Monday

Pair of Important Series & ST Mailbag


Hello again everybody...

Well the bad news is the IMAX screening of The Dark Knight that I was set to attend sold out before I got there. The good news is, I saw it again anyway on a larger-than-usual screen so it wasn't a total loss.

The film was just as brilliant the second time and I appreciated Heath Ledger's performance even more the second time around. I don't want to beat a dead horse, but I don't usually gush about movies. This one's worth it and then some!

Right... Moving on...

Today I'll run down the match-ups for a couple of very important series in the world of baseball. Then it's this week's Sports Take Mailbag question. Speaking of which, the mailbag's getting a little light, so I encourage you all to submit your questions to: dcook93@yahoo.com. Remember, there are no dumb questions, just dumb ways to handle your unretirement!

People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news.
- A.J. Liebling, American journalist


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Tonight marks the opening games of 2 significant 4-game series. The Twins host the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox while the Brewers host the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs. The Twins and the Brewers are both well within striking-distance for the division lead. 3 out of 4 for the Crew would land them in the division lead. The Twins would need a sweep to wrest the AL Central lead away from the Pale Hose.

Here are the pitching match-ups for the Twins/White Sox series:

Monday: CHW Mark Buehrle 8-8, 3.56 vs. MIN Kevin Slowey 6-7, 4.41

Tuesday: CHW Clayton Richard 0-0, 9.00 vs. MIN Glen Perkins 7-3, 4.08

Wednesday: CHW Gavin Floyd 10-6, 3.57 vs. MIN Livan Hernandez 10-7, 5.31

Thursday: CHW John Danks 8-4, 3.18 vs. MIN Scott Baker 7-3, 3.38

And here are the match-ups for the Brewers/Cubs series:

Monday: CHC Ted Lilly 10-6, 4.49 vs. MIL CC Sabathia 4-0, 1.36

Tuesday: CHC Carlos Zambrano 11-4, 2.96 vs. MIL Ben Sheets 10-3, 2.87

Wednesday: CHC Ryan Dempster 11-4, 2.99 vs. MIL Manny Para 9-3, 3.72

Thursday: CHC Rich Harden 0-1, 1.04 vs. MIL Dave Bush 5-8, 4.51

The game that leaps off the page is obviously Tuesday's match-up of Zambrano and Sheets. But both series feature the clubs' best pitchers, so it should be a pretty true test of which are the better teams at this point in the season.

I debated about making picks, because I don't want to put a whammy or reverse-whammy on anybody heading into perhaps the most important series for these clubs so far this year.

Then I figured, ah, the hell with it. I'm making them anyway!

The Twins rebounded fairly nicely from the good ol' fashioned country ass-whippin they took in New York by taking 2 out of 3 on the road in Cleveland. So there's some momentum heading into this crucial series with the White Sox. Mark Buehrle has had varying levels of success against the Twins over the last few years, but he's left-handed and lefties have managed to stymie Minnesota this year. Clayton Richard is making only his second start of the season, but that means there's not much of a book on him, so Twins hitters will be going up there without much of an idea of what kind of stuff the kid has.

Bottom line, this series has split written all over it. I'd adore seeing the Twins take 3 of 4 here, but if I have to make a call, I'd say 2-2 and the standings remain the same come Thursday night.

As for the Brewers, after sweeping the Cardinals, the Crew might have been looking past the Astros over the weekend, while looking forward to the Cubs series. The result was losing 2 of 3 versus Houston. But the Brewers do start the series with their 1 and 2-pitchers, so the opportunity to get off to a strong start is there. I know some of my friends in Wisconsin will cringe when I say this, but I like the Brewers to win at least 3 here. The match-ups are certainly in their favor. If the offense can keep rolling, they have a chance to make a real statement in this series.
Sorry, Crew fans. I know you'll kill me if the Cubs work you over in this series. But at least you know I'm strong enough to take it!

Next up, it's time for the Sports Take Mailbag! This week's question comes from Craig in Burnsville, MN:

Now that Kevin Garnett has won an NBA title do you think the Twin Cities will hold a parade for him much like the City of Boston did for Ray Bourque after he won a Stanley Cup in Colorado?

Obviously I got this question a while ago, but other questions were of a more timely nature, so this one got shoved back a little bit.

Small-picture, the answer is no. Kevin was extremely popular in Minnesota. But he was also extremely private and wasn't nearly as integrated and associated with the community as Ray Borque was in Boston. So I don't think the Timberwolves fan base would be motivated to give him anything more than the standing ovation he got when the Celtics came to Minnesota earlier this year.

But I think the big-picture question here is, what does a fan base owe a star athlete after they've left for greener pastures? (if you'll pardon the pun... Boston? Green? Get it? Damn you Lon!)

I think the answer is: nothing. Professional athletes are extremely well paid for what they do. And as long as a fan base is willing to shell out the money they do to watch them, the athletes deserve the money they get. But once they leave, whether it be via trade or free agency, I don't think that a fan base necessarily owes that athlete any kind of loyalty or adulation, whether they win a championship someplace else or not.

There are always special cases where a given athlete has done an extraordinary amount of charity work and community service. Where they've become so synonymous with a given city that even if they leave, they're still considered part of that original community. The only athlete in Minnesota that I can recall having that kind of status was Kirby Puckett. Though I think a large part of why Puck was so revered in this town was because he didn't leave when he had the chance to as a free agent.

But even in those cases, it's a conscious choice made by the fans themselves. I don't think it's out of any sense of obligation.

Perhaps some of you disagree. And if you do I hope you'll step up and let me know!

Again, as always, if you have a question you want addressed, please email me at: dcook93@yahoo.com.

That's all for today. I'll be back on Wednesday with more of the Sports Take goodness you've come to depend on! Until then, thanks for reading!

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