Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Weekend of Learning

This weekend was basically cancelled by extreme raininess, so The Common Man stayed inside, watched Twins games, caught random innings of other contests, thoroughly enjoyed watching Wall-E (perhaps the single sweetest movie of all time) with The Uncommon Wife and The Boy. Even stuck inside, The Common Man learned a lot:

- Whoever writes headlines for is either an idiot or has a hell of a sense of humor. The Common Man was mortified to read, on the MLB front page, that "Joe Mauer goes to rehab," until he clicked through to be reminded that Man Muscles had started his rehab assignment in Fort Myers.

- Speaking of ESPN, The Common Man didn't know whether to laugh or cry when the Vikings selected Florida wide receiver Percy Harvin (who failed a drug test at the NFL Combine) in the first round, and one commentator broke down the selection saying, "On the field...Harvin will have one-on-one opportunities. The off the field becomes, can the lockerroom handle that. Is there enough leadership there to say, 'a) don't ever fail a drug test that you know is coming...'" Just so we're's still ok to fail the drug tests you don't know are coming, right?

- Last week, the Twins got swept in a doubleheader in Boston, getting drubbed in both games. It should come as no surprise that the Twins play fewer doubleheaders than most teams in the league; after all, they spend half their time in the Dome. But despite their indoor digs, the Twins have played a surprising number of twinbills at home since the stadium opened in 1982. In total, 9 double headers have been played at the dome, and the Twins have gone 10-8 overall.

The first doubledip was on August 1, 1983, in which the Twins earned a split against the then-California Angels. Mike Witt gave up 6 runs but still got a complete game in the opener, easily beating Brad Havens, who went 2 innings and gave up five runs in his final game of the season (in which he'd gone 5-8 with an 8.18 ERA). In the nightcap, Rick Lysander threw a shutout for the Twins, who touched up Angels rookie Steve Brown for 5 runs in 4+ innings.

After a three year absence, the Twins played three such doubleheaders in 20 days, on August 12, 14, and 31. Both the 12th and the 14th were part of a strange five-game series with the Oakland A's, which lasted just three days. On the 12th, the Twins swept the A's behind Bert Blyleven's complete game and Mark Salas's two-run homer in the first contest, and Tom Brunansky's 8th inning game-winning solo homer in the second. On the 14th, the Twins dropped both games, first to a combined Don Sutton and Steve Ontiveros shutout, and then in Mark Portugal's major league debut. On the 31st, the Twins swept the Red Sox, again behind Blyleven's complete game (and a 9th inning comeback capped by Ron Washington's game-winning single). In the second game, Portugal pitched his second game of the year, going 5.1 innings before giving way to Pete Filson and Ron Davis (who, as always, made life interesting by giving up a two-run homer in the 9th to cut the lead to one).

The reasons for all these doubleheaders are unclear. Perhaps it's weather-related (seriously, a violent storm could prevent a visitor from flying in to the cities or a tornado warning (a majority of these series seem to take place in late-summer) could have forced the cancellation of a contest. Or perhaps there was some malfunction with the Dome itself, like a loss of internal air pressure (the Dome is held up by an artificially high pressure that pops your ears when you enter the stadium and that can literally blow you out if the doors are opened). Whatever the reason, the Oakland A's seem to have something to do with it. Of the nine doubleheaders, the Twins played the Athletics in five of them, twice in '85, once each in 1990, and 1996, and 2001. In these contests, the Twins and A's have split, each going 5-5.

In the most recent contest, the Twins and Royals split the twinbill. The Royals touched Matt Garza for 8 runs in 5 innings in the opener, but Scott Baker dominated in the nightcap, throwing 8 perfect innings before walking John Buck to lead off the 9th. Two batters later, pinch hitter (and Twin-killer) Mike Sweeney singled and Baker finished with a one-hit shutout, having faced just 29 hitters, and striking out 9.

So, The Common Man doesn't know what to make of all this. It's just a weird anomoly that seems to come up every few years in the Metrodome (though that will change next year, when the Twins will undoubtedly have to play two a lot more often). I mean, did the Astrodome have this problem???

- Fantasy owners who have started Joaquim Soria for the past week-and-a-half probably have cause for legal action against Trey Hillman. Seriously Trey, throw the nerds a bone here.

- Jacoby Ellsbury is awesome!

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