTU mind you. But for now? It's all smiles.

So today I'm introducing a new segment suggested to me by one of my loyal readers: The Sports Take Mailbag. Then I'll continue my baseball evaluation now that we're basically 1/3 of the way through the season by listing the 5 managers I feel are most on the hot seat. Finally it's the end-of-the-week version of the DFTU.

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Off we go...

It was suggested to me earlier in the week that I should begin writing a "Mailbag" segment. This gives you, my dear readers, the opportunity to send in a question or comment that you'd like to see me respond to. For reference, see two of my favorite authors: Bill Simmons and the end of Norman Chad's column.

Now I can't afford to send out the $1.25 every week like Norm, but hopefully the satisfaction of seeing your wit and witticisms in the blog each week will inspire you to send in your most clever queries. So if you look down the right side of the blog, just below my profile, I've posted my email address (replete with hyperlink for those of you who actually use Outlook)for you. So start composing your questions now. I'll pick one each week to print and respond to.

To whit, this week's Sports Take Mailbag question is:

Dan- With the rising prices of food, can you still afford the kool aid that is necessary to root for the Badgers, Twins, Wild, AND Steelers?

Josh in Shoreview

Good question Josh. First let me correct you on one thing. At various times in my life, I've rooted for the Vikings, Packers (sorry Wisconsinites, I'm over that one) and the Steelers. But the truth is at this stage of my life I don't feel any strong ties to any of them.

One of the unfortunate side-effects of Fantasy Football for me has been the dissolution of any allegiance to a particular team. For the past few years I've been conditioned to root for players, not teams. For instance, the historian in me wanted to see the Patriots win the Super Bowl last year to complete their perfect season. But I was also happy to see the Giants win because Eli Manning was my starting Fantasy Quarterback last year. A bit twisted? Probably. But that's where I'm at.

So let's strike the Steelers from Josh's list.

So the question then becomes, can I afford the "kool-aid" required to root for the Badgers, Twins and Wild? The answer is yes, but just barely.

The Badgers at this point don't require a whole lot of kool aid. The football team has been to a bowl game in 9 out of the last 10 years, including back to back Big Ten Championships and Rose Bowl victories in 1999 and 2000.

Meanwhile the basketball team has been to the NCAA Tournament for 10 years running, gaining berths into 4 Sweet Sixteens, 2 Elite Eights and 1 Final Four. During that same period they've amassed 3 Big Ten Championships as well as 2 Big Ten Tournament Championships.

And don't forget the Hockey team's 7 NCAA appearances in the last 10 years including 2 Frozen Fours and a National Championship in 2006.

Not hard to root for a school with that track record.

The Twins and the Wild have required a little more blind faith. The Twins have made playoff appearances 4 times in the last 10 years and the Wild only twice. The Twins last World Championship came in 1991. And the Wild have only made it as far as the Western Conference Finals.

But it could be a lot worse. I could be a Buffalo fan. Or a San Diego Fan. Or even a Kansas City fan! So even though I'll admit to there being some kool-aid required, I'll be okay. Thanks for asking!

That's it for this week's Mailbag. Remember to get those questions in to: early and often!

Next it's time to break down which managers might want to dust off those resumes. You know, just in case!

Here are the 5 most unsettled managerial situations in the league.

1. New York Mets - I'll be shocked if Willie Randolph lasts the year. It's one thing to have big payrolls and bad results in Detroit and Seattle, but if you do it in New York, somebody's going to get fired. I don't think it's all Willie's fault. But when he made those comments about racism being involved with media coverage of himself and other black coaches in New York, he lost whatever cushion he had with ownership. Odds he'll be fired: even money.

2. Seattle Mariners - This will probably be one of those situations where everybody gets blown out. Manager Jon McLaren will almost certainly lose his job at some point. And General Manager Bill Bavasi won't be far behind him. This team will need a near complete overhaul and that's usually preceded by bringing in new management. Odds he'll be fired: 3-1

3. San Diego Padres - The transition from pitching coach to manager has failed plenty in Major League history. But Bud Black was supposed to be the kind of guy who could pull it off. So far? Not so much. In this case, ownership hasn't committed a bunch of money to payroll, so it's hard to put it all on Black's shoulders. But when you go from losing a play-in game for last year's playoffs to one of the worst records in the bigs this year, that generally spells trouble for a manager. Odds he'll be fired: 5-1.

4. Milwaukee Brewers - Come on Crew fans. You knew this was coming! Expectations were high in Milwaukee going into this season. So far they have not been met. When that happens there's going to be heat, and in this case much of it has been falling on manager Ned Yost. Personally, I don't think much of this disappointing opening is Yost's fault. Their pitching staff has been riddled with injuries (Gallardo and Capuano gone for the year, Ben Sheets being Ben Sheets), and nobody can blame Yost for the signing of Eric Gagne to that ridiculous contract. The line-up has been a huge disappointment as well, and that can be more directly linked to Yost. Though to be honest, who is he supposed to run out there? It's not like the Brewers farm system is teeming with talent ready to step in and contribute to their line-up. Odds he'll be fired: 7-1.

5. New York Yankees - Yes, the Yankees are in last place in the NL East. But they're only 2 games below .500 and given the injuries they've dealt with over this first 1/3 of the season, there's every reason to think they'll get back into the race sooner than later. So why should manager Joe Girardi be concerned? Because Hank Steinbrenner is doing an frighteningly good impression of his dad George. Hank's already got the "popping off in the media" bit down pat. Can the "firing managers like it's going out of style" bit be far behind? Not far enough for Joe's comfort for sure! Odds he'll be fired: 9-1

Finally it's time for everybody's favorite segment: "Dan's Favorite Teams Update"!

Minnesota Twins: The Twins are 28-25, in second place in the AL Central, 2 games behind the Chicago White Sox.

If you didn't catch the Twins game Wednesday night, you missed an important baseball lesson. The Twins trailed the Royals 8-3 with two outs in the ninth inning, and scored 5 runs to tie the game before the Kansas City pitcher was able to record the third out. Justin Morneau proceeded to launch the first pitch of the top of the 10th into orbit for the go-ahead, and ultimately game-winning, run.

The lesson is this. Never leave early. There's no clock in baseball. Nobody's won a game til they've recorded 27 outs. 26 isn't going to cut it. Sure 99 times out of 100 a team with a 5 run lead and 2 outs in the ninth is going to win. But if you leave early, you're going to miss that one time that they don't, and you'll regret it!

This weekend's an exciting one as the New York Yankees come to town for a 4-game set with the Twins. I'm tempted to remind you that the last time a beast from the east came to town for 4 games, the Red Sox (whom I hate) left having lost 3 of 4. Is that what's in store for the Bombers? We shall see!

After the Yankees, the Twins host the Orioles for three before heading to Chicago to face the division leading White Sox.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Arizona's 30-24, in first place in the NL Central and 3.5 games ahead of the L.A. Dodgers.

The Snakes are scuffling! They're 2-8 in their last ten games and coming off a sweep at the hands of the lowly San Francisco Giants. The freaking Giants for chrissakes?! I'll give the D'backs a pass on Game 1 of the series when they faced Tim Lincecum. That kid's the real deal and has frustrated a lot of teams. But I can't excuse the second two losses, especially last night's debacle which cost Randy Johnson a well-deserved win.

The one plus last night was Unit tying Roger Clemens for 2nd place on the career strikeouts list. Randy's 9 K's last night gave him 4,672 strikeouts for his career. What's interesting about this achievement is that this is the second time that Johnson has reached 2nd place on that list. Clemens passed Randy on the career strikeout list last year while Johnson was on the DL with his back trouble. So perhaps it's even more impressive that Unit came back from the injuries to reclaim his rightful place as the second-best strikeout artist in MLB history.

In case you were wondering, Nolan Ryan holds the career record with 5714. I don't know if anybody will be able to touch that number, but it certainly won't be Randy or Roger.

Arizona remains at Chase Field for 3 games against Washington. Usually I'd say something snarky about a gift from the scheduling-gods, but the way the D'backs are rolling right now, I assume nothing. After the series with the Nationals, the Snakes travel to Milwaukee for 3. That's right Crew fans... we're coming!!!!!

That's all for today folks. Enjoy your weekend and I'll be back on Monday!

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