Code Duello: Twins and White Sox

Code Duello: covering the practice of dueling and points of honor, drafted and settled at Clonmel Summer Assizes, 1777

Rule 1. The first offense requires the first apology, though the retort may have been more offensive than the insult. Example: A tells B he is impertinent, etc. B retorts that he lies; yet A must make the first apology because he gave the first offense, and then (after one fire) B may explain away the retort by a subsequent apology.

"American Duels and Hostile Encounters"

Rule 2. But if the parties would rather fight on, then after two shots each (but in no case before), B may explain first, and A apologize afterward.

"American Duels and Hostile Encounters"

Well, now we know what it feels like to be a Tiger fan. I just rinsed for the third time. I think that was the one (and hopefully lone) time in my life I uttered “Go Shef!” Gross. Freddy Garcia, however, was actually pretty clean until forced out in the 6th with shoulder stiffness. He finished with 5 frames of two run ball. His successors were abysmal, giving up 6 runs in the last four. Twins fans either were reminded, or learned, that Detroit skipper Jimmy Leyland is a fine manager and a classy guy. He jockeyed throughout, and ESPN commentators quipped that he was managing as if he were in a playoff game. If you feel any need to see the box, please click here.

I don’t. Nor do I ever want to think about that game again. All we should focus on now is tonight’s duel. Winner moves on (Thursday at Tampa), loser plays golf. What has taken 162 games to (not) sort out, will be decided in three hours tonight. This is the first American League one-game playoff since 1995. The reason this game’s in Chicago by the way, is because of a fricking coin-flip rule that the we lost a few weeks back. In other MLB front office news: if nobody could have found a coin that day, they were going to toss darts. No darts? Rock-paper-scissors. It’s in the bylaws. The Twins, it should be noted, won the season series over the White Sox, 10-8.

And tonight, at 6:30 pm (on TBS), is still considered the regular season, a year in which the Twins went 35-46 on the road, 2-7 at U.S. Cellular Field. The White Sox are 53-28 at home. Going for the Sox on three days’ rest is lefty John “I’m really nervous” Danks (11-9, 3.47 ERA; 2-3, 6.88 against the Twins lifetime; 1-1, 7.91 against Minnesota in ‘08) versus Nick “I feel quite calm” Blackburn (11-10, 4.41 ERA; 2-2, 5.67 against White Sox in ‘08). The Twins have gone 2-3 in Blackburn’s September starts, including their win over the White Sox last Wednesday in which the hurler tossed 5 innings of 2 run ball. Chicago has gone a mirrored 2-3 in Danks’ September starts. Here’s how the numbers line up:

Chicago regulars vs. Blackburn Cabrera: 3-15 (.200) Swisher: 3-9 (.333), 3 BB Thome: 4-12 (.333), 2 2B, 3 K Dye: 3-13 (.231), 1 HR A.J.: 5-10 (.500) Konerko: 1-11 (.091) Ramirez: 3-4 (.750) Uribe: 4-8 (.500) Griffey: 1-2, 2 RBI

Twins regulars vs. Danks Mauer: 8-12 (.667), 2 BB Morneau: 7-16 (.438), 2 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 4 BB Cuddy: 7-12 (.583), 2 2B Punto: 1-11 (.091) Kubel: 3-7 (.429), 6 RBI Young: 3-9 (.333) Gomez: 2-10 (.200), 3 K Harris: 5-10 (.500), 2 2B, 3 BB Casilla: 0-3 Span: 0-3

Candidly, I feel I’m looking toward this game, this duel, as I looked toward the eve of my 21st birthday a dozen years back: excited at the prospect of growth and eager to feed expectation and hype; but a little wary about what and how much I may consume.

I feel there are two schools of thought approaching tonight. The first is amazed, impressed and happy we made it this far. The second is subscribing to the school Dr. Johnson of: “He who becomes a beast, gets rid of the pain of being a man.” Either philosophy fits, although I’ll state my attachment to the latter. Nothing that happened prior to tonight really matters. We’ve come to this point in time, we’ve earned this opportunity and this chance. Let’s grab it, hold on tight, and make history.

“It’s time to head over to Chicago,” Nick Punto said as the Twins departed the Dome clubhouse last night. “We have a one-game playoff and this is what it's all about. This is exciting stuff.” If past performance is indicative of future result, he’s right. In the six, one-game MLB playoffs since 1969, three of the games have been decided by two or fewer runs.

Gentle readers, this has been a special season to be a part of. I consider myself most fortunate. And while a win by the Tigers last night would have no doubt been readily celebrated, the true embracing of victory will come with a win tonight. A win we earn on their field. This is the Twins way, the classy way, the way of the gentleman, the way of the code duello.

And so the backs align, as we hope the stars do as well. And the representatives count off paces, “One,” “Two,” “Three,” “Four,” and onward, before a shot is fired.

Go Twins.

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