Prior to the Minnesota Twins taking on the New York Yankees to close out their regular season series in New York, I wrote that I thought the Twins were a better team than the Yankees in a five-game series. The Twins proceeded to be swept by the Yankees in a three-game series at New Yankee Stadium, proving me wrong and leaving an all-too-familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach.
That all-too-familiar feeling is the result of 12 consecutive playoff losses by the Twins, nine of which came at the hands of the Yankees. And with 12/1 odds to win the American League pennant and 20/1 odds to win the World Series, the Twins are the short stack at the Major League Baseball final table.
On paper, the Yankees are overwhelming favorites in the American League Wild Card Game. They’re playing at home, where they will have played their final seven regular season games and where they have hit 134 of their 235 home runs this season. So the Yankees will be comfortable, especially coming off a three-game sweep of the Twins at home.
New York will run Cy Young candidate Luis Severino to the mound against Ervin Santana -- a right-handed, fly-ball pitcher in an unforgiving ballpark for right-handed, fly-ball pitchers. And Santana has been susceptible to the long ball, especially in New York. He allows one every five innings at New Yankee Stadium.
Santana did show improvement over his career numbers at New Yankee Stadium (0-5, 6.43 ERA, 1.714 WHIP) in his last start, however. He went five and two-thirds innings allowing seven hits and two earned runs, but he did allow a first-inning home run to Aaron Judge that might not have carried out of Target Field. The Twins will need the Santana who showed up that day to have a chance at ending the Yankee playoff curse.
Despite the Twins having so few at-bats against Severino coming into the game, they showed an ability to at least make contact in an 11-3 loss two days after Santana’s start. All three runs were charged to Severino, as he struggled to put Twins hitters away over the course of three innings and 71 pitches. The Twins connected on 21 foul balls to extend at-bats against Severino. That patience will be a key to success again for the Twins, as the earlier Minnesota can get into the Yankee bullpen the better their chances will be to win.
While the Twins are young, so are the Yankees. In fact, the Twins’ active roster has an average age of 28.1 to the Yankees’ 27.8, so the Twins are actually more experienced than the Yankees on average.
When it comes to playoff experience, though, the edge goes to New York -- big time. The Yankees have 14 players on their active roster with playoff experience to the Twins’ six. The Yankee players with playoff experience are more likely to get into the Wild Card Game, too.
Of the 14 Yankees with playoff experience, seven of them are position players. Of the Twins’ six players with playoff experience, just Joe Mauer and Jason Castro are position players. Mauer is 10-for-35 in the playoffs. Castro has just one hit in 14 playoff at-bats.
Yankee players have 466 playoff at-bats and are hitting .253 as a team in the postseason. Their starter in this game, however, has not pitched in the postseason, but Dellin Betances, David Robertson and Aroldis Chapman have.
The Twins can call on closer Matt Belisle and, perhaps, Glen Perkins, for bullpen arms with playoff experience. Perkins might not make the Wild Card Game roster, though, so no lead is big enough for the Twins on Tuesday in New York.
So if the Twins can score early and often and get into the Yankee bullpen, keep the ball in the ballpark and play clean defense, and score runs like they have since the All-Star Break (5.67 runs per game is second only to the Cubs), they can end the Yankee playoff curse. At least an incorrect call on a double down the third base line won’t be their undoing this time.
If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: View From The Couch
Conservatives are in an uproar. The NFL, you see, has gone too far.
I wish I could tell you the uproar was over the NFL’s concussion issues or the terrifying realities of CTE, or the NFL’s domestic violence scandals or the NFL’s sexual assault scandals. You Google NFL and the words “domestic violence” or “sexual assault” and you will get a scary number of legitimate hits.
These are all serious issues; each and every one, and all worthy of an uproar.
But no. Conservatives aren’t angry about any of those “silly” things.
They have focused their rage on something truly important -- the NFL player national anthem protest!
You know the one I’m talking about. The one Colin Kaepernick started last year? Kaepernick, that outspoken, black, male, Muslim who rocks a huge afro (a veritable list of things that make white folks really uncomfortable). Well, as the story goes -- Kap kneels during the anthem, to raise awareness to social injustice and police brutality against people of color.
That’s why Colin Kaepernick knelt. That was last year. Conservatives were in an uproar last year too. But this time, it’s much worse.
Last week a few players knelt during the anthem in support of what Kaepernick began a year ago, which led President Donald Trump to say at an Alabama rally:
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired! He's fired!'”
Okay. Whatever. Trump yells weird things that have nothing to do with government or his job is nothing new.
But man, did Trump’s comments get under the skin of NFL owners, coaches and players. All but two team owners issued statements denouncing Trump’s words and supporting players right to peaceful protest. The following weekend, hundreds of NFL players knelt during the anthem, while some players stood and linked arms in solidarity and one team did not even take the field until after the anthem ended.
The NFL didn’t line up in support of Kap but when Donald Trump calls NFL players, “SOB’s” suddenly, the shit hits the fan. Or, as former NFL great, Shannon Sharpe said on Fox Sports’ Undisputed:
“I’m disappointed. And I’m unimpressed. Because this is the tipping point. Of the 7,537 things that President Trump has said in the last 50 years, him (Trump) calling an NFL player an SOB is what brought the NFL, the owners and its players, together. And while some might be moved by the conscience of these NFL owners, it wasn’t their conscience that moved them. It was the cash.”
Sharpe points out that several NFL owners gave “...a million dollars for the inauguration of President Trump” even after they ignored all of The Donald’s racist and sexist comments throughout the Presidential campaign.
Sharpe continues, “And now they (NFL owners) seem to be shocked (at what Trump says about the NFL). Every author that’s written a book about President Trump, and they started writing books about him in the 1980s, they say he is exactly today as he was then.”
Perhaps Sharpe is right. Perhaps the majority of the League’s owners don’t give a rat’s ass about social equality and instead see free publicity for their team and therefore -- extra cash. Last year, when conservatives were in an uproar over Kaepernick’s kneeling protest, do you recall seeing and / or reading about any such wide spread NFL solidarity for him?
I don’t either.
But the solidarity is there now. And I’m happy to see it. It’s the right thing to do. Obviously.
But some folks are going crazy. As always.
How bout them super vocal, rage fueled Cowboy’s fans who screamed into the Texas winds they were “one hundred percent positive!” that “Boys” owner, Jerry Jones will fire any “ungrateful, disrespectful” player who knelt during the anthem?
Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, kneels during the national anthem.
Is Mr. Jones doing it for cash, as Mr. Sharpe suggests, or in solidarity? Or both?
I don’t know. And I don’t really care. But I do know, despite world wide / US issues blowing up all week long -- hurricanes, war threats with North Korea, healthcare reforms -- President Trump had to weigh in on the NFL.
Again, and again, and again.
As President Trump leads the way, emboldened racist Americans step up across the country and voice their concern over these “ungrateful, disrespectful” -- NFL players. (And we all know that what they really mean is, “ungrateful, disrespectful -- n****rs!).
Like Paul Smith, a fire chief in Pennsylvania. He took to Facebook and called out head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Tomlin’s Steelers waited in the locker room until after the national anthem ended and then took the field. Tomlin is one of the few black head coaches in the NFL. Smith writes on Facebook:
"Tomlin just added himself to the list of no good N****rs! Yes I said it."
How about John Valko, WI restaurant co-owner. Valko, again on Facebook, in a now deleted post, writes:
“Kill the idiot players. Execute them. They are nothing but garbage. The league is screwed up if they think it is their right. It is their duty to respect our country and our flag. They should go kneel in front of a freight train. Shame on these stupid misfits of society. They need to die.”
Even semi famous people are getting in it. Taya Kyle, the widow of “American Sniper” Chris Kyle told the NFL off, in a ridiculous condescending and naïve open letter. She writes:
“(NFL…) You were doing your part to bring people together and heal the world … You were doing your part celebrating each other based on skills, talent and a joint vision without regard to color and religion ... You were doing your part and we were doing ours. We showed up cheering and groaning together to as one. We talked in the concession lines and commiserated and celebrated our team together. Did it ever occur to you that you and we were already a mix of backgrounds, races and religions? We were already living the dream you want, right in front of you … Your desire to focus on division and anger has shattered what many people loved most about the sport. Football was really a metaphor for our ideal world – different backgrounds, talents, political beliefs and histories as one big team with one big goal - to do well, to win, TOGETHER … You dear NFL, have taken that. You have lost me here.”
Damn you, NFL players! You were just about to solve racism with your next Play Action Pass and you went and ruined it all with your fucking kneeling!
Look -- NFL players kneeling or standing during the anthem is not a federal issue. So President Trump can STFU about it. The NFL is a business and is not beholden to the Tweet Whims of President “Tiny Hands.”
If NFL commissioner Roger Goodell tells NFL coaches & players what they can and can not do during the national anthem, well, that’s one thing, because he’s their boss. And the boss usually gets a say in how his employees behave.
Well - Roger Goodell, the man in charge of the NFL, has come out in full support of players protesting during the national anthem. Sorry, Mr. President -- the boss has spoken. End of discussion.
But it’s not just Trump and mostly white private citizens that are in a tizzy, it’s also, mostly white conservatives politicians and pundits that are freaking out too. And all of them love to use the words, “ungrateful” and, “disrespectful” about mostly black, NFL players.
All of this is what led Trevor Noah of the Daily to Show to ask, “ungrateful to whom” in this delightful six minute Daily Show clip that you should totally watch -- “When is the Right Time for Black People to Protest.”
Conservatives -- enough with the “ungrateful” -- “disrespectful” BS! As Trevor Noah points out, “That’s some sneaky ass racism.”
Though it’s really Noah’s Dr. Seuss inspired closing lines in the above linked video that sum it all up rather nicely.
(Since most folks don’t click on links. I’ll recreate it for you here)
When is the Right Time for Black People to Protest?
By Trevor Noah (and probably Daily Show staff writers too)
“It’s wrong to do it in the streets.
It’s wrong to do it in the Tweets.
You CANNOT do it on the field.
You CANNOT do it if you kneeled.
And don’t do it -- if you’re rich.
You ungrateful -- son of a bitch.
Because there’s one thing that’s a fact.
You CANNOT protest if you’re black.”
Our friends up north need to let it go. According to a cross section of northern commentators, the Second Reconstruction may be over, but they think a third one may be necessary.
Consider the Washington Post’s take in an Op Ed by their columnist Harold Meyerson. He suggests that, “Underpinning all this was the virulent racism of the white Southern establishment.” But he’s just warming up. He goes on to say: “If the federal government wants to build a fence that keeps the United States safe from the danger of lower wages and poverty and their attendant ills – and the all around fruitcakery of the right wing white South – it should build the fence from Norfolk to Dallas. There is nothing wrong with the fence as long as you put it in the right place.”
When you refer to Southerners as fruitcakes, and suggest a border to keep them in their place, it reflects a weird desire for sectionalism, and a long tired grudge to keep re-fighting the Civil War. Look, we down here acknowledge that the South lost the war. Oh, it was close, and bull-headed politicians on both sides caused over one million soldiers to die. But that was then, and most of the South has let it go. But it appears that many in the North still have trouble with it.
Sure there are racial issues to deal with. Remember the racial breakdown in the O.J. Simpson trial out in California? Polls showed it to be 90-10. Overwhelmingly, whites thought Simpson was guilty. Over 90% of African-Americans believed he was innocent. I can remember watching split TV screens showing African-American groups cheering, and rooms full of whites shaking their heads in disgust. Racial issues and unrest are still realities all over America.
As I travel throughout the country, I’m still somewhat surprised by the stereotypes of southern living held by a good number of those folks living above the Mason-Dixon Line. Oh, we have our share of Good Ole’ Boys, and I do tell my share of redneck jokes. I miss George Jones, I like country music, and I do drink Dixie Beer. But the South is not all Bubbas and banjos. Well, all right, I do play the banjo and my doctor’s name is Bubba. But a number of northern opinions reflect the South as being outside what is considered to be the American norm.
Many non-southerners form an opinion of the whole south from movie stereotypes like Steel Magnolias, Sweet Home Alabama, and The Help. TV hits like the Dukes of Hazard, Mayberry, and The Beverly Hillbillies created impressions that will stick with viewers from Boston to San Francisco for a lifetime. And who can forget Deliverance? There’s a great deal of nostalgia about an earlier way of southern life and romantic notions about southern life today. Sure we love to watch and re-watch Gone with the Wind. But so do millions, not just all over the U.S., but also all over the world.
Numerous writers migrated to New Orleans to find their creative juices. Tennessee Williams, Robert Penn Warren, Sherwood Anderson, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty and Ernest Hemingway, to name a few. Food? You can have New York and San Francisco. I’ll take Emeril Lagasse, John Besh and a host of other Southern restaurateurs any day. And at half the northern price. Maybe, just maybe, there is some envy about a culture that seems to produce an inordinate number of “rednecks” that are talented, creative, and so successful that it puts the rest of the country to shame.
Jazz, the blues and country music were born in the South. Did you know that America’s first opera house was in the New Orleans French Quarter? And what about American patriotism and commitment? 47% of all the U.S. military casualties in Afghanistan were from the South.
Not only can the South be eloquently defended, there’s a case to be made for southern exceptionalism. Sure there are continuing problems to be worked out, just as there are all over America. And maybe there is a case for reconstruction. Not because the south wants to “rise again.” No, it’s a reconstruction of bigoted and outdated northern attitudes that have held both north and south back for many years. You folks up north take care of your “fruitcake” comments, and we’ll do our best to handle Paula Dean. Oh, but can you pass on the grits and biscuits?
Jim Brown is a guest contributor to GCN news. His views and opinions, if expressed, do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Genesis Communication Network. His column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show, Common Sense, each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Communication Network.