Monday, October 11, 2004
NFL “EXPERT” PICKS
Good Monday morning everyone! Well, as you know, I have put on a LOT of miles since I last wrote here. 365 miles each way to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. And with the results of the two Twins games, I have been asked on a number of occasions if I thought it was worth it.
Driving down there, I was already trying to figure out a game-plan for getting to the Twins/Red Sox Games 1 and 2 at the Dome on Tuesday and Wednesday. I mean, if I lived and worked in the Twin Cities, it would be no problem. But living on the Canadian border, this would take some major coordination. But again, I was ready to do it! Whatever it took. And no matter the result, I was happy to have been there!
As I wrote in my Twins/Yankees series preview, I truly believed that the Yankees were a good matchup for the Twins, and I really believed my prediction that the Twins would win it in four games. I thought that Johan Santana could get two wins (Game 1 and 4) and that either Brad Radke or Carlos Silva (who were both pitching well) would get the third win.
As anyone who would actually come to this site would know, things didn't quite work out that way for our Twins team, and with Saturday's loss, their season ended.
With all the traveling, I really don't have a lot of time to write anything too major. And sleep really sounds like a good option right now. So, I am going to just point out some random thoughts from the weekend and the games for you to ponder. Please feel free to e-mail me your thoughts on this and any other topics.
Friday night, my sister, Heather, and I got to the Dome about 5:00 and walked through the plaza before going into the Dome. Our tickets said we were in row 7, in centerfield. Well, as we walked down the steps of our section, I started realizing that we were in a section that was affected by the football seating. As we got further down, we realized that Row 7 was actually Row 4 for baseball. Not only that, but it is a row with just four seats. In other words, these seats were great. Remember where Torii Hunter almost made an incredible catch on a ball that turned into a Hideki Matsui home run? Well, that was about 20 feet to our left. When Alex Rodriguez hit his ground rule double in the 9th inning of Game 4, that bounced into the next section, about 12 feet to our right. Watching batting practice was great, especially when Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield were launching balls all over the field.
Saturday, I went with my brother Justin, my cousin Jen, and her husband, the infamous Jason Bain, who you will hear from later in this column. We did well in helping the Dome's concessions that night! I think we each had a Dome Dog and some nachos, both dietary staples, mandatory to gain a full appreciation of the game! Following the game, we went to our favorite, traditional post-game spot; Buffalo Wild Wings in Plymouth, where we finished off our final course of a ball game meal. Our dessert was to polish off 50 wings! It doesn't get any better than that!
To me, there isn't much better than when both teams are introduced and go to their respective baselines! It seems as though when the Yankees lineup was announce, there were a lot of boos. My theory is that the volume of the booing was directly linked to the size of the player's contract, with Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez getting the loudest boos! I love how even the Twins trainers and video coordinators get loud ovations. However, it gave me chills to hear the ovation for Johan Santana! That was loud!
Going into the game, we knew that Carlos Silva had to keep the ball down to be affective. Of the first five batters, four didn't get the ball out of the infield, and Gary Sheffield's single broke his bat. Unfortunately, with two outs, Silva allowed five straight singles. But of those, none were hit hard. Two were jammed and blooped singles. Two were just ground balls that found holes. Silva was just fine, until the sixth when Bernie Williams hit a two-run homer on a pitch up in the zone. In other words, I don't think that Silva was really as "off" as his numbers might indicate.
Kevin Brown has not been good, but he definitely gave the Yankees six very strong innings!
The Twins ran themselves out of a couple of runs in the 6th inning. When the Twins came to bat that inning, they were down 7-1. Torii Hunter blooped a double that Hideki Matsui kicked around. For some reason, he tried to get to third base and was thrown out easily. With two outs, Corey Koskie singled to center and was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double but was thrown out by the weak-armed Bernie Williams. I love the hustle, but down six, a little thought should go into those decisions too.
The 9th got off to an interesting start with Felix Heredia started the inning by hitting Corey Koskie and Lew Ford. Tanyon Sturtze came in and gave up singles to Cristian Guzman and Michael Cuddyer. He left, and in came Mariano Rivera. Three batters later, the game was over. But I was happy to see that he pitched, hoping maybe he wouldn't pitch in Game 4!
In Game 4, the Twins went with the same lineup. The only difference was that Lew Ford was in left field and Shannon Stewart DHd. I was thrilled because clearly Ford is the better outfielder! When Johan Santana came out of the dugout, 40 minutes before game time, to do his stretching and throwing, the crowd erupted! More goose bumps for me!
The crowd started The Wave in the 5th inning. I was just explaining how much I hated the wave. I think it is so dumb. Here is my main reason. It has to be distracting to the batter. I mean, you have this loud noise going around the stadium. When the wave gets out to centerfield, it could easily interfere with the batter's eye line. I explained that just as the wave was approaching centerfield and the pitch was heading in to Henry Blanco. He proceeded to hit that very pitch into the left field bleachers to give the Twins the 3-1 lead. Later in the inning, with two outs, Lew Ford batted with the bases loaded. He took two hanging curveballs for strikes. But on 0-2, he pulled the trigger and drilled a liner off the left field wall to score two runs and up the Twins lead to 5-1.
Johan Santana started on three days rest. I completely agreed with the decision to bring him back for Game 4. Santana absolutely struggled through five innings. I know he threw just 90 pitches, but he did not have much. He wasn't throwing as hard as he normally does, and he didn't have control of his fastball or his change up. And still, he gave up just one run in five innings. He allowed five hits and walked three, but still struck out seven. I was 100% in agreement with Ron Gardenhire's decision to take him out at that time.
Grant Balfour came in and was absolutely dominant! He was hitting 95 and 96 on the radar gun, and when he struck out Derek Jeter to end the seventh, I was thinking that it should be the end of his night. Before the 8th inning began, Jason Bain simply said that it was a bad move to take Balfour out, because of the way he was pitching. I told him that Juan Rincon would (and should) come in because he is the 8th inning guy. To me, and the statistics back it up, Juan Rincon has been every bit as good as Tom Gordon, just without the name recognition. He has been great all year in that very role. Rincon got one out and gave up four runs to tie the game, but I would make that move every game in that situation!
The scene engrained in my mind from Saturday night's game happened in that inning. Two runners on and two strikes to Ruben Sierra. The crowd is loud and on its feet. Most are waving their homer hankies, but I'm biting mine, just like Jerry Tarkanian did with his towels. And then, the pitch. Sierra hit it and I thought it was a deep fly ball until I looked down and saw that Jacque Jones was just looking up and watching it clear the fence. I looked up and saw it hit the football seats. Silence. I looked at Jones and Hunter, and then back up at the seats. The silence was deafening. I had heard that comment before, but until that night, I didn't really understand it. Literally three minutes later, I finally turned and looked ahead again. I looked over to the left field bleachers and everyone was still standing, completely awestruck, staring at where the homer hit. It was an incredibly surreal moment.
The worst part was knowing that Tom Gordon would be in and Mariano Rivera would be back too, and both were remarkable. So was Joe Nathan though.
And, Kyle Lohse's two-inning stint was almost a microcosm of his whole season. In the 10th, he looked great. In the 11th, he gave up the double, then really seemed to let A-Rod steal third before the wild pitch that plated the winning run. He clearly, very clearly, has the stuff to be a solid major league pitcher. But in every game, he went through stints that just hurt enough for him or the team to lose. I can still see him being a very good major league pitcher.
Last year, when the Yankees beat the Twins in four games, they dominated the series. Their pitching baffled and dominated our hitters. This year, that can not be said.
Did the more talented team win? Maybe. Their lineup is unbelievable. Jeter. A-Rod. Sheff. Godzilla. Bernie. Jorge. Sierra. Olerud. These guys are all very good hitters. To me, Sheffield, not Rodriguez, is the best all-around hitter in the American League (apologies to Manny!).
But I think that some fans are looking at this wrong. The Twins won game 1. The Yankees won Game 3. The other two games were extra-inning games. That means either team can win. The Twins were anything but dominated, so Twins fans should not feel like this is a team that is or was simply happy with winning the AL Central. This was a team that wanted, and maybe even expected, to get to and even win the World Series. This was a team that knows it could beat the Yankees, the Red Sox or any other team. It just didn't happen. It wasn't because of any of the manager's decisions. It wasn't because of anything that Terry Ryan did. It had nothing to do with payrolls. The Yankees just were enough better to win the series.
This was a great Twins team that Terry Ryan put together and Ron Gardenhire led. Instead of criticizing, let's just appreciate them! Let's look at what they did for us, as fans, over the course of 162 games this year, not just over the microscopic scrutiny that is the playoffs.
Those of you new to this site may think that now that the Twins season is over that I won't write this site until next spring. That isn't the case. I will continue to write probably five days a week (with an occasional off-day). I will also write about the rest of the baseball playoffs, the hot stove, the Arizona Fall League and other baseball topics. Also, I will talk Timberwolves, Vikings, TV, movies, and plenty more. So be sure to continue stopping by here daily!
The Twins will have another off-season full of decisions. Last year, they lost Eddie Guardado, LaTroy Hawkins, Eric Milton, Denny Hocking and AJ Pierzynski. Terry Ryan turned them into four draft picks, Joe Nathan, Carlos Silva, Nick Punto, Boof Bonser, Bobby Korecky and Francisco Liriano.
This year, Brad Radke and Corey Koskie are free agents. There is a decision on whether to pick up Cristian Guzman's $5.25 million option for next year. Jacque Jones, Carlos Silva, JC Romero and Kyle Lohse are all arbitration eligible, so will they be offered arbitration, traded, or let go? Terry Mulholland. Pat Borders.
These are the decisions of the offseason for the Twins. They will also be looking at the list of free agents and determine if they want to go after any of them.
DISCUSSION QUESTION OF THE WEEK
So basically, I will write on the Twins throughout the offseason. This week, I will do a series of Twins postings, culminating on my thoughts on the 2005 Minnesota Twins roster. But I do want to hear your thoughts on the 2005 Twins. So please e-mail me your thoughts on the Twins. Feel free to tell me your thoughts on the 2004 season. What you would like to see happen in the offseason? Also who do you think will be on the 2005 Twins roster?
Do you have any thoughts on that? If so, feel free to e-mail me. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
One more game to go in Week 5. Hey, I predicted the exact score of the Vikings... Unfortunately, the Texans made a big comeback and caused overtime. But the big picture if that the Vikings won against a good defense, on the road. Daunte Culpepper continues to be amazing! Mewelde Moore stepped in and did great!
So, how did I and the rest of our "experts" do this week? Well, Missy Olson will be the winner this week. She went 10-3 so far, a game better than both David Bergner and David Bloom. But since everyone picked the Packers to beat the Titans tonight, no one can catch her!
And now let’s get to our expert’s picks this week:
Seth Stohs Melissa Olson Aaron Gleeman Ben Jacobs John Bonnes Ryan Maus SethSpeaks SethSpeaks Aaron's BB Blog Hardball Times Twins Geek Twins Chatter Detroit @ Atlanta Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Miami @ New England Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Tampa Bay @ New Orleans Saints Buccs Saints Saints Saints Saints Cleveland @ Pittsburgh Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Browns Browns Minnesota @ Houston Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings NY Giants @ Dallas Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys Giants Oakland @ Indianapolis Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Jacksonville @ San Diego Chargers Chargers Jaguars Jaguars Jaguars Chargers Buffalo @ NY Jets Jets Jets Jets Jets Jets Jets Arizona @ San Francisco Cardinals 49ers Cardinals Cardinals 49ers Cardinals St. Louis @ Seattle Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Carolina @ Denver Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Broncos Panthers Baltimore @ Washington Ravens Ravens Ravens Ravens Redskins Ravens Tennessee @ Green Bay Packers Packers Packers Packers Packers Packers Michael Labuda David Bergner David Bloom Vic Quick Mike Brasel Jeremy Kovash ChiSox Daily Baseball Savant Ya Gotta Believe KDUH-Sports FFB Guru Wolf Lake Mgr Detroit @ Atlanta Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Falcons Miami @ New England Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Patriots Tampa Bay @ New Orleans Saints Saints Buccs Saints Saints Saints Cleveland @ Pittsburgh Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Steelers Minnesota @ Houston Texans Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings Vikings NY Giants @ Dallas Cowboys Giants Giants Cowboys Cowboys Cowboys Oakland @ Indianapolis Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Colts Jacksonville @ San Diego Chargers Jaguars Chargers Jaguars Jaguars Jaguars Buffalo @ NY Jets Jets Jets Jets Jets Jets Jets Arizona @ San Francisco 49ers 49ers Cardinals Cardinals 49ers 49ers St. Louis @ Seattle Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Seahawks Carolina @ Denver Broncos Broncos Panthers Broncos Broncos Broncos Baltimore @ Washington Redskins Ravens Ravens Ravens Redskins Ravens Tennessee @ Green Bay Packers Packers Packers Packers Packers Packers
Now I have to kind of re-focus myself on other facets of my life, besides the Twins. Does anyone have any ideas for how I can do that? If you have any questions or comments on anything, please e-mail me!
Have a great week!
Back to Archives Home