It's a common baseball-writing cliché that "baseball is like life." It generally goes like this:
"Baseball, like life, reminds us of the ups and downs we all experience. It has the placid rhythm of summer evenings, the dreams of youth and realities of aging. It has moments of great triumph and great failure, yet above it all, the game remains; ever-changing, ever the same."
Maybe that's some people's lives. It sure as heck ain't mine.
Baseball is like my life. It's a mess. It's getting through. And making the best out of it I can, when I can, whenever Dumb or Infuriating or simply Crap I Should Have Seen Coming But Didn't happens. And trying to enjoy the best of it, not get crushed by the worst.
Great triumphs? NO. (Although I consider meeting Mrs. James a triumph, it was because we shared ten minutes of shift change, not because I knew how to meet people.) Great failures? They're generally pretty typical. I screw up in tediously disappointing fashion, I don't accidentally issue an Incoming Nuke Alert for the whole state of Hawaii.
(Remember that? That guy was fired. I would have kept him. You know he'd never push that wrong button twice. And he'd be good at training: "never, NEVER, select this option from the drop-down menu by mistake. Trust me.")
There are people whose plans always work out. And they will tell you how proud they are. These people have never been my friends. When I was younger, I wanted them to be. Desperately. Now? Nah. Let them be perfect, I'll stick with the misfit toys.
That odd intro aside, the Twins won on a solid start by Tyler Mahle that went bad just when our unpretentious sage John Foley would have predicted (third time through the order). A bullpen meltdown by, not His Dark Materials, but the new All-Star closer. Offensive opportunities wasted. Truly boneheaded fielding mistakes by the opposing team. And, finally, the Twins winning via, almost, dipshit default.
Now, that's life. That's baseball. Inning-by-inning notes:
1: New friend Tyler Mahle strikes out old English Posh-named enemy Whit Merrified to begin his Twins tenure. He then gets two further Jays hitters out on what seems like a negative number of pitches, time-wise. Mike Pelfrey, this guy ain’t. (But has he ever worn a beekeeper hat to defend against sunflower seed spit?)
This Twins lineup, minus a Buxton, minus basically anyone expected to play outfield at this point, might really struggle against even a struggling La Makina. Should we mention that the last time he faced the Twins, he set a career high in strikeouts? Well, radio did. (Oddly, both Gordon and Contreras were outfielders in that game, too, even back on June 4.)
2: Mahle’s name is pronouced wrong. Or, rather, it’s pronounced correctly, but it SEEMS wrong. I look at that name and I see “Mall.” It apparently rhymes with how Biggie Smalls pronounced “Cali.” I don’t LIKE IT. (I like Biggie.) Anyways, he gives up a leadoff long single to Teoscar Hernandez who is thrown out by Contreras while getting double-greedy.
Nobody else threatens much offensively, except Nick Gordon whose one-out single disappears into the depths of Jake Cave’s Cave For GIDPs.
3: Cali Mahle (he’s from Westminster, CA, an Orange County city, so Cali Mahle actually works for me) gets his own GIDP. And the Twins get a Bomba Dong! From... Contreras? Playin’ some defense, starting the offense, we’ll take it. Twins 1-0
4: Mahle throws SIX DANG PITCHES to DDT the Birds.
Then Berríos shows maybe the strategic benefit of letting guys only face the lineup, maybe, once? Correa doubles. We take a walk on down to Polancoville. Correa’s “don’t trade him or I’ll exercise my opt-out I probably will be doing anyway” favorite, Jose Miranda, gets a single, and Nick Gordon says “mock this outfield, why don’t you, you a**hole Fillmore” by launching a Gordodong.
Not 13 strikeouts this time for our old amigo. After emergency AAAAer Tim Beckham singles, new Willie Mays (not really) Contreras hits a hard BABIP-bad luck lineout, and emergency AAAAer Sandy “Kings Of Ponce De” Leon draws a walk, that’s it for Berríos and his 60 pitches. Luis Arraez, now bad at baseball (not really), flies out limply to end things off a Trevor “May Michael” Richards, but thanks to guys you wouldn’t expect it’s now American Canada 5-0
5: Gladden pronounces it “Mayly” then “Mali” in the space of two sentences. Here’s rooting that before the night’s over, he Dazzles us by somehow hard-pronouncing the “h” as in some form of guttural Klingon. San Bernardino County’s own Matt Chapman, a good player except in 2021, disses some in-state-hate via a solo flyer, and lives in Mohave in a Winnebago. Further north latitudinally than Toronto 5-1
6: Right after the Cupertino Kid talks about how Mahle goes over 100 pitches longer than any current Twin, Cali Mali implodes. A quick solo shot by someone called Santiago Espinal, followed by a Merrifield single and Vlad, Son Of Vlad thunderstroke get the (always wonderfully polite) visiting fans excited and Twins fans achieving that Old Familiar feeling.
I always wondered why we had so many Jays fans here. We’re adjacent to Canada, but not to any major cities (even Winnipeg is a 7+ hour drive). But still, they’re great. And I finally found out last year that I LIKE poutine. I just don’t tell my doctor that. Anyways, Jays fans are wonderful, the total opposite of Yanquis/BoSox fans when they come here. (Or, really, show up in their frontrunner jerseys, they’re probably locals. Jays fans are actually tourists, and a credit to their Provinces.) Koskies/Morneaus 5-4
7: Here comes Griffin Jax, USAF, after something of a shellacking in his first post-deadline appearance. He’s recovered, I’d say; 11 pitches and three Ks.
The Toronto pitcher last inning, and starting this one, is named Zach Pop. a 25-year-old out of Brampton, Canada. His name is also Zach Pop and that’s just too adorable for words. He’s chased on a Leon leadoff double, but then veteran Adam Cimber gets Arraez to continue his mini-slump of making weak contact. Cimber is from Portland, OR, so never prone to any moments of ferociously potent negative mood swings, and he kills this Twins scoring chance.
8: All right. Let’s see how this new plan of Jhoan Duran in the ordinary love spot of eighth-inning setup works. He 103s his way though the #9 guy, and through impressive young DH/catcher Alejandro Kirk (whose parents were going with James until they saw Nu Trek) but gives up a first-pitch single to Merrifield. Guerrero punches another single. (He hits it with his bat, not his fists.) But then Lourdes Gurriel fails to deliver any blessed French miracles. (Look it up.) So far, so good, Rocco’s algorithm.
Nick Gordon is no kind of star, but don’t you like him as the utility guy? He’s busted his a** to be at least a decent fielder at almost every position, and he can run a little, surprise you with some power every now and then. (Shades of Ed Escobar, perhaps?) He gets a leadoff double here, leaving it to Cave, Beckham, and Contreras for the Knocking of In. It goes as you’d expect. Contreras is, in fact, not the next Mays.
9: Leave It To Lopez. Right? Well, no. Some go***mn a******e named sandwiches utterly jixed this s**t. It’s all pretty thrilling baseball, actually, with out-single-out-single-TIE GAME-out, but a 30-pitch blown save isn’t what we pray to Santa for.
For the fourth straight inning, Minnesota gets a leadoff guy on, this time courtesy of pinch-hitter Gio Urshela (immediately replaced as a runner by Gilberto Celestino). Arraez continues his 0-fer but does advance the runner. Okay, two ABs for Correa and Polanco to win this.
Correa hits into an OOPS by defensive replacement 2B Cavan (son of Craig) Biggio. Polanco is intentionally walked.
Jose Miranda up, bases full, one out. 0-1. 0-2. And THERE’S THE K, DAMMIT
Gordon pops out.
I now WANT the Twins to lose this game. I am angry with them. I feel bad and I want the Twins to feel bad. Crud, it’s 5-5
10: Next up in the Adventures of Trade Pickups is Micheal Fulmer, hoping to win in Manfredball. He K’s Merrifield, go back to being Third Earl Of West Furthersonshire. Then Vlad Jr. walks. Gurriel, Jr., Brother Of Yuli, singles. Somehow, even with Biggio starting the inning on second, this doesn’t result in a score of runs scored.
Then Fulmer Ks Teoscar Hernandez (oddly, related to no MLBers I know) and Bo Bichette (son of Dante), ending this Inferno.
And now we enter WTF territory...
With Gordon on second, Cave strikes out on a slider in the dirt, requiring a putout throw to first. Catcher Danny Jansen flubs the routine throw, so Cave is safe. Gordon reaches third on the crap play.
Beckham grounds out to Chapman at third. As friggin' always, the Twins have the contact play on, and Gordon’s out by six feet. Except the throw is bad, and Jansen doesn’t have time to recover:
This was, to say the least, uninspiring. The loud crowd yelling of an inning previous, from both team’s fans, had descended to a dull murmur, and not the bizarrely innovative R.E.M. kind. It just... happened. And that’s how it ended.
That’s life. And that’s baseball.
COTG were legion, because the last hour of this game was more weirdly compelling than it deserved or than I am doing justice to. Some samples, from what had previously been a dead gamethread:
John Foley: Tom Emanski just threw up... terrible on both sides
davethekid: Chapman never missed that throw when he was at Oakland
jjstraka: Luckiest shit you will see all year
Wannabe525: That’s one for the W is a W hall of fame
norff: That’s ranking as a solid 9.5/10 on preposterous baseball wins
Tune in tomorrow at 6:10 for Dylan Bundy starting, or I won’t blame you if you don’t, he hasn’t been too great, but, again... you never know.