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 halloffame.org. 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

1 comment:

Ben Dodds said...

Frank- When are you going to begin the process to write a book about the game that you love??