Beautiful Silva, Enemy Piranhas & Other Random Observations
Well, Carlos Silva certainly shut me up yesterday. Here's his line: five full innings, five hits, one run, walk, strikeout. He wasn't brilliant or dominant and started off looking like a meltdown waiting to happen--the first three batters actually took Carlos to full counts and the second, Darin Erstad, actually saw ten pitches before poking the eleventh through the middle (and he would later score that inning). But give Silva this: he calmed down and did his job, working through five innings before turning the gig over to our normally awesome bullpen in the Twins 3-0 loss.
Carlos Silva did his job, the second decent outing in a row (he was very effective in his last spring training start, too). What you want from a fifth starter right. Why, I said it all along!
On this cold and blustery Chicago Saturday, the Twins were simply outmatched. I could rip on Michael Cuddyer's bonehead play in the second, when he bolted from third on a one-out pop, believing it to be the last out. That ended the inning when the bases were full. This, right after Fox color-man Mark Grace claimed that "The Twins just don't beat themselves!" (he later made fun of himself, to his credit... he's good in the booth, I'll say). But Cuddyer's play, which might have led to a game-tying run, was but one of two blunders and in the end it didn't matter much because the White Sox simply pecked and pecked and pecked away, and kept our hitters off balance. The three runs on the enemy side were from the bats and baserunning of batters one, two and nine, which, when you think about it, are the shallow streams where other teams' piranhas normally feed. Our guys just couldn't handle the pitching of Javier Vazquez (ouch: 6 2/3 innings, one freakin' hit, five strikeouts and four walks scattered about) and the Chisox bullpen or its defense--our one opportunity in the seventh, with two men on and no outs, was smothered when Two-i Torii grounded into a double play.
Chalk one up for Southsiders. You could claim that the cold hurt the Twins, that Fox hurt the Twins, twice cursing our boys with praise that was belied on the field, or that the Twins hurt themselves with those two mistakes. Later, Mr. Grace again admired the fact that our relievers had, to that point, given up one hit in eight innings work, and especially Dennys Reyes and his miniscule 0.89 ERA in 66 innings last year. The curse was on as suddenly we watched as Reyes gave up a Juan Uribe home run and then let Scott Podsednik score on a pickoff that went bouncing off the bag and into the outfield. It's going to take awhile for him to lower his 18.00 ERA to the less than zero number he enjoyed last season.
But for every mistake we made, the White Sox were there to punish us, so I don't think it behooves anyone to complain too loudly. Especially after Carlos Silva chowed on his five innings. Why he was in there, I don't know: I thought arguments in favor of Silva over Matt Garza suggested that he was going to miss his starts now and again. Santana could just have easily thrown yesterday (it would have been the typical four days), or Ponson. Instead, they stuck with Silva and I guess Gardy's a near-genius today (they certainly talked him up on Fox). Silva takes a loss and looks great doing it. Rondell White pulled a muscle in the cold, but it could've been worse. We're certainly going to lose some games, but in the long run I'll take this ratio of three wins to one loss over 162 games. I say that even in defeat, the Twins look just fine.
AROUND THE HORN
Whan that Aprill gives us sweet showers, snow, and too much cold, it seems ballplayers can't play ball. Clear skies, but cold wind and twenty degree temperatures were enough to cancel Friday's contest, which blew my easily blowable mind (and someone else's too). Yesterday, when asked about the cold, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said that "we're paid good money to be here." That was a frank admission. But they're also paid good money to play on Friday night as well.
The best line from Fox yesterday: when the camera gave us a thermometer showing 30 degrees, one of the announcers said "Don't let that temperature fool you! It's freezing!"
I have to bark about this: Last week, Balls reported that the Hold Steady had recorded a "Twins-centric version of 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game'." Being a long-standing fan of the Detroit Tigers, and having attended my share of games around the country, I should warn Twins fans (and Twins management for cry-eye) that this song is team-specific in virtually every ballpark in the country. You're supposed to include the name of the team where it says "root, root, root for the home team". It's like saying "I, state-your-name", and the joke goes that the rummy says "state your name". In Detroit, it's "root, root, root for the Tigers", Dodgers are "Dodgers!", Giants are "Giants!", Cubs are "Cubbies!" and so on. Twins could be "Twinkies!" or you could belt out "Twins!..." and then leave a pregnant pause before continuing on.
I have no clue why forty plus years have gone by without anyone figuring this out.
One of the great joys of April is getting The Baseball Reliquary's large lemon-colored envelope in the mail. Enclosed please find The Shrine of the Eternals ballot, the fan's hall of fame. Yes, this could also be called the crackpot's hall of fame, I suppose, and personally I'd wear that title with great pride.
I quote: The highest honor afforded by the Baseball Reliquary is election to the Shrine of the Eternals. Similar to Cooperstown's National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Shrine of the Eternals differs philosophically in that statistical accomplishment is not the principal criterion for election. It is believed that the election of individuals on merits other than statistics and playing ability will offer the opportunity for a deeper understanding and appreciation of baseball than has heretofore been provided by "Halls of Fame" in the more traditional and conservative institutions.
With this in mind, the Reliquary's members have, over the years, inducted Bill Veeck, Mark Fidrych (my personal favorite), Dock Ellis, Jim Bouton, Marvin Miller, and William "Dummy" Hoy, among many others (three go in every year). Your membership in the group gives you full voting privileges. This year we're seeing Emmett Ashford, the first African-American umpire in the majors, Bill James, pro scout Phil Pote and forty-seven others. Pete Rose is not on the ballot.
Check out their website and marvel at the items in the Reliquary collection, which are scattered through southern California and the director's Pasadena home (I've visited and had the singular thrill of holding an actual Joseph Cornell baseball piece). You'll find a tortilla with Walter O'Malley's face, a hot dog that was taken from the stomach of Babe Ruth, a Jackie Robinson icon, and a skin fragment from Abner Doubleday, among many others.