Soxman responds to his playoff Maibag:
As a die fan of the Chicago White Sox, being asked to cover the Minnesota Twins in the 2009 play-offs impartially was not an easy decision. As a baseball fan, who loves the game, it was a no brainer. As one might expect, given the Twins history of beating up the White Sox, and the Metrodome being our “goat” or Steve Bartman (sorry Cubs fans), I can see how Sox fans might question my loyalty. Surprisingly, this writing experiment has garnered the appreciation of several Twins fans.
So rather than write the traditional post game review of game one of the ALDS, I figured I’d let my mailbag questions do it for me.
Soxman, great prediction on the Twins winning the AL Central. Did you make a bet in Vegas? Why did the Tigers pull Rick Porcello when he was dominating the game on Tuesday? Jay, St. Paul, MN.
Porcello is only 20 years old and had 170 innings on his arm. They did not want to risk a serious injury to him. He threw 92 pitches in those 5 innings striking out 8. They have had him on a 90-100 pitch count all season to avoid injury risk, similar to what the Yankees have done with Joba Chamberlin. On the Vegas bet? What happens in Vegas, stay in Vegas.
Soxman, it is awesome that you are a good sport regarding the Twins. Where did you think we went wrong against the Yankees? Scott, Minneapolis, MN
One stolen base attempt? That is not Twins baseball. If you try to slug it out with the Yankees you will lose. I think the Twins got away from their style of play, thinking they needed to put up big run-innings to win. Bunt, steal, take lead-offs and force throws. Get in the pitcher’s head. The Twins need to be piranhas and not try to be sharks in order to beat the Yankees. Play the game that got you here. AJ Burnett is a pitcher that can be rattled. Play the irritation game and let the Yankees fans know you are not afraid in game two.
Soxman, why on earth did the Twins not start Carlos Gomez in CF and opt to place Kubel at DH to shore up our defense? Al, Green Bay, WI
I will not question Ron Gardenhire as I think he’s the most underrated manager in major league baseball, but seeing journeyman utility guy Brendan Harris at DH surprised me as well. Perhaps it was the match-ups. It was one of my reasons I felt the Twins got away from their “irritation game.”
I met you at the Twins/Sox game at the Metrodome earlier in the year. Why did major league baseball force the game to start later after such a long night for the Twins the day before. They looked tired and flat. It was not fair. Karolyn, Egan, MN
As you know, there was a scheduling conflict with the NFL for Monday Night Football. Had the Twins not had the better record against Central Division opponents, the coin-toss win would have been revoked and the game would have been played in Detroit. The team with the best record actually get to select the start date and time of the first game of the play-offs. As you likely would if you had the best record, the Yankees picked the earliest time slot possible to gain an even greater advantage than they already possess with their payroll, home field, worldly attention, etc. The same thing happened with the Angels to win the ALDS in 2005. They beat the Sox in game one after ending the game after 11:00 on the west coast, flying from California to Chicago and playing at 7:00.
Soxman, how can you call yourself a Sox fan and cheer for the Twins, let alone cover them? My five year old son has more sense than you. Nick, Chicago, IL
While I respect you opinion, I also respect what the Twins have accomplished in order to win the central. Any true fan of the game would appreciate this as well. It does not mean I have to like them, but I can rise above friendly rivalry, tip my hat, and offer congratulations to the better team this season. It’s called good sportsmanship and it’s even taught in tee ball- just in case your son is planning on playing this spring.
Soxman, I think you are a sellout for the almighty dollar in covering and cheering for the Twins. Please tell me you have the swine flu and don’t actually like the Twinkies. John, Oak Park, IL
I saw “Zombie Land” over the weekend and like Woody Harrelson’s character, I do not like, I love Twinkies. The kind with the golden sponge cake. Yummy! I don’t have the swine flu. Get your analogy right as Minnesota is more of a dairy state. It would be mad cow disease that I have. I think I was asked to cover the Twins for my ability to offer insight into major league baseball and not because I’m a traitor. A.J. Pierzynski covered the playoffs for Fox in 2007 even though the Sox did not make it to the postseason. Does that make him a traitor?
Soxman, as a Twins fan, I must admit I respect what you do. If you are Ron Gardenhire, what are you telling your team after a crushing game one loss? Bob, Duluth, MN
It has been an emotional week and we were all going on fumes. Go home, get plenty of rest, clear your heads and we’ll revisit our game plan tomorrow. It does not matter what our regular season record is or how many HR hitters they have. We have spent this whole season proving people wrong and are capable of doing it again. Friday, we are going to play our game, not theirs. That’s Twins baseball not HR derby.