A Byrd In Hand
The Byrds. No, not the Birds, the Byrds, the folk-rock band of the ’60’s. You know, “Roger McQuinn had a 12-string guitar it was like nothing I’d ever heard.” - David Alan Coe lyrics from his song “Willie, Waylon and Me”.
I was always envious of Roger McQuinn of the Byrds. He could make a Rickenbacker 12-string guitar jingle-jangle while I had trouble plucking your basic 6-string. That’s how I wound up a bass man. Only had to pluck four strings. It was said I could play the bass by ear, but to be honest, I only ever used my fingers.
I had a buddy, our rhythm guitar player, who also liked to play bass and sometimes the two of us would get together to drink a little beer and try to create a two-bass riff. Usually, after a couple hours of intense “practice”, the basses were loaded. The runs often came later.
We both played in a garage band, that’s like Low A ball in the music world. We were just good enough to play cheap taverns for all the surreptitious beer we could drink, but occasionally we’d get real cash in payment; sometimes to stop playing. But there was one small town tavern that booked us every couple of months because we always packed the place. I often wondered if the semi-isolated town was that hard up for entertainment or if the local population was tone deaf. If so it could've been genetic. They kept calling each other “Cousin”.
One of the cousins, a dishwater blonde with chapped hands, had a thing for me. I once told her an off-color joke during one of our frequent intermissions and she wrinkled up her face in disgust and scornfully demanded “God! How low can you go?”
“Well, I am a bass man,” I told her. Needless to say I struck out.
“So what the hell does all this have to do with the Twins game?” you demand impatiently, suspecting the Dastard is about to throw you a curve ball.
“Patience, Grasshopper,” I reply in my best impression of a learned Shaolin monk. “A master weaver threads carefully.”
Or should that be “treads carefully”? You know, so you don’t tear the rice paper as you run away from irate dishwater blondes.
However I will graciously concede Roger McQuinn has nothing to do with today’s game or the Baltimore Orioles for that matter. But he does have something to do with Minnesota. You see the Byrds first hit was “Mr. Tambourine Man” which was composed by none other than Bob Dylan, a native Minnesotan who actually has musical talent.
Dylan, according to legend, began writing “Tambourine Man” while attending Mardi Gras and completed it during a cross-country trip from New Orleans to New York with friends. One of those friends, according to Dylan, was none other than the ubiquitous yet often inspiring Mary Jane.
Anyway, if you drive cross-country from New Orleans to New York City, you have to go through or around Baltimore. And if you’re into one of those wide-eyed driving-stupors that come on after too many hours behind the wheel, with or without Mary Jane, and get caught up in Baltimore rush-hour traffic you just might see a bird or two. Not a baseball player. Or Roger McQuinn. The middle finger kind. I know this from personal experience.
Which, circuitously brings us back to today’s game with the Orioles; aka in sports writer slang; The Birds. It seems John Means, today’s pitcher for the Birds, recently got the Flying Fickle Finger of Fate award for almost throwing a Perfect Game. Apparently Means did throw a Perfect Game, but since his catcher dropped a third strike pitch and the batter made it safely down to first, a runner did reach base and therefore technically Means threw a Perfect Game that can’t be scored as a Perfect Game. Talk about getting the middle finger. Just goes to show you that the end doesn’t always justify the Means.
I know, I went a long way to get that one in and lend this effort a somewhat tenuous connection to baseball, but in my own defense I would like to point out that I devilishly turned the phrase “basses were loaded” and also used such iconic baseball words as “Low A”, “struck out”, "runs" and “curve ball” while threading my way to this denouement.
I guess you could say I’ve been stringing you along.
Whatever, it's time for the Twins to stop stringing us along and turn this season around if they want to avoid getting "birded" by their fans.
Today's Duelists on the Mound
Orioles - John “What Does It” Means 4-0 ERA 1.70 K- 59
Twins - Matt “The Cobbler” Shoemaker 2-5 ERA 6.08 K - 25
This is your opinion. I think Baldelli shoulders much more of the blame. He legitimately seems to be out of step with the players. You could say Baldelli is in his own bubble. It's clear to see with the pitching that has not adequately assessed who should be pitching where and when.
The front office shoulders more blame as well. Yes they had good intentions, and yes they used the same method to build out the bullpen that they used in previous years. Personally, I expected this year's result in those previous years too, so although I was not happy with the bullpen this year, I held back on judging it.
As for the players, I'm sure none of them want to be hitting or pitching as badly as they are. Let's be serious, would any of us be building a team around the likes of Kepler, Sano, Polanco, Shoemaker, Colome, etc.? Yes, all of us would probably have kept one or two of these guys around, but not all of them.
For me, the biggest disappointment is Polanco, but I can't honestly say any of the others would still be on this team if I were in charge. Not that getting rid of all of them now is the answer, gutting the team by cleaning house is a recipe for disaster. The Twins should be looking to improve continuously by moving a couple of these marginal pieces year over year.
In any case, the players are who they are. Blaming them for that is not productive, unless we know they are not taking the job seriously. If any of us believed, for example, that Kepler was a difference-maker, that's on us.
The Twins team of the 00s had a lot of turnover, but kept improving. Sure, the late 80s teams had roster consistency, but they also had a team of all-stars and were setting attendance records.
I’m going to count most minor leaguers as ex-Twins, if only on the principle that’s its mush more costly to find new talent than retain the talent already in the organization. Especially if someone has been in the organization for several years.
Thus, Akil Baddoo and Tyler Wells are ex-Twins, in my book.
But I realize that people can decide differently and disagree amicably on this.
Wonder if Johan will talk about downward planes and when a hit is given up no matter where the pitch was the pitch was "right there" like pitch location was the only reason for the hit. Oh Bert, how the years went by I learned you were just talking non-sense over and over. The Fox track box really made him look a fool the last few years.