I took a week off from the paper, now I'm back at it. Spent Monday at Target Field.
To me, this felt like the first ``normal'' game of the season. The first homestand felt, to me, like one long party. This felt like a routine game in the middle of a season.
I'm not sure the crowd felt the same way. Scott Baker said the atmosphere was still electric (hard for us to tell in the press box, with the windows closed), and the Twins dominated the Tigers, 10-4, mashing Max Scherzer for 10 earned runs in 4 1/3 innings.
And that was without Joe Mauer.
Wilson Ramos keeps displaying quick hands and a powerful swing. He's 7-for-9. Tom Kelly and Rick Stelmaszek used to tell me that noone got hits ``faster'' than Kirby Puckett. So far, the same can be said of Ramos - he picks the first hittable pitch and mashes it somewhere.
Just for fun: He's hitting .778 with a slugging percentage of 1.111 and an on-base percentage of .778.
He also throws extremely well, and Baker said Ramos is a willing student behind the plate.
So what does a franchise do with Mauer and Ramos? I'm going to write more about this in the Wednesday paper, but here are two answers:
1. This year, Ramos provides depth. You can't overreact to two good games, so just enjoy the fact that Mauer can take his time coming back from his heel injury, and that Ramos can help at starting catcher, backup catcher or DH if needed. Injuries happen. He'll contribute in some way this year.
2. In the future, the Twins could trade Delmon Young, could lose Jim Thome to retirement or free agency, and Ramos and Mauer could share time behind the plate and at DH.
Let's face it, it's silly not to have Mauer's bat in the lineup every day. Ramos could help make that possible, allowing Mauer to play the outfield or DH when he's not catching, with Ramos working at DH when Mauer is behind the plate.
-The Twins are 17-9 and, as I wrote about in the Tuesday paper, a lot of team insiders feel like they haven't played that well yet.
To me, the most positive developments of the young season are Francisco Liriano's emergence as an ace, Jon Rauch's ability to handle the closer's role, and the lineup's ability to wear down opposing pitchers.
-We've tweaked my afternoon appearances on 1500ESPN. Now I go on with Joe and Pat at 2:40. I'm also on with Joe Anderson at 6-ish on Mondays and Fridays, although those days get shifted around according to the Twins' schedule.
-Reminder: May 20 at O'Gara's my band will play three sets, right after Steve Rushin's book signing at 7. We'll probably take the stage around 7:30 or so (depends on how long Steve commands the stage) and we plan to play three sets.
1500ESPN's John Heidt, a wonderful guitarist, plays lead, while I play rhythm and sing. Tommy Mischke is going to sit in on piano and harmonica, and Heidt and Mischke will sing a few of their favorite songs, as well.
Rushin, if you've forgotten, is the Bloomington native who became a star at Sports Illustrated and has just released the novel ``Pint Man,'' which I am currently reading. We're expecting a big crowd.
-My quick thoughts on a Vikings' stadium: We all know we're going to build one. Why not do it now, when expenses are as low as they're ever going to be, and forestall all of the possible problems and expenses incurred when these processes get dragged out?
-I'll be at Target Field on Tuesday, and I'll post again then.