I know I haven’t been watching baseball for THAT long compared to most people, but I can’t remember a team ever living up to the hype set in the preseason so quietly as the Phillies did last season. Their roatation was by far the best in the Majors:
Why?: I know that it may seem like a no-brainer to some people that the Phillies got better this offseason. However, once I actually looked at the list of names, they really added no value to their team at all, and you know what? They didn’t have to. This team won 102 games last season and that was WITH a ten game losing streak down the stretch. I distinctly remember tweeting something along the lines of “Whoa, the Phillies have won 97 games and still have 12 games to play?!” (this was amid their ginormous losing streak). So, they could still most likely win the division by just treading water and waiting for Ryan Howard to come back from the DL.
Predicted Record Range: 95-100 wins
2011 was truly a fun year for the Cleveland Indians…the first half anyway:
Casey Kotchman, Jeremy Accardo, Jose Lopez, Derek Lowe, Felix Pie, Kevin Slowey, and Dan Wheeler.
Jim Thome, Adam Everett, and Austin Kearns.
Why?: This is a weird entry/grade. The addition far surpass the subtractions. That said, I usually don’t put in more than one or two players in the “Notable” lists that have been signed to a minor league contract. In this entry, however, I have five players that were signed to minor league contracts on the list. This serves as an indicator that a lot of the players aren’t game changers. In other words, the subtraction players aren’t that far away from equaling the value to a team that the addition players present, a fact which reflects itself in the grade I gave their offseason.
Also, Kosuke Fukudome and Chad Durbin have yet to sign, which may bring the Indians’ grade down as they were on the Indians last year.
Predicted Record Range: 77-82 wins
Now my second game at Target Field and you know I wasn’t arriving late:
This is actually an artsier picture than you may think. You see it is a metaphorical camera taking picture of the screen on which it is being broadcast on as I am the baseball catcher, being caught as a baseball in the device that I usually use to catch baseballs myself to catch baseballs which makes me … Oh whatever, you can get it is me being caught as I am acting like a baseball being hit into the glove.
That was 3 hours before the actual game time start. Since bp doesn’t start until 2 and 1/2 hours before I had some time to kill:
I wandered a little to the left of my gate and took a picture of the Twins’ former owner in front of Rod Carew’s gate 29. I don’t remember his name but my uncle knew him so he was the owner in the 60’s I’d say. Anyway, do you notice the funky yet beautiful wall behind the owner? That is made purely out of Minnesota limestone. Target Field is the greenest Stadium in baseball and part of that is how far the materials to build the stadium had to travel to get there.
I did mention the gate I got to Target Field so early to stand at, right? Well let me specify a bit. I got to the Stadium so early because of Gate 34:
Even more specifically, the fact that Gate 34 is behind the SRO section in Right Field. Since the gates are open that meant that any ball hit into that section would have a chance of bouncing to the gate where I could pick it up. I would have to be fast, though. As you can see, I wasn’t the only one that showed up this early. You can maybe see there is a person to the right of me in that last picture (I’m in the Twins shirt).
Things got pretty crowded pretty quickly. This is the view from the gate two hours before gametime:
That is my uncle Richard to the right, by the way. If that doesn’t give you an idea of the crowd this next one should:
Pretty self-explanatory. Due to the crowd, I was limited to one gate and when a baseball finally did get to the gate it was too far away for me to range and get it.
When I did get into the stadium it didn’t take me long to get a ball. Some player threw a ball to someone. I didn’t see the person but I saw the ball land in the rose bushes in front of my section so I picked the ball up. It was a bit out so I actually had to balance on my stomach in order to reach the ball and scared my uncle in the proccess. He thought I was about to flip out of:
Just a quick not on the picture. I love how it portays me as the haggard individual with the Red Sox shirt down and facial expression. This was obviously due to the fact I hadn’t gotten a ball the previous day.
I then left my uncle and went to Left Field before it got too crowded for me to snag anything. Clay Buchholtz quickly hooked me just seconds after I arrived on the scene:
The bigger red arrow points out where I was and still am standing and the smaller red arrow shows the path of the ball as it left Buchholtz’s hand. As you can see, the ball went a bit above my head. So, I climbed on the bleacher bench, jumped up, caught the ball, did a 180, and landed on that same bench. I recieved a bit of applause from the crowd but I could tell that from their faces it was applause that I was still alive because I was turning in mid air their faces showed sheer terror.
Guess how much I got after that toss-up: nada, nothing, zip, zero, zilch, squat, diddly, or diddly squat. I went back to the section where I got the first ball and was again the only one in Red Sox gear (no matter how much it pained me to put it on) but the player just weren’t throwing anything to me.
I called out to them:
None of the players or coaches would throw me a ball. I don’t know if it was that they saw me get the Buchholtz ball or what but on several occasions the Red Sox made gestures like they couldn’t throw it up to me and then threw a ball to a person without their garb five feet to my left.
I ended batting practice with my two baseballs here in this picture:
For the game, I just chilled in the SRO section for the game. I only moved back and readied myself for a Home Run when one of these three guys for the Red Sox came up:
Nothing came even close to the section but I had fun out there. It is similar to the Nationals CF area in that there is a lot of big board action. Richard got pictures of someone we identified as the PA Guy after extensive investigation:
T.C., the Twins’ mascot (TC stands for Twin Cities):
and a video memorial to Harmon Killebrew that the Twins now play everyday:
That last picture actually shows Killebrew’s signature that they emblazoned onto the outfield wall in RF to honor him. I go through the pictures because even though I didn’t see Killebrew play once he is in my top 10 favorite players all time because he was the only baseball card my dad recognized out of all the cards I had and because of that I did some research and found out what a great person he was besides the baseball he played. I would compare him to a Jim Thome in how he was. I am not religious but I also do not believe in coincidence and Killebrew died within two hours of my dad’s passing.
So how about we get some of those happy thoughts back in our head. My view for the game wasn’t THAT spectacular and it didn’t help that I was standing the whole time but it was still pretty good:
I think this and last game really set the tone for the trip in that it wasn’t great snagging wise but I had a great time at all the games I went to. The twins (my favorite team) beat the Red Sox (one of my least favorite teams) and Joe Nathan got the save. This would have made me happy on its own as he is one of my favorite players as well but it also made him the Twins’ all-time saves leader and it was special to be there for that. I don’t really know how to segway into this picture but I wanted to include it. So, here is Richard after the game:
2 balls at this game
Numbers 189-180 for my career
129 baseballs in 32 games= 4.03 balls per game
Time at Game 4:10-10:26