It's Kyle Gibson Day here in Minnesota today, as the Twins' 2009 first-round pick makes his belated major league debut this afternoon. For several days, it's seemed Twins fans could think of little else, to the point that our guy RandBall's Stu was moved to not only borrow liberally from Clement Moore, but rhyme "Armando Gabino" with "Juan Morillo." Excitement is at a fever pitch, in other words.
The worry here is that Gibson will be less Oswaldo Arcia and more Aaron Hicks, to use two immediately available comparisons. Gibson's been pretty good at Triple-A Rochester this year, posting a 3.01 ERA, but who knows what that means. For example, Gibson is striking out 7.7 hitters per nine innings at Rochester - just like Pedro Hernandez, who's averaging 7.6 K/9 in Rochester, but basically cannot strike out anyone in the major leagues.
All of that said, it's hard not to be excited. Gibson is the latest manifestation of hope for the future, a baton that's passed from Hicks to Arcia and on to Gibson, in the space of three months, and will continue to be passed down the line to Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario and Byron Buxton. The hope is that the 2013 Twins are like the 1982 Twins, a team that included names like Hrbek and Gaetti, Laudner and Brunansky, Viola and Bush.
It's just impossible for me to not go down the list of the 1982 Twins and see a bunch of other young players that didn't quite last - Lenny Faedo, Randy Johnson (the DH), Brad Havens, Jack O'Connor, all under 25. It's enough to make you wonder whether Gibson will eventually be on a list like the former - or a list like the latter.
*On with the links:
*Bret Bielema, who'd firmly established himself at Wisconsin, threw over the Badgers to take the helm at Arkansas. Jordan Conn of Grantland tries to find out why.
*Hamilton Nolan of Gawker, the best boxing writer in America, takes in the Paulie Malignaggi-Adrien Broner fight, the next chapter for Broner, boxing's next big thing.
*With Wimbledon in full swing, Brian Phillips looks at the harmonization of the different Grand Slam surfaces in tennis - and whether this might be the main reason for the Djokovic-Federer-Nadal dominance over the past umpteen years.
*Kent Russell at Grantland reviews the career of Theo Fleury, by which I mean Russell basically opens his veins and pours himself directly onto the page, with Fleury's career as a framing device. It's impossible not to be fascinated.
*And finally: the Cubs just wanted to put "Champions" up on their board, for once.