Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Twins No Hitter - 1st Since '99

Nobody is disputing the fact that the early part of the Minnesota Twins 2011 season has been a stinker, and that is putting it mildly. A lot of things have played into the early season slump or if you prefer meltdown.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who now definitely appears to be locked in at shortsop when he returns, has been out almost all season after breaking his leg against the Yankees trying to turn a double play. Justin Morneau missed some games with the flu and other ailments. Joe Mauer has also been out the majority of this early season with what was reported as the flu and leg weakness. He was placed on the DL and is eligible to return but yet he remains out of the picture. Kevin Slowey has missed time with shoulder issues and appears to be ready to return to a full schedule. Then there is Delmon Young, and I don't even know what to say here?

With all this going on the Twins worked themselves into the worst record in baseball. They just came off back to back beat downs by the Rays & Royals. It's not to say injuries were the sole reason because ooohhh nooooo, there is much more going on than just injuries. There have been numerous uncharacteristic defensive lapses, baserunning gaffes, hitting has been inconsistent and the starting pitching has been horrendous.

Ron Gardenhire recently called a team meeting to light a fire under a team lacking effort, passion, & focus. The question was did the team get the message and would they take it to heart? Changes are inevitable at this point, it is just a matter of who and when? It is extremely obvious that Bill Smith will do nothing to help this team improve after a puzzling offseason, he again is nowhere to be seen or heard. He takes no responsibility, even though he continues to refuse to find those elusive 1 or 2 players the team has been lacking for 4-5 years now. That means it is up to Gardy and the "men" on the team.

Well last night an unexpected hero emerged. Francisco Liriano, the softspoken phenom who returned from Tommy John surgery in 2009 and started to show signs of his old self in 2010, threw a no hitter. This is an awesome feat under any circumstances and very hard to accomplish no matter who the pitcher. Throw in the fact that Liriano typically wears down in the 6th or 7th inning, lacks confidence and has never even thrown a complete game and WOW!

This was also the first no hitter for a Twins pitcher since Eric Milton in '99 against the Angels. One that media members at the time discounted saying it didn't really count because the Angels didn't put out their "A" lineup, even though it was superior to the Twins lineup at the time. A rediculous assertion since no other MLB stat was discounted by who a team played or what lineup they fielded. Based on that assertion David Wells perfect game against the Twins wouldn't count because the Twins didn't have a competitive lineup. REDICULOUS! These accomplishments are difficult and impressive no matter when you play a team or who they field. It is the big stage and very hard to do! For it to happen against the hated White Sux in a 1-0 victory after this difficult start makes it even sweeter.

Hopefully this is the spark the team needs to get going and turn the corner towards a successful season. It is time for a leader(s) to emerge on this team and hold people accountable. It is also time for Bill Smith to join the fun and be accountable for this fiasco his lack of leadership and laziness has created. Go out and get the missing pieces now before it is too late. We are already behind the eight ball. Do your part Willy!

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