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Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968.

Reusse: Colon's casual style brings back carefree childhood memories

What did a kid do when there was nothing to do on a summer day in Fulda, Minn. in the mid-1950s?

There were two main options: You would throw a baseball against the steps in the front of the house, or you would toss a baseball in the air, get two hands on a bat and attempt to give it a whack.

These options were not always available, since we resided in the upstairs of the large house, and the downstairs was my father’s funeral home.

If a family in the area had suffered a loss, you had to check the schedule to make sure you wouldn’t be throwing a baseball against the steps when those folks arrived to pick out a casket for a loved one.

And if there was a wake taking place, you were encouraged to be quiet if anywhere in the vicinity of the house.

I was probably 9 or 10 one afternoon when I tossed up the baseball, took the whack, lost my grip on the bat and it went flying through a window. The wake would be starting in a couple hours, and even with my father’s love for baseball, a bat through a window of a sitting room in the funeral home was an inexcusable blunder.

Somehow, I started thinking about this on Wednesday night, while watching Bartolo Colon work innings 4 through 7 in a 4-0 victory over the Brewers in Milwaukee.

Colon went seven scoreless innings for the Twins, and he put those on top of a complete game in his last outing for the Twins.

The casualness and pace with which he did this reminded me of a kid throwing a baseball at the steps. I was the kid because it’s the only experience I have with that picture.

That’s what you did: You took a glance, zeroed in on a specific spot, and tried to hit it so that the baseball would return as planned. Once the ball was back in the glove, you would look around for a moment, maybe flip the ball in the air, and then get ready to make another throw as close to your spot as possible.

I think this vision came to me as the Twins were batting in the top of the sixth. The TV camera went to the dugout as Dick Bremer and the excellent analyst, Roy Smalley, were mentioning Colon.

And there was Bartolo, looking straight ahead, not much to do, but he had a ball in his possession, so he tossed it a couple of feet above his head and caught it.

Young Bartolo had to be a fabulous time killer on a languid day in Altamira, Dominican Republic. I’m guessing all he would have needed to occupy himself was a baseball.

I don’t care if he’s 44 and was making his 528th start (including playoffs) in the major leagues. Nobody can be the cool hand that was Colon on Wednesday, not even Paul Newman as Luke Jackson.

Colon’s strikeout fastball is long gone, so he basically has to keep pumping strikes until a hitter puts a ball in play. Every pitch needs a thought, and he gets the ball back from the catcher, stares at nothing for a couple of seconds as he contemplates, and then he’s ready to go.

As Smalley pointed out, Colon gets hitters so conscious of the fastball that’s down with a little run at 86/87 miles per hour, that when he goes with the fastball at 92 – high and straight – it can get on the top of the hitters before they adjust.

The thing about Colon’s high fastball is that it’s not so high that it’s easy to lay off. It’s more like an inch and fraction above a perfect hitting location … irresistable, but not the cookie it looked like approaching the plate.

The most amazing pitch of Colon’s night came when he jammed Orlando Arcia with a fastball at 84. This is Ozzie’s kid brother and a future All-Star as a shortstop. And Arcia actually wound up with a hit in this at-bat, but strike two had to hit the knuckle of Arcia’s right index finger as he swung.

It was a hysterical hack. The whole Colon approach – looking around, picking out a spot, doing so as casually if he was throwing at the front steps; flipping a baseball because there’s nothing else to do at that moment – was hysterical.

It was the most fun I’ve had watching a Twins game since back in 2010, when Twins games were fun.

Reusse: It took awhile, but Twins management caved in to reality

I must be paying attention to and hearing from the wrong people. I had no idea there was a groundswell from opinion makers with blogs and Twins devotees in the sporting public that this team had a chance to continue beyond the scheduled finale with Detroit on Oct. 1.

There’s a controversy that the Twins turned over starter Jaime Garcia after one start and also traded closer Brandon Kintzler with minutes to spare before the 3 p.m. deadline on July 31?

“Imagine my surprise …,’’ to quote Jim Brockmire.

OK, I loved the easy jokes available for us on Twitter comparing Garcia’s tenure with the Twins to that of Anthony Scaramucci at the White House.

The only shocking part in the Garcia situation was the Twins picked up the $4 million remaining on his salary in the original trade, and then retained that financial commitment to get an alleged better prospect in Class AA starter Zack Littell from the Yankees.

As for Kintzler, you could discern this early-on with the Derek Falvey baseball operation: The Falveyians are big on track records melded with new-age analyses of players.

This was discovered at the end of spring training, when the new bosses declined to be impressed with what seemed to be sizable improvement at the plate from Byungho Park in the Florida exhibitions.

Park came from the Korea Baseball Organization in 2016 and was handed a designated hitter job that he failed to hold. The Falveyians looked at their numbers – swing speed, whatever – and removed Park from the 40-player roster before the start of spring training.

Park tore it up in the Grapefruit League, and the assumption was he would return to the big-league roster and open the season as the DH. It is a 100 percent certainty that Park’s spring would have led to that decision for a club run by Terry Ryan.

That’s not what happened in the Twins’ new baseball world of 2017. Nothing Park had done in March changed the Falveyian view on Park’s marginal promise for success as a major league hitter.

Byungho has been with Class AAA Rochester all season and is batting .266 with nine home runs and 41 RBI. The DH bouncing back and forth between the Red Wings and the Twins has been Kennys Vargas, not Park.

A year ago, Glen Perkins’ shoulder injury and Kevin Jepsen’s futility opened the closer’s role for Kintzler in early June. There weren’t many save opportunities with that futile ballclub, but Kintzler showed enough to get the first shot at the job for 2017.

He was excellent for the Twins – so much so, that he was an addition to the American League All-Star roster. He is also a journeyman with an amazing travelogue that includes three seasons with the Winnipeg Goldeyes and St. Paul Saints.

Kintzler is a tremendous story, and an intriguing character, but also a free agent after this season. This winter will be his one chance to make a sizable hit financially: maybe double his current $2.95 million annually for a couple of years, with a buyout in the third.

He turned 33 on Tuesday. I don’t see him as a guy the new Twins would invest $13 million or so. Once Cleveland and Kansas City got hot in the week before the deadline, and the Twins’ flaws became increasingly visible, it wasn't a surprise that Kintzler was moved – even for a modest return.

The nine-game winning streaks of Cleveland and Kansas City were mentioned to general manager Thad Levine in a radio  interview this week. “If they were going to get hot, we’re fortunate that it happened before the deadline rather than after it,’’ he said.

It was always a mirage that the 2017 Twins were a playoff contender. The Falveyians decided to stick a toe in the pond of the imaginary oasis by trading for Garcia.

A week later, all they saw was sand, and made a couple of trades that could change one thing: finishing fourth behind Detroit in the AL Central, rather than finishing third ahead of Detroit.

Even in the inflated era of advancing 33 percent of the teams to the postseason, there was only this factor to keep the Twins in the picture: a continuation of full-blown mediocrity from Cleveland and Kansas City.

Once that changed, the reality was  the extremely flawed Twins were done. And honoring reality is the tie-breaker with the Falveyians.

Ask Byungho Park.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

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  • Cleveland at Twins (2)

    12:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Cleveland at Twins (2)

    6:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    6:30 pm

  • Winnipeg at Saints

    7 pm on 1220-AM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    6:30 pm

  • Indiana at Lynx

    7 pm on FSN, 106.1-FM

  • Cleburne at Saints

    7:05 pm on 1220-AM

  • Arizona at Twins

    7:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Vikings at Seattle (preseason)

    9 pm on Ch. 9, 100.3/1130

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    12:45 pm

  • Arizona at Twins

    6:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Cleburne at Saints

    7:05 pm on 106.1-FM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    12:45 pm

  • Arizona at Twins

    1:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Lynx at New York

    2 pm on NBATV, 106.1-FM

  • Cleburne at Saints

    5:05 pm on 1220-AM

  • Loons at Seattle

    9 pm on FS1, 1500-AM

  • Twins at Chicago White Sox (2)

    4:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Wichita at Saints

    7:05 pm on 1220-AM

  • Phoenix at Lynx

    7 pm on FSN PLUS/NBATV, 106.1-FM

  • Wichita at Saints

    7:05 pm on 1220-AM

  • Twins at Chicago White Sox

    7:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Wichita at Saints

    7:05 pm on 1220-AM

  • Twins at Chicago White Sox

    7:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    6:30 pm

  • Wichita at Saints

    7:05 pm on 1220-AM

  • Twins at Chicago White Sox

    7:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

Today's Scoreboard

  • Cleveland

    Minnesota

     

    - F

    9

    3

  • Arizona

    Houston

     

    - F

    4

    0

  • Cincinnati

    Chicago Cubs

     

    - F

    13

    10

  • Atlanta

    Colorado

     

    - F

    10

    4

  • Tampa Bay

    Toronto

     

    - F

    3

    5

  • St. Louis

    Pittsburgh

     

    - Top 9th

    8

    5

  • Cleveland

    Minnesota

     

    - F

    2

    4

  • NY Yankees

    NY Mets

     

    - F

    7

    5

  • Chicago White Sox

    Texas

     

    - Bot 8th

    7

    9

  • Washington

    San Diego

     

    - Bot 5th

    1

    1

  • Philadelphia

    San Francisco

     

    - Bot 5th

    1

    4

  • Buffalo

    Philadelphia

     

    - F

    16

    20

  • Baltimore

    Miami

     

    - F

    31

    7

  • Tampa Bay

    Jacksonville

     

    - F

    12

    8

No NBA games today

No NHL games today

No MLS games today