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The Bleacher Bums: June 11, 2007 Archive

Twins fan lends a helping hand

Posted at 8:55 AM on June 11, 2007 by Chris Dall

Here's a note from MPR producer Jim Bickal, who was inspired to send us the following note after watching yesterday's 6-3 victory over the Washington Nationals:

I’ll admit that I’ve often thought about how fun it would be to have a chance as a fan to do something that would help my team win a game. Of course, the opportunities to do this are rare. I figured I would have to be sitting in the first row down one of the foul lines and a Twins batter would hit a ball that was in the stands but playable by an opposing fielder. Knowing that a fan can touch a ball that is in the stands without being called for interference, I would be sure to grab the foul pop, thus preventing the fielder from making the play and giving the Twins batter another chance to hit.

But in Sunday’s game a fan did something that had an even bigger impact on the game. In the first inning with a runner on second base, Nationals first baseman Dmitri Young hit a ball in the upper deck down the right field line that was initially ruled a home run. But Twins manager Ron Gardenhire argued that the ball was foul and after all the umpires discussed the play, the call was reversed. Gardenhire was able to make a convincing argument because spectator Brent Webber of Sartell, who caught the ball with his bare hands, was clearly in foul territory. Had Webber muffed the catch leading to a scramble for the ball, Gardenhire wouldn’t have had a clear marker to show that the ball was foul.

Vive la fan!

Is the retaliation rule unfair?

Posted at 9:06 AM on June 11, 2007 by Chris Dall

I don't know how many of you caught the Cubs-Braves tilt on ESPN last night, but it was an interesting case study on MLB's zero tolerance policy on knockdown pitches, which has been an object of contention since umpires started applying the rule more strictly during the 2001. Under the rule, after a knockdown pitch occurs, an umpire can issue a warning to both teams not to throw at any more hitters, and if a pitcher retaliates, an ejection usually ensues.

In the first inning of last night's game, Cubs starter Ted Lilly was ejected after hitting Braves shortstop Edgar Renteria. The pitch, and the ejection, were most likely a result of an incident from the previous game, in which Braves pitcher Tim Hudson hit Alfonso Soriano. Some observers felt Hudson's pitch had something to do with Soriano hitting three home runs in the Friday night's 9-1 win over the Braves, though he claimed otherwise. Hudson was not tossed from Saturday's game, and according to the the ESPN announcers, no warnings were issued by the umpires prior to the Sunday night game.

So the Cubs were without out their starting pitcher after only two outs, and were forced to blow out their bullpen just to make it through the game. And during the next at-bat, Renteria stole second base and went in hard, so hard that his forearm ended up in the face of Cubs 2nd baseman Mike Fontenot. The Cubs fought gamely, but ended up losing 5-4.

Needless to say, Cubs fans are a bit ticked off. ESPN's Jon Miller and Joe Morgan both thought the ejection was unwarranted. Braves fans, on other hand, weren't too bothered. From MLB's perspective the ejection served the greater purpose of averting an ugly brawl, which might have been the result under the "let the players police the game" policy that had been in place prior to 2001.

As an objective fan (ok, not really. I can't stand the Braves), it seems the Cubs got hosed on this deal. One of their best hitters got knocked down, they lost their starting pitcher after two outs, and their second baseman nearly had his nose broken. The Braves, one could argue, instigated the whole thing (with Hudson's knockdown of Soriano) and got to retaliate too (with Renteria's slide into second), all without consequence. Does that seem fair?

Bob Barker and baseball

Posted at 9:31 AM on June 11, 2007 by Steve Rudolph

Baseball fans, come on down!

Legendary game show host Bob Barker is retiring from “The Price is Right” this week, so I’ve decided to borrow the concept of the one show’s games to take a look at the how the 2007 season might end.

I’ll throw out a number and what I think it could correspond to at season's end. I’m curious to learn if you think the actual result will end up higher or lower. I’ll post my thoughts on the each item in Wednesday’s posting.

Let the games begin...

17 – The number of wins Johan Santana will record this year. He’s currently 6-6 and probably has about 20 starts left. Last year he won 20 games. In 2005, Santana recorded 16 wins, he won 19 games in 2004.

95 – The number of wins it will take to earn the A.L. Wild Card berth this year. The Tigers won 95 last year. Boston won 95 when it claimed the last playoff spot in 2005.

1 – Twins Rawlings Gold Glove award winners in 2007. Torii Hunter has been a lock in this category. Will he finally have some company?

40Justin Morneau’s homerun tally this season. The A.L. MVP parked 34 last season and has 17 in the team’s first 61 games.

5Homeruns by the rest of the Twins infield. Bartlett and Punto went deep in the same game last week. Castillo hit three last season, but is still looking for his first of 2007.

Tune back on Wednesday when I reveal my answers. Until then, I want to hear what you think.

I almost forgot. Before I sign off Bob wanted to remind you to help control the pet population – spay and neuter your pet today.

June 2007
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