Friday

9-24-10: DFTU

Hello again everybody...

We've done it again! Another week in the books and another weekend looms before us... presuming those of us in the upper Midwest own an ark.

Yeah, there's been a little bit of rain the past couple of days, but never let it be said that a little moisture deterred a column, right?!

Nope. There's a long list of stuff that has deterred them, but rain isn't on it!

Since it's a Friday, I'll keep the pre-column rambling to a minimum, okay?

After all, what you've really come here for is to get Updated, right?

And Updated you shall be...

Right after the quote!

“The public will believe anything, so long as it is not founded on the truth.”
- Edith Sitwell (1887 - 1964), British poet and critic


Not that I feel the need to embellish on occasion just to be believed. Nope, no, not at all...

It's Friday, and that means it's time... once again... for everybody's favorite segment...



Dan's Favorite Teams Update

Minnesota Twins: The Twins are 92-60, your 2010 AL Central Division Champions, and one-half game ahead of the New York Yankees in the race for best record in the American League.

Yep, you could say it's been a pretty good week for the Twins.

They swept Cleveland earlier this week , finishing their latest homestand with a 4-2 record. Combined with the continued death-march of the White Sox, that led to clinching the Central title on Tuesday night.

I mentioned it briefly in Wednesday's column, but I wanted to flesh it out a little. I had the chance to head down to the ballpark Tuesday night knowing that the Twins would have the chance to clinch. It wasn't going well early, with Cleveland jumping out to an early lead.

But as has happened so many times this season, the Twins battled their way back, taking a lead in the eighth inning while they watched the Oakland A's (who'd just taken two of three in their visit to Target Field) jump out to a 5-1 lead over Chicago.

As Matt Capps closed out another win for Minnesota, all that was left was to sit and wait out the A's/White Sox result. The Twins let the media down into the clubhouse so we could get interviews and quotes for game stories, then shooed us out so they could set the clubhouse up for a division title celebration.

Fortunately for yours truly, I was able to get enough sound that talked about what seemed now to be an inevitable clinch, that I didn't technically need to go back down to the clubhouse for the celebration.

But Dan, you say! Why would you pass up that kind of opportunity?! Most fans would love to be in the middle of that!

That's an excellent point. And had I been appropriately attired, I probably would've given it a go. But seeing as how I was still dressed for a fairly important work meeting I had early in the day, I didn't really fancy getting some half-decent clothes drenched in champagne and beer.

Think I'm overstating things a bit? Take a look at this video:



Okay, so it's not the greatest camera work in the world, but you get the general idea.

So I passed on the celebratory drenching in favor of getting home and getting some rest for another day.

None the less, it was a ton of fun to be there and watch the two games play out. One of the things that struck me was that even though the guys cut loose and celebrated, you still got a very strong feeling that this was only the first of several celebrations they hope to have.

Given the increase in payroll, given the success in the regular season, I don't think simply winning another division title is good enough for this group. And that's a wonderful thing for fans to hear.

I've heard some folks say that winning a first-round series and getting to the ALCS would make this a successful season. Maybe that's the case. I guess we won't really know until the whole thing's done and we can get a little perspective on things. But the way it feels right now, a World Series berth is entirely within the realm of the possible, and when you start thinking like that, anything less will seem like something of a let down.

Ten more games remain. Three in Detroit. Three in Kansas City. And they finish out the season with four at home versus Toronto.

Detroit has a great home record, those won't be easy. Kansas City? Well they're the Royals, so those are three winnable games. Toronto is tough, but the Twins get them at home. If the Twins can win seven of those ten games, they'll put a ton of pressure on the Yankees, who'd have to win seven of their last nine just to tie the Twins. The Bombers opponents for those games? Three vs. Boston (whom I hate). Three in Toronto. And three more in Boston (whom I hate).

Yes, Red Sox (whom I hate) fans, this is your moment. You'll never have a better chance to convince me to root for your club than you have over this last week and a half.

If Boston (whom I hate) manages to win four or more of those six games, I promise you'll see the end of “(whom I hate)” in this column.

Yes, it's not an easy decision for me to come to, but home field advantage is just that important.

As I mentioned, the Twins start the home stretch this weekend in Detroit. Here are the match-ups:

Friday: Francisco Liriano (14-8, 3.44) vs. Justin Verlander (17-8, 3.46)

Saturday: Carl Pavano (17-11, 3.68) vs. Jeremy Bonderman (8-9, 4.92)

Sunday: Brian Duensing (10-2, 2.19) vs. Rick Porcello (9-11, 5.22)

None of those are going to be easy wins, but there's a lot still to play for, so hopefully the Twins are up to the challenge!


Arizona Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks are 62-91, in last place in the NL West and 24 games behind the San Francisco Giants.

While the NL West race is the only compelling one left in baseball, the Diamondbacks can only play spoiler for the Giants, whom they play in a three game set sandwiched in between two series with the Dodgers, who aren't any more in the race than Arizona is.

But that doesn't mean there isn't news to report in the Valley of the Sun.

The Diamondbacks have hired Kevin Towers as their new General Manager. Towers was last a GM in San Diego where over 14 years he put together squads that won four division titles and reached the World Series in 1998.

He's known as an astute judge of talent and certainly has the chops to reshape the roster back into a contender quickly. And he'd better be quick about it, since his new contract is only for two years. I have a feeling that'll be extended sometime next season after he and the ownership group have had a chance to adjust to each other.

I said last week that I had no real problem with the job that interim GM Jerry DiPoto had done, but ultimately when you have a chance to get a guy with Towers' track record, you have to do it. DiPoto was understandably disappointed and chose to seek another opportunity rather than stay with the club. That's unfortunate, but also understandable.

The first thing on Towers' plate is hiring a full-time manager. I also said last week that I had no problem with the job that Kirk Gibson has done in his interim role. Towers will spend the rest of this regular season, talking with players and the rest of the coaching staff to see if Gibson's the best guy to help turn this thing around, or if he needs to look outside the organization for a new voice.

It's going to be an interesting off-season Arizona fans. Don't sleep on this club. There's a lot of talent here and with the right additions, they can be back in the mix even next season.

I know it's hard to believe that after watching this club in 2010, but if San Diego can do what they did going from worst to a tie for first, then there isn't any reason to think it's not possible for the Snakes!

This weekend's series against the Dodgers shapes up thusly:

Friday: Barry Enright (6-5, 3.87) vs. John Ely (4-8, 5.00)

Saturday: Daniel Hudson (6-1, 1.65) vs. Clayton Kershaw (12-10, 2.98)

Sunday: Jon Saunders (3-6, 4.46) vs. Chad Billingsley (11-11, 3.70)


Wisconsin Badgers: The Badgers are 3-0 (0-0) and tied for first place in the Big Ten.

I'm entirely confused by this club.

Yes, they're 3-0, and that's nothing to sneeze at. But it seems like their performances have gotten consistently poorer as the weeks go by.

You could try and argue that the drop-off has been a result of increasingly talented competition, but I don't think it's that simple.

First of all, I have a tough time rating San Jose State as “tougher competition” than UNLV was. And secondly, their last two games have been at home, where they're supposed to play better than they do on the road.

The offensive mistakes are still there. The defense goes to sleep on occasion. And don't get me started on the flubs by the special teams.

It was plain and simply the grace of the football gods that allowed Bucky to squeak by Arizona State this past Saturday. The Sun Devils had a ton of opportunities to pull ahead and win that game, and yet the managed to screw up each of them.

So yes, as a Badger fan, I'll take the win. And yes, they should roll over FCS opponent Austin Peay this week. But as you start to look forward to the Big Ten schedule, things get tough in a hurry.

They start at Michigan State which showed they have a ton of guts in their win over Notre Dame last weekend. Then it's home against Minnesota (7 in a row, 13 out of 15, 'nuff said).

Then home to Ohio State and on the road to Iowa. If they can get even one of those games it'll be damned near a miracle.

That's a brutal four week stretch in this league. Even with the Gophers involved, going 2-2 is going to be tough. And since confidence and momentum are such integral parts of college football, how they get through that stretch is going to go a long way towards defining their season.

Whatever they're going to do in those four games, they're going to have to do it without last seasons Big Ten Freshman of the Year, linebacker Chris Borland. Borland missed the end of last season with a shoulder injury, and after extensive rehab has managed to re-injure it not once, but twice over the first three weeks.

The only plausible option left was surgery and missing the rest of the season with a medical redshirt. The Badgers finally have some depth at the linebacker position, so it's not as big a blow as it could've been, but Borland is a serious talent, and his presence on defense will be missed.

For this week, the key is not to come out flat against an inferior opponent. There's a reason these games are called “body bag” games. The Governors are coming to Madison to earn a check which will help sustain their program for the season. In return, the Badgers are supposed to get an easy win.

But as teams like Minnesota, Virginia Tech and Ole Miss have found out to their detriment already this season, if you come out flat and allow an FCS opponent to grab a lead, things can get really ugly, really quick.

Kickoff is at 11am central time on the Big Ten Network (check your local listings).


That's going to put a bow on things for this week. Remember, we're only a few weeks away from the return of the Minnesota Wild to the DFTU!

(And for the sake of us all, let's hope that they're better than what they showed in Wednesday night's 5-1 loss to St. Louis! Oof.)

I'll be back on Monday with more nonsensical ramblings.

Until then, thanks for reading!

2 comments:

  1. Those are REALLY strong words, Dan... The end of (whom I hate)? Is there a loophole that they have to win 4 of 6 AND the Twins get home field? I mean, I thought that was the central tenet of your ramblings. Sure, you're favorite teams are the Twins, Badgers and D-backs, but... ;-)

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  2. I understand Jeff, but a Championship is important enough to me, that I'll offer it up gladly.

    No loophole. They have to win four of the six games, or it's no deal!

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