Have you ever noticed what fantastic wallpaper Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven make, not to mention cohorts Marney Gellner, Ron Coomer, and Anthony LaPanta? They'll go through a game running through inside jokes, rambling about random statistics, and showing the odd bout of omniscience -- and very rarely does anything they say make you stop and contemplate. Maybe that's how a baseball game should be, especially one starting at 5:40pm, just about the same time the kids are fussing, dinner is on the stove, and the dog needs a walk.
Thursday's 6-5 win over Seattle was no different. At one point Bert guffawed over how if he was Latin American it would stink because they would review his birth certificate and he would miss a couple of birthdays -- there was a joke about birthday boy Dennys Reyes in there somewhere as well. Later, Dick sounded a bit silly applauding Luis Castillo's brilliance as a leadoff hitter this season -- with 4 walks in 56 plate appearances, a .321 OBP and OPS around .600, I tend not to agree. Finally, Bert and Marney chimed in about Michael Cuddyer struggling to see in right field, only to see him lose one in the sun about six innings later.
But amongst all of that Tom-foolery, a fine telecast of an important Twins' victory, one statistic repeated by each member of the team nearly got by me... and then, once I thought about it, the fact shocked me as much as any I had heard in awhile:
This three game sweep by Minnesota at Seattle was the first since 1996.
Like I said, not much to think about except... 1996? This 1996? Go ahead and think back 11 years, if you dared to even flip on channel nine and watch Twins' games at that point. We're talking Jeff Reboulet, Rich Becker and the lovely Scott Stahoviak, people. It frankly shocked the system to think that team swept anyone on the road. But the Mariners? We're talking about a defending AL West Champion team in 1996 that had four probable HALL OF FAMERS on it -- Griffey, A-Rod, the Big Unit, and Edgar Martinez.
So, how exactly did that happen (besides being in the middle of a six-game M's losing streak that all but killed their hopes for a repeat division title)? Wouldn't it be fun to find out?
Well, in game one, on August 9, the 55-59 Twins were coming off of a three game sweep of the California Angels (break up those '96 Twins!) in Anah... erm... Los Ang... at Angels' Stadium. The Twins sent Scott Aldred to the mound against Bob Wolcott (like I said, noooooo one was watching this one). Despite Griffey, Jr. hitting a two run shot before the second out of the game was even recorded, the Twins rallied for six in the fourth off of RBI hits from Gregg Myers and Marty Cordova and a three run home run from Pat Meares. Bizarrely, the last pitcher for each team, Randy Johnson for the Mariners and Frankie Rodriguez for the Twins, were career starters to that point -- Rodriguez even earned a save in the 6-5 Twins' win, his first in a season where he started 33 games. Even more bizarrely? The box score shows the weather as 68 degrees with a two MPH wind blowing "out to centerfield." The game was in the Kingdome.
The next day the Twins won 10-4 in a complete laugher. Scott Klingenbeck went 5 2/3 for the Twins' win, while the home team roughed up Sterling Hitchcock for six runs in three innings. All told, Tom Kelly's squad raked 18 hits, including four more from Pat Meares and three each from erstwhile heroes Dave Hollins and Matt Walbeck... what a squad!
Finally, in the Sunday finale, the Twins got a virtuoso pitching performance from Brad Radke. He went eight complete, scattering eight hits for three runs in true Radke fashion... not so common for Brad, he struck out eight batters, including Alex Rodriguez three times! Maybe he should've saved it for the 2003 & 2004 playoffs. Oh well. The Twins won the game 6-3, with Marty Cordova driving in a pair and Frankie Rodriguez getting his second and last save not only of the series, but of his Twins' career. He would go on to pitch 206+ innings that season -- go figure.
So, the next time Bert and Dick try to slip a little factoid past -- give yourself a chance to reminisce... or better yet, do a little internet research and pull up some memories you didn't even know you had. If the result is anything like it was for me, you'll never be more thankful that you're a fan of this proud 2007 Twins' team and the largest collection of "superstars" the franchise has likely ever boasted. Sorry, Coom-Dog.
Cory Caouette is a lawyer living in San Diego who frequently ignores his 10-month old daughter when Johan is pitching.