I have to say, besides for the eight months between the start of spring training and the end of the World Series, the hot stove league is my favorite time of the year. It's the part of the baseball calendar that makes me especially grateful for the Twinkie Town community: without actual Twins baseball to watch, at least we have a gathering place to talk trades, share rumors, and berate those who think other teams might actually want to part with real talent just to have the opportunity to pay Michael Cuddyer $10 million next season.
All that being said, I wanted to take a break from the hot stove and do something a little different today. I want to hear your favorite Twins memories from games or events you attended. Let's set aside the obvious ones - playoffs, championship parades, game 163, etc. - and focus on games and events that might be a little more under-the-radar or simply forgotten by most fans. I'm sure I'm not the only one who keeps a running list in their head of the best games they've ever seen.
After the jump, I've posted some of my favorite Twins memories (in no particular order). Post yours in the comments.
Brad Radke enters the game sitting at 19 wins, with just two starts left on the season. With the Twins wrapping up their fifth consecutive losing season, Radke's quest for 20 wins was about the only thing Twins fans had to cheer for that September (even so, the game only drew 13,000 fans. If memory serves, the game coincided with a Packers-Vikings game).
In typical Radke fashion, he allows a home run to the second batter he faces (Jeff Cirillo) to give himself an early deficit. After the first, however, Radke rolls. He pitches his team to a 1-1 tie through nine, and, dramatically (in a season that brought us very little drama), TK lets Radke come out for the 10th. He escapes the 10th with just one hit, and winds up getting win number 20 when Paul Molitor triples in the bottom half of the inning to score Brent Brede.
That was a really remarkable season from Radke: he won 20 games while his team lost 94, and finished 3rd in Cy Young balloting.
This was the only game Greg Maddux ever pitched in Minnesota. It didn't exactly play out how fans expected.
Eric Milton retires the Braves in order in the first. Out comes Maddux. He gives up a lead-off single to Jacque Jones. And then a single to Christian Guzman. Then another single. Then another single. Another. Five straight singles to start the game for the Twins offense. They end up putting five runs on the board in the first.
But then Maddux takes control. Milton stumbles a few innings later. The game is knotted up at 5 when both pitchers leave after seven. Then the bullpens take over. The Twins and Braves trade zeros in the 8th. The 9th. The 10th. The 11th. The game is still tied 5-5 when the Twins put together a 2 out rally in the 15th inning, with Guzman knocking in Tom Prince to send the handful of remaining fans home.
What can you say? A couple slices of history, from two of baseball's all-time great hitters.
I think a lot of Twins fans remember this one. Freddy Garcia, Johan Santana locked in an absolutely epic pitchers duel. The game is scoreless through seven. Johan has struck out seven, allowing 2 hits. Garcia is working on a no-hitter. In the eighth, Johan gives up another hit but continues the shutout. Garcia comes out in the bottom half, facing Jacque Jones. He gets ahead 1-2, but Jacque drives the next pitch over the wall to end the no-hit bid and the shutout. Nathan slams the door in the ninth, and Garcia suffers the one-hit loss.
This is the Jim Thome walk-off game against the White Sox. Do I need to recap? Best part: it happened on my birthday. Best. Birthday present. Ever. Thanks for mashin' those taters, Jimmers.
Date Unknown - Teams Unknown - The Row of Fame Incident
Everyone knows the Hormel Row of Fame song, right? "If you're in a lucky seat, you'll win a Hormel hot dog treat." You know, that one.
So, I don't remember the game. I don't remember the year (I want to say 2004, 2005, somewhere around there). I have no memory of this experience, except for what happened during the Row of Fame song.
The audio started skipping. At a very inopportune time.
Instead of providing the lucky fans sitting in a designated row a tasty hot dog treat, the new version of the song offered fans the chance to win a much more lurid prize:
"If you're in a lucky seat, you'll win a Hor-, you'll win a Hor-, you'll win a Hor-"
That's a hell of a stadium giveaway.
So there, a brief rundown of some of my all-time favorite Twins memories. I'd love to hear some of yours.