Siberian Baseball

Friday, June 30, 2006

Thursday was a good night

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bert, Bert, Bert

I'm sure it's hard to tell sometimes when you play half your games in front of a crowd that is run by remote control via the center field scoreboard, but is Bert Blyleven this stupid?

To set the scene, Joe Nathan is out in the bottom of the ninth with none on and two out against Lance Berkman.

The count runs to 3-2, prompting this exchange between color man Blyleven and the play-by-play guy, Dick Bremer:

"Not too many times at the visiting ballpark that you see the fans get up. They want Joe to strike him out!"
"You think so," asks Bremer.
"Yeah, normally at home, you know, everyone gets up and says, 'Come on Joe Nathan.' I mean, they're applauding Joe right here. I'm liking Houston more and more. They want the Twins to win."

Now, Bert should know better after actually playing baseball at the major league level. At home, with a batter up and the count full in the bottom of the ninth, most fans will stand and cheer for their guy.

I wish I could say he was kidding, but he was dead serious as he's saying this and I TiVo'd it at least 10 times to get it down verbatim.

When Bert talks, even if it's at the supermarket, it makes the baby Jesus cry.

(Image from:

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Contact the Pulitzer committee, we have a live one here

(Note: In a rare crossover post, this also appears today at the Siberia, Minnesota site as well.)

Newton had his apple.

Benjamin Frankin had his kite.

I had ribs for dinner tonight. It's serendipity, bitches.

In a stroke of genius so stunning that I nearly vacated my bladder, things couldn't have been more clear than when I put down a quarter slab of pork ribs and suddenly found the perfect description of how I feel about Barry Bonds and his quest to become the all-time home run king.

Without further ado, I give you the Barry Bonds/spare ribs corollary.

My grandfather was a butcher. My parents were both excellent cooks and my dad more than knows his way around a grill. I'm old school and wouldn't trade my Weber for the newest outdoor kitchen that passes itself off as a grill and a lifetime supply of propane.

Hank Hill can kiss my ass.

I grill on Sundays, making enough for a minimum of three or four meals during the week. My thinking is that if I'm going to have a sausage or a burger on Wednesday, it might as well taste grilled. It takes no significant increase in time or effort and helps keep cooking to minimum when we're busy during the week.

Despite my love of the grill, I have a dirty little secret - I rarely make my own barbecue sauce. I lean on Sweet Baby Ray's and use the stuff as a catch all condiment. It's my opinion that a meal can always use a little Baby Ray's.

In addition to making things easier, I can't come close to preparing ribs that are as tasty as slathering on some Ray's. Now, if I took the time, tried recipe after recipe and weekend after weekend to perfect a sauce, I'd probably come close or even beat the store-bought stuff, at least for my tastes.

Hell, I'd go so far as to say the when friends and neighbors came over after a summer or two of tinkering, they'd say, "Good God damn, that's some tasty sauce! Where'd you get it?" and I'd laugh and tell them I make my own because I'm hardcore like that and then tell them if they wanted I could send them home with some.

Then I'd bask in my own smugness because I'm a prick like that.

The bottom line is that I didn't really "make" the ribs. I bought the meat, threw some store-bought sauce on them and added heat. Not a ton of work considering.

Sure, I have a good family background like Barry and those base skills enable me to get as far as I do and perhaps keep me at better than average. Without an understanding of meats, convection cooking and the difference between direct and indirect heat, I'd be sunk.

While Barry's pedigree helps him hit a baseball as well as he does, it's his grasp of fundamentals that has kept him in the game this long. It's great to hit a ball 550 feet, but if you don't consistently make contact, you don't set single-season walk records and force discussions about rule changes with regards to intentional free passes.

Now, we can all agree that Barry used some combination of steroids, HGH, cream, clear or whatever to get where he is today in the home run pantheon. While not technically "illegal" in baseball, there was something more than milk and Flinstones chewables going into Barry's body.

Like my ribs, Barry had a lot of help in getting the desired results.

I like the ribs I cook. The Girl loves the ribs I cook. I see nothing wrong with serving friends these ribs with pride, but there is no way in a million years I could stand back and say, "These are without a doubt the best ribs on Earth. Behold, I make the greatest ribs on the planet! I am the all-time rib king!"

I didn't raise the hogs, select the hogs to be served or slaughter said hogs. I didn't dress the meat, ship the meat or package the meat at the supermarket. Likewise, I didn't select the spices, cook the sauce or anything remotely close to "creating" either ribs or sauce.

Do I make good ribs? Yes. For this house? Without a doubt. In the neighborhood? I'd take the Pepsi Challenge with any of the weekend warriors firing up their grill on this block. I make really fucking good ribs.

Do I make the greatest ribs of all time? Hell no! Not when I didn't really "make" much of the ribs myself when it gets down to it.

Can Barry outhit the rest of the Giants? Yep. The NL West? Can't see why not. Is Barry one of the better hitters of his generation? Why not, let's give the man that. Barry Bonds is a good hitter.

Is Barry the best home run hitter of all time? Hell no! Not when he didn't really hit the home runs himself when it gets down to it.

So while baseball purists and even casual fans will scream that Barry has no place in any record book and should be banned for life, I will sit quietly, wrapped in my newfound perspective on the subject.

While Barry may bring his ribs and blow everyone away at Grandma's 85th birthday picnic, you and I will know better. His ribs have been store-bought, which is fine as long as he doesn't start claiming that he alone makes the best ribs in the history of outdoor cooking.

Even a little bit of bottled magic disqualifies you as the greatest of all time regardless if you're slugging or grilling.

(Image from /

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Interleague Mania

Interleague time again, which depending on which side of the fence you come down on is either wildly entertaining and a great treat for fans of all teams or further dilution of the already weak intra-division showdowns in the majors these days.

Starting in Milwaukee, can anyone shed a little light on exactly what Daron & Bill's Buckethead Brigade is all about? The Brewers just had the distinction of allowing a hit to rookie pitcher Zach Miner.

From what I can gather, this is becoming a bit of a trend for Brewers pitchers.

* For the record, I figured out why the name Rickie Weeks sounds so familiar. Stevie Weeks was the young stud in Mystery, Alaska. I'd be lying if I said that hasn't been bothering me since last season.

* Steve Trachsel homered in the fifth for the Mets as they go up 4-1 on the Reds. I am always shocked to hear he's come back for another year. Him and Jamie Moyer. I keep expecting a Steve Trout start when I hear their names.

While less of a "where the hell did they come from?" than Detroit, the Mets rocketing out to an 8.5 game lead in the NL East has been pretty surprising. Detroit leads the AL Central and the Dodgers are ahead in the NL West.

Sure, it's only June, but worth noting.

And if you think I don't regret posting my picks on the right side of this blog every time I log in, well, you don't know my talent for making stupid mistakes. I'll check in mid-season to assess how wrong I've been and hope ESPN keeps their picks live, because I have that bookmarked somewhere, too.

For the record, no one at ESPN had Detroit to win the Central, 7 of 19 had the Mets and 10 of 19 had Los Angeles. I may be an idiot, but at least no one's paying for me to be wrong.

* Allow me to brush off the soapbox for a minute here. All-Star balloting is fun in much the same way that Oscar pools are fun: The winner is sometimes the best, it can be the most-hyped on many occasions and in any event, it's not like it matters much in the end.

Remember last year when Nomar was leading the NL voting despite injuries and sub-par seasons for three years? That pretty much soured me on the whole All-Star thing for good.

It used to be that there was a year's lag time on the ballots, where if someone had a good year, they started the following year. Now it's a free-for-all. The Internet means multiple votes for regional favorites (Frank the Tank likes to cite this when Yankees and Red Sox pepper the starting line-up and the White Sox players watch from home. Given Ozzie's threats on the subject, this could get interesting.)

Here's how things stand as of Monday:

National League:

First Base
1. Albert Pujols, Cardinals - 1,777,968
2. Carlos Delgado, Mets - 700,771
3. Nomar Garciaparra, Dodgers - 497,585

Second Base
1. Chase Utley, Phillies -984,648
2. Craig Biggio, Astros - 825,856

Third Base
1. David Wright, Mets - 1,018,804
2. Scott Rolen, Cardinals - 819,390

1. Jose Reyes, Mets - 769,919
2. David Eckstein, Cardinals - 689,054
3. Edgar Renteria, Braves - 620,836

1. Paul Lo Duca, Mets - 960,111
2. Mike Piazza, Padres - 680,773
3. Yadier Molina, Cardinals - 559,305

1. Carlos Beltran, Mets - 1,129,865
2. Alfonso Soriano, Nationals - 1,084,936
3. Jason Bay, Pirates - 1,069,986
4. Ken Griffey Jr., Reds - 1,032,102
5. Andruw Jones, Braves - 1,017,023
9. Barry Bonds, Giants - 504,870

American League:

First Base
1. David Ortiz, Red Sox - 1,257,595
2. Jason Giambi, Yankees - 796,146
3. Paul Konerko, White Sox - 579,666
4. Travis Hafner, Indians - 520,853
5. Chris Shelton, Tigers - 350,707

Second Base
1. Robinson Cano, Yankees - 796,204
2. Mark Loretta, Red Sox - 722,099
3. Tadahito Iguchi, White Sox - 670,547

Third Base
1. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees - 1,374,155
2. Mike Lowell, Red Sox -650,861

1. Derek Jeter, Yankees - 1,457,637
2. Miguel Tejada, Orioles - 1,073,827
3. Michael Young, Rangers - 407,261

1. Jason Varitek, Red Sox - 831,154
2. Ivan Rodriguez, Tigers - 803,964
3. Jorge Posada, Yankees - 608,670
4. A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox - 493,385
5. Joe Mauer, Twins - 464,161

1. Vladimir Guerrero, Angels - 1,518,276
2. Manny Ramirez, Red Sox - 1,477,626
3. Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners - 996,148
4. Johnny Damon, Yankees - 956,595
5. Vernon Wells, Blue Jays - 752,422
6. Jermaine Dye, White Sox - 598,441
7. Gary Sheffield, Yankees - 535,564
8. Torii Hunter, Twins - 509,722 (Frank's head is currently beginning to get hot a bleed a little from the ears.)

I'm going to refrain from comment for right now, but just look at some of those numbers. Vlad Guerrero is the top overall vote-getter? Jorge Posada is the third-best catcher in the AL? Where's Sammy Sosa? Can I vote for him? What about Cal Ripken? Muscle memory dictates I punch his ticket to the game.

This was all just fine until they gave the game real weight with the winner league getting the extra home game in the World Series, as well as opening the series in town. We're really going to let people with nothing better to do at ballgames decide who starts and World Series seedings?

Bad idea.

Side note: I've bought tickets from multiple teams' ticket offices in the past 2 1/2 years. Boston, Baltimore, Chicago, Minnesota and Philly are the ones I can remember. Almost all of these teams have sent urgent e-mails about "Vote for Player X! He needs your help!" in the past two weeks.

If I can't trust the Orioles ticket office, I don't know who to believe anymore.

* Want to know the best part of the Cardinals/White Sox game tonight? Some group of little kids is seeing their first game tonight. They've waited and waited for this moment - their first big league game. And regardless of who wins or loses, a little Cards or Sox fan will go home crying. This will be the worst thing that has ever happened to them.

Serves the little fuckers right.

* Albert Pujols has been hurt for what seems like an eternity for those who have him in our fantasy leagues... why is he still leading the league in homers? Pujols is not human.

Speaking of not human, have you seen this fucking guy?

* Finally, look at these caps. Knowing the Cubs fan base like I do (because I'm part of that unholy petting zoo) I think it's pretty safe to say that by slapping any font of the letter "C" on a cap and selling it outside of Wrigley you'd make a crapload of cash.

I dare you to think of a problem with this business plan.

(Images from: / /

In case you missed it

I had great seats for this game. No lie, like three rows back, right behind the plate. Good times.

So, in case you missed this the first time enjoy.

Even if you have seen it before, enjoy the sportscaster's, "Is there really a player named Coco Crisp?" question.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Number 52 in your programs, number 52 in your hearts

Welcome to the Red Sox, Kyle Snyder! I hope you don't mind if we don't give you a locker. Can you borrow someone else's uniform pants? You brought your own glove, right? OK, cool, we were worried about that.

Every now and again, I'm reminded that as much as we'd like to believe as fans that our team is out there all season, grinding away, fighting every pitch of every inning of every game that sometimes teams just say "fuck it."

I give to you Exhibit A, Kyle Snyder.

Looking more than a little like Bronson Arroyo, Snyder is on the hill as I write this and isn't doing too badly, but doesn't look like a world beater, either.

Considering he's an injury-prone hurler that the Kansas City Royals deemed to be an inferior player, I'm not holding my breath. The most Tito was able to say about him on record was that any innings he chewed up was time that wasn't spent dipping into the bullpen.

Thanks, Coach! Let's fire it up!

All signs point to the start tonight and an instant demotion as the Sox limp to the All-Star game hoping to heal up with the weird schedules that always pop up this time of year.

If you ask me, the problem isn't the bullpen - it's the choices made about who to warm up out there. Even so, it's a start at Fenway - good for you, Snyder.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A little tale of battles and wars

If I could have exited the Metrodome via some sort of forced air chute like at the bank, I would have been fine tonight.

For those who didn't catch the late SportsCenter, the Twins won in extra innings when their number seven hitter (the DH... as the seven hitter... DH stands for designated hitter... as in all he's supposed to do is hit) gimped a homer out in right for a grand slam walkoff.

Things that were not surprising - a.) It wasn't Rondell White. b.) It came off Julian Tavarez (who I described at various points in the evening as "super-ugly," "baby-scaring ugly," "Change the channel, quick ugly" and my personal favorite, "circus ugly."

Yeah, he's a cruel joke of a human face.)

Things that were only moderately surprising - a.) half the place had left before the game ended. b.) Half the place was Red Sox Nation. c.) People acted like coked out baboons after the game.

I heard several Bucky Dent cheers, outright laughter and incoherent "Yeeeeeeah's" as I walked to the truck. I just smiled because I'm a smug prick like that. If any of these fans would show up on a consistient basis, they might see the trouble the Twins are in.

Without going off on a rant, I'll boil it down to the little chat I had with one of the guys walking out.

(As a disclaimer, I had a great time, it was an amazing game with Johan Santana notching his 1,000th career strikeout and I stood and cheered when he hit that milestone. So did the rest of the Nation in my section. After the final homer, one of the guys sitting next to me tapped me to wave goodbye and shook my hand. On my other side, the fans left in the 10th before the late-inning drama, but we laughed and shook hands.

I know, I'm a man of the people.

The point is I wasn't out to be a prick tonight and had a good time from start to finish. The trouble always starts when stupid people say stupid things.)

I told the "Yeeeeeah!" guy to shut his mouth until he had a team over .500 and offered a business card so he can call me because it might be next year. I also asked if he was really comfortable with Jason Kubel as the DH, despite his big night.

Considering he looks like Matthew LeCroy's love child, it might not be the All-Star they hope after his homer.

I wanted to say about a million things, but in the end it's not really worth it. We have plenty of cool people in our section who get baseball and they aren't the problem. It's just irritating to see people celebrate like they won the pennant over a game in mid-June. I can totally understand it, because it was a big win, but tomorrow the realization will roll in like a bad hangover.

Really quickly here for anyone searching for a blog on the win tomorrow morning is the breakdown and a lesson on winning battles when you've already lost the war. (It's like finding someone in the middle of the Pacific still fighting WWII on a deserted island - great spirit, but it's pretty much said and done at this point).

The Red Sox are tied for first in the East with a record of 36-26. As such they are no games behind in their division.

The Twins are fourth in the Central above only the lowly Royals with a record of 29-34. They are 12 games behind Detroit, which is only a game and a half ahead of the defending World Champs.

See the big picture campers?

So if the Sox lose again tomorrow or Thursday it'll be OK. The Twins will keep pace with the division leaders, the Sox may or may not fall behind the Yankees as they break down. The sun will rise, the sun will set, the Twins will remain a step off the basement floor by standing on Kansas City's skull.

What really bothers me though is the prospect of having to cite the White Sox as a legitimate reason for the Twins fans to shut up. That is really troubling on several levels.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Revisionist history

I was working my way through the morning paper when I ran across two articles in the sports section that essentially boiled down to - Joe Mauer is headed for the All-Star Game, he is becoming a great hitter and defensive catcher and Mark Prior is injury-prone. Ha ha...

Let the record show I have nothing against Mauer. Granted he screwed me when he junked his knee in his rookie first week and left a hole behind the plate in my fantasy team that year, but I did pick him as a rookie to start for me. That's a great deal of faith.

To now go back and rub everyone's noses in it because Prior has struggled with health issues seems a little classless. I'm not going to go off on too much of a rant, but on the day both players were drafted, people thought that the Twins made a nice move because they grabbed a local kid, filled a need on their roster and had a quality player on the cheap.

The rumor was that Prior floated word to Minnesota that he'd never play there and they took a cheaper, more fan-friendly option. When all was said and done, no one thought the Twins were stupid or had a bad draft, just that Prior was a more explosive player and was a safer bet to be a star.

To go back now and pull this nah-nah crap is pretty stupid.

* The Angels are up 14-0 in the 9th and I'm still tuned in. The Girl just asked, "Dude, is it even worth airing the rest of the game?" Nonetheless, she's sitting down to watch the last inning. I think I've corrupted her sensibilities about these sorts of things.


* Has anyone heard what the ESPN crew was alluding to earlier that the D-Rays were trying to change their name, but missed the league's deadline?

Can we get more info on this?

* Also in the morning's sports section was the World Cup preview (two whole pages!) where they were comparing soccer players to pro baseball players. Just thought that was a stretch and kinda funny.

Soccer fans already know and sports fans will pick it up as they go along. If you haven't followed a World Cup wire-to-wire, I highly recommend it. I wouldn't give back a moment of sleep from the Korean Cup a few years back. Not a single wink.

* Good for me, bad for me with the Albert Pujols injury. My real interests with the Cubs dictate that the team might be able to make up a little ground with the Cardinals missing their Poo-holes for two weeks.

My fantasy interests cringe at having to slot in Justin Morneau as my 1B for two weeks.

My baseball side says that the Cards will still win half their games, the Cubs will lose three quarters of theirs and my fantasy team with earn it's first loss this season. It was a good run.

Here's your warning

Tuesday night should be Francisco Liriano and Felix Hernandez, Round Two.

It'll be on local TV in the Twin Cities or on your MLB Extra Innings package.

That is all.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Three days of Itchy

So the last post that got thrown in here was as I was getting ready to hit the Twins/Mariners games over last weekend. First up was Liriano versus Hernandez in a young hurler showdown.

It didn't disappoint.

Well, the game, not the pitchers. Liriano hung in there for a while and did better than expected, but Hernandez stumbled out of the blocks. Kinda like the season itself.

I went alone, found my seat and watched as the stadium filled with people for free hot dog and soda night. In appreciation of the fans who supported the team in their push for their own ballpark, the Twins and Hormel gave away a free hot dog and soda to every person who walked through the gates that night.

File that under things that never happen anywhere else but here. That file's getting thick.

So, free hot dogs, the dog and pony show and they cart out Old Carl's bony ass to watch the signing of the new stadium bill on the mound as the politicians mugged for the cameras and pretended to be lifelong fans as tags hung out the bottom of the jerseys their assistants bought that afternoon and will return the following day.

(Sidebar: Is there anything more ridiculous than celebs and other bigwigs who throw out the first pitch doing so with a team's jersey slipped on over a yellow polo? Anything? The only time it's acceptable to wear a collared shirt under a jersey is if you're being drafted in the first round of any sport. Trust me, I've never seen a governor with a decent arm - wait was John Wayne ever a governor? OK, no, I've never seen a governor with a decent arm.

This is just a stupid lack of planning on someone's part. They can't courier or FedEx a jersey the week before? There are no changing rooms under any major league stadium? Cubs fans, you've seen the 7th Inning Stretch, you're feeling me, right?)

Through all of this, I strike up a conversation with the fan next to me who'd seen all the major Twins events since the move in 1960. We're talking games at the Met, World Series games with Koufax and Drysdale as the 1-2 in the Dodger rotation. And yes, I asked and yes, Koufax threw the heaviest fastball they'd seen and the curve was just as big as people say. These are things I needed first-hand witnesses on before I died.


Anyways, a job in the ticket office means inside info on old players, current players and all sorts of cool baseball stuff. I heard a very personal account of Kirby Puckett going downhill after waking up one morning and seeing a spot in his vision and felt more emotional than I did at his memorial.

It's rare and amazing to find a lifelong fan who has seen all of the major events in the franchise history. It's rarer when it's a woman roughly my mom's age. In all, one of the top three ballgames I ever went to.

I wouldn't trade a game next to a fan for all the right reasons for anything in the world. A free hot dog? That's just more fun than should be legal.

* Saturday featured Boof Bonser's first home start. Twins fans love anyone with a name that sounds like a loud boo, so this is a perfect match. First Lou now Boof? It's an outlet for people too nice to legitimately boo someone on the field. Uh, Rondell White, you dodged a bullet, homeboy.

Boof loads the bases after getting rocked by Ichiro... then strikes out the four, five and six hitters in order.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Boof Bonser era has begun. Enjoy.

* Liriano jersey count (Friday)- 4.

Liriano jersey count (Saturday and Sunday) - 0.

It's gonna happen. I'll see a Liriano jersey at a game he's not starting before the summer is through.

* God damn, is Ichiro good. We had sixth row seats in right and saw him make a leaping catch that ranks up there among the most athletic actions I've ever witnessed. And I saw a dude fall down a flight of stairs without spilling his beer once, so I've seen plenty.

Some day I will tell grandchildren of seeing Itchy play in person and they will tell me I smell like old man and should stop yelling at the paperboy.

* Nothing beats a walk off home run to cap a weekend. In fact, nothing really beats the term "walk off home run." So much better than "buzzer beater" or "last-second field goal."

(Photo from