The Twins returned to our televisions and our hearts with a less-than-stellar showing last night, but it was baseball, and that's all that mattered. I was disheartened to realize that I had Timberwolves tickets on the night that FSN was broadcasting Spring Training, but wound up getting the best of both worlds: awesome Wolves win and a re-airing of the Twins game last night beginning sometime around midnight.
While the game was ugly, it didn't matter one bit. I always appreciate the little things early on, such as the excitement of seeing new acquisitions in action (whether it's a Jason Marquis implosion or Josh Willingham reaching base three times) and the crack of a home run that just sounds like it's a home run (even if it's off the bat of David Ortiz).
One thing that's different about this year's Spring series with the Red Sox though is the apparent lack of a Mayor's Cup to play for, and that's just one of a handful of topics I'll cover after the jump in this Tuesday baseball breakfast.
- Since 1993, the Twins and Red Sox have engaged in perhaps the most prestigious battle in all of Major League Baseball('s Spring Training): the battle for the Mayor's Cup. With both teams residing within the jurisdiction of the Fort Myers mayor, the uh... unprecedented... proximity obviously necessitated a heated rivalry. Well, the rivalry may be over thanks to the Sox's move to their new facility, JetBlue Stadium. The transition takes them out of the mayor's jurisdiction, and that's enough for Ron Gardenhire to take the trophy and run with home with it. The Twins won last year's cup (a critical success often overshadowed by the catastrophic regular season, but come on, let's get our priorities straight folks), and own an 11-8 all-time record in the Mayor's Cup series. In Gardy's mind (via MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger), the feud is now over:
"We won it last year, we've got the cup," Gardenhire said. "It's over with. They've got to try to figure out a way to take it back. That doesn't mean they're going to get it back. We've got it, it's ours for good. They can come up with any kind of other cup they want to. It can be plastic -- we've got the right cup."
- New Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine
is, understandably, livid with Gardenhire's decision and publicly called him outdidn't know what the Mayor's Cup was until it was too late, apparently. Clearly he doesn't take things as seriously as former skipper Terry Francona, who told reporters last year while in the midst of a four-year Mayor's Cup dynasty, "It's hard not to be arrogant." Clearly, Gardy and the Twins got the last laugh. So take that and brag about it at your fancy new ESPN job, Francona.
- Valentine claims that he attempted to warn Tsuyoshi Nishioka that he was at risk of a broken leg prior to last season, and Nishioka didn't heed his advice. Bobby V managed Nishi's Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan and apparently warned him last Spring that this could happen. I'm skeptical of it, but even if it's true, I have a hard time blaming Nishioka. I often tune out Bobby V when he talks, too.
- The game itself had positives last night. Justin Morneau made a nice stab at first base, Joe Mauer picked up a pair of hits, and both Liam Hendriks and Carlos Gutierrez looked impressive in their short outings. I'll be curious to see how Gutierrez pitches this Spring. With as many bullpen holes as the Twins have, you've got to figure that 2012 ends up being the year he finally cracks the big league roster at some point.
- Elsewhere in Florida, former Twins ace Johan Santana is set to make his Grapefruit League debut today. I know a few people who hold a grudge against Santana and also the Twins' front office for failing to secure any real talent in exchange for his services when he was the best pitcher in baseball. The lack of talent is frustrating, but I can't bring myself to root against Johan. It's been over 17 months since he last threw a pitch in the Major Leagues (Sept. 2, 2010). I'm pulling for a healthy 2012 season for him after he missed all of last year recovering from shoulder surgery that cut his 2010 season short.
- Speaking of the Santana trade, Kevin Mulvey was just released by the Diamondbacks this past week. He rocked an impressive 6.54 ERA in 103 Triple-A innings for the Snakes last season. Deolis Guerra did his best last night to match him, apparently.
- Our own Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven ranked 14th of 30 on Fangraphs' recent rankings of MLB broadcasting teams. Fangraphs crowdsourced readers, asking for fans of each team to email ratings for their hometown team's tandem. On a 5-point scale, DickNBert scored 3.5/2.7/3.2 in Charisma/Analysis/Overall. As Carson Cistulli notes in the piece:
The Twins broadcasters feature the biggest difference (0.8 points) among all teams between their Charisma and Analysis ratings, and this appears to have everything to do with Bert Blyleven — a man who, it must be said, both (a) loves to fart and (b) is zero percent ashamed to admit it.
It's good to know that Bert's true talents are getting national recognition.
Steve Adams also writes for MLBTradeRumors.com, RotoAuthority.com, and MLB.com Fantasy Baseball. You can follow him on Twitter: @Adams_Steve