Baseball Notes & Peek at the Picks

Hello again everybody...

It's the middle of the week for most of you. But for me it's Friday baby! These are my first non-illness-inspired days off since the Fair/RNC and I can't wait to not work! Okay, okay, I won't rub it in. I dearly hope the rest of the week goes smoothly for the rest of you. But not too fast. I want to enjoy my time off as much as I can.

To wit, I fully intend to get my regular Thursday Picks Column and Friday Column up as per usual. The plan right now is to have them up earlier than usual actually since I have plans Thursday and Friday afternoon. But you know what they say about "the best laid plans". So we'll see. One way or the other, I'll get them up there though. Count on that!

With that, let's get to today's docket. Today I'm going to run down a series of notes from the world of baseball. Then it's this week's Peek at the Picks. So let's get to it...

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."
- Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642), Tuscan (Italian) physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher

Guy's got a point there doesn't he?

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Here's some random thoughts from the world of baseball:

Houston Whiners: There was a lot of sobbing coming out of the Astros clubhouse over the weekend. Because of Hurricane Ike, and the necessity of playing the games, two games from the Cubs/Astros series were moved from Houston to Miller Park in Milwaukee. Houston manager Cecil Cooper so objected to playing a "home game" in a park that was 90 miles from Chicago, that he sent his team out in their "road" uniforms in protest of the situation.

My thought? Shut up and play. Miller Park didn't no-hit you in the first game. And the fine citizens of Milwaukee didn't 1-hit you in the second game. I think Cooper made such a stink about it leading into those games that he basically psyched his team out. And it may have cost them their shot at the playoffs.

And even if you think the Astros are justified in their griping, they're upset at the wrong person. Houston owner Drayton McLane had to approve this move. These were his games. There's no way that Bud Selig could force the Astros to move those games without McLane's approval.

Houston, you created your own problem. Ya dopes...


Target Field: The Minnesota Twins have announced the name of their new ballpark set to open in April of 2010. Target Field. Color me underwhelmed. Intellectually, it makes a ton of sense. Target Corporation is a strong Minnesota-based company that has strong ties to the community. Plus Target also has the naming-rights to the Timberwolves arena (Target Center) which is located in close proximity to Target Field. So there are all kinds of synergistic opportunities with the two facilities.

But anyone who knows me, knows I was campaigning for another name. I wanted it to be called "Best Buy Ballpark". Obviously I'm a sucker for alliteration, so that scratches my grammatical itch nicely. Plus Best Buy is also a strong local company with plenty of community service that would jive nicely with what the Twins are looking for.

But mostly, I wanted the term "ballpark" in the name. I think it's important to distinguish this facility from the multi-purpose "stadiums" we've had here in the past. I think fans are going to be blown away by the experience of being in a baseball-only facility (or in the case of the U of M's TCF Bank Stadium, a football-only facility). That's something we've never had here in Minnesota. At least not at the major-professional level. Met Stadium in Bloomington was designed for both the Vikings and the Twins. The HHH Metrodome was designed for both of them as well. Plus it hosted the Gophers, Timberwolves, College Basketball Tournaments and hundreds of other events. But Target Field is baseball-specific, even if the name doesn't quite make that clear. I wish they would've made that more distinct.

The other name possibility that I had started to warm up to was "Land O' Lakes Field". Not as good as the "B", but I liked the idea of being able to say, "Let's go to The Lake" and mean you were going to a ballgame. But as Sports Take reader Rob in Milwaukee pointed out, the acronym would be L.O.L. which in text-messaging parlance means "laugh out loud" which would not go over well if the team found itself in a slump!

So Target Field it is. Eh. I don't hate it. And I'm sure I'll get used to it. But it wasn't what I was hoping for.


Ned Yost Fired: Monday, the Milwaukee Brewers made the unprecedented move of firing their manager while they're tied for a playoff spot in September. Like most folks, I'm not terribly upset by the move because I had no great love for Yost's managerial skills. I am however puzzled by the timing of the move. If you were going to make this move, shouldn't it have been a month ago when interim manager Dale Svuem would have had some time to settle into the job? Now he's down to 11 games or so left and he's got to get this thing turned around in time to save the season. Not good.

Brewer's GM Doug Melvin is taking the company line and saying this was a decision he and owner Mark Attanasio made together. Horse-hockey I say. Melvin's been a good baseball guy for far too long. There's no way he doesn't see this as the "too little, too late" move that it is. This is a panic move by an owner who's seeing his club choke away a playoff berth for the second year in a row and wants to be seen as trying to save it.

Kudos to Ned Yost who's taken the high road (copyright Dennis Green) in his post-dismissal comments. While he acknowledges his disagreement with the decision to let him go, he's been nothing but complimentary of the players, organization and fans in Milwaukee. It may be a calculated move on his part, but it's a smart move and will likely land him another managerial opportunity sooner than later.

I hate to say it Brewer fans. But there is such a thing as "baseball karma" and a move like this isn't likely to bring you the good kind. You're now a 1/2-game behind the Mets for the Wild Card. Not good... not good.

Finally today it's time for this week's Peek at the Picks segment where I compare my pre-season picks to the current MLB standings. Do I really have to do this to myself? I've done it all year, so it's time to stand up and taking my whipping like a man! (Mommy... help!)

NL East: Philadelphia Phillies, 84-67 (Dan's Pick: NY Mets, 1/2 Game Back)
Yeesh... The Mets have tanked as of late, while the Phils are on a roll. Philly's won 7 of their last 10 including their last 5 in a row. That's the run you go on when you want to take control of your playoff destiny. Some teams are doing that. Others aren't. (No, that's not a shot at you Milwaukee... Minnesota? You should be listening.) The East is far from decided however. Philly's Magic Number: 12.

NL Central: Chicago Cubs, 91-58 (DP: Cubs)
This one's almost in the bag. The Brewers have gone into "Titanic" mode. The Astros are too busy whining about where they're playing to actually get a hit. And everybody else in the division's been cooked since mid-August. The Cubs ought to clinch by early next week at the very latest. Chicago's Magic Number: 4.

NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers, 79-72 (DP: Arizona Diamondbacks, 4.5 GB)
I'll give the Snakes credit. They've won 2 in a row and are trying to pull out of the swoon that has put their playoff chances on life-support. 12 games is an awfully short time to make up a 4.5 game deficit though. But if you have to be chasing a team from that far back, the Dodgers are the best one to have to chase. Considering the start the D'backs had though, and the moves they've made to try and shore up their weaknesses, manager Bob Melvin had better hope they do make up that deficit. Or he may need to dust off that resume. L.A.'s Magic Number: 8.

NL Wildcard: New York Mets, 83-67 (DP: Dodgers, 4.5 GB)
Does it count if the Mets make the playoffs even if they don't win their division? Probably not. And it wouldn't much matter. 2 of 8 isn't much more impressive than 1 of 8. Oof. The Brewers are only a 1/2-game behind the Mets, so they're not out of it. But it isn't looking good in Milwaukee. Not good at all. Mets' Magic Number: 12.

AL East: Tampa Bay Rays, 89-60 (DP: Boston, whom I hate, 1 GB)
To all those folks who said that Boston was about to overtake the Rays and that it was really okay because the Rays would still have a huge lead in the Wild Card race? Shut up! Don't think for a second that it's not important for the Rays to win the division. Not only does it prove that they can beat (not just contend with, but beat) the big boys in the East. But it also means that they'll host the AL Central winner. That's a vast improvement over travelling to meet the Angels. So don't expect Tampa to let up off the gas for one second until they've sealed the deal in the East. Tampa's Magic Number: 12.

AL Central: Chicago White Sox, 84-66 (DP: Detroit Tigers, 14 GB)
The Twins have slipped to 2.5 games behind the White Sox and are perilously close to falling out of contention. No, 2.5 games isn't insurmountable, but if the White Sox play .500 ball in their last 12 games, the Twins would have to go 9-2 in their last 11 to pass them. You see where the math starts to get tricky this late in the season. There's still a 3-game series between the two clubs next week. But if Chicago maintains this lead, that forces the Twins to sweep. And that's not a likely scenario. Suddenly, I'm depressed. Chicago's Magic Number: 10.

AL West: Los Angeles Angels, 92-58 (DP: Seattle Mariners, 35 GB)
Still the best team in baseball, the Angels have long-since clinched their playoff spot. Francisco Rodriguez has broke the season-saves record. And now it's just a matter of staying healthy and figuring out who's coming to L.A. for October. The important thing, of course, is whether anyone wins the "How many games back will Seattle finish" contest. There are a couple of contenders left. Only a couple weeks left til we find out!!!

AL Wildcard: Boston Red Sox, whom I hate, 89-62 (DP: Cleveland Indians, 15 GB)
Damn you Cleveland! You have no shot at anything this year, but instead of rolling over and letting the Twins catch the White Sox, you beat the bejabbers out of them. You're not the Red Sox (whom I hate) but you're not far off at this point! Curse you all! Okay. Deep breath. I'll be okay. Boston, whom I hate, has a Magic Number of 5.

So 1 of 8, huh? Wow. This baseball prediction stuff is harder than I thought. Thank God, I'm above .500 in my college football picks, huh?!

Shut up, I have to cling to something!

That's all for today folks. Like I said, I'll be back tomorrow with my college picks, and hopefully earlier than usual. Until then, thanks so much for reading!


  1. I understand, or thought I heard, that the scoreboard is going to have a sponsor. Humm, big, flashy and electronic. Now what Minnesota based company might take on that?

  2. The Best Buy Board? No, wait...

    The Big Best Buy Board? No, I can do better...

    The Big Blinking Best Buy Board? There we go.