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The Bleacher Bums: September 21, 2005 Archive

The good ol' days.

Posted at 12:01 AM on September 21, 2005 by Josh Lee (6 Comments)

Remember when the Twins had a reputation as a sharp defensive team, one of the best in the majors? When other clubs looked to them as an example of how to build a team around defense and smart base running? The days when pitchers actually tried to induce contact, secure in the knowledge that their defense would chase down flies, scoop up grounders, and turn double plays?

Those were good times. Those times seem so long ago.

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All natural....

Posted at 9:07 AM on September 21, 2005 by David Zingler

Joe Bauman, who hit .400 with 72 homeruns for the Roswell Rockets in 1954, died yesterday at the age of 83. Although he did it at the Class C level (second lowest on the minor league ladder at the time), Bauman’s homerun total was the highest single season total in baseball history until Barry Bonds’ 73 in 2001. Correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t believe BALCO was around in 1954.

Speaking of our beloved Barry, he believes Congress is wasting its’ time with their ongoing steroid inquiry. He did not comment on global warming or the war in Iraq.

You can't blame Terry Ryan...

Posted at 12:13 PM on September 21, 2005 by David Zingler (5 Comments)

"I really would have liked to deal David, but I couldn't find a taker."
-Twins GM Terry Ryan after releasing David Ortiz

Although we had no idea at the time, December 16, 2002 was a pivotal day in Twins history. And it’s not because they selected Jose Morban in the Rule V draft. That, of course, was the day that Terry Ryan made what is regarded as his biggest blunder as Twins general manager – he released David Ortiz.

"This frees up some of the at-bats for Lecroy, Kielty, Mohr and Cuddyer," Ryan said at the time. "We'll get them a little bit more (time in the lineup). Those guys are ready. They've had their share of at-bats at the minor-league level. If they don't get consistent at bats at the Major League level, it's tough to get into a pattern.”

Since 2003, Matthew Lecroy, Bobby Kielty, Dustan Mohr and Micheal Cuddyer have hit a combined 131 major league homeruns. Ortiz, by himself, has hit 118.

Before we drag Ryan out into the street for a public flogging, we should remember that in 455 games over six injury plagued seasons with the Twins, Ortiz totaled just 58 long balls. We should also remember that, other than some whining by Twins players about losing Ortiz’s clubhouse humor, there was no public outrage over the move. The big Dominican’s time with the Twins was a brittle, enigmatic disappointment.

When the Red Sox signed Ortiz a month later, it was barely noticed in Boston. The following April, he hit .212/.311/.346 with 1 homerun. Twins fans looked at Boston box scores and snickered. Good riddance!

Of course, Ortiz would soon catch fire and become the best thing to hit Boston since Larry Bird. It didn’t hurt that the voice of Tom Kelly telling him slap singles to leftfield is a lot harder to hear in New England. Now, he was just one cog of the league’s most potent lineup instead of the only power presence in one of its’ most anemic.

With his booming bat, knack for the big hit and easy-going demeanor, Ortiz had more to do with the Red Sox finally winning a World Series than any other single player. Only Curt Schilling comes close. In Minnesota he was just David Ortiz – a moderately productive DH. In Boston he is Papi – the antidote to the Bambino’s curse. It was his destiny; the Twins were a mere pit stop on the road.

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