Mon Feb 10 02:38pm EST
A routine physical, and a subsequent biopsy, revealed a cancerous lump on the neck of Minnesota Twins general manager Terry Ryan, the team announced Monday. Squamous Cell Carcinoma, it is called. As a result, Ryan is being treated by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. and is not expected to attend spring training in Fort Myers, Fla.
Ryan, who turned 61 in October, has been Twins GM for 15 seasons over two stints — from 1994 to 2007, and from 2011 to present. A grandfatherly figure, Ryan always has come off as one of the nicer executives in Major League Baseball. Any prayers or good wishes sent his way won't be wasted.
Ryan gave a hopeful statement and made it available on the Twins website:
Wed Dec 04 01:59pm EST
Tuesday was 3-D Printing Day across the United States and that got left-hander Craig Breslow of the World Series champion Boston Red Sox excited. Reputed to be the smartest baseball player in the world, Breslow graduated from Yale with a degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, and he was accepted at NYU med school after scoring a 34 (28 is considered average) on his MCAT. But how can someone become a doctor when he can still get guys out in the major leagues? It's been a good kind of dilemma for Breslow, who has a 2.82 ERA in 402 career innings and has settled in with the Red Sox, his sixth major league organization.
Breslow's interest in science stems in part from his sister, who is a 20-year pediatric cancer survivor. Her illness drove him to start the Strike 3 Foundation in 2008, and it inspired Breslow's first contribution to 3-D printing — the process of making a solid object of virtually any shape from a digital pattern. With the help of General Electric (where Breslow's wife and father-in-law have worked), "Strike 3" pendants were manufactured with 3-D printing Tuesday. The future is here! And Breslow took a few moments to discuss it (and other stuff) in the most scientific Answer Man session yet.
David Brown: Why are you so excited about 3-D printing?
Craig Breslow: I'm kind of enamored by the technology. We live in a pretty interesting time in that, as they become available to more people, it's pretty fascinating to think about the limitless bounds that 3-D printing can take us to. Day to day, you look at the production of small and common household goods and you wonder if, someday, anyone could design, create and manufacture them yourself. As someone who has a science background, it's a pretty exciting event for me.
DB: When you first heard that this was real, did "Star Trek" replicators cross your mind?
Craig: I actually thought more of the "Jetsons," where the robot maid (Rosie) would just push buttons on what looked like a vending machine and an entire meal would pop out. The other thing I thought was whether 3-D printers can print 3-D printers.
DB: Whoa. That's like the picture of infinite TV cameras.
Craig: Inside of the looking glass!
DB: How has your charity gotten involved with this? What are you making?
Craig: It's been called a pendant. It embodies a few aspects of the Strike 3 Foundation. The public could tweet about any 3-D creation they like best. It takes just a few seconds to make. The designer was Juan Pablo Cilia. We've got this flaming baseball pendant that was inspired by our logo.
DB: Do you think 3-D printers could make a human organ someday?
Craig: Haha. I don't know about that. It seems like we're quite far away from something like that. But I certainly could see 3-D printing having a role in operating procedures. Materials for bone grafting and joint replacement — those kinds of things. I think that organs, because of the incredible detail of tissue, it would be incredibly difficult. I think, in our lifetimes, keeping our hopes to inanimate objects would be best.
DB: What about teleportation?
Craig: Haha. It's my understanding that it would break some fundamental rules of physics. It would cause a host of universal issues.
DB: What about applications for baseball?
Craig: I'd imagine we'd be able to manufacture bases, pitching rubber, baseballs. We could get amazingly consistent in the manufacturing of baseballs. The seams could all be of precise height.
DB: You're doing wonderful work with your foundation. But does it take an emotional toll on you?
Craig: I don't have kids of my own, but I can certainly appreciate how hospital visits, or things like that, naturally it would become more emotional if I did. I also think that it almost becomes selfish to know that you can change a kid's day by visiting, by spending some time with them, and choosing not to do so because it seems like it's too hard. When you rationalize things that way, it helps you to deal with those sadder moments.
It's amazing but often times when you go visit to the hospital, it's the kid who is the pillar of strength in the family. He or she is the person telling the siblings or parents everything will be OK. They're the rock. Is it instinct, or childhood naïveté? I don't know. It's become common to hear parents talk about their kids going through chemotherapy, and how they view this as "just another day," no different than when they've skinned their knee or bumped their elbow. It's just kind of the next step in getting better, trying to get better. They don't understand why everyone is making such a fuss about them. It's pretty remarkable.
And every visit is valuable. As good as we athletes might make them feel in a visit, it's remarkable how much of their strength and courage rubs off on us. Invariably, in groups of players leaving a hospital, we'll talk about some kid who is 7 years old and how they made our day. They do it just by laughing, and being themselves and making their family more comfortable.
DB: Can you believe hair from Big Papi's face went for almost $11,000?
Craig: The short answer is yes. Given the mania surrounding it and anything hair-related on the Red Sox, and David Ortiz being David Ortiz, absolutely. Earlier in the year, a jersey he wore for our first game back after the Boston Marathon bombings was auctioned for $30,000 or 40,000. So it shouldn't be too surprising.
DB: What is your facial hair worth?
Craig: I think I had to pay someone $35 to shave it off.
DB: Did you keep any of it for future generations?
Craig: No I did not. Fortunately it's still growing back. Looking at my father and what he's looked like as he's gotten older, I wasn't sure if I'd be able to. But it's coming in again. For now I have the ability to grow another beard. It was a pretty neat thing, the beards. We all got caught up in the camaraderie and chemistry of it — but I think I prefer to be clean shaven
DB: So they're not going to bring all of that hair back? Guys like Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes?
Craig: I don't know. I think Nap was insisting that he was never going to shave again for the rest of his life. I would imagine that if he starts to trip on his beard running to first base he'll trim it up, probably.
Hopefully we can come up with a new set of rallying gimmicks next season. Even if we don't, I'm just happy to be going back to Boston. There's so much volatility in this trade, and the amount of traveling is so high anyway, it's just good to be heading back to the same team. And it's such a great city.
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DB: Glen Perkins of the Twins has talked about trying to bring back the bullpen car. Is that something you could get behind? How would you like to get to the mound in the future?
Craig: Well, let me add that 3-D printing could also have a big role in producing the parts in a bullpen car — haha. Anyway, the bullpen in Boston is not terribly far from the mound, given the layout of the ballpark. I am certainly OK with jogging to the mound, but if we were just going to come up with the neatest way... I'm thinking a Segway.
DB: What about a giant pneumatic tube, like at a bank?
Craig: Haha. That would work, but they'd need to create a structure that wouldn't affect balls hit into play. Something that let us out in foul territory by the dugout would be reasonable.
DB: Taking yourself out of the equation, who is the smartest player on the Red Sox?
Craig: Hmm. Probably Andrew Miller.
DB: Another left-hander. Coincidence?
Craig: A 6-foot-8 one, too. Maybe not [a coincidence]. When I think about players who are well-spoken and involved in Players Association matters ... left-handed pitchers are overwhelmingly represented when it comes to intelligence.
DB: I've seen him drink champagne and beer from another man's cup, and yet I feel that Jonny Gomes is smarter than he's given credit for.
Craig: No, he's smart. People tend to evaluate intelligence in terms of book smarts or being able to answer math and science problems. But anyone who can be quick-witted and sharp-tongued like Jonny is pretty intelligent. He's obviously a reporter's delight.
DB: Do you get tired of answering questions about how smart you are?
Craig: I get tired of having to fool more and more people. No, I don't get tired of it considering some of the other things that athletes might be known for. Being known as smart is not the worst thing in the world. I would say that there are times when I become frustrated that what I've accomplished on the field is overshadowed by the idea of "Let's write a story about how smart Craig is." But, all in all, there are worse things that are written. We're obviously all aware of some of the controversies that plague big leaguers. PEDs, night-life issues, stuff that happens off the field. Plenty of things that make backpage fodder. If "Yale graduate" is the worst thing that people say, that's got to be OK.
DB: Was your left hand ever suspected of being on PEDs because it is "so pretty"?
Craig: People see that and it's pretty atypical of my behavior in public, or anything else out there of me, so it's kind of freaky. But the story behind that: The comedy troupe (12 Angry Mascots) invited me to be a guest of their show the night we filmed the "Pretty Hand." Ticket sales from it went to "Strike 3" so that was a good reason to do it. And it was fun.
DB: Did writing about the big throwing error in the World Series help you get past it?
Craig: It was more of an honesty, loyalty and integrity thing. If I was going to turn out copy and have people read insight from some of my better games, then I also owed it to anyone who cared to read after a game that didn't go well. It was a sense of responsibility. Obligation. More of that than anything I felt from a therapeutic standpoint.
DB: I was afraid to ask this because of what happens in the movie, but ... you went to Yale. Are you in the Skulls?
Craig: I knew a few people who were in the Skull and Bones — that was the full name of the organization they shortened for the movie. I may — or may not — have been in a rival secret society.
DB: Oh, really. So you're a Mason!
Craig: I can neither confirm nor deny.
DB: If the Red Sox lost one their medical staff on a long road trip and were shorthanded, could you fill in?
Craig: Haha. We have a great medical staff and considering that I was hurt in spring training but I ended up pitching through the rest of the season, I 'd like to thank the training staff for helping me do that. I'd like to think that when it comes to stretching hamstrings and taping up ankles, I'll leave it to them.
DB: In 20 years, will you be Dr. Craig Breslow, Esq.?
Craig: Heh. I don't know. There's certainly a chance. I've also become very interested in front office positions. The intricacies of running a baseball team — transaction strategies, evaluations of players, the trends of the market and those kinds of things. I can see myself going into a front office. But I have not given up on science.
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Mon Nov 18 10:59pm EST
It's mostly the glasses, but if you watch video from 2000 of Minnesota prep star Joe Mauer talking about making college football recruiting visits to places such as Michigan, Arizona State and Florida State, you'll wonder to yourself: And what about Hogwarts?!
The youth, the innocence, the unassuming earnestness, the naiveté, the "don'tcha' know" accent — it's all there as Channel 11 in the Twin Cities interviews the 17-year-old quarterback from Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul. He was destined not to be a college football star, or a prodigal wizard, but instead a franchise catcher (and first baseman) with the Minnesota Twins.
"You look like a professor ... you look like, you know, a chemistry student," the reporter says, leaving out what, today, would be an obvious reference to Harry Potter. But the interview happened a year before Daniel Radcliffe made Potter even more famous on the big screen than J.K. Rowling did in her series of books.
Still, Mauer's glasses are like what Potter wore in the original cover art of the books, although he looked more like "Where's Waldo?" in those days.
"I just think of myself as an ordinary 17-year-old," Mauer says in the video. "Who just likes to go out and have some fun. I especially like playing the sports I play. I'll just keep on doing that as long as I can."
Mauer's attitude is pretty much the same at 30.
Here's the viddy:
Mon Nov 11 01:16pm EST
Back in August, before Joe Mauer's season came to a premature end because of a concussion, Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he would talk with his superstar catcher about possibly becoming a first baseman.
The toll that catching was taking on Mauer, who turned 30 in April, was making it tougher and tougher for him to get on the field. It was the second time in three years he ended a season injured.
Apparently, he and Gardenhire agreed, because the Twins announced Monday that Mauer was giving up the chest protector, mask and mitt for ... a slightly different mitt. Mauer is the Twins new first baseman.
"Joe decided that he'd like to make this move, and we're happy with that," Gardenhire told Sirius/XM Radio.
The team broke the news on Twitter:
Fri Nov 08 10:10am EST
If the first day of spring training is the time of year when "every team's still a World Series contender," then the second week of November is when "anything can happen in free agency." Well, almost anything. Robinson Cano probably won't end up playing for the Oakland Athletics, for example. But might the Minnesota Twins add a pair of Santanas — Ervin Santana and Johan Santana — to their starting rotation?
Sure, why not try for both Santanas? Twin Santanas! Chances are, one will come through.
But with Ervin Santana reportedly seeking $100 million, and likely to get at least a great big chunk of it, the Twins aren't going to be adding him. They're still in rebuilding mode. In some future season, when Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano have matured, Joe Mauer's contract is about expired, they're on the verge of being a contender for real and $100 million doesn't buy what it used to, then, sure. Old Ervin Santana would be a fit.
But how about a Johan Santana reunion, in lieu of all that?
Mon Nov 04 03:05pm EST
If free agency in Major League Baseball were craps, the Boston Red Sox would be the "hot shooter." A year ago, general manager Ben Cherington was on his way to adding Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Ryan Dempster, Jonny Gomes, Stephen Drew, David Ross and Koji Uehara in free agency. Several of those players were instrumental, even indispensable, in bringing another World Series title to Boston. On the downside, even the contract for Dempster — $26 million over two years — isn't out of whack that much. There have been worse misses, and the Red Sox have made some. Not here.
So, it's on that kind of roll that Boston enters free agency 2013-14. It recently came across the wire that catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was not given a qualifying offer by the Red Sox, which means he'll become a free agent with no compensation attached, which makes it more likely he'll be given offers that Boston will find unappetizing. It's also expected that the Atlanta Braves will give a qualifying offer to franchise catcher Brian McCann, but it's only to ensure they receive a draft pick as compensation. They are not expected to re-sign him (although that could change).
And those moves make the Red Sox players for McCann, one of the top talents at any position on the market. Reporter Brian McPherson of the Providence Journal writes that it's unlikely the Red Sox would go into the season with David Ross and Ryan Lavarnway (or a fellow named Dan Butler) at catcher, and the market other than McCann is weak, unless you're counting on a huge bounce-back season for Carlos Ruiz:
Wed Oct 16 03:20pm EDT
There was a choice quote from Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland last week about his team not changing things up too much. "We are what we are," Leyland said. "And this is the way we play the game. This is who we are. There are no tricks."
What Leyland did Wednesday before Game 4 of the ALCS isn't a "trick" — but it is a new look for the Tigers. He unveiled a lineup unlike any he's given the Tigers in the past six seasons. He's hitting Miguel Cabrera second for the third time in his career.
#Tigers lineup: Hunter 9, Cabrera 5, Fielder 3, Martinez DH, Peralta 7, Avila 2, Infante 4, Jackson 8, Iglesias 6. Fister is starting.
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) October 16, 2013
Tue Sep 24 03:14am EDT
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It's the final week of season No. 6 of the Juice! Stop by daily for news from the action, along with great photos, stats, video highlights and more.
The Detroit Tigers could have clinched a postseason berth Monday night. It looked like they would, the way Justin Verlander was mowing down Minnesota Twins batters early in the game.
Verlander struck out 12 in six innings, including 10 in the first four innings, helping the Tigers take a three-run lead into the eighth. That's when things turned upside-down. The Twins scored two in the eighth, then tied the game when Brian Dozier lead off the bottom of the ninth with a home run.
In the 11th inning, the Twins completed the comeback when Dozier led off with a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored the winning run after a single by Josmil Pinto — Minnesota's Joe Mauer replacement. That was it, the Twins won 4-3.
Sat Sep 14 04:12am EDT
With more focus being placed on concussions and other head injuries as we begin to understand their impact on the longterm health of professional athletes, it should come as no surprise that the NFL's official website published an article on that very topic on Friday afternoon.
But something was just a little bit off about its focus. Rather than discussing the NFL’s concussion problems and the latest on how they plan to make the game safer for their players, the article focuses exclusively on the growing concussion concerns in Major League Baseball. Yes, they really went there.
Thu Sep 05 11:39pm EDT
Out since Aug. 19 because of a concussion, Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer said Thursday that he is not close to returning to game action. With the Twins long gone from the pennant race, no sense of urgency should pressure Mauer back to the field for the final three weeks of the regular season. And that's a good thing, because concussions are not to be taken lightly.
And yet, some aren't looking at it that way. Mauer, one of the highest-paid players in Major League Baseball at $23 million annually until 2018, finds himself in a no-win situation. Why? Because a growing number of vocal Twins fans think the hometown boy is soft and weak. Blogger Mighty Flynn at It's A Long Season noticed the reaction to the recent Mauer news in the comments section of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. There's not a lot of sympathy:
• "This is why you NEVER agree to a long term HUGE dollar contract with a catcher. He’s been hurt more than he’s been on the field, oh and he can’t hit a HR to save his life any longer!"
• "What a China Doll."
• "Why is it so important to keep him? He is a Florida resident with no desire."
• "Sorry, but given Mauer’s track record with health it’s hard to not be skeptical of his pain tolerance. I know concussions are nothing to mess with, but you lose credibility when you cry wolf over 8+seasons every time you have an ouchie."
Not all of the comments are like that, but the level of derp of amazing, given what happened to Mauer's former teammate, Justin Morneau, in 2010. That injury — which actually had been accumulating over time — took more than a year to heal.
Ignorance abounds, as it can anywhere, but internet comment sections seem particularly vulnerable to it.