Joe's MLB on TV Report - Twins

Number thirty in a series.

Broadcast: Minnesota Twins on FSN North, Twins at LA Angels, 8/21/08; Announcers: Dick Bremer (play-by-play), Bert Blyleven (analyst), Telly Hughes (reporter)

If you're a fan of Bert Blyleven using the telestrator to circle fans with "Circle me Bert" signs, you'll be happy to know that he managed it on four different occasions during this game, even with the Twins on the road.

I, of course, don't care for such things. (Nor did I care for what was billed as a "Gamebreak" in the third inning. I figured it would be an out-of-town score update or something relevant. Instead, FSN broadcasters Anthony LaPanta and Ron Coomer, live from the Minnesota State Fair, announced their choices for best food-on-a-stick -- a corn dog and a pork chop, respectively.)

At least Blyleven can talk about the game, including a nice explanation of how some pitchers can defy the standard "left vs. left, right vs. right" pitching strategy. Righthanded hitters were batting .296 against righthanded Angels starter John Lackey, while lefty hitters were hitting just .192 against him. Lackey struck out lefthanded Twins hitters Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel in the first, and Blyleven explained how Lackey set it up by establishing his fastball inside, then throwing his curve down and in. Many lefty hitters, he said, like a knee-high pitch they can pull, but Lackey's curve can "go underneath the swing." Blyleven compared it to his own curve against righthanded hitters, or Steve Carlton's slider against lefthanded hitters.

According to Wikipedia, Blyleven has a penchant for getting a bit off-color, The Wikipedia article says that during a 2006 game "the topic of conversation with a guest shifted from George Brett to singing in the shower. Blyleven mentioned that he had showered with Brett, and the guest expressed surprise. Blyleven exclaimed "Well, there were other guys there!...although they did say not to bend over." As a source, it links to a Deadspin article from 2006 which quoted Blyleven, apparently during the same game (and perhaps with the same guest) as asking one-time American Idol contestant Ace Young, "Let's talk about Paula Abdul...did you get lucky with her?" That normally would make me wonder why the hell Ace Young was there to begin with, but considering the "food-on-a-stick" survey I saw...

Anyway, Blyleven said nothing so outrageous on this night. Play-by-play man Dick Bremer, who was generally competent, had one decent line and one head-scratcher. Commenting on a side-by-side comparison of the very similar pitching motions of Lackey and Twins starter Scott Baker, he said it "looks like an Olympic event: synchronized pitching." Not bad, but in the top of the 12th, he declared it was "time for the Twins to go helter-skelter. There are gonna be two bunts this inning." For what it's worth, there were none.

Fortunately, this 12-inning game (won by the Twins 2-1) was so unlike a typical game, particularly one in the AL. It was over in just 3 hours, 16 minutes. Usually that's about as long as a 9-inning game, or about 6 innings if it's a Yankees-Red Sox game. Grade: B-minus.

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