Sunday, June 28, 2009

Get to Know 'Em: Nick Blackburn

You know how all the guests on Inside the Actor's Studio get asked that same series of ten questions? The concept is based on Proust's famous questionnaire, which is supposed to reveal all kinds of things about one's personality.

No offense to Proust or James Lipton, but I have much more important and pressing things I need to know than someone's least favorite sound....like whether or not they are pro-puppy.

So...I wrote my own fill-in-the-blanks questionnaire survey thingy.

A huge Thank You to Nick Blackburn for being the guinea pig.

I think you guys will like the result, because it's all brand new information and it's so much better than anything I could possibly make up.

Without further ado....

*****************************************
Get to Know 'Em: Nick Blackburn

My full name is Robert Nicholas Blackburn, but the coolest nickname I've ever had is Nick Nasty, Pumpkin Tits or Markoskies.
  • Nick Nasty--Probably my first nickname. I was about 3 or 4 and my dad was a college football coach. One of his players called me that everytime I saw him. I'm not sure why, and not sure I want to know.
  • Pumpkin Tits--Pet name from my wife. I hope she's not saying anything about me...
  • Markoskies--Given to me by Carlos Gomez. He says I look like Nick Markakis from the Orioles. And being kind of crazy, he somehow has come up with Markoskies. More than likely not on purpose.

If I could have any superpower, it would be to read people's thoughts, and I would use it to know what hitters are thinking. And know how to not make my wife mad.

My signature Karaoke and/or Rock Band song to sing is/would be Country Boy Can Survive--Hank Williams Jr.

I think Quizno's has the best food in the whole world. (I know it's just a sub place, but still #1)

When I'm super thirsty, I drink water (boring, I know) to rehydrate.

Growing up, "Ryno" Ryne Sandberg was my favorite baseball player.

I can watch the movie any Will Ferrell movie a million times and never get tired of it.

I think puppies are amazing! We have two yellow labs, 6 months old, Daisy & Duke.

*********************************************


Thanks again to Nick and Alicia for being fun and awesome. You're definitely blog favorites for life here.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

This is the game that doesn't end. Yes, it goes on and on my friend...

There are few things more satisfying in my life than being able to gloat to my Brewers fan friends during Interleague. It makes me very, very happy. So...yay! Go Twins!

That being said, tonight's game seemed like the longest game in the world. It felt like a twi-night double-header...except that it wasn't. Aren't NL games supposed to go FASTER without a DH? Isn't that part of the charm?

I have said it before, and I'll say it again. I HATE that this series is mid-week. It just feels wrong. I applaud the Twins fans who took vacation to represent in Miller Park...but there's just not enough. My favorite part of this particular "rivalry" is how we as Twins Fans descend on Milwaukee like locusts and take over one weekend a year. They pack the Dome and annoy us, we pack Miller and annoy them. It's the natural order of things, and this year it's just way out of whack. I don't like it.

And obviously we must discuss the most interesting tidbit of the day....Gardy informing everyone that Luis Ayala had requested a trade about 3 weeks before he was DFA'd. Apparently he was unhappy about his role in the bullpen. What a coincidence....so were WE.

It wouldn't be summer in Twins Territory if we weren't angrily shaking our fists at at least one of our free agent signings. And the best part about this revelation is that I no longer have to feel guilty about not liking Luis Ayala. I wasn't really fond of him from the beginning, because he made Bobby Korecky go away, and because he had kind of a reputation for being a punk. And then there was the losing and whatnot and the resentment just kept festering. And now that he's gone and we know that he left on somewhat douche-y terms, I feel pretty solid about my pre-season snap judgements. It's different if someone really wants to play for the Twins but just can't seem to get it together...I'd feel bad about thinking mean thoughts. But this way...I'm cool with it. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Friday, June 19, 2009

July 11th: Save the Date

I wanted to send everyone those cute little Save the Date fridge magnets, but it turns out they only make those for weddings. Not for baseball. Which is B.S. by the way...

But, this work too.

Mark it on your calendars NOW. July 11th. We are in the planning stages of a big and awesome Twins blog/Twitter meet-up day. Possibly a pre-game BBQ and/or other such shenanigans.

You're invited.

Details will follow, as soon as we get some things hammered out.

I love nonsense. And monkeys on skates. And Emilio Estevez.

So I had meant to post about this earlier...but I got sidetracked by the Favorite Things Apocalypse Now disaster.

But. Moving on.

People who know me best probably realize that there are 2 things I love most in this world:

1) Sports
2) Wasting time thinking about ridiculous nonsense

[Ooh...and puppies! So, I guess there are 3 things I love best. But for the purposes of trying to make a graceful segue, we're going to forget about the puppies for a sec.]

Given that I love both sports and nonsense to a pretty significant degree, you can imagine how much I love THIS!

Assuming each team is at its peak ability, you pick the fictional TV/Movie sports team/figure you think would win each dream match-up. It's amazingly fun. I love all of the match-ups, but I especially like Hoosiers v. Teen Wolf, the Wildcats from High School Musical v. the Tornadoes from Hang Time (Did anyone else love Hang Time as much as I did?! Probably not...) and my very favorite--the Mighty Ducks vs. MVP: Most Valuable Primate.

In fact, if you download and listen to this week's Play Ball with Amanda and Melissa podcast, you can hear my detailed analysis of the Mighty Ducks/MVP battle on ice. I would tell you how much time I spent thinking about that particular match-up...but it's embarrassing, quite frankly. And trust me, if you've never ever downloaded a podcast before...this is the one to download. Seriously. How many times in your lifetime will you get to hear my thoughts about the offensive effectiveness of ice-skating primates? (wait a second....don't answer that.)

And if you feel particularly moved by any of the match-ups, you should write your own breakdown and email it to playball@espnradio.com

I think an influx of emails from Twins fans who also love nonsense (and let's face it...there are a LOT of us) would take us one step closer to world domination. And isn't that really what it's all about?

And obviously, you should vote vote vote. Because as we all learned in civics class, if you don't vote, you can't complain. And then if Youngblood beats Justin Morneau's favorite movie Slap Shot, you'll have no one to blame but yourself. And I will tell Justin what you did.

And as long as I already mentioned nonsense...Today I felt like inventing a new word. So, I kind of decided that "jargle" should be a word. What do you think it should mean? My first thought was that it should describe the act of simulataneous juggling and gargling....but that seems like it might be limiting, you know? You guys are so good at the word verification game, I figured I'd open it up to you.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

These Are NOT a Few of My Favorite Things...

I woke up this morning with this awful nagging feeling in my stomach that something was wrong.
I couldn't quite put my finger on the something...but whatever it was was very, very wrong.

No, it wasn't that the Metrodome was the back-drop to an ugly game of Super LaRoche Bros last night.

No...it wasn't even that Liriano continues to force everyone to wear ugly unflattering vests when he starts.

And then it dawned on me.

No Favorite Things Baskets.

NO FAVORITE THINGS BASKETS!!!

I look forward to the Favorite Things Baskets the same way a small child looks forward to Christmas...or their birthday...or Pony Rides at the fair.

And during that god-awful Yankees series I distinctly remember thinking "Well, this sucks...but pretty soon the Favorite Things Basket list will come out and everything will be OK!"

And I waited. And I waited. And I waited until I sort of forgot that I was waiting for something.

And then today I woke up with that bad feeling I was telling you about....because Autograph Party Day is Saturday....and there are going to be NO Favorite Things Baskets.

And my heart is broken.

To be fair...there will be Memory Bags. They will have memorabilia and autographs and game-worn stuff. Or, as I like to call it..."Stuff I Could Buy At Nick's Sports World Whenever I Wanted."

This is not the same.

This is not the same, because each Memory Bag will only be fun for the one person who wins it. Favorite Things Baskets (RIP) were fun for EVERYONE. Because, even if you didn't win a player's Favorite Things Baskets (RIP), you could still see the list of stuff that was in everybody's Favorite Things Baskets (RIP). And you could learn things about your favorite players.

Favorite Things Baskets (RIP) were fun, and educational, and yes dammit...just a little bit whimsical.

It's impossible to play the "Which Twins Player Are You Most Like Based On Their Favorite Movies, Beverages and Snack Food?" game with dumb old Memory Bags. I suppose you could hire a handwriting analyst to examine an autograph from a memory bag looking for clues about personality traits...but that seems a little extreme. And expensive. And creepy.

Whatever.

Welcome to the Post-Favorite Things Apocalyptic Era.

I don't like it here.

It's dark.

And cold.

So cold.....


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pirates and Pridie and iPods, Oh My!

Well, hellooo Perk. Nothing says "Welcome Back to the Mound" like a little lot of run support from your chums.

[Ooh..I like the word "chums." It makes me sound classy.]

I enjoy the winning. I feel sad for the Pirates, but I do enjoy the winning. But I think I love Nyjer Morgan and Andrew McCutchen about as much as I can safely and appropriately love the enemy. Well...I guess they're not quite at the Ian Kinsler (who had a super-human almost Maueresque night at the plate)/CJ Wilson level yet. But it's close. Give them time, they're just new here.

And the Jesse Crain move....wow. I really didn't see that coming. My first reaction was panic. Because when is Twins' Family Day?! Is it this Sunday?! I think it might be this Sunday! Watching Jesse Crain's son play "baseball" last year was my favorite part of the whole day! This is potentially devastating. I'm not sure I can sign off on this. Also, what does this do to the team's Canadian ratio? Someone should look into these things. This is how my brain works.

Speaking of Canadians.... a rapid-fire Twitter-convo spontaneously erupted tonight about baseball team songs. I both defended the OK! Blue Jays! song, and also admitted that it is currently on my iPod.

This led to me to explore some other odd iPod choices and the truths about myself that they reveal. (I will try to make this baseball-relevant, but I can almost guarantee that I will fail. I'm multi-faceted. Deal with it.)

  • Many of the strange songs on the iPod are there not so much because I like them, but mostly because I like the bizarre and funny memories attached to them: Like, one time I saw Luis Castillo shaking his tail-feathers to the Snakes on a Plane song. Ergo, the Snakes on a Plane song is on my iPod. This seems perfectly logical to me. Similarly, Yoda by Weird Al gets a nod, because some friends and I used to have a game where we would sing karaoke at this biker bar and try to get as many regulars to leave during our song as possible. Yoda was the winner and gold-standard when we once made 9 people walk out mid-song. It was my birthday. True story.
  • I'm convinced that there is a fairly large group of brain cells in my head whose only purpose is to make sure, using whatever means necessary, that I never--NEVER--forget the "lyrics" to Jump by Kriss Kross. Yes, I can sing the whole f-ing thing.
  • I think Piazza, New York Catcher is much more fun when I sing my own version called Piazza, Eau Claire Catcher about the Northwoods League Eau Claire Express catcher whose name also happens to be Piazza.
  • I continue to be completely unapologetic and un-ironic in my love for Jimmy Buffett.
  • I have a wide selection of Twins players' walk-up music, past and present. But I refuse to add the Joe Mauer rap anthem thing. There is a line. I'm sorry.
  • Sometimes, when you're feeling blue, it helps to play air-banjo to The Rainbow Connection as sung by Kermit the Frog. Don't knock it til you try it.

Oh, and welcome back to Jason Pridie too! Giving my the chance to post this picture again:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Off-Day Hodge Podge

The results of the past 10 games:

Series loss in Seattle
Series split in Oakland
Series win in Chicago

Do you see a pattern emerging?

Obviously the logical next step is: "Undefeated for the rest of the season."

Fingers crossed.

It was really fun being at .500 for a day on Saturday. I thoroughly enjoyed it while it lasted.

And now we're home for the Pirates and the Astros. I've grown quite fond of the Pirates, and I can't really bring myself to think mean cut-throat things about them. Luckily, my irrational hatred of the Houston Astros can pick up the slack, freeing my to think happy fluffy bunny thoughts about the Pirates, while channelling my fierce competitive rage (I hate them. I hate them. I hate them.) towards the Astros later this week. It works out OK.

I'm working on a secret project that requires me to do some number crunching of real statistics (as opposed the pretend, but no less important, statistics that I prefer crunching.) Some interesting things I felt like sharing:
  • Nearly half of adult women in the United States consider themselves at least casual fans of Major League Baseball.
  • Women account for more than 1/3 of the people who are "Avid MLB Fans."
  • While the number of men who consider themselves loyal or avid fans of Major League Baseball has been declining over the past several years, the number of female loyal or avid fans is basically the same now as it was in the 1930's. And in the over-30 age demographic, the number of female fans has grown steadily.
Moral of the story is, girls rock. And we make up a statistically significant chunk of the MLB audience, even if the media and advertisers choose to ignore that fact.

And more randomness, thanks to Anna M, who emailed this to me....in case you haven't seen this yet. (I tried to embed the video...but it didn't work.)

Friday, June 12, 2009

I'll take it.

Did you ever have one of those weeks that felt like it was about 10 days long? Even though your calendar kept insisting it was just the normal 7?

That's me this week. (Hence my woeful and uncharacteristic lack of critical comments about the hideous white shoes, and general anti-adorableness of the Oakland squad. Poor, poor Craig Breslow. I'm so sorry, man.)

Which sort of reminds me of how I feel about that Oakland series. It feels like we lost a lot more than we actually did....if that makes any sense.

But at the end of it, we walked away with a series split.

On the road.

I'll take it.

Moving on.

I think it's pretty adorable how excited so many of the Twins players are to play at Wrigley. Maybe it's just what they need to give the good baseball mojo a little kick-start. That'd be sweet.

I know a ton of fans have made the trip to cheer the boys on. Safe travels everyone! Cheer loud...especially when our pitchers go to bat!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

If you can't something nice....

I honestly cannot remember another winning game that made me that angry/irritated.

As we all learned from Bambii's Thumper, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

So, here's what I have to say about the bullpen last night:
I love you Joe Nathan.
I miss you Pat Neshek.

That's it.

Amazing work by Scotty Baker. Kudos to the bats. Get well soon Denard Span.

Aside from that, I would just like to forget that last night happened. Which is an odd thing to think about a game that we won.

Of course it was the first 3 rounds of the MLB Draft last night too.

I understand why most people don't like the MLB Draft: It's boring. There's no immediate pay-off. There's no guarantee the draftees will even sign contracts or actually produce in the big leagues. Scott Boras ruins everything. etc. etc (Since I am nothing if not solution-oriented: You know what would make the draft better....pick trading. Seriously MLB. Let's get with the times.)

I like it anyway though. And this year it was actually marginally cool with the MLB's effort to connect fans by integrating Twitter into the process. They even got 4 prospects to Twitter their thoughts. It was pretty cool.

And I don't think I could be happier with the Twins' first round pick of Kyle Gibson. HUGE bargain at pick 22! There may or may not have been a little bit of happy dancing with that pick. Tremendous talent, and shouldn't be hard to sign.

The poor Colorado Rockies might not have it so good, picking Tyler Matzek as a pitcher ....a High Schooler who didn't even let fans enjoy the illusion for 5 minutes before saying in a post-pick interview "Well, Oregon is going to let me play some first base, so we'll see what the Rockies have to say," in response to a light-hearted question about how he felt about not being able to bat as much anymore. Good luck Rockies. Nothing like knowing you probably wasted your 1st round pick immediately. No waiting.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pacing myself

It's hard to think of anything to say about the Mariner's series.

This is mostly because I am trying to pace myself.

We have a long way to go on this roadtrip, and we're just getting started. There is a lot of potential disappointment ahead and I would hate to use it up too early.

Uncharacteristically negative, you say? I suppose so... But I've been bracing myself for the suckiness that is our June schedule for a while.

Hope for the best (a miraculous turn-around of our well-documented road woes and dare I say it, even a series win or two), expect the worst (more of the same...including terminal team allergies to playing with a lead on the scoreboard and hitting with RISP), and keep expectations manageably low (just try not to get swept by the crappy teams, OK?) has been the formula I've developed in preparation.

So far so good. Friday almost made me believe in miracles (a win, on the road, in extra innings even). But then Saturday and Sunday brought us more of the same. But, we did not get swept by a crappy team...so there's that.

And now that we're embarking on a 4-day series in Oakland (yippee), I've decided to do what I can to help the team. So, I've been Googling self-defense tips. Here's what I've found that might come in handy:
  • Don't look like a victim. Head up, be confident and aware of your surroundings.
  • Avoid poorly lit, remote areas. Lights, crowds and noise are your friends.
  • When attacked, you must attack back.
  • Almost anything can be a weapon (keys, pens, rocks...*ahem* baseball bats....)
  • When using found weaponry, remember: Anything you find that is hard and fast should be aimed at smashing against something made of bone, and anything with a point to it should be aimed at stabbing into soft tissue.
Good luck and be safe guys.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Kids Are All Right

The above title does not refer to anything having to do with the Twins/Indians game. Which was not all right in any sense.

So before we get to the rest of it, let's recap some of my thoughts from this game.

Dude, this sucks.
What?! Man, this sucks.
I hate Cliff Lee. 
I hate Cliff Lee so much.
Oh my god, we're gonna rumble! 
If this DID turn into a fight, I think it'd look a lot like the Jets and Sharks in A West Side Story.
No fight. 
Still hate Cliff Lee.
Oh...more sucking? Awesome.
Dear sweet Jesus, just make it stop.
etc. etc. etc.

Good times.

But elsewhere in baseball things were much more interesting.  The Pirates traded Nate McClouth to Atlanta. Which is weird. And, made me sad for the Pirates, and a little sad for myself and Lipgloss & Baseball and Company Woman Amanda (Got you linked this time!)...because our upcoming Awesome Pittsburgh Adventure just got a little less adorable. Nate McClouth=always very likeable. Frowny faces, all around.

Of course, on the bright side, here comes Andrew McCutchen!  


I'm excited about this development. 

Of course, his extreme awesomeness WOULD have to be added to the Pirates roster just in time for Interleague at the Metrodome....Hopefully the Twins saw enough of him in Florida to be on their toes. (Pssst......He's  speedy, y'all.)

And the Braves called up Little Tommy Hanson to replace Tom Glavine in the rotation. (Boy, the Braves were busy today.) He promises to be an exciting young pitcher to keep an eye on, if you're into that sort of thing.  Which, obviously, we are.

And the dreaded White Sox have called up young phenom Gordon Beckham to play shortstop.  He was literally in AAA for like a week, where he tore things up like he was Godzilla in Tokyo. This should be an interesting experiment. It's either going to a complete disaster (good for us, bad for them) or a terrifying success (bad for us, good for them). I don't predict much of a gray area here. Either way, it'll be something to see.

So, I'm glad that there are interesting things happening to take my mind off of this last Twins game.  This day game is Baker vs. Fausto Carmona.  Hmm....the way things have been going for those 2 pitchers, it's entirely possible that the scoreboard will look like it's a Vikings/Browns game. Here's hoping we come out on top! Go Twins!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Pinch Me

Who are you, and what have you done with the real Gardy?

Did I actually see a 4-out save for Nathan? 

Somebody pinch me.

Thank you Gardy.....just....thank you. 

And thank you Joe Nathan. And Kevin Slowey. And Brendan Harris.  And Go-Go! I've now watched the replay of that catch at least a dozen times, and it never gets less amazing. 

There are worthy baseball boyfriends everywhere, folks.

If we could just bottle some of that up and take it on the road with us, that would be great.

In Target Field news, did everyone see the picture of the planned Budweiser deck thingy?





Looks fun. When I first looked at it, I realized 2 important things. 
1) It looks like just the sort of place one might enjoy a cold refreshing beverage and some tasty waffle fries.
2) This blog has gone far too long with-out a post tagged "Waffle Fries."

And THAT got me thinking about my wishes for the new ballpark. Aside from my well-documented and futile wishes for even a minimum amount of climate-control, we haven't really talked about our hopes and dreams on this blog yet.  So let's do it.

Here are some of mine:
  • Walks Will Haunt animation (I enthusiastically second this idea raised by our good friend tammy!)
  • A cash-register "ring 'em up" sound effect for strike-outs.
  • Waffle fries. Preferably served in souvenir mini-helmets. (And here's the deal Target Field...if you give me waffle fries, I will try extra hard not to complain about being cold.)
  • Once a week cage matches between TC Bear and Bullseye the Target Dog.
  • Real fireworks instead of those weird red emergency flare things that they shot off on Opening Day during the National Anthem, which made me snicker, which made people glare at me. (Although this is on the list mostly for the benefit of others. I, personally,  hate fireworks. They make me jumpy.)
  • A mini-Target Field giveaway day, to match our mini-Metrodomes. 
  • Extra security to keep us all safe in that neighborhood when we're camping out for mini-Target Fields.
  • The triumphant return of the Cotton Candy Milkshake Man. (Please? Pretty please?)
  • A post-game concert from The Hold Steady at some point during the season.
  • More pirate dancing (someone please tell me you also remember the weird pre-game pirate dance from one of the games last season...)

How about you? What are you hoping to see/hear/taste/etc. at Target Field? And how will we collectively cope with inevitable disappointment?


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Caveat Emptor

On StubHub, someone is selling tickets to the final game in the Dome for over $8,000 each. They're row 6 in the Home Run Porch.

Are you f-ing kidding me?

I'm trying to imagine a circumstance where I would be willing to pay $8,000 for any seats in the Dome.

Nope, there is none.

I wouldn't pay $8,000 to sit in the dugout, with a special honorary celebrity Twin-for-a-Day guest like Adam Rodriguez or James Franco, much less crappy get hit in the head with beachballs and have people yell at you for not participating in the Wave Home Run Porch seats. 

No thanks. 

And this is coming from someone who actually LOVES the Dome.

I'm not really sure what the seller is thinking. Most of the other Home Run Porch tickets are selling for $50. Still a little too much, in my opinion, but for Dome history I guess it's OK.

I already have my tickets for that game anyway, I was just curious and bored.

Sometimes when I'm bored (ie, when there is no baseball), I look at StubHub for random things. Looking at StubHub can be really entertaining.

Like one entry, for Twins tickets close to home plate. The seller describes them as "Behind home plate.....by Joe Mauer." Which I'm sure would be a great selling point for a lot of folks. Except that the game in question is a day game after a night game, and the odds of Joe Mauer actually catching in that game are about the same as the odds that I will be called up to pitch in relief. Clearly, seller, you are new here.

And even more glaring than that little bit of probably-false advertising, is a different guy who boasted that from the 1st row Metrodome seats he's selling, you can "smell the grass."

Oops.

Those would be some pretty miraculous seats. Perhaps that dude was smelling some grass of his own when he wrote that.

In other news, it looks like I might be heading to Pittsburgh for some estrogen-infused baseball hijinks later this summer with Lipgloss & Baseball. This was an impulsive decision made in about 5 minutes via excessive Twittering, and yet....it sure seems like one of the best plans I've ever had. Go figure. 

(Francie & Co in Pittsburgh, you should email me at the addy on my blogger profile...I have questions and you are now officially our Pittsburgh Pirates experts!)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pressure and Perfectionism

First things first, a HUGE Thank You to Nick Blackburn and everyone who played on Sunday for giving us our first and only win on the East Coast so far. It was a big relief to finally get one in the win column.

And secondly, this weekend series gave me some ideas for how to make these roadtrips more bearable. First, we just keep a mic on Kevin Slowey all the time, every game. And second, Denard Span's mom travels with the team and gets plenty of camera time during every game. I love her. If we just did those 2 things, I think that the losing would be less noticeable.

But on to my main point, or at least a very close approximation to a main point...

I found Francisco Liriano's post-game quotes on Saturday to be oddly disturbing.

"Every time I give up a base hit, get men on base, everything changes. I don't know what to do. I don't know what pitch to throw. Just sometimes I get a little confused."

Wow. On the positive side...thanks for sharing. That's uncharacteristically personal and vulnerable, and the first time in a long time I've heard Liriano sound even remotely self-aware of his own humanity. And it's pretty honest. I'd rather he admit what the problem is, than hide it behind false bravado.

But...on the other hand...if what he's saying is true, that's a pretty big problem.

Working in the mental health field for longer than I care to remember, I can't help but play armchair psychiatrist when I hear something like that.

Sounds to me like a bad case of perfectionism gone sour. When things are going smoothly, the perfectionist is fine. Confident. Composed. But when something goes wrong, they aren't just disappointed or upset by it, which is a normal reaction. It's a lot more debilitating than that. They have a hard time functioning at all. And it takes a lot of effort to work through those issues and understand that things won't always be perfect, and you can't just give-up or melt down at the first sign of trouble.

And the reality is that Liriano isn't going to strike everybody out anymore. He's going to give up hits. He's going to have baserunners to deal with. He's going to give up some runs. That's the game.  And this isn't 2006 anymore. Things have changed, and he needs to adapt. He can't expect perfection from himself, and the fans can't expect perfection of him either. Sometimes it's better to settle for "Pretty darn good." And maybe, when things get sketchy, and you get confused, trust someone else. That's what we're paying Mauer and Redmond for. They happen to pretty darn good at their jobs too.

So...how to fix the problem. I've heard lots of people suggesting some time in AAA as the solution.  I'm not sure that would help fix the root of the problem. We already know he can be dominant in AAA. So, he goes down and breezes past opponing line-ups, and comes back up convinced he invincable again, until he gives up some hits and some runs, and he melts down, and we're right back to where we started. 

Rick Anderson made the right call by sending him back out for the 4th inning on Saturday.That's a good start to dealing with the issue. Yup...things were bad. Runs were scored. But the world didn't end, and there were still pitches to be thrown. And if the team doesn't already have Liriano working with a good sports psychiatrist, that should be looked into, ASAP. They were maybe just words of frustration, but if his post-game quotes didn't raise enough red-flags with team officials to get him some help dealing with issue, they're doing a disservice to the kid and his well-being as an athlete and a person. Some professional sports-related counseling can help an athlete tap into that perfectionism to use it for good (think of those great "It's all riding on me" kind of clutch performances, while controlling the negative self-defeating side-effects.  

And speaking of massive amounts of pressure on young athletes...how about that Matt Wieters? I was excited for his call-up, and I watched his first major league at-bat, with the rest of baseball-America. But the hype really made me cringe a little. I heard a lot of comments about how he is going to single-handedly turn the Baltimore franchise around. That's a pretty heavy burden to put on some really young shoulders. When it comes right down to it, he's just a kid with a bat, facing regular-season major league pitching for the first time. That'd be hard enough, even without the knowledge that messing it up would be simultaneously disappointing every single baseball fan in the world who happened to be near a TV or computer at the time. That'd take nerves of steel, man. You can't really blame him for going 0-4. (As many of us Twins fans were commenting on that night...Mauer's debut in '04 went quite a bit better at 2 for 3 with 2 walks and 2 runs...but who's counting?) But he settled down during the rest of the weekend and did much better. Good luck to him. Except when he comes to the Metrodome, obviously.