Monday

6-15-09: Notes

Hello again everybody...

I'm back at the mill after a fun and relaxing weekend. Got to chill some on Saturday and then had a great time visiting with some extended family yesterday. I feel rested, refreshed and ready to go.

Wait, let me check this email from one of the bosses...

...

...

Why is there life on this planet?!

I'm only joking of course... well, mostly. But I really am in a good mood, which is rare for a Monday, so I'm gonna cling to it like a Titanic survivor to a deck chair! Speaking of which, have any of you seen that display at the Science Museum yet? Sounds kind of interesting. I'm curious to hear a first-hand review.

Okay, enough pre-ambling. There's not a lot going on today. Literally. There are all of two games on the Major League docket tonight. It's one of those little scheduling quirks that happens every now and then. So today's column will be a series of notes on stuff that's happened over the weekend.

Let's do this.

"Always and never are two words you should always remember never to use."
- Wendell Johnson


The only "Wendell Johnson" I could find was a doctor of psychology who did a lot of work on stuttering. I suppose he could be the author of this quote. But I don't know, so I don't want to quote him directly. Whoever said it, it's solid advice for any writer. Dealing in absolutes is always dangerous business. If you want a karmic backlash, go ahead and use "always" and "never" to your heart's content. Me? I'm going to try and avoid them from here on out... well as much as is reasonably possible anyway!

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Time for some Notes...

The Penguins win the Cup... I'm sure I lost at least one reader right there. Sorry Hammer. Friday night, Sidney Crosby validated all the hype over his young career by becoming the youngest captain to hoist the Stanley Cup in NHL history.

I'm happy for Sid. I'm happy for the Penguins - whom until rather recently were in danger of being moved or folded (see Phoenix? you're not a lost cause yet...). And I'm thrilled that I didn't put the whammy on Pittsburgh by picking them to win the series.

I picked the Pens because I thought their loss in last year's Finals provided them with the experience they needed to come back this year and win the whole thing. Teams as young as Pittsburgh often need to get there and fail before they really understand what it takes to win it all.

That being said, after the Red Wings destroyed the Pens in Game 5, I figured Pittsburgh was cooked. So I guess you could say there were several reversals of the Sports Take Whammy over the course of the series.

Whether I had anything to do with altering the magambo or not, congrats go out to the Penguins on a hard-fought victory, and well earned Stanley Cup.

Oh, and I have no idea if the Hammer is going to be writing a NHL wrap-up or not. He's taking this loss pretty tough. If he does, I'll be sure to pass it along. But it might take a bit for him to get over the thought of his beloved Red Wings being Cup-less.

The Lakers won the NBA Finals... Blah, blah, blah...

Kobe won without Shaq... yadda, yadda, yadda... Phil Jackson won ring number 10... blah, blah, blah...

The Larry O'Brien trophy can't hold a candle to the Stanley Cup. And I don't give a crap about the NBA.

The Red Sox (whom I hate) own the Yankees... The Nation will love seeing these words (minus the "whom I hate") on my blog.

But the truth is the truth. The Red Sox (whom I hate) have now gone 8-0 in their season series against New York. And now the Yankees get to stew over that until August, when they next get a shot at Boston (whom I hate).

On any given night, you should be able to look at the two pitchers and have a reasonable idea of who's going to win a baseball game. But that's not the case with this series.

Thursday, New York had their ace, CC Sabathia, going against Boston's (whom I hate) 5th starter, Brad Penny. The Red Sox (whom I hate) still won 4-3. Go figure.

Sometimes teams just get in each other's heads. For instance, any team playing at home against the Twins seems to have an inherent advantage. And if you're talking about New York or Boston (whom I hate), that advantage gets dialed up at least a couple of notches.

I suppose I could try to put a positive spin on this and say, since I picked the Red Sox (whom I hate) to win the AL East, that their dominance over the Yankees has gone a long way towards making my prediction correct.

But seeing the Red Sox (whom I hate) dominate anyone just plain annoys me.

The Twins go 5-5 on their road trip... that's not great, but it could have been far worse.

And considering how woeful the Twins have been on the road over the course of this season, "it could have been worse" is actually a step in the right direction.

In fact, this latest trip has freed the Twins from the distinction of having the worst road record in the Major Leagues. Now, they have the 4th-worst road record. Hey, progress is progress folks!

Sadly, the Twins had a shot on Sunday to meet the 6-4 record I'd been hoping for. Unfortunately they ran into a tough left-handed starter in Ted Lilly. And despite Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau's stellar averages against lefties, both Michael Cuddyer and Joe Crede were on the bench with various injuries. The Twins struggle as it is against solid lefties. You take those two right-handed sticks out of the line-up, and they're at a serious disadvantage.

If you're looking for positives, the Twins still kick ass in inter-league play. They're now 85-47 since 2002 when playing a team from the senior circuit. And at the risk of another round of the Sports Take Whammy, they're hosting Pittsburgh and Houston this week, there's a solid shot of that record improving. (How's that for hesitant optimism?!)

One last positive: the Twins starting pitching may finally be coming around. Scott Baker got a No-Decision yesterday, but it was his third-straight quality start. Hell, even Francisco Liriano has a streak of two-straight quality starts going. If the Twins starters are really coming around, just as Detroit's starters are stumbling a bit, first place could be considered to be squarely in the Twins' sights.

Finally, inter-league play is in full-effect... Can you believe that it's been around since 1997?!

When I heard that stat over the weekend, I did a serious double-take. 1997? 12 years? Really?! It doesn't seem like it's been that long. God am I getting old.

I'm not going to re-hash the whole "is inter-league play good or bad" debate, because I think that's pretty much been decided. The system is far from perfect. But the fans have clearly voted with their dollars. Attendance numbers are at their highest league-wide during inter-league play.

Sure, people aren't enthralled by a Tampa Bay/Colorado match-up. But neither are baseball fans at-large going to be on the edge of their seats over an Atlanta/Cincinnati 3-gamer. Meanwhile, the Mets/Yankees and Boston (whom I hate)/Philadelphia series from the weekend were all sell-outs. And this week's Cubs/White Sox series will pack them in.

People like inter-league play. Let's allow that to be the end of the debate, shall we?

And that seems like a nice place to end things for today. I'll be back on Wednesday with the latest Peek at the Picks column.

Until then, thanks for reading!

4 comments:

  1. Tell Hammer that a grumpy old race car driver once told me, it's just an empty cup.

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  2. Thanks, but I know better than to poke a sleeping grizzly bear with a short stick.

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  3. I still wish inter-league play had been implemented in the 80's. I wish I would have had a chance to see Cal Ripken as a kid, but living in St. Louis, not a chance. And american League cities never got to see Ozzie Smith or Tony Gwynn...It's definitely easy to see why fans are supporting it.

    Jeff in DM

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  4. Excellent point Jeff.

    Although it's not working that way for Twins fans this year. Considering that the three teams coming to the Dome are Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Houston, there's not a ton of star-power there.

    But I think your point still holds.

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