May 2, 2004
A COUPLE OTHER TWINS NOTES
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
TIMBERWOLVES GAME 5
NBA PLAYOFFS - 2nd Round Predictions
Thanks to those who took the time to e-mail me over the weekend. I see that there continue to be many new readers (and writers) to this site every day, so thank you very much!
To answer a couple of questions that were recurring:
Yes, I had a great time at the Twins game!
The turf, despite apparently being awful to play on, at least looks a lot nicer!
Yes, I was part of the loud crowd chanting, "LEEWWWWWWWWWWWW"... That was "COOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLL!!!"
Yes, I should go to more Twins games since the game I was at was the only one they won against the Angels this weekend.
Yes, Troy Glaus IS that big!!
Yes, not being able to watch the Twins from my home makes going to the game just a little bit more special than other times. Last year, I went to six games. I went to 11 Twins games the year before. But it was a little bit different this year. I really, really want Victory Sports. I went back to my parent's place Saturday afternoon and stayed a little longer than I normally would, just because I had to watch the entire Twins game because I don't have that opportunity often enough!
Oh, I almost forgot to mention. I woke up Friday morning and was able to watch Game 6 of the 1991 World Series on Victory Sports. Yes, I got goose bumps watching Puckett's game-winning homer fly over Keith Mitchell and into the left field bleachers as I heard "And we'll see you, Tomorrow night!" I know that Victory Sports frequently replays Twins World Series games, another reason I want the channel!
When I go to a Twins game, I am not one of those people who shows up at game time. I like walking in when the gates open because I absolutely love watching batting practice and infield practice. I like seeing the interaction between the players. Teammates standing around in the outfield talking to each other. Players joking with the fans. I loved seeing Jacque Jones run the bases in BP and waving at a kid who couldn't have been more than about 4. Jacque smiled and waved, and then I looked at the kid, and he was SO excited! Opponents being cordial and friendly to each other around the batting cage. It was fun watching Cristian Guzman go over and get a big hug from Vlad Guerrero. Bartolo Colon and Jose Guillen came over and they all exchanged hugs and well wishes. And speaking of Vlad Guerrero, it is worth getting there early just to see him take batting practice. I have sarcastically said before how it is no wonder why he had had back problems from watching him swing during games. Well, he takes the same swing in batting practice.
I love seeing the pre-game festivities. Friday nights, they have the golf competition. For the first time, I saw a golf ball driven all the way into the stands behind home plate. I saw Joe Nathan and well, I think it is fair to say that he isn't much of a golfer.
And then the game starts. My mom, dad, sister and I had seats in the 26th row, behind the screen. Basically, we were looking past a right handed hitter and down the first base line. So, we had really nice seats. We ran into a cousin and his family, and they had seats in the 12th row, right behind the Twins dugout. They left after the 6th inning, so my sister and I went down and sat in their seats for the next two innings. Very nice seats.
Each year, I pick up two things at the first Twins game I go to. I buy a Twins Yearbook and a Twins Media Guide. I like the Yearbook just because it has the nice, big pictures of the Twins players as well as some of their minor leaguers. I am an extreme fan. I like knowing the little details. How a player was acquired. What college or high school they played at. Interesting personal information like their majors, if they have kids, etc. Well, each year, my sister takes that book first and goes player-by-player and checks out one thing... if they're married. A couple of years ago, she liked Kyle Lohse and JC Romero because they were single. Last year, it was Jacque Jones, but now he got married last fall. The other was Dustan Mohr. So, you can imagine she was not happy with me a few times last season when I would bad-mouth Mohr. So, who was she "Checking Out" this year? Well, first, she looked up Lew Ford but saw that he is married and has a couple of kids. Terry Tiffee was mentioned. I was definitely encouraging Justin Morneau, not so much because he's Canadian, but because whenever he gets a shot, he's going to make a lot of money. But her choice??? Jake Mauer. He is one week older than her. He went to an MIAC school. She went to an MIAC school.
My sister has a very nice camera with a zoom and an auto-focus, so I was able to take some really nice pictures. Above, you see a couple of them but be sure to check the Photo Album over the next couple of days when I will be putting more pictures from the game on there.
Thanks again for your e-mails. If you have any questions, please be sure to e-mail me. Thanks!
Friday Night - Twins 6, Angels 3 - Carlos Silva was spectacular. 7 1/3 innings, three runs (two earned), seven hits, two walks and three strikeouts. He doesn't seem to overpower anyone, but he has such good movement that it works. Joe Roa finished out the 8th inning. He gave up a bloop single that scored the Angels third run, but then got a strikeout to end that inning. Joe Nathan had another interesting inning, but finished the ninth for his seventh save. Doug Mientkiewicz had an error, and Nathan gave up another hit. Two were on when Troy Glaus came up with a chance to tie the game with one swing. Nathan got Glaus to hit a one-hopper to Cristian Guzman, who flipped to Luis Rivas who threw on to Mientkiewicz at 1B for the game-ending double play!
Shannon Stewart had three hits (but hurt his wrist diving for a ball and didn't play the rest of the weekend), including a Dome double. Cristian Guzman hit the ball well for three hits. Lew Ford had a double in his first at bat and followed that with a single and a walk. Corey Koskie had two hits including one of the longest home runs I have ever seen in person!
Saturday Night - Twins 0, Angels 1 - Watching Brad Radke pitch on Saturday was a treat. I know it's fun to watch the power, strikeout pitchers, but to me, I prefer watching the pitchers like Greg Maddux and Brad Radke when they are on. They hit their spots with all their pitches. And, to be honest, Radke really only has a fastball and a changeup. He just pitches inside and then outside and mixes in that incredible changeup. In seven innings, Radke gave up five hits and two walks. The Angels' lone run came on a bloop single by Chone Figgins off Juan Rincon.
The Twins had just four hits on the day. Jacque Jones double was the only extra-base hit. Lew Ford, with a single and a walk, was the only Twin on base twice. Aaron Sele, Kevin Gregg, Francisco Rodriguez and Troy Perival combined for the shutout.
Sunday Afternoon - Twins 1, Angels 3 - Johan Santana pitched well again yesterday, the third straight quality start against the Angels. Santana was able to go seven innings as well. He gave up five hits and two walks, and struck out six Angels batters. With two runners on in the 8th inning, JC Romero got Troy Glaus for the inning's second out (on yet another remarkable defensive play by Corey Koskie). However, on a 3-2 pitch, Jose Guillen fought a single into right field to score two runs. The Twins tried to mount a comeback in the bottom of the 9th, loading the bases against Troy Percival with two outs, but unfortunately, Henry Blanco was batting and the game was over. (Insert some song with the lyrics, "Longing for the Joe Mauer Return" in it). John Lackey was great for seven innings, and Francisco Rodriguez might be the best reliever in baseball.
Doug Mientkiewicz and Corey Koskie each had two hits. Michael Cuddyer had a LONG home run and a great at bat for a walk in the 9th. But the Twins were unable to put enough hits together.
The Twins have an off-day today before starting at three game series in Seattle on Tuesday night.
A COUPLE OTHER TWINS NOTES
-The AJ Pierzynski Situation - I am sure you heard a lot already about the article on AJ in the Oakland newspaper Friday. It discussed AJ saying that a couple of his new teammates calling him a cancer to the team, basically saying he doesn't lead a pitching staff, and saying that AJ told Phil Nevin negative things about them. Yeah, so many people think/thought that AJ Pierzynski was just 'misunderstood' and that he was a great teammate with the Twins. Not at all! His own teammates couldn't stand him. The only reason they spoke positively about him was because he could hit. They all came up with him through the minor leagues so they just knew that that was how AJ was. There is a reason why he was traded this year offseason, and I guarantee it was more than just Joe Mauer that got him traded by the Twins. His new Giants teammates didn't know him before. I am sure they are shocked by the type of person that Pierzynski is. Coupled with the fact that he is not hitting much yet, it is just not a good situation. Just because the quotes are anonymous doesn't make them any less true. Yes, I think it is a copout to say these things in the media without putting their names to their quotes. That said, these quotes weren't just made up. What do you think? E-mail me.
-Since I'm admitting things I've written in the past... I can admit when I am completely wrong! I was upset when the Twins traded Eric Milton to the Phillies last winter for Carlos Silva and Nick Punto. I felt that the Twins could get more for Milton than they did. However through one month of the regular season, this trade is looking even better. Carlos Silva is 4-0 and Nick Punto is playing well when given a chance. The Twins also rid themselves of Milton's $9 million 2004 salary. Now, I said that Milton would be just fine. He is 2-1, and his 3.25 ERA is about 0.75 lower than Silva's. So, I would have to say that the Phillies and their fans can also be happy about the trade.
-New Address!! Be sure to update your bookmark with the new address for the Dickie Thon Twins site. It is the site with the best Twins discussion anywhere on the internet!! If you haven't gone there before, definitely check it out!
-The Twins Geek wrote a great article, lashing out at former Twins closer Eddie Guardado. Take a minute and check out his take. I must say, I agree completely with the Geek!
- Watching Baseball Tonight, I often find myself disagreeing with some of their thoughts. Last night, I was watching and Chris Berman, Harold Reynolds and John Kruk were on the show. The topic of On-Base Percentage came up. Harold Reynolds said basically that he is sick of hearing about it as the most important stat. My initial reaction was "Uh Oh, statheads everywhere will be up in arms over this one! And I am probably going to agree with them." However, after listening to what Reynolds had to say as his follow up, I do understand what he was trying to say. What he was saying was that guys like Frank Thomas and Jason Giambi walk a lot, but what good does it do because these are not guys who are going to score a lot of runs? He would rather they walk less and drive in more runs by swinging at good pitches. He is not saying just to swing at everything, but instead of instinctively taking pitches right down the middle early in the count, they should swing at them and drive a runner in. That, I am in complete agreement with. John Kruk chimed in saying basically that in the one season he played with Frank Thomas, he frequently saw him take good pitches for strikes early in the count, rather than try to drive in runs. The other side of this is the little, lead-off type hitters. Their job is to get on base. Kruk talked about Juan Pierre or Luis Castillo. I also agree with that. Their job is to get on base so that the RBI guys can knock them in. Not so they can advance one more base on another walk. So, to summarize, I think Reynold's initial statement could get him in some trouble with the stat-heads, but after thinking about what he was trying to say, and with the help (?) of John Kruk, it does make sense and I do agree with them.
UPDATE - After posting this site, I went to Aaron Gleeman's article on The Hardball Times today to see if he had written anything about this. He had. Be sure to check it out quick. He and I are in complete disagreement, and I'm not surprised.
-Finally, help the Pioneer Press decide on a new writer. They are having a competition for an Average Joe writer. 16 finalists will compete to determine who will be hired by the paper to write an article on the Twins later this season. You will be able to vote for who you think should move on to the next round.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
Rochester Report - I ask it all the time, but it just has to continue to be brought up: How is Justin Morneau not in the big leagues??? What more does he need to do in AAA? In three games over the weekend, Morneau went 6-11 with 3 homers. As you can see, he is now hitting .411 with nine doubles and eight homers.
Anyway, Rochester lost on Friday and Saturday nights, both by one run. Friday night, Jesse Crain took the loss, giving up an unearned run. Sunday afternoon, the Redwings won a one run gave with David Gassner pitching 6 1/3 strong innings. Crain got the save, striking out 3 in 1 1/3 innings.
Other things to note. Alex Prieto had a couple of very good games. He was 3-4 on Friday night and on Sunday went 2-4 with a double and a home run in the 9th inning which proved to be the game-winner. Brian Simmons went 5-8 the last two days with a homer. Michael Restovich hit his sixth homer of the season yesterday. Chris Heintz, a 30 year old catcher, is hitting about .300 so far this year. This weekend, he went 2-4 with a homer Friday night and hit another homer Saturday night.
New Britain Report - The Rockcats won the first three games of their series against Reading before falling 6-5 yesterday. In looking through their box scores, it seems as though the same guys are continuing to hit all weekend. In the four games, 1B Garrett Jones went 9-16 with two doubles and a homer. BJ Garbe was 6-14 with three doubles. Jason Kubel went 6-13 with with five walks, three doubles and a homer. Luis Maza went 2-4 with a double and a homer on Thursday night, then Sunday he went 3-5. James Tomlin has not hit much all season, however, he went 4-7 the last two days.
Ft. Myers Report - Friday night, the Miracle lost to Sarasota 6-4. C Jose Morales went 3-4 with a double and two RBI. DH Alex Romero went 2-5 with two doubles. CF Ron Peradin went 2-5. Saturday, the teams met again and Scott Baker and Marcus Moseley gave the team a 2-1 victory. Baker went 7 innings and gave up one run on five hits, striking out 6. Moseley got the win, giving up just a walk in two innings. He struck out two, and his season's ERA stands at 0.71. They did play again late last night.
Quad Cities Report - The Swing were rained out on Friday night, so they played two games on Saturday. Rod Carew was there to help them open up their new stadium. The team lost both games, but the big news was the return on Matt Moses to the lineup. In the first game, he was 1-5 with four strikeouts. In game two, he was 0-3. Not important, what matters is that he is healthy and can start playing again. The Swing did come back with a 7-0 win yesterday. Errol Simonitsch pitched 6 innings and gave up four hits and no walks (5 K's) for his second win of the year. Kevin Culpepper and Jon Uhl finished out the shutout. 3B Brock Peterson went 3-3 with a double and a walk. Matt Moses went 1-4, but did connect for a two run homer.
TIMBERWOLVES GAME 5
That was a great game, and now the media can shut up about that stupid streak of seven seasons without getting out of the first round. With their 102-91 win at Target Center on Friday night, the Wolves won their first-round series over the Nuggets 4-1. Carmelo Anthony nursed his knee and did not play. For the Wolves, it was The Big Three. Kevin Garnett, who will be named the NBA MVP today, led with 28 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists. Sam Cassell went 12-12 from the line on his way to 26 points. Latrell Sprewell is taking his game to a completely different level the last three games. He is playing with an edge and it is so fun to watch! Friday night, he had 18 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals.
The game was intense, but nothing like Game 4 was in Denver. The Target Center crowd was much more subdued. Hopefully the Target Center will be packed during this next series, and LOUD!
By the way, there was a great article on the mysterious side of Kevin Garnett in the Star-Tribune on Sunday. It wasn't in the Sports section, but on the front page. I just appreciate that Garnett will discuss anything about his on-the-court life. However, he says that his private, personal, life away from basketball is his own. He doesn't talk about his fiancÚ, he doesn't talk about all his charity work. He is very private, and I can respect that!
So now, the Wolves will start their first second round playoff series tomorrow night against the Sacramento Kings. It is very difficult to watch these playoff games for a number of reasons, the biggest being the start times. These "8:30" start times (which really mean closer to 9:00) are ridiculous. How will the Wolves do? Well, check out my Second Round Predictions below.
SECOND ROUND PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS
Before giving my thoughts on the second round, let's take a quick look back at how I did with my First Round predictions:
Seth's Prediction What Happened
#1 Indiana vs #8 Boston Pacers in four. Pacers in four.
#2 New Jersey vs #7 New York Nets in six. Nets in four.
#3 Detroit vs #6 Milwaukee Pistons in four. Pistons in five.
#4 Miami vs #5 New Orleans Hornets in seven Game 7 is Tuesday night
#1 Minnesota vs #8 Denver Wolves in five. Wolves in five.
#2 LA Lakers vs #7 Houston Lakers in five. Lakers in five.
#3 San Antonio vs Memphis Spurs in four. Spurs in four.
#4 Sacramento vs Dallas Kings in six. Kings in five.
Not too bad. I was just one game off in the West. Close in the East. If the Hornets can reverse the trend of home-teams winning every game in their series with the Heat, I will have gone 8-8.
Let's get to what you really want to see, my Second Round Predictions:
#1 Indiana Pacers vs #4 Miami Heat or #5 New Orleans Hornets
I should probably wait until after Tuesday night's game 7 to make this predictions, but the fact is that it really doesn't matter. There are three good teams in the East. The Heat and Hornets are #s four and five in the conference. The winning team will be beaten up and tired. Jermaine O'Neal, Al Harrington, Ron Artest and the Pacers will dominate this series. Pacers in four.
#2 New Jersey vs # 3 Detroit Pistons
This should be a very good, very competitive series. It will probably be low scoring because both teams play tremendous defense. Whichever superstar is able to score consistently will be the key. I think Kenyon Martin and Rasheed Wallace will neutralize each other. Jason Kidd and Chauncey Billups will essentially neutralize each other. Richard Jefferson and Tayshaun Prince will neutralize each other. To me, the key to the series is the Richard Hamilton versus Kerry Kittles match up. Whichever leads their team in scoring will likely win the game. Prediction: Pistons in six.
#1 Minnesota Timberwolves vs #4 Sacramento Kings
I think this could be the best, most competitive series of the second round. There are four very good teams in the west, any of which could be a #1 seed. Yes, the Kings finished the season horribly, but they are very good, and very deep. Bobby Jackson's injury does hurt them a lot. Looking at matchups really does not bode well for the Wolves. I would give the Kevin Garnett/Chris Webber advantage to the Wolves, but only slightly as Webber has really played well of late. I would also give the Wolves the point guard advantage, Sam Cassell with a very slight advantage over Mike Bibby. The key to the series may be the Peja Stojacovik versus Latrell Sprewell matchup. Will the Wolves put Trenton Hassell on Peja? Spree really will need to come through on both ends of the court. The Ervin Johnson/Michael Olowokandi versus Vlade Divac matchup would favor the Wolves, but how does Minnesota account for Brad Miller? The defense played by Trenton Hassell and Doug Christie will greatly affect the series. The Kings are known for their depth, but with the likes of Mark Madsen and Fred Hoiberg, who both really understand what is needed and expected of them, puts the Wolves very even with the Kings. These two teams have played some classic games the last two seasons, and I would expect nothing less in this series. Prediction: Wolves in six.
#2 Los Angeles Lakers vs #3 San Antonio Spurs
This series started on Sunday in San Antonio (weird because of the seeding, but that is just the way it works) with a Spurs win in a game with many lead changes. My thoughts on this series have not changed. The Lakers hope that the will of Gary Payton and Karl Malone will lead them to the series win on the way to the NBA title. However, if they're going to win, they MUST go through Shaquille O'Neal more! The Spurs are just good. They get contributions from everyone who plays. Tim Duncan is the 2nd best player in basketball. However, it is becoming more and more clear that this is becoming Tony Parker's team. Prediction: Spurs in five.
So there you have it, Seth's Predictions for the Second Round. I am 7-7 on the first round series pending the conclusion of Game 7 of the Heat/Hornets series. To be honest, if I only get one out of these four predictions correct, and it happens to be the Wolves winning, I am more than ok with that!!
What do you think? Are my predictions and thoughts at all accurate? Send me an e-mail and let me know!
That is it for today. Happy Monday to everyone! I hope your weekend was great! If you have any questions or comments on anything you see above, or anything at all, please feel free to e-mail me.
Have yourself a great week!
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