Tag Archives: Minnesota Twins

Speaking of October Baseball

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I bought something totally ridiculous.

1991 Minnesota Twins in Bobblehead form

1991 Minnesota Twins in Bobblehead form

Unfortunately, Greg Gagne’s hand is not attached to his body. But I already contacted the Twins Community Fund and they’ve agreed to send me a replacement. Not sure if I have to send the handless version back, but if I don’t… well, he is number 7. A little sideburn modification and suddenly it’s a Joe Mauer doll!

I need to figure out something to do with them other than display them on this old TV stand. I have an idea brewing, but it will take some work…

One crazy night in baseball

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Last night was one heckuva a night for baseball.  The Red Sox finished their epic collapse while the Rays came back from 7-0 against the Yankees to snatch the AL Wild Card from the jaws of the Sox.  In the National League… same story.  The Cardinals won and just needed the Braves to lose, which took 13 innings to happen, but it happened.

And in Minnesota, in a game few people but Twins fans cared about, the Twins avoided 100 losses with a 1-0 win over the Royals on the backs of a complete game shutout by Carl Pavano and 9th inning heroics by Denard Span and Trevor Plouffe.  It was a nice farewell to John Gordon… I wasn’t listening on the radio, but I hope he missed calling a few plays just for old times sake.

Good baseball tends to bring out good writing, and Joe Posnanski has some of the best.  The entire article is worth reading, but his final paragraphs describing why it is that people love baseball is worth quoting.

Baseball, like life, revolves around anticlimax. That’s what you get most of the time. You stand in driver’s license lines, and watch Alfredo Aceves shake off signals, and sit through your children’s swim meets, and see bases loaded rallies die, and fill up your car’s tires with air and endure an inning with three pitching changes, a sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk.

But then, every now and again, something happens. Something memorable. Something magnificent. Something staggering. Your child wins the race. Your team wins in the ninth. You get pulled over for speeding. And in that moment — awesome or lousy — you are living something you will never forget, something that jumps out of the toneless roar of day-to-day life.

The Braves failed to score. Papelbon blew the lead. Longoria homered in the 12th. Elation. Sadness. Mayhem. Champagne. Sleepless fury. Never been a night like it. Funny, if I was trying to explain baseball to someone who had never heard of it, I wouldn’t tell them about Wednesday night. No, it seems to me that it isn’t Wednesday night that makes baseball great. It’s all the years you spend waiting for Wednesday night that makes baseball great.

Moneyball

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Aaron Sorkin, easily my favorite screenwriter, helped write a movie featuring Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of my favorite actors, about using math to make a baseball team better.  Heck, yes, I saw it the day it came out.

First things first, no it is not 100% accurate.  Jeremy Giambi’s story is flat out wrong (he wasn’t new to the team in 2002).  The movie also completely ignores the fact that part of the reason the A’s did so well in 2002 was that they had the league MVP, Miguel Tejada, and the Cy Young award winner, Barry Zito.  If you don’t blink, you’ll see Tejada represented in the movie very briefly.  Try as I might (and maybe I blinked), I didn’t see a single mention of Zito.  It also credits the Red Sox 2004 World Series win to moneyball techniques, ignoring the fact that they were also helped by a pretty big payroll.  So, nevermind about accuracy.  As Brad Pitt as Billy Bean says near the end of the movie, “It’s hard not to romanticize baseball.”  And that’s what this movie is… a romanticized view of the 2002 Oakland A’s.  Accept that, and it’s a great flick.

There’s a classic Sorkinesque scene in the middle in which Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill are trying to trade for a Cleveland reliever (Ricardo Rincon).  It’s not quite as good as a similarly styled scene in Charlie Wilson’s War where Tom Hanks alternates between conversations in rapid succession, but Brad Pitt’s alternating conversations over the phone is still pretty funny.  The other great Sorkin-esque scene happens between Billy Bean and his ex-wife’s husband, a non-baseball fan who tries to pretend that he knows what’s going on with the A’s.

There are also some great baseball scenes surrounding the A’s record breaking 20 game win streak.  I may possibly have teared up a little, but I am a sap when it comes to dramatic baseball scenes.  I was pretty sure I knew how long the streak lasted, but for a brief second I thought I might be wrong and I got wrapped up in the drama.  Also, the mass of A’s fans in the theater were cheering.  It was an emotional moment… shut up, and stop laughing at me.

But really, the best part of this movie?  It is finally the antidote to Little Big League.

Let me explain… Little Big League remains the only movie made about the Twins.  It’s not that great of a movie, and it came out at the same time as a nearly identical movie about the Cubs (Rookie of the Year), but it was about the Twins so of course I saw it many times growing up.  I even knew a few people who were in crowd scenes.  But unlike every other baseball comedy, the Twins lose at the end of the movie.  It’s not a movie for Twins fans; it’s a movie for Mariners fans… particularly fans of Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey Jr. who are featured in the final scenes.

And so it is with Moneyball.  In the real world of 2002, the A’s lost the division series to the Twins in five games.  In the movie… same thing!  So, while the theater full of A’s fans was feeling down in the dumps when a very skinny “Eddie Guardado” pitched the final out, caught by “Corey Koskie,” I was kind of excited.  In fact, part of me wanted to clap or cheer or something… the Twins won in the post season!  And that right there made a great movie into one that will probably wind up being one of my all time favorites.

Who cares if it doesn’t get everything right?