Since I am reduced to watching MLB through a different set of eyes, not having a “dog in the hunt”, I have noticed that I now see things a bit differently. Case in point: Let’s take last night’s menu of action. How did the MLB contenders present their case for future preparation/hopeful postseason success? Well, what I saw from the Minnesota Twins was not very inspiring. Have they already clinched the AL Central? Yes, and it looks like they are in “coast mode”. After playing the role of scratching post for the Detroit “Kitties” to the tune of a 10-1 drumming, should there be any real cause for concern here? Consider a few things before responding.
1) “Frankie” Liriano removed himself from the game very early after it was obvious that whatever he was doing, wasn’t working, and wouldn’t be working for any longer of an extended appearance. I think I heard the reason was a “stomach virus”? Is that a nice way of saying that he shit his pants, and didn’t want to go through his pitching motion with soiled drawers any more than he already was forced to? Or maybe this is an indication of a more serious problem, like (god forbid) a more serious injury than was first reported, or evidence of an even more serious condition: Quitting early when the results aren’t favorable. Either way, former or latter, it does not bode well for the Twins who I figured were probably counting on this kid to do some heavy lifting in the postseason as one of the starting pitchers in the abridged version of a rotation. Feeling pressure now? Wait until you face those Yankees, “swinging from their heels” in the ALDS, imagine how that “turtle head” peeking out of the old butt crack will be inching its way out then?
2) I followed the Yankees trailing the Red Sox 10-1 early in their game, only to see them rally back to place the tying run at the plate before finally succumbing to Jonathan Papelbon 10-8. Did they quit? Didn’t look like it to me. They have something to play for though, as they are fighting with the Rays for the AL East Division Title, with the eventual “loser” earning the Wild Card spot. But wait, isn’t the best record in the AL still up for grabs? You might think that this would be an important factor to consider with home field advantage such an important consideration, especially when you are as proud of your new home field as Twin fans are. This might motivate all teams involved toward continued high levels of play, and not falling into a “desirable” mode of resting key starters and “getting your rotation just the way you want it” like I have heard as excuses from Twins fans as reasons for past postseason failures. I would worry that those other 2 “beasts of the East” might be honing each other’s blades right down to the wire, and that the team that was coasting to the finish line that is a 162-game season might be getting a little complacent. But why worry about that, right?
You have a masterful field leader in Ron Gardenhire to keep the charges inspired, ready, and sharp as a marble razor with how he has proven that he can lead his past successful (6 Division Titles in 9 years, right?) squads to ultimate levels of readiness and preparedness. No cause for concern there at all (6-18 postseason record).
With the AL postseason match-ups still far from being decided, you have to wonder how it will all pan out. I hadn’t even mentioned a “Cinderella” Texas squad (also still having something to play for on the cusp of closing out their “quest for the AL West”) who will be trotting out Cliff “Minnesota didn’t need me” Lee, and his impressive post-season resume. The left-handed version of a dominating, shut-down pitcher rivaled only by CC Sabathia. Speaking of leftys with impressive postseason resumes, didn’t Andy Pettitte pitch last night on the short end of tough outing? Did he “beg out” when he didn’t have his best stuff? Big difference between Veterans who have been in a big spot, and those youngsters who have not. I call it the “Fight vs. Flight” factor. I got a pretty good idea that Pettitte WON’T be squirting in his compression pants at the sight of whoever he is facing come October…talk about been there & done that.
In closing, forget about even mentioning what inspiring ball is going on in the National League (Giants, Padres & Rockies engaged in battle, another Cinderella Reds story, and the impressive dominance that is still the Phillies)…since these Twins (because of all previously mentioned factors), next sniff of a National League stadium will likely be next season’s Interleague schedule. You know, I kind of like this Twins analysis/reporting…with not much else to focus on, I may just make THIS postseason, a personal project of mine. Now, wouldn’t THAT be fun.