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nclahammer

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  1. Like
    nclahammer reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, As Buxton Hope Fades, Front Office Goes   
    Byron Buxton is quite arguably the most talented player in Minnesota Twins history. His athleticism is unmatched, and his production is unparalleled. Then there’s the caveat, when healthy.
    With the hometown nine looking at the doldrums of the division, and the 2021 Major League Baseball trade deadline looming, plenty of storms are brewing on the roster construction front. One of the most reported is that of Minnesota’s failed attempts at a contract extension with their star centerfielder.
    Currently shelved after being hit by a pitch, Buxton had rebuffed the latest seven-year, $80 million pact that would add addition earning opportunity through incentives. That deal was just a $7 million increase over the previous offer, and still nearly $20 million shy of where this front office paid another oft-injured 3rd basemen (who is five years older) just two seasons ago.
    The refrain regarding Buxton’s availability is a common one, he has been shelved often throughout his career. The reality though, is that it is through the injury history where the Twins find themselves offered grace. Because he’s been unavailable, Buxton’s $200 million or more payday is not going to happen. He would command plenty on the open market with more competition bidding on his services, but it’s the Twins who have the table and the realistic opportunity because of how his career has played out.
    Coming into 2021 the team was expected to be good. Unfortunately, the front office has watched each of its offseason acquisitions tie together career-worst seasons, as well as regression from plenty of holdover talents. Unless there’s an admittance of poor talent assessment virtually across the whole roster, then there should be reason to look at this season as an outlier.
    2022 represents an opportunity to reload. If the core of this club was seen as competitive before, and that’s been proven through their track record of winning, an alteration of that belief shouldn’t be so swift. To suggest there’s an attempt at competing in the year ahead while dealing the team’s best player would be hollow at best.
    Certainly, both Jose Berrios and Buxton should command a haul when it comes to prospect capital in exchange for their services. The volatility of those players will always be high however, and you’d need at least two reaching something like the 95th percentile of their hopefully outcomes to feel good about what you gave up. Berrios would love a gaping hole in an already poor rotation, and Buxton’s presence would be missed on a nightly basis.
    Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have put in an infrastructure of sustainability and competitiveness. They should be commended for that. Bailing on that process at the Major League level rather than supplementing what they have fostered would be a hard pill to swallow, and one worthy of substantial criticism.
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  2. Like
    nclahammer reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Twins Bets Worth Cashing in 2021   
    Last season was a difficult one to check in with regarding over under lines put out by major sportsbooks. With the truncated season having goofy projected stat lines, they never made a ton of sense to dive into. Normalcy has begun to return, and there’s some money to be made based on Minnesota performances in the year ahead.
     
    I tend to shy away from RBI focused lines, and the Twins have a handful of new subjects being considered big enough names worthy of individual focus for the year ahead. There wasn’t a ton of lines I loved, but there’s some long shots that also seem incredibly juicy. Let’s get into it.
     
    Jose Berrios OVER 190.5 strikeouts
     
    Each of the past two full seasons, the only he’s pitched in the majors, Berrios has tallied 202 and 195 strikeouts. Last season in 63.0 IP the Twins hurler racked up 68 strikeouts, which was nearly a full strikeout improvement to his K/9 from 2019. I don’t know that we see the Puerto Rican all of a sudden make a run at a Cy Young award, but I think sustainability is something that will emerge in 2021. Minnesota reworked his offseason routine with hopes of avoiding the late summer swoon, and Berrios has made velocity additions under pitching coach Wes Johnson. Let me have the over on what would otherwise be his lowest full-season strikeout total.
     
    Josh Donaldson OVER 27.5 home runs
     
    In his first year with the Twins Josh Donaldson played in under 50% of the team’s games. Nagging calf issues aren’t new for the former MVP, and if nothing else, that should represent some hope in that he’ll know how to rehab effectively. With Atlanta in 2019, Donaldson crushed 37 dingers, and even in a 113-game campaign during 2017 he posted 33 longballs. In fact, the last time Donaldson didn’t hit 27 homers in a year where substantial time was missed happened way back in 2013. This will be the season that the Bringer of Rain shows why he was handed a $100 million contract, and he’ll be part of an offense that provides plenty of thump.
     
    Miguel Sano OVER 35.5 home runs
     
    Hitting 35 homers would represent a career high for the Twins first basemen. That might make this line seem like a stretch, however, he clubbed 34 of them in just 105 games during the 2019 season. 2021 is the first season since he’s been refocused within the game to not have a spring setback. There’s no achilles injury or bout with Covid and the Dominican appears to be all systems go. Miguel Sano struck out a ridiculous 43.9% of the time a season ago yet still hit homers at a pace of 39 per 162 games. I’d bet heavily on him reducing the whiff rate to something more in line with career norms, and he’s still going to give away a lot of baseballs to fans back in ballparks.
     
    Minnesota Twins OVER 89.5 wins
     
    This line seems like free money and beyond odd to me. Not only are the Twins not considered favorites to three-peat in the AL Central, but it would also represent a division with a second-place team not reaching the 90-win plateau. Back in 2019 that happened in just two divisions, both in the National League, and with no real secondary competition. Minnesota should still be expected atop Chicago until the White Sox show otherwise, but even if that isn’t the case, dropping below 90 wins seems like a really big stretch.
     
    Lead MLB in HRs Miguel Sano (25/1) Nelson Cruz (40/1)
     
    The former seems like a fairly strong bet here. Any player that should surpass 40 home runs has to be in the conversation for this accolade, and at 25/1 there’s no reason not to throw something on Sano. I think he’s more likely to take the title than teammate Nelson Cruz, but the 40/1 odds for the designated hitter are too juicy to pass up as well. There’s not enough reason to indicate the favorites are more likely to race out to an easy victory, so taking a flier makes sense.
     
    AL Cy Young Winner Kenta Maeda (22/1)
     
    Something seems odd here too as Maeda is the reigning runner-up for this award and yet he’s got longer odds than teammate Jose Berrios (16/1). Maeda has been flawless through nine innings this spring, but that’s not really the story here. The former Dodgers starter has always been overshadowed in Los Angeles and he flashed how good he really is a season ago. That wasn’t a short season fluke, and a repeat performance wouldn’t be shocking, while going the distance to establish him as an ace.
     
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  3. Like
    nclahammer reacted to Allen Post for a blog entry, Falvey and Levine Have Earned Our Trust Once Again   
    Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have landed two more big free agency punches. The intrepid front office duo ended their extended standoff with Nelson Cruz Tuesday night, signing the beloved DH a one-year $13 million deal. Then, they bolstered the bullpen Wednesday afternoon by adding Alex Colomé to an affordable one-year contract with a mutual option for a second season.
     
    In Cruz, we know what we’re getting – or at least we hope we do. The 40-year-old slugger has hit for power as well as anybody in the game in his two seasons in a Twins jersey, but he’s just that – a 40-year-old slugger. Father Time – with a 43-year-old Tom Brady in another Superbowl – has been taking a beating recently, but he’s still undefeated. And though Cruz has been remarkably resistant to decline, he will give way to the inevitability of age soon. The Twins just hope it’s not this year. If Cruz is the same guy he has been, then Nelly will be the lead slugger in a lineup full of them and his $13 million price tag will be money well spent.
     
    Colomé will be pretty familiar with the Twins as well. After all, he’s limited Twins hitters to a .214 average in 22 appearances against the club. Colomé primarily uses a four-seam and cutter to get his outs and, though he has a power arm, he isn’t the strikeout guy some of the rest of the Twins’ relievers are. Instead, he relies on the cutter to create ground balls and soft contact. Colomé’s career ERA is under three and, in his shortened 2020 season, it was 0.81 in 21 appearances. There’s no reason to believe he can’t be that dominant again with the Twins, especially because Minnesota’s revamped infield defense ought to serve a contact pitcher like Colomé very well.
     


    Alex Colomé will be a valuable piece in the Twins' bullpen 
    It seems then that, at long last, the Twins have crossed off all the items on their offseason shopping list. After these two moves, the Twins have filled holes in the rotation and the bullpen, and at shortstop and DH. And, though the wait for substantial free agent activity was at times excruciating, the team is better today that it was at the start of the offseason. With one or two more signings for a cheap arm or utility depth, the Twins will be clear AL Central favorites again, if they aren’t already.
     
    Today, at the end of this free agency rush, the worries we as Twins fans had during the dry spell seem silly, and really, they always were. Falvey and Levine haven’t failed us yet, but, like someone fresh out of a toxic relationship, we were expecting to get hurt, even though the person we’re with now has done nothing wrong. Terry Ryan scarred us by sticking to old school baseball well into the 21st century and by paying Ervin Santana, but “Falvine” aren’t like that. They are calculated and competent, patient but opportunistic. They are the perfect duo to have making personnel decisions in the modern-day MLB. Yeah, it took a while, but they were always in control. The Cruz deal moved at a snail’s pace because that’s what was needed to get him on a team-friendly deal. They moved on Simmons almost immediately after Semien signed elsewhere. These guys don’t miss the boat. They don’t hurt the team like Terry Ryan did. They know what they’re doing.
     


    Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have the Twins in a great spot again 
    It’ll take time before we get used to the fact that the Twins are a competent, forward-thinking MLB organization. Even now, I’m worried – against my better judgement – that, with a bunch of one-year deals, we’ll have to go through all of this again next offseason. Though that’s probably the case, if getting a better baseball team in exchange for a few months of waiting is all we have to “go through,” then that’s fine by me. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine haven’t “lost” an offseason yet; they just take a while to win them. So, next year, when we do this again, remember who’s in charge and be patient for a few weeks. You’ll probably like where the team ends up.
     
     
    Update: Minutes after this went up, the Twins dealt for a cheap arm like I mentioned above in Shaun Anderson from the Giants.
  4. Like
    nclahammer reacted to Andrew Luedtke for a blog entry, Does the Simmons Move Hint at Which SP the Twins Could Target?   
    Twins fans were rightfully excited about acquring slick fielding SS Andrelton Simmons last night.
     
    If you want to spend a fun 10 mintues, check out his defensive highlight reel

    There's no doubt that grabbing the best defensive SS since Ozzie Smith will upgrade the Twins roster.
     
    Combine Simmons with already strong defenders in Buxton, Donaldson, Jeffers, and Kepler, you can see how quickly the mind would shift to "well, what does this mean for their pitching?".
     
    In my opinion, this means two things:
     
    1) It upgrades the Twins existing staff (and should be helpful to one guy in particular)
    2) It might tell us a bit about who the Twins could target next for a SP, given their newly upgraded defense
     
    Simmons Impact on Existing Twins Pitchers:
     
    Looking purely at GB% (calculated by the number of ground balls induced/number of balls put in play), we know that based on an improved defense, the more balls hit on the ground, the higher chance they have to be converted into outs than they did 24 hours ago (pre-Simmons signing).
     
    It's even more fun to look at how much better the Twins defense is than in 2017 when Falvey and Levine took over. JD Cameron takes a look into that here.
     
    From Fangraphs, a "ground ball pitcher" is any pitcher who has a GB% over 50%. League wide in 2019 - 2020, the average GB% was 42.8%.
     
    Here is how the Twins current staff stacks up by GB% using combined stats from the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
    For the most part, the majority of the staff has a below average GB% (would love to see what this chart looked like for the 2004 pitch-to-contact Twins).
     


     
    Two names stand out here.
     
    1. Randy Dobnak - GB% of 58.8%***
    2. Taylor Rogers - GB% of 48.2%
     
    ***Since he came into the league, Randy Dobnak ranks 7th out of 284 pitchers in GB%.
     
    Which SP could the Twins acquire that would benefit most from the Twins defense?
     
    Given that any ball hit on the left side of the infield should be vaccumed up quicker than a Dyson, maybe this shifts how the front office approaches filling out the rotation. Ground ball pitchers stand to gain a lot if their infield can consistently convert more ground balls into outs.
     
    It's the little things in baseball that make the major differences.
     
    From 2019 - 2020, there were 284 pitchers that threw at least 75 IP.
     
    Below are the ranks and GB% for the remaining free agents.
     
    For this exercise, I only focused on FA that had a GB% at 44% or higher.
     
    You can see the entire list from Fangraphs here.
     
    Brett Anderson - 55.2% (17th)
    Jake Arrieta - 51.4% (30th)
    Adam Wainwright - 47.4% (71st)
    Cole Hamels - 47.0% (79th)
    Aaron Sanchez - 46.9% (81st)
    Homer Bailey - 44% (128th)
     
    Below are the ranks for potential trade candidates that have popped up in rumors. Again, I only focused on players with a GB% of 44% or higher.
     
    Luis Castillo - 56.1% (13th)
    Sonny Gray - 50.9% (35th)
    German Marquez - 49.5% (52nd)
    Jon Gray - 46.9% (81st)
     
    BONUS. Here are a couple bullpen free agents that could benefit from a good defensive infield:
     
    Jeremy Jeffress - 50.0%
    Alex Colome - 47.7%
     
    So there you have it. I will be interested to see how the Twins defense positively impacts the pitching staff all year long. Specifically, I am excited to see what this means for Randy Dobnak.
     
    For now, I am most interested to see what the Simmons acquisition means in how the Twins front office addresses the rest of their pitching needs.
     
    Do any names on this list jump out to you as being good targets for the Twins? Maybe now even moreso with a Simmons addition?
  5. Like
    nclahammer reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Simba Brings Defensive Pride to Minnesota   
    All offseason I’ve been preaching that patience should be exhibited in regards to the Minnesota Twins. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have earned the benefit of doubt and shown that they are sound decision makers. Tonight, that came to fruition.
     
    After *missing* out on Marcus Semien as one of the interested parties, they quickly pivoted to the best defender in this free agent class. Andrelton Simmons, formerly of the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Angels, the Platinum Glove defender makes a tandem of sorts with Byron Buxton. He’s been worth 191 defensive runs saved over the course of his career. Paired with Josh Donaldson on the left side of Minnesota’s infield, opposing batters will face a black hole.
     
    As important as signing Simmons is, it’s also what the acquisition does for the roster construction of the Twins that makes a bigger splash. Jorge Polanco has been miscast as a shortstop for the entirety of his big-league career. His range is limited, and the arm strength has been problematic. Moving him to second base, he brings an offensive prowess that the position is often void of, and he moves a career 121 OPS+ hitter in Luis Arraez to super utility. Minnesota satisfied two separate needs with this one decision.
     
    Sure, it’s Polanco’s move to the other side of the diamond that will draw the immediate interest but being able to deploy Arraez all over the field is a great boost for Rocco Baldelli. The favorite to win a batting title can now spell guys on a regular basis, play corner outfield, and fill in at both second and third base. Arraez was initially mentioned as a trade chip to acquire pitching, and while I do still think the Twins flip players for another arm, this role seems to perfect of a fit for him to part with.
     
    Now that there’s some roster certainty thanks to Simmons sorting out the infield, there should be little waiting for Minnesota when it comes to Nelson Cruz. The reunion has always seemed like a logical one, and the designated hitter has been reported as not being universal for the upcoming season.
     
    We’ve waited all winter for moves to happen, and this Simmons signing feels like a dam breaking decision that gets the ball rolling in terms of locking everything else up. The Twins may look at holdovers on the relief market, but I’d hardly be shocked if their DH and starting pitching options aren’t decided upon quickly.
     
    The White Sox raced out to start the offseason, and the Padres have taken plenty of the spotlight, but this is a move that puts Minnesota right back on top of the Central.
     
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  6. Like
    nclahammer reacted to Allen Post for a blog entry, Why Are We So Down on Luis Arraez?   
    Think back to October 2019 – the Twins had just gotten pantsed in the playoffs. Again. A really fun season had ended in disappointment. Again. But there was still ample reason for hope. One such reason for optimism was the emergence of Luis Arraez, a rookie contact-hitting savant. Now, one (odd) season later, and we’re in about the same place. The Twins are fresh off another fun season that ended in postseason embarrassment, but this year, we’re much less excited about the 23-year-old second baseman. And for what? All Arraez did in 2020 was fight through injury to hit for a .321 batting average (best on the team) and a .364 on-base percentage (second best) while playing a decent second base. So why are some Twins fans throwing his name into every possible trade deal or into a platoon with whoever ends up as Minnesota’s utility man? Hasn’t Arraez earned himself a spot in the Twins future?
     
    2020 Season
    Okay, obviously saying that Arraez “fought through injury” to bat .321 is a fairly rose-tinted way of looking at what Luis brought to the Twins last year. To put it a different way, “Arraez was an injury liability and, when he was in the lineup, he regressed in all major stat categories and offered very little in the way of power.” The truth about Arraez is somewhere in between these two takes, but I’ve heard a lot more extreme pessimism than optimism. Yes, he regressed last year and no, he doesn’t help the team when he’s injured, but we’ve found ways to excuse nearly every other Twin for those same exact problems without casting them off as trade bait (I’m looking at you, Garver and Buxton). Also, Arraez’s “regression” brought him down to a .321 average that would’ve been good for third-best in the American League if he had enough at-bats to qualify. As far as I’m concerned, that’s still a pretty good season.
     


    Arraez's 2020 campaign was disappointing, but there's reason for hope going forward 
    Advanced Stats
    I understand that, nowadays, you often have to do more than just hit at a high average to be a solid MLB player, but worry not, because Arraez actually improved slightly in a number of more telling advanced statistics last season. His 2020 campaign saw him improve in average exit velocity, sweet spot percentage and hard hit percentage, per Baseball Savant. None of these improvements was particularly significant and he’s by no means excelling in any of these categories, but it’s clear by looking at the advanced metrics that Arraez is not getting worse at the plate. In fact, it seems that his 2020 season should have been even better than his breakout rookie year.
     
    So why did it feel disappointing? Because we were hoping for that second-year leap and we got a regression to the mean instead. Arraez’s improvement in advanced hitting metrics and regression in average and OBP show us that his rookie year was a statistical outlier more than it was a stepping stone to even greater success in the future. Still, if .321 is the mean he regressed towards, Twins fans ought to be excited, especially considering that he was injured and is still only 23. We’ve written off much worse pandemic performances from healthier and more experienced guys, so let’s afford Arraez some of that forgiveness.
     
    2021 Projections
    Unfortunately, ZiPS (and every other projection service) doesn’t seem to be helping me make my case. They predict a slash line of .313/.371/.406 for his third year in the bigs. On the surface, this looks worse than it is because Arraez’s average is projected to take another hit, but ZiPS actually projects that .313 mark to lead the majors. They have his on-base and slugging numbers improving, too, so, really, they’re not down on Arraez at all. Even if Arraez does level out as a .313 hitter – and I think he’ll be better than that long-term – adding some power and taking more walks would be a massive improvement for his career and for the Twins lineup. And I believe he can make those improvements because, again, he’s only 23.
     


    ZiPS projects a .313/.371/.406 slash line for Arraez in 2021 
    So, where does that leave us? I saw the regression from his rookie year (we all did) and no, his 2020 year wasn’t what we hoped for, but Arraez is still a great asset for the Twins moving forward. I believe in his contact hitting that has been the best on the team and I believe in the advanced metrics that show his improvements in other areas. Most of all, though, I believe in the player. Arraez has hit .300 at every level of professional baseball, and is the same age or younger than some of the Twins’ top minor-league prospects. He’s already a great hitter and he has a lot of opportunity for growth ahead of him. Luis Arraez may very well win a batting title soon, and the Twins better make sure he does it in a Minnesota jersey.
  7. Like
    nclahammer reacted to Allen Post for a blog entry, Happ Signing Means Bigger Things to Come...We Hope   
    The Twins signed veteran starter J.A. Happ to a one-year, $8 million deal this afternoon. Happ is 38 years old and pitched to a 3.47 ERA and a 1.054 WHIP in nine starts with the Yankees in 2020.
    At first glance, Happ’s addition feels like the kind of boring move that is necessary for contending teams to make. He’s not making national headlines, but he’ll slide right into the fourth spot in the rotation and he’ll get a lot of important outs throughout the year as long as he stays healthy. With the addition, the rotation looks as follows:
    Maeda/Berrios
    The other of Maeda/Berrios
    Pineda
    Happ
    Dobnak

    That’s all well and good. That’s a high-level American League rotation. The eight million feels a little steep and Happ wasn’t on many of our radars, but you can’t be too mad at a hole getting filled.
     


    Happ pitched well in 2020 and hopes to keep fans smiling in Minnesota 
    It’s certainly still possible that the Twins still spend on another starter to get closer to a 2011 Phillies-esque “Four Aces” roster construction, but I just don’t see it. The rotation is seemingly set and there are bigger holes elsewhere. While Trevor Bauer was probably always going to be too spendy, guys like Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton no longer seem like possibilities for the Twins. Of course, Jake Odorizzi could come back into the fold and push Pineda and Happ down to the four and five slots respectively. But I think Dobnak and a number of capable arms in the Twins system would hold down that five spot pretty well, so I would argue that there’s more upside in leaving Odo on the market and spending money elsewhere.
     
    So, now that starting pitching is no longer much of a target position, the Twins’ intentions for the rest of the free agency period become a little bit clearer. We’ve been hearing about and hoping for the possibility of big moves in the coming weeks and months, and now we know better where the money will be spent. Before today, the holes in the roster were primarily at shortstop (or utility), DH, the four spot in the rotation, and in the bullpen. Falvey and Levine just filled the hole in the rotation with a somewhat cheap one-year deal. This limited commitment to the starting rotation suggests that the front office is saving money for big moves elsewhere. And it seems that any big commitments from the Twins’ will be made at short, DH or in the bullpen.
     


    Happ's low-commitment deal allows the Twins flexibility to acquire top talent 
    At DH, the Twins are in position to bring back Nelson Cruz for one more ride or for a big multi-year investment in Marcell Ozuna. There are options at short too, such as Marcus Semien, Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons, or blue-chip trade options Trevor Story or Javier Báez. They could also go out and get top relievers like Trevor Rosenthal and Brad Hand, but filling out the pen with cheap signings and homegrown talent is more Minnesota’s style. We could also see the club sprinkle money in a lot of places at once, signing a bunch of mid-level guys instead of one big-ticket player.
     
    There is, of course, a chance that the Twins remain pretty inactive, and rely on guys currently in the organization to make another playoff run. For most Twins fans, this would be a worst-case scenario and, as the days go on, our collective worries grow. For the most pessimistic fans, this signing will provide little comfort. J.A. Happ isn’t a big signing. But for me, he fills a hole that allows the Twins more flexibility to pursue the bigger fish in the free agency sea. And, they will make those big signings eventually…we hope.
  8. Like
    nclahammer reacted to Chris Spicer for a blog entry, A Movie That Stand’s On Its Own. Revisiting a Baseball Classic: A League Of Their Own   
    One of the greatest baseball movies of all time wasn’t played with men as the lead actors but was with women. In 1992, Penny Marshall directed A League Of Their Own. To this date it is one of the most highly regarded baseball movies of all-time and was set in a time in which there was a chance that baseball was put in the backburner to World War II. At this moment in time, while a lot of the men were out fighting the war there were a lot of the women home taking care of their families. Cub’s owner Walter Harvey (Gary Marshall) decides to talk other owners of the Major League Baseball to create a women’s baseball league to help fill the void. This movie helps capture this moment in time with a story of two competitive sisters, memorable supporting characters, and great acting.
    The heart of this film rests on sisters Dottie (Geena Davis) and Kit Hinson’s (Lori Petty) competitive nature and love for each other. The movie starts off with the two going back and forth about Kit’s batting while scout Ernie Capadino (Jon Lovitz) looks on and determines that Dottie is the player he wants on his team for this new big-league team. Dottie refuses but it’s Kit that insists this is her chance to get away. Ernie tells Kit that if she talks Dottie into playing than they both can play, and she does. Throughout the movie there is a glaring difference between the two’s talent level and Dottie is a star while Kit is too stuck in playing the game her own way and often does not rise to the challenge. Kit begins to become very resentful of Dottie’s success to the point that she is traded to a new team. The movie makes it apparently clear that if each sister could trade places, that they would, and that Dottie would be just as happy at home waiting on her husband to come back from the war. It’s this moment in the movie that you wish the two could have just made up and kept winning on the Peaches. But what would be the fun it that; there had to be a rivalry with a climax that pays off this rivalry. Both sisters meet up In the World Series and the rivalry is settled. Watching this the first time, I had wished it went the other way but after repeat viewing it is a very satisfying conclusion.
    The best movies have supporting characters that help carry a movie. Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks), the Peaches manager who is an alcoholic has some of the best moments of the movie. He starts off treating the whole thing as a joke and then begins to warm up to the team. Everything from taking an extended pee in front of the girls to yelling there’s no crying in baseball to one of the girls is some movie magic. There’s also the teammates of the Peaches that include Mae Mordabito (Madonna), Doris Murphy (Rosie O’ Donnell), and Marla Hooch (Megan Cavanagh) who also become the heart of the movie as well. Their all dealing with their own issues on the field and off the field that really help audiences want to rally around them. Mae helps a fellow player how to read, Doris keeps the team engaged, and Marla finally feels comfortable in her own skin and marries a man. The team becomes a sisterhood, and they all keep each other accountable.
    The acting in this movie is what make this film tick. Before the movie even started filming; all the actors had to spend eight hours a day, six days a week doing baseball drills so that the movie looks realistic. Penny Marshall wanted the film to look very authentic. Geena Davis was a perfect choice as Dottie because she does a good job of coming off as a talented baseball player and you feel like her character is genuine. Tom Hanks is a scene stealer who injects the movie with a sense of sarcasm and charm that it would be hard to imagine anyone else playing the part. Rosie O’Donnell also steals scenes with her comedic timing and her heartwarming scenes of reacting to the huge stage they were playing on. Madonna has some good moments too but at the time this came out may have been more of a distraction based off her popular music career. Even some of the smaller parts like Jon Lovitz and Garry Marshall all do a good job with what they are given. Davis has even said that a lot of the women playing baseball in scenes suffered ripped off skin from sliding home in continuous takes. All the hard work and research done in these characters really shown through the actor’s great work.
    In the end, this movie packs an emotional punch with the characters returning over 40 years later to open an All-American Girls Professional Baseball League exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988. We than see the characters reminiscing and we see the fates of these characters and they all sing their team’s song one last time together. It’s movie moments like this that we remember why we love the game of baseball and why we love playing baseball and that’s because we loved playing the game with our teammates. A league of their own does a good job of letting us remember the spirit of being young and making the game about our love with it by giving us a good story of two sisters, memorable supporting characters and great acting!
     
    Rating: Grand Slam! 5 out of 5 stars.
  9. Like
    nclahammer reacted to Allen Post for a blog entry, Ranking Twins' Offseason Targets on the Fun Meter   
    Let’s forget for a second about WAR, launch angle, and exit velocity. Push your thoughts of FIP, xFIP, and BABIP to the side, and remember why we all got into baseball in the first place. It’s fun. So, I’ve compiled a short list of potential future Twins, and rated how fun they’d be in Minnesota from Boring to Very Fun. Enjoy.
     
    Javier Báez – Very Fun
    The Twins are in the market for a new shortstop and the Cubs seem to be in fire sale mode, so a move that sends Báez to Minnesota might be in both clubs’ best interests. And, simply put, Báez maxes out the fun meter. He’s a still relatively young, swagger-filled middle infielder that does amazing things in the field and sports a good amount of pop in his bat. Forget about his mediocre 2020 stats for a second – watching Báez play is fun because he has the look and the confidence of the best player on the field even if he really isn’t anymore. He’s been on the cover of The Show, something nobody else on this list can claim. And, I’ve kind of buried the lede here – the coolest part about El Mago (cool nickname too) are his tags.
     

     
    Trevor Story – Kinda Fun
    Trevor Story, another shortstop trade possibility, gets a Kinda Fun designation because, though he may be the best available option at short, he doesn’t boast the star power and flair of Báez and others. Don’t get me wrong – Story is a star; he’s great in the field and at the plate, but looking at his stats on baseball reference is almost more exciting that watching him play. It doesn’t help that he’s been marooned off in Colorado, but Story just doesn’t have that “it factor” or special skill that sets him above the other great shortstops in the league, at least in terms of fun-ness. He does have a pretty mean bat flip, but there’s no crazy tag compilation out there on YouTube, for example. He’ll be a very welcome addition to the Twins if he comes, but a middle-of-the-road rating on the fun meter feels right.
     
    Marcus Semien – Boring
    Marcus Semien is probably the best shortstop available on the free agency market, but there’s a reason a lot of Twins fans would rather give up young talent in a Báez or Story trade than simply sign the former Oakland shortstop. Signing Semien would just give off the feeling that they needed a shortstop and signed a shortstop, not the shortstop that anybody really wants. Semien has been a top-tier player in the past, but a pretty dismal 2020 makes him feel like a more expensive Jorge Polanco rather than a Polanco replacement, and spending on a player that does little to change the status quo is the opposite of fun. Perhaps if I allowed myself to make a joke about his last name, I could bump him up a few levels, but I’m not going to do that so he’s stays at Boring.
     
    Nelson Cruz – Fun
    Perhaps the Twins’ biggest question of the offseason is whether to bring Nelson Cruz back or not and, while our opinions may vary widely on whether it’s wise to spend on a 40-year-old DH, that’s not what I’m here to talk about. Nelson Cruz is fun. With Cruz, there’s no “shiny new car” feeling because he’s been in Minnesota for two years, but there’s a reason he’s been your dad’s favorite Twins player those two years. He’s been a star in the league for the better part of a decade and we love when stars come to Minnesota, especially when they lead the team to an MLB record for home runs. Even better, Cruz’s locker room personality is the driving force behind the “Bomba Squad” moniker and the team identity that’s the Twins last few years on of the most fun teams in the league.
     


    Marcell Ozuna – Fun
    Should the Twins decide against bringing back Cruz, Marcell Ozuna could serve as a long-term high-end option at DH. Though losing Cruz might be sad for many Twins fans, they’d be getting no downgrade in the fun department with Ozuna. He’s a big, muscular dude who wears a bright chartreuse arm sleeve and hits bombs. Massive bombs. In large quantities. Last year, Ozuna led the league in home runs and runs batted in and, though there are certainly more intelligent stats, big homer and RBI guys are very fun to have in the lineup. Advanced stats fans should like him too, as his exit velocity numbers and hard hit percentage were among the best in the league last year. The only thing keeping Ozuna from rising into the Very Fun tier is the possibility of a regression that could make him a Sanó-esque strikeout frustration.
     

     
    Trevor Bauer – Very Fun
    Now, the Twins odds acquiring the free agent ace and reigning NL Cy Young winner aren’t that great, but he falls into the Very Fun category, so it’s fun to imagine. Bauer is and always has been controversial, so he may not be every Twins fan’s cup of tea, but that’s exactly why I would love to have him so much. The guy who talks the most and angers the most people is exactly the type of guy you want on your team, as long as he’s playing well. And fresh off a Cy Young year, he’s certainly doing that. Above all else though, Bauer has a curious and innovative baseball mind that, as a fan, is fun to see on your favorite team. His appreciation for the craft of pitching is something that every Twins fan ought to be able to appreciate, even if some don’t like his attitude. Also – He’s a fun follow on YouTube.
     

     
    Sonny Gray – Not That Fun
    Gray, who was Bauer’s teammate last year in Cincinnati, would also be a good addition to the Twins rotation, but he’s not nearly as exciting. With a career ERA in the threes and a WHIP in the 1.2 range, Minnesota fans would probably be happy to have him, but we also managed to make Carl Pavano seem exciting. The fact is that, since he burst into the bigs as a rookie, nobody has ever called you excitedly to say “Hey, did you see what Sonny Gray did last night?!?!” unless they were a Yankees fan complaining about his poor performance in pinstripes. Gray seems like a fun guy to know and have in the locker room, but that doesn’t make him a fun player to watch. If he signs with Minnesota, he’ll be a mid-rotation out-getter more than a jersey-seller.
     
     
    Trevor Rosenthal – Kinda Fun
    The Twins haven’t had a true flamethrower in the bullpen (other than Brusdar Graterol’s 10 games) in a long while, but that’s what they would get by bringing in free agent reliever Trevor Rosenthal. Rosenthal looked on the brink of exiting the league not too long ago but was dominant down the stretch for the Padres last year, and he regularly touched triple-digit velocity. A dominant hard-throwing reliever is one of most exciting players to watch and have on your team, so Rosenthal, should he sign, would be a very entertaining player to have around. However, he’s only a year removed from being an out of control
    , and those guys are torturous to watch. I’ll hedge my bets and put him at Kinda Fun.
  10. Like
    nclahammer reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, 40 Man Suggesting Shuffles for Twins   
    After the Minnesota Twins signed veteran reliever Hansel Robles to a Major League deal this offseason, their 40-man roster was down to just four openings. Needing significant reinforcements still, it’s a good bet that addition by subtraction could be coming.
     
    By my estimation Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have no less than players yet to acquire, but a more comfortable reality is probably in the ballpark of six. With that in mind, a shortage on 40-man spots becomes a reality, and swinging a deal including a player from that group makes some sense.
     
    As things stand today, with Minnesota having made virtually no moves of any real substance, I’d think they need no less than two infield/utility types, another relief arm, and at least one starting pitcher. You can push the argument for a second starting arm, as well as another reliever, and the designated hitter vacancy still must be filled. That’s anywhere from four to seven fresh faces.
     
    So, what happens next?
     
    There’s been plenty of talk regarding the Twins making a move for a shortstop. In that scenario Jorge Polanco can either become a utility option, or he assumes the role of starting second basemen and Luis Arraez goes into flux. I like Arraez moving around a bit more, though he’s also been noted as a trade chip. Regardless of how it shakes out, there’s two 40-man players currently waiting on standby.
     
    When looking at the arms, it’s hard to see many that won’t fit. Both Ian Gibaut and Brandon Waddell we’re claimed off waivers and are penciled onto the big-league roster as of now. It’s fair to believe one of them could be upgraded, but neither should be looked at as a trade chip. Both top pitching prospects Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic are on the 40-man, so if either are swapped for a veteran asset, that’s one way to create a net-zero addition.
     
    There’s little incentive to outright LaMonte Wade and Gilberto Celestino has had plenty of positive talk the past few months among outfielders. Willians Astudillo isn’t really a catcher despite being included in that grouping, but Ben Rortvedt may not be an ideal leap from Double-A being more of a defense only asset at this point. If there’s a position player not expected to be on the Major League roster that gets included in a trade, I think it’s former first round draft pick Nick Gordon.
     
    Over the course of his pro career Gordon has followed a pretty consistent path in that he’s succeeded the second time through a level. He’s no longer much for prospect status, and he’s not a shortstop anymore either. Gordon won’t bump either Arraez or Polanco off second base, and I don’t know that his bat does enough to be the utility guy. I believe there’s a legitimate big-league player here but have contended for a while it will come in a different organization. Now may be the time.
     
    When the dust settles, I think the most likely position Minnesota trades for is starting pitching. Jake Odorizzi would be a good addition, but they aren’t getting Trevor Bauer and everyone else has their own warts to consider. Plucking from another organization and swapping prospect capital looks like a pretty good fit.
     
    I’d be surprised if we saw just a straightforward addition of four new players and throwing a trade in allows a good opportunity to tweak the 40-man openings.
     
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  11. Like
    nclahammer reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, 2020 Was a Year, and We Had Baseball   
    We’re about to close the book on one of the craziest years in my lifetime. At 30 years old, I’ve hardly seen as much as the next person, but to say this calendar was filled with unprecedented events would be putting it lightly. Through it all though, we had baseball, and that was a distraction I know that I needed.
     
    I remember many months ago now, waking up from a nap and looking at my phone. There was an alert from ESPN noting that Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter accident. As I processed that, it didn’t hit me as to what the magnitude I’d feel from that event would be. Kobe was a cultural icon, more than just a basketball player, and despite being a Jordan guy he was an athlete I respected. From there, things got worse.
     
    I’ll never forget sitting in Pott’s Sports Café in Fort Myers, Florida on March 13. The night before Rudy Gobert had tested positive for Coronavirus and the NBA effectively closed its doors. Covering the Twins Spring Training, things seemed ominous that morning as teams had already gone to distancing fans from players with roped off areas. By noon, Major League Baseball had put a halt on all operations. I hopped a flight and headed home.
     
    Since that day, I have not returned to the office for my day job. We’ve dealt with closings of restaurants, public spaces, wearing masks, and plenty of other new versions of normal. Minneapolis experienced extreme racial unrest as the city turned into a warzone. There’s been political and social unrest, and countless other prominent figures that have now left us. For a brief four-month period though, there was baseball.
     
    Leading up to the regular season we watched as the commissioner and ownership groups publicly tore down their players in an effort to squeeze profits through what would be a different year. There was uncertainty as to whether a season would be played at all and writing about the sport took a different turn. There was no minor league action to cover, and in months there typically would have been action, an ability to get creative was necessary.
     
    As the dust settled though, we had the resumption of a game. Teams were diligent in their efforts to avoid Covid-19 outbreaks, the play on the field checked in at a high level, and the Los Angeles Dodgers won a World Series. Back in early summer, none of that seemed remotely possible.
     
    More than any other year, I needed this out. I lost my grandpa to cancer in August, and the day following his funeral my 59-year-old father died in a car accident. I’ve spent more time in a cemetery over the past three months than I have during the entire duration of my life. I know that my challenges in 2020 are not alone, and that this year has been trying on so many. Financial distress, learning to cope with new working situations, understanding how to handle a certain level of social isolation, the totality of it all is not lost on anyone.
     
    At the end of the day though, it was this, a child’s game, that provided a reprieve. We’ll have baseball again, the world will heal, and we can all be better and stronger people for what we have overcome. It will forever be a passion to break down the effectiveness of Jorge Polanco at shortstop, or whether Jose Berrios will round into a bonafide ace. Even if you take away that type of consumption though, the purity of a game, the crack of the bat, and the smell of fresh cut grass will always be an inviting escape.
     
    Thank you for venturing on this journey with me, and I look forward to a more consistent level of normalcy in the months ahead. Below you’ll also find some of my favorite pieces from this season.
    Women in Baseball Series
    Kobe Was So Much More than Basketball
    Byron Buxton's Next Great Act
    Art Proving Unexpected Outlet to Fill the Baseball Void
    What's Happening at the Alternate Site?

    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  12. Like
    nclahammer reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, moving the needle   
    As I read the entries on the TD sight we all imagine getting players in Free agency or big trades. This is especially true when we see the Padres making their moves. What I really liked was the WAR team ratings that MLB.com got from Fangraphs and I used for the Blog photo. This is really significant to me. It shows us ranked fifth, but there are five teams close behind us and only two in the AL ahead of us.
     
    So any move we make has to keep us above the teams right behind us like the White Sox. And ideally we would catch Houston and New York.
     
    This means any signing has to add WAR to our team and we have to subtract any WAR associated with the player we lose or demote. Trevor Bauer jumps the other teams, but looking at the rest of the top free agents - we do not need another catcher - Realmuto cannot get us there, does LeMahieu replace Arraez with enough positive growth - no. Ozuna could replace Cruz, but would not give us more than Cruz provided so it might be good long term, but it would not make a one year rise in team strength.
     
    Springer is great, but Kiriloff might be, Buxton might play a full year. He might give us a rise, but not all the way. Is Siemian enough of a SS and WAR player to lift the team when Polanco is subtracted from the WAR total? No.
     
    Sugaro? Who knows? He might be the wild card and maybe he can lift the bottom of the rotation enough to make the difference that we need.
     
    Hendriks would definitely give us a boost, especially since we have jettisoned so many, but if we subtract those we lost what would the net gain be?
     
    So we are in a rut. We are good, we will stay good, but will we rise? I think Trevor Bauer might be the only one who can do that for us and I do not feel like he is on our radar.
  13. Like
    nclahammer reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, 2021 Minnesota Twins Top 15 Prospects   
    This will be my 6th annual top 15 Twins prospect update. As was the case with the midseason edition back in June, we’re dealing with an unprecedented scenario here. Having not played any minor league baseball action in 2020, movement is based more on what I heard out of the alternate site and what took place from prospects appearing at Target Field.
     
    The hope would be that a level of normalcy is restored in 2021. While I’m optimistic we see something closer to what we’ve come accustomed to, changes are still in store. Major League Baseball booted just over 40 affiliates, and the regular season is still looking like there may be a delay in getting things underway. I’m hopeful that the yearly trip to Fort Myers happens, but that all remains in flux currently.
     
    Here’s where players checked in during previous seasons:
     
    2016 Top 15 Prospects
    2017 Top 15 Prospects
    2018 Top 15 Prospects
    2019 Top 15 Prospects
    2020 Top 15 Prospects
     
    Now, let’s get to it!
     
    15. Akil Baddoo OF
     
    Taking over this spot from Wander Javier, Baddoo has had somewhat of a similar professional trajectory. He’s been hurt plenty and there’s still much more projection than actual results. However, he’ll play 2021 at 22-years-old and has already reached High-A. Growing into his body more and increasing muscle mass, there’s an exciting combination of strength and speed. He needs to begin producing on the field, but the ceiling is one to get excited about.
     
    14. Gilberto Celestino OF
     
    Celestino is on the 40-man roster and could play in the big leagues right now from a defensive standpoint. It was good for him to be at CHS Field in 2020 and get additional coaching in what could’ve been a lost year. The Twins are still looking for the additional come-up on the Ryan Pressly trade, and it’s this kid that could end up providing it.
     
    13. Matt Wallner OF
     
    The Minnesota native will be 23 when he gets back into a professional game having lost his age-22 season. However, Wallner is an advanced bat that has a plus arm. He’s probably more Trevor Larnach than he is Brent Rooker when it comes to athleticism, and that’s a good thing. Reaching Cedar Rapids in his first pro season was a nice showing, and he could be pushed through the system quickly if everything continues to go according to plan.
    12. Matt Canterino RHP
     
    On the outside of my top 10 but looking in, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Canterino as a top-5 Twins prospect a year from now. He’s got a great arm and was nothing short of dominant in his first seven professional outings. He’ll be 23 in 2021 and I wouldn’t be shocked if the Twins look to get him extended time at Double-A Wichita. He could be a part of the next wave behind the likes of Balazovic and Duran.
     
    11. Lewis Thorpe LHP
     
    Seeing somewhat of a slip for the Aussie in 2020 was a disappointing reality. Thorpe has always looked like the lefty to bet on in the Twins system, and I really thought he was in for a breakout. Initially dealing with some personal issues during Spring Training, and then fighting ineffectiveness when he was out there, 2020 was as forgettable for Lewis as it was anyone. The talent is all there, and so is the stuff, but it’ll be on him to close the gap between the ears.
     
    10. Aaron Sabato 1B
     
    I struggled with where to put Sabato as I think what happens and what could go wrong are both pretty straightforward. The former Tar Heel’s bat is beyond legit, but so too is his limit when it comes to impact. He’s never going to move off first base and may ultimately be a designated hitter. There’s less swing and miss than Rooker here, and the floor is probably a bit safer. Without him having played a professional game though, this feels right.
     
    9. Keoni Cavaco SS
     
    Entirely projection is what you’ve got to go off on Cavaco. He was an extreme helium pick and only got in 20 games before his professional career was put on hold. He’s 19-years-old and will start 2021 at that age. Likely destined to play for the newly designated Low-A Mighty Mussels, Cavaco will have to prove he can stick at shortstop. Playing third base during his prep career, the hope is that the bat develops power, and his 35/4 K/BB was just part of the acclimation process.
     
    8. Brent Rooker OF/1B
     
    If you were waiting on Brent Rooker’s bat to play in the big leagues before believing, the seven-game sample size certainly didn’t do anything to calm your excitement. It was a short debut, but he crushed the baseball, posted a .960 OPS, and launched his first Major League home run. A fractured forearm ended his season, but he’s all systems go and should be looking at an Opening Day roster spot in 2021.
     
    7. Blayne Enlow RHP
     
    I might be a bit higher on Enlow than most, but I think this is the next Twins pitching prospect to take a big leap. The front office prioritized him in a draft a couple of years ago, and he’s flashed great stuff since. Enlow will be 22 in 2021, but he’s already reached High-A. The strikeouts need to keep rising, but he’s got some electricity to his arm and has done a good job of avoiding substantial damage. Another step forwards and he’ll make another leap on this list.
     
    6. Ryan Jeffers C
     
    Like Rooker, Jeffers made his Major League debut in 2020. With Mitch Garver fighting both injury and ineffectiveness the Twins needed to turn to their rising prospect. In 26 games he posted a .791 OPS and did a fine job behind the plate. When drafted the narrative was that the bat would play but uncertainty remained about whether he could hack it behind the plate. Minnesota believed he could, and while that remains a work in progress, a pairing with Garver should give Rocco Baldelli two solid options.
     
    5. Jhoan Duran RHP
     
    There were a couple of different points that a Duran promotion seemed like a good bet during 2020, but the Twins ultimately never went that direction. He’s got a near triple-digit fastball and I heard plenty of great reports from the people I checked on him with. He probably has a higher ceiling than the pitching prospect ranked higher than him on this list, but the floor is more volatile as well.
     
    4. Trevor Larnach OF
     
    For the duration they’ve been in the system together it’s been hard to separate Larnach and Kirilloff. They are virtually the same player with the former having had some college seasoning and the latter having a bit of youth on his side. I’d give Larnach the edge when it comes to athleticism, but both should be seen as advanced bats with unmatched upside especially at the plate.
     
    3. Jordan Balazovic RHP
     
    Hailing from Canada, Balazovic has entrenched himself as the Twins top pitching prospect. He has the right mix of high ceiling ability with a very projectable and safe floor. I’d be pretty shocked if he ends up flaming out and working as a reliever. There may not be ace potential here but expecting him to be a two or three is hardly a lofty expectation.
     
    2. Royce Lewis SS
     
    Minnesota’s top prospect for the past two years drops a spot for me, but only because I think the year without game action leaves some uncertainty. I’ve been bullish on Lewis, and even if he doesn’t stick at shortstop, I think he’s an All-Star caliber talent. While his ceiling is unquestionably higher than Kirilloff’s, there’s also a more volatile floor here. I really wanted to see how Royce would bounce back in 2020, and despite glowing reports from the alternate site, we didn’t get actual evaluation opportunity. I’m not betting against him by any means.
     
    1. Alex Kirilloff OF/1B
     
    Talk about being thrown into the fire as Kirilloff was asked to make his Major League debut during an elimination game in the Postseason. He could be ticketed for the starting left field role on Opening Day in 2021, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t be expected to at least match Eddie Rosario’s production level. Kirilloff’s bat is the real deal, and while his arm won’t play quite as high, there’s no reason not to get excited about his prognosis as a regular.
     
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  14. Like
    nclahammer reacted to Matt Johnson for a blog entry, The Eddie Rosario Almanac   
    Now that the Eddie Rosario Experience is almost certainly over, let's take a look back at some of his contributions to Twins history. This is just what appears in my Twins Almanac spreadsheet. Please contribute your own Eddie trivia, fun facts, or cool stories in the comments section. And if you're into this kind of stuff, follow me on Twitter at @TwinsAlmanac.
     

    May 6, 2015
    Major League Debut


     
    Leading off the bottom of the third against Oakland's Scott Kazmir, the 23-year-old Puerto Rico native hits the first big-league pitch he sees for an opposite field home run. In what made for a storybook moment, Eddie's parents were actually in the stands at Target Field being interviewed by Marney Gellner when it happened. Twins won 13-0.
     

    Six Twins have homered in their first major league at-bat: Rick Renick, Dave McKay, Gary Gaetti, Andre David, Gary Gaetti, Luke Hughes, and Rosario. Fifteen players in major league history have homered on their first pitch, including former Twin Brant Alyea (playing for the Ted Williams-managed Senators).  

    July 30, 2015
    Triple Streak


     
    The rookie left fielder triples in his third-straight game, tying the club record (Rod Carew 1977, Dan Gladden 1991, and Delmon Young 2008). Bonus Fact: Rosario led the majors with 15 triples his rookie season.
     

    June 13, 2017
    First Three-Home Run Game


     
    The Twins beat the Mariners 20-7 at Target Field, setting a franchise record with 28 hits. Nine-batter Eddie Rosario goes 4-for-5 with three home runs, five RBI, and three runs scored.
     

    Third baseman Eduardo Escobar went 5-for-6 in the game. Kennys Vargas, Jason Castro, and Rosario all had four hits. The only Twin in the starting lineup without multiple hits was first baseman Joe Mauer. 
    Rosario's 13 total bases in the game are tied for second-most in team history, along with outfieldmates Byron Buxton and Max Kepler, Tim Teufel, and Rich Becker. Kirby Puckett set the team record with 14 that one Sunday in Milwaukee.
     
    Rosario was the fifth player in major league history to hit three home runs from the nine-hole. The others were Trot Nixon, Dale Sveum, Art Shamsky, and knuckleball pitcher Jim Tobin in May 14, 1942.
     

    July 1, 2017
    5-for-5


     
    Rosario goes 5-for-5 with three runs scored and an RBI in a 10-5 Twins win in Kansas City. Last I checked, there have been 51 five-hit games in Twins history. Escobar and Rosario both had one in 2017.
     

    Kirby Puckett had two six-hit games—one each in 1987 and '91.  

    June 3, 2018
    Second Three-Home Run Game


     
    Tied with stupid Cleveland 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth, Rosario hits a two-run walk-off home run, becoming the first player in team history with two career three-home run games. Additionally, he joined Tony Oliva as the only other player in team history with two games with 12 or more total bases.
     

    Max Kepler and Nelson Cruz have since joined the club of Twins players with two career three-home run games, with Cruz's coming just 10 days apart. 

    Hitting three home runs in a game used to be a big deal. There were just four such games in the team's first 55 seasons (Bob Allison, Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, and Justin Morneau), and EIGHT in the four seasons from 2016 to 2019. 
     

    April 5, 2019
    Rosario's Bat Hits for Cycle


     
    Jorge Polanco goes 5-for-5, hitting for the 11th cycle in Twins history—and he did it swinging Eddie Rosario's bat! Unfortunately the Twins lost 10-4 in Philadelphia (starter Jake Odorrizi gave up five runs in 2/3 of an inning).
     
    Polanco came up a double shy of the cycle just four days later.
     

    April 20, 2019
    Second-Straight Multi-HR Game


     


    In the first game of a Saturday doubleheader in Baltimore, Rosario hits two solo home runs in a 6-5 win, joining Don Mincher and Kirby Puckett as the only players in team history with back-to-back multi-home run games.


     


    The Twins tied a team record with eight home runs in the second game of the doubleheader. They had a second eight-home run game just over a month later, on May 23, becoming just the second team in major league history with two such games in one season, joining the '05 Rangers.


     

    May 6, 2019
    12 Home Runs in First 32 Games



    (*Note: This one is really about Kirby Puckett)


     
    After hitting zero home runs in 1984, and just four in 1985, Kirby Puckett erupted for 13 home runs in the Twins' first 33 games of the '86 season. That's a team record. Second-most through 33 is 12, by Harmon Killebrew in 1970, Rosario in 2019, and Nelson Cruz this season. (Rosario hit his 13th in Game 34, but, like I said, this fun fact was about Puckett.)
     
     


    Well folks, that's what I have. Obviously there are a lot more Eddie Rosario memories to share. Please make your contributions in the comments section below. (I remember him inducing a big balk dancing off third base...) And remember, if you enjoy geeking out on Twins history, coming join me at
    @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter.

  15. Like
    nclahammer reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Twins Join Cities as Saints Become Affiliate   
    As has been the expectation now for week, the St. Paul Saints will officially join the Minnesota Twins organization in 2021 per reports from the Star Tribune. Previously playing in the American Association as an Independent Baseball team, they’ll now assume the role of the Twins Triple-A affiliate.
     
    For years there has been talk about the convenience having an affiliate just down I-94 would provide the Twins. Then during the pandemic shortened season, CHS Field acted as the alternate site for the Major League club. With Major League Baseball throwing around its weight and controlling baseball across the country, a massive reshuffling has taken place. Gone are roughly 40 minor league clubs as 120 total affiliates is the new number. Regional restructuring has taken place, and new draft feeder leagues have emerged.
     
    Impacting the Twins is a new partner at the highest minor league level. Having been affiliated with the Rochester Red Wings since 2003, the Minnesota Twins will now turn a new chapter in their developmental history. The Saints were founded in 1993 and were originally part of the Northern League prior to joining the American Association.
     
    As it’s the Saints joining the Twins organization, they’ll inherit talent from within. Minnesota will now send Triple-A destined prospects to St. Paul rather than Rochester. This means that the players previously under contract with the Saints will be displaced throughout Independent Baseball. Per reporter Chelsea Ladd, there have been talks the American Association will hold a draft of sorts to find those players new teams.
     
    Also, of note is the Twins swapping their Double-A affiliate. After just one season working with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, the Twins will now join forces with the Wichita Wind Surge. The Wind Surge were originally scheduled to operate as the Miami Marlins Triple-A affiliate, with 2020 being their first season. Obviously with the pandemic that never happened. It’s not great news for Wichita, who will drop a level in with the affiliation, but Minnesota inherits a closer Double-A club and one that is opening a brand-new ballpark and facilities.
     

     
    Certainly, Major League Baseball expanding its reach across Major League, Minor League, and now even amateur baseball is a suboptimal development. Having such a monopoly over the sport, ownership groups continue to line their pockets while paydays for future generations of talent can continue to be stifled. However, if you’re simply a Twins fan, having the ability to watch future franchise pieces just 13 miles from Target Field, and a driveable journey to Wichita as a possibility, isn’t the worst silver lining.
     
    For years, the St. Paul Saints possibility has been kicked around, and now in the first year it will happen top prospects like Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff, Jordan Balazovic, and Jhoan Duran should all be featured for a time in St. Paul. We may have to wait through the waning stages of a pandemic to see them in person, but a new era of baseball in Twins Territory has been ushered in.
     
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  16. Like
    nclahammer reacted to Doctor Gast for a blog entry, Let`s bring back the `87 Twins   
    In 1986 the Twins had one of the worst records in baseball (71-91) but in 1987 the Twins turned it around, becoming a Cinderella story that won the World Series. A story which inspired movies. 1986 team was basically the same team as the 1987 w/ players Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti, Frank Viola, Bert Byleven, Tom Brunaski, Roy Smalley, to name a few. So what changed? They brought back the pin-stripes & added the M insignia. The change was a immediate success & continued w/ success for years, winning another WS, AL Championship, many perennial Divisional Championships & PS wins. The M insignia was dropped in 2010 from home games & was retired completely in 2014. Twins haven`t won a PS game since & not even qualifying very often.
     
    http://twinsdaily.com/blog/427/entry-6053-save-the-m/#:~:text=Well%20the%20Twins%20officially%20%E2%80%9Cretired,has%20negatively%20affected%20the%20season
     
    http://twinsdaily.com/blog/1318/entry-13727-why-did-the-twins-regressed-in-2020-one-answer/
     
    I know you are probably saying this guy is nuts, super-superstitious or believe in luck.
    I assure you I am none of the above. But I do believe that if something works don`t fix it. I don`t care if I can`t explain it or people think the baby blues w/ TC insignia are cute. I say we bring back the pinstripes & M insignia & get the monkey off our back AGAIN
  17. Like
    nclahammer reacted to nowheresville for a blog entry, Prediction: The Twins are Heading to Wichita (and maybe St. Paul too)   
    Minor League Baseball is going to see massive changes in 2021, and the Twins have already signaled that they will be among the teams seeing the biggest shakeups. There has been plenty of speculation that St. Paul will become their new AAA home, but it's my belief that whether or not that happens, the Twins will end up with a Minor League Team in Wichita, Kansas one way or another.
     
    As a quick recap, Minor League Baseball is expected to undergo a massive reorganization starting next season as it is taken over by Major League Baseball. At least 40 teams will be contracted, the short season and rookie leagues are being eliminated, and other levels are expected to see significant changes and realignment. New deals between Major Leagues and affiliates are also expected to go from 2-4 year deals, like they had been previously and saw the Twins shift from New Britain to Chattanooga to Pensacola for AA just within the past decade, to 10 year deals, to create more stability between MLB and MILB teams.
     
    For the Twins, that means the Elizabethton Twins are no longer a Twins farm team, Fort Myers and the Florida State League will shift to Low-A, while Cedar Rapids and the Midwest League will move up to High-A. The Twins have also already announced that they are cutting ties with Rochester (NY) and will be looking for a new AAA home.
     
    For many Twins fans, the AAA changes have been getting the most attention, as the St. Paul Saints are one of two 2 independent teams being invited to join AAA, the other being the Sugarland Skeeters in suburban Houston. The possibility of having Twins Prospects playing just 12 miles away from Target Field is certainly an exciting development for Twins fans, especially those who closely follow the Twins Minor League Prospects. The sticking point appears to be around money, specifically if the Saints ownership is willing to pay the $20M franchise fee to join affiliated minor league ball.
     
    But while St. Paul seems clear as plan A, there have been several reports listing Wichita as plan B, and that could be an excellent option as well. The Wichita Wind Surge is a brand new team with a brand new ballpark. They were supposed to make their debut last season as the AAA team of the Miami Marlins, until COVID cancelled the Minor League Season. In addition to having brand new facilities, Wichita would also be a very good geographic fit as well. Wichita is a little over 600 miles away from the Twin Cities, and while that can't compete with the Saints in terms of distance, it's still significantly shorter than the trip to Rochester and is actually one of the closest existing AAA cities to Minnesota. Only Des Moines and Omaha, whose longtime ties to the Cubs and Royals aren't likely to change, are significantly closer. Additionally, as part of the reorganization, the Pacific Coast League is likely to be adjusted so it is only West Coast Teams, instead of the previous setup which had teams stretching from Tacoma to Nashville. The extreme travel of the PCL is one of the main reason the Twins worked to stay in Rochester and the IL, but that seems to be unlikely an issue moving forward if the Twins end up in Wichita for AAA.
     
    Even if St. Paul does become a reality and becomes the Twins new AAA team, there's still a very good chance that the Twins end up in Wichita anyway! Mixed into other reports about this year's Minor League affiliation dance is that the Marlins will be moving their AAA team to Jacksonville - which had been the home of their AA team - and then their AA team will shift to Pensacola. Pensacola, of course, has been the Twins AA home for the past 2 years, and if those reports are accurate, the Twins will need a new AA location. There are 3 AA leagues, the Eastern, Southern, and Texas Leagues, none of which have teams that are particularly close to Minnesota, so there's no natural fit, and because of travel, there's no chance of any city in or near Minnesota becoming a AA city.
     
    Wichita, on the other hand, could be available as a AA location. If both the Saints and the Sugarland (TX) Skeeters - the other independent team under consideration for AAA affiliation - decide to join up, then there are reports that Wichita and San Antonio (Brewers current AAA) would both be moved down to the AA Texas League. In that case, Wichita would still be one of the closest available AA option for the Twins, and with brand new facilities would be a very appealing location.
     
    As a side note - if San Antonio does get moved to AA, that creates a really interesting situation for the Brewers. Presumably, Houston would take Sugarland as it's new AAA home, and the Rangers would move their AAA team from Nashville back to Round Rock. Nashville would be an excellent fit for Milwaukee, except a few years ago, Nashville effectively kicked out the Brewers right as they opened a new ballpark - and the Brewers were quite public about how unhappy they were with how that situation unfolded.
     
    Obviously, there are still a lot of moving parts in regards to Minor League Baseball's major overhaul, and we won't have any true answers until MLB makes its long awaited official reorganization announcement, likely sometime soon. But since whatever changes are decided this month are likely to be in place for at least the next 10 years, it's important that the Twins settle in a good situation. With a brand new park, that's relatively close to Minnesota, Wichita looks like it could be a very nice place for Twins prospects to settle in, no matter if it's Double or Triple A.
     
    Update 11/30/20: According to a sports reporter in Wichita, the Twins/Wichita partnership will be made official this week.
  18. Like
    nclahammer reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Eddie or Miguel or Byron or Max? You choose   
    Since the main TD articles keep talking about Eddie Rosario being traded, cut, cursed or whatever you want to call it I thought it might be instructive to do a comparison of all the six year players on the roster. In a move that we all thought would make the future of the Twins we had Eddie, Byron, Miguel, and Max arrive the same year and it did not take long before they were part of a home run hitting behemoth and twice got to the playoffs where they, like their predecessors failed. (I chose not to include pitchers since there is no way to have equivalent values between pitchers and position players.) Now all the discussions are about Eddie being too expensive and not needed. Why?
     
    Over the same six years here is there worth in Baseball Reference WAR -
    Max Kepler 12..3
    Byron Buxton 11.7
    Eddie Rosario 11.6
    Miguel Sano 7.6

    That makes the case for Eddie a little stronger as his WAR is not far off the top two and Miguel is the bottom (he was -0.2 this year).
     
    How about OBP?
    Sano 332
    Kepler 319
    Eddie 310
    Buxton 289

    OBP seems to consistently be the knock on Eddie, but in comparison he is not looking as bad as all the articles seem to hint.
     
    Okay let's try OPS and spruce up the data:
    Sano 829
    Eddie 788
    Kepler 763
    Buxton 719

    Sano blows them all away, but look who is second!
     
    Home Runs?
    Sano 131
    Eddie 119
    Max 101
    Byron 51

    Eddie looks pretty good here too.
     
    So being a traditionalist - what about RBIs? I know some of you do not believe in them, but what do you do when no one brings in the baserunners? I know - lose the playoffs.
    Eddie 388
    Miguel 344
    Max 303
    Buxton 172

    Like I have commented elsewhere, Eddie has a knack for bringing in runners and in this lineup, who doesn't have an opportunity?
     
    Another old tradition is BA - so let's check it out.
    Rosario 277
    Sano 241
    Buxton 238
    Kepler 237

    What about scoring runs? Yes runs win games.
    Rosario 400
    Max 324
    Sano 317
    Buxton 204

    So who stays on the field? Games played
    Rosario 697
    Max 601
    Miguel 539
    Buxton 432

    I know - you can say just think of the stats that the others would have if they played the same number of games - the trouble is they didn't. Max missed more than the number of games in last years short season - actually he missed the equivalent of 1 1/2 of last years games. Miquel is 158 games short - close to a full season and Buxton is 265 games shore - one full season plus 100 more! Can we say that Eddie is dependable?
     
    Someone will say, ya, but he can't field. I do not like a lot of fielding metrics but for the sake of this essay here is 2020 Fangraphs fielding for the four players
    Buxton 2.5
    Rosario 1.2
    Kepler -0.7
    Sano -2.2

    Everyone told me that Kepler was such a valuable fielder and Rosario was terrible.
     
    So baserunning - yep Rosario is a loose cannon here - I cannot justify his 2020 ranking
    Kepler 2.3
    Sano 2.3
    Buxton 0.4
    Eddie -2

    So there are all the various listings that seem to be part of the discussions. That is 10 statistical comparisons - if I treat them all as equal - I leave it to you to argue - then the one with the least points (if someone finished 1st in all they would have 10 points) should rate highest. Here are the point totals
    Rosario 20
    Sano 23
    Kepler 24
    Buxton 29

    At this point in their careers I would say Rosario was the most valuable of the four, but beyond statistics that is also my bias. Prove me wrong or agree with me, but don't just say I think!
  19. Like
    nclahammer reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, The Most Interesting Man in Minnesota   
    Over the winter Twins fans clamored for starting pitching. After losing to the Yankees in the Postseason again, a constant bugaboo was deemed the source of weakness. Needing an ace, the Twins sought out some arms. Swinging a deal for Kenta Maeda was nice, but it may be Rich Hill that represents the haul.
     
    Sure, he’s 40 years old but try telling Nelson Cruz that’s a milestone anyone should care about. The reality is that Hill has both been often hurt and often good. Good probably isn’t even a fair assessment, he’s been downright great. His 3.00 ERA dating back to 2016 is the 6th best mark in Major League Baseball. He’s coming off a season in which he posted an outstanding 2.45 ERA across 13 starts for the Dodgers, and he hasn’t had a year with less than double-digit strikeouts per nine innings since 2012.
     
    In a world where velocity is king, Hill laughs at the notion. He flips his fastball up there at an average of 90.6 mph, and that’s not much of a decline considering the peak was 92.9 mph in 2012 with the Red Sox. He’s learned to live with what he has, and there’s very little surprise in how he’ll attack you.
     
    Last season Hill utilized just two pitches. His four seem fastball was chosen 52% of the time while his big breaker was utilized at a 45.8% clip. The velo change on that curveball is staggering, dropping 15 mph all the way down to an average of 74.5. It’s not that those two types of pitches are anything special, but it is that when they derive from Hill’s hand, they’re nothing short of majestic.
     
    Hill’s fastball spin ranks in the 91st percentile, but it’s the bender that gets the love here. The curveball has an average spin rate of 2919 RPM, or 4th best among pitchers that threw at least 300 of them a season ago. It’s in the 95th percentile across the league, and it’s why Hill’s hard-hit rate is an elite 98 percentile tally.
     
    That curveball is a thing of beauty in and of itself. With a combined 12 inches of vertical and horizontal movement above league average, barreling it remains one of the league’s toughest tasks. It’s why a hitter can step in and know they have just two pitches to look for, but still be frozen on a meaty fastball right down the gut.
     
    You might argue there’s nothing flashy about what Hill does on the mound, and that’s probably a fair assessment. There is a level of intrigue or a mystique feeling about how he competes, however. The stuff may lull you to sleep but being that dominant by going virtually against the grain is something we don’t see in baseball anymore.
     
    Minnesota brought Hill in to bolster a rotation down the stretch. Now he’ll work right from the jump and could end up being the heart of it. When the dust settles, he’ll look to add onto his 53 Postseason innings, and those that add onto the 15 he’s pitched in the World Series could certainly culminate with a ring.
     
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  20. Like
    nclahammer reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Four Months of Waiting, but Twins Baseball is Here   
    It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. When I went down to Fort Myers in early March to cover the Twins, I wasn’t supposed to leave under the haze of a global pandemic. My office has been closed for months. Sports have been shelved just as long. The Twins defending the AL Central crown wasn’t intended to take place in just a 60-game sprint. None of this was supposed to happen, but here we are, and we have baseball.
     
    I don’t know if we’ll get through the entire schedule. I think MLB has done a decent job making sure they have significant protocols in place. My hope is that even while a 16-team Postseason is looney, we’ll see it play out. For one day, one night, tonight, things stand still though. Opening Day presents an opportunity for everyone to begin anew.
     
    Last year’s 307 home runs hold no weight as to what takes place in 2020. The Bomba Squad and their 101 wins don’t carry over. Rocco Baldelli has won a Manager of the Year award and Nelson Cruz has gone over the hill. All of that is in the past now, and the Twins future remains bright as ever. Brimming with the best lineup in the sport, equipped with a lights out relief corps, and bolstered by a rotation chocked full of depth, this could be the year.
     
    A World Series ultimately defines a team’s season, but it doesn’t negate the quality along the way. Because the Twins didn’t bring home a ring in 2019 doesn’t take away from what they accomplished. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine haven’t been building to look back on those accomplishments however, and the step they’ve put forward this season is their best year. The roster is primed to make serious noise, and even with the oddities that will follow this year, the Twins are in as good of a position as anyone.
     
    I appreciate you all for reading, following, and trying to make it through this lull. Now we’ve got that in our rear view too, and Opening Day allows us to dive full speed ahead into what could quite possibly be the best season in Minnesota Twins history.
     
    We weren’t supposed to get here this way, but we’ve arrived, and Opening Day is just as beautiful as it’s always been. Settle in, it won’t be as long, but you can be assured it will be every bit as fun.
     
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  21. Like
    nclahammer reacted to Parker Hageman for a blog entry, What Are We Going To Do About This Hand Twin Thing?   
    A friend of mine passed away over the holiday weekend.
     
    We had attended high school together, were distant friends through college, and spent two years as roommates back in the cities after that.
     
    When we lived together, he was attending culinary school and the roommates would have the benefit of eating food that is normally not accessible to broke post-college kids trying to repay student loans. He would concoct four course meals and we were more than happy to be test subjects.
     
    We’d declare it the best thing we’ve ever eaten and he, being his own worst critic, would inform us that it was garbage and would vow to make it better next time.
     
    He modeled himself a bit after Anthony Bourdain. He had a beat up copy of Kitchen Confidential that he constantly implored me to read. I never did.
     
    Eventually the house split up. We went separate ways and saw each other less. Everyone my age or older likely has friendships like that. I had a growing family and he was launching a culinary career that took him to Central America and Alaska for work.
     
    The relationship became just a bi-yearly message to each other on Facebook, randomly sharing a couple inside jokes and stupid obscure pop culture references. We exchanged one just the previous week.
     
    He sent a one-liner: What are we going to do about this hand twin thing?
     
    It came from a Friends episode we watched years ago. He had an ability to bring groups of people together and our house used to host viewing parties during the final seasons. The line, delivered by Joey Tribbiani in the bathroom of a casino, always cracked us up. Sharing innocuous lines like that over the years just let each other know you were thinking about them.
     
    I spent most of Sunday night reflecting on our time. I spoke with another roommate of ours who had moved out of state as well. We shared memories of the years we all lived together.
     
    I realized how much baseball fandom can imprint on our lives.
     
    He once hosted a weekend-long party at his college house in Duluth. It was epic, as the kids would say. Thinking back to the revelry, I also remember slipping away to see Matt Lawton hit two home runs in Cleveland.
     
    Another time he went to visit a girl in New York City. He returned with a small panoramic of the old Yankee Stadium that he got at a secondhand shop because he knew how much I despised the Yankees. I still have that picture and I still hate the Yankees.
     
    His family would host gatherings at their cabin in northern Minnesota. They were amazingly hospitable people. His mom legitimately made the best sloppy joes. When my daughter wasn’t even a year old, he invited us for a low-key weekend of boating and bonfires. On the drive home, as my little girl slept in the back, I listened to Johan Santana’s 17-strikeout performance on the radio.
     
    When the Twins had a weekend series at Wrigley Field, we ran into each other at the Cubby Bear, the bar across the street from the stadium. We took time to share a Cubby Blue Bomb together, update each other on our current lives, and then went back to the separate group of friends we came with into Chicago.
     
    The last time we saw each other in person I was handing off tickets to him before a Twins game.
     
    We met at The Depot Tavern and played catch up. His seats were on one side of the ballpark and ours were on the other. We vowed to meet on the concourse or somewhere after the game but neither of us followed through.
     
    You are not supposed to live with regrets yet we do. I regret not reaching out more, not making an effort to stay connected. I regret not checking in more frequently to hear about his family, fiancee, and other adventures.
     
    Thirty-nine is way too young. You feel like you always have more time: There will be some other opportunity to catch up, there will be some other chance to reconnect, or some other time to say those were amazing memories.
     
    Looking back, I admired how he followed his passion. We were just becoming functioning adults and he already knew that he wanted to run kitchens and make people happy through food. Someone shared a video of him teaching a culinary class in a Facebook remembrance, making the room laugh in doing so. In a way he did become a version of Bourdain, traveling the world and experiencing cuisine in parts unknown.
     
    Maybe now I’ll listen to him and read that book.
  22. Like
    nclahammer reacted to Parker Hageman for a blog entry, Baseball Is Back. So Am I.   
    The question I’ve received the most the past few months is why was my original Twitter account suspended.
     
    On March 13 I was covering the Twins in Fort Myers on what would be the last normal day before everything in this world went goofy.
     
    I awoke at the Twins Daily-rented AirBnB, and immediately checked Twitter on my phone as I am wont to do in case I missed something earth shattering in the six hours since I last peeked in.
     

     
     
    Account suspended, it read.
     
    I couldn’t pull down the stream to get that satisfying no-clip-scissor-ride-through-wrapping-paper when refreshing a completely new set of tweets on my feed. I couldn’t get that dopamine rush of seeing that someone liked or retweeted some content I had created. I simply got nothing.
     
    I flipped over to my Gmail and found this.
     

     
    It was a DMCA takedown notice -- removal of video content in which the music was copyrighted, in this case, the song “Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now” by Starship and owned by Sony Entertainment Group.
     
    Jfc.
     
    I had just moved up my flight to make sure I wasn’t stranded on America’s sweaty jockstrap of an isthmus and now my main portal of information to the outside world was cut.
     
    How did this happen?
     
    I had started by making Vines --a defunct application that featured seven second video clips that loops-- with game highlights set to Starship’s 1987 hit song. It was a nod to the World Series winning team. The bit became somewhat of a localized hit. Soon, people would tweet at me after big victories, asking for their nightly montage.
     
    When the Twins fell flat on their face in 2016, I created a longer lowlight version and it took off. It was a blooper reel set to perfect music for the occasion. A surprising amount of people would thank me for posting them. People affiliated with the team would even reach out. It became an annual tradition.
     
    I didn’t get anything out of it other than smug, self-satisfaction that I had contributed just a little bit of joy to this awful, awful world. Now I was being accused of pirating Starship’s music (ok), using it inappropriately (whatever), and had violated Twitter’s rules (yap).
     
    While covering the Twins in Florida this spring, I read Stephen Witt’s illuminating book on the music industry, How Music Got Free. It documents the rise of mp3s, Napster, iTunes, and VEVO from the 1980s through today. It reads like the Moneyball of music. Highly recommended.
     
    It also helped me understand how we got to the point of suspending accounts like mine.
     
    Long ago, in the 1990s, a music executive named Doug Morris was printing money by selling CDs based on one or two hit songs surrounded by unlistenable garbage. Because we could not wait to listen to “Mmmbop” on the radio, we’d slap down $17 to listen to an entire album of dreck.
     
    But then Napster showed up and saved us. While illegal, it gave the world a better business model than what Morris was providing.
     
    When iTunes and the iPod finally killed CDs, Morris discovered the rising popularity of YouTube and how his grandkids were watching music videos on that site. He then created VEVO, bought a giant catalogue of the music, and in 2007 he sent his lawyers to takedown any videos created using VEVO-owned music.
     
    If you posted a video of yourself baking a cake set to 50 Cent's "In Da Club", it was ripped down. No more sampling the goods. If you wanted to hear a song, you either had to pay or listen on a revenue-generating platform.
     
    Morris is now the chairman of Sony Entertainment Group. The same outfit that owns the rights to Starship’s song. So you can see how that company would aggressively protect its property.
     
    Twitter does not want to run afoul of music’s law dogs like the RIAA or the IFPI -- the enforcement arms of the record companies -- and has a policy that prevents users from posting videos with non-licensed music in it. They even assist in the flagging of potential violators.
     
    But it is not always consistent.
     
    After The Last Dance aired, an account on Twitter was spawned that showed Michael Jordan rocking out to more contemporary tunes. That account has over 52,000 followers and no takedowns or suspensions.
     
    You’ve probably seen numerous videos showing crushing sports moments set to one of the worst songs of all time, Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”.
     
    One account, @TitanicTD, who affixed the song on top of NFL and college football touchdown highlights, was suspended in early 2020. Perhaps not surprisingly, Celine’s ballad is also property of Sony Entertainment Group.
     
    While I understood the general rules and risks, I had considered my use of the song protected under the Fair Use guidelines on Twitter.
     
    I used a portion of the song, not reposted the entirety. There was no monetary gain for the video, it was non-commercial. I wasn’t attempting to claim ownership.
     
    In my mind I was giving life to a lifeless song that was over thirty years old. If I had the ability to access Spotify’s data, I would bet since I began posting the tribute videos, that song’s streaming numbers on the music app probably jumped by the tens. (THE TENS!)
     
    The Fair Use act is definitely something that is difficult to argue as it is almost completely subjective and open for interpretation. For some reason I figured Twitter would understand my position. At the very least, I figured they would ask me to delete the video, not suspend my account for months.
     
    And there is some legal context for it.
     
    In 2008 Universal Music Group, then headed by the aforementioned Morris, issued a DMCA takedown to YouTube for the video of a

    The 13-month-old’s mother and video’s creator, Stephanie Lenz, responded to YouTube citing Fair Use and YouTube reinstated the video. Lenz then sued Universal for misrepresentation under the DMCA, hoping to set a precedent against companies going after videos like hers. Ultimately the courts ruled in Lenz’s favor but as the case ascended to higher courts, the two parties eventually settled when the Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
     
    Lenz’s video remains posted on YouTube. But even now Twitter users regularly receive DMCA takedowns for videos where music is inadvertently captured in the background at events or weddings. Two months after my suspension, the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand had one of his tweets flagged.
     

    https://twitter.com/RandBall/status/1260942572572246016

     
    Twitter, however, is cowing to the International Federation of Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and has been aggressively botting users’ feeds to find anything that can be construed as stolen music. According to one article, Twitter’s system has failed to decipher between which music videos are Fair Use and which are actual copyright violations. And numerous users, like Randball above, in early 2020 received temporary suspensions over perceived violations.
     
    Over the next few weeks I sent multiple emails to the Twitter copyright department, Twitter itself, and even to Greame Grant, IFPI’s Director of Anti-Piracy. I explained myself, my motivations and said I would never do something so egregious as providing their client with free advertisement again. The only thing I didn’t do was drive to the nearest rural casino to catch Starship on tour and beg the band for forgiveness.
     
    I did not receive one response beside the form email Twitter sends out encouraging violators to reach out to the copyright submitter -- in this case IFPI -- in hopes of getting them to retract the takedown request.
     
    So that’s what happened to my Twitter account.
     
    I was frustrated at the platform. The lack of response. The lack of consistency in punishment. I didn’t want to come back, not until my original account was freed. I did not want to give Twitter the satisfaction of having to rebrand and regrow. Since joining that hot steaming mess in June 2009 I have built a good following, a good brand and even better contacts (one of the worst parts about being suspended is that you cannot access your DMs or followers lists).
     
    That’s why I didn’t start tweeting from a new account right away.
     
    Plus, you know…[gestures everywhere]...this.
     
    Truthfully, given the state of the country and the on-going battle with the coronavirus, I don’t have the utmost confidence that baseball will actually be played come the end of the month. That being said, since the game is moving forward for now and there is some honest-to-goodness baseball happening at Target Field, I’ve come out of the shadows from my other account.
     
    I’m ready to talk about baseball again.
  23. Like
    nclahammer reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Waiting is the Hardest Part: MLB Edition   
    Despite a global health crisis, it isn’t a pandemic that has ultimately thwarted the resumption of Major League Baseball in 2020, no instead it’s those directly involved with the game. Regardless of fault, fans are on a roller coaster ride they never signed up for, and it’s hurt the sport substantially.
     
    Today the Major League Baseball Players Association will vote on whether they’ll accept or reject Major League Baseball’s proposal for resumption of play. 38 voting members will give a yay or nay with a majority vote needed to cement a decision one way or another. The expectation is that the proposal will be rejected on the grounds of not wanting to lose an opportunity to grieve the circumstances in court.
     
    What we really have is posturing, and it’s what we’ve had during so much of this process, and what baseball labor negotiations have become synonymous with. Owners and players don’t trust each other at all, and it’s why every renewal of the CBA ends up coming with a significant possibility of lockout.
     
    It wasn’t until recently that Rob Manfred and Tony Clark got in a room together to has things out. Both sides came out of that meeting with different understandings of what took place, and it only furthered a battle that has played out with public barbs being fired back and forth. Regardless of the structure imposed by the current deal, it would seem to be a non-starter for players in that acceptance represents failure of sorts.
     
    I’ve long operated with the belief that there will undoubtedly be baseball in 2020 (barring a shift in circumstances regarding the virus), but that I have no idea what it would look like. The initial suggestion of a full season seemed laughable, but so too does the suggestion of an implemented 48-game playthrough. We’re obviously much closer to the latter than former at this point, and it’s because of all the feet dragging that we’re here.
     
    Siding with the players should be an easy choice in this whole battle, but the reality is that both parties have dug in so harshly what we as fans are left with is a bastardized version of what could’ve been. Finances tied directly to games played left us with one side looking to cut down the calendar, and the other trying to recoup as much of their income as possible. It isn’t a matter of what we want to play at this point, but instead what the calendar will allow for.
     
    So again today, when there’s a vote on whether the season should start under a certain set of conditions, we’ll likely be left waiting. One side’s disagreement will shoot down the opportunity for an official announcement, and like the many weeks and days of vast importance before it, the day will again be wasted.
     
    Tomorrow and going forward Rob Manfred, who has failed miserably in providing any direction or leadership while instead allowing his sport to burn, will need to decide whether or not he’ll implement a season. The players agreed to that possibility back in March, and it’s a scenario that makes all too much sense not to fulfill. Then again, we’ve crossed plenty of these bridges already throughout this process and they all still remain smoldering.
     
    I still believe we’ll have baseball in 2020, but the waiting has turned away many future fans forever, and it’s cost the current one’s significant amount of trust for ultimately no necessary reason.
     
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  24. Like
    nclahammer reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Mighty Covid at Bat   
    Covid at the Bat
     
     
    The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
    The score stood four proposals down, with one idea more how to play ,
    And then when Clark died with the first, and Manfred did the same,
    A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.
     
    A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
    Clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
    They thought, "If only Manfred could but get a whack at that—
    We'd put up even money now, with owners and union both at bat."
     
    But Clark preceded Manfred, as did also Buster Olney’s take,
    And the former was a hoodoo, while the latter was a cake;
    So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
    For there seemed but little chance Covid would let us bat.
     
    But Players let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
    And Manfred, the much despised, tore the cover off the ball;
    And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
    There were players taking practice safe at parks and a-hugging third.
     
    Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
    It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
    It pounded on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
    For Covid, mighty Covid, was grabbing at the bat.
     
    There was ease in Covid’s manner as he stopped them in their place;
    There was pride in Covid's bearing and a smile lit Covid's face.
    And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
    No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Covid at the bat.
     
    Ten thousand eyes were on it as players rubbed their hands with dirt;
    Five thousand tongues were silence when they rubbed it on their shirt;
    Then while the writhing pitcher wiped the virus that hung upon his hip,
    Defiance flashed in Covid's eye, a sneer curled Covid's lip.
     
    And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
    And Covid stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
    Close by the sturdy virus the ball unheeded sped—
    "That ain't my style," said Covid. "He tested positive!" the doctor said.
     
    From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
    Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;
    "Kill him! Kill the doctor!" shouted someone on the stand;
    And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Covid raised his hand
     
    .
    With a smile of unChristian charity great Covid's visage shone;
    It stilled the rising tumult; the game would not go on;
    It signaled to the Phillies, and once more the Blue Jays flew;
    But Covid still ignored it and the doctor said, "that’s two!"
     
    "Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered "Fraud!"
    But one scornful look from Covid and the audience was awed.
    They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
    And they knew that Covid wouldn't let us play ball again.
     
    The sneer is gone from player’s lips, their teeth are clenched in hate,
    He pounds with cruel violence his infection upon the plate;
    And now the owners hold the ball, and now they all let go,
    And now the air is shattered by the force of Covid’s blow.
     
    Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright,
    The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
    And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
    But there is no joy in baseball —mighty Covid has struck them out.
     
    AND HERE IS THE ORIGINAL - MY APOLOGIES TO MR THAYER
     
    Casey at the Bat
    Ernest Lawrence Thayer - 1863-1940
     
    The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
    The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,
    And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
    A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.
     
    A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
    Clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
    They thought, "If only Casey could but get a whack at that—
    We'd put up even money now, with Casey at the bat."
     
    But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
    And the former was a hoodoo, while the latter was a cake;
    So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
    For there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to the bat.
     
    But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
    And Blake, the much despisèd, tore the cover off the ball;
    And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
    There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.
     
    Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
    It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
    It pounded on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
    For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.
     
    There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
    There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile lit Casey's face.
    And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
    No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.
     
    Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
    Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt;
    Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
    Defiance flashed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.
     
    And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
    And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
    Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped—
    "That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one!" the umpire said.
     
    From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
    Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;
    "Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand;
    And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.
     
    With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
    He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
    He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the dun sphere flew;
    But Casey still ignored it and the umpire said, "Strike two!"
     
    "Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered "Fraud!"
    But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
    They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
    And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.
     
    The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate,
    He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate;
    And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
    And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.
     
    Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,
    The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
    And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
    But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.
    This poem is in the public domain.
  25. Like
    nclahammer reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Lemonade Out of the Lemons MLB has Given Us   
    There’s both good and bad to come in the next couple of days. As has always been my stance, we’re going to see baseball in 2020. The flip side to that is Rob Manfred will impose a bastardized version thanks to the efforts of owners wanting to crush the sport. There has to be some silver lining though right?
     
    Co-director of the IBWAA, Daniel Epstein, did a masterful job of breaking down Major League Baseball’s recent letter and detailing why the negotiations have been nothing short of a steaming pile of dog poop. Because of that reality, the owners will get what they’ve wanted since the get go here, less baseball. In playing a shorter regular season the financial commitments are at the least amount, while Postseason opportunity allows for the largest revenue stream.
     

     
    As fans, it’s going to be hard to stomach a 50-something game sprint. The Twins hit 307 home runs to set a Major League record in 2019. That’s a gaudy number to look at and is nothing short of eye popping. Dialing that pace back to 50 games, you’re looking at a tally in the 90’s, or something close to the total between two longball leaders.
     
    From a statistical perspective viewing this exercise through any normal lens is going to be a very tough sell. Baseball breathes life year-round because of the historical and numerical importance carried within the game. It’s one thing to argue the validity between a 150 and 160 game season but chopping off triple digits makes this an extreme outlier no matter how you dissect it.
     
    We are going to have baseball, but make no mistake, this won’t be Major League Baseball in any sense of the suggestion. Rather than allowing for the nuance and leveling off that occurs over the course of a traditional 162 game marathon, it will be a sprint on a daily basis. Instead of winning a series and settling for a split in the next one, it will be a game of sweeps and a nightly pedal to the metal.
     
    If we can separate what baseball is, and what this will be, there could be some level of enhanced excitement to it. The one game Wild Card is often torn down because of the length it takes to achieve that opportunity, and then how quickly it is taken away. There’s no denying the level of excitement or pressure placed on those nine innings however, and now we’ll get a version of that for the entirety of the action.
     
    Decisions made by clubs will need to be reflective of opportunity within the next 24 hours as opposed to the next couple of weeks. Teams will need to manage in an attempt to thwart off divisional foes even a game behind right from the word go. In what will likely feel akin to the World Baseball Classic style of play, single game importance is set to be in a place we’ll have never experience during a regular season.
     
    It’s truly unfortunate that a global pandemic was used to further the agenda of billionaire owners. We as fans lose the opportunity to cheer for our teams, and experience anything resembling the sport in its intended set of parameters. If we’re going to do this hack job of a year though, we might as well try to start finding rainbows through the storm.
     
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
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