Saturday, May 22, 2010

Answering the Unanswerable

Lately, I have found myself spending a lot of time thinking, "what do I want?" You know, in a general "what-do-I-want-from-life" sort of way. For the most part, the answer to this ultra-ambiguous and pretentiously philosophical question has been, "shit, I have no idea."

Sometimes, the question is something simple, which leads to an actual answer. "Do I want a sandwich?" Why, yes, yes I do.

Sometimes the question is something complex like, "What are you going to do after you are done with your internship?" Which leads to the, "shit, I have no idea" answer.

Then, there is the third category of questions. The ones where I know the answer, and know what I want, but can't have what I want. This is, of course, one of the more troublesome conundrums of life. And one that everyone faces. Fairly often actually.

Take, for example, a friend of mine. (No this isn't one of those "friend" situations where I am actually talking about myself. This will become obvious in a moment because this example is so simplistic that I would have no reason to divert the attention from myself with that "I have a friend" crap. Point being, ignore this digression.) Anyway, my friend tells me that she has had an overwhelming urge to eat chocolate, ice cream, and possibly chocolate and ice cream simultaneously lately. The problem is, she is unable to eat chocolate and ice cream because she is on a strict no chocolate and ice cream (among other things) diet for health reasons.

The ironic thing is that, as she explained it, "I never really ate much ice cream before, but now that I can't have it, I really want some."

So what gives?

Is she just a crazy person? Well, possibly. But in this instance she is perfectly illustrating the point that human desires seem to be driven by things that we can't have.

Sometimes it is something small, like an ice cream cone. Sometimes it is something big, like a house. Sometimes it is a person (which, of course, is the first step to stalking. So just don't go overboard). Whatever the case may be, we become even more infatuated with our desires when they seem out of reach.

But why is this? Is it just some weird, "fuck you, you can't tell me what to do" mentality that all humans possess? That is certainly one explanation. I know that people trying to tell me what I can or cannot do is one of my pet peeves.

Realistically, there is no answer to why we want things that we can't have. I mean, if you ask Google, you get about a million different "answers" (most of them having to do with wanting to have sex with someone). Basically, everyone knows they want things they can't have, and everyone has an opinion on why they think they want things they can't have, but nobody can legitimately tell you why they want what they can't have.

The best explanation I can come up with, isn't really an explanation at all. See, the thing about humans is we are driven, at our core, by emotions. Not logic, but pure emotions. At the core of every decision is an emotional drive that may or may not be present beyond the subconscious. As much as we may want to think we can legitimize every decision or action with an explanation, there really is no way of doing so.

We become driven by wanting to answer the unanswerable.

The funny thing about that drive, is that in and of itself it is a desire for something we can't have.

People become so entranced by their desires that when they begin chasing after that person place or thing, and realize what they want is out of reach, they just want to know why. They were driven so wholly by their emotional desires, and the knowledge that what they want seemed to fit so perfectly, that when they can't have it, they just want to know why.

And that is an unanswerable question. Because even if they receive an answer that is logical, simple, and reasonable, it won't seem that way. It won't calm their emotions. Really, it won't seem like an answer at all.

They will still be left with their desires.

So, yes, maybe you can claim to have the answers. And, hell, you might even have a few. But in the end, you'll always be left wanting something. Because in the end, you will be left with unanswerable questions. Questions that will make you want the answer even more.

And like everyone, I have no answers. I can't really explain your desires to you. I can't tell you why you can't have what you want, and why that makes you want it even more. But I can, at the very least, tell you that I got through this entire post without saying "you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need."

Oh, damnit...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Week Six Random Thoughts...

...I know I skipped week five. (Not just random thoughts-wise, but pretty much disappear-off-the-face-of-the-earth-wise. I'd make up an excuse, but that seems pointless. And I'm back now. So there.) Anyway, I would just like to point out that I went to the Twins vs. Orioles game last Thursday, you know, when they lost 2-0 and it was cold, rainy, and that damned kestrel made was inaugurated as the this-might-get-old random shtick of the season, and I still had fun. Baseball is meant to be played outside, even if it is 48.3 degrees out and raining.

...Two game series are ridiculous. I know they are rare, and caused by some anomaly in the scheduling, but there has to be a way to avoid them right? Give me some good old fashioned 3 or 4 game series, please. I'd make a point about the travel being a pain for the road team, but in this case the road team was the White Sox, so causing them pain is a good thing.

...Then again, the Twins have back-to-back two game series with Toronto and Boston coming up, so I'm going back to my original point: two game series blow.

...I'm going to go ahead and say it: I don't think Kevin Slowey is completely healthy. At the very least, based on the way he completely collapses after a few innings basically every start, it would appear he has some sort of fatigue issue. If I had to guess, his arm isn't completely back to full strength. I am basing this on complete armchair analysis, of course, but it seems to me that would be the most logical explanation for his struggles. Or maybe he just sucks, I don't know.

...I'm kidding, I don't think Slowey sucks.

...Between J.J. Hardy's triple-that-should've-been-a-walkoff and Morneau's-flyout-that-should've-been-a-homer, I'm beginning to get slightly frustrated with the way Target Field plays. I know it goes both ways, and it takes homers away from opponents as well, but a few bombs would be nice. I mean, the Hardy and Morneau shots were CRUSHED and didn't make it out. Plus, if this keeps up, Dick is going to freak out and start killing people once he gets fed up with overreacting to so many flyouts.

...Ugh. Matt Tolbert.

...How bout that Carl Pavano? Eh? I mean if he keeps pitching like this I might start feeling bad for making fun of his giant nose and squinty face.

...The Twins are the Yankees bitch.

...The Twins are the Yankees bitch.


...Alright, sorry.

...I will say, while I have no idea if the Twins actually had some weird Yankee Stadium retardation, that caused them to completely clench up, it is nice to see them actually win a game. Especially with Jason Kubel breaking out for one of his patented grand slams. I'd say this was a turning point for the season, but the Twins were already in first place with one of the best records in the league so...

...I would also like to note that, sadly, I missed Kubel's grand slam. I was frolicking around outside in the nice weather. That is my only beef with day games, by the way, I just don't like sitting inside when it is nice out. Now had I known klutch Kubel was going to show up...

...While losing 2 of 3 in any series is not good, things in New York could have been a lot worse. Especially after the A-rodian defeat on Friday. Chalk Saturday up to being just a bad game for the Twins (which will happen from time-to-time) and with the amazing win on Sunday, the Twins actually did pretty well for themselves. The Twins went punch-for-punch in exciting, inning-wins, and threw up one clunker. Certainly not an apocalyptic New York vacation.

...Lastly, I miss J.J. Hardy. Not because he is pretty (okay, partially because he is pretty) but because I am sick of Gardenhire playing Harris at shortstop instead of Punto. Ugh.

...Oh, and lastly, the TwinsCentric viewing party was a great, per usual. If you haven't made it out to one I highly recommend it, and it was great seeing everyone who was there. Oh, and if you need any more incentive, there were poop-jokes-a-plenty courtesy of Josh of Josh's Thoughts and Emily of Chatter From The Cheap Seats. Intrigued? Yes, yes you are.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Delmon Young Day

To Delmon?

When Delmon Young makes solid contact. And I mean really solid contact. When he lines the sweet spot of his bat as perfectly as possible with the middle of the baseball, nobody on the Twins hits the ball harder. Nobody.

Not Joe Mauer. Not Justin Morneau. Not even former great Jason Tyner.


We saw glimpses of what Young is capable of in the second half of last season, especially down the stretch. Young's line in September/October? .340/.364/.544 with 4 home runs and 14 RBI.

Is this a big enough sample size when compared to the rest of his disappointing career? Of course not.

The odds are, Young hasn't turned some corner, and put up the same type of season he has every year of his career (he has actually been surprisingly consistent. Or at list consistently inconsistent.)

Are the stories about Young dropping 29 pounds in the offseason overblown? Of course they are, it is part of the whole "spring training stories game." Someone comes to camp in the best shape of his life, and suddenly it is all aboard the one-way train to career-yearsville.

With two years in a Twins uniform under his (now looser) belt, and one similar year with the Rays, the easiest thing to do is assume Young is what he is. We've seen enough, and we can peg Young as the guy who has a lot of talent, but will never live up to it because he can't grasp the "grip it and rip it" concept of hitting. That is to say, he thinks he is a scrappy singles hitter.

Somewhat ironically, the other easy thing to do is take all the good things we have seen in Young and say "this is the year he puts it together." People have said that every year since the Twins acquired him after all.

When the Twins first acquired Young, I was in the camp that loved the deal and felt -- having never really seen him play -- that he would, in fact, "put it together" and at least partially replace Torii Hunter's bat in the lineup. He was a highly touted prospect coming of a decent rookie season, after all.

When it quickly became apparent that someone had taught Young that taking a full hack at a baseball was inappropriate, and inside outing squirters to the right side of the infield was the best possible hitting approach, I gave up on Mr. Young. His stubborn refusal to adjust and realize that he is a power hitter whose batting average is irrelevant, didn't help matters.

So basically, since about May of 2008 I have been out on Young. I thought he would never get it together. When he showed signs of his talent, I scoffed at the apparent aberration.

Well, I am here to announce that I have changed my mind on Young. I'm going to be the one touting his potential this season. Not because he lost weight, or because he hit well for awhile last year, but because I actually believe he is finally ready to be a Major League Baseball player.

People forget that Young is, well, young. The dude is only 24. Have you ever met someone under 24? I mean, I know a fair number of people under the age of 24, and, quite frankly, I would be more shocked if any of them DIDN'T throw a baseball bat at someone than if they did. My point is, people under 25 are stupid. They just are.

I know what you are thinking, "someone plays the maturity card every year you sniveling jackass." And you're right, they do. And, yes, I am fairly snively.

The fact is, however, Young has proven time and time again that he has not made that jump in maturity. And, personally, I believe that everybody makes that leap at some point in their life. To varying degrees, yes, but at some point everybody's brain clicks and they start to actually figure shit out.

So why do I think it will be this year for Young? Well, OK, the weight loss does help. It shows a certain level of focus. But also, it just seems like it is time for him. He finally has an unquestioned starting job in left field, and little to no pressure on him. In fact, he and J.J. Hardy get to battle for "least amount of pressure on the roster" this year because nobody has high expectations for either, and they get to hit 7th and 8th in a lineup that includes Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, and Michael Cuddyer.

Do I have some hard statistical evidence for why I think now is Young's time? Not really.

Call it a gut feeling, I suppose. (Or maybe a lack of gut feeling in Young's case.) All I know as I am sitting here on March 1st, I believe in Delmon Young.

I guess that is what the optimism of spring training does for you.

Or Not to Delmon?

Remember playing organized baseball as a little kid? You know, the days when everyone had to play in a game out of "fairness." It was annoying enough to be pitching on a team as a 12-year-old and you lose a game because the little bastards behind you can't make an f-ing I digress.

My point is, sometimes it seems like Ron Gardenhire manages like he coaches a Little League team.

Yes, Major League players need to get playing time in order to get into a groove, but there is also such thing as "over-juggling." Not everybody gets a chance to play in every game. When there are 25 guys on the roster, some guys are going to play less. They just are.

It is hard to really complain when the Twins are 7-3, but the way Gardenhire has shuffled playing time between Delmon Young, Jim Thome, and Jason Kubel has been unnecessary.

Instead of having a set lineup, everyone is left to wonder which of the three will be playing on a given day. And for a lineup this good, that is not a question mark they need. These guys should have defined roles.

Take for example yesterday. Thome was in the lineup in favor of Young. On Jackie Robinson Day. I mean, come on now, that's I should probably stop before I piss Orlando Hudson off.

In all seriousness though, the Twins need to find a set lineup. Especially when you consider the fact that Young has been one of the Twins hottest hitters to start the year, and he is still trying to prove that he can live up to his talent. Until he begins to stumble, he should be in the lineup every day.

Like Young, Kubel, the Twins third best hitter, should be in the lineup every day. Pitching matchups be damned, Jason Kubel should not sit.

So what does this mean for Thome?

I'm not saying that Thome should NEVER play. But playing Thome for the sake of playing Thome is not why Jim Thome is around. He is a bat off the bench, and that is how he should be used.

Need a pinch-hit-for-Punto? Call big Jim.

Someone need a day off? Call big Jim.

The fact is, Thome can get plenty of at-bats without being detrimental to Kubel, Young, or anyone else. Between guys needing days off and pinch-hitting, Thome will get his at-bats. You don't need to find Thome at-bats, the at-bats will find him.

Having Thome on the team is a good thing, assuming he is utilized correctly. The fact is, however, that when you start inserting Thome in the lineup because he "needs at-bats" you are doing so at the detriment of other players, and often the team.

Only nine games into the season, it is hard to say the Twins have found their lineup routine yet, but at the rate they are going the lack of continuity could get out of hand.

The Twins need to set a day-to-day lineup, and allow Thome to slide into his rightful role: a slugger of the bench.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Week Four Random Thoughts...

...Francisco Liriano is absolutely cruising. Obviously. The best thing we saw all week from Liriano wasn't his 8 shutout innings against the Tigers on Tuesday, but rather the way he didn't unravel after giving up 2 runs in the first inning against the Indians on Sunday. Last year, Liriano wouldn't have made it past the third inning in that game. So yes, shutouts are good, but confident Liriano who can overcome a little early game adversity is even better.

...Also, Liriano is underrated in the svelteness department. Yes, svelte Delmon (or Sveltemon, as I am now calling him) has rightfully gotten the svelte press, but Liriano's svelteness is far more important because svelte Liriano apparently = best pitcher in the league.

...And yes I just set a record for the use of the word "svelte."

...I'm not worried about Kubel...yet. As long as he keeps on smirking, he'll start hitting.

...Soo...Brad Thomas is still alive? Good for him.

...Scott Baker is a wiener. He just is. I feel like someone needs to get a switch (people still use those, right?) and give him a beating. Or at least threaten to give him a beating, I mean I'm not hear to advocate a switch beatin'. All I'm saying is the dude has no hootspa, testicular fortitude, etc. He's a good pitcher for the most part, but he's just a wiener and that is why nobody really trusts Scott in a big spot (see what I did there?).

...Scott Baker is what he is, by the way. He isn't an ace, he's just a good Major League pitcher.

...I'd say something about Jesse Crain, but why?

...The pat Neshek is disconcerting. Not the injury, but because I'm a little worried he is gonna go all Glen Perkins on us after the whole "please put me on the DL" thing. He doesn't seem as goobery as Perkins though so it doesn't seem like he would do that.

...Did it annoy anyone else when Gardenhire went with Crain in the 12th inning instead of Jon Rauch? Even when the Twins have a pretend closer, they still do a poor job of knowing when to use him.

...Mauer who?

...I feel kind of silly for saying the Twins are using Jim Thome too much considering, you know, he's been the best hitter out of the Sveltemon, Kubel, Thome group. I am now off the Sveltemon bandwagon and on the play Kubel and Thome as much as possible.

...I'm a sucker for seeing guys first Major Leauge hit. Especially when I jokingly say "Luke Hughes" is going deep, and then Luke Hughes does, in fact, go deep.

...I reference this every week, but, well, it continues to be an issue so I feel obligate to bring it up. The Twins little hitting with the bases loaded problem, while frustrating, isn't really a problem. They are hitting well as a team for the most part, and the fact that they can't hit with the basis loaded right now is just a weird flukey thing. For now at least.

...Did the Indians complete over-celebration blow anybody else's mind on Saturday? I realize you are the Indians, so winning is confusing, but still. You just beat the Twins by getting a hit off Jesse Crain with the bases loaded and nobody out. I know you waited until there were two outs to actually get the hit, but you were SUPPOSED to win there. Just sayin.

...It's kind of nice that the Twins finally lost a series since, you know, it was inevitable and now everyone can stop pretending that it wasn't.

...I would just like to say that the Twins ended April on pace to win about 104 games. I know there are some issues, but this is overall a good baseball team. Deal with it people.

...Lastly, J.J. Hardy? No longer pretty.

...No, just kidding, dude's still pretty.