by Randy Ooney
My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
It won’t be long now. In a short time we’ll be showing up at the bowling center on league night, and the TV screens will be tuned to Major League Baseball. Now that the cable and satellite providers have added MLB network to their listings, we have been able to see a lot more Spring training telecasts when we’re not watching college hoops. What we have all officially learned is that Spring training games are really, really boring. Maybe the first few innings start with a half dozen players that you might know, but by the fifth inning there is no one on the field wearing a uniform number lower than 60, and it feels like you’re watching the New Britain Rock Cats against the Billings Mustangs. And the list of so called injuries is brutal. Sure we’ve lost Joe Nathan already. But Justin Morneau with “general soreness”? Joe Mauer got hit with a foul tip, got an owwie, and missed a week. These guys miss more games than Howard Jones misses bowling nights.
I cannot help but notice the similarities between baseball and bowling. First, the pitcher’s mound is 60 feet 6 inches from home plate. About the same distance of a bowling lane. Both games are played in a stadium, (if you go to Reno), and by coincidence 60 feet 6 inches is about the same distance of the oil pattern at the NBS. In both games, the pitcher tries to throw a strike. Three strikes is an out or turkey, depending on the sport. Four strikes is a Hambone, or a stupid blind umpire who called the second pitch a ball, even though it was on the black at the knees. I’ve heard many announcers refer to an inning as a frame; When the season starts, I’m going to call a bowling frame an inning just to get even. Maple is used for both pins and bats, and both have a tendency to crack when hit by a ball too often. Johan Santana, Joe Mauer, Kirby Puckett, and Gardy have all visited local pro shops at one time or another, and Tim Tuttle at Elsie’s has one or two bowling pins in his trophy case, autographed by various Twins players.
Somehow, “Bowling, burgers, pumpkin pie, and Toyota” doesn’t seem to have a ring to it. I’ll be out to Target Field this year, but probably not until May. I like a little warmer weather with my baseball. The opening series with the Red Sox has been sold out for weeks, and I’ve seen tickets on eBay going for hundreds of dollars. It seems the Twins could make enough money to pay Joe Mauer if they just announced sellouts for all the games and put the remaining tickets on eBay instead of the scalping profiteers.
It’s time to make a call. Remember, Randy Ooney named Denny Hecker 2009 Turkey of the Year, and he’s already trying for Turkey of the Century and we’ve only passed the 10 % mark. I also picked Kansas to beat Lehigh in my bracket. How many of you got that one right? Cleveland is rebuilding. Kansas City is rebuilding for the 22nd straight year. Detroit has the players, but they don’t seem to be a team. Chicago still has A. J. Pierzinski. So I favor our Nathanless Twins to win the Central Division with a two game lead after 162 games. The Angels sneak by Boston for the wild card and go to New York, meanwhile, the Twins lose again in the first round, this time to Seattle.
Oh yeah - write this down. Joe Mauer has already signed a long term deal to remain a Twin. This will be announced on Opening Day, April 12, to the sellout crowd at Target Field.