Hello again everybody...
We've made it to the end of yet another week. A week in which I learned a very important lesson which I'll now pass on to you, my dear readers.
If someone's kind enough to spiff you some pretty good ball-tickets, do yourself a favor. Make sure you double-, heck even triple-check the date on the tickets to make sure its the same date you think it's supposed to be. You'll avoid all kinds of embarrassment and self-loathing.
Don't ask... I really don't want to get into it. Just take my advice and go forward in your life a little wiser than you were before you started reading.
It's a big weekend in the offing. First, though not foremost, it's time again for Lon in Forest Lake's annual Trench party. Yes, once again a group of middle-aged men will travel back in time to a period of their lives where it seemed perfectly reasonable to pelt each other with rubber balls. Sadly, said time-travel will occur only in their minds. Physically, they'll still be the same sad-sack, out-of-shape chuckleheads they are the rest of the time, so I'm sure copious amounts of ibuprofen will be consumed by all! Regardless, it's always a lot of fun, and so far (insert Dan furiously knocking on wood) we've avoided any serious injuries. So there's that...
Secondly, of course, Sunday is Father's Day. The one day every year set aside for us to honor and cherish our dads (not that we shouldn't be doing that most other days as well). So allow me to take this opportunity to thank my own father for all he's done and continues to do for me. Thanks, pop! You're the best and I owe you more than I'll ever be able to repay!
With that, let's get to some Updating, shall we?
Right after the quote...
”You don't stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.”
- Michael Pritchard
A cursory Google search wasn't able to tell me who this guy actually is... but I'm sensing a motto for the Trench Party here... anyone? Anyone?
Congratulations to you all for making it through another week. Your rewards is that it's time... once again... for everybody's favorite segment...
Dan's Favorite Teams Update
Minnesota Twins: The Twins are 38-28, in first place in the AL Central, and 1.5 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers.
I really hope Twins fans aren't freaking out over the lead being down to 1.5 games. 5-and-4 on their latest home-stand isn't quite the same clip they'd been going at, but it's certainly not reason to panic either. The way Atlanta's running right now, they'd take 2-of-3 from a lot of teams, and the Twins won both of the other series, so all-in-all, it was just fine.
Plus, the Tigers have won 6 in a row, and that kind of hot-streak isn't going to last. Granted, the Twins are about to embark on a nine-game road trip that will test their mettle. So far Minnesota's 15-15 in their 30 road games. They say if you can win 2/3 of your home games and go .500 on the road, you should make the playoffs. The Twins are 23-13 at home, which is one game shy of 2/3, and they're in first place, so I guess the saying holds up. Bottom line, if the Twins can come home having won four or 5 games on the trip, they've got to be pretty pleased.
The road trip will also mark the first time I've seen the Twins at a ballpark not located in Minneapolis, MN. Though I know a few folks who'll be making the trip to Philly to see the Twins take on the two-time defending NL Champion Phillies, I'm not quite that lucky. Instead I'll be heading eastward to visit a couple of friends in Milwaukee (Algonquin for, “the good land” - copyright Alice Cooper), and catching the finale of a three-game set between my beloved Twins and the Brewers.
Though it won't be my first time catching a ballgame in Milwaukee, it will be my first time at Miller Park. Some colleagues and I from my radio days in Eau Claire made the trip over a decade ago to see the Brewers and the Giants at County Stadium. Though I'm sure the fine folks in Milwaukee are happy with the new digs, I'll always hold a special place in my heart for County, because it was the first place I ever saw an outdoor MLB game. Yes, my love of baseball was born and bred under the off-white tarp of the Metrodome, so it took me until my mid-twenties to fully understand what the smell of freshly-cut grass and the sight of a bright-blue sky added to baseball. Sadly, it took another ten years before the wonder of those elements returned to pro baseball in Minnesota. But now it's here, and Twins fans couldn't be happier.
So now the circle will complete itself once again, as I journey to Milwaukee to catch a game in their retractable-roof facility. I'm curious to see what it's like, since my only experience in a semi-roofed ballpark is at Chase Field in Arizona. What I'm most anxious to find out is if being at Miller Park - like being at Chase - feels like being “inside” even with the roof open. Yes it's still real grass and a clear blue sky at Chase, but it still feels like you're in a building, even when they pop the top. So I'll be curious to see if the experience is similar to that at Miller, or if it genuinely gives fans an “outdoor” experience, like we get at Target field.
That game comes up next Thursday, and I fully intend to bring you a Running Game Commentary from it, so look for that, probably a week from Monday.
But, as I mentioned, before the Twins get to Milwaukee, they've got to play a three-gamer in Philadelphia. That series starts tonight against the Phills, as Nick Blackburn (6-3) heads to the mound to face Joe Blanton (6-5). Saturday, it's Kevin Slowey (7-4) trying to come back after getting knocked around fairly well by Atlanta last weekend. He'll square off against Cole Hammels (6-5). Then Sunday should be a doozy as Carl Pavano (7-6) and his epic mustache (did you know it has its own Twitter account?) try to out-gun Roy “Doc” Halladay (8-5) in the series finale.
After that series, the Twins head to Milwaukee, before they go on to the final leg of their NL road-trip in New York to face the Mets.
Arizona Diamondbacks: The D'backs are 26-41, in last place in the NL West and 12.5 games behind the Dodgers and Padres, who are currently tied for first.
Well this season went from “pretty poor” to “craptastic” in a hurry, didn't it?!
It's hard to believe a team that several pundits picked to contend in the West could be giving up the ghost already, but fresh off getting swept by the Red Sox (whom I hate), it sure sounds like Arizona's in full-on “fire-sale” mode.
Earlier this week, the Snakes traded OF Connor Jackson and about $375k to the Oakland A's in return for minor-league reliever Sam Demel. Clearly, Arizona management wasn't interested in paying Jackson the kind of money he was going to get through salary arbitration at the end of this season, and this was a way to avoid that, while acquiring a promising young reliever to try and take some heat off of their beleaguered bullpen.
Demel has put together a 9-8 record and 42 saves with a 2.79 ERA in his 3 ½ minor-league seasons so far, but his time with the D'backs will be his first crack at the big leagues.
I'm torn about the trade because Co-Jack was supposed to be part of the core of talented young players that helped the Diamondbacks regain competitiveness. Instead, he'll join a surprisingly-game A's team and try and help them win the other Western Division.
But Demel looks like a good young reliever, and considering how gawd-awful Arizona's bullpen has been this year, any help at all is most welcome.
Who'll be the next guy to get shipped out? That's anybody's guess. Most of the big-name offensive talents are signed to long-term deals, so it'd surprise me to see their names on the trading block. And the relievers have been so bad, that it's hard to see there being much of a market for a Chad Qualls or an Aaron Heilman (who's been tabbed to take over the closers role from Qualls).
That leaves the starting staff as the most likely trade bait. Both Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy came over in an off-season trade, and both seem likely candidates to head out in a mid-season trade. Jackson had a lot of success in the first half of last season, and you know there'll be some American League GM's who remember that. Kennedy has been surprisingly good, and with a cheap contract, could fetch some fairly decent prospects should Arizona decide to move him.
What scares me to death is the notion that teams are going to start inquiring about the availability of Dan Haren, and that Arizona might listen. Aces don't grow on trees folks (just ask the Twins brass) and it galls me to think that the D'backs might ship theirs out. That being said, it's pretty clear that the folks running the show think this thing needs some blowing up. And there's no piece that's going to bring you a bigger return than Haren.
Stay tuned Arizona fans... things could get awfully interesting.
The Snakes are in Detroit tonight, and could do me all kinds of favors by winning a series against the Motor City Kitties. It's a series of “formers” as fomer-Tiger Edwin Jackson (3-6) gets things started tonight as he faces Armando Galarraga (2-1). Then Dontrelle Willis (2-2), another former Detroit pitcher, takes the hill on Saturday to face his old mates, while Rick Porcello (4-6) hits the bump for Detroit. Sunday, Ian Kennedy (3-4) squares off against former Diamondback, Max Scherzer (3-6), after which all the players will sit down and sing a mixed-roster version of “Kumbaya”... I think.
After their series in Detroit, the D'backs return home to welcome the defending champion New York Yankees to town. My prediction? Chase Field is 60/40 pinstripes over the course of the three games. I'm not sayin, I'm just sayin...
There you have it, folks. Your weekly Update! Feel better? I know I do.
I'll be back on Monday with more of the usual nonsense and skullduggery.
Until then, thanks for reading!