Having a hard time with this whole “social distancing” thing? Yeah – us too. Especially when it comes to the lack of sports. So, we here at The Turf thought we’d offer a way to help ease the pain and suffering. While we may not have any of the current sports leagues to watch live, there is PLENTY of archive footage available at our fingertips. We’ve scoured the internet and assembled some of the most iconic, noteworthy and remarkable sporting events we could find. We also found some mundane, run of the mill matches and contests, that seemed banal at first watch. However, at this point, we’ll take anything that resembles sports, right? Each day, we’ll feature one of the contests and provide you a link where you can relive the glory, exhilaration, and thrill from the comfort of your couch.
Today: We began this series by looking at a great season opener, but what about a great final game of the season? Here’s the 2009 American League Central Tiebreak Game 163 between the Detroit Tigers and the Minnesota Twins.
There’s so much to love about this game, so let’s talk logistics first and foremost. If you don’t love the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, who are you? The Minnesota multi-purpose stadium had already seen plenty of action ahead of this do-or-die tiebreak. The Twins of the late 80s and early 90s were a powerhouse in the American League. If you haven’t, and I’m sure we’ll cover it at some point, check out the 1991 World Series. It is possibly the greatest of all time. Just don’t watch the end of Game 7 if you’re a Braves fan…
Anyway, back to the Metrodome. There’s something mythic about this weird domed ball field. It makes so much sense, and yet no sense at all. Insane nosebleed seats? Sure. The right-field wall is entirely made up of unused seats for Vikings games? Check. Ravenous Twins fans who seem to be packed to the gills everywhere you look, despite the stadium somehow feeling expansive? Absolutely. And this game, which could possibly be the last one ever played within the Metrodome’s walls, has broken the regular season capacity record. There’s a ton of energy, both nervous and exuberant, in the Dome tonight.
There’s also some peak Joe Mauer and Miguel Cabrera in the Dome tonight.
This game opens with Chip Caray introducing us to the late-great Craig Sager who walks us through a forgotten moment in the baseball landscape. Sager reads a prepared statement from Miggy Cabrera apologizing for the distraction his recent domestic incident has caused the team and their fans. Cabrera’s wife called 9-1-1, and when the police showed up they brought Miggy into custody, along with his BAC, which was almost three times the legal limit. That was over a decade ago. How time makes us forget some things.
Speaking of things we all forgot, except you Twins fans, Joe Mauer’s 2009 was exceptional. In the upcoming offseason, Mauer will go on to win his sole MVP award, and rightfully so. Mauer posted a .365/.444/.587 slashline, with a 1.031 OPS and OPS+ of 171 to finish the season. That .444 On-Base Percentage is downright dastardly. In fact, since that season, only five players had an OBP higher than Mauer in 2009.
How good was Joe Mauer in 2009? The second-best player on the Twins in 2009 was Denard Span, who racked up a solid 3.8 bWAR in his sophomore season. If you double Span’s bWAR, his overall value as a player, he’d have a 7.6 WAR. That is STILL LOWER THAN JOE MAUER’S 7.8 on the season.
In the offseason, Mauer would get 27 out of 28 first-place votes for AL MVP. The guy who stole a unanimous MVP from Mauer? Miguel Cabrera. He’s also in this game.
Also in this game is Rick Porcello. Yeah. This game is incredible.
It would be remiss of me to not give a shout out to the broadcast team. Caray and Darling do a fantastic job, as does Sager who is perfect as usual. Darling gives such solid insight in a way that enhances the game and illuminates its minutia in a way that oozes years of knowledge. Caray’s voice is damn near perfect. He’s got the pipes of Joe Buck pitched down just a touch, and without all the things you hate about Joe Buck.
Anyway, there’s a game.
In the top of the third, after Magglio Ordonez knocks in Curtis Granderson (what’s up, my dude, good to see you!), Miggy steps up to the plate and busts this game wide open, taking Scott Baker to deep center giving the Tigers a 3-0 lead. It’s refreshing to see the younger Miguel play. I’m sure rooting for him to hit all the milestones he wants in the upcoming years, but man, when this cat was good, he was good.
Another blast from the recent past in this game is Orlando Cabrera, who parks one in the seventh. The former World Series Champion with the Boston Red Sox was now 34, and had been bouncing around the league for the last few years. Even at the beginning of the 2009 season, Cabrera wasn’t a Twin. But here he is launching one into the left-field bleachers to put the Twins on top in the bottom of the seventh.
Should enough, right? Wrong.
In the top of the eight, however, Magglio Ordonez decides this game needs to be more interesting. On the second pitch he sees, Ordonez smokes one to the exact same spot as Orlando Cabrera. The game is now tied 4-4.
I won’t say anything more, as there’s plenty more that happens in this game. However, let us all remember that one time we got true bonus baseball from a few of the greatest hitters of the mid-to-late 2000s.
See you tomorrow. Stay Safe. Stay Smart. Wash Your Hands.
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