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.


Anonymous said...

We should all keep in mind that there would be more complete game pitchers in the game nowadays if managers let pitchers go a bit longer. Most of the time, it's not the starter who wants to come out after 7-8 innings. Halladay does have the great advantage of keeping his pitch counts down due to throwing strikes.

Anonymous said...

Francis P, you are the man. We all know you set a fund-raising record back in 1990 because of how cute you are. Keep up the good work, and just be glad that the Twins don't have to come to Seattle any more and lose 2 of 3 to the woeful M's.