Friday, September 25, 2009

My Twins memories.... the bad ones.

Well, I haven't posted much since starting out..... focusing on other things, but I digress.

With it being an off day. I figured I'd focus on something other than the 2009 Twins coming down the stretch.

Many posts lamenting the Metrodome's demise have appeared all over the map. I was going to do a Metrodome memories post but instead will just do a  couple of Twins memories posts. My earliest memories of the Twins are from their first couple years in the dome any. Why focus on just dome memories I say? Many good and bad things have happened in the dome as well as away. Since it is my blog I will focus on my 10 least favorite and my 10 favorite Twins memories.

Lets go negative today and positive tomorrow:

A couple honorable mention games I attended:
7-7-2008: Brian Bass brought into a 0-0 game in Boston and then Gardenhire not INT walking Manny Ramirez. I predicted Gardy's questionable moves and then watched them fail in person.
5-16-2009: A-rod walk-off in the bottom of the 11th.

10.)Knoblauch to the Yankees:
After campaigning to be traded near the 1996 and 1997 trade deadline, Knoblauch finally got his wish after the 1997 season. While the trade worked out well for the Twins, netting the team Eric Milton and Christian Guzman it represented the last  player of the 1991 World Series team was gone.

9.)Punto extension
As a light hitting all defense middle infielder, Nick had been a valuable contributor in 2006. He was given a 2 year 4.2 million dollar extension. In 2007 he posted the lowest slugging percentage (.271) of any major league player with at least 200 at-bats in a single season. This was the lowest slugging percentage by a player with over 400 at-bats since José Lind recorded a .269 slugging percentage for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1992. Punto also posted a -27.1 VORP in 2007, 8.5 runs worse than the second-worst position player in baseball. 2008 he posted a .284 batting average. This garnered a 2 year 8.5 million dollar extension? A couple versatile utility infielders are necessary for a team. However, locking a man up for 2 years who only produces near replacement level in a contract season shows a deficiency in the franchise's player evaluation. If the manager/management likes a player, they will be signed whether useful or not. Earmarking 8.5 million that could have been spent on a reliever or saved for a Mauer extension has held the team back and may cost it a division championship in 2009.

The Twins slogged through alot of bad seasons from 1993-2000. In 2001 the Twins finished 85-77, their first winning season since 1992, and they looked to be on their way to future success. MLB was having money problems and planned to contract the Minnesota Twins and Montreal Expos and disperse the players around the league. Fortunately, a court order ended the threat for the time being and the Twins made the playoffs in 2002. Contraction was shelved after the season and baseball has since been more profitable. The Twins made the playoffs 4 times between 2002-2006 but my favorite team came too close to being wiped from the league.

7.) Bruno for Tommy Herr?
After winning the World Series in 1987 the Twins made a trade with, their counterparts from the World Series, St Louis early in the 1988 season. Apparently Tom Kelly wanted more defense, battles his tail off like players and less mashers. This philosophy led the team to not have a single 30 HR guy again until 2006. Bruno was not a star but a decent player with power. He was an all star in 1985. Bruno had a .773 OPS with St Louis in 1988 and was reasonably productive until retiring in 1994. Herr on the other hand had a .665 OPS in 86 games in1988, his only season with the Twins. The 1988 Twins actually had 6 more wins than the World Series champion 87 team. While this one trade probably didn't make the difference between making the playoffs and not(Oakland won the division with 104 wins), it was a bad trade overall and represented a change of philosophy that may have help contribute to the drought from 1993-2000. Mostly though, the team traded a player I liked for a guy who cried on the plane coming to Minnesota.

6.) Adam Kennedy?
ALCS Game 5 October 13, 2002. The Twins gutted through the ALDS 3 games to 2 but the ALCS was not going well. After winning game 1, they lost 3 straight and were on the brink of elimination. The Twins were leading 2-0 in the bottom of the 3rd inning when Adam Kennedy, the #9 hitter, come up and hits a HR. He'd only hit 7 during the season. In the 5th inning, with the game tied 2-2, Kennedy hits another HR giving the Angels a 3-2 lead. The Twins managed to scrape together some runs and had a 5-3 lead in the 7th. With 2 men on base Kennedy does it again! ugh. The Angels led 6-5 on the way to 13-5 win. The Angels took the series and would win the world series in 7 games. With his three home runs, Kennedy joined only four other players who hit three homers in a post-season game: Babe Ruth, Bob Robertson, Reggie Jackson and George Brett. Kennedy's performance helped the Angels clinch the American League pennant, and Kennedy was named the series' Most Valuable Player. I still hate that jackass.

5.) Torii Hunter's gamble:
October 4, 2006. The Twins started 2006 25-33 and looked dead. Then went on an amazing run. going 71-33 afterwards. They went into the first round matchup against Oakland as heavy favorites. They had an MVP in Justin Morneau, a Cy Young winner in Johan Santana, and a batting champ in Joe Mauer. After losing a tough Game 1 3-2, the team was hoping to even the series. The Twins were down 2-0 in the 6th when they got back to back HR from Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau. In the top of 7th inning with 2 outs and a man on first, Mark Kotsay hits a looping line drive in front of Torii Hunter. The same Torii Hunter who punched team-mates, screamed at AAA beat writers and has generally been highly regarded around the game as a leader, but really is kind of an ass hole. The smart move would have been to let the ball land in front of him which would put a man on 1st and probably 3rd with 2 outs. Instead Hunter dives for the ball and does not catch it. The ball skips behind him all the way to the wall. Inside the park HR. Twins down 4-2. This play took the life out of the team. They'd lose 5-2 and they'd lose game 3 8-3. Season done.

4.) Santana traded:
On February 1, 2008 Johan Santana was traded to the Mets for Carlos Gomez, Kevin Mulvey, Phillip Humber, Deolis Guerra. He then signed a 6 year 137.5 million dollar contract. Not only was Santana in his prime, and had just won a Cy Young in 2004 and 2006, he was and is still my favorite current player. While the jury is still out on what the Twins received, the trade doesn't look good so far. Humber is a AAAA pitcher who will probably be in a new organization next year, Mulvey has been traded, Gomez is still learning to hit, and Guerra is still 2+ years away and his prospect has dimmed a bit. The worst thing about this trade was the team's inability to bring back their best player. The Twins have lost many good players over the years but had almost always managed to keep their corner stones.

3.) Game 2 ALDS 2004:
October 6, 2004. Johan Santana took game 1 2-0. If the Twins could win game 2 they could put a 2-0 series stranglehold on the Yankees heading home. This is a game I attended at Yankees Stadium. It was a great game. The Yankees were leading 5-3 in the top of the 8th inning. There was 1 out and the Twins had a man on 1st and 2nd. The Yankees decided bring in the great Mariano Rivera. Justin Morneau  hit a single and Corey Koskie a double leading to a rare blown save for Rivera and a 5-5 game. Off to the 12th. With 2 outs Torii Hunter hit a go ahead HR, Twins lead 6-5. My Yankees fan buddy wanted to leave. He was pissed. He had the car, we left. The Twins got 2 more men on as we walked out of the Stadium but they did not score. I was happy with the lead but realistic. Joe Nathan had gone 2 innings already. He wasn't used to that workload. The only other reliable reliever late in 2004 was Juan Rincon and he had been used. I knew Gardy no longer trusted JC Romero and would try Nathan for a 3rd inning. I was hopeful but not realistic. Nathan got the first out, then walk, walk, double, run scored, intentional walk and he was more than done at 56 pitches. Romero comes in and gives up a sac fly. 7-6 Ball game over!! Yankees Win, Thu u u u u Yankeeees WIN!!!! The Twins blew their chance. They lost game 3 and game 4(another great game). We know what happens next. Yankees go up 3-0 on the Red Sox, then the Sox stage the greatest comeback in baseball history beating the Yankees 4 games to 3. Then they swept the World Series. The first time in 86 years. Bla Bla Bla, we're happy for them. I always wonder how the story would have gone if the Twins had one more dependable reliever.

2.) Eric Fox
Eric Fox made his major league debut for the Oakland A's July 7, 1992 as a 28 year old. He had 5 total HR's in 258 total MLB at bats. His biggest? straight from Wikipedia: "Fox's career highlight may have come on July 29, 1992, when Fox hit a game winning 3 run home run against the Minnesota Twins. That win put the A's into a first place tie with the Twins and catapulted them towards the division title that season while the Twins finished in 2nd place, 6 games back of the A's. Many Twins fan blame that game and his home run towards the downfall of the franchise through the rest of the 1990s, only one year removed from winning the World Series in 1991." Nothing I can write does more justice.

1.) Glaucoma
On March 28, 1996, Kirby Puckett woke up without vision in his right eye. He was diagnosed with glaucoma, and was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his professional career. Several surgeries over the next few months could not restore vision in the eye; Puckett never played professional baseball again. He'd been hit by a pitch at the end of 1995 but was having a great spring training.

What did I miss? Especially 1984 to the present?

Shawn.... from.... the past

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