As if this season needed to get any worse, Eduardo Nunez, the only member of the Twins to be named to Tuesday’s All-Star game, didn’t get a chance to contribute to the American League’s 4-2 win. Instead, as noted by MLB.com, he sat for eight innings and then came in as a defensive replacement to take part in the final three outs of the game.
Nunez certainly deserved to see more time in Tuesday’s game, including a chance to swing the bat. After all, he hit .321 for the Twins in the first half of the season, the sixth best batting average in the AL. So, what gives? Yes, the Twins are struggling, but I feel compelled to say the following:
ATTENTION BASEBALL FANS, ALL-STAR GAME VOTERS AND MANAGERS: IN CASE YOU’VE FORGOTTEN, THE TWINS ARE A MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL TEAM THAT HAS BEEN PART OF THE AMERICAN LEAGUE SINCE 1961. THEY’VE PLAYED IN THREE WORLD SERIES — WINNING TWICE — AND APPEARED IN THE PLAYOFFS 11 TIMES, INCLUDING SIX TIMES BETWEEN 2002 AND 2010. THEY’VE PRODUCED THEIR SHARE OF STARS OVER THE YEARS, INCLUDING THOSE ENSHRINED IN THE HALL OF FAME, AND CONTINUE TO PRODUCE TALENT FROM A FARM SYSTEM THAT REMAINS ONE OF THE DEEPEST IN BASEBALL. JUST YOU WAIT: THE ALL-STARS ARE COMING.
Speaking of All-Stars and Hall of Famers, July 12, 2016, was the 20th anniversary of Kirby Puckett’s retirement announcement. Puckett, a 10-time All-Star, was forced into retirement after he woke up one spring training morning in 1996 with vision problems in his right eye — later to be diagnosed as glaucoma. Puckett’s life, to put it mildly, wasn’t the same after he left baseball, and he eventually suffered a stroke and died in 2006 at 45. He had previously entered the Hall of Fame in 2001, his first year of eligibility.
The Strib on Tuesday recalled Puckett’s farewell comments:
“Baseball’s been a great part of my life. But now it’s time for me to close this chapter of this book in baseball and go on with Part 2 of my life. Kirby Puckett’s going to be all right. Don’t worry about me. I’ll show up and I’ll have a smile on my face. The only thing I won’t have is this uniform on. But you guys can have the memories of what I did when I did have it on. And I want my young teammates to know right now that when you put this uniform on, you play with pride and integrity, like Kent Hrbek and Molly and Knobby [Chuck Knoblauch], and all you guys play with it. Just don’t take it for granted, because tomorrow is not promised to any of us.”
A question for Twins fans: Pitcher Dennis Martinez beaned Puckett in the face toward the end of the 1995 season, and I always thought that incident triggered Puckett’s vision problems. Was that not the case?
Meanwhile, 1988 was a much better year for the Twins and the All-Star game. Take a look:
Puckett hit .356 with 234 hits, 42 doubles, 24 home runs and 121 RBIs in 1988.
I’ll say it again: That’s hitting, people