The Twins have a new house, so they have to have new clothes. The duds Mr. Span is wearing to the right are actually the new throwback alternates, which everyone (Span included) thinks look better than the actual new homies. They’ll only be worn at home on Opening Day and on Saturdays, but if the Twins truly want to look sharp, they’ll make those the new regular home uniforms and make the other ones — these guys — the alternates. Sure, they’re throwbacks, but they’re classic looking as opposed to gimmicky. The Twins never looked better than when they wore those things, and they should wear them all the time now.
They also have new road uniforms which, while looking a little Nationals-esque to me, mercifully eliminate the pinstripes, which look truly wretched on gray. In fact, I’d consider an argument that pinstripes looks wretched on everyone except the Yankees, but that’s best saved for another day.
Also gone — well, mostly gone — are the “M” hats. They’ll still be worn (read: marketed) as an alternate, but the “TC” logo will reign supreme both at home and on the road as God and nature intended. The “TC” is choice and never should have been abandoned in the first place.
Sadly, however, Minnesota still insists on having a solid blue alternate jersey, which looks simply terrible. In fact, if I were made commissioner for a day, the first thing I’d do would be to ban the wearing of solid jerseys that don’t match the pants. It looks like softball.
Yesterday, in Milwaukee, utilityman Hernan Perez pitched two scoreless innings, and backup catcher Erik Kratz pitched one himself, mopping up in a blowout loss to the Dodgers. In doing so they became the 31st and 32nd position players to pitch this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the most position players who have taken the mound in a season in the Expansion Era, which began in 1961. Presumably far fewer ever did so when the league had only 16 teams.
It’s pretty remarkable to set that record now, in this age of 13 and sometimes 14-man pitching staffs. That’s especially true when teams shuttle guys back and forth from the minors more often than they ever have before and when, due to the shortened, 10-day disabled list, it’s easier to give guys breaks because of “injuries” than it ever has been.
Pitcher usage is driving this, however. While teams carry far more relievers than they ever have before, they actually carry far fewer swingmen or mopup men who are capable of throwing multiple innings in a blowout to save other pitchers’ arms. Rather, teams focus on max-effort, high-velocity relievers who go one or two innings tops, thus requiring catchers and utility guys to help do the mopping that actual pitchers used to do.
I don’t know if that’s a bad thing necessarily — some of these backup catchers throw harder than a lot of pitchers did 30 years ago and it’s always kind of fun to see a position player pitch — but it is yet another way the game has changed due to a focus on specialization and velocity when it comes to pitchers.