St. Paul native Jack Morris wasn't returning calls Wednesday when he again fell short of the Baseball Hall of Fame. But in interviews Thursday with MLB.com and MLB Network Radio, the Game 7 hero of the 1991 World Series for the Twins shared his thoughts. Here are the highlights:
If you ever doubted the homer abilities of Ken "Hawk" Harrelson as a TV announcer, go no further than the Wall Street Journal, which ranked the White Sox team as the TV announcing team in major league baseball with the most biased comments.
What exactly constitutes biased comments? That includes the use of the word "we." (Vikings radio announcer Paul Allen, some people are looking at you.) Also, pet names for players, excessive celebrating or moping.
In this review of one game of each baseball team, Harrelson accounted for 104 comments. The next highest total? 23, from the Cleveland TV team of Matt Underwood and Rick Manning. In fact, Harrelson's total is more than all the other American League teams' announcers COMBINED. OK, the White Sox count includes partner Steve Stone, but if the split is anything less than 100-4, color me shocked.
Harrelson, as you might expect, had no qualms. His comments to Journal reporter Jared Diamond: "You just made my day. That's the biggest compliment you could give me, to call me the biggest homer in baseball."
Need more evidence? Here is Harrelson's rant against umpire Matt Wegner from earlier in the season:
Small teams made the bulk of the teams following the White Sox. After a handful of teams in the double digits, the Twins TV announcers of Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven ranked in a group with the Orioles, Nationals, Phillies and Padres with nine comments.
The WSJ review cited an example for each team, and the Minnesota example might underwhelm: "I hope there's no suspense. A nice, methodical win would be nice." Yes, Minnesotans used nice twice.
Bremer also offers as defense of homerism: "Former players have tremendous equity in the franchise they played for. From their perspective, I could imagine a strong desire to do well." Apparently, he didn't work in the words "major-league level."
For its age issue, ESPN the Magazine spent a game day with Joe Mauer, chronicled in diary-like segments sprinkled in the middle of a profile on an All-Star at the middle of his career and looking to extend his success into his 30s. It's big on Mauer's plain persona and patient approach to the game, as seen through the 9-3 win over Detroit. Here are the best details gleaned on a quick read about Mauer's 12-hour day at the ballpark:
Cleveland outfielder Vinny Rottino might have saved Thursday's 4-3 extra-inning win over the Twins with his catch in the ninth inning. But his spot start also had people talking about his walk-up music: The theme from "The Godfather."
Batting leadoff in front of a sparse Cleveland crowd, the 32-year-old September callup provided quite the contrast from the usual rock, pop, country and rap fare heard at ballparks these days. The trumpet blared especially loud over the Twins radio feed in the first inning, drawing comments and a chuckle from play-by-play man Cory Provus and Kris Atteberry.
The "Godfather" music is "something you rarely hear at the ballpark," Provus said later via Twitter. The music had the two talking about how the Twins radio team would fit into the storied "Godfather" cast. One thing quickly agreed to: "Danny [Gladden] would be Sonny," played by James Caan, Provus said.
The Cleveland radio team was just as taken with the musical choice Thursday, according to the Positive Tribe blog, "cracking up the radio guys every time" Rottino came to the plate. "No, we're not going to a funeral," Cleveland play-by-play man Tom Hamilton said.
"I was just reading the leadoff batter's handbook, and it says that techno-pop-dance music is mandatory. I guess Rottino didn't get the memo," Jim Rosenhaus added.
Perhaps it was a surprise that the Cleveland broadcast crew was so surprised. In 2008, David Dellucci used the music in his walk-up rotation, albeit as a secondary, back-up choice, mostly on the road. And earlier this season in Milwaukee, shortstop Cody Ransom also used the "Godfather" theme for one July game. The occasion? Italian Heritage Day.
On Thursday, Rottino's choice struck a chord on Twitter. One tweet that drew plenty of retweets was from MLB.com reporter Zack Meisel: "Ironic that Vinny Rottino walks up to the plate to The Godfather theme considering how rare it is that he produces a hit."
The bad-luck run of former Twins continued Wednesday night, when the Mets shut down former All-Everything pitcher Johan Santana, with inflammation in his lower back. Considering the extent of Santana's comeback, it's surprising enough he got this far, something Santana acknowledged himself.
"The doctor said it's been a long, long season for me, and I can feel it," Santana said. "It gets to a point where something is not right."
The consensus Wednesday night was that Santana's no-hitter was dividing line in his season. So, asks Matthew Pouliot of Hardball Talk, was it worth it? Pouliot votes yes, especially since the Mets escaped their notoriety of not having a no-hitter. And, to get anything from Santana, let alone a no-hitter, was more than anyone ever expected.
Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal says don't blame the no-hitter, even as Terry Collins almost made himself cry as he asked Santana to throw 134 pitches. The bigger question: Can Santana bounce back and make it through an entire season, as a 34-year-old making $25.3 million? He didn't pitch in 2011, and his 2009 and 2010 seasons ended early, too.
Jeff Roberts of the Record looks at that, with the help of Dr. Vincent McInerney, an orthopedic surgeon. McInerney cites the no-hitter as a possible cause and wonders if Santana hasn't started "an injury pattern."
Still, Santana is happy where things ended up, Roberts said. “There were a lot of question marks in the beginning of the season, and we didn’t know how the shoulder would react,” he said. “… Overall I feel good, because when we were in December, I didn’t know if I was going to pitch in the beginning of the season.”
Two former Twins pitchers have escaped the black cat that has cursed so many of their former teammates. Kyle Lohse got his ... 13th win Wednesday. OK, his (lucky) seventh consecutive victory, against the anonymous Houston Astros. Along with some assistance from center fielder Jon Jay, Lohse helped himself by not walking anyone.
And Santana's teammate, R.A. Dickey has succeeded with his knuckleball that failed to flutter in the Metrodome. He got a no-decision in the Mets' 3-1 loss Tuesday. Dickey has 15 wins and likely seven more starts in the season. The New York Post notes his quest to be the first Met to win 20 games since former Twin Frank Viola might ride on the hopes of the Mets' shaky bullpen.
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