Frank: Well, a lot has happened with the Minnesota Twins since the last blog entry two ex-Cy-ting weeks ago, most of it good for us. Starting with an appearance by the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, C.C. Sabathia of the Cleveland Indians, continuing with pitcher Scott Baker adding his name to the list of 40 pitchers in Major League Baseball history with four strikeouts in an inning, and capped off Sunday by the Twins’ second three-game sweep in a row. That’s right, a perfect 6-0 homestand; it was a great week, led by the starting rotation. The Fantastic Five got all six wins last week and posted an ERA of 1.76.
The Twins were involved a little over a week ago with a couple of controversial calls related to the pace of the game and how umpires make calls. There was a disputed home run call that the umpires got right, without using instant replay -- which is under serious consideration, and might be in place by August. The next day, manager Ron Gardenhire was ejected for arguing after a play that could have resulted in an injury to one of his players. Earlier this year, we had a ball that looked to be foul called fair and a few other calls that may have been subjected to instant replay, if it had been installed. Gardy likes the idea of using replay for home run calls, but that’s it.
Bert, do you agree? Would it slow down the game too much? How do you feel about the pace of the game?
Bert: It's a shame that the umpires have so much control of a game that is not controlled by the clock. Once the first pitch is thrown in a game it's not over until the last out. Baseball is not controlled by quarters or halves. The Minnesota Twins are in the top five of all Major League teams as far as how quick their games are played. The umpires do control the batters getting into the batter’s box once an innings starts and they can hurry up the game when the manager or pitching coach comes out to talk to the pitcher or to make a pitching change. The umpire can make the pitcher throw the baseball toward home plate in 12 seconds, with no one on base, but they seldom do it! I think that's about all that the umpires should do. Let the game progress according to the players on the field. I feel too many umpires are too involved at times. To me a great baseball game, when it's all over, is one after which no single fan knows who the umpires were.
As far as instant replay for homeruns, I don't have a problem with that. I sure hope they don't include other things to be reviewed when, I feel, the game of baseball should be controlled by the men in blue and their calls. I bet 99.9% of the time the umpires are correct in their calls.
The executives of the game, along with the Commissioner of Baseball and the Players Association, will come to an agreement on what's best for the game. I believe this...
Frank: The same folks who are reviewing instant replay right now had an interesting idea back in the 1990s:
When interleague play was introduced in 1995, it was heavily criticized by so-called experts who did not want to disturb the delicate balance of baseball and its traditions. But most of them have been won over, or at least silenced, by the tantalizing matchups it makes possible. This week has been and will continue to be a perfect example for the Twins. After facing Cy Young Award winning pitchers Randy Johnson and Brandon Webb over the weekend, we will take on two more in the three-game series starting tonight in San Diego against the Padres. Tonight we hook up with powerful right-hander Jake Peavy, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner. Tomorrow night it's one of my personal favorites, four-time Cy Young Award winner Greg Maddux. I can still remember him pitching three consecutive complete games in his heyday with the Braves, throwing a total of about 270 pitches. This week he will test his efficiency and marksmanship against patient hitters like Alexi Casilla, Joe Mauer, and Justin Morneau. How do you think he will do? What do you know about the relative youngsters, Webb and Peavy? Do you like interleague play? What do you and don't you like about it?
Bert: It is a proven fact that baseball fans like interleague play and that's the bottom line for the 30 Major League teams. More revenue is brought into the stadiums when the opposing league comes into town. Of course, some of the biggest draws are the Yankees vs. Mets, Cubs vs. White Sox, Dodgers vs. Angels and maybe the Giants vs. the A's. But other than those rivalry series it's the same old thing. I think we should continue interleague play but cut it back to only six games. Let the Yankees play the Mets in a three-game series in each park and the other aforementioned teams play the six games in the same way. The Twins would play the Brewers in Minnesota and Milwaukee but that's it. I also feel that playing 18 games within your own division is too many games. Cut this down to 15 games and then, for the Twins fans, more American League teams will be making two trips to the Dome rather than once a year. For example, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim started the season in Minnesota on Opening Day. That's it! The only time they will be in Minnesota. This is not right! All American League teams should have to face each other at least 12 times. Cutting down on the games within the division and cutting back on interleague play would make this possible. [Some good ideas from a former big leaguer, but Bert’s math is a little off; that’s appropriate, though, because he is in California right now!]
It's great that the young Twins get to face the likes of Randy Johnson, Brandon Webb, Jake Peavy and Greg Maddux. As a former player, I know that you want to pitch or play against the best in the game. The Twins have already beaten the first two and let's hope they do the same against Peavy and Maddux in San Diego!
Frank: Speaking of interleague play:
Prince Fielder is one apple that didn't fall far from the tree. The Milwaukee Brewers' cleanup hitter inherited his rotund physique from his big daddy, "Big Daddy" Cecil Fielder. Although he is not a quick runner, Prince enjoys some of his speediest moments against the Twins. This weekend, the hefty, lumbering first baseman returns to the scene of his first major league inside-the-park home run. Last year, the younger Fielder (notice I didn't say the little one) hit a routine fly ball to center field at the Metrodome. When Lew Ford lost track of the ball in the afternoon light coming in the roof, he was off to the, well, um, . . . Fielder scored, eventually. Then a week and a half ago, the not so fresh Prince slid into third with a triple when his deep drive to center eluded Carlos Gomez. However, last Thursday afternoon he proved that he doesn't victimize only the Twins, as he hit his second inside-the-park home run against the Toronto Blue Jays! So the Twins need to be careful when he steps up to the plate, to hold him to no more than two bases. And, if he does get a base hit, we need to watch him closely. Is catcher Joe Mauer over his throwing slump, so he can keep Fielder from stealing bases? In the same vein, how is backup Mike Redmond's shoulder? What I really want to know is if Big Daddy ever went for extra bases against you? Did he terrorize you on the basepaths?
Bert: Big men like the Fielders are fun to watch. What tremendous power they can generate with their bat speed and their strength! I like watching Prince play the game because he plays hard, just like his dad did. Baseball isn't about height, weight and size. It's about being able to complete at the highest level and trying to be the best. Yes, it was fun to watch Prince run around the bases and the way he hustles. It was fun facing his dad when I pitched. I can bet you that Cecil never hit a triple off me but I bet you he probably took me deep a time or two....
Mauer went through a period were his throws to second where a little high but that was mainly because the runner had such a good jump off the pitcher. Joe has one of the best throwing arms in the game. Redmond's shoulder is fine but he's just not getting a lot of playing time because Mauer is catching almost every game. How does manager Ron Gardenhire keep Mauer out of the lineup and why would he? Joe can just flat out hit!
Check out the Twins on FSN North this week:
Wednesday: vs. San Diego at 8:30 PM
Thursday: vs. San Diego at 2:00 PM
Friday: vs. Milwaukee at 6:30 PM
Saturday: vs. Milwaukee at 5:30 PM