Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

No no-no

Well, the Twins broke up the no-hit bid with a Joe Mauer single to center in the top of the ninth, but that was about it for the visitors.

Twins lose 4-0.

I've always been conflicted about whether it's cool to cheer for a guy who has a no-hitter going against your favorite team. In this case, obviously, it would have been a team effort, but that's still pretty rare.

I was fired up when Mauer lined his single up the middle, which tells me that, deep down, I didn't want to see the Twins get no-hit.

So now I know.

Mining is pretty much out as a future career

The story of the Chilean miners is remarkable.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38816833/ns/world_news-americas

Todd Russell, an Australian miner who went through a similar ordeal in 2006, described how he and his partner survived for two weeks while trapped in a small cage some 3,000 feet below ground.

"We were stuck ... in a small pocket of air. We couldn't stand up or even sit up. We had to lie down on our backs. If one of us was on our back, the other had to lie on his side for 14 days. We were tossing and turning on sharp rocks and being cut to pieces. We were really worried about the cuts getting infected.

"We had no food or water for the first six days. ... We had to urinate into our helmets so we could collect something to drink.

"It was also very hot and humid down there but, because of the flow-through of air from fans that were blowing through into the level we were on, we were also suffering from hypothermia (because of the cold air blowing on our sweat). We had to cuddle each other to keep our body cores warm."

That's hard to fathom. It gives me chills just thinking about it. One thing's for certain: becoming a miner is kind of out of the picture as a future career.

Interesting suggestion via one of the comments to the article:

"Lower some iphones or other media systems loaded with a ton of games, movies, books, etc, and then lower broadband ethernet and USB lines in order to keep them online, recharged, and feeling more in charge. They could even play online games, instant message, read up on cabin fever, SAD, and whatnot."

I don't know the logistics of lowering those items, but it seems plausible considering officials have lowered other necessities to the trapped miners.

What would you want if you were in a similar predicament? I think I agree with the commenter — give me some form of media entertainment, a means to communicate with the outside world, stay abreast of current events and plenty of reading material.

Oh, and a pizza. I'd want a pizza, too.

Another question: Do you think you could survive up to four months in a similar situation? That would be brutal.

It worked! Kind of. Not really at all.

It kind of worked.

Harden was pulled within about two minutes of my post. He pitched 6 2/3 no-hit innings before Rangers manager Ron Washington pulled him. In other words, he got Slowey-ed.

The Rangers will take a team no-no into the ninth.

No-hitter, no-hitter, no-hitter!

Let's see if this works.

The Rangers' Rich Harden has a no-hitter going against the Twins. A no-hitter. In progress.

Karma, do your thing.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Brian Duensing, who are you?

Where the hell did Brian Duensing come from?

Last year he kind of emerged as a dependable long reliever, started getting thrust into pivotal late-inning situations and eventually transitioned to the starting rotation, where he excelled down the stretch. Hell, Duensing was the Twins' starter in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Yankees — at Yankee Stadium, no less, and against CC Sabathia, who earns roughly $25 mil a year while Duensing probably pulled down somewhere around $300K in 2009.

Duensing's back on that horse. Valuable reliever turned starter, and again, the lefty is thriving. He's our best arm in the rotation right now. Which leads back to my original query: where did he come from? I don't remember ever hearing his name prior to the 2009 season, so it's unlikely he was a rising star in the organization.

As I've done with every single question I've ever had, I turned to Google. Here is what I found:

Brian Duensing is 5-11, 205 pounds. He was born Feb. 22, 1983 in Marysville, KS. He went to college at Nebraska and was a third-round draft pick of the Twins in 2005. His career ERA is 2.78 in 168 1/3 innings. This season, Duensing is 7-1 with a 1.92 ERA.

Duensing led the Twins to a decisive 7-2 victory over the Angels on Friday night, allowing a lone run in eight innings (six strikeouts, no walks, six hits) to help the Twins bounce back from the Thursday night debacle against the White Sox. They are back to 20 games over .500 and lead the Sox by 4.5 games in the Central (Chicago was rained out Friday).

In his past two starts, Duensing has allowed one earned run in 17 innings (including a complete-game shutout of Oakland). He's 4-0 with a 2.18 ERA since joining the rotation last month. Oh, and Friday against the Angels, he induced 16 groundball outs.

Not too effin' shabby.

By the way, he's making $417,000 this year. That's a pretty stellar value.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Must-read

Powerful stuff:

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/38771115/ns/today-today_health/

Favorite line: "The object isn’t to live as long as you can, but as well as you can."

Angel misplaced in the outfield

I don't like seeing Torii Hunter in right field.

Also, Jim Thome is slower than dial-up Internet.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Skully & Screws returns to the air

TwinkieTown is proud to announce that the Skully & Screws show is returning to the airwaves this fall on ESPN 560.

Skully and I again will be calling high school football games, starting with a Sept. 3 doubleheader at PSS. I think it's a doubleheader and I'm relatively sure it's at PSS. I didn't concern myself a great deal with the facts. It will be fun.

Somehow (bribery), we got asked back after last year. Perhaps it was all the times we asked listeners to "e-mail the booth" and then proceeded to read texted questions from our buddies. That's probably it. Or the time we spent a good 20 minutes describing Skully's Halloween costume, or the roughly 96 times Skully told me I had a voice that could make a wolf pur. Whatever it was, it worked.

Until then, I will be busy moving. I hate moving. It's number two on my list of least-favorite things, right below the month of January. Number three on the list? People who drive slow in the left lane. Also, number four is the tomato. Are you a vegetable or a member of the fruit family?

I am moving to West Duluth. Less than a block from PSS, ironically enough (I don't know why that would be ironic). With a fellow by the name of Mark Connor. His dog's name is Mauer. I want to buy a similar-looking dog and name it Joe. Wouldn't that be an effin' riot!

Speaking of Joe Mauer, the Twins lost tonight. Rarely am I ok with a loss, but they just didn't have it tonight, and that's fine. It happens. Carl Pavano apparently decided to pitch with his left hand, and that's cool. Have a little fun, big guy.

The Twins are four games in front of the White Sox. The Angels come to Target Field this weekend. I'm actually going to Saturday's game. Actually, I'm not.

I am running a half-marathon Saturday morning in the bustling metropolis of Mora. I did this race last year and wasn't a huge fan. So naturally I am doing it again. We basically run for two miles through the small town (very cool) and the rest is spent on a county highway zipping past stalks of corn (not so much coolness). It gets rather boring. And hot. But, alas, I'm an idiot. So I will do it again.

After that, it's back home to rest and mentally prepare for Hoghead. So everything I accomplish Saturday morning, in terms of exercise and good health and calorie loss, will completely be undone Saturday night. I fully believe the more calories you consume, the more eventful your night is. Does that make sense? I just thought of it, so probably not. I am going to refine that theory and revisit it at a later date.

Probably Sunday when I am upset at the previous night's caloric consumption.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Give Gardy credit

The Twins are leading the White Sox 7-5 in the top of the seventh inning. A win tonight would push the Twins' Central Division cushion to five games.

It's pretty remarkable, really, considering the adversity this club has dealt with. Beyond that, it's a testament to the man pulling the strings, Ron Gardenhire.

Fans are always quick to lament and second-guess their favorite team's manager. It's a sport in and of itself, but it's hard to argue with the job Gardenhire has done since replacing the iconic Tom Kelly after the 2001 season.

Gardy has a knack for pushing the right buttons. Sure, he makes mistakes, but find a manager who doesn't screw up over a 162-game season. Not possible. It's a daily grind for six months. Consider the laundry list of hurdles the Twins have overcome this season:

• Injuries: Every team battles the injury bug, but it's been especially cruel to the Twins. Justin Morneau, arguably the Twins' most valuable player and best hitter, hasn't played since before the All-Star break. Orlando Hudson and JJ Hardy have both missed large chunks of time. Ditto for Nick Punto. Basically, the entire infield has seen extensive time on the DL.

• Joe Mauer: Mauer just recently caught fire. Prior to his recent surge, he was a .300 hitter with hardly any power. Not awful, but a far cry from his jaw-dropping 2009 campaign.

• Inconsistent pitching: The starters stumbled and bumbled through June. Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey and Nick Blackburn — recently demoted to Triple-A, but a member of the rotation for the bulk of the season — all sport ERAs well north of 4.

• That Joe Nathan guy: The team's all-world closer is spending 2010 recovering from Tommy John surgery. Nathan, who has anchored the bullpen seemingly forever, gave the Twins a security blanket they've lacked, meaning more mixing and matching — and nail-biting.

• Michael Cuddyer: Cuddyer, immensely valuable for his versatility and willingness to bounce all over the field, is definitely not replicating his offensive wizardry of a year ago. He's sturdy, but not the same guy who carried the Twins for much of August and September in 2009.

• Atrocious outfield defense: Denard Span is having a down year, even on defense, and Delmon Young often looks like he's trying to catch a butterfly instead of a routine flyball. Jason Kubel, forced into action in right field when Cuddyer moved to first, makes the easy plays but doesn't cover much real estate (minus Tuesday's mind-boggling web gem).

Those bullet points are a lot to overcome. And yet, the Twins have thrived. Gardy puts his players in position to succeed (see Crain, Jesse). He manages personalities and egos and gives his guys the freedom to play stress-free. He defines roles and sticks to them. He can lay down the hammer when necessary. And he instills a certain brand of baseball in his team — play hard, play the right way, do the little things ... all those tired cliches that, collectively, forge an identity that suits this ballclub.

Again, Gardy's far from perfect. But he's shown, via a pretty stellar body of work nearly a decade long, that he's one of the best in the game.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thome's my homey

That. Was. Phenomenal.

Unbelievable stuff from a zany ballgame tonight at Target Field.

It ended with a Jim Thome walk-off bomb, an absolute moonshot deep into the right-field seats. Gone the second it left the bat, a no-doubter, a blast into the night. Throw 'em all out there because each and every superlative applies.

Thome's theatrics came in the bottom of the 10th inning with the Twins trailing 6-5. Matt Capps blew a save in the top of the ninth and Jon Rauch struggled in the 10th. That left the home team down a run in the first game of this pivotal three-game set. But Thome, who continues to defy everything we know and think about 40-year-old athletes (hey didn't another 40-year-old Minnesota athlete make headlines today?), again came through in the clutch.

With Delmon Young at first base, Thome destroyed an 0-1 offering. I was up off my couch nano-seconds after the pitch made contact with Thome's lumber. Stellar, and one of those victories that just might shake Chicago's collective psyche. The White Sox have been reeling and the Twins are red-hot — they're now 19 games over .500 and lead the Central by four games.

Best win in the abbreviated history of Target Field?

You know what? Forget that other old guy who jetted into Minneapolis this afternoon. It's still baseball season, and Brett Favre's ego can get stroked another day. (By the way, what a contrast in personalities between Thome and Favre.) There's nothing better than a pennant push, and the Twins seem awfully inclined to do just that over the next two months.

Wait, strike that. Knock on wood. One game at a time. Etc., etc.

More good news: Liriano and Pavano go for the Twins Wednesday and Thursday.

Should be fun.

***

Quick admission: I love Brett Favre. I don't care how much he waffles, how foolish he looks with these weekly retirements. I love the way he plays, his grit, his devil-may-care mentality under center. He just ... has fun. There's baggage. We know that. He loves drama. He loves the spotlight. I'll take it, though.

Just as long as Favre rekindles some of that 2009 magic and leads the Vikings to the Super Bowl.

Can you just do me a solid, Brett?!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Jon Rauch's height more impressive than his pitching

Jon Rauch, you're dead to me.

Rauch is starting to implode. Since about the All-Star break, he hasn't been the same pitcher that was so effective in the first half. He's still tall and stuff — so he's got that going for him, which is nice.

Rauch replaced Kevin Slowey, who was gunning for a no-hitter, to start the eighth.

Slowey's flirtation with a no-no didn't follow the blueprint for pitching dominance. I think he walked three and beaned one, plus the Twins were sloppy in the field. Still, he again worked fast (though it was obvious early in the game the Athletics were trying to upset his rhythm by taking forever between pitches) and made big pitches in big situations.

For a guy with impeccable command, a little bit of wildness isn't always a bad thing. If nothing else, it makes the hitters just a little more uncomfortable in the box.

Rauch has given way to Jesse Crain, who just worked nicely out of a jam with the tying run at the dish.

The Twins, leading the White Sox by two games in the Central, are ahead 4-2. Chicago, meanwhile, is in front of the Tigers 7-6 in the seventh inning. Should the Twins hold on to win today, they'd be 18 games over .500 — stellar — with the Sox coming to town for another showdown.

Oh, and how about Sage Rosenfels? Heck of a night for the Vikings' ninth-string QB last night. Rosenfels was something like 23 for 34 for 300-plus yards and a TD or two. Good showcase effort for when the Vikes trade him next week.

Gardy says "no" to Slowey's no-hit bid

Well that's pretty anti-climatic.

Kevin Slowey won't get a chance to finish his no-hit bid. He had one going through seven innings, but with 105 pitches and the fact that Slowey missed his last start because of elbow soreness, Gardy pulled him.

Pitch counts kind of suck.

Good decision or bad decision by Gardy?

Let's see if the bullpen can finish off a team no-hitter.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sleep, let's get reacquainted

Last night I joked that I was bracing for 19 minutes of sleep.

Turns out, I wasn't that far off. The final tally was a robust 52 minutes of sleep (with a plus/minus of six). I woke up at 1:07 a.m. and was in the office shortly after 4. By the way, it was ridiculously awesome watching the city come to life from my office window. There were still some late-night stragglers roaming around (including a skunk by the Old Central High School, which remains stunning to me even though I walk by it twice a day), but for the most part, downtown was quiet.

Slowly, early risers started invading the sidewalks, the sun appeared and embarked on its methodical ascent, light replaced dark, empty streets gave way to hustle and bustle.

Me? I did my best to make sure Folgers turns a profit this quarter.

Still haven't found the bat, which contributed to last night's lightning-quick sleep. I'm ready to move on. Maybe it's gone, maybe it's hiding, maybe it's turning tricks with other bats. As much as the bat thwarted my sleep, the temperature in my room played a much larger role. It was approximately 173 degrees in my room last night. No air gets in, and my room is on the second floor of a building that was built in 1912. To channel my inner Captain Obvious, the vents and air flow aren't exactly modern.

All of it overwhelmed the single fan in my room. It's a dynamite fan, but still, it's just a fan. I had to flip my pillows a few times because it didn't take long for one side to get soaked with sweat.

I'm hoping for better luck tonight. I've been awake for 22 hours. In those 22 hours, I worked for 10, mowed a lawn and ran 13 miles. It's been a long day. I can't see so well.

But, positive news out of Chicago: Ozzie Guillen looks like a semi just ran over his kitten. Twins win (6-1)! Once again, they're alone in first place. Weird ballgame for Francisco Liriano, who morphed into a magician multiple times while dancing out of precarious situations. He loaded the bases in the fifth with nobody out and proceeded to induce a weak comebacker and two strikeouts on absolutely nasty sliders. The last punchout of that inning, courtesy of Carlos Quentin, was a marvelous display of Liriano's maturation.

Ahead 0-2 in the count, he unleashed a 96-MPH fastball that was high and outside. It was a setup pitch — nothing more, nothing less. And sure enough, Liriano fanned Quentin on a nasty, bouncing slider to preserve the Twins' 3-1 advantage.

A year ago, Liriano doesn't utilize a setup pitch. He was a thrower in 2009, not a pitcher. Tonight, though, he orchestrated a textbook pitch sequence to retire Quentin. Really, Liriano has always been more of a thrower. His stuff was always too overpowering to give a damn. Now he's mixing wits and a repertoire that is still off the charts — not quite what it was in 2006, but still one that has the ability to make a lot of big-league hitters look foolish.

The Twins are 15 games over .500 as they head back to Target Field to take on Oakland.

Couple random tidbits.

In the aforementioned failure to acquire sleep last night, I spent some quality time Googling stuff. Just stuff. The information I stumbled upon for Duluth was pretty fascinating. I'm not gonna recite it all here, but suffice to say the Wikipedia page for the "Air Conditioned City" has itself a repeat customer. That's where I found that Duluth is the second-largest city in Minnesota (in terms of land, not population).

The largest? Hibbing. Hibbing!

I know two things about Hibbing — it has a Lowe's and Hibbing Community College is renowned for its law enforcement training. Oh, and the high school's mascot is the Bluejackets (I think). One more thing! I once caught four consecutive passes, including a touchdown, from T-Spoon during a two-minute drill just before halftime of a road playoff game in Hibbing. That was in 1998. I remember it like it was 12 years ago.

(Side note: I still got reamed on at halftime ... something about not going out of bounds right away on one of the catches, which is unpossible considering that's pretty much all I did in high school — caught the ball and broke for the sidelines to avoid being tackled.)

Another tidbit I found was that Duluth once boasted the most millionaires per capita of any city in the nation. That was in 2007. Just kidding, it was closer to 1907. Still pretty neat.

Perhaps the craziest number I found? Ten. As in Duluth once featured 10 thriving newspapers, including one that was written completely in Finnish (that's a very specific target audience).

Speaking of newspapers, I'm sick of them. The news is so bleak these days. It's not the newspapers' fault. It's just the time we live in. And if it's not bleak news, it's news about stupid people, who appear to be waging an aggressive, multi-faceted coup to take over the world.

I'm also sick of stupid people who want to take over the world. But that was probably implied.

I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Where are you, bat?

This bat has turned into my Everest.

I have spent the past 80 minutes wearing a winter hat and winter gloves, while tip-toeing through my house with a tennis racket in hand.

I got home about 8, and it took me a good 15 minutes before I deemed the house safe to enter. Before I did that, though, I kept reaching my hand into the kitchen and flickering the lights, and then I'd slam the door shut hoping to scare the bat out of hiding.

No luck.

I walked around outside for a while, peering in various windows. Did I look a little creepy? No question about it. Would a neighbor have been justified in calling the cops? Absolutely. Did I care? Not even a little bit.

Bottom line: I can't see the damn thing. I have no effin' idea where it could possibly be. And, absent-mindedly, I left my two bedroom doors open upstairs when I left for work this morning (a harrowing escape I'm actively shopping to Hollywood). You always shut doors when there's a bat in the house so you have a smaller area to search. I know that, too. This ain't my first rodeo.

After I built up the courage to go upstairs, I quickly slammed the door to the spare bedroom and jammed a towel in the two-inch gap at the base of the door. The bathroom door was shut, so, really, the only room upstairs where the bat could be was mine. Nice work, soldier. How I forgot to shut my own door I have no clue. I'm fully prepared to get 19 minutes of sleep tonight.

When I got to my room, I stood in the doorway and launched folded socks, a lock, a mini sculpture of Mount Rushmore and a wooden peg at the curtains covering my window.

In my experience, bats always hang out by curtains. Usually behind them or on the rod. Again, not my first rodeo.

Nothing. No bat. Where are you?

At this point in the night — I'm taking a short break — I feel pretty good. It's not upstairs. If it is, it's in the spare bedroom and that room has been secured. I won't have to open that door until I move in two weeks. Hopefully by then I will have forgotten about the bat (impossible) or, if it is in there, it will have suffocated. Can bats suffocate? Probably.

If it's downstairs, well I don't know where it is. There are two tiles missing from my kitchen ceiling, so I placed a tote cover up there to try to seal it off. I really improvised when it came to the doorway (there's no door ... just an open doorway) that leads to my basement (likely destination). Wanting to block off that entry way, I tacked a sheet firmly into the frame of the doorway. I don't really know how strong bats are, but hopefully that sheet will act as a serious deterrent.

Alright, back to business. One more sweep of my bedroom, then I'm taking a tub and going to bed. I've literally sweated harder tonight than I have on many runs. My heart nearly bounced out of my chest a few times while blindly inching around various corners.

I texted The Chuckster to tell him I'm a huge pansy. After he responded with agreement, he made the point that I should tell my landlord I'm only paying half this month's rent, on account of an unwanted roommate.

One that flies.

This is not a cave

I woke up this morning at 5:30. Groggy, I ambled downstairs to start the coffee. When I got to the bottom step, something came swooping in front of me, from the kitchen to the living room.

Bat.

I was no longer groggy — or sleepy. My spin move and subsequent sprint upstairs was reminiscent of 1996 Barry Sanders. There are 11 steps on that staircase and I'd guess I touched three of them. Bravely — you're damn right I said "bravely" — I gathered my clothes and hurried across the hallway to the bathroom where I plotted my strategy for escaping the house.

This is what it came down to: Once dressed, I would run downstairs, through the kitchen and into the back porch. There, I would reassess the situation by peering through the window into the kitchen, to determine the bat's location.

It worked. I credit a well-conceived plan and excellent execution.

Looking through the window, I saw the kitchen was safe, allowing me to retrieve my laptop, hot pockets and chicken salad. Finally ready to leave, I walked backwards — easier to track my surroundings.

I hate bats. It's been a while since I've had to deal with one. Nonetheless, I hate bats.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Twins club Sox, alone in first

The Twins are alone in first place.

That sounds pretty nice, especially after a putrid June riddled with frustration.

The Twins doubled up the White Sox 12-6 tonight in Chicago for their third straight win. Every time I looked up, it seemed, the Twins were clubbing another homer.

They can pull two games in front with a victory Wednesday.

On a different subject, I'm sick of NFL players holding out for larger contracts. Obviously, the big one is Darrelle Revis, who looks more and more unlikely to play for the Jets this season (I actually take that back — Revis will play, but not before a prolonged holdout that ends just as the preseason winds down). I understand guys wanting to get paid accordingly, and Revis was the best defensive player in the league last year.

At his current salary, he'd be underpaid. But there's more to the story. Take a guy like the Vikings' Sidney Rice, for example. He's making noise about wanting a new contract after his potent 2009 campaign. Like Revis, he'd probably qualify as underpaid. But during Rice's first couple seasons, when he was oft-injured and unproductive, he was overpaid.

So if players can hold out demanding more money because they're coming off a huge season, teams should conversely be able to lock out shitty underperformers and force them to take a paycut. Right? Makes sense, I think.

Rice, then, would have had to forfeit some of his cash from earlier in his career when he was nothing more than an extra body on the field. That same pride that drives these guys to demand fair market value seemingly never surfaces when the tables are turned and they're underachieving and basically stealing from an organization.

Funny, that.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Twins back in first

The Twins are in first place (technically, it's a tie for first)!

And they're headed for the season's first truly big series, a three-gamer in Chicago.

Scott Baker goes against Freddy Garcia in Tuesday's opener.

The Twins have typically owned these late-season showdowns with the White Sox, but this Chicago team just feels a little different, perhaps a little more resilient. We'll see starting tomorrow. Should be fun.

Depression-era photos in color

These are ridiculously cool. They are Depression-era photos that are in color — a rarity. It's still next to impossible to fathom that period of time in anything other than black and white, which is one reason finding this collection was so surreal.

Enjoy.

http://extras.denverpost.com/archive/captured.asp

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Awesome photos from Saturday's storm

Check out this Duluth News Tribune photo gallery from Saturday's epic storm. Western Duluth, and especially Morgan Park, were swamped — 4.5 inches fell from 10 p.m. to midnight.

http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/photogallery/id/1754/

It was amazing. I've probably seen it rain that hard before, but not for that long. It rained from 6 until just after midnight. If we got 4.5 inches in a two-hour span, I'd say we got probably 7 inches total. Intense.

Quick observation on the two cars submerged in water from the gallery: Um, why drive into that? In the DNT article, one of the drivers refused to give his name and didn't want to discuss what happened. Basically, what he was getting at, then, was that we has hammered.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Say it ain't so, Torii

When did Torii Hunter start playing right field?

There was Hunter last night, during an Angels highlight on Sportscenter, playing a ball in the right-field corner. At first, I thought it was some exotic shift for a dead-pull hitter. But no, Hunter is now the Angels' everyday right fielder.

That's a big deal.

Hunter is 35, so it shouldn't come as a huge surprise. And yet ... it does. He's one of those guys who still looks and acts like he's 29. Always goofing, a jovial teammate, loves to play the game, relentless — all the characteristics of a star still going strong.

Age and all those miles, though, are catching up with Torii Hunter.

From ESPN.com:

• "It's all about winning," Hunter said. "Believe me, I can still play center field. Believe me, I can still play center with any youngster. But I'm doing this because it will make our team better."

• "What people don't realize is I had surgery in the offseason [for a sports hernia], and it still bothers me," Hunter said. "My legs are more tired than they've ever been. This is the most I've run in my career, I haven't run this much since I was a kid. I have a 100,000-mile warranty on my legs, and the warranty is up. I had to fix a flat tire to keep the car running."

Center fielders moving to right is a common occurrence. There's not as much real estate to cover at one of the corner outfield spots. Kirby Puckett made a similar move back in the day. But still, it's a sure-fire sign that Hunter is slowing down. He doesn't have the giddy-up — at least not for 162 games a season — that made him one of the best defensive outfielders of his era.

And, frankly, that sucks. I'd claim Torii as one of my top three favorite players of all time. Off the top of my head, I can't name the other two, but, without a doubt, Torii is in the top three. He was a baseball player with a football player's mentality, as competitive a guy as the Twins have ever had.

As a die-hard fan, you frequently wonder whether the players care as much as you do. Some don't. With Hunter, that thought never even entered the equation. He wants to win as much as any athlete — save for perhaps Michael Jordan — I've ever followed. And if his teammates weren't on board, they were destined to go through hell. Justin Morneau, for example, was once on the wrong end of a Torii Hunter punch simply because Hunter felt like Morneau was merely going through the motions, rather than laying it all on the line.

So his switch to right field is a little deflating. Selfishly, I don't want to see Torii Hunter play right field. I want him to stay in center, though I realize it makes more sense for the Angels to plug in a younger guy with — this is tough to admit — more range. The move makes Anaheim better, and it's better for Hunter in the long run.

I still don't like it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Best catch ever?

Most ridiculous baseball catch ever.

Just ... wow.

http://www.straitpinkie.com/sports/crazy-spiderman-catch-by-japanese-baseball-player/

Frost? In August? Yes, yes we can!

Tuesday, it was close to 90 degrees in Duluth with brutal humidity.

Today, a headline on the Duluth News Tribune's website tells a different story:

"Patchy frost possible tonight in parts of the region"

It's Aug. 5! Fall is roughly 47 days away! Forty-eight hours ago, it was 90! My birthday is in 21 days! The birthday thing, that doesn't really have anything to do with the weather. Though I will say this: Growing up, I detested my birthday because it meant school was a week away. Horrible planning on my parents' part. Which leads me to believe I was probably a mistake.

It's fine.

The brief DNT write-up went on to say, "The Iron Range, areas along the Canadian border and interior sections of Lake and Cook counties may see areas of frost after midnight as temperatures are forecast to fall into the 30s in some locations.

Friday should be a sunny day across the region, with highs in the 70s."

I really wish I was a meteorologist. I'm fascinated by weather. Sometimes I watch the Weather Channel and see if I can guess what the forecasters will say next. And I practice saying "doppler radar" while pointing at a pretend map on my living room wall.

I do neither of those things.

But I do enjoy crazy weather patterns.

Almost as much as I enjoy watching Ron Mahay serve up a game-tying grand slam to Jason Bartlett to cap a six-run Rays rally and tie the Twins at 6 in the bottom of the eighth inning. What a bizarre game this afternoon, which the Twins eventually won thanks to an assist from a catwalk at Tropicana Field.

Kevin Slowey and a balanced offense pushed the Twins to a 6-0 lead entering the bottom of the eighth, when all hell broke loose. Slowey ran out of gas like a 1970 Yugo, and the Rays started bunching baserunners together. Trailing 6-2 and with the bases jacked, Tampa Bay sent Bartlett to the dish as a pinch-hitter.

The former Twin lopped a weak Mahay offering just over the left-field wall to knot the game at six apiece. I don't know where Ron Mahay came from. He's been on the club all season, but I'm not sure how. He looks like he's 56 and took a wrong turn while trying to get to an old-timers bar-league softball affair. He's shady.

In the top of the ninth, the Twins, who had every reason to wilt after the devastating rally, somehow kept plugging along. Jason Repko led off with a double and scored when Jason Kubel launched a sky-high popup that hit a catwalk hanging over the infield. The ball fell to the ground, Repko scored, and Joe Mauer came across on Michael Cuddyer's single to left field to make it 8-6.

Matt Capps, who was brilliant for 1 1/3 innings, shut the door in the home half of the ninth to give the Twins a split on the road against one of the best outfits in baseball. Not a bad series, especially considering the Twins dropped the first two games.

Speaking of bar-league softball (I think I spoke of bar-league softball), I'll be playing a little during this weekend's Beerhunters tournament at Wade and Wheeler. I initially planned to enjoy a nice, relaxing weekend. That's probably not gonna happen. Not with bean bags and the West Duluth street dance Friday night, the weekend softball tournament and a pig roast Saturday night.

I should find my spikes and glove at some point tomorrow. And then maybe some calisthenics to get ready for the first game Saturday morning. Maybe some BP, too. We'll see if I have time.

By the way, it's a shame Slowey didn't get the win today. His final line — four earned runs in 7 1/3 innings — does little to explain how effective he was. And he was working fast. I just watched part of the replay and he was on a mission. He'd get the ball back from Drew Butera and be ready to go again.

I'm watching Kubel's post-game interview on FSN right now. It's awkward. I love Jason Kubel, but his career after baseball isn't going to involve a lot of public speaking.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Favre sets world record for shortest retirement

So now Brett Favre might not retire. He apparently intends to play, provided his ankle comes around.

It's good news. Favre could have made that announcement Tuesday, but it's still good news.

I don't know what to think. I have a hard time believing Favre sent teammates text messages Monday saying "this is it," only to proclaim the exact opposite 24 hours later. I know the guy loves to stir up a little drama, but that doesn't even seem plausible. Unless, of course, Favre suddenly started drinking again. In which case, I say "what the hell took him so long?"

After today's statement that Favre is committed to playing if his ankle comes around, I have little doubt he'll be flinging passes against the Saints in early September.

This whole situation calls to mind the validity of today's working media. With 24/7 coverage, there's a no-holds-barred race to get "the story." Not to get the correct story — any story will do. Reporters throw shit against the wall and see what sticks. Only they're doing it in very public forums — blogs, newspapers, radio shows, podcasts, etc. — and paying little attention to those pesky facts.

The same deal played out with conference realignment a couple months ago. Every conceivable shakeup was reported as gospel, only to be refuted by a new, sexier — though still woefully inaccurate — alignment plan. The Big 12 was breaking up, it was staying together, half the teams were joining the Big Ten, all of 'em were headed to the Pac 10, and so on. That cycle — the hyper-active 24/7 news cycle — kept spinning crazy tales of schools jumping all over the place.

In the end, Colorado and Utah went to the Pac 10 and Nebraska joined the Big Ten. Still pretty big news, but nowhere near as big as what was being reported — again, not speculated, but reported. It was a stunning portrayal of today's media landscape. Everybody rushed to get their byline on the latest gossip, and it just kept snowballing. For a week that went on. The journalists on the front line were nothing more than puppets.

Texas, for example, kept feeding its media horde delicious little scraps. Texas, it turns out, had no intention of bolting for the Pac 10, but by stirring the pot and threatening to do so, and making it seem almost inevitable that they'd be ditching the Big 12, Texas got itself a sweetheart deal to do what it likely had planned to do all along — nothing. The Longhorns' conference mates threw millions at UT to stay put.

In the end, it became painfully obvious that Texas played the media like a banjo. School officials made it seem like they were ready to leave. The writers got the story out there, and pretty soon, money was being thrown at Texas to stay.

So there's a part of me that feels like a similar scenario is playing out with this Favre thing. Everybody and their grandma has a new detail, a new theory, a new source. Thus, who do you believe? Any of 'em? It's hard to determine who's done his or her homework and who's merely throwing stuff at the wall.

Again, it's get the story, get it fast ... and then double-check the facts. It should be the other way around. It doesn't always work that way.

Oh, hey, the Twins just won. Actually it was like 10 minutes ago that they won, but I got all worked up and started rambling about Texas and stuff — further proof that nothing good ever comes from Texas.

Anyways, the Twins won behind eight spectacular innings from Scott Baker. The righty allowed just three hits and was in line for a well-deserved win until Matt Capps coughed up a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth. Still, the Twins persevered (it's nice to use those two words together) and eked out a 2-1 triumph over the red-hot Rays. Big ballgame tomorrow in which the Twins could earn a road split against one of the best clubs in baseball.

Holy hell it's already August 5. When did that happen? How did that happen? Seems like just yesterday I was going camping for Memorial Day. It obviously wasn't yesterday because Memorial Day almost always falls in May, but it feels like it was. It will be snowing in a month. Well, maybe not a month, but close. That sucks.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Favre retires. Announcement that he's un-retiring expected soon

Brett Favre is apparently retiring.

Like most of America, I'm skeptical. We've been down this road before.

Every year since 2002, Favre has considered retiring (I just stole that line from ESPN). This would be his third retirement. If he does, in fact, walk away. Favre's pretty damn good at a lot of things, but retiring? Not so much.

I don't know what to think. Part of me thinks it's a selfish move for a guy that had the Vikings convinced he'd be back for the 2010 campaign. The Vikes, consequently, stood pat at quarterback. They were confident Favre would be starting against the Saints in Week 1. So for him to back out a month before the season commences, well that's a raw deal.

But is he actually, for real, no-doubt-about-it retiring? Nobody, not a soul, can make that statement. As it's been with Favre for much of the past decade, we'll simply have to wait and see where he's at when the season kicks off.

I'm 50-50. I think he desperately wants to play and take another crack at a Super Bowl triumph. I think he's motivated to continue to stick it to the Packers. I think he relishes the cheers and adoring fans. On the other hand, he's got way too much pride to play if his body's falling apart and won't allow him to do the things he's accustomed to doing.

I really have no idea. My fingers are crossed, though. I've seen enough of Tarvaris Jackson to know the Vikings aren't wrapping their arms around the Vince Lombardi Trophy next February if Jackson is the starting slinger.

Switching gears, I'm back to being upset with the Twins. Really, this has been an on-again, off-again relationship all summer. The Twins don't know about the relationship, but it's there. And it's complicated. Two weeks ago, they were dead to me. We were broken up. I was at the stage where I burn all the things that reminded me of the Twins.

Sunday, I was waxing poetic about guys like Brian Duensing and Danny Valencia, singing the praises of Delmon Young and Jason Kubel. Today, after the Twins dropped their second straight to the Rays, I'd classify our relationship as "on a break." We're close to "seeing other people," but not quite there yet.

I'd really just like for them to beat a quality oppononet. You know, to prove it's possible.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Winning streak reaches eight games

Did everybody have a grand weekend?

The Twins sure did, as they stretched their winning streak to eight games. They have outscored opponents 66-16 during the season-saving surge. Francisco Liriano was dynamite this afternoon, a day after Kevin Slowey tossed his best game of the season.

The Twins are now 13 games above .500 (59-46).

It's on to Tampa Bay on Monday for a four-game series against the Rays. That's a biggie. The Twins have feasted on sub-par competition the past week and a half, so four road games against one of the best clubs in the league is a big test. It should tell us whether the recent winning streak was a mirage or a harbinger of things to come.

My guess: a series split, which wouldn't be a bad thing.