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Alexi Casilla could be next in line for the Nick Punto treatment.

Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

Souhan: Scapegoats of seasons past have their say

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN
  • Star Tribune
  • April 11, 2011 - 9:07 AM

When a team slumps, we need someone to blame.

Problem is, the 2011 Twins don't have many scapegoats left. I know this because all of the 2010 scapegoats wrote me notes on Sunday.

After the Twins lost 5-3 to Oakland, leaving them with just 24 runs scored in nine games -- second-worst total in the league -- all the old scapegoats said pretty much the same thing: You can't blame us any more.

• • •

Dear Twins:

Last year, we kept hearing how your hitters thought we were a distraction. So you had us taken out, removed from center field at Target Field.

How's that working out for you?

You should have been smarter than that. We have allies. Ever think that we're made of wood? How're your bats treating you this year? Not so good, huh? Think that's a coincidence? We have connections. They're called "roots."

We're doing very well now, thank you. We've found new jobs, with an organization that doesn't mind if we're distractions. Now we work for the Timberwolves. They're going to put us on the sides of the court, so no one can see Jonny Flynn playing point guard.

We hope you keep "leaf-ing" runners on base.

-- The Black Spruces

• • •

Dear Twins:

So I was the problem, huh? Yeah, I know had fewer hits than Milli Vanilli and my hamstrings were tighter than Tel Aviv airport security, but I did my job.

I caught the ball. I played on a lot of winning teams. I kept the doctors busy. I even hit .290 one year. And I never complained about the stupid trees.

Hey, with me on the roster last year, you averaged about twice as many runs per game. Bet you'd take me back, right? I mean, if I can ever get off the disabled list.

I just have one thing to say to Matt Tolbert, Alexi Casilla, Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Trevor Plouffe: Watch your backs. Twins fans love to blame light-hitting middle infielders when anything goes wrong. Take it from me: LNP.

-- Little Nicky Punto

• • •

Dear Twins:

So was it the dimensions? Or the tall right field wall? What, you're not going to blame Minny and Paul up there, shaking hands, for making you giggle during at-bats?

We noticed that Jim Thome hit the flagpole last year, and that on Sunday he bounced one onto the concourse above the batter's eye in center field. You don't have to worry about dimensions if you can hit it to another dimension.

Listen, you scored enough runs last year to go 53-28 at home, best record in the league, even while you were complaining about the difficulty of hitting home runs in your new ballpark. The A's didn't have too much trouble on Sunday, did they?

Keep complaining, and we can arrange for you to play in another fine, open-air ballpark. It's convenient, too. It's called: the Metrodome.

-- The architectural firm known as Populus

• • •

Dear Twins:

OK, listen, I know I had a bad year. I know I sent more runners than the guy with the starter's gun at the Boston Marathon. But it obviously wasn't all my fault.

I mean, some of the guys I sent actually scored. My replacement, Steve Liddle, might wind up getting a lot of runners thrown out, too, but he never gets a chance. He gets visited about as often as the Iowa Tourism Center.

Sunday, Steve held up Jason Kubel at third, and then Danny Valencia rounds first and gets thrown out. That never would have happened with me coaching third base. I would have sent Kubel, and who knows? If the catcher suffers a sudden fit of narcolepsy, maybe he scores.

-- Scott Ullger

• • •

Dear Twins:

You keep talking about how hard it is to hit homers at Target Field, but Derek Jeter hit one out to center field last year, and Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui hit home runs on Sunday that went a long way without our help.

Is it really us, or is it all in your heads?

Stop praying that we're going to go away. We makes the flags fly, we keep Dick Bremer from being fumigated by Bert Blyleven in the broadcast booth.

And I don't care what you say, we don't blow toward home plate only when you're batting. We do it all the time.

We're not even that strong by the time we get to Target Field. It's a long trip from the Capitol.

-- The Wind

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2:40 p.m. on 1500ESPN. His Twitter name is Souhanstrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

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