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Preview: Turning The Unassisted Double Play

Turning The Unassisted Double Play

The most artistic play in baseball arguably is the unassisted double play. It even bests the unassisted triple play in that the triple play is more confined. The unassisted double play is free and flowing. It energizes a player and a game like none other.

Updated: 2014-10-06T20:01:35.322-05:00


Hiatus Over


Sorry about going MIA. Back when we clinch.

Working Out The TV


I think I've had the TV on non-stop since Friday night. NBC is doing a fabulous job with these Olympics. It's easy to follow and understand what you're watching at a given time. My only complaint is a little too much beach volleyball. It's fun to watch, but I'm having more fun with some of the more obscure events. The first medal event was women's air rifle shooting, a sport that would seem boring and very obscure, but I was amazed by it. They're shooting at a target no bigger than a nickel! The middle of the target, worth 10.9 points, is roughly the same size as a period on a newspaper. I knew nothing of the sport before watching, but by listening to the commentators and a quick visit to, I felt like an expert (not that it's a terribly complicated sport, but is great for learning quickly about any event). I was oohing and ahhing right with the commentators as someone would score a 10.8. Each event just flows from one to the next too. It's excellent, not to mention it's helped me forget all about the Twins losses on Friday and Saturday. I did, however, manage to pull myself away from the Olympics to catch the 8th inning on of today's game. It's just a good thing Canada won the game for us, 'cause if it went 15 innings and then the Twins lost, I would have really been angry. Think of the events I could've missed!

Now excuse me. I have to go watch Russia and South Korea in handball.

...Or Maybe Not


If things keep going like they have been with the Twins, this blog might quickly become Olympics full-time. The first time I checked the score, I was done. I hate to be pessimistic, but 8-2 is a lot and, I mean, the Opening Ceremony only comes along every four years (well, two kinda, but whatever). Katie Couric was annoying, but Bob Costas more than made up for it. I don't understand the pregnant woman or that weird sculpture thing, but it was at least entertaining. I must say though, the Olympic torch kinda looks like something that would be outlawed by most countries. It had to be said; you know you were thinking it.

A Programming Note


I, being a fan of all sports, even sports I have never watched and know nothing about, naturally love everything the Olympics has to offer. And with NBC and its assorted networks broadcasting Olympic coverage basically non-stop in the coming weeks, I will likely have the TV on 24 hours a day, and will likely miss many days of sleep. How this may affect my Twins watching remains to be seen. I may have to fire up the TIVO, or get the picture-in-picture going. Or perhaps I could take part in the time-honored tradition of flipping to Fox Sports Net during commercial breaks and quickly flipping back just as NBC returns from commercial. Tonight this should be made easier, since NBC and KSTC are just one channel apart on my cable system. From then on, it may get more difficult. No doubt, watching all these Olympic games will be a test of my endurance and stamina, but I feel I am up to the task.

So over the course of the next few weeks, expect a mix of topics here. I likely will write about what I saw during the Olympics today as well as whatever I can scrape together about the Twins.



One minute, the Twins are beating up on everyone who crosses their path, and then you look again and they can't beat even one of the worst teams in the league. But no reason to complain, because they won today. I called Morneau's second home run, but no one was there to witness this excellent prediction. Santana wasn't quite up to form tonight; just seven strikeouts in seven innings pitched. Dreadful, just dreadful.

Now we play Cleveland, which could have a huge impact on whether or not there's a pennant race come September. The truth is, while I loved the pennant race last year and I thought that having it come down to the wire last year made clinching so much better, I'd rather have us clinch early on. That way, I don't have to pull out my hair worrying about the status of the team.

Exhausted With Baseball


Back whenever the Twins figure out how to win again. Not that I'm a bandwagon fan or anything, it's just that 18 inning loss (which I attended) took a lot out of me, and if the Twins aren't winning, I'm not talking.

When You're Hot, You're Hot


The two hottest teams in baseball right now: the St. Louis Cardinals are on a roll, as are our very own Minnesota Twins. The Twins are just on a tear as of late, and if things keep going the way they have, we'll be leading the White Sox by about a hundred games come late September. They won last week even with the Mientkiewicz rumors floating around, which I'm sure weren't easy. Now that the fine folks of Boston are learning how to spell all over again, the Twins played very freely tonight. They looked like they were having fun and just dominated the Angels tonight. This team is very fun to watch right now.

Mad props to Silva on his complete game shut out, despite having about seven base runners per inning. Great defense, great pitching. Hopefully Lohse can shed his recent woes and pitch a quality game tomorrow.

Eat It, Becker


Unfortunately, I missed today's game entirely. I, along with what seemed to be half of Minnesota, was at the new Ikea store checking out the swanky furniture with low, low prices. I would have to say that I enjoyed it, but maybe not as much as I would have enjoyed today's game. But I got a desk lamp and a pillow. Puts Becker Furniture World to shame, really.

Tomorrow is my birthday, but the Twins don't play. Just as well, because then I can go do something without missing a game. Plus, there isn't that chance for them to lose, which really ruins my whole birthday.

Switchin' Sides


We got screwed. I wanted him to be traded, but we got screwed. We got prospects. Scratch that, make it prospect. One pitcher. That's it. I've never felt so terrible after a win.



Just when things were getting so good, they get frustrating again. The whole team just sucked. Lohse sucked. Hunter sucked. Stewart sucked. Blanco sucked. Cuddyer sucked. Morneau sucked. I could go on and on. Just two guys didn't suck. One was Joe Roa, who in my mind has replaced Juan Rincon for best bullpen guy who isn't a closer. And the other, surprisingly, was Mientkiewicz, who played like a man who had something to prove. Which is fine by me. Maybe that's why he could hit for .300+ early in his career. He had to prove to the organization that he was worth keeping. Now he had to prove it again, and I'd have to say that he did. I just hope that if he's still in a Twins uniform tomorrow, he'll continue to prove it.

In trade news, the Mets got Kris Benson. Just as well. I was starting to think he wouldn't fit in with the team very well. It's just too bad we couldn't trade for his wife. For now, I guess Jodi Mientkiewicz (a woman who has nothing to prove) will have to do.

Moving Mientkiewicz


One way or another, this situation is less than ideal. At the start of the week, when it looked like Dougie would be gone by Tuesday, I thought it would be the perfect trade. And then the days lingered on. And now, after all the reports I've read and all the different rumored trade offers, I'm not sure on anything anymore. On one hand, if we do end up with Benson, I'm starting to wonder just how good he will be for us. He's not that spectacular, especially in a playoff situation (assuming, of course, that the pressure will get to him). I just get bad vibes from it all, really. But on the other hand, now we HAVE to get rid of Mientkiewicz. I see no other way. Him and Gardenhire are reportedly at odds with each other, and that seems to be where all this trade talk sprouted from. While he may not have been a clubhouse cancer last week, if he doesn't find his way out of Minnesota, he will become one fast. So in one way, I don't really want Benson, but if that's what we can get for Mientkiewicz, I'll take him. But I hope Terry Ryan is working hard trying to come up with something else out of the blue. I'm thinking maybe Mientkiewicz plays for the Twins tomorrow night and switches over by Saturday's game as he gets traded to Boston. Perhaps that's what the hold up is; Carl Pohlad is too cheap to pay for a plane ticket, so some kind of trade with Boston has been on the table all week. God, I can only hope.

Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Hey Goodbye!


Is there anything better than sweeping those damn White Sox? In Chicago? And all three games were really their own entities. Game one had Torii Hunter's tryout for the Vikings (my opinion: sign him up!). Game two had Corey Koskie getting more bases than all the Twins combined do somedays. And game three had Justin Morneau getting not one but two home run calls reversed, either one of which would have ended the game on time. But as it were, going into the 10th inning wasn't so bad, because it gave Torii Hunter a chance to make yet another phenomenal catch. One that I am sure burned in the hearts of White Sox fans everywhere. Really, I'm surprised after that catch that a fan didn't run onto the field and attack someone.

But I guarantee this sweep would be a whole lot nicer if every day of it we weren't more concerned about where Mientkiewicz would be going. It made it hard to focus on the game as a fan. As far as trading him goes, I'm indifferent for now. It really depends on who we get. But now that the cat's out of the bag, they need to get the deal done ASAP. The first thing I do each day is check to see if he's been traded yet. The wait is killing me. Especially since now I'm not so sure we'll be getting Kris Benson, so we could be getting anyone really. Terry Ryan has a knack for the surprise trade, so really, there's a whole grab bag of players we could be getting, and only time will tell which one he picks. I just hope it's not TOO much time...



Am I the only one who was rooting for Koskie to get hit again in the 9th? I'm sure Koskie was hating it, especially since he isn't exactly known for being free of aches and pains. But he could've taken one more for the team! It'd be his name in the record books, after all!

If it weren't for all the trade rumors swirling around, the Twins would have to be the hottest team in baseball right now. I mean, it feels like the last time they lost a series was in May. They're just playing excellent, excellent baseball right now. Hopefully, they can keep it up, because even if we sweep the White Sox tomorrow, then we face a tough Red Sox team, and the lead we have over Chicago could go just as fast as it came. But hey, if Oakland could win 20 games in a row a few years back, what's stopping the Twins from doing the same? I'm all for it, personally.

I'm Only Happy When It Rains


What a game! Little Nicky Punto slipping on the wet grass and injuring himself (though I must say, it was maybe the most graceful injury I have ever seen), Torii Hunter absolutely running right through the White Sox catcher, and of course, subsequently being booed by the annoying White Sox fans. Rad Bradke showed both sides of himself on the mound today, but luckily his better half prevailed. The only worrying point is Juan Rincon giving up yet another home run. He's really starting to worry me now.

And that's about all I saw. I was actually working too hard on finishing up the Former Players List (see below) to pay hard attention to the game. But I was overjoyed by the result. 1.5 games over the White Sox, this could be the start of something good.

Ryan Whitaker's Former Players List


Finally, I have done something significant! Something that will put me up in the ranks of Bill James and Rob Neyer and those types! It ate up my entire day, but it is finished! It's my list of former players! This requires a bit of explanation: a "former player" is, simply, any active player who used to play for a team different from his current team. For example, Barry Bonds is a current player of the San Francisco Giants, but he is a former player of the Pittsburgh Pirates. What I have spent pretty much every waking hour of today doing was finding the team that has the most former players. A player could have more than one former team (and many did). My inspiration for this is all the times I've watched the Twins play the Boston Red Sox or some other team and when the likes of David Ortiz or Todd Walker or whoever come up to bat, I always think "former Twin, David Ortiz." It made me wonder just where the Twins stand in former players. I got my current roster info from each team's official roster page and former team info from All roster info is current as of today, July 26th. Now then, without further adieu, I bring you Ryan Whitaker's Former Players List: Former Players By Team: Anaheim: 22 (Mike Fetters, Steve Sparks, Jason Grimsley, Kent Mercker, Scott Schoeneweis, Jamie Burke, Todd Greene, Al Levine, Matt Perisho, Damion Easley, Orlando Palmeiro, Brian Anderson, Darrell May, Matt Wise, Mark McLemore, Ismael Valdes, Phil Nevin, J.T. Snow, Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Scott Spiezio, Jim Edmonds, Brad Fullmer) Arizona: 28 (Jose Guillen, Ken Huckaby, Karim Garcia, Alan Embree, Curt Schilling, Mike DiFelice, Lenny Harris, Brian Anderson, Dennys Reyes, Duaner Sanchez, Chris Capuano, Chad Moeller, Craig Counsell, Lyle Overbay, John Patterson, Tony Batista, Ricky Bottalico, Bret Prinz, Damian Miller, Erubiel Durazo, Felix Rodriguez, Mike Myers, Jeff Suppan, Tony Womack, Reggie Sanders, Rod Barajas, David Dellucci, Miguel Batista) Atlanta: 38 (Danny Bautista, Javy Lopez, Alan Embree, Greg Maddux, Kent Mercker, Mike Remlinger, Paul Bako, Steve Reed, Vinny Castilla, Mike Mordecai, Darrell May, Rudy Seanez, Tony Graffanino, Odalis Perez, Jose Hernandez, Wes Helms, Terry Mulholland, Henry Blanco, Tom Glavine, Mike Stanton, Kenny Lofton, Gary Sheffield, Jermaine Dye, Roberto Hernandez, Kevin Millwood, Randall Simon, Ryan Klesko, Marquis Grissom, Michael Tucker, Bret Boone, Ray King, Jason Marquis, Reggie Sanders, Robert Fick, Rey Sanchez, Brian Jordan, Kerry Lightenberg, Justin Speier) Baltimore: 33 (Mike Fetters, Roberto Alomar, Steve Finley, Curt Schilling, Mike Timlin, Kent Mercker, Willie Harris, Tim Laker, Casey Blake, Travis Driskill, Charles Johnson, Jason Johnson, Esteban Yan, Armando Benitez, Jeff Conine, Tony Batista, Scott Erickson, Todd Zeile, Mark McLemore, Tim Worrell, Jose Mesa, Willis Roberts, David Wells, Deivi Cruz, Jamie Moyer, Brook Fordyce, John Wasdin, David Dellucci, Gary Matthews, Sean Douglass, Kerry Lightenberg, Josh Towers, Gregg Zaun) Boston: 38 (Aaron Sele, Casey Fossum, Carlos Baerga, Shea Hillenbrand, Kent Mercker, Todd Walker, Carl Everett, Todd Jones, Bob Howry, Lou Merloni, Jeff Fassero, Tim Harikkala, Ugueth Urbina, Josias Manzanillo, Kirk Bullinger, Roger Clemens, Darren Oliver, Rudy Seanez, Matt Stairs, Jose Offerman, Sunny Kim, Mike Stanton, Cliff Floyd, Tom Gordon, Paul Quantrill, John Flaherty, Tony Clark, Scott Hatteberg, Rheal Cormier, Chris Stynes, Rod Beck, Dustin Hermanson, Jamie Moyer, Jeff Suppan, Rey Sanchez, Ron Mahay, Brian Shouse, John Wasdin) Cubs: 55 (Jose Molina, Josh Paul, Luis Gonzalez, Antonio Alfonseca, Juan Cruz, Robert Machado, Rafael Palmeiro, Terry Adams, Mark Bellhor[...]

Enough With The Time Travel!


Just a few days ago, I discovered that the Twins woes were due to the '90s becoming hip and cool again. Luckily, Henry Blanco took the Twins out of that fad. But now I turn on the game today, and what do I see but the retro uniforms?! When will they learn?! If the Twins want to look back to years past, how about 2002 and 2003, the years when we won the division? Hey guys, remember people like Kenny Rogers and Rick Reed? Eddie Guardado? Remember him? Yeah, those were good times. Not the '70s. The '70s had disco. That's so not cool.

Now, according to the Twins website, the Twins used the blue uniforms from 1973 to 1986 (I had to look it up because that's before my time). 1973 was also the first year of Frank Quilici as manager. Despite having about the coolest name a manager could have, that did not translate onto the field, and he was gone after 1975. In the years of the blue uniforms, the Twins were better than .500 just four times, and the best they could do in the AL West was third. The rock bottom worst were the 60-102 1982 Twins, which, at a glance, appears to be the worst Twins team ever. Sure, the 1982 Twins had Kent Hrbek and Gary Gaetti and Tom Brunansky and, uh, Butch Wynegar.

Hell, they even had Randy Johnson! Granted, he wasn't the future hall of fame pitcher that today mows down batters well into his 40's, but rather just a light-hitting DH who played just two seasons. Actually, looking up Randy "Not The Pitcher" Johnson's info, I learned that the Twins got him as a PTBNL from the White Sox in a deal that sent the Twins Ivan Mesa, Ronnie Perry and cash for Jerry Koosman before the 1981 season. Then, years later in 1985, the Twins traded him back to the White Sox along with Ron Scheer in exchange for a one Roy Smalley.

Surely, the 1982 Twins are no one to imitate, Randy Johnson or not. Unfortunately, Joe Roa hadn't checked the Twins history, where the greatest highlight from that era was starting play in the Metrodome, and he did his best Terry Felton impression (loser of 13 games in 1982, in relief). Just as well. I was starting to wonder if maybe the Twins had avoided the late '90s and focused in on 1991 only, and that was the reason for their five game winning streak. One loss isn't so bad after five wins. But let's just see some regular uniforms tomorrow, guys.

Who Are These Guys?


Doug Mientkiewicz? Corey Koskie? Torii Hunter? Who the hell? Come on, Gardy! Where's the LeCroys and the Puntos we all know and love? Seriously, who is this man Mientkiewicz and what makes him a better first baseman than Morneau? Surely the bubble gum does not make the man. And Torii Hunter? Does the two I's make him better than Lew Ford, who has none? I think I remember hearing something of a one Cordel Koskie before, but I think maybe it was just someone who badly typoed on "Cuddyer." I don't think it's September yet, so they must not be the call-ups. I just don't get it.

Well, whoever these nobodys are, they managed to collaborate (was I watching the Red Wings instead? Was it FSN and not KSTC? Don't tell me it was a Saints game!) for the Twins fifth win in a row. Mighty impressive, I must say. Then again, it is Kansas City/Tampa Bay/Baltimore. Not exactly the dynasties of our time. But they all count in the records the same.

Screw Tennis


I actually attended this afternoon's game. Not that I was planning to. I actually went downtown to watch some tennis at One Financial Plaza, as they were having the Aquatennial Plaza Tennis tournament. But after watching one mildly entertaining match and no longer able to get free Edy's ice cream samples, I decided to ditch the scene and head over to the Dome. Because, as we all know, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all 365 days of the year, the Dome is the most entertaining spot in the Twin Cities. Or something like that. And low and behold, there was a game this afternoon! Oh my, how could I pass this up?!

And I'm very glad I didn't, for if I hadn't gone, I would have missed Nick Punto's first ever grand slam! Granted, I almost missed it anyway, as I had trouble finding little Punto in the batter's box. I turned to a fan sitting next to me and asked, "where's the batter?" He then passed me his binoculars, and there he was, so tiny that he was barely visible to the naked eye. So much power from someone so little.

And, of course, mad props to my man Michael Cuddyer, for hitting the go-ahead home run. Michael Cuddyer has been disappointing to me at times, but he really came through today, showing me why I should continue to have him be one of my top five favorite Twins.

Or maybe I'm just disappointed because he has about 300 career home runs in my MVP Baseball 2004 game.

Welcome Back


Clearly, Henry Blanco is not a man who enjoyed the '90s. For, unlike the rest of his teammates, "Oh Henry!" has resisted the Quantum Leap to the '90s, and seemingly has brought them all back to the present day. Which is good, because he did it just in time for Brad Radke to pitch. The Twins have been notorious for not giving Rad Brad enough run support, though they've been notorious for not giving anyone any run support as of late. But not today. Blanco spearheaded the Twins to 12 runs, which seems like some kind of record after watching so much futility. Now lets just beat the Devil out of the Rays tomorrow for the two game sweep.

Lets Win Two


This team worries me. Even in winning, they worry me. Grant Balfour comes in, and I basically start pounding my head on the desk. He's still pitching a couple innings later, and I continue to pound my head on the desk. It's just terrible to watch. Even when they win.

Except Lew Ford. And Justin Morneau. Now those two, they are good to watch. The rest of 'em, not so much.

Does Matthew LeCroy ever do anything other than strike out? I think I remember him once hitting a home run or two, but it's all so blurry now...



They won!

What? You want more than three words? Try two wins in a row first. We'll see from there.

Bringing It Back Old School


There is just one explanation for the last few games that I can see. Clearly the Twins have been enthralled, as have I, in VH1's "I Love The '90s." However, unlike I, the Twins have taken the show to heart and have obviously decided to bring themselves back to the '90s. Not the good part of the '90s, like, say, 1991. No, we're talking 1997 or so. Remember when? LaTroy Hawkins was not only a Twin still, but a starter at that! "Everyday" Eddie was just a relief pitcher, not the closer that gave us all heart attacks nightly. Rick "Christina" Aguilera was the closer way back when. Yeah, they had Torii Hunter back then, but only for one game. And he didn't even have an at-bat in that game.

In fact, the one apperance by Torii Hunter and Brad Radke (who, admittedly, did win 20 games that season, so he must not have cable TV) are the only Twins still with the modern day Twins. Which might explain youngsters like Lew Ford and Grant Balfour's fascination with the Twins of old. They don't know what sucking is like. All they know is being in a two-time division champion organization. But let me tell you, Aaron Fultz and Nick Punto, it's no fun. You only get one All-Star! I mean, sure, we only had one this year too, but at least Lew Ford got consideration! You get one, and that's it. Some people even argue that you shouldn't even have the one (though when it's Chuck Knoblauch, even I would argue that we shouldn't have had one). And if you think the attendance is bad now, think of how bad it is when even the die-hards won't show up?

Hopefully, you kids will shape up and learn the mistakes of your ways and turn back towards the ballclub of great promise you once were. Or else one of you will earn the nickname "Mike Trombley" (I'm looking at you, Balfour!).



So I go to post about Thursday's game, and Blogger wouldn't put it up on the website right. There'd be the title, but then no text. It didn't work for Friday's game either. But now the Twins win, and it works fine. Clearly, there's a higher force at work here. Lets just hope that Blogger continues to work from here until November.

The game wasn't on TV today, nor is it tomorrow, so it's a fine time for Blogger to start working again, when I can't even really write about what I saw anyway. *Sigh* Perhaps this blog is doomed...

Back tomorrow (hopefully).

Piazza's Gay Ol' Time?


What can I say? I'm a conspiracy theorist. So how does the greatest pitcher of our time, Roger Clemens, give up six runs on a stage as big as the All-Star Game, one that may be his last, in his own back yard? In ONE INNING? Simple. Mike Piazza. Anyone see "Bull Durham?" I absolutely love that movie. And I couldn't help but think of the scene in the movie where the catcher tips off the hitter to what the pitch will be, just so that the hitter can whack it outta the park, just to spite Nuke Laloosh. Now Clemens certainly bears no resemblance to Tim Robbins, nor Piazza to Kevin Costner. But given the long-running feud, why wouldn't Piazza seek his revenge? Tipping off the AL batters to the pitches Clemens would throw is the perfect way to gain an edge on Clemens, because provided no one finds out about it, Piazza wouldn't have to deal with the media fallout. Imagine if Piazza did something wide out in the open to ruin the moment for Clemens. He'd never hear the end of it. His career may very well be ruined by that sort of thing, because it would be so underhanded. But tipping off the pitches? Who'd ever think of THAT? Certainly, Ichiro and Pudge and the like are no lightweights at the plate, but they just clobbered Clemens. There's gotta be something up there.

If only there were a bull for Soriano to hit. He could've won a free steak.

Break Time


Last year, the Twins needed a break badly. If the All-Star Break would have come any later, who knows what may have happened? This year, it's only a three game skid, but you get that same feeling of despair. Things were looking up with the three complete game shutouts, but these last three games have been real downers. Maybe it's just because Mientkiewicz has been out (who would have thought we'd ever use that as a reason this year?), but it's still rough. True, we get Stewart back after the All-Star Break, so there is hope. Hell, if we could win the division last year, it should be a piece of cake this time around. Nevertheless, things may get interesting.

I attended today's game, and I had fun even though there wasn't much to cheer about. I love watching Santana pitch, and aside from those first few innings, he was just as good as ever. Unfortunately, it was those first few innings that got him, but that's baseball. I waited outside the player's entrance after the game and had a great time yelling after all the players. Koskie was the only one who signed any autographs, but he skipped over me. Oh well. Like Charles Barkley says, "even if you sign autographs for half the people there, the other half will hate you." The mascot softball game was probably the highlight of the day though. Something about a shark and a bee in the most awkward play at the plate I've ever seen that was beautiful. I tried (emphasis on tried) to keep score of the mascot game, and I'll scan in my scorecard and post it sometime in the near future.

Also look for a few feature pieces over the All-Star Break, plus the typical thoughts on the game itself and the Home Run Derby. I love the All-Star festivities, almost more than playoff baseball. It's just so much fun to watch it all. I generally get pretty nerdy about baseball this time of year, which is always fun.