Trip to Target

(Better give Target Corporation their due, since they paid millions to have the new Twins' field named after them. US Bank just paid $220 million for naming rights to the new Vikings Stadium. One wonders how they measure return on their investment.)

On a whim, I drove down to see Byron Buxton's Minnesota debut Wednesday. I found a good seat online, and it was worth the trouble getting the ticket ahead of time rather than depending upon the integrity of a scalper outside the gates.

As I left home at noon, I had a nagging feeling that I was reneging on an obligation of some sort, but I couldn't pinpoint it and my calendar was blank. As I drove through Wadena, the activities director for an area nursing home called and said, are you still coming? Yes, I was scheduled to entertain, and I had failed to transfer the event from one calendar to the other. I hate to disappoint old people. I owe them one! 

As for the game, Buxton made a nice catch in center field, but was otherwise quiet. Milone pitched well, as did Fien and Perkins. Hitting was sparse, as it has been for most of the season.  

Despite the June swoon, the Twins have been playing a good brand of baseball. The starting pitching has been consistent. They continue to make the best of the other teams' mistakes. Every game seems to come down to the wire, which is good training for the young guys. 

Torii Hunter's "leadership" act wore thin for me a long time ago. Now, of course, he is saying his explosion at the umpires was to motivate the team. Oh, great leader, please realize that real leaders don't brag about their leadership after the fact. It ruins the effect.

TV announcer Dick Bremer contributes to the nausea-inducing psycho-spectacle by prattling on about the "mentorship" Hunter provides to Buxton, Hicks and others. Hunter reminds me of Chris Carter late in his career, when he viewed himself as a co-head coach of the Vikings. Just play, Torii. 

Announcers have absorbed just enough of the new baseball dogmas to sound really goofy. Yesterday, the radio guy--I am not going to look up his name because the fact that I don't know it says something right there--said that Byron Buxton "had a good at bat." That after Buxton struck out. 

A good at bat? Well, nowadays you are supposed to tire the opposing pitcher out. So, getting a hit after you run the count to full and foul off three pitches is a better that getting a hit on the first pitch, or so goes the argument. Also, apparently, if you use up eight pitches but still strike out, you have had a "good at bat." 

Silliness. The strikeout to which the announcer referred was earned by a reliever. Whether that reliever threw eight pitches or one pitch didn't make a bit of a difference. He was gone a few batters later. 

There's something wrong with Mauer--although just as I approached despair, he hits a game-tying home run. Only Bert Blyleven had the guts to point out that Mauer blew the game on Tuesday by fielding a hard grounder and not trying for a double play. Instead, Mauer plodded over to the first base bag and allowed the two base runners to advance to second and third. They scored on a single, giving the Cardinals a 3-2 win. Blyleven called it a mental error, but Bremer avoided criticizing St. Joe, as did everybody else. 

At the game Wednesday, I was the one you heard booing Mauer after he took two pitches down the middle and struck out swinging at the third. 

Thousands of Cardinal fans attended the series. I was surrounded by them. They were well-behaved and nicely-groomed.