Startribune.com digital sports editor Howard Sinker used to cover the Twins and now shares season tickets with friends in Section 219 of Target Field. He blogs about baseball from the perspective of a long-time fan who loves the game, doesn’t always believe the hype and likes hearing what others think. Howard sometimes talks about sports with Cathy Wurzer on MPR's Morning Edition.
Lots of times, people give the TV/radio guys a lot of grief for cheering more than analyzing.
FSN's Tim Laudner didn't roll that way after Joe Mauer's bunt Tuesday night.
Here's what he said:
"Ballplayers do stupid things. There's not anybody who's ever been out there that hasn't done something stupid in their career. We've all done it. If you were to ask Joe Mauer right now what kind of play that was, I would hope that he would say: 'That was a really stupid play. I'm the guy that's going to drove that run in. I'm the guy that's going to hit the ball into the gap and hit a double.' "
That didn't quite happen.
Mauer told Joe Christensen: "Probably the biggest thing is [third baseman Jhonny] Peralta playing back. It's just giving me a base hit. It got off the end of the bat, and I didn't get it out there far enough. I didn't execute."
On mlb.com, Mauer added: "You factor in all those things, it sounds like a pretty good idea I think."
More from Launder: "He [Mauer] has to take ownership of that, put it on himself because he's done it before [gotten big hits] and he's going to do it again. This is going to be a learning experience for Joe Mauer. I don't think he's ever going to do that again. He's going to be the guy to drive in that big run in a situation like this from here on out."
At that point, Anthony LaPanta asked Laudner if Mauer may have had a "brain cramp situation where he forgot that there was an out."
Laudner on FSN: "I don't think Joe has a selfish bone in his body. I'm going to give him every benefit of the doubt that it was just a stupid play."
Ron Gardenhire in his postgame press conference: "I don't ever tell a hitter what to do. He tried a drag bunt. Ask Joe about that, what his thoughts were."
Mauer in the Star Tribune: "If it works out, it's bases loaded for [Jason] Kubel -- I like those chances. I'm not feeling the greatest at the plate right now, and that factors in, but that situation, you get two guys in scoring position with Kubel up and one out, I take my chances with that for sure."
This isn't talk radio or the blog universe. This is Twins television -- where the food is always great, workmanlike performance is sometimes called outstanding and objectivity isn't expected to be front and center.
Without adding too much of my spin, Laudner was saying what many were thinking -- especially if a few minutes of postgame call-in adequately represent: The hometown hero ... the heart of the team ... the guy who the Twins and their fans can expect to put the team on his shoulders in tough times ... was putting the burden on someone else's bat in the clutch.
More from Mauer: "[Rafael] Perez on the mound is nasty. He throws a cutter the majority of the time. It'll break away from a lefthanded hitter, and he induces a lot of double plays. So if I hit into a double play, you guys are probably talking about that."
That last sentence is true and that's as it should be. But left-handed batters are hitting .339 against the great Rafael Perez this season (38 points higher than right-handed batters) and the fact that Perez has cut his ERA in half from last season loses some luster when you see that his 2009 ERA was 7.31.
So that wasn't exactly Mariano Rivera on the mound. Or even Jose Mijares.
Data update: The move was "bad baseball" when you look at the percentages. With runners on first and second and one out, a team has a run expectation of .97 (based on data from 1999-2002). With two outs and runners on second and third, the run expectation drops by about one-third -- to .63. Here's the full run-expectation chart from Tango on Baseball.
It's pretty simple. Baseball fans expect their stars to step up. Joe Mauer didn't do that Tuesday night.
And Laudner, who played with a lot of stars back in his day, simply pointed that out.
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