1. The Twins did a great impression of a team that can hit, beating the Angels 11-4. Cuddyer hit two bombs, including a grand slam, Delmon somehow hit two as well, and Kubel lagged behind by only hitting one. This now brings the Twins to 51-59, 8 games behind the Tigers, 4 behind Cleveland, and 1.5 behind the White Sox. We all know they can't win the division now, right? Good thing they moved the pieces that had value at the trade deadline to help rebuild a farm system that is pretty much in shambles. And let's just go ahead and not start celebrating just yet, because they faced Joel Pineiro who has an ERA of 14.85 over his last four starts and has a career ERA of 4.76 against the Twins. If they couldn't win this one, they can't win any of them. And now Haren will probably throw a no-hitter tonight.
Anthony Swarzak picked up the win in relief, going 5 innings and allowing just one hit and proving that, as hard as it is to believe, he might be their only reliable pitcher right now. I would have said Scott Baker before this, but he was pulled after throwing just 77 pitches last night. He had a 45-pitch fourth inning and didn't return afterwards, mentioning in an interview afterwards that you just can't recover from a 40-pitch inning which is the stupidest and babyist thing I've ever heard in my life. Seriously, could this team be any softer? Well, I guess they could, but then they'd be the Gopher basketball team.
2. Drunky McDrunkerson will be back catching passes from TD Jesus. Worth noting due the local angle, in a move that only shocked the very naive Michael Floyd was reinstated by whoever the coach is at Notre Dame. You may remember that Floyd was suspended indefinitely after his DUI in March, his third alcohol related issue since enrolling at South Bend. Irish coach guy had said he would either play in every game this season or zero games this season because "a one or two game suspension would not solve the problem" but come on, which way did you think this was going to go? Floyd is possibly the best receiver in the country and is about to break just about every Notre Dame receiving record - of course he's not going to sit out the year. And, again, I'm just fine with him being reinstated - college kids do stupid stuff - but what I'm not so fine with is one of the reasons they say he's being reinstated is because he "changed his circle of friends." So basically he sold out and turned his back on his friends. Didn't anybody see Above the Rim?
3. Speaking of movies, Bubba Smith died. This is only slightly sports related, but Smith played pro football for the Colts and other teams it's relevant. Of course he's probably more well known these days as Hightower from the Police Academy movies, however many there were. I tell you what, Steve Guttenberg may have been the star, but there was nothing better than when Hightower used his ability to make crazy sound affect sounds from his mouth that would always fool the chief and/or the bad guys. I still remember the first time I heard him, it took forever to convince me that those noises were really him and not computer generated. He was pretty good doing that in Spaceballs too. Unfortunately I can't find any clips on youtube for "Bubba Smith sound effects" or "Bubba Smith funny noises." Anyway, rest in peace Bubba. You were hilarious and talented.
4. ESPN has started unveiling some of the brackets from the kick-off and holiday tournaments. It seems worth discussing a little and I had originally planned to do a whole post on it, but it turns out my brain isn't on college basketball yet and I can barely remember who graduated from where or left early. Some of the things that are interesting that I know enough to talk about are
- Can Long Beach win the Diamond Head Classic? With their top 3 players back from a good team last year they have a shot. They're probably the second best team in this thing behind Xavier. Bad news - LBSU and Xavier play in round one.
- How good can St. John's be? They have nine new players coming to replace 10 departees, with six of those newcomers ranking in the Rivals Top 150 for this year.
- Northwestern should let us know early if they're going to contend for that elusive first ever NCAA bid. The Charleston Classic isn't exactly loaded with talent and the Wildcats should bring home the title. LSU, Seton Hall, VCU, and Georgia Tech all have the potential to upset, but Northwestern should be able to take this one down. Emphasis on should.
- Will Vanderbilt dominate? They have Jeffrey Taylor, John Jenkins, and Festus Ezeli all back from a good team last year. Beating NC State and Texas would be a great start.
- How will new look Purdue handle no more college KG and no more E'Twaun? How good will Robbie Hummel be? And Purdue gets a hell of a test out of the gate in Puerto Rico, taking on Iona - a mid-major on a lot of people's "good mid-major teams" lists.
5. What was your favorite "The Pirates might make the playoffs moment?" After losing tonight to the Cubs 1-0 that's now their sixth straight loss and not only are they no longer leading the division but they're 6.5 back of Milwaukee, 3 back of St. Louis, and back under .500. It was a nice fun story and they even made a couple of very smart moves to supplement the weaknesses on their team, but it goes to show you can't win without good pitching. They've been walking a tightrope so thin it's like Kramer sliced it with his slicer and you can't even see it with a rotation that included Kevin Correia (career ERA 4.59), Jeff Karstens (4.36), James McDonald (3.99), Paul Maholm (4.32), and Charlie Morton (5.28). You know sometimes the Twins drive you crazy because their whole rotation is a bunch of #3-#4 guys? Well the Pirates have a bunch of #5 guys (Morton has maybe #3 upside someday) so when the hitting goes, the pitching won't/can't pick them up. It's especially brutal to waste an excellent performance from Maholm. They've taken major strides, but until some pitching arrives to go with a pretty good nucleus of batters they aren't going to be able to take that next step.
6. ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod Yes please. Opening night.