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Saturday Notebook: Phantom Double Play, Even More Doctoring Baseballs, Helping The Opposition & More

Today's Saturday Notebook has a special theme as we look at things that the Twins are doing better than others right now. How is this possible? Read along to find out!

Mike Ehrmann

Back at the beginning of the season, I wasn't very optimistic for the Twins. I figured that they hadn't done enough to address the starting pitching woes, and I also felt that they were oddly content with an offense that was actually pretty middling last year. However, I never thought that any part of the season would be THIS bad. Honestly, no one predicts that their team will suffer a 10-game losing streak. Not even Astros or Marlins fans would think of their team losing that many games in a row. It's statistically improbable, and yet here we are. Thus, today's Saturday Notebook has a special "At least the Twins are better than this!" list that starts right now.

1. The Twins are better than the umpiring crew at Friday's Rangers-Mariners game.

In the 2nd inning and a runner on 1st base, Mariners catcher Jesus Sucre hits a grounder to first baseman Mitch Moreland. He threw the ball to shortstop Elvis Andrus, who attempted to complete the double play by throwing it back to Moreland. However, the ball never reached its target, as the pitcher Justin Grimm snatched the ball just before Moreland was able to catch it. Well, that was apparent on replay. What was not apparent live was that Moreland never caught the ball, and thus Sucre was ruled out at 1st base, even though Grimm never touched the bag. You have to watch the GIF to get a full appreciation of how every umpire on the field did not see this correctly.

2. The Twins are not openly admitting that they are actively trying to anger their fan base like the Yankees.

Last Saturday, the New York Yankees acquired shortstop Reid Brignac from the Colorado Rockies. To make room for Brignac on the 25-man roster, they designated infielder Alberto Gonzalez for assignment. In limited playing time, Gonzalez had hit .250/.286/.375, which isn't awful but isn't great either. When asked why outfielder Ben Francisco did not receive the axe (hitting .114 at the time), this was general manager Brian Cashman's response.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Cashman on Ben Francisco's roster spot: "Just in terms of your fan comments section, just say I'm holding onto him to piss everybody off."</p>&mdash; Andy McCullough (@McCulloughSL) <a href="">May 18, 2013</a></blockquote><script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

Wow. I mean, at least Terry Ryan has the decency to give a reason why a player is staying on the roster. Even if that player is Drew Butera and he's only there to play in case the Twins lose both Joe Mauer and Ryan Doumit to injury in the same game. By the way, Francisco has not had any additional at-bats since Cashman's comment.

3. The Twins are not using spitballs like Alex Sanabia (unless they're shooting them during the daily pitchers & catchers meeting).

In an earlier edition of the Saturday Notebook, I talked about Clay Buchholz possibly using a Bull Frog sunscreen-sweat-rosin mixture to get a better grip on the ball, and how a lot of players actually didn't think it was a big deal. Well, during Monday's game against the Phillies, Marlins pitcher Alex Sanabia chose to put something a little more organic on his baseball (pay attention at 0:15 of the video) after surrendering a home run to Domonic Brown.

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Dave Cameron of FanGraphs took a look at Sanabia's pitches from that game and determined that even if Sanabia was throwing a spitball, his pitches did not show any extraordinary movement, suggesting that perhaps Sanabia was not even skilled in Gaylord Perry's signature pitch. However, some keen commenters noticed that despite his blatant deposit of saliva on the ball, Sanabia could be seen vigorously rubbing the baseball with his hands at 0:22 in the video. One does not throw a spitball by rubbing the ball dry of all moisture. Likely because it seemed safe to assume that he dried the ball off with his hands, MLB chose not to punish Sanabia despite hocking a loogie (not a LOOGY) all over the baseball.

4. The Twins are not throwing away commemorative baseballs marking a rookie's career firsts like Evan Gattis.

Evan Gattis has built himself a hell of a following, going from being homeless and working as a custodian to becoming a power-hitting catcher that successfully filled the hole at the beginning of the season created by an injured Brian McCann. However, even the man that inspired the trolling of the Nationals' "Natitude" campaign with the Braves' own "Gattitude" isn't perfect. After all, upon catching the baseball from fellow rookie Cory Rasmus for his first career strikeout, Gattis committed a major gaffe by giving the ball to a young fan instead of carrying it back to the dugout. Fortunately though, the Braves were able to exchange the baseball for another and Rasmus was able to take home the ball that gave him his first career strikeout. That is, if his teammates didn't write all over it first.

5. The Twins don't accidentally help the other team.

Well, except for that whole winning the game thing. The umpires in Sunday's Rays-Orioles game used instant replay on a play that should not have been reviewable had Orioles manager Buck Showalter just kept his mouth shut. Rays outfielder Matt Joyce hit a low liner down the right field line that appeared to hit the fence and stay in play. The umpires ruled the hit a double, but Showalter argued that it was foul. Meanwhile, Rays manager Joe Maddon also came out to argue, but rather that the play was a home run. Now, Showalter's argument meant that the play was not reviewable, but Maddon, upon seeing that Showalter wanted to try to get the call changed, smartly asked if the play was actually a home run because technically, the umpires couldn't rule it a foul ball. The outcomes were either double or home run, not double or foul, because the current replay rules do not allow that to happen. I disagree with the rules (ruling it foul instead of a double should have been allowed), but it was still smart of Maddon to challenge the play.

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6. The Twins have better video collections than what I'm about to show you.

This week was pretty meager in GIFs so I have to mostly stick to a stationary (i.e. "Muggle") photograph and a video highlight instead.

  1. Twins pitchers do not slip on the mound like Tim Lincecum.
  2. The Twins do not permit FOX Sports North to make multiple mistakes in the same TV graphic, unlike the Kansas City Royals and FOX Sports Kansas City. I count 6 errors, can you find them?
  3. Twins hitters do not hit home runs like Miguel Cabrera, who has the ability to drive any pitch out. This GIF shows 6 home runs overlaid one another from last season where every pitch thrown to Miggy was anywhere between a borderline strike and a legitimate ball.

7. The Twins are better at outlines than myself.

Yes, I just used a 1-2-3 format twice in the same article. That's okay though, I never fully liked the strict guidelines I was supposed to follow when outlining my essays for 11th grade Honors English.

There, you should be feeling better already! If not, then I might recommend this instead. I'm not angry or frustrated by the Twins through this losing streak right now, I'm just numb.

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