Tag:Paul Molitor
Posted on: July 23, 2011 3:07 pm
Edited on: July 23, 2011 3:23 pm
 

Alomar should have been first-ballot HOFer


COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- There is no reasonable explanation why Roberto Alomar was not a first-ballot Hall of Famer. None.

There are theories as to why he had to wait until his second year of eligibility. Mine is this: An enormous bloc of the New York voters left him off of their ballots, penalizing him for the way his skills vanished almost overnight at the end of his career during his brief stay with the Mets. I think they confused the fact that he couldn't play anymore with their suspicion that he simply quit trying.

Consequently, I think that many of them withheld their votes from Alomar until this year. That's their prerogative and their right, even if I disagree.

The other, more prevailing theory is that Alomar was penalized in the voting for the one despicable incident in his career, when he spat upon the face of umpire John Hirschbeck. He long ago apologized, and the two men have maintained a good relationship over the years since.

As for that possibility, this is what Alomar says:

"Me and John, we have a great relationship. We have become great friends, and I want people to know that the year that I didn't make it, one of the first phone calls that I got was from him apologizing, [saying] that he feels sorry for me not making it ... saying that was one of the reasons why I didn’t' make it in the first round.

"And I told him, 'No, it's not your fault. It was my fault. And, you know, we just have to move on. Me and John have become great friends. We have done a lot of great things for the foundation. I became real friends with him and his family. John embraced me the same way I embraced him.

"And when I got in this year, he was one of the happiest men alive. He left a message on my phone. I still have the message. And it was a great message and, you know ... we both move on and hopefully people can move on and let this episode go."

Likes: The village of Cooperstown is like something from the set of a 1940s movie. What a great place. You can never go wrong by coming here. ... Reggie Jackson striding through Sam Smith's Boathouse and Blue Mingo Grill for dinner in Cooperstown. The Macadamia nut encrusted halibut is outstanding at the Boathouse, by the way. And the coconut cake with vanilla ice cream is sensational. ... Robin Yount and Paul Molitor coming in from the golf course Saturday morning. ... Talking about the late Sparky Anderson with Al Kaline in the lobby of the Otesaga Hotel here Saturday morning. ... Bert Blyleven's sense of humor. ... Billy Williams' smile.

Dislikes: Cell phone service is awful in the area. My phone is getting reception probably an average of 10 minutes every hour.

Posted on: July 6, 2011 6:45 pm
 

HOFer Molitor on Jeter and 3,000

Hall of Famer Paul Molitor ranks ninth on baseball's all-time hit list at 3,319, just after Honus Wagner (3,415) and just in front of Eddie Collins (3,315).

Not only will he be watching as Derek Jeter becomes the 28th player to join the group, he's one of just a handful of players in baseball history who actually can relate to what the Yankees shortstop is going through now that he's just four knocks away from the milestone hit.

"You hope that as you approach it, you're swinging well and it doesn't become too much about sliding into it vs. marching into it," Molitor says. "You always separate individual goals and team wins as you approach, and you hope it's something where the experience allows you to feel pleasure in those things instead of the pressure."

With Robin Yount as a teammate in Milwaukee before Molitor punched out No. 3,000 while playing for Minnesota in 1996, a then-unknowing Molitor -- dubbed "The Ignitor" with the Brewers -- got a sneak peek of what was to come for him back in 1992.

"I was fortunate in that I had the opportunity to watch Robin do it a few years before myself," Molitor said of Yount, whose 3,000th came on Sept. 9, 1992, a single against Cleveland's Jose Mesa in Milwaukee's County Stadium. "I got a glimpse into the way you go about your business with that while trying to help the team win."

Jeter will become the first player ever to hit 3,000 as a Yankee, which puts him into his own unique and extraordinary category. But given what the Yankees represent and Jeter's consistent attitude throughout his career, the whole individual goals vs. team goals thing is extremely relevant. Jeter already has expressed some awkwardness about all eyes being on him.

On the other hand, as we've seen over the years, outside of a contentious contract negotiation, there is little that ruffles Jeter.

"Derek has never been one to be phased by too many outside influences," Molitor says. "He's always had an amazing ability to take the emotion out of at-bats, whether it's in October or during regular season at-bats.

"He's had a remarkable career. It's going to be a pretty special accomplishment."

Likes: Molitor remains the only one of the 27 members of the 3,000-hit club to triple for his historic hit. He did it against the Royals' Jose Rosado on Sept. 16, 1996. How'd he do that at 39? "You have to pay the outfielders off on the high fly balls into the gap," he joked.

Dislikes: Quick thumbs from umpires Joe West and Angel Hernandez. Those two are brutal.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Hot town, summer in the city
"Back of my neck getting burnt and gritty
"Been down, isn't it a pity
"Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city
"All around, people looking half dead
"Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head
"But at night it's a different world
"Go out and find a girl
"Come on, come on, and dance all night
"Despite the heat it'll be alright"

-- Lovin' Spoonful, Summer in the City

Posted on: February 27, 2011 1:09 pm
 

Stuff my editors whacked from the column

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Outtakes from the Twins' camp regarding why Michael Cuddyer may have missed the World Series had Minnesota advanced in October, plus a rookie pitcher to watch:

-- Yes, Michael Cuddyer says, getting bounced from the playoffs by the Yankees (again) last October still hurts. But things might not have worked out well for him regardless last October even had the Twins played in the World Series.

Not only did he undergo arthroscopic surgery on his knee in mid-October, but he was stricken with appendicitis two days after that. All the time, he was going to push the knee surgery back until the offseason. The appendicitis? That might not have cooperated.

"If we had been in the World Series ... I was in the hospital watching Game 2," Cuddyer says. "I was thinking, 'That could be us.' And I was thinking, 'That could be me in San Francisco, laying in a hospital.

"It would have been good if we were in the World Series. But it would have sucked if I was in a hospital bed while it was going on."

Weird thing is, as Cuddyer watched from his hospital bed, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver were talking about Giants center fielder Andres Torres -- and how he was felled by appendicitis in early September but made it back in time for the postseason.

-- One more piece of inside dope on Renaissance man Cuddyer:

"He's a gadget guy," Twins designated hitter Jim Thome says. "He's got all the music, all the information. He's a big trivia guy. He knows all about baseball. Somebody asks who scored 155 runs in whatever year, he knows.

"We go to him. He's the leader of our clubhouse."

-- Keep an eye on young minor-league right-hander Kyle Gibson, 23, tabbed No. 34 on <em>Baseball America's</em> list of top 100 prospects. Gibson could be the next great Twins homegrown starter. At the very least, the man who moved from Class A to Triple A last summer likely will pitch for the Twins at some point this summer.

"He's what you want," Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson says. "His makeup, his attitude, everything about him."

Gibson throws four pitches well -- fastball, change-up, curve and a sinker/slider that is his best pitch.

"He's not your typical kid coming up," Anderson says. "He talks about pitching, changing speeds, pitching to the side to get away from a hitter. He's going to be one you'll hear about."

Sunblock Day? Not one day that you haven't needed sunblock since camps opened. Consistently in the 80s with warm sunshine.

Likes: Unquestionably, one of the best sights of spring: Twins minor-league hitting coach Riccado Ingram in camp and feeling great after being diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor two years ago. He's been through chemotherapy, radiation and, praise be, it looks like he's out of the woods. What a great, great thing. ... Former infielder Jeff Reboulet visiting Twins camp. Reb, one of the good guys, is home in Dayton, Ohio, and working as a financial advisor (yes, he has some pro baseball clients), while teaming with his brother to run a sports academy in his spare time. ... Former Twins manager Tom Kelly, Hall of Famer Paul Molitor and former catcher Terry Steinbach in uniform instructing and running drills. ... Longtime radio man John Gordon retiring at 70 after 25 years with the Twins -- but still planning to broadcast 89 games this year. Team president Dave St. Peter and broadcast partner Dan Gladden talked him into it. ... Perfect tonic to re-charge the spring training batteries: An hour by the pool and dinner at Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Mmmm.

Dislikes: Minnesota bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek, the longest tenured coach in the majors (this will be his 31st season), missing the first several days of spring camp following surgery to repair a detached retina in his right eye. He may wind up missing all of spring camp as the eye heals. Get well soon, Stelly. Spring camp with the Twins just isn't the same.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Now you're lookin' at a man that's gettin' kind of mad
"I had lots of luck but it's all been bad
"No matter how I struggle and strive
"I'll never get out of this world alive
"My fishin' pole's broke the creek is full of sand
"My woman run away with another man
"No matter how I struggle and strive
"I'll never get out of this world alive"

-- Hank Williams Jr., I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive

 

Posted on: March 7, 2010 10:07 pm
 

Hardy hopes to solve mystery in Minnesota

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- You like fresh starts in the spring? Well come visit for a moment with shortstop J.J. Hardy, whose tale is a classic in the genre:

Hardy, part of Milwaukee's young wrecking crew, falls off the cliff in 2009.

His 24 homers in 2008 melt to 11 in '09.

His 74 RBI in '08 shrink to 47 in '09.

He scuffles so much the Brewers ship him back to Triple-A Nashville. Then, looking to trim their payroll this winter, they ship him to Minnesota for center fielder Carlos Gomez.

So here Hardy is, new Twins uniform, blank slate, hopes as high as his production once was.

Credit for some of those hopes goes to Twins hitting coach Joe Vavra and special spring training instructor (and, of course, Hall of Famer) Rod Carew.

"I've made some pretty big changes, and for the better," Hardy says. "Some things I've known I've needed to do, and I just haven't been doing them."

What Vavra and Carew have succeeded (so far) in doing with Hardy is this: Last year, he fell into a bad habit of twisting his upper body back toward the catcher too much as he was loading his swing. What Vavra suggested, and Carew has helped fine tune, is getting Hardy's hands and back elbow in a spot that makes it hard for him to rotate his upper body so extravagantly.

Now, instead of turning back too far before he launches his swing forward, Hardy says he's coming straight to the ball in a shorter, more compact manner.

"It's a new start, and I'm excited about that," Hardy says.

Especially alarming were two things: His deteriorating power, and his declining effectiveness against lefty pitchers. He's never hit right-handers particularly well, but he hit only .169 against lefties in '09 (as opposed to a .299 career average against lefties through '08).

Can Hardy bounce back?

Did Vavra unlock an eternal mystery?

Will Carew's suggestions put Hardy back on track?

For now, the smile is back, and that's a start.

"I'm going to have fun. Last year, I was miserable. For some reason last year, I felt more pressure on myself. If I was 2-for-4 or 1-for-3, I was miserable because it just wasn't good enough.

"I'd come to the park in a bad mood. It was a long, frustrating year for me."

Sunblock Day? Slow start, but it was in the 70s by day's end Sunday and it is supposed to remain in the 70s for the rest of the week. Let the burning begin.

Likes: Nice conversation the other day with former Twins manager Tom Kelly, in camp helping as an instructor. The other day, he was on a half-field working with the infield defense and with the pitchers in their fielding practice. He's doing well and roves throughout the Twins' minor-league system during the summer, evaluating and teaching. As for spring camp, he'll be here through the end. "Gardy wanted me to come for the whole spring," T.K. says of manager Ron Gardenhire, as if it came as somewhat of a surprise. ... Hall of Famers Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew and Paul Molitor also are in uniform as guest instructors. Between those three and T.K., it's an impressive sight. ... Nice conversation also with former outfielder and first baseman Dmitri Young, who is retired and was visiting his brother, Twins' outfielder Delmon. Dmitri says he's retired with no regrets, and his top priority now is being a father to his three kids. He brought his oldest, 12-year-old Owen, who served as the Twins' batboy on Saturday. ... Nino's Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria in Fort Myers remains as delicious as ever, and it was good to hear that the owner of the joint, Graziano, was able to get away to his native Italy for three weeks last summer. More impressive, he spent the time with some friends making food and feeding people following last April's earthquake centered in Abruzzo mountain region of Italy.

Dislikes: Aw, I'll have left Florida by the time Wilco plays in Clearwater on March 23. I've had a heck of a time catching up to them over the past year. Would

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I feel alright, it's a Minnesota night
"You've got nothing left to show me but your smile
"Stars so bright on this Minnesota night
"Can we cut the conversation for a little while?"

-- The Push Stars, Minnesota

 
 
 
 
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