Opening Day – And an Apology to Topper

Today’s round-up looks briefly at opening day, how the loss was my fault, why we shouldn’t take the Opening Day loss too seriously, and what the future holds from Call to the ‘Pen, all arranged in a pleasing bullet-pointed format.

–> Well, baseball is back! I can’t even begin to explain how much that pleases me. Ever since the 2009 season ended (and as far as I’m concerned, it ended after Game 3 against the Yankees: all that crap that came afterward didn’t mean a lot to me). So, it’s been basically seven months since I’ve had real, meaningful baseball to watch, write about, and obsess over. This means real discussions about things that really matter (and trust me, I’m very excited for having real things to argue about, no more of this Butera vs. Ramos stuff to argue about. Onward, to arguments that matter, like whether Hardy and Delmon should be switched in the lineup, who should get the roster spot if and when Joe Nathan hits the 60-day DL (and that will happen eventually), and how many small children Jose Mijares ate during the off-season.

Well, one of those things isn’t really important. I’ll trust you to figure out which.

–> I do, however, come to you with a heavy heart. The Twins lost to the Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim, and I am afraid it was my fault.

You see, I am just as superstitious as many baseball players themselves. I think very seriously about what I eating and drinking whilst watching a game, lest I eat partake of something unacceptable to the baseball gods, I take care to wear my Morneau warm-up jersey every Monday, and, most importantly, I spend seconds, nay, minutes, agonizing over which of the seven Twins hats I own I will wear each night while watching the game. Last season, I got it down to a science, and the success of the Twins corresponded. However, my system has been thrown off, as I have added a 2009 Central Division Champs cap, and now my series of caps is not as functional as it once was.

With this troubling fact in mind, I went on Twitter (follow me at @calltothepen) and conducted a poll of my fellow Twins-related Tweeps (which sounds unfortunately close to “twerps”) about the four hats that I had, after long consideration, determined would be acceptable to wear on opening night. This photo depicts those caps that made the final cut:

Four little Twins caps lined up in a row...

So, I ran a twitter poll. I asked whether I should wear the AL Central Division Champs hat, the “M” logo hat, the blue “athletic TC” hat, or the red “TC” hat. The following were the results:

  • Champs hat: 5 votes
  • “M” logo hat: 9 votes
  • Blue “TC”: 7 votes
  • Red “TC”: 5 votes

So, it’s pretty clear that the “M” logo hat was the clear victor. So I plunked it on my head at about 8:30 pm ET, and went about my evening. I spent the next hour and a half getting more and more excited, and finally at 9:55 I sat down at the old computer to watch the game! Only then did I realize that I was no longer wearing the “M” logo hat! Thinking that I must have taken it off somewhere in the apartment, I began frantically looking around.

Now, losing something is nothing new to me. I lose things on a very regular basis, from my car keys, to random items like the toenail clippers, to the TV remote. I live in a decent-sized 2-bedroom apartment, one bedroom acting as an office, where I write to you now. No backyard. 1150 square feet. It’s just not that big! So I figured something as large as a baseball cap would be easy to find. It wasn’t. I searched frantically, cursing occasionally, until 10:04, at which time I realized I had to sit down and watch the game. I was frustrated, because I normally can find things pretty easily (though once I lost the TV remote for almost two weeks; I found it in the ice bucket in the freezer (don’t ask me how it got there). So, I donned the Blue “TC” hat, and hoped for the best.

Well, the best didn’t happen. Scott Baker, who is on every one of my fantasy teams, got beaten (grr… Timmy), and the Twins ended up losing. The “TC” logo hat was simply not adequate to make up for the lack of the “M” logo hat.

So, Topper, this is why I must apologize for ruining your predicted 162-win season. It was entirely my fault, and I hope to do better in the future.

–> Although the Twins did lose last night, there are some great reasons to be optimistic about this season (and of course, there’s that always-present “small sample size” refrain).

  • Jesse Crain threw 1.2 perfect innings of relief, bailing Timmy out of the fifth inning with two outs and runners and first and third. His motion was easy and he was in clear control of the game.
  • Pat Neshek‘s velocity was down about 3mph from where it was two years ago, but at this point in the season, that shouldn’t be concerning. The biggest thing to take away is that he would have had a perfect inning (at least, after Mijares’ ineffectiveness allowed two solo home runs) if Cuddyer was an outfielder with the ability to run. Not that Jeff Mathis is a great hitter, but Neshek made him look stupid as he struck out swinging to end the eighth.
  • Jose Mijares, though he looks like he ate Chris Cates after the second Target Field exhibition game, had some wicked stuff during the seventh inning. Unfortunately, it didn’t carry over to the eighth, but if he can get some more consistency, and I’ve seen no reason he can’t, he’ll be one of the Twins’ top two or three relievers at the end of the year.
  • Delmon Young. It took Delmon two months to hit his first homer of 2008, and two weeks in 2009. It took him one swing this year. He also beat out an infield hit and stole second base. Young only stole two bases last year, but then he was carrying around the equivalent of an eight-year-old child in his belly, so maybe we’ll see a bit more speed this season from him.
  • Scott Baker was Scott Baker. Timmy has always had trouble at the beginning of the season and has always had trouble putting away hitters once he gets them to a 2-strike count. Same as yesterday. However, he has always managed to fix himself as the season has gone on, and for a six-out stretch yesterday, he was lights-out. I don’t worry too much about him.

There were also some not-so-great signs last night, but I have a few responses to that:

  • Denard Span going 0-5 with 3 Ks means two things: he had an off night and he was facing a pitcher who gets a bunch of strikeouts.
  • Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau will not often go 2-7.
  • I will not always forget to wear the proper cap for the evening.

–> Tonight the Twins will be starting Nick Punto over Brendan Harris against the lefty Joe Saunders because he has a career 4-12 mark against Saunders, whilst Harris is 0-3. Stat nerds just had a collective nervous breakdown. SAMPLE SIZE!

–> Today the Twins signed Joe Repko to a minor-league contract to play CF for the AAA Rochester Red Wings. Takeaway? The powers-that-be have decided that Ben Revere just isn’t ready for AAA yet. I concur – he’s never played above Ft. Myers, and he should at least start at New Britain, even though he raked all spring. If he continues to dominate, he should move up to AAA at midseason. Sometimes the Twins seem to take it way too slow with their prospects, but this time it’s a good call.

–>Regarding what is coming from this blog: more, really long posts. This was supposed to be a quick round-up, and I’ll be at 1400 words by the time I finish. I have two more of the Important Games series and two more teams in my Around the Central series to complete as well. I also have two articles to write that are not strictly-Twins-related: challenges I received on Twitter. I’ll try to have some kind of a game reaction up most days, but the fact is that these other projects take a long time to do, so I will get them done as I can. Thanks everyone for your patience!

–> P.S. If you were wondering, tonight is the regular-season debut of the Champs cap.

4 Responses

  1. I’ve got a feeling that the new hat will bring back some Twins magic.

  2. I’ll survive, thanks for thinkin’ of me!

    Dude, you ever find that hat?

    • Ugh, I found it this morning actually, in my closet behind the dress shirts. I must have dropped in on the floor and had my beagle carry it off.

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