Monday, August 11, 2008

Bert's Motto

Frank: Well, the Minnesota Twins are making an old habit of the road trip rebound. And now, we are left with a huge nine-game home stand, beginning tonight against the talented, high-priced New York Yankees. When the Yankees leave Minneapolis after the three-game series wraps up Wednesday afternoon (Yes, FSN will broadcast the game, starting at 11:30 in the morning), we will prepare for three more against the Seattle Mariners this weekend.

The Twins stole a few bases this one weekend in Kansas City, more than we have in a while. Because Bert Blyleven is a spewing font of knowledge, I asked him about this slowdown. It’s hard to believe, but I asked him this question only 16 weeks ago:

The Twins are stealing a lot more bases this year than last -- not surprisingly, given the additions of Carlos Gomez and Delmon Young. But Ron Gardenhire has always been a rather conservative manager. Will he reign in the running game at some point to avoid running into outs, or keep it flying when the Twins are not down by more than one?

At the time, three weeks into the season, the Twins were tied for the league lead in stolen bases and near the bottom in almost every other offensive category. Boy, how things have changed! While we are still among the lesser home run hitting teams, we are now in the top five in the league in batting average and runs scored. But the running game, at least the base stealing, has stalled a bit. Can you lend some insight as a former pitcher into the connection between stolen bases and batting average? Would you say that the base running of the Twins has to do with the batting average and the run production?

Bert: Frank, you’re right when you say the Twins base stealing has slowed down since the beginning of the season, but their aggressive base running has not! Denard Span has taken over the leadoff spot in the line-up with speedy Carlos Gomez now batting ninth in the order. Every game is different and there are so many things that come into play when a manager decides to ask a base runner to steal a base:

Is the opposing pitcher left-handed or right-handed? What kind of move does he have to first base? How quick is he toward home plate? Does he have a high leg kick or does he use the slide-step? Who is catching and how strong is his arm throwing to second base or third? What is the score, the outs and what inning is it? How is the tempo of the game going? Does your team need a stolen base at this time or do you leave the hole open at first since the first basemen is holding on the runner? Who is hitting? Would maybe a hit and run work better then a straight steal of second? Is the pitcher throwing strikes or is he all over the place? If he is wild do we even need to send the runner, because he may walk the batter? How good of a jump does the runner need and does he look comfortable with his lead? I'm sure these are only a few thoughts that go through Gardy's mind when Gomez, Span, Delmon Young or any other potential base stealer gets on first base.
I got a headache just thinking of what might or might not happen when a runner gets to first! Imagine what Gardy thinks about every inning! (These migraines are why I like to call him MSGardenhire!)
The Twins don't have the consistent power that some other teams have so they have to manufacture runs. One thing that we have seen throughout the season is that the Twins try to take the extra base as much as possible. Going from first to third on a base hit and getting a good lead at second base so you can score on a base hit are important in scoring runs. This type of base running will be needed the rest of the season if the Twins want to stay in the race.

Frank: Tonight we begin the second half of our home-and-home series with the Yankees. The Twins will have the same three pitchers start against them who began the games in New York three weeks ago. Also, this weekend the home stand continues with the Seattle Mariners, whom we played just last week. Two of our three starters will match up again with the club. Carlos Silva makes his return to the Dome Friday night, his first time pitching there since leaving the Twins last offseason after four years with the Twins.

Do you think anyone has an advantage when a batter faces the same pitcher a second time within a few weeks? If so, who? Silva will not have pitched in a week. Does that mean he will be hit hard?

Bert: The Twins record (39-21) shows that they love playing at home. Let's just hope that with this upcoming home stand the magic continues. The Yankees are always a tough opponent and it should be an interesting three-game series, followed by the same with the Seattle Mariners and Oakland A's. Pitching match-ups are always the first thing fans look at when there is an upcoming series. Who is facing whom and how has that certain pitcher fared against the other team. I have always said that any Major League pitcher can beat any Major League opponent if he has his good stuff that particular night. Yes, Ponson has pitched well against the Twins over his career, but maybe this time out he won't have his good sinker working. Maybe Silva will have his sinker working and will get a lot of double plays turned behind him. This is what I love about the game of baseball. Each day and each game is so different. If a pitcher makes his pitches then the advantage goes to the pitcher, but if the pitcher is missing his spots and hanging some breaking balls then the hitters have the advantage. Let's wait and see who is on and who is making the mistakes.
Frank: The Beijing Olympics kicked off this weekend and on Wednesday the baseball competition gets underway. This year might be the last Olympics ever with baseball, sadly enough. The active players on Major League Baseball teams' 25-man rosters are ineligible, but Japan allows its best professionals a break from their pennant chases. What about you? Did you try out for the 1968 Mexico City Olympics as a high school hot shot? Since pitchers are such great athletes, maybe you could have run with Lee Evans, jumped with Bob Beamon, or swum with Mark Spitz. What is your personal motto? Is it Citius, Altius, Fortius (swifter, higher, stronger)?

Bert: I will be following not only the United States in the Olympic Games, but also the Netherlands and Canada. I was born in Holland but left when I was two years old, so I am always curious to see how the athletic teams from the Netherlands do against the rest of the world. I also will be following the Canadian athletics because my family spent four years in Canada before we came to the United States in 1957. Now living in the United States since I was six years old, I am very proud of U.S. athletics. I know we live in the greatest country in the world, so GO USA! Hopefully the U.S. baseball team will make us all proud and if it's the last Olympics for baseball, then bring home the gold!
I could never run with Lee Evans, jump with Bob Beamon, or swim with Mark Spitz. . BUT...I bet I could have struck them out!!!!!

My motto is: Do the best you can with the talent you have. Look in the mirror and ask yourself this simple question, "Am I getting the best out of myself today and can I be better today then I was yesterday?"

Every day is a gift so make the most of today! We are not guaranteed tomorrow…

God Bless all the readers and the Twins fans.
Go Twins and the USA...

Check out the Twins this week on FSN North:
Monday, Aug 11: vs. NY Yankees (6:30PM)
Tuesday, Aug 12: vs. NY Yankees (6:30 PM)
Wednesday, Aug 13: vs. NY Yankees (11:30 PM)
Friday, Aug 15: vs. Seattle (6:30PM)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just found this via a myspace URL which was flashed on the screen during the pregame. You should publicize this blog more! A lot of good writing here. Maybe Bert can mention the URL during the broadcast.

Bert (and the Moose, Mike Mussina) for HoF!