6.19-09: DFTU

-Hello again everybody...

We're mere hours away from another weekend. And of course, it's not just any weekend, it's Father's Day weekend. And for yours truly, that means two things.

First, it means the annual Trench Extravaganza at my buddy's house tomorrow. If a bunch of nearly-middle-aged men playing dodgeball is slightly disconcerting, then watching them play a version of dodgeball which decreases the number of projectiles, but increases the number of directions one can be targeted from, might be worse, or maybe it's better. Whatever. We have fun with it. And over the years, we've managed to refrain from getting anybody seriously injured. That's got to be worth something, right?

More importantly, this weekend is a time for all of us kids to pay homage to our fathers. I'm terribly lucky to have the father I have, and I don't mind saying so. Mostly because I think it's the truth. But partly because I find myself becoming more and more like him as each year goes by, and the only way I can keep that from scaring the hell out of me, is to emphasize all the ways in which that's not such a bad thing.

So Happy Father's Day, Dad! Thanks for everything you've done for me over the years. I hope the card got there on time. If it didn't, don't worry. It'll still get there before Mark's does! (I can say that because I know he doesn't read the blog!)

But before we get to the weekend, we still have Friday to contend with. And regular readers know that Fridays equal DFTU time!

So let's get to the gettin'!

"How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live."
- Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862), American author, poet, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, philosopher, and leading transcendentalist.

I suppose you could say that there's a certain amount of vanity involved in any published writing. After all, why are any of us really interested in what anyone else has to say, no matter how much living they've done at all?

For me, I balance the vanity of my writing, and the natural ego boost I get from the compliments some of you are nice enough to pass along to me, by freely admitting that I have no formal training, and only a smidgen of natural ability when it comes to writing. It's something I do because I enjoy the process. And the fact that any of you wish to take the time to read what I've written is the ultimate icing on an otherwise average cake.

So basically, I'm saying thank you. I don't really understand why you're reading this. But I appreciate the hell out of the fact that you are!

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Okay. Enough of the introspection. Let's get to the updating!

That's right. You've waited all week for it. Now you get your just reward. It's time... once again... for everybody's favorite segment..

Dan's Favorite Teams Update

Minnesota Twins: The Twins are 34-34, in second place in the AL Central, and two games behind the Detroit Tigers.

The road trip wasn't as good as I'd hoped, but not as horrible as it could've been. 5-5 isn't great, but considering their record on the road prior to that, I'll take it.

They've since finished off a series win against the Pirates. I could argue that the Pirates are a team that maybe the Twins should've swept. Especially considering that the games were in the Dome. But it's awfully tough to be upset about a series victory. And you certainly can't win 'em all, right?

Another number that's encouraging is the Twins run differential. has that stat as part of its standings page. And I'm not sure why other sites don't. Having a positive run differential doesn't always translate to success, and likewise, a negative RD doesn't mean you're doomed to failure either. Hell, I think the Diamondbacks won a division a few years back with a negative RD. But there certainly are trends, and right now the Twins are tied with the Tigers with the best RD in the Central division. Mind you, Minnesota's +19 is a far cry from Boston's (whom I hate) +65 and the Dodgers' +82. But right now, they're not competing with those teams for a playoff spot. And of the teams they are competing with, they're as good as anybody.

Hitting's only part of the game though. And unfortunately for people like me, pitching often gets short-changed. Did you know that Nick Blackburn's complete game for the Twins yesterday was the first by a Twins starting pitcher all year? I did. Scott Baker took a game into the ninth not all that long ago, but couldn't close it out.

Blackburn has quietly become the Twins most reliable starter. He's 6-2 with a 3.09 ERA. His strikeout-to-walk ratio of 1.56 doesn't knock you over and his WHIP of 1.254 is pretty average. But what pitching fans like me appreciate is that when you send Nick to the mound, you can pretty much pencil in 7 innings of solid pitching. If you play good defense behind a guy like that and get any hitting at all, you're going to win more games than not.

And as improved as the starting pitching has been of late, the bullpen has quietly settled itself into a serviceable unit. Don't look now, but Matt Guerrier has 3 wins and a 3.03 ERA. Between him and Jose Mijares, the 8th inning is pretty much set. And I can't say enough about the job R.A. Dickey has done in the long-reliever role. It's not the most glamorous spot on a ball club, but if you can find a guy to soak up innings when your starters flame out, so as not to burn up the rest of the bullpen, that's an invaluable thing. Dickey's been that guy and more for the Twins this year. That's hard for me to say, given that I ripped the guy heartily for his 4 wild pitches in one inning as an opposing player last year. But I give credit where credit's due, so a tip of the cap to R.A.

The Twins continue inter-league play tonight as they start a weekend series against Houston at the Metrodome. Then it's round 2 of the "War on 94" as the Twins head to Milwaukee to see if the Brewers can actually win a game against their next-door rivals. After that, it's off to St. Louis for three.

Arizona Diamondbacks: The D'backs are 29-38, in the cellar of the NL West and 15 games behind the L.A. Dodgers.

When the best thing you can say about your club is, "Hey, Brandon Webb's almost ready to start throwing again", that means you're having a rough year. Unfortunately for Arizona fans, that news was immediately followed by, "whoops, Webb had another setback and is headed back to Phoenix to get his shoulder reexamined." See? Told you it was a rough year.

Interestingly, the D'backs are the reverse of the Twins in that they actually have a better road record than home record. I guess the confines of Chase Field aren't as friendly as Arizona fans might prefer. That's probably just a statistical anomaly since they've played far more games at home than on the road. But when you're breaking down a bad team, numbers like that jump out at you.

This week's positive news is that the D'backs finally won a series, taking two of three from the Royals. You have to go back to Memorial Day weekend to find the last time that happened. So maybe inter-league play agrees with the Snakes like it does with the Twins.

Dan Haren's continuing his quest to be "the best pitcher who has no chance to win the Cy Young because the rest of his team sucks the bag". He's won three straight starts, including a complete game victory over the Astros where he was given the option of coming out in the ninth. And by "given the option", I mean that the pitching coach headed over in the direction of Haren prior to the ninth and was given a look that said, "if you try to take me out of this game, you might want to check your car for explosive devices before you drive home tonight". And given the performance of the D'backs bullpen, who can blame him?

Mark Reynolds and Steven Drew are trying to get the Arizona offense turned around. And Justin Upton's found some consistency and leads the team with a .314 batting average. But there's a long way to go. Remember that Run Differential statistic I broke out with the Twins? Yeah, the D'backs are a -29. That's a right sight better than San Diego's -71. (Good lord... -71?! Stay classy San Diego!) And perhaps that's why the Snakes are threatening to climb out of the cellar.

God, I feel like Harry Doyle in "Major League":

"In case you haven't noticed, and judging by the attendance you haven't, the Indians have managed to win a few ball games, and are threatening to climb out of the cellar."

But I'm not giving up. The division title may be out of reach, but that doesn't mean that the season isn't salvageable. First up, getting out of the cellar. After that, put the Rockies in the rear-view mirror. It won't be easy, but it can be done. And we've got to have something to look forward to, right?!

Arizona's in Seattle for a weekend series before they get to head back home for more inter-league goodness as they host the Rangers and the Angels for three a piece.

That's it for this week ladies and germs. I'll be back on Monday, hopefully in good health, with whatever fires me up over the weekend.

Until then, thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. I would go so far as to say it was a great trench weekend. It was hot, it was humid, there were sunburns and jammed fingers, but I don't think there were any permanent injuries.

    Elementary school friends, Junior High friends, High School friends, College friends, neighbors, all came over and threw an inflated ball at (or in the general direction of) each other.

    Good times were had, and will be had again, soon.