Very Well Then

Contradicting myself, always contradicting myself

Archive for March, 2011

Twins Join AL East for First Part of Season

Posted by verywellthen on March 29, 2011

I’ve always felt sorry for the AL East’s “other” teams – Tampa, Toronto and Baltimore.    They have to compete for limited playoff spots against the financial power of the Yankees and Red Sox.

Plus, in the “unbalanced” schedule,  they can’t even demonstrate how much more worthy they might be when compared to AL Central or West contenders – their record carries the damage of so frequently fighting hard inter-division battles.

This year the Twins will be a de facto AL East team early, at least for six weeks.  Their early record might reflect it.

Consider this:

  • 15 of the Twins first 20 games are on the road – all road games against AL East teams.
  • By May 15, the Twins will have played 25 games against AL East opponents, 26 against the rest of the league.

If it seems like the Twins are fighting a headwind this season, it just might have to do with a prevailing wind from the East in the first part of the season.

Of course these things do even out, more or less.  The sailing should be smoother later for the Twins than for Detroit (only 14 games against the East by May 15) or the White Sox (12 games against the East by May 15).

I can’t tabulate the psychological impact of fighting from behind all season – if that’s how things set up in the early stages of the season’s race.     As an agnostic to psychological factors – they may exist but they are unknowable  —  I’d like to think that it just won’t matter by Judgment Day of September 28 (season’s end).

BTW,  I’m only now realizing that the new schedule is WEIRD.  Opening Day is a Friday.  The final day is a Wednesday.    Did I get the memo on this?

And one last gripe on the schedule – as a Pacific Northwest based fan, I’m not happy (or any other dwarf except probably Grumpy) about the fact that there are only two games scheduled in Seattle this season, both on a weekday.    Curses, MLB schedulers.

Tough schedule or not, bring it on.


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Twins Offseason Underwhelms, Therefore I Am

Posted by verywellthen on March 28, 2011

Courtesy xkcd

There’s a story I once heard, surely apocryphal, about a college philosophy final exam with one question:

“Prove that you exist.”

According to the story, some daring student stapled to the exam a parking ticket that she had received that morning.   Adding nothing else she handed it in.  She got an ‘A’.

As an engineering graduate I was annoyed by this story — philosophy majors can get full credit for the correct answer without showing their work?   But to the extent this student exists (she didn’t prove it to me), I have to hand it to her.  I think she got it just about right.

It’s not the big things in life that really define our existence.   Love and Death and Tragedies and Winning Lotteries – we call these things “dreams” or “nightmares”, because there is something surreal about them.  These are our memories hallucinogens – or the places we can’t bear to look.

But a sure way to knock yourself out of any solipsistic mindset is all those frustrating little things or even the tepid pleasantries that there’s just no way you think up if the world is just a figment of your imagination.

So, to the management of the Minnesota Twins this past offseason – thank you for proving that I exist.

I’d have to ask if I was dreaming if the Twins had landed Cliff Lee or Zack Greinke.   But Alexi Casilla, starting shortstop – a dream for no one other than Alexi.  Dusty Hughes (a reliever not even wanted by Kansas City) claimed off waivers– there’s no way that I’m fantasizing about that.  In fact, let me staple the entire bullpen card to a philosophy exam.*

*At this point I’m considering the loss of Billy Bullock only to be a parking ticket type of life-confirming annoyance.  If he shall someday blossom as the next Mariano Rivera, then perhaps this offseason has been merely a bad dream.

It was an offseason of Cuddyer’s wart, Mauer’s Head and Shoulders commercial, Morneau’s persisting unease.    It was a winter to prepare oneself for 200 plate appearances by Drew Butera and a future without Nick Punto.

The only really intriguing move all winter was the acquisition of Tsuyoshi Nishioka from Japan.    He is one of only two projected 2011 Twins starters that hasn’t seen action as a Twin (Dusty Hughes being the other).    But Nishioka’s addition led to musical bases, with J.J. Hardy being the odd middle-infielder out,* and I don’t think that’s an overall plus.

*After J.J. got traded, I was really hoping that Nishioka would win the shortstop position.   Not based on any optimal defensive arrangement, but because I wanted to hear John Gordan make a double-play call as ““Roku-Cuatro-Three”.  I might have to settle for a call of “Seis-Shi-Three,” which is kinda okay, but not as cool.

It was just that sort of off-season.  Nothing gawd-awful, nothing special.   A few paper-cuts.  A move here or there that, as my uncle might say, is “better than a sharp stick  in the eye.”  Things that I can turn to if I ever feel life is just too vivid to be real.

But I have to keep in mind: paper-cuts and improvements-over-eye-poking-sticks aside,  this is a team that won 94 games last year.      If the moves seem pedestrian, I do get to root for a realistically-contending team again in 2011, for the eleventh year in a row.     Try convincing the childhood me – the one whose baseball memories  began with the Not So Good Twins Years, Version I (1971-1986)  — that I’m not living a dream.

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