Friday, October 10, 2008

That's a Wrap....Until Next Time

Frank: The Minnesota Twins finished off the surprisingly good 2008 season with a disappointing 1-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox in the American League Central Division tiebreaker last Tuesday night. In spite of the outcome ending our season, the Twins should take pride in defying the experts and look forward to a very bright future.

The Twins surprised a lot of people this year, who expected the team to go through a rebuilding season, not to be a contender. Now we seem to be set up pretty well for the future, with a bevy of talented young players. Carlos Gomez, Delmon Young, Denard Span, Brian Buscher, Brendan Harris, Alexi Casilla, and Matt Tolbert all enjoyed their first full season (almost) with the Twins. Throw in veterans Jason Kubel, Joe Mauer, and Justin Morneau and we can fill a lineup card quite effectively, with a DH and one bench player, not one of them over the age of 28. We scored the third most runs in the league (Also the third highest total in club history) and we had the number three batting average. This could be a very good team for many years to come. Do we need to get anything during the offseason? What about defense? Will we trade Michael Cuddyer?

Bert: First of all, let's hope the Twins do not trade Michael Cuddyer. He is a huge part of the Twins going into next season. It was too bad he was hurt most of the season but if he is healthy in 2009 he can create some of the additional power the team needs in the lineup. I wouldn't be surprised if the Twins ask Michael to play third base next season. Denard Span showed that he can be the leadoff hitter for the Twins going into next season and he played a great right field. On paper the Twins have a good lineup, as you mentioned. I do know that Gardy wants to tighten up the defense. With the young players the Twins had this season came too many errors. They had the third most errors in the American League, and that's not Twins baseball. I'm sure Gardy will be addressing this issue with his players in spring training.

Frank: Keeping with the same theme, the pitching staff is very young. Our five starters who finished off the year by completing the final two months combined for a 52-34 record and a 3.96 ERA in 2008. That is a winning percentage over .600, and the oldest of the five, Scott Baker, just turned 27. After a full year (more or less) in a Major League starting rotation, these men should only get better, right? And now arm fatigue will not be an issue anymore -- as it may have been this year – since all of them threw at least 170 innings between the Minors and the Majors in 2008.
What do you think of the progress they made over the season? Could they improve next year? With all the great players, young and not so young, it should be an exciting 2009, huh? You and I should be ready for it. Now go and get some innings under your belt this winter and come back refreshed.

Bert: Good pitching and good defense usually call for a winning season. These are things the Twins will go into spring training hoping to have in 2009. As you know, I do not believe in pitch counts, and with the young pitchers on this staff getting a full season under their belts, now maybe all five of them can reach 200 innings. I don't think that is asking too much. It is not me that has to get refreshed, it is the five young starters that need to come into spring training in the best shape of their lives and be ready to take to ball into the seventh or eighth inning time after time. You do this by making sure that your legs are in shape for spring. I sure hope all the starters know what they are capable of doing and that's pitching deeper into games. It all starts with your leg strength! Distance running is the best way to built up endurance for a long season, and they need to do a lot of stretching. Light weights are also good for arm strength. The Twins’ strength and conditioning coach, Perry Castellano, is very good at setting up winter programs for each individual player, but it's the player who has to get to know his own body and what he expects out of his body to be successful. With the starters going longer into games, the bullpen will hopefully not be used as much as they had to be used this last season. For the Twins to have another successful season the starters need to protect their relievers by going deeper into games.

Frank: We have had some fun this year in the blog, talking about random stuff each week like your favorite restaurants on the road, holidays during your childhood, and even about rock and roll music. But my favorite has to be your story about dropping that loudmouth in the dunk tank repeatedly. We need one final good story to close out the year and make people want more, which might come in about six months. Since you are already at home in Florida, do you have any good stories about golf?
Did your dad ever take you golfing? I know he meant a lot to you, and his eventual defeat after a battle with Parkinson's Disease is one of the main reasons for this weekly endeavor to raise money. Former Twin Kent Hrbek lost his father to ALS -- the disease that killed baseball legend Lou Gehrig -- while I have a form of Ataxia, the disease that killed Twins legend Bob Allison. Because of our closeness to baseball (you can read about my life in baseball on the right side of this page) and your father’s closeness to you, we have set out to raise money for the Minnesota Medical Foundation, which funds research on all three diseases. So your father is a big part of this blog. Speaking of golf, what was his handicap (besides you)? What is yours (besides having grown up in Southern California)?

Bert: I want to personally thank everyone who had a chance to read this blog over the last season. The Twins had a successful year but did not make the post season. I hope all the Twins players watch the post season and think about the things they can do better in 2009 to make sure they get there as a team. I used to watch all the post season games and I would see if I could figure out anything that I could do to help my team get there the next season. Let's hope the Twins players are watching for the 2009 season.I also want to personally thank those who found it in their hearts to make a donation to Parkinson's, ALS, and Ataxia after reading the blog. Every dollar you donate hopefully will help find a cure for these deadly diseases. My father passed away from Parkinson's on October 15, 2004.
Golf was one thing that we enjoyed doing together. I introduced golf to my dad many years ago. During the winter months we had a 6:19am tee time every Sunday morning at a course in Garden Grove, California. Many mornings it would not be dawn yet at 6:19, so we would tee-off in the dark. Hole #1 was a par four that was straight away, probably about 360 yards. There were always four of us who played, so when one of us were hitting the ball into the dark, the other three would stand behind to try and track the flight of the ball. After we all hit then we would start walking toward the green with one player walking down the left side of the fairway, another walking down the right side of the fairway, and the other two walking slowly down the middle. Sooner than later someone would find a ball and yell out what kind of ball it was so the right person could hit it again in the dark toward the green. Once we all hit our second shot then the march would continue to the green. After we all putted our balls into the hole, I would ask each golfer what they had for a score. Every Sunday my dad always said he had a 5! Even if it took him eight shots to sink his putt he still said, “Give me a 5!” That Christmas I had about 20 scorecards made up from that course we played and on the scorecard I had my dad's name, Joe, engraved on the card and on the first hole I had them engrave a 5! He laughed so hard when he opened that gift and I can still see his smile today. Golf is a great game because it brings friends and family together for a fun day filled with memories. My dad's handicap was probably about an 18, where mine is currently a 5! I guess I got that from my dad!!!!!Have a great winter and thank you all again for reading this blog each week. You are all “Hereby Circled!”

Frank: Well, most baseball is played in the land of golf for the next few months. The Arizona Fall League started this week for the Twins’ top prospects -- and there is an ongoing Florida Instructional League and winter ball in the warm states and countries further south -- so we will see if the team can improve the bullpen and the left side of the infield without making any deals! But for now we are done, and hopefully we’ll see you all back here next season. Thanks for reading and for donating! For Bert Blyleven, this is Frank Genalo wishing you a quiet, peaceful, and blessed winter.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thoughts from Bert...

The 2008 Minnesota Twins season ended after they lost 1-0 to the Chicago White Sox in game #163 of the season. The White Sox are the winners of the Central Division and now continue on into the post season.

The Twins had a great year with the young talent they had and it should be an interesting 2009 season. I do have one complaint about the way the season ended. I know, through the Commission's Office of Major League Baseball, that a coin flip was used in determining who would have home field advantage if an extra game was needed like one one that the Twins and White Sox played.

Why was the game played in Chicago? The Twins won the season series 10-8 and they should have had home field advantage for this game! It's not right when a flip of a coin determines the outcome of a long season. So winning the season series doesn't really mean anything, right? That's bull! The Twins were 8-1 vs. the White Sox in the Metrodome and 2-7 in U.S. Cellular Field.I guess I am complaining over spilled milk but this was not right!Anyway, the Twins did have a great year as a ball club. The last week of the season had to be very exciting for all the players, coaches and manager. This last week turned out to be like post season because of the crowds that attended these games. Especially the last 6 games in the Dome.

The Twins fans again were the 10th player on the field and I personally want to thank the fans for their support throughout the season. Fox Sports North TV rating were higher then normal because of the players on the field and the way they played throughout the season.I hope everyone has a great winter and I am already waiting to see the games in spring training and the excitement that comes with a new season. The young pitching staff and younger everyday players should feel proud of the nice job they did throughout the 2008 season.

Also congratulations to Joe Mauer in winning his second American League batting title and let's hope Justin Morneau and/or Joe Mauer bring the MVP Award back to the Twin Cities.

God Bless you and and be safe,
Bert Blyleven

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mr. October

Frank: The Minnesota Twins are down to one more game, a tiebreaker against the
White Sox -- the very same team we swept last week – tonight at US Cellular Field in Chicago. The winner of the game dons the American League Central Division crown and heads to Florida to take on the Tampa Bay Rays in the first round of the playoffs, beginning Thursday. The Twins have a good shot at winning, because the opposing pitcher will be John Danks. In the three starts he’s had against us in Chicago this year, his ERA is 8.78. Nick Blackburn, who beat the White Sox just last week, will start for the Twins. I asked Bert about the sweep last week:

Against the Chicago White Sox last week, the Twins earned a huge three-game sweep, showing a different style of offense in each game. Tuesday night we bashed an uncharacteristic three home runs during a 9-3 blowout. Wednesday night we went back to small ball with nine hits, all singles, sacrificing and running the bases to pick up the win thanks to two run-scoring groundouts. The last game was between the two, no home runs but four doubles and three triples, showing off our speed and sacrificing twice (once on a squeeze play). All that to say that there are many ways to score runs, and the Twins are still the third best team in the league in pushing men across the plate. Which style is most fitting for the Twins? Which will we need most to advance in the playoffs?

Bert: If the Twins get into the post season they will go in as the team that got them there and that is to bunch some bunts, swinging singles and extra base hits together, maybe without the long ball. There are only three players that hit 10 or more home runs throughout the season, Morneau (23), Kubel (20) and Young (10). In post season they will try to drive their opponents crazy with all the running they are capable of doing on the bases. Let's hope these opponents have the opportunity to watch this Twins team run, bunt and steal bases with some big hits in between.

Frank: Joe Mauer gets a lot of attention, deservedly so, for being the best hitting catcher in the game. But he receives very little credit for the defensive side of his game. He is the league leader in fielding percentage and fewest passed balls – catchable pitches that slip by the catcher -- and very close to the league lead in games caught and fewest stolen bases allowed. In addition, pitchers always say that he calls a great game, and he's a very calming influence on our young pitchers. So, as he closes in on another batting title, what is the chance of him winning a Gold Glove Award someday? How do you feel about how he handles the pitching staff?

Bert: Now that Ivan Rodriquez, once the Tigers catcher and now the Yankees catcher, is a free agent and might be out of the American League, maybe Joe will get votes for his ability behind the plate. He and Mike Redmond have done a great job of handling the five young starters the Twins have had in their rotation throughout the season. Joe is one of those catchers that do a great job of calling the game, blocking balls in the dirt and if given the opportunity can stop the running game of the opponent. That is what a Rawlings Gold Glove winner is all about, and winning batting titles will help too...

Frank: As we approach October, at least two things leap to mind. Playoff baseball, for one; another is Halloween! As for baseball, Reggie Jackson was known as Mr. October, because of his excellence during the playoffs. Do the Twins have a Mr. October? Who is it? Now for Halloween, did you ever go trick-or-treating as a kid in California like we did in the Midwest? If so, what was your favorite costume? I remember going as a baseball player a couple times. Did you do that as a kid? Ever been to a haunted house?

Bert: Reggie Jackson became known as Mr. October because of the home runs and big hits he got in post season. The Twins would love it if Justin Morneau could become their Mr. October. Time will tell who will be put into the position to come through at the right time. Maybe even Nick Punto or Denard Span could be the Twins’ Mr. October!
Halloween was always one of the funniest nights for me as a kid growing up in Southern California. I have four sisters and two brothers, and all of us used to go out with our pillowcases to get them full before we returned home. As soon as the sun went down, we were off and running. I never dressed up in a costume. A mask is all I needed. If a certain house was giving out really good candy we would double back and hit that house about three or four times. We would change masks and act like we had never been to the house before. Once we got home with our full pillowcases my dad would have us all put our candy on the floor in the family room and he would take the best treats out and say these were his. After the first year of him doing this, we would hide the good candy outside before we came home, and we would get it later that night. I don't think my dad ever knew we did this. Boy, did we treat him....

Frank: Lovingly? With respect? Okay, maybe neither. Now we switch back to baseball.
Let’s hope that the White Sox sing a somber “Bye Bye Blackburn” tonight!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Crunch Time

Frank: Well, it’s crunch time for the Minnesota Twins! We need to win this series and the one against the Kansas City Royals this weekend, and possibly get some help from the Cleveland Indians and/or the Detroit Tigers, to win the American League Central Division and qualify for the playoffs.

A very shaky turn through the rotation last week saw no starting pitcher last five innings. Scott Baker has been very good at home, especially when he gets run support. He is 3-1 with a 3.28 ERA and six no decisions in 10 tries. He also won his only decision against the Chicago White Sox, striking out an impressive 12.3 batters/9 IP during two starts against them. Nick Blackburn is great at home when he pitches on four days rest, having gone 7-1 with a 2.00 ERA over eight such starts. Kevin Slowey has been our ace since the middle of June, going 7-1 with a 2.25 ERA in his last eight starts at the Metrodome. So what do these men have left? Will they be as good this week?

Bert: It has been a tough month of September for the Twins’ starters. The month started with the Twins getting swept by the Blue Jays in Toronto and then the Twins going 3-3 on the home stand vs. the Tigers and the Royals. Now their last road trip on the season has been a disappointment! I am writing to you Saturday night and today the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Twins 7-2 to clinch a playoff berth. We did not televise the game, but I hope a lot of the Twins players stayed in the dugout to watch the Rays celebrate. It will be good for the players to watch others celebrate because hopefully their celebration will help carry the Twins team into Sunday's game (This seemed to happen, as we won to split the four-game series at the park of the best home team in the Major Leagues) and will have them looking forward to the three-game series against the White Sox. The Twins are 49-26 at home so let's kick the heck out of the White Sox. Put those tired Twins starters arms on the mound and see what they are made of. I actually don't buy that the starters arms are tired. It becomes more mental then physical this time of the year. Let's see who steps up and/or who will blame a poor performance on a tired arm. Let's hope the starting staff digs a little deeper to find success...

Frank: Michael Cuddyer's 2008 season has been a lost one due to injuries, beginning with a finger injury suffered during the first game of the season with the Kansas City Royals. This has, of course, allowed for the emergence of Denard Span, who filled his spot on the roster and in right field. Span has certainly been great -- even working his way into the leadoff spot in the batting order -- filling in for him, but how much do you think it would mean to Cuddyer, Span, and the rest of the Twins for Michael to be able to pull off some heroics this weekend against the very same Royals, maybe even in the last game of the season against them?

Bert: Let's hope that the season can be won or lost against the Kansas City Royals. That means that the Twins had a great series against the White Sox and are still in the race for the division title. Michael Cuddyer has been missed throughout the season, but with injuries comes opportunity. Denard Span has proven to the Twins throughout the summer that he belongs at the Major League level. Let's also hope that both Michael and Denard can get some big hits to help the Twins win the Central Division.

Frank: The Twins will move into a new ballpark in downtown Minneapolis in a year and a half. Last week the naming rights were announced when officials declared that for the next 25 years the ballpark would be known as Target Field. If, at some point, Jason Kubel or Justin Morneau pulls a really long foul ball, he could hit Target Center, home of the Timberwolves. Target is, as we all know, the chain of retail stores based in Minneapolis. It started out as a midwestern enterprise, mainly in Minnesota. So it’s appropriate to name local sports venues after the franchise. Have you been to Target Field? How is construction going? What about Target Center? What's the chance of Morneau and Kubel taking target practice?

Bert: Congratulations on the Twins and Target in getting an agreement worked out to name the new Twins ballpark Target Field. It's only right since it is being built next to Target Center. I have driven by the new stadium, but I have not yet been inside looking at the construction of this future beautiful ballpark. I have always been one to want to see the final result, rather than try and picture what something will look like. I hope people from all around the five-state area will be proud of the end result: this stadium. I can't wait to see it open in 2010. I only hope and pray that the Good Lord allows me to be there to witness opening day and many days after that. I would like to witness Morneau and Kubel hitting their "target" many times in the new Target Field. God Bless you all and Go Twins!

Let’s “Bake” the White Sox!

Check out the Twins-as they battle for a spot in the playoffs-only on FSN North this week:
Wed: vs. Chicago White Sox-6:30 PM
Thurs: vs. Chicago White Sox-6:30 PM
Fri: vs. Kansas City-6:30 PM
Sat: vs. Kansas City-5:30 PM

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rock & Roll Stars

Frank: Well, the Minnesota Twins continue to show the fight that got them into the thick of a pennant race, winning two more series last week and remaining on the heels of the Chicago White Sox.
All year long, the Twins have led the major leagues in hitting with runners in scoring position. We also lead the Majors with a team record 67 sacrifice flies. Together, these statistics lead to a lot of runs scored. In fact, we have scored the third most runs in the league without much power. What do you think of all the small ball? Will we keep it up on the road this week?

Bert: The Twins won the first two games against the Orioles by scoring 12 runs in each game of the doubleheader played on Saturday night. In game one the Twins won 12-2 behind Scott Baker and Denard Span, who hit two homers to account for four of the Twins 12 runs. This means that eight runs, by my California math, were produced by singles, doubles and triples. Game two was won by the score 12-6 and Brendan Harris hit a solo homerun which accounting for only one of the 12 runs. Eleven more runs were created by singles, doubles and triples. Baltimore's pitchers also helped out by walking 13 batters over the two games. If you want to call these two wins small ball you can but it's the Twins way!

Sunday the Twins, looking for the three-game sweep, lost 7-3 because they couldn't do much against Orioles starter Radhames Liz, who worked eight shutout innings against them. The offense was held in check because he threw strikes and stayed ahead of the hitters. It's very hard to sweep a team no matter who they are and now the Twins are in Cleveland hoping to sweep the Indians.

Frank: When the Twins take on the Rays this week, we will face an even younger -- though more experienced -- starting staff than our own. Their five starters are all in double figures in wins; although the fewest starts among them is 24. We will also be facing them at their park, where the Rays have the best home record in baseball. Tampa Bay is playing over .700 baseball in the domed stadium of Tropicana field. Do you think it's inevitable that they will add to the winning percentage by beating us in the series, given that it is the last leg of our second long road trip in a month? What do you think it will be like for Delmon Young and others to play against the team that traded them? On the other side of the coin, what would it mean to Matt Garza, if he pitches against the Twins? Do you think he will?

Bert: The Tampa Bay Rays are having a type of season that is great for baseball. Nobody expected the Rays to be on top of the American League Eastern Division. Good for them and I am a big Joe Maddon fan. He was managing in the Angels organization when I played for the Angels in the late 80's and early 90's. Joe is a great baseball man and his team is the Cinderella team in the American League. I feel the Twins would be very happy if they could split the four-game series because of the Rays’ success at home this season. Anytime a player goes against his former team there is always a little more excitement for that player. Delmon Young would love to get a game-winning hit against the Rays in the series and if Matt Garza pitches (it looks like he won’t, though) he wants to shut the Twins out. That's the nature of the game and the spirit the players have against their former team and teammates.

Frank: As the road trip continues tonight in Cleveland, I would like you to explain to me the absence of Three Dog Night from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The reason I bring this up is that the Hall is located in downtown Cleveland, near where I assume that you are staying. So I would appreciate it if you could stop by there during your time off from the games and do your best to rectify the situation. Hurt some people if you have to do it; for the love of God, Jeremiah the bullfrog implores you to do this. I know that there are other artists deserving of induction into the Hall of Fame -- such as the Steve Miller Band and, from your teenage years, the Hollies and Tommy James and the Shondells -- but Three Dog Night is a personal favorite of mine. If you can make the Hall induct them, you would bring Joy to the World!

Bert: I have actually been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame here in Cleveland. It's a great place to visit if you are a music buff and, really, who isn't? I personally loved Three Dog Night and loved their songs. Having the opportunity to walk through the Hall you realize that there were so many great bands that have been such a great influence in so many lives. My wife Gayle is a bigger music fan then I am. We both like oldies type music and also country western. I think there is Joy in the World no matter what kind of music you love!
Go Twins...

Frank: Slugger Justin Morneau keeps playing every day, and Saturday he tied for the league lead in RBIs. His continued offensive production, as he closes in on his second league MVP Award, is one of many things to look for that would help the Twins “Go” this week.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Outstanding Baseball & Outstanding People

Frank: The Minnesota Twins remain in the thick of a pennant race, just two and a half games behind the Chicago White Sox. The starting pitching has been great, and Bert will tell you that that’s the key to a pennant. Last weekend we returned home from a very long road trip, and our starters lowered their combined ERA to 3.76. Every game is crucial now, since we play only 19 more to close out the regular season. This begins with three against a familiar foe, so I asked Bert about it.

The home stand continues tonight when the Kansas City Royals begin a three-game series at the Metrodome, their first visit since the opening week of the season over five months ago. This is a pretty uncharacteristically long time between visits for an American League Central Division rival. Now, the Twins offense is much better than it was then; but with baseball, you never know, as shown by the two series losses to the worst team in the American League, the Seattle Mariners. But those were last month on the road, now we have two more series this month against Kansas City at home. So how will we do against the Royals and their bullpen?

Bert: The Kansas City Royals seem to always give the Twins a battle. So far this season the Twins have the advantage over the Royals, winning nine of the 12 games played between the two teams. The only time the Royals were here at the Dome was in April and the Twins won two of the three games. But their success so far against the Royals doesn't really count for anything this time around. One thing for sure is that these two teams don't hit a lot of home runs. In the 12 games played there have been only 10 combined home runs hit; the Twins have hit seven and the Royals three. They have played three extra inning games against each other with the Twins winning two of them. The Twins have outscored the Royals 48 to 36 over the 12 games. Not a lot of runs scored between these two clubs so there has been some very good pitching on each side. The Twins will look at the Royals series, as they do with every set, one game at a time. Good pitching and timely hitting is very important for the Twins against the Royals.

Frank: The Twins' pitching rotation consists of five young men, all of whom are approaching career highs in innings pitched. But so far, these starters have been very good; the highest ERA among them is just over 4.00. Tonight Nick Blackburn will try to become the third member of the current staff with double-digit victories, to be joined soon enough by Scott Baker.
Do you think that their arms will be able to hold up, especially on the upcoming road trip? Will all the extra arms just added to the bullpen help these guys out? Do you think it will be enough?

Bert: You are right Frank that all five of the Twins’ young starters have done a good job throughout the long baseball season. With the weather getting cooler in September I always found that I got stronger this time of the year. With the Twins in the division race with the White Sox, every start is very important. I feel no matter how many innings these starters have thrown in the past couple of years; this is the time to continue to kick it in. Meaning that every outing and inning is very important for a Twins win. Sometimes you just have to dig deeper inside yourself to get this done.
The bullpen has struggled as of late so the starters may have to go over the magic 100-pitch count from time to time. It's time to step up to the plate and extend your innings...

Frank: I just read about a couple of awards that might interest Twins fans. One is the Ford C. Frick Award, given every year for "major contributions in broadcasting." Twins longtime voices John Gordon and Dick Bremer are eligible for the Hall of Fame honor. So is a guy named Bert Blyleven, known well for allowing home runs and, in his second life, for the infantile practice of circling people while being careful not to color outside the lines. Online balloting lasts throughout September and fans of the "Sultan of the Telestrator" can vote for him at Which way do you think you have a better chance of making it to Cooperstown, as a player or a broadcaster?
The other award is the Roberto Clemente Award, for which outfielder Michael Cuddyer is the team's nominee. Community service is one of the criteria for the award, which is named after the all-star Pirates outfielder that was killed in a plane crash in 1972 during a humanitarian mission. Did you ever meet Clemente? What do you know about him? What about Cuddyer and his community service?

Bert. This is my 13th season as color analyst for the Twins and it's unusual that a color analyst receives the Ford C. Frick Award. It's usually the play-by-play announcers that win this award. John and Dick are very deserving of this award.

Michael Cuddyer is not only up for the Roberto Clemente Award but also the Branch Rickey Award. The Branch Rickey Award honors Major League Players as humanitarians in the game of baseball. Michael Cuddyer serves on the Board of Directors of the Twins Community Fund, and is spokesperson for Boys and Girls Clubs. He emcees the annual FSN North "Kids in the City" event, and founded the Michael Cuddyer Celebrity Waiter Dinner event at Morton's Steakhouse to benefit Boys and Girls Club. He is also spokesperson for Big Brothers and Big Sisters. He established "Cuddy's Buddies" to give Twins game tickets to economically disadvantaged kids. As you can see he is very deserving of each of these awards.

I never met Roberto Clemente but I praise him for his dedication to being a great human being.
Have a great day and Go Twins...Catch those White Sox!

Frank: Slugger Justin Morneau continues his pursuit of another MVP Award, currently ranking eighth in the league in batting average, 19th in home runs, and second in RBI. He has driven in 49 runs in 48 games since the all-star break, and is closing in on RBI leader Josh Hamilton. Catcher Joe Mauer is also chasing his second batting title, after he became the first catcher ever to win one in 2006. Their continued offensive production is one of many things to look for that would help the Twins “Go” this week.

Check out the Twins on FSN North this week:
Tuesday: vs Kansas City at 6:30 PM
Wednesday: vs Kansas City at 6:30 PM
Thursday: vs Kansas City at 12:00 NOON
Friday: vs Baltimore at 5:30 PM
Saturday: vs Baltimore at 5:30 PM

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Great Team & a Great Cause

Frank: It was another big week for the Minnesota Red Twins last week, as guys who started the season with the Class Triple-A Rochester Red Wings made key plays. So I asked Bert about this:

The Twins have gotten major contributions from rookies and other young players this year. Earlier in the season, you gave your Twins Rookie of the Year vote to Nick Blackburn. Has that changed to Glen Perkins or Denard Span? What about the other guys who started the year in the Minors -- like Alexi Casilla, Brian Buscher, and Francisco Liriano -- only to be called up and have a big impact at the Major League level? And the two youngest players on the team at 22 years old, Carlos Gomez and Delmon Young, who are technically not rookies, but manager Ron Gardenhire described them as two who are still learning the game. Do you actually see, with your trained baseball eye, the growth of these men as players? If you could share any specifics, that would be great.

Bert: With a month to play I guess we could pick about five or six players who could be the Twins Rookie of the Year! Nick Blackburn has been very consistent throughout the season and now Glen Perkins has impressed everyone since his call up from Triple-A Rochester in early May. His 12 wins lead the staff. It's good to have a healthy Francisco Liriano back with the club, as he is 4-0 since his return over six starts. On the offense side of the game, what Denard Span has meant to the Twins since he was recalled for the second time has been priceless. He has taken over the leadoff spot in the lineup and we have seen him make Gold Glove plays in the outfield. Alex Casilla has been very consistent at second base and his switch hiting and speed have added more excitement to the lineup. Brian Buscher has stepped right in at third base and has gotten some big hits for the Twins in his rookie season. Craig Breslow has been a nice surprise since he was claimed off waivers too. Anyone of these players who is eligible for Rookie of the Year is deserving.

You asked about Carlos Gomez and Delmon Young being only 22 years old and still learning the game. Gardy is right when he says they are still learning, but everyday is a new experience for everyone on the team. No matter how many years you play the game you are always learning something new about the game. No two games are alike when it comes to baseball so with success and sometimes failures comes on the job training. As long as you learn from your mistakes and try not to repeat them, you have succeeded. All the Twins players are always learning something every single day.

Frank: After playing outside for a week and a half, the Twins are back under a roof tonight in the domed stadium of Toronto's Rogers Centre. The Toronto Blue Jays swept us at the Metrodome in May. Do you think that our Dome Field Advantage was less that series because Toronto is another team with a domed stadium? The Twins were hovering around the .500 mark at the time. Since then we have played much better, nearly .600. Do you think that the Twins will have an advantage playing indoors? Can we win the series and exact some revenge on the Blue Jays?

Bert: I am currently writing this for the blog on the plane with the team heading to Toronto. The Twins are 5-6 so far on this 14 game road trip. The three games in Toronto are very important and the Twins know that the Blue Jays are playing good baseball right now. The Twins are lucky that they do not have to face Roy Halladay, the best pitcher in the American League in my opinion, in this series. He pitched today (Sunday) and beat the Yankees for his 17th win of the year. Cliff Lee is having a great year for the Indians, but since Halladay is a pitcher who likes to finish what he starts, I like him better. Complete games are a thing of the past and Halladay has eight of them this season; five more then any other pitcher in the A.L.. The Blue Jays have a very good pitching staff, leading the American League in combined earned run average, so the Twins bats will be tested even without facing Halladay. Let's hope the Twins can win two of three and come back home with a .500 road trip.

Frank: Last week we talked about the State Fair, an annual tradition this time of year. It ended yesterday, on Labor Day as usual. Another tradition on that holiday is the Jerry Lewis MDA telethon, an event near and dear to my heart. I have Friedreich's Ataxia, a form of the disease that killed Twins great Bobby Allison. It is also a disorder covered by MDA, the Muscular Dystrophy Association. I appeared on the national telethon with Jerry in 1990, just after former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda. We were in LA at the time, but I like to think that the fact that our hour broke the fundraising record at the time was due mainly to my appearance. For those who don't know, the main reason for this blog is to raise money for Ataxia and Parkinson's. I know that you have been getting autographs on a tie you are wearing on the current road trip, to be auctioned off for the benefit of Parkinson's research. My question for you is this: Have you ever appeared on a telethon? What do you think of Jerry Lewis? Tommy Lasorda? Neckties?

Bert: I am very proud of you, Frank, because you have never given up on life. You have been dealt a bad hand, but you have made this negative into a positive in so many ways. Your dedication to helping others through your time in life is an inspiration to me and I'm sure many others. I witnessed first hand what Parkinson's can do to the human body. How it can tear down the strongest man I ever knew: my dad. He fought it like he was a boxer in a corner with no way out, but it finally got the best of him. He was a fighter through all the years of this disease, and he never complained until the end. He only complained because he knew he had been beaten! I loved him for his dedication to my mother and his family. I love my mother because of her dedication to my father as his care taker and how much they loved each other.
I have never had the privilege of being part of a telethon, and we should all be proud of what Jerry Lewis stands for and how his telethon has helped so many others. God bless Jerry Lewis and anyone else who has tried to lend a hand in trying to raise funds to find a cure for any disease out there. Let's just hope that one day all the terrible diseases in life can be better controlled.

The baseball tie that I brought on this long road trip was something I wanted to do for my dad and Parkinson's. In Anaheim I was able to get Torii Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero and Garret Anderson to sign my tie. Of the Twins I have Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan on the tie. In Seattle I asked Raul Ibanez, J.J. Putz and Ichiro Suzuki and in Oakland I got Frank Thomas, Huston Street and Bobby Crosby to sign. In Toronto I will ask Roy Halladay, Vernon Wells and B.J. Ryan to sign the tie. I want to thank all these players for signing the tie and hopefully this tie can help raise funds for Parkinson's. I will donate this tie on behalf of my dad and I will let you know at a later date how Parkinson's plans to auction this tie off.

Frank, keep up the great job.

Go Twins....

Frank: Let’s “Go” and break the tie with the Chicago White Sox beginning tonight in Toronto and continuing this weekend when the Twins finally come home and take on our division rivals, the Detroit Tigers.