Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Okay Minnesota, Game On!

Joe Mauer is one of the brightest young stars in baseball. Last year, he not only became the first catcher to win the AL batting title, but became the first catcher in history to lead both leagues in batting average. He seems like a really nice, likable guy as well. That's why I sincerely hope that he doesn't end up on the DL if the Indians do the right thing and plunk him with a fastball during his first at bat when the Twins visit Cleveland next month.

Why go after Mauer? Because while Johan Santana is probably the best pitcher in baseball, he is also a jerk. After Travis Hafner took him deep last night, Santana first plunks the very next batter (Victor Martinez), and then plunks Hafner when he comes to bat in the seventh. Then, instead of just shutting his mouth, Santana mumbled something about "trying to throw a two seamer and it went too far." What a crock.

A pitcher has every right to claim the inside part of the plate, and sometimes that means that you have to throw at a guy to get that message across. That's particularly true in today's game, where power hitters wear more protective gear than most linebackers. And I also think that if a batter shows a pitcher up with some video game home run trot or similar antics, he ought to know what to expect with the first pitch of his next at bat.

I must admit, if I were Johan Santana, I'd be pretty honked off about Pronk's home run too. After all, about all that was missing was Crash Davis trotting out to the mound to deliver a line like "Man, that ball got outta here in a hurry! I mean anything travels that far oughta have a damn stewardess on it, don't you think?" Santana was probably even more infuriated by the knowledge that he absolutely owned Pronk before that at bat. But I think that what really got under his skin was knowing that he'd wake up to headlines like this one this morning.

Given all that, I can forgive the pitch that hit Martinez (which I'll admit may not have been intentional, despite the suspicious timing), but sitting around waiting for an opportune time to throw at Hafner last night was just bush league, pure and simple.

Santana couldn't deal with no longer being invincible in his own building. So, he decided to throw at the hottest hitter in the American League and the one guy that the Tribe cannot afford to be without if they are going to avoid giving away their shot at a pennant in the first six weeks of the season. The Indians and Twins have a history of bad blood, and it looks like Minnesota's decided to renew the feud. Okay, Twinkies, game on!

See you guys next month, and tell Joe Mauer that he may want to wear his catcher's gear when he comes to the plate.

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