Fire Gardy

Mismanaging games since 2002

Archive for October, 2009

Some crazy (but fun) numbers about Mariano Rivera

Now, I’m not someone who gets tricked by flukish numbers often,* but check this out:

It has been nearly eight years since Rivera allowed a run in a postseason game at Yankee Stadium. His current postseason scoreless streak at home is 29 1/3 innings (the most by anyone ever in his home park). And in another amazing coincidence for an amazing pitcher, the first 29 1/3 postseason innings he threw at Yankee Stadium were scoreless as well. Here are the longest postseason scoreless-innings streaks at a home ballpark.

So he went 29.1 IP without giving up a run, gave some up, and then has gone exactly 29.1 IP since then without giving up a run? So you’re telling me that the Twins will come back off Rivera on Friday night? I think that’s what you’re telling me.

* Who am I kidding? Yes I am.

Additional fun numbers:

Rivera wears #42, and he’s pitched 42 games at home in the postseason, and his ERA in those games is 0.42 (if you tried to make something like this up, people would laugh in your face).

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The Dome That Wouldn’t Die

I don’t have much to say about this afternoon’s game, other than that we have to win it. I think everybody knows that.

Myself, I’m knocking off work early to head home and watch the game. In case you were wondering, no, I do not feel guilty about this in the slightest. My boss was quite insistent yesterday that I fly back to Minnesota to catch both the Vikings/Packers game and then fly back on Wednesday after having watched the Twins/Tigers. I thought the whole endeavor was pretty absurd, and refused to participate. So yeah, I’m leaving work early. And I’m going to like it.

If you only have it in you to read one thing today, read this Metrodome eulogy by Joe Posnanski. It’s typically brilliant.

But that doesn’t mean the place lacks magic. Haunted houses have magic. When the Dome is filled, it’s the loudest park in baseball. And when it’s loud, crazy stuff happens here. Infielders drop fly balls. Baseballs bounce over outfielder’s heads. High line drives can get caught in the air conditioning and ride the air stream over the fence. Hard ground balls can scoot around fielders [like] Barry Sanders, and bounce off walls, and turn singles into triples. Centerfielders leap high against the wall and make remarkable catches.

Without doubt, the place can get crazy. And with the canvas up and 52000 people rocking in there, I fully expect some craziness this afternoon. And I fully expect it to be enjoyable, exciting baseball.

I wonder, though, how much people outside the Midwest really care about this game. It seems to be a foregone conclusion that whichever team is unlucky enough to win this playoff game will be summarily destroyed by the great Yankees, and isn’t that what’s really important?

Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus essentially sums up the way they feel about this game over on the east coast:

Not to put too fine a point on this, but these aren’t good baseball teams. One of them is going to get into the tournament, and once there they’ll have no worse than the six- or seven-percent chance that is the floor for any team in this format, but I’m hard-pressed to remember two postseason candidates worse than this. I’d take any of the teams that stumbled into the tournament, or even the barely-over-.500 Padres, over the current versions of the Tigers and Twins. The drama has been nice, but it’s entirely an example of the tallest-midget situation you will occasionally get when you carve 30 teams into six sub-groups. Were it not for the unbalanced schedule and interleague play, there’s an excellent chance we’d be looking at a sub-.500 team in the postseason.

I was going to write some sort of tirade about this, but I decided against it. I wrote a couple different versions, and can’t decide if any of them are worth posting. But one of them* might look like this.

* Oh, okay, so if we changed the schedule so the Twins and Tigers no longer get to play against their weaker divisional rivals (presumably the Yankees and Red Sox would still get to play against the Orioles and Blue Jays, and the Angels would still get to play against the A’s and Mariners … what was Sheehan trying to say?), then they might have a different record! And if they didn’t get those free wins against the National League, they’d have fewer wins! Because the Twins and Tigers beating the tar, again, out of the National League is damn good proof that the AL Central is the worst division in baseball and that anyone who plays in it has no god damn chance in the playoffs. Why would anyone waste their time watching a dramatic Game 163 when they can instead scoff and watch, um, The Way The World Turns or whatever the hell else you’d watch on a Tuesday instead of The Only Game That’s On Today.

But yes, I think we can all agree that it’s good that I didn’t go on that ill-advised tirade.

So sure, this game might mean nothing to a fancy New York baseball fan, with his suspenders and shiny leather shoes, and possibly one of those translucent green visors … yes, this is the image I want to project of these pricks whose sensibilities are so finely tuned that they’d turn up their nose at the only pennant race in the league, that have been screaming for a month that they don’t care about this and there’s no race, and that have finally just come out and said that neither the Twins nor Tigers are as good as the fucking Padres. You’re damn right they’re wearing visors.

But, anyway, while it apparently means nothing in New York, it means a whole lot here. It means everything. It’s the Metrodome’s rotted corpse sticking its hand up through the soil, rising from the grave just one last time, its crowd filling your ears and rattling your bones.

Hopefully the Dome isn’t quite ready to go off quietly.

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Something about this seems familiar…

A few notes before the tiebreaker game tomorrow

  • MLB finally decided to change their lame coin toss rule.  As you all know since we beat the Tigers in the season series we will play at the dome.  That is excellent news.
  • I attended both the saturday and sunday games.  My friends and I had a few beverages before and during the saturday game, and afterwards decided to wait around and harass Patrick Ruesse, he got upset and had us removed from the stadium.  It was most excellent.
  • Both Blackburn and Pavano pitched on short rest and came up big.  Pavano wasn’t great, but he was good enough.  Especially when Jason Kubel outscored the entire Royals team.  With two swing of the bat. He is probably my favorite Twin.
  • Scott Baker will start for the Twins tomorrow afternoon.  The Tigers will be tossing Rick Porcello.  I’m glad we have Baker going.  He has been our best pitcher since about May, so I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have.  Blackburn maybe since he has come up big down the stretch.  Baker needs to stay efficient with his pitches and not be out by the 5th because of a high pitch count. 
  • While I would have liked to play the tiebreaker today, having a day off is nice so the bullpen can be rested.  Hopefully we don’t need them to pitch too many innings.
  • I read somewhere that the Twins are trying to get a white out going at the dome tomorrow.  Everyone wear white and bust out your homer hankies. Its October baseball.  Or Rocktober, if you will.

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The Sano Signing, and a possible shakeup

So the Twins are probably out, after last night’s demoralizing loss to the Tigers, when Carl Pavano was finally smacked around by a Tigers lineup that probably should have been getting to him all along. And now, while we’re all feeling down about it, and we’re all dreading the upcoming offseason — offseasons in Minnesota are always too long, with varying levels of hype but a consistently minimal amount of action.

But in the wake of The Sano Signing,* perhaps change is afoot with the Twins organization.

Another key: Twins ownership stepped up. Jim Pohlad was said to be as excited as anyone with the organization when told about Sano. “Let’s go get him,” Pohlad said.

Seems to me that’s pretty promising; if the owner gets excited about winning and is willing to spend money to do it, things could finally get interesting around here.

* Yes, I am going to call it The Sano Signing, and I’m going to do it because I see it as a turning point for the organization. Miguel Angel Sano may well crap out. He may actually be 20 years old right now. It might turn out that he’s not capable of getting around on a 95 mph fastball, or can’t pick up a breaking ball. Calling it The Sano Signing is not about getting excited about Sano himself. It’s about getting excited about the aggressive new stance of the Twins’ front office. Yes, it’s a risk. But it’s a risk the Twins took. Now we get to hope that they take more risks, and that some of them work out.

A little while back, Reusse complained bitterly that the Twins were still hanging around; he posited that it would have been better if the team had fallen far enough behind that they could be sellers rather than buyers, and that they needed to restock the farm system at the expense of the present, and that he didn’t want to have to care any more. Many fans agreed with him, as they seem to do for some reason (why else would he still have a column?).

But while the Twins were buying, they were clearing a few guys out of their farm system. Some of them hadn’t been around long, others were banging on the door of the majors, and others weren’t but had been around long enough that they needed to be protected from the Rule 5 draft.

Meanwhile, they were quietly changing directions in anticipation of reloading the system, perhaps with a different kind of player.

A couple weeks ago, they let go of Cliburn, the Rochester manager; they said the organization was moving in a different direction.

There hasn’t been much additional information about that since, but today’s article about Sano had this bit in there:

The Twins, looking at their minor league system, realized that they had a lot of players who, on the 2-through-8 scouting scale, would end up as threes or fours.

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and say that that might have something to do with the change in direction, and with letting Cliburn and others go — perhaps the Twins felt there are guys within the minor leagues who value these 2’s and 3’s too highly, and it’s preventing more talented players from rising (or even entering the system in the first place). Maybe Cliburn was one of them.

Yes, the Twins are probably out of it now. They “contended” until the final week of the season, and while that’s no consolation prize, it did at least give us a full summer of baseball. And now, maybe they’re shaking things up a bit.

That’d be a good thing.

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