Former Twins pitcher and present color commentator Bert Blyleven is up for the Ford C. Frick Award - I'll leave that joke to you - honoring the game's top voices. There are 194 candidates for broadcasting excellence and voting ends today.

The 2007 ballots were released yesterday, beginning the long and controversial journey to the July 29th induction. It is expected to be the biggest ceremony of this generation, with results being announced on January 9th.

There are seventeen HOF ballot virgins this year, including one of the best short stops to ever play the game, Cal Ripken, Jr. (a shoo-in), who is best remembered for breaking consecutive game streak with 2,632 games played over a sixteen-season span. He spent all of his 21-year career with the Baltimore Orioles. Now, that's dedication.

, who could be considered one of the best and most consistent hitters in MLB history, is another first-timer to the ballot. He never hit below .309 during any full season throughout his 19-year career.

Then there's - who has a shot at the Hall on a cold day in hell. Mark once hit 70 homers in a single season (1998) but everyone is quite curious whether or not he took performance-enhancing drugs to elevate his play in the '80s and '90s. Maybe he just pumped a lot of iron. In my opinion, there is no place in the Hall for cheaters. That is another blog, entirely...that I will never write.

And Jose Canseco. He wrote a book, once.

My personal favorite is of course, . Bert pitched 22 Major League seasons, nine with the Minnesota Twins (1970–1976 and 1985-1988). Besides his two World Series rings and two All-Star appearances, he ranks 5th all-time in strike-outs, 7th in innings pitched, 9th in starts and shutouts and 25th in wins. His awards collection includes the Sporting News AL Rookie of the Year in 1970 and Comeback Player of the Year in 1998...I mean, 1989. Fuck. I fucked that fucking thing up. Bert Belongs!

Of the 32 candidates this year, 15 are returnees. If I were to break down every former player, it would take 10 years and a lot of coffee. So, here they all are, listed in alphabetical order along with their years spent on the ballot. Their links will bring you to an informative paragraph on each player written by Barry M. Bloom from MLB.com:

Harold Baines (1)
Albert Belle (2)
Dante Bichette (1)
Bert Blyleven (10)
Bobby Bonilla (1)
Scott Brosius (1)
Jay Buhner (1)
Ken Caminiti (1)
Jose Canseco (1)
Dave Concepcion (14)
Eric Davis (1)
Andre Dawson (6)
Tony Fernandez (1)
Steve Garvey (15)
Rich Gossage (8)
Tony Gwynn (1)
Orel Hershiser (2)
Tommy John (13)
Wally Joyner (1)
Don Mattingly (7)
Mark McGwire (1)
Jack Morris (8)
Dale Murphy (9)
Paul O'Neill (1)
Dave Parker (11)
Jim Rice (13)
Cal Ripken (1)
Bret Saberhagen (1)
Lee Smith (5)
Alan Trammell (6)
Devon White (1)
Bobby Witt (1)

Due to complete boredom after an exciting day of slightly unexpected MVPdom, I would like to share with you one of my favorite baseball sites. . Afterall, it is the Official Chat Room of Major League Baseball. If you've never been there, check it out. I gaurantee it'll make you bust a gut.

Here are some links to hilarity:


Just Like the Ocean Under the Moon

as does the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Justin Morneau was voted the AL's Most Valuable Player this afternoon in what could be considered the most heated debate in MVP-voting history. Umm...by me. Not only did he have to contend with Yankee's star short stop Derek Jeter, he had two teammates up for the same honor: AL Cy Young winner, Johan Santana and AL Batting Champ, Joe Mauer.

It was as close as we all had imagined, with Morneau getting 15 first-place votes, 8 second-place votes, 3 third-place votes and 2 fourth-place votes for a total of 320 points. Jeter was the runner up, receiving 12 first-place votes, 14 second-place votes and 1 fourth-place vote for 306 points. Some might call this an upset. Minnesotans call it justice.

Big Papi finished third with 193 points while the Big Hurt finished fourth with 174. Mauer came in with 116 and Santana tallied 114 total points.

The Twins have not had three players on the same MVP ballot since 1965, when short stop Zoilo Versalles (the first ever Latin MVP) won the honor over outfielder Tony Oliva and pitching ace Mudcat Grant. This is the first time in MLB history that three separate players have won three honors from the same team in the same year, however.

The Canadian Crusher hit .321 with 34 homers, 97 runs scored and 130 RBIs (second in the league to Oritz) and became the first Twin since the likes of Gaetti, Hrbek and Brunansky to hit more than 30 bombs in a season. His fielding wasn't so bad, either. He had only 8 errors with a .994 fielding percentage and some insane digs at first.

Coming off a less-than-satisfactory year in 2005, where he hit just .239 with 22 home runs and 79 RBIs, Justin was headed down the same path during the first couple months of this season. To be fair, the entire team sucked. But after June 8th, he held the best batting average in the bigs (hitting .362), the most hits (145) and the most RBIs in the AL (92). The Twins were 25-33 up until that point and went on to perform at 71-33 for the remainder of the season - an incredible improvement - helping get the Twins another Central Division Title to advance to the postseason.

When asked how he felt about his performance mid-season, Morneau humbly turned the attention to his teammate:
"I watch Joe and he makes it look so easy. Everybody wants to hit like that. Everyone can kind of learn from the way he hits and his approach, as he doesn't seem to chase too much. Having a guy like that around helps me and everyone else, really."

Here's to 2007, where Morneau will continue to chase Harmon Killebrew's 40 home-run seasons.

Today is the day. From the most heated 2006 award debate, who will emerge as the American League's Most Valuable Player? Out of the ten spots on the ballot, here are ten possible player choices the Baseball Writers Association of America had, in no particular order.

With 20 first-place votes and 12 second-place votes, Ryan Howard defeated reigning MVP, Albert Pujols, by a total of 388 to 347. Lance Berkman and Carlos Beltran finished third and fourth, respectively.

From MLB.com...
The sheer force of Ryan Howard's gargantuan home runs cannot accurately be measured in speed or total distance, only by the gasps from those watching such a spectacle.

Read the full article here.

I know this may come as a shock, but Johan Santana has won his second Cy Young Award this afternoon. He swept the first place votes, also for the second time, becoming just the 14th pitcher in Major League history to win the honor multiple times.

Chien-Ming Wang (tied with Johan for most wins in the AL) was the runner-up with 15 second and 6 third place tallies, while Roy Halladay's votes were split at 12 and 12. Among a few others on the ballot, Automatic Joe Nathan got 3 third place votes.

Santana won his first Cy Young in 2004 during his first full season as a starter. In 2005, he finished third in the voting, which was total bull crap. He is now regarded as one of best, if not the best, pitchers in the big leagues, dominating clubs left and right everytime he stepped foot on the hill.

Johan finished the year leading the Majors in ERA (2.77), strikeouts (245) and tied for first in wins (19) to give him the pitching Triple Crown. He also led the AL with 233.2 innings pitched, with a 10-1 and a 2.54 ERA in 15 starts after the All-Star break.

With Brad Radke's shoulder hanging from the socket, Francisco Liriano out for the last two months of the season (and all of 2007) and a couple rookie starters, Santana stepped up as the leader of the rotation. The Twins went 27-7 in games with Johan on the mound, his efforts helping lead the club to their fourth AL Central title in the past five years.

Executive of the Year and Twins general manager Terry Ryan had this to say on Johan's spectacular performance:
"He's really valuable in a lot of different ways...giving us quality innings, his presence in the clubhouse and being an accountable guy in the community and with the media. There are not enough superlatives I could use to describe him. He is that important to our team."

Before winning this award, Santana won the Players Choice Award as the AL's Most Outstanding Pitcher, AL Pitcher of the Year by Sporting News and Baseball America's Player of the Year. He is also on the ballot for the AL MVP.

As Twins fans, we are lucky to have such an incredible talent on our team. Here's to many more seasons of pitching domination, at least every 5 days.

TwinsFest 2007 will take place Friday, January 26th, through Sunday, January 28th, at the Metrodome. More than 50 current, former and future Twins players will be on hand for the event. A complete list of attendees will be released in the coming weeks.

TwinsFest is an annual fundraiser for the Twins Community Fund that has raised more than $3 million for community and non-profit programs since its inception in 1989.

All paid admissions to TwinsFest will include a free Upper Club ticket for a 2007 regular-season home game. Advance admission prices are $8 for adults ($10 at the door) and $3 for children 14 and under ($5 at the door).

After playing 20 games below .500 in 2005 and a mediocre start to the 2006 season, Jim Leyland walked into the Tigers clubhouse and did something. No one really knows what that something was, but it worked. Whatever he said, whatever he did, it worked. Detroit kicked ass all season long. It was like no one could stop them...besides that one time they were swept by the Royals and lost the Division Title to the Twins on the last day of the regular season. Sometimes there are things in life that just can't be explained.

This magic had him awarded American League Manager of the Year on Wednesday. Coming in second was our very own Ron Gardenhire (listed first on 9 ballots and totaled 93 points), third was Ken Macha, then Joe Torre.

Six weeks after being fired by the Marlins and their losing record, Joe Girardi received the same award, beating out Willie Randolph, who still has his job and helped lead the Mets to the NLCS. Just sayin'.

Girardi received 18 of 32 first-place votes and totalled 111 points in balloting, while Randolph got eight first-place votes and 81 points. He will reportedly join the YES Network for the 2007 season as a broadcaster. Good times, good times.

Tony LaRussa became the first manager to win a World Series and not receive one single tally, with voting coming before the post season. Clearly, the Cardinals have taken this personally, per a recent article titled LaRussa shut out in top skipper voting.

In a race that could have gone several ways, Arizona's Brandon Webb got 15 of 32 first-place votes, finishing ahead of Trevor Hoffman and last year's winner, Chris Carpenter.

Read more here.

Twins general manager Terry Ryan was named the 2006 Major League Baseball Executive of the Year by The Sporting News on Monday night (for the second time) during a reception for the general managers at this year's annual meetings.

Ryan replaced Andy MacPhail as GM in 1994, when MacPhail left to become president of the Cubs. As a ball club with shallow pockets - small-market, if you prefer - Ryan has helped keep the Twins remain in competition.

After the 2001 season, the Twins remained alive by court order, bound by their lease at the Metrodome, after a threat to be moved due to lack of revenue. The Twins won the central division title the following year and defeated the A's in the first round before losing to the Angels in five games in the ALCS...which hurt less after they won the World Series. It was after that stunning season that Terry Ryan won his first Executive of the Year award.

This 2006 season, as the Twins played their tails off to beat out the White Sox and Tigers for the division title, the Minnesota Legislature finally approved a plan to build a new ballpark in the Minneapolis warehouse district in 2010. Ryan has had little to work with on paper, but has found tremendous talent in the farm system and a couple trades/pickups in the off-season.

Here's to 2007, Mr. Ryan. May it be as successful as last season, only more so.

Francisco Liriano finished third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting today. Justin Verlander, who helped lead the Tigers to their first World Series in 22 years, landed the honor.

Verlander received 26 of the 28 first-place votes along with one second-place vote to give him 133 total points. Red Sox closer Jonathon Papelbon finished second with 63 points while receiving 20 second-place votes, but no first-place votes. Liriano received 1 first-place vote, 3 second-place votes and 16 third-place votes, totaling 30 points. The only other player to receive a first-place vote was Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis (who I assure you, will one day rule the universe), finishing sixth in the balloting.

A look at upcoming Postseason Awards from MLB.com

Tuesday: National League Cy Young
Chris Carpenter could join Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux as the only repeat NL winner since this award was divided into two league recipients in 1967. There was a six-way tie for the league lead in victories at just 16 - the fewest wins by an NL single-season leader in any year not shortened by labor issues. Carpenter (3.09 ERA) wasn't even part of that six-way tie, winning 15 games, but he was crucial to another division title. Brandon Webb (16-8, 3.10 ERA) is likely to be his chief competition, unless the voters went with a reliever like Trevor Hoffman (NL-best 46 saves) by default.

Wednesday: American and National League Managers of the Year
Theoretically, this could be an interesting distribution to two managers who were dismissed after the season, but Joe Girardi is probably likelier to see that happen than Ken Macha. In the AL, Jim Leyland is a top candidate after returning to the bench to guide the Tigers to 95 victories and a Wild Card berth. His main competition could be Ron Gardenhire, whose Twins surpassed Leyland's Tigers at the wire after a huge in-season turnaround.

In the NL, Girardi had the Majors' lowest payroll and utilized 22 rookies during the season, starting out 11-31 and then staying in the Wild Card hunt until the last week. Willie Randolph managed his star-studded Mets team to a tie for the Majors' best record.

Thursday: American League Cy Young
Johan Santana completed an overall Major League pitching Triple Crown, leading both leagues in wins (19, tying Chien-Ming Wang), strikeouts (245) and ERA (2.77). It would be his second Cy Young Award in three years, if the baseball writers voted accordingly. Other AL pitchers probably were good enough this year that they would win this award in the other league, but also factoring in how Santana helped the Twins to a division title, no other BBWAA award seems more obvious.

Monday, Nov. 20th: National League MVP
Ryan Howard has been on a roll, taking the Hank Aaron Award for best offensive performer, the Players Choice Award for overall Player of the Year and Outstanding Player, among others. Howard hit .313 with 58 homers and 149 RBIs, and helped the Phillies contend to the end.

Competition will include reigning MVP Albert Pujols (.331, 49, 137), who had a monster start and then also showed his value when the Cards struggled while he was injured. Carlos Beltran is the likeliest of a few Mets candidates with 41 homers and 116 RBIs in a return to form, and Lance Berkman had even better numbers at .315, 45 homers and 136 RBIs.

Tuesday, Nov. 21st: American League MVP
Derek Jeter already has won the AL's Hank Aaron Award and a Silver Slugger, as well as a Gold Glove at shortstop -- representing luminous all-around recognition. And his team won the AL East again. Jeter hit nearly 60 points higher than David Ortiz at the plate, but Big Papi always seemed to be there with the walk-off blast, finishing with a Red Sox-record 54 homers and 137 RBIs.

Other likely candidates include Jermaine Dye (.315, 44, 120), Justin Morneau (.321, 34, 130) and Vladimir Guerrero (.329, 33, 116). Dye took the players' AL Outstanding Player vote.

The Silver Slugger Awards were voted on by MLB managers and coaches, who selected opposing players they believed best represented offensive excellence at each position in each league. Votes were based on offensive statistics such as batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

At the top of the list was Joe Mauer, the first catcher in AL history to win a batting title. His .347 batting average also was the best in the Major Leagues, .003 higher than the National League Batting Champ, Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Freddy Sanchez.

The other "M&M Boy", Justin Morneau, also landed his first Silver Slugger Award. He finished among the league leaders in all three Triple Crown categories, batting .321, smashing 34 bombs and driving in 130 runs.

2006 American League Silver Slugger Winners...
DH David Ortiz
C Joe Mauer
1B Justin Morneau
2B Robinson Cano
SS Derek Jeter
3B Joe Crede
OF Jermaine Dye
OF Vladimir Guerrero
OF Manny Ramirez

2006 National League Silver Slugger Winners...
P Carlos Zambrano
C Brian McCann
1B Ryan Howard
2B Chase Utley
SS Jose Reyes
3B Miguel Cabrera
OF Carlos Beltran
OF Alfonso Soriano
OF Matt Holliday

It's November, which means it's Major League Baseball Award season. With the MVPs and Cy Young Awards coming this next week, a few Twins didn't have to wait that long to receive their honors.

On Wednesday, Johan Santana won the Players Choice Award - voted for by each Major League player on a secret ballot - for the American League's Outstanding Pitcher. This comes as his second in three years, his first coming when he one the Cy Young Award in 2004. He also earned the Joseph W. Haynes Award (former Twins executive vice president) for being the best overall Twins' hurler.

Justin Morneau, a 2006 MVP candidate, won the Calvin R. Griffith Award (Minnesota's first owner) which is given to the Most Valuable Twin. The Canadian Crusher hit .321, with 34 home runs and 130 RBIs, ranking second only to Big Papi, who had 7 more runs batted in. Morneau also became the first Twins player to hit 30 or more home runs in a season since 1987.

Joe Mauer was the winner of the Dick Siebert Award (former University of Minnesota baseball coach), which is awarded to the Upper Midwest Player of the Year. Mauer became the first American League catcher and the youngest player since A-Rod in '96 to win the batting title, after hitting .347 at age 23.

Michael Cuddyer recieved the Charles O. Johnson Award (former Minneapolis Star Tribune executive sports editor), given to the Most Improved Twins Player. New to right field, Cuddy hit .284 with 24 home runs and 109 RBIs. He became the 18th player in franchise history to score 100 runs and drive in 100 runs during the same season.

Brad Radke was given the Bob Allison Award (former Twins great) as the player who "exemplifies determination, hustle, tenacity, competitive spirit and leadership, both on and off the field". He should also get the Toughest Man the Universe Award for pitching with his shoulder hanging from the socket.

Center fielder Torii Hunter became the winner of the first Mike Augustin Award (former Pioneer Press sports writer), as the Twins player who promotes a positive relationship with the media. Who doesn't love Torii Hunter...besides maybe Captain Cheeseburger Sabathia? Hunter also produced on the field, hitting .278 with a career-high 31 homers and 98 RBIs. Torii earned his sixth consecutive Gold Glove this season, joining Jim Kaat (12) and the late (6) as the only Twins in history to achieve the honor 6 times.

In addition to being a Rookie of the Year candidate, Francisco Liriano earned the Bill Boni Award (former St. Paul Dispatch-Pioneer Press executive sports editor), as the Twins Most Outstanding Rookie. At the age of 23, Liriano finished his short year at 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA and one save, striking out 144 in 121 innings. Liriano successfully underwent Tommy John Surgery on his throwing arm and will remain out of the lineup for the entire 2007 season.

Look for the Major League Honors coming mid-November and read more here about Harmon Killebrew's induction into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame.

Center fielder Torii Hunter became just the third Minnesota Twin to win atleast 6 consecutive Gold Glove Awards Sunday (Jim Kaat, 11 and , 6 - the first since Jim Kaat from 1962-72).

Hunter batted .278 with 21 doubles, 2 triples, 31 home runs, 98 RBIs and 12 stolen bags in 147 games this season. He has a career fielding percentage of .991 (2777 total catches and only 26 errors) with 67 outfield assists. Torri was second on the club in home runs and outfield assists (8) and third in runs batted in.

It has taken a while to sink in. We thought maybe he would change his mind, or suddenly get better. Francisco Liriano has indeed elected to have Tommy John elbow surgery and will miss the entire 2007 season.

This decision comes after months of no progress during rehabilitation, which was obviously frustrating for Liriano. Even the last exam performed by specialist Lewis Yocum, (who will do the surgery, being assisted by Twins team physician John Steubs) showed nothing new.

"There wasn't any guarantee that he was going to be able to perform," Terry Ryan said of Liriano. "Today's decision just means we have finality here. We need to move forward. We know we're not going to have him and we need to find some other people, whether it's through outside resources or from within the organization, to pick up the innings that we're losing with him."

Here is the Top 10 Twins Prospect List, as compiled by Top Prospect Alert.com

#1. Matt Garza
#2. Kevin Slowey
#4. Pat Neshek
#5. Yohan Pino
#6. Glen Perkins
#7. Alexi Casilla
#10. Chris Parmelee