Approaching the wild-card tiebreaker, a few other doings/undoings . . .

SVEUM SONG—I’m not sure who didn’t see this coming, but Dale Sveum—the man with no managerial experience at any professional level (not counting his quick interimship and postseason trip with the Brewers) whom the Cubs chose over Ryne Sandberg two years ago—has been executed. Sveum was going to be judged on development more than performance, but some of the key Cub developments didn’t exactly go as intended, like Starlin Castro staying prone to defensive lapses while his hitting has dipped significantly enough, or Jeff Samardzija pitching like an All-Star one moment and a 1962 Met the next.

The Twins Shake Up the Coaches . . .

The Minnesota Twins still have all the confidence on earth in manager Ron Gardenhire—but they didn’t feel likewise about most of his coaching staff, executing three and reassigning two in a field shakeup tied to two consecutive 95+ loss seasons.

First base coach Jerry White—who’s had the job since Gardenhire’s predecessor Tom Kelly hired him in 1999—is out. Third base coach Steve Liddle, in the job since moving from bench coach (which he’d been since 2002) is also out. So is bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek, who’s been in the organisation since the Carter Administration.

The (Alleged) Punk Plunk, and Other Sorrows . . .

Jimenez.

Tulowitzki.

Ubaldo Jimenez got a five-game suspension for drilling Troy Tulowitzki on the first pitch Sunday. The Players’ Association intends to back him as he appeals it. They are actually right about this. This turns out not to have been a mere sticks-and-stones issue. The backstory is Tulowitzki’s public criticism of Jimenez’s public gripe that the Rockies—who traded him to the Cleveland Indians during last season—offered and signed Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez to big-dollar extensions after signing him to a mere “team-friendly” deal but not thinking of a comparable extension after he had his big year. Tulowitzki suggested once or twice recently that “a certain point (comes) in this game where you go play and you shut your mouth. And you don’t worry about what other people are doing.” He may have been absolutely right. Jimenez may have been absolutely wrong to fret over one or another man’s deal compared to his own. His pitching in 2011 would certainly suggest how wrong he was.

It Might As Well Be Spring . . .

To hell with the calendar. Every real American knows spring begins in that blessed spell when pitchers and catchers report and the position players aren’t all that far behind.

Walking the plank to Pittsburgh . . .

* A.J. PIRATE?—It’s looking more and more as though the Empire Emeritus and the Pittsburgh Pirates have a deal to send A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh in exchange for a pair of minor leaguers. Ridding the Yankees of a talented headache on the mound, though from most reports a good guy in the clubhouse.

The Curse of Murray Chass?

I’ve heard of a lot of baseball curses—from the Curse of the Bambino plaguing the Boston Red Sox until 2004 to the Curse of the Billy Goat that’s supposed to have plagued the Chicago Cubs since 1946 (tavern owner Sam Siamis was denied bringing his beloved goat into Wrigley Field, or some such thing)—but I’ve never heard of a curse tied to a baseball writer.

The Minnesota Twins and their fans may be tempted to change that. On 24 July, here is what Hall of Fame baseball writer Murray Chass (formerly of The New York Times, now writing for his own Website) wrote about the Twins returning to the thick of the American League Central hunt: