I love the movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid."
The acting is dead-on, the scenery is spectacular, and the lines are classic... like when Butch turns to Sundance in the middle of any number of pursuits by the federales and wonders ,"Who are these guys?"
I get the same feeling these days from watching the Minnesota Twins.
This blog took shape after watching Kevin Slowey sail through 4 innings Wednesday night... and then throw everything he had done into the toilet by imploding and giving up 5 runs in the 5th. He went from moving the ball around the plate and keeping it down to tossing meatballs right down the center off the plate that would have kids in the Little League World Series teeing off.
Brutal... absolutely brutal.
But Slowey's wretched performance is standard stuff these days for Twins starters. Brian Duensing flamed out in the 3rd last night, opening the door to a 8-1 thumping at the hands of the mediocre Orioles. Nick Blackburn would have likely been on a bus to Rochester if he had not ended up on the DL. Carl Pavano has been bettter of late, but has put the ball high and down the middle far more than hitting his spots.
The bullpen has been shakier than an 1800's-era building in a Virginia earthquake. When Francisco Liriano is your staff's model of consistency, the world is seriously off-kilter.
Let us be clear about this: The pitching staff is front and center if one was to play the blame game, but there's way more to it than that.
Gardy's teams have been a staple for my family on summer nights because of the way they have played. Smart, fundamentally sound, and most of all... gutty.
We could always count on them being fighters. Even down by 3 or 4 in late innings you never had the feeling there was any quit in the Twins dogs.
The 2011 club is not of the same vintage. There were rumblings coming out of spring training that Gardy and special assistant Tom Kelly were less than satisfied with the fundamental skills of this ballclub. This has played out consistently all year with fielding mistakes, head-scratching mental errors, bone-headed running plays and lousy at-bats when the money's been on the line.
The number of games lost by key players to injury has been mind-numbing, but every club across the majors loses top players for stretches of time.
The Twins have always found a way to plug in gritty, opportunistic kids or late-season acquisitions who have kept the team afloat and helped them to grind out a playoff spot, or at least made things interesting.
They have excelled by playing baseball the way good teams do, day in and day out.
The same is not true with this year's edition. Games are often over well before the 5th inning, which results in me flipping off the TV and muttering to myself on the way to an early shower... a lot like the Twins starters.
Good for the electric bill... but murder on my psyche.
(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)