Last night was the first time in about 10 or 15 years that The Common Man sat down to watch a Twins game and knew absolutely nothing about the club's starting pitcher. It was ridiculously disorienting. This must be how a non-fan feels every time they are forced to tune in.
TCM had no emotional investment in Samuel Deduno, no idea what he threw or how hard. He didn't really know what he should be looking for. And so instead he just got annoyed at Deduno's stupid face (which was completely subjective and unfair), his flat, hittable fastball, and his terrible control.
Now, Deduno's almost certainly not a bad person. He's a 28 year old hard thrower with just 15.1 Major League innings under his belt and four straight seasons of success in the high minors. Normally, TCM would be screaming for a guy like Deduno to get his chance. But devoid of any kind of emotional connection and deprived of any shared history, all TCM could do was rage at the man.
And suddenly, TCM knew what his wife went through every time she was forced to watch a game with TCM, essentially knowing only Mauer and Morneau. And he became more appreciative. We all, as baseball fans, have loved ones who sacrifice to indulge our obsession. Some contribute time and some treasure. Some sacrifice their preferences for ours, their enjoyment for ours. Take some time to thank them for putting up with us, and for pretending to care about players they know nothing about, and whose scrawny necks they want to wring.
Bonus: Hey, today The Hall of Nearly Great drops! If you feel like buying a book and supporting this blog, feel free to click tha link to order the hottest ebook of the summer. The Common Man hopes you'll buy it, especially since he wrote a chapter in it on Frank Viola. Bill wrote a chapter too. So did Jason and Cee. There’s a lot of Platoon Advantage in that book, people. There’s also Rob Neyer, Joe Posnanski, Jonah Keri, Will Leitch, Old Hoss Radbourn, Craig Calcaterra, Jon Bois, Jay Jaffe, Jeff Passan, Grant Brisbee, Jason Parks, Josh Wilker, Emma Span, Dave Brown, Steven Goldman, Jon Weisman, Wendy Thurm, and more. Order through us and we get a couple of bucks thrown in on the back end. And thanks in advance for reading.
And one more time for good measure: Click here to buy The Hall of Nearly Great!
Pitcher of the Night: Barry Zito, 7 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 4 K, 0 R
Zito is now 8-6 with a 3.75 ERA. He is still not good, per se. He still walks way too many batters, strikes out far too few, and gives up too many homers. But he has had spectacular luck in 2012, and he plays his games in a great park for fly ball pitchers.
Hitter of the Night: Mike Trout, 4-6, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI
We're running out of ways to talk about Trout, who now qualifies and thus is winning the AL batting title by 22 points. He also leads the AL in OPS+ and stolen bases, and has hit 13 homers. Ty Cobb had the highest OPS+ of any 20 year old at 167, and Trout is destroying that mark at 175 (he's also beating all of Cobb's raw stats). Also, his defense is stellar. So maybe it's time to start thinking about whether this is the greatest season by a 20 year old of all time.
Defensive Play of the Night: Joe Mauer
We are obligated, in this instance, to call Mauer's reaction "cat-like." What a tremendously athletic play.
Injuries of Note:
Matt Capps, Shoulder/Fanbase Irritation
This takes Capps out of the running for being dealt at the trading deadline. One last screw you to The Common Man from his least favorite pitcher.
Matt Holliday, Thigh Contusion
That sounds sexier than actually "hit in the leg by a pitch and it really, really hurt."
Ryan Braun, Right Groin Strain
If there's a pornier sounding injury, The Common Man hasn't heard it.
Trade Bait of the Night: Denard Span, 2-3, R, 2 BB
Span has had a rough start to the second half on the bases and on the defensive side of the ball, but he's hitting and showing good discipline at the plate. With Josh Willingham off the market, the Twins really need to deal Span for something worthwhile.
Pirates: Andrew McCutchen, 2-4, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB
In the last month (since June 18), McCutchen has hit .490/.533/.929 with 11 homers in 107 plate appearances. He has scored 29 and knocked in 28 in 24 games. He is a (tiny) god.
Rays: Carlos Pena, 1-4, HR, 2 RBI
Pena's hitting just .198/.330/.368 with 118 strikeouts in 388 plate appearances. The Rays offense is bad, and Evan Longoria is still nowhere in sight.
Yankees: Derek Jeter, 2-4, 2B, R, RBI
At this point, it's useless to criticize Jeter. All of the lines in the sand have been drawn. Everyone acknowledges that he's a great player. One of the best shortstops in baseball history. Let's stop harping on his defense or on how clutch he is and just enjoy the fact that, at 38, he's hitting .308/.353/.411.
Red Sox: Carl Crawford, 3-4, 2 R, RBI, 3 SB
Even with his first strong game of 2012 under his belt, someone is going to find a reason to blame Crawford for last night's loss.
Nationals: Ross Detwiler, 7 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 4 K, 0 R
Call TCM crazy, but he's starting to believe in this guy more and more. A top 4 of Strasburg, Zimmermann, Gonzalez, and Detwiler seems pretty strong come playoff time, doesn't it?
Padres: Yonder Alonso, 2-3, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB
.266/.350/.373 on the year, which is not terrible for San Diego. But at 25, maybe we start wondering how much growth Alonso actually has left in him.
Rangers: Roy Oswalt, 6.1 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 6 K, 1 R
Oswalt has given up two runs in his last 13 innings. If he is rounding into form, the AL West is going to get very unfair, very fast.
Reds: Todd Frazier, 0-4, 4 K
Frazier is actually a pretty good player, but Joey Votto he is not.
Marlins: Carlos Lee, 2-4, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB
This is Lee's first homer since being traded from the Astros. He's hitting .290/.405/.419 for the fish, who are paying him no money. As little as TCM likes the Marlins brass, this was a good pickup.
Twins: Joe Mauer, 3-4, 2B, RBI
Any Twins fans who had the temerity to boo Joe Mauer earlier this season probably lack the sense of shame and self-awareness to realize they should just go drown themselves in Lake Minnetonka right now. Mauer's hitting .333/.420/.461, is leading the AL in OBP, and is second on the Twins in both runs scored and RBI.
Brewers: Francisco Rodriguez, 1 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 1 K, Sv
Yesterday, The Common Man pondered the possibility of Francisco Rodriguez taking over on the back end from John Axford, and it immediately happened. But Rodriguez made it an adventure.
Mariners: Tom Wilhelmsen, 1 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 K, 0 R, Sv
But if K-Rod doesn't work out, it's comforting to know that almost anyone can be inserted into the closer roll and have success. Wilhelmsen is 8-for-9 with a 0.00 ERA and 20 Ks in 18 innings since taking over for Brandon League
Pirates: Joel Hanrahan, 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 1 K, Sv
And it's not like saves are that difficult either. Here, Joel Hanrahan was brought in with two runners on and two outs in the ninth and a four run lead. Three strikes later, he gets the "save."
Dodgers: Ronald Belisario, 0.2 IP, 0 H, BB, 2 HBP, 0 K, Hold, Loss
Dodgers: Kenley Jansen, 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 0 K, 0 R, Blown Save
In fact, the rules for doling out saves, blown saves, wins, losses, and holds in relief is all kinds of messed up. Take this example from the Dodgers game, where Belisario came in to start the 8th, and walked a batter and hit two more in between recording two outs. Bases loaded and Jansen comes in and gives up a single up the middle, then has a 1-2-3 ninth. Boom, Belisario gets a Hold, because he left with the lead, but also gets hung with the loss. Jansen gets a blown save.
Deduno sucks. Capps sucks balls. And the Twins suck gigantically. I can't believe I watch their games...
I think Hanrahan walked a guy to load the bases, and then struck out the tying run to get his "save".