Tagged: Twins

Baseball Milestones

Every season has ’em.  It might be an all-time record that will be tied
or broken.  It might be reaching that next even number in hits, saves or
home runs.  It might be surpassing a franchise record.  Whatever it is,
it’s a milestone.

And 2011 will be no different.

So who are the candidates for these 2011 milestones and what is the likelihood they will be achieved?  Glad you asked.

Hitting Milestones

Player – Derek Jeter
Milestone – 3,000th hit
Current # – 2,928 hits

This is easily the most talked about milestone of 2011.  Jeter is only
72 hits away from his inevitable 3,000th hit.  So barring a significant
injury, he should get there and get there soon.  Jeter is not only the
face of the franchise and embodies everything it means to be a Yankee,
but he will be the first Yankee to complete this feat.

As he draws closer, opponents stadiums will sell out with fans hoping to be there when he reaches that famous mark.

Predicted date – June 12th

Player: Ivan Rodriquez
Milestone – 3,000th hit
Current # – 2,817 hits

Pudge sits 183 hits away from this mark.  Is 183 hits doable in a
season?  Without a doubt.  Is it doable by him?  Probably not.  It’s a
mark he’s only hit twice before in his career and both times were over a
decade ago.  These days he’s at about the 100 hit mark for the season. 
So if Pudge is going to his this mark, he will have to gut it out for
at least one more season after this one.  I predict he does just that
and cements his legendary status in the game of baseball.

Predicted date – 2012

Player: Alex Rodriquez
Milestone – 631 home runs (5th on the all-time list)
Current # – 613 home runs

Every one knows that A-Rod will eventually be going for his 700th home
run and even is potentially capable of overtaking Bonds on the all-time
list.  But first things first.  You have to climb the list one player at
a time and next on the list is Ken Griffey Jr. who set his mark not too
long ago.

A-Rod needs 18 home runs to get past him.  Looking ahead, with 48
dingers, he could overtake Willie Mays in the #4 spot.  But let’s not
get greedy; he’s not gonna be hitting 48 home runs this season.  The 18
home runs should be an easy accomplishment, although I expect him to
struggle when he draws close to the number, as he did when he neared
#600 home run.

Predicted date: July 29th

Player: Jim Thome
Milestone – 600 home runs
Current # – 589 home runs

Thome will only be the 8th player in the history of the game to get to
the 600 home run mark.  No doubt this is quite an accomplishment and
from everything I’ve seen and heard of Thome, it couldn’t be by a nicer
guy.  The Twins saw him pass Twinkie legend Harmon Killebrew last year
and are ready to see him continue  on his journey by reaching this
historic mark.

Predicted date; July 6th

Player: Alex Rodriguez
Milestone – 1,952 RBIs (5th on the all-time list)
Current # – 1,831 RBIs

Currently 17th on the list, Alex is 121 RBIs from being in the top 5. 
The fact that he could potentially break the top 5 all-time in two major
categories this year just shows how good this guy really is.  Yeah,
he’s had his moments, his off-days and the stupid personal drama, but
when it is all said and done, he will be one of the best in the game

A-Rod looks to be a shoo-in for at least 100 RBI, but after that is when
it gets tricky.  Can he get the extra 21 he needs?  Well, since
becoming a Yankee 7 years ago, he has reached 121 RBI in a season 4
times.  So if history is an indicator, that would give him a 50 / 50
shot.  I predict he does it, but by the skin of his teeth.

Predicted date: September 27th

So several hitting milestones to look forward to this year, mostly by Yankees.  And even though others may not be hitting as big of a milestones there will be plenty of smaller stepping stones hit to future milestones.  300 or 400 home runs, 2000 hits, etc.  Every player in hopes of bigger and better marks have to hit these smaller ones along the way.

Pitching Milestones

Player: Mariano Rivera
Milestone – 602 saves (1st on all-time list)
Current # –  559 saves

It’s not a matter of whether Mariano break’s Hoffman’s save record, but when.  And technically, he has two back to back milestones here.  First when he hits the 600 mark, becoming only the 2nd player in the history of the game to do so and then when he break’s Hoffman’s record.

Still will he do it this year?  He’s 43 shy of the all-time mark, which can be done and has been done by him before.  But it’s far from a guarantee.  After all, even if he converts every save chance he gets, he’s limited by the total of opportunities he has.  And that’s why I do think he will break this mark, but not yet.

Predicted date: 2012

Sadly, this is it.  And since I don’t think this out gets hit this year, that means, there will be no significant pitching milestones in ’11.  Jamie Moyer is still claiming he’s not retired, even though he’s going to be close to 50.  (50???)  So who knows what 2012 may bring in terms of milestones.  Though, the fact that pitchers aren’t what they used to be means that most pitching milestones and records will never be reached, such as the 300 win mark, complete games, shutouts and others like that.

Good luck to all players going after these marks.  Even though baseball is a team sport and I’m sure most players would give up these marks for a ring in October, they are nice achievements to reflect back on at the end of your career.  To know that you are the only player who reached a certain plateau or that others are chasing your record has to be a great feeling.

Chasing the blogging milestone,

Pick-up basketball nabs another one

So I recently read about the latest prominent injury, that of newly
acquired Brewer ace, Zack Greinke.  He has a fractured rib and looks to
be out for a couple of weeks and missing about two starts.

A few things about this:

1) Brewer fans are probably livid that he did this playing pick-up basketball.

you’re a Major Leaguer, it’s not that you can’t play any other sports,
but rebounding hard in a friendly game?  Probably not worth doing damage
to your $27 million arm, especially when a team pulled out all the
stops to get you.  Also not the easiest way to get a fan base in your

Can you imagine if he did something more serious then
just a hairline fracture?  The Crew would really be sunk this year.  As
it is, a couple of missed starts in April is NOT the worst thing in the
world.  Losing ace Adam Wainwright for an entire year?  Now that
probably is the worst thing in the world.

2) Isn’t there something in professional contracts about not doing extreme things like skydiving and whatnot?

so, should there be something in there when a player inflicts damage on
himself?  Although at least Greinke did this playing a real sport. 
Remember Joel Zumaya?  He injured a finger on his pitching hand playing
Guitar Hero.  That’s right.  A video game.  And that was during the
ALCS.  So horrible timing even though his Tigers did end up moving on to
the World Series that year.  So yeah, it’s all perspective.  It can
always be worse.

3) Cardinals must take advantage

would never root for an opposing player to be injured.  And I do wish
Zack Greinke a quick and speedy recovery, just as I would hope opposing
fans would do for Wainwright.  But what’s done is done.  He is injured. 
He will miss 2-3 starts.  The Cardinals must take advantage of this

I know games in April seem to mean less than late
September, but at the end of 162 games when you’re 1 or 2 games out of
contention, suddenly all of those missed chances in April start haunting
you.  Greinke will likely be a big winner for the Brewers this year and
be tough to beat.  So now, while they’re down a guy is the time for the
Cardinals to start ahead in the standings.

In other news,
Morneau is back for the Twins after missing extensive time with the
Twins because of a concussion.  The Twins are my favorite AL team and I
just like Morneau, in general, so I am thrilled to see him back. 
Concussions are scary and becoming way too common in baseball and have
ended the careers of far too many players.  Most recently was Jason
LaRue who suffered his from a kick to the end during an on-field
skirmish with the Reds and a run-in with Johnny Cueto’s spiked foot. 
Edmonds suffered lingering concussion effects after a bad run-in with an
outfield wall.  And one of my favorite Cardinals Mike Matheny’s career
ended early as well.  Here’s hoping a very productive season for Morneau
and all the Twins!

Greinke out, Morneau in,

Moving on

The Cardinals didn’t even make the postseason this year.  This is something that us Cardinals fans are not normally accustomed to.  But what’s done is done and now comes the time where we watch other teams competing for the World Series title.

So, now there are two things that I am rooting for in the postseason.  The first is the Minnesota Twins.  I lived in Minneapolis for four years and they became my favorite AL team.  If the Cardinals aren’t in it, I’d love to see the Twins go all the way.  The problem is that the Twins are playing the Yankees.  Now, I like the Yankees a lot, but I like the Twins more.  But the Twins haven’t had great success against the Yanks in the postseason.  And in fact, now they are down 0-2 in the ALDS once again.

The other thing I like to root for in the postseason are interesting series.  A best of five or a best of seven is the best when it goes down to the wire, to the last game.  Or even to the last inning in the last game.  Think about it.  When a little kid throws a baseball to himself in the back yard, what’s always the scenario?  “Game 7 of the World Series, bottom of the 9th.  Bases loaded, down by 3, full count.”  A team winning in five or seven games is far more interesting than seeing a sweep.  Unfortunately, right now, all of the games are shaping up to be sweeps.  Hopefully, that will change and we will have some more interesting baseball to watch.

In other news, how about Roy Halladay?  If Adam Wainwright had pitched this season last year, he would have been the Cy Young easy.  But this year, Halladay has put it away.  He has been a machine on the mound all year including his perfecto.  And now in the postseason, he pitches a no-hitter?  For only the second time in history?  Incredible.  Also makes you wonder what the Cardinals would have done against him.

Let’s go Twins,

Tragedy hits close to home for me

Of course everyone knows by now about the awful tragedy that happened in Minneapolis when a main bridge there collapsed.
As I’ve stated in earlier posts, I attended college in the Twin Cities, where I lived for 4 1/2 years. I am familiar with this bridge and have driven over it many times. I have a lot of friends still living in the city and so of course I sent out an email as soon as I heard about the collapse. Luckily, I have now heard back from all of them so far that they and everyone they know are okay. And I am quite thankful to God for that.

At this time, I just want to say that my prayers are with the family and friends of those who didn’t make it. And perhaps worse, the friends and families of those who are still missing and have to wait to find out for sure what has happened to their love ones.

Thinking of the victims and their families,

My tribute to Cal Ripken, Jr.

15-1. Just awful. At least the Brewers lost as well. Though worse than us losing was the Cubs winning. Now they are tied for first and Cubs fans everywhere are rejoicing. The only thing I can hope is that the Cubs will continue to be the Cubs and at some point the bottom will drop out. Add that to another tough loss today and it’s so frustrating. To take 3 of 4 from the Brewers and now to drop two straight to the Pirates. Cardinals, what are you doing to me?? The Brewers lost again tonight to the Mets and the Cubs are trailing in the 9th inning. What a great spot this would have been to gain some ground.

So two losses are clearly not really something I want to spend a lot of time blogging about. Instead, I will talk about something much more pleasant. And that is the induction of two of the nicest guys ever to play the game into the Baseball Hall of the Fame. Guys with enormous talent and enormous hearts. I never got to see Tony Gwynn play live, which is strange because I rooted for a NL team, but I did get to see Cal Ripken Jr. play.

I went to college in Minnesota and so I adopted the Twins as my favorite AL team and went to a ton of games at the Dome. One evening in April, a friend suggested we all go to the game because the Orioles were coming to town. I was all in favor of that because I’ve always been a fan of Cal, Jr., especially after I watched him break one of the toughest and most impressive streaks in all of baseball; consecutive games played. However, I was skeptical that we’d see any magic that night. He was 3 hits away from the big mark of 3,000 lifetime hits. "Maybe tomorrow night, he’ll do it," I said, but nevertheless, I was pumped to go to the game. Three friends and myself took off for the dome, along with thousands of other fans.

Everyone cheered when Cal stepped up to plate and proceeded to cheer Cal, even as he made an out. He then got a couple of hits and I started thinking, just maybe this would be the night. Only one of those two really stands out to me. It was a high bouncer to the left side of the infield, but they couldn’t make a play on him. Then in the 7th inning, it happened. After a pitching change, Ripken lined the ball up the middle for hit #3000. And the crowd went absolutely crazy. We high fived strangers, yelled until our throats were sore and gave him a standing ovation. It was by far the most exciting non-Cardinal baseball moment that I have ever witnessed in person. And I just happened to be the in the right place at the right time. Had he done it a year earlier when he should have, I would not have seen the feat.

We were all presented certificates when we left that said, "I was there" with a spot to put your ticket stub from the game. It remains a piece of my personal baseball collection.

But the best part came the next time. It was a Sunday and we figured the crowd would be lighter because the heroics had already happened. The Twins were pretty bad back then and could barely muster a crowd. In fact, having 20,000 or so at Cal’s 3,000 hit was a pretty big deal. This was strange for a Cardinal fan that is used to seeing 40,000 on a Wednesday at Busch.

Nevertheless, this day it was quite good for us. We got there early and easily walked down the front row of the dome. They gave Cal the day off and you know what he did with it? He walked over and started signing autographs. My friends and I had brought our ticket stubs from the day before, hoping to get them signed. We waited patiently as Cal made his way from the visiting dugout all the way down to us (about halfway down) and eventually all the way to the foul pole. He got all of our tickets signed, except for one of my friends, so we waited to see if she could still get his autograph. After reaching the foul pole, he proceeded back down the wall and continued signing autographs. He reached us again and this time she got her ticket signed. And since he was there, I figured, what the heck, and gave him my ticket stub for that day as well. Saturday’s ticket was put on my certificate and I gave Sunday’s autographed stub to my mom.

I don’t think a person left the Metrodome that day wanting a Ripken autograph and failing to get one. I remember being completely blown away that this guy would take his day off and use it to make a bunch of strangers in an opposing stadium happy. It’s one thing to do this in Baltimore and an entirely different thing to do this for a bunch of people wearing Twins gear that will likely sell your autograph for profit the first they get the chance. But, that’s just one story of the kind of guy he was.

You saw it in the way he played the game. You learned about it in the way teammates talked about it. And you heard it in his HOF speech. This guy, along with Gwynn are two of the best Cooperstown could hope to have. And I am proud to say I saw him play and reach an important milestone. It’s a game I will certainly never forget.

Congratulations as well to Rick Hummell, long-time Cardinal writer who was also inducted. What a great honor for him. He is a graduate from the same high school I am.

Thanks Cal,

Random things about the Cardinal’s weekend

I’m back and feeling quite refreshed after a weekend away and also quite excited that the game tonight is early enough that I can watch it live.  It will be my first live Cardinal game this season and I couldn’t be happier about that.

I’ve looked at the scores for the games I missed over the weekend and read the recaps and watched the video highlights of the Cardinals games.  And from all that here is my summary of various things from the games, in no particular order:

1) The Cardinal bats FINALLY got going.  Obviously, we’re going to win games and obviously Pujols isn’t going to have a .072 average all season.  But it’s excruiating waiting out the first slump of the season.  Now that it’s over, hopefully the big swings and big at-bats will continue into the next series.

2) The Wainwright-Molina-Pujols DP off the bat of Brad Ausmus during the attempted suicide squeeze was of the best plays I’ve ever seen.  Great heads up baseball all the way around.

3) Johan Santana is a machine.  I want him to be a Cardinal.

4) Though I’m excited about the 10-1 over Houston, nobody’s talking about the baserunning mistakes.  If the Cardinals had lost 2-1, everybody would be yelling about missed opportunities on the basepaths.  That is not heads up baseball.

5) Every team now has at least one win and one loss.

6) Roy Oswalt continues to be one of the most dominating pitchers in the NL.  At least for the Redbirds because they can certainly never figure him out.  I hope we don’t see him again for awhile.

7) Lidge continues to be less and less of a closer and more and more of a setup man in Triple A somewhere.  He can deny the Pujols homer = destruction all he wants, but the fact remains….baseball is a very mental sport.  And now with everybody talking and focusing on the homer, he continues to allow runs to score until his ERA is currently an astonishing 16.20.  Granted, the man hasn’t even pitched two complete innings yet and his shortstop booted an easy groundout that would have lessened the damage, but nevertheless….he better get his act together quick if the Astros ever want to have enough confidence to hand him the ball again.  It also makes you think…..will Billy Wagner be affected?  The runs off of him for some reason didn’t make the splashy headlines that the Pujols shot did, but the Cardinals touched Wager for quite a few runs in the NLCS.  Wagner, "the sandman," whose ERA hasn’t been over 3.00 since 2000, saw it spike at 16.87 in the NLCS when he gave up 5 runs, including a homer to the Cards.

8) My 7th point was way too long.

9) I really hope that Kip Wells pitches like this all season.  If he does, the 2007 season is looking up.

10) I hope that if Carp goes on the DL (which seems inevitable at this point), it’s a short stay.  We’ve done without Carpenter for a little bit before, but a season ending injury would be devastating.  Anybody else having nightmares of the 2004 World Series?  Guarantee you that the Sox don’t sweep us, if Carp had been healthy.

11) I’m really tired of seeing Anthony Reyes face the hardest pitchers in the league.  Last year, he constantly drew guys like Chris Capuano, Freddy Garcia, Andy Pettite, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, etc.  And this last series against Roy Oswalt.  I feel bad for the guy.

12) That’s all I can talk about for now because the game just started.

Looking for a sweep in Pittsburgh,


We’re champions of……something!

Seriously, what do you call it?

The Cardinals won their divison and they became ‘Division Champs.’

When the Cardinals when against the Mets, they will be ‘League Champs.’

And of course when they beat the Tigers or A’s, they will be WORLD SERIES CHAMPS.

So what are you when you when the Division Series?  Division Champs is already taken, so what’s left?

Regardless, of what it’s called, we’re it and we’re there.  What an amazing ballgame.  Things were pretty hairy in that first inning although it could have been a whole lot worse.  Carpenter managed to limit them to 2 runs instead of letting the Padres open a floodgate of runs.

Once he had his bad inning out of him, I knew it would smooth sailing from then on as far as he was concerned.  But I began to get really worried that the offense wouldn’t come through and we would end up losing 2-1, or something equally ridiculous, and have to end up playing in San Diego tomorrow.

But alas, the Redbirds came through.  It was HUGE that they came back right away in the first inning.  I think that if they hadn’t scored then, something would have been hanging over them mentally that would have made it hard for them to score again.  Instead, they matched the Padres with two runs of their own and never looked back.

Carpenter and Padres starter Woody Williams then matched each other inning for inning.  Finally, in the 6th, it all broke loose.  The Cardinals offense racked up four runs, on a few hits, an error, a squeeze bunt, you name it.  And that’s all they would need.  6-2 was the final as again, the Cardinals bullpen looked just as good as they have all postseason.  Johnson, Kinney and Wainwright might be young, but they have been absolutely lights out and at this point, I would trust any game on the line in Wainwright’s hands.

But, here is the strange thing about all of this.  And I’m sure most people will think I am crazy for saying this, but I am wondering if any Cardinal fans out there agree with me.  I feel that this is the best we have ever played in postseason in the last few years, YET I feel this is the hardest we’ve had to work to be there.

Does that make sense?  Is that even possible?  If we’re having to work that much harder, then why are we playing so well?  Because I really feel that we are.  So much has been clicking lately, even in the game we dropped to the Padres.  I feel that this year’s team has a better chance of making the WS than last year’s team.  But that’s strange, considering this team had to use 4 games to get past the Padres in divisional play, but last year we were able to do it in 3.

So, I’m curious for feedback on that point.

In other news, I’m winning our little ‘pick the postseason’ game at work.  I accomplished this by completely failing the ALDS games (I picked the Yankees and the Twins….I’m still shocked that Santana lost, enabling the As to sweep.) and by completely nailing the NLDS.  In the NL, I indeed picked the Cards to win in 4 and the Mets to win in 3.  So, let’s hope that my NL predictions still hold true.  For the next round, I picked the Yankees in the AL, which clearly doesn’t matter, and I picked the Cardinals in the NL to take it in 7.  We shall see.

That was just a fun game and it was really fun to see the guys really get to celebrate.  A win is a win, but it was much more fun winning it on the field than by Houston losing.  And it was great to see Carp pacing back and forth the last few innings until that final out when he got to run out to his teammates, arms outstretched.

One last thing:  how about Ronnie Belliard?  This guy has kicked it into gear in a huge way for us lately.  I talked before about his defense and how his offense has been picking up.  Having him going is key, because it gives us a valid threat up and down our lineup.  It reminds me of 2004 when pitchers would pitch around Pujols, Rolen and Edmonds only to have to face someone like Reggie Sanders.  Belliard makes it impossible to pitch around these guys all day long.  Encarnacion came up big too, to drive in what would be the game winner after Williams walked Albert.

Well, all is well and it’s a great time of year to be a Cardinals fan.  Maybe going in this year as the "heavy underdog" as the announcers put it is what we need.

We’re down to 8 games away until we get to Party like it’s 1982,