Column: Watching for fun

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Nathan Cooper, Subbing Down

Yes, the Minnesota Twins are hot. Sorry, they’re not winning making the playoffs.

While our favorite team has been ripping off wins in interleague play, so has the rest of the

American League. The Twins record is even good enough for first place in three other divisions.

Things tend to go in cycles. The division was considered one of the weakest in baseball while the Twins were soaking in the pennants, so I consider it a little payback to Minnesota for the years the team could have won the division with 84 wins.

I’m not out on a limb here &045; but it is frustrating to listen to media talk about the White Sox’s wild card lead all the way down to 7 1/2 games.

Sure, three seasons ago the Twins were trailing division-leading Kansas City by 7 1/2 games on July 17, but the cream-puff days of the AL Central are gone.

Instead of worrying about how many games they’ve got to make up in the 80 remaining games, how about just enjoying baseball?

Jason Bartlett and Michael Cuddyer have had their share of struggles between the majors and triple-A ball, but they’ve silently become more-than-worthy of contributing to a winner.

With a little luck, Cuddyer &045; Manager Ron Gardenhire’s goat for several early season losses &045; could drive in 100 runs.

Head to the Metrodome and take in Joe Mauer’s swing, Torii Hunter’s glove and Johan Santana’s arm. Appreciate General Manager Terry Ryan and President Dave St. Peter, and their ability to find prospects that give the Twins one of the best farm system in the game. Minnesota will probably buy and sell before the trading deadline. With Ryan’s savvy, I’ll bet we find a name or two on the roster to trade for some up-and-comers.

Thank seasoned veteran Brad Radke for his service to the club, and watch what might be his last season before he rides back into the Florida sunset.

Chuckle at Gardenhire’s postgame comments after a loss, which are sure to throw somebody under the proverbial bus.

Be happy that Rondell White and Tony Batista are gone, and hope Kyle Lohse will soon follow that path.

Value the classic voice of Herb Carneal, and don’t get carried away with the cheerleaders that are John Gordon, Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven.

Most of all, enjoy the season.

That said, it’s hard to respect the upcoming All-Star game with Mark Redman of the Kansas City Royals participating. His inclusion in the mid-summer classic has already been savaged by most baseball enthusiasts, so I’ll just pile on.

The one All-Star per team rule is quite ridiculous, but since MLB is all about fan participation in deciding the roster, how about this: Along with voting in one guy in each league who got screwed

by not being chosen, how about voting on removing one player from each league’s roster.

I’d vote for that, starting with Redman (5-4, 5.59 ERA), Milwaukee’s Derrick Turnbow (4-4, 4.71 ERA, five blown saves), and Troy Glaus (.242 batting average).

I’m also a little surprised with Ozzie Guillen’s selections for the American League subs. In all, six White Sox are headed to Pittsburgh. Respectable, considering the team’s got the second-best record in baseball. So understandably, the Tigers, with the best record in baseball &045; a team Guillen sees 19 times a season &045; gets one selection. For those keeping track, that’s the same number of representatives as the Royals.

And they thought a tie was embarrassing.

(Sports Editor Jeff Budlong’s column will return next week.)