Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Win! (And Some Rants)

The Twins are a weird team.

After displaying an astonishing level of ineptitude over the first 25 innings of their series with the Yankees, scoring just four runs on 16 hits during that span, the Twins' bats suddenly came alive in the eighth inning of last night's game. During that frame, the Twins scored four runs on two singles, two doubles, and a walk. And they did it against a fairly decent pitcher in Kyle Farnsworth, who is arguably the Yankees' best reliever outside of Mariano Rivera. It was like the Twins' hitters finally realized, "Wait a minute, if we want to beat this team, we're going to have to outscore them." Novel concept, I know, but it's one that nobody in the Twins clubhouse seemed to realize over the first two games of this series.

The Twins' eighth-inning offensive outburst was unexpected, but it was not the most surprising story of this game. No, that honor would belong to Ramon Ortiz, who is apparently the new stopper in the Twins' rotation. After Sidney Ponson and Boof Bonser had combined to allow 14 earned runs on 16 hits and five walks over 10 innings in their starts against the Yankees, Ortiz delivered nothing short of a gem on Wednesday night. The 33-year-old righthander tossed eight innings of one run, three-hit ball against an extremely tough lineup which had simply clobbered Twins pitching over the first two games of the series. Ortiz struck out four (including the red-hot Alex Rodriguez, twice) while walking only one, and he was highly efficient, needing just 93 pitches to get through his eight innings of work. For all the criticism we've handed the Twins for signing Ortiz in the offseason, I have to admit I've been impressed with him so far. He looked damn good last night. The Twins needed a good start, and he came through with an outing that was better than I could've expected. Ortiz is now 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA. While I have a hard time imagining he'll continue anywhere close to this pace, he's looked nothing but solid so far.

There were some other points of interest in last night's game, one of which was the fact that Alexi Casilla got the start at shortstop. Mr. Mosvick noted in his post yesterday that Ron Gardenhire appears to be losing patience with the struggling Jason Bartlett to some extent, and this move would provide further evidence of that. His play over the first week-plus of this season has looked eerily similar to his sloppy play in the ALDS series against Oakland last year. With that said, I'm sure Bartlett will be back in the lineup tonight against Tampa Bay and I do expect him to start showing marked improvement within the next week. He's too good a player to be performing this poorly.

Another point of intrigue regarding last night's game was the presence of Luis Rodriguez in the DH spot. It's not often that you'll see a light-hitting utility infielder get a start at designated hitter for any team, but I guess that just speaks to the Twins' current lack of depth. To his credit, Elrod went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles.

In sum, it was nice to see the Twins salvage a win in this series with a 5-1 victory; hopefully they will be able to carry some momentum into their upcoming four-game series against an improved Devil Rays team. With all that positivity out of the way, I do have a few gripes I'd like to get off my chest.

Let me preface the next couple paragraphs with a disclaimer. The rest of this post is basically going to be a bunch of aimless ranting. If you are pregnant or have a heart condition, I recommend you proceed with caution.

First of all, what is up with this "Premium Game" scam? I went out to the Metrodome on Tuesday night and my tickets cost three bucks more than they usually do. Why? Because the Twins are playing the great Yankees, and that means tickets are at a premium. My question is this: why should I have to pay extra to watch my team get the crap kicked out of them? If anything, tickets for these games should cost LESS. Charge extra when the Twins are playing the Devil Rays or something, at least in that situation I am almost guaranteed to leave the stadium in a good mood. Instead I walk out of those revolving doors full of frustration over the fact that my beloved Twins just got absolutely dominated by an unspeakably superior team, AND over the fact that I just threw away an extra three dollars which could have been used on an extra frickin' hot dog.

Another thing: if I overhear one more fan asking the question "Where is Lew Ford?" at a game, I am going to dump my nachos in their lap. It seems like every time I have been at the Metrodome, or around Twins fans in other settings, I have heard someone ask this question. Then the person they are with typically gives some smug, overconfident, completely false response, stating that Ford was cut in spring training or he was traded for Jeff Cirillo. First of all, Ford is on the disabled list. Second of all, WHO CARES? Yes, I'm sure the team's offensive impotence over the past several days has been due in large part to the lack of Lew Ford's powerful bat in the middle of the lineup.

Bah. Sorry about all that. I guess I'm still a little crabby from the 18-3 bashing over the first two games of the Yankees series. Fortunately, the Twins have a history of dominance against the Devil Rays that is fairly similar to the Yankees' history of dominance against the Twins, so I'm hopeful that this weekend's slate of games can lift my spirits.

18 comments:

Darla said...

Quality post Nick... but you already knew that! Love the rants so keep 'em coming!

Corey Ettinger said...

The rants were far more entertaining than the meat.

WV said...

That "premium game" hogwash is maybe the most explicit form of price gouging I've ever heard of. Did they jack up the price of the hot dogs too? Sheesh.

TheBentKangaroo said...

I went to the second game of the Baltimore series--talk about price gouging. What's normally a $5 parking lot was $15. At least we won.

the Dragon said...

"Premium Game" pricing seems to be new to sports, and I would find it less offensive were some other flexibility for some lesser teams costing less.

Premium pricing is an everyday economic reality. If you want a week at the beach in the summer, the rooms are 2-3 times more costly than December, Cost to vacation in Florida in winter, much pricier than July, and I can fly to London between Oct 1 thru Mar 31 for roughly $400, yet in the summer that same ticket costs $700+.

It's supply & demand. Not sure exactly how to feel about it, since it's new to baseball, not new to everyday life.

Regards,

Nick M. said...

To that dragon, I completely understand your point. But I still want to complain about it, since this is pretty obvious price gauging too.

Lee Henschel said...

Nick:

At least you're acknowleging that Mr. Ortiz has pitched great! Do me a favor, will you? Don't rant about Ortiz untill he's lost THREE CONSECUTIVE starts.

Even Johan Santana is human. Ortiz is Human. He will have a few bad games. But don't immediately gang up on him after he's had one or two bad starts. After three in a row, yeah.

Thank you for noting he's had two good starts in a row...

TwinsJunkie said...

What really doesn't make sense is the Premium pricing whenever the Cubs come to town in interleague play. I mean, I understand why people would want to see the Yankees: they're always one of the best teams in baseball and they are chalk full of all-stars and future hall of famers.

But the Cubs? There's only one reason you should ever want to see the Cubs play, and that is to see the game at Wrigley. Without their ballpark the Cubs are just a below average team. Yet you are charged (and people willingly pay) MORE to see them play. That's the true hogwash.

Corey said...

And yet, months before they came to town last season,seats were nearly sold out for all three games...

Nick N. said...

Even Johan Santana is human. Ortiz is Human. He will have a few bad games. But don't immediately gang up on him after he's had one or two bad starts. After three in a row, yeah.

Ortiz's history would indicate that he's going to have more than "a few bad games" this year. But, he's looked good so far, so I'll lay off of him if he struggles a bit.

But the Cubs? There's only one reason you should ever want to see the Cubs play, and that is to see the game at Wrigley. Without their ballpark the Cubs are just a below average team. Yet you are charged (and people willingly pay) MORE to see them play. That's the true hogwash.

The reason for Yankees and Cubs (and Red Sox) tickets being in such high demand is because there is such large number of poseur fans for all those teams who like them simply because it's trendy.

the Dragon said...

Nick, please don't think I want to restrict your right to complain.

I'm just surprised something like scalable pricing has not been in place prior to this time.

The interesting question is "Does pricing of a ticket influence attendance?".

Is there a price point which could guarantee sellouts for the Devil Ray Series, or I presume the Royal's series?

Sorry, it's the accountant in me :-)

Regards,

Ryan said...

The main reason the cubs series is so popular is because of all the transplants in MN from Chicago

Ryan said...

On a separate note - anybody sat in the upper box seats around the infield? Opinions? I bought tix to the Cleveland series in that area and it's the only section I have never sat in. Seems like a steal on price compared to other sections view and price.

Nick N. said...

On a separate note - anybody sat in the upper box seats around the infield? Opinions? I bought tix to the Cleveland series in that area and it's the only section I have never sat in. Seems like a steal on price compared to other sections view and price.

I very frequently sit in the upper deck behind home plate, section 225 or 224. Really great view. I think it's the best value you can get in the Dome.

TwinsJunkie said...

I agree, it boasts some of the few seats in the building that actually face home plate. You can leave the Tylenol at home

WinTwins57 said...

Great rant! I too, am usually sitting near someone who arrogantly spouts off some crap that has no basis in reality. What makes these people work is that they surround themselves with people who know LESS than they do so they can say whatever they want and are believed! The girl behind me on Tuesday finally stopped talking about TWINGO (which she was obviously the expert about) in the 3rd inning and then was telling the guy with her everything about Jeff Cirillo, A-Rod, Jeter, and anyone else the guy asked about. No Lew Ford yet in my experience, but I can hardly wait! :)

The premium pricing thing bugs me too. And, you can't swap out any season tix for those games!

Ortiz looked pretty good. I've always thought he'd do okay, so I was hoping for a great performance. He'll have bad days, but I'm much more worried about Silva and Ponson - although Silva is looking okay so far tonight!

Corey Ettinger said...

Yeah, he looked "ok" tonight.

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