Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Watching Baseball Tonight

Watching a bit of Baseball Tonight...aah, to hear that theme music, to listen to a show dedicated to brought back the thrill of the baseball season (How many days to season opener?). Of course, the focus is on the winter meetings and especially on the rumors/possibility of a Santana trade. Man, watching the Santana highlights...I have been coming to terms with the very real possibility that Santana will be gone...but the thrill of watching that man pitch will never go away. I will watch Santana pitch wherever he goes...even if it's for the freakin' Yankees.

Thank you Bill Smith for not making that stinkin' trade on my birthday (although actually keeping Santana would have been the best present of all)!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

For Pete's sake...

My husband, the ever-enchanting Mr. Curveball, has been taunting me all weekend by coming up to me while I'm busy cooking or engrossed in a t.v. program and giving me "updates" about the Santana trade situation. The only problem is his updates are highly exaggerated and contain only a small kernal of truth. Of course, he offers up that kernal first so I'm hooked and think I'm about to hear that Santana is gone.
When, and if, it does really happen...well, I am going to be in one foul mood. Wednesday is my birthday and a Santana trade is not on my Wish list.
Frankly, I don't really want to contemplate any potential trades until it's a done deal. I'd rather dig my head in the snow and remember the joy of watching Santana pitch (ah, that little butt wiggle).
And for pete's sake, don't trade him to the Yankees!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hunter as an A--

An Angel, of course.
A scene we're sure to see more of in coming days...former Twins acting the fool for their new fans.
Hmm...I hate that monkey.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Freaking morons

Speculation has been growing each day on the fate of Santana as a Twins' pitcher. Now word is out that the Twins and Yankees are talking about Santana's a Yankee.


It was bad enough to hear on THANKSGIVING that Hunter was no longer a Twin, but this...announced on the Twins official site...

To be an honest with you, even though I am a dedicated Twins fan, such a trade would have me seriously considering my allegiance...not to the players, certainly not to the game, but to the Twins management and owners.

I ask the owners/management:


I guess the players had it figured out before this past season was over...that when Castillo was traded and the Twins didn't go out and get the hitting power they needed to be contenders it wasn't just that the management had given up on the 2007 Twins...they had given up on the Twins. Period. Exclamation point!

Ryan bailed because he was tired of being the bad guy, of being unable to sign the talent needed (or keep the talent we already had)--because Pohlad wouldn't free up the money needed. Ryan knew it was only going to get worse.

There was no real effort to keep Hunter. And now the Twins seem poised to get rid of the biggest talent in the league.

Morons. Freaking morons! (and feel free to substitute a different f-word for "freaking")

The fans are being duped. The fans got behind the new stadium because they wanted to watch great baseball outdoors. The Twins dangled in front of the fans the promise of being able to watch their favorite players when the new stadium open in 2010.

That supposedly included Hunter and Santana, two of the more popular players to grace the Twins' playing field.

Now I am no baseball naivete that expects my baseball team to remain constant. I get that players changing teams is part of the deal. It happens every year and sometimes it happens to your favorite players. It changes the nature of a team...and yet somehow a new team emerges, often better than the team that was previously in place. I have watched in awe year after year as the Twins put together contending teams, generally relying heavily on their farm system. It's part of what I love about the Twins management.

But this wholesale hemorrhage of Twin veteran players and fan favorites is asinine. Given past behavior, I have no reason to believe that the Twins would let Hunter go and then trade Santana with the plan to spend the bucks to bring in comparable talent. What history would show us is this is just another lame attempt to keep the payroll budget low.

It's all about Pohlad keeping a few more bucks in his back pocket. The new stadium is being built so who needs those star players?

We do. The fans. Yes, we want a new outdoor stadium, but we also want to watch a quality baseball team. No, we don't expect to win the division every year, but it would be nice to be in the running.

And in case you haven't figured it out Mr. Pohlad, winning baseball teams sell tickets...and that formula is needed new stadium or not.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I am thankful for...

I am thankful for the joy that baseball brings me. And family and friends too, of course! May the holidays find everyone enjoying peaceful, happy time with family and friends...and a quick and productive (for Twins fans) end to off-season wheeling and dealing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Crossing to the other side

The news is increasingly pointing to the likelihood of Hunter becoming a White Sox outfielder.

Fine. But that move will have me hating the Sox even more (and my love for Hunter waning!). I say bring it on...the Twins will be out to conquer the Sox in 2008.

White Sox, you'll be at the bottom of the division next year...which is appropriate since you're bottom feeders.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hunter's interview

Torii Hunter recently had an interview with a Chicago radio station (check out the story). Reportedly, Hunter is meeting with the White Sox GM on Sunday. Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean anything, but I hate the thought of Hunter playing for the White Sox. I can understand thinking about the Rangers--they're close to his home--or maybe some contending team. But NOT the Yankees or some other Central Division team--especially the White Sox.

Say it ain't so.

Hunter's fate

2000 Hunter card

1993 Hunter card

2004 Hunter card

First off, I pulled these cards from Curveball's Twins baseball card collection, which you can all take a gander at if you click on the top favorite baseball link to the right (Twins cards--Curveball's collection...). It's really an amazing site that has not only Curveball's massive collection available for your perusal, but another collection as well. It's also quite impressive what you can do for a particular player, build a dream team, look up player stats...C'mon it's the offseason...what else do you got to do? And since it's the offseason, I have the time to feature some of these cards here on this blog...along with my baseball ramblings.

My lack of writing here does not truly indicate a lack of interest or focus on the baseball world. Yes, there are no current games to be watched (thank you Lipgloss for tipping me off to the fact that FSN North is now carrying classic games from 2007), much is still happening in the baseball world. It's that quiet, somewhat behind the scenes stuff that makes me nervous.

Like, what will be Hunter's 2008 fate be? Will he be in a Twins uniform? Lord, I hate thinking about it. Hunter, along with Silva, filed for free agency as soon as that was an option. No big surprise there. And it will probably be no big surprise when it is announced that he will be playing for some other team. I don't like it, but I fear it will be so. I don't like it and I think it's bad for the Twins. Hunter is still in his prime (he won his 7th consecutive gold glove this week). He's a fan favorite and a leader in the clubhouse. Hey, whatever happened to the Twins organization promotion for the new stadium that claimed all our favorite players--Hunter, Mauer, Morneau, and Santana to name a few--will be there in 2010 when the new stadium opens? I don't think so. And I think the Twins organization is taking the Twins fan support for granted. This "build a stadium and they (fans) will come" mentality is outrageous. Yes, I'm a loyal fan and I will be there, win or lose...but I would rather be winning...and I betcha there are whole lot of fans who feel likewise. And when my favorite players are traded off with seemingly no concern for winning a title, but saving a few bucks, then I'm a little pissed.

You don't even want to get me going on all the talk about Santana being on the trading block (really, my blood pressure rises more than a few points).

So I am watching and waiting to hear, with a fearful heart, what will be happening with the free agent market this offseason. I am sure there will be twists and turns.

I'm hoping to see a 2008 Hunter Twins baseball card.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Something to look forward to

I know I have been a horrible baseball blogger, but once the Twins season ends I go into a silent mourning stage for a while. I'm still taking in baseball news and such, have watched a few postseason games....BUT finally there is something to look forward to in Twinsland. The tentative 2008 Twins schedule has been announced.

We open and end the season at home! (We open the season against the LA Angels--But as Curveball said why does a warm climate team play a dome team at the beginning of the season. Does anyone remember Cleveland this past year?)

So now that the schedule has been announced I can start planning my 2008 spring/summer. Honey, I'm thinking a trip to Milwaukee the middle of June.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A final wave of the cap

Today me and Curveball took in the Twins 2007 final home game. I knew that I would be emotional today, just because it was the last game this season--but when Torii was introduced and I could feel a few tears welling up...well, I knew I was in trouble.

It was a wonderful game...Slowey pitched a wonderful game (9 strikeouts), Jones hit his first major league homerun, and Cuddy had a 4-RBI day. Oh ya, we also won the ballgame! But the focus of today's game was letting Torii know how much we appreciate him and how much we want him to stay (I will not say it was about saying good-bye).

I think it was an emotional day for Torii as well. It would have been nice to see Torii hit one more long ball, but that wasn't in the cards today. The crowd came to their feet each time Torii came up to bat, especially in the 7th when it looked like it would be Torii's last at bat for the day. Ozzie's decision to intentionally walk Hunter then drew a hearty round of boos (that decision cost them a run later). Hunter nearly came up to bat again at the bottom of the 8th, but it was not to be.

When Torii narrowly missed that final at-bat, it felt like we were denied the opportunity to cheer on Hunter one last time this season. But Gardy had other plans. Hunter came running onto the field as usual the top of the 9th. Nathan was warming up on the mound. Just as Nathan was ready to throw his first pitch, Tyner came running into centerfield. At first, I was like "what the heck?"...and then I caught on to Gardy's wisdom. He was giving us our chance.

The crowd came to their feet, chanting "Torii, Torii!!!" I don't think I was the only fan who shed a few tears (Lipgloss text me that it was a sobfest at her house) Torii tipped his hat to us as he left the field, but that was not enough for us. Scenes of Torii hugging his teammates played on the jumbotron, but we were still chanting "Torii". And then Torii came out and gave the fans one final wave of his cap.

I hope not.

Pics from the bullpen

Bullpen conversations
Nathan warming up

Garza's pre-game stretches

Blackburn signing before the game...he's a hottie!

Neshek coming over before the game...he's truly a great guy (and cuter than you think) that arm and come back even stronger next year!

The bullpen standing during the Anthem

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The final homestand

I apologize for my lapse in posting. I was in a bit of a baseball funk. I needed some time to accept that our baseball season will end at the end of the baseball season. No postseason for the Twins this year. No hopeful frenzy for fans. Instead we'll be sitting home watching the Yankees once again in the postseason. To be honest with you, right now I'm more interested in what national league teams are going to make it in.

Life has been busy and I thought September might sort of fade into the sunset with Curveball and I only taking in one last game at the dome this season. Fortunately, Curveball has helped me remember the thrill in end-of-the-season baseball, even when "you're not in it". Call it the return to baseball bliss.

Monday afternoon I came home exhausted from a busy day at work. I really didn't think I had it in me to go to the game. But Curveball asked, and well, it never takes much arm-twisting to get me to go.

We traded in a promotional coupon for two general admission tickets for $1. Yup. One dollar. 100 pennies. Curveball did throw in a bonus though--he bought tickets for Wednesday's game right by the bullpen--in the first row of section 136.

Back to Monday:

It was a small, somewhat pathetic crowd in terms of size. But the crowd more than made up for it in their devotion (vocally and emotionally) to the game. What I love about games at this time of year (when your time is "out of it") is the fact that the crowd that comes to those September games come because they love baseball. They come with knowledge of the game. They come to enjoy the game (not to party or do "the wave").

We sat up is section 212--right behind Cuddy. They offered a great view--the only thing you couldn't see were plays in the right field corner. It was an entertaining game with twists and turns. There was the weird play at 3rd when Hunter had to practically run over the 3rd baseman to get home (he had stolen 3rd and then got to go home following a bad throw by the pitcher). Even stranger was the play at 1st when the ump made a horrible call--not giving Bartlett 2nd when the 1st baseman held him captive. I would have liked to see that one on replay. Gardy came charging onto the field and the drama was on. I'll admit it--I get excited about that stuff. I was standing at the railing, yelling & cheering on Gardy and dissing the ump.

There were also some stupid plays by both teams...and it actually seemed fitting that we won in the way that we did. A win is a win. And hey, we hit two homeruns! I haven't seen that at a game, since...

On a funny side note to Monday's game...Curveball and I were watching the Jumbotron greetings in the 5th inning and he was joking with me about not wishing him a happy birthday on the board (another year, Hon!)...and then I saw on the board something along the lines "Congrats newlyweds Lois Vossen and Jay..." Lois is an old high school friend that lives in California (but was obviously at the game). It's a small world. Congratulations Jay and Lois!

So Wednesday's game...

Curveball decided to spend the better portion of the day outside the dome trying to collect autographs from players on their way into the dome. As big as a autograph collector that he is, this is the first time he has done this. It paid off--he got lots of players to sign, including Gardy, Neshek, Tyner, Bartlett...and actually had a few brief conversations with a few players. I talked to him just as a few players were arriving and he sounded like a kid in a candy store. Ah, the simple pleasures in life!

Oh ya, one other sweet thing that happened while I was slaving away at work--I got a call from the Twins promotional office and I won tickets to Sunday's game for answering a trivia contest at Monday's game. The tickets are sweet too--section 135 (above the bullpen) in row 27.

Well, I was thrilled to bring the workday to an end and head to the dome. Curveball and I had decided to go into the dome earlier than we normally do in order to enjoy our sweet seats.

We've sat nearly everywhere in the dome, but never so close to the bullpen. We were in the first row right at the end of the pen. It was thee best place to watch the bullpen action. It was a horrible place to actually watch the game (I could barely see the batter), but every now and then I think this is a fun place to sit. I snared a few autographs on a baseball (Neshek and Boof) and took lots of pictures. It was interesting to see what the pitchers do while the game is ongoing. They do like to eat sunflower seeds and spit quite a bit (the fascination with spitting is something I've never really one point Guerrier took a swallow of water and then with great focus and attention, watched the water spray out of his mouth). Guerrier seemed very nice to the fans, Rincon too. Boof sat at the very end of the pen and at times was a little short with those wanting him to sign (I understand not wanting to sign the whole game, but kids don't always get that). Neshek came over and signed my baseball and let me take a picture. He is, beyond a doubt, a GREAT guy that is having a ball and appreciates this opportunity to play in the big leagues...and I think he appreciates the fans, because I don't think he's forgotten what it's like to be one). Word is that his shoulder is pretty sore...I hope he gets some rest and there's nothing to worry about.

The only downer to these seats was the two women sitting next to me. Total snobs with their designer purses. They were so irritated with the autograph seekers and yet, they apparently sit in these seats frequently. (It did seem o.k. with them, however, to get Rincon to sign a ball for them). They rolled their eyes every time I took a picture. Really, I wish I had turned to them and said "Who made you the fan police?" And they were, in my opinion, lousy fans. They never really cheered during the game. They rarely clapped.

But I ignored them best I could and enjoyed another winning game. Again, 2 homeruns by the Twins!! And (drumroll, please) Garza won his FIRST HOME GAME! Way to go, Matt.

So, with a joyous and yet heavy heart, I will be at the dome on Sunday to watch the final home game of the season. I can't believe the season is about to end. In a few weeks it will be time to review the season. The highs and the lows. And while I wish the Twins were continuing into the playoffs, for these next few weeks, I'm just going to savor the thrill of the game--and hold onto that feeling till next year.

Friday, September 7, 2007

A proposal on the jumbotron

A year ago on this Friday night (the date was actually Sept. 8th, but it was a Friday), Curveball (Joel) and I were at the Twins game. I have to previce this story by saying that he had been slightly annoying me all week...not for any real reason, other than he had been sort of weird, not himself...I couldn't put my finger on it but he wasn't himself. It wasn't anything major, but when he showed up at my place "late" (by this I mean he arrived about a half hour later than he had planned on arriving), I was even more in a tizzy. I'll admit it, I sort of laid into the poor guy. We were taking the city bus down to the Dome from my place in south Mpls and I always liked to arrive plenty early. But as we were waiting for the bus, I told him not to worry about it, I wasn't still mad. In fact, in an attempt to demonstrate my love and relax the guy, I told him that I had actually bought his birthday present that day.

We arrived at the dome and Joel had to pick up the tickets. Joel had arranged to buy tickets for "good seats" behind home plate. He said something about getting these seats for our "anniversary" (we had been dating 6 months). I didn't think anything of it...hey, I'll take good seats anytime I can get them!

We settled in. There was a family with two young boys sitting next to us...they were really cute and wearing "Joe Mauer sideburns". I did notice Joel being sort of fidgety at one point, playing with a straw or something in a way not typical of him. I almost made a smart comment like, "Nervous or something?", but I didn't want to resurrect the tension between us from earlier in the evening.

Garza was pitching that night, but not having his best outing. We were behind in the 5th inning and it looked like Garza may already be done for the night. Before the Twins came up to bat in the 5th, I looked up to the Jumbotron and read "Risa, I love you. Will you marry me? Love, Joe."

Now the first thing I want to point out is that it read "Joe". The man sitting next to me is named "Joel". He never goes by Joe. I read it a second and probably third time. My heart started racing. I'm many other Risa's could be here...did they mean Joel? (Note: this is not the sort of thing you want to be wrong about). It really was one of those surreal moments, when time takes on a different dimension. Everything became a little fuzzy. I finally realized the woman next to me (who Joel had clued in while I was in the bathroom) was asking me if it was "yes" AND Joel was trying to get on his knee and get the ring out of his pocket AND there was a cameraman right in front of us.

The second thing I want to point out is that the answer was always, without a doubt, "YES". Joel asked me exactly how I wanted to be asked--at a Twins game on the jumbotron. I love baseball. I think it's very romantic (as long as you both love baseball--Joel had actually "found" me on by typing "twins baseball" in the common interest search). And I think any man who will ask that question in front of 40,000 people...well, you don't have to doubt their committment.

Obviously, I wasn't expecting a proposal that evening. He didn't give me any hint that he was going to propose that night...and after the fact, I realized that his "weirdness" all week was due to his nervousness. He had spent the night before (a rare evening we were not together) posting on one of the baseball blogs about his plans to propose.

Back to the proposal...

It was wonderful. We were on the jumbotron, but the cameraman had a hard time capturing it because a hotdog vendor had decided our row was the place to set up shop (and Joel was too nervous to tell him to go away). Joel had a wonderful engagement ring for me...a 1987 World Series ring (a replica for fans). Both of us were shaking when the whole thing was done.

Shortly after the proposal, I got a cellphone call from my boss. I said to Joel, "I can't believe work is calling me right now. I am so not dealing with problems at work." But on the other end, Sue was asking, "Did you say 'yes'?" One of my co-workers was at the game, saw it all and had called Sue. Then Joel asked me if I was going to call Julie, my best friend (who lives in New York).

I was dying to call her, so I went out to the concession area...made the call and got her voicemail. I left a message something like, "Umm, we're at the Twins game and Joel just sort of proposed..." Julie picked up the phone before I could finish and laughed, "he sort of proposed..."

It was a magical evening. The Twins came up to bat in the bottom of the 5th and started hitting. Neshek started pitching and got the win.

Really though, I think I was the winner that night.

Oh ya, one final..."I (meaning "moi") was such a dope for being mad at you" moment...when we got back to my place, Joel went to his car and opened up the trunk and pulled out a dozen roses. That's why he was a half hour late that night...he had stopped to buy roses for me and hid them in the trunk, so I wouldn't see them till post-proposal. The whole proposal tells you why I love the man...he pays attention, he really tries to do those things that matter.

So yup, we got married June 3rd. It wasn't a baseball-themed wedding, but we did have Twins mini-helmuts on the cake. I think, as Joel said that evening a year ago, we'll have lots of fun growing old together. And that will include lots of baseball games!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Baker pitches a gem!

I'm siting at home this Friday night watching the Twins game as I recover from having a tooth extracted earlier today. At the start of the game I wasn't feeling too hot still and my thinking really was that if the Twins play like they did earlier today, I'm not sure I could stomach watching the whole thing. My attention to the game was half-assed at best (o.k. I'll admit I was flipping to What Not to Wear on TLC during the first several innings).

But as the game wore on, the Twins actually scoring some runs grabbed my attention and then...

one of our pitchers was doing something brilliant again...and it wasn't Santana, it was Baker. Going into the 9th, Baker had a perfect game going. Unfortunately, he walked a man at the top of the 9th and gave up a hit...but in the end, pitched a complete, shutout game.

Awesome. Incredible. I love watching pitching gems like that.

Pitchers are interesting creatures. Coming off the field in the 5th and 6th inning, Baker looked like the most miserable man on the field. No one dared to sit next to him dare they mess with his mojo (it's common practice to leave the pitcher alone in the dugout, especially when they have a perfect game going on).

Has anyone noticed that our pitchers come back to pitch incredible games after they have experienced the birth of their child? Remember Silva's gem earlier this season? Maybe our pitchers should become fathers more often!

Win or lose, games like these make baseball a great game.

Way to go, Baker! (And hey, congrats on becoming a Daddy again!)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Damn it. Crap. I'm sorry, the bullpen didn't do their job tonight. It's not entirely their fault. Would it have helped to keep Gardy in the dugout? Couldn't hurt. And the starting pitchers could have put less stress on the bullpen. I mean with Crain (remember Crain?) and Reyes on DL, Rincon totally sucking...We're extremely lean in the bullpen. You can only go to Neshek so many times. And I'm sorry, but Boof, lose some weight!!! Get in shape! You're a professional athlete...maybe it's time you look the part. I know it's not about "a look"...but obviously the endurance & stamina isn't there as the game and season wears on...and better conditioning certainly couldn't hurt.

I like that the guys didn't say die in the 9th (even when the bullpen allowed 2 more runs). Buscher got his first major league home run, Tyner got his 4th run of the night and we made it a 1-run ballgame again (of course, if Cali hadn't put on those 2 runs...those would have been winning runs).

Oh, and FSN...quit sending Marnie out to interview the Indians (or other opposing players) after the game! Geez, I don't want to hear from the other team. It's like rubbing salt in an open wound (make that a gaping wound)!

Bottom of the Eighth

Hunter's catch was the #3 Web gem on Baseball Tonight.
Punto's catch was #1!!!

Bottom of the 8th inning. 3-4 game. 1 run behind. There's no more time to lose 1-run games. Somehow we need to find a way to win this game. We have to beat Cleveland.

There have been sensational plays tonight. Tyner's catch at the wall in left. Punto's mid-air bare-handed catch and throw to Morneau--who managed to catch the ball while doing the splits. Hunter's catch in center that involved hitting the wall so hard that the collision could be heard.

Get the job done, boys. We need a win.

Friday, August 24, 2007

State Fair vs Twins

It's that time of year when the State Fair challenges the Twins for top billing. I'm almost glad the Twins are out of town so it's not such a dilemna picking which activity to enjoy.

We did "enjoy" Tuesday's home game. I use the term "enjoy" loosely, because it was not a very entertaining game. Entertaining in the stands perhaps, but not on the field. It was Lutheran night at the dome, which brought the attendance up to 42,000 for a Tuesday night (there were also half-price homerun porch seats). Bethel College football team was seated below us. They don't drink and lead organized cheering fests. And for you single ladies out there, they are also pretty buff. Book tickets for Lutheran Night 2008.

It also seemed to be "Beachball Night". The Santa usher in my section had a hard time with this. He was not satisfied until he was able to snag a beachball and deflate it.

And then it was also the night Dick and Bert were broadcasting from Section 140 (we were two sections over). We couldn't really see much of what was going on there during the game. I wonder how it sounded on t.v., since it was pretty loud at the Dome. We did see Dick on his way in. More like "heard". I heard his voice behind me and instantly recognized that voice. We did manage to get a few pics of Bert before the game. Curveball lost an opportunity to snag a few autographs.

We did manage to combine our love for the Fair with a little Twins baseball. We were at the Fair on Day 1. We saw T.C. in the parade. Curveball got T.C. to do his little wiggle. Later we went by the FSN booth...Anthony LaPlanta and Roy Smalley were there, since the Twins were playing. I was bashful, but Curveball got his pic taken with Roy (I was the photographer).

I did manage to watch most of last night's game while hanging out with friends. It was great to see the Twins pull off a late-game rally--for the second night in a row. AND, Morneau hit a homerun!

Hope springs eternal!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Santana is my man-ah!!!

"You don't have that many chances to do
something very special like that. I was living by the moment
but at the same time, I was enjoying everything I was doing out there."

Pitching Ace Santana on his record setting day

Santana was brilliant today. It's just incredible to watch him pitch on a day like today and I was thrilled to be there. In the 7th inning, my friend visiting from California asked what his record was and I said I thought it was 15 (turns out it was 14 set last season).

New record. Santana came out in the 8th with 99 pitches and first tied the club record of 15 and then went on to establish a new record of 17. It was crazy being there...the fans went wild. Santana tipped his hat to the crowd on his way into the dugout. We would have screamed till he came back out.

We wanted him back in the 9th, but since the score was 1-0 cooler heads prevailed. Santana I think was fine with that. We needed the win. There will be another day to set new records.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Friday's '87 Reunion pregame events

'87 insignia painted on field

View of the field from upper deck

T.C. Fun

Curveball (in hat) in autograph line

More autograph hounds

In my book, there's no better way to let go of stress from the work week than by taking in a baseball game. This week was no exception. Not only did Curveball and myself get to enjoy a great game, but we also also enjoyed the pregame activities.

We were anxious to arrive for Friday's game earlier than we normally do. Curveball was planning to snag a few autographs from '87 players. We made it to the plaza about 4:45--45 minutes before the autograph stations even opened! No big surprise--the lines at the 4 autograph stations were already growing long. I let Curveball join the ranks of the autograph seekers while I roamed the plaza.

I'm the type that's always ready to get to the game early and soak up the atmosphere. Last night I was anxious to see the pregame festivities celebrating the '87 season. As I roamed the plaza, I caught sight of a few '87 players making their way to the autograph stations (with security folks by their sides). The people watching was pretty good. It's amazing the things people will bring to have players sign. The most interesting thing I saw was a child's rocking horse.

I also was able to make it through the gate with each of our tickets (2 separate trips) to get the pack of baseball cards of the '87 team. With that done, I decided I might as well head into the stadium and watch the pregame action.

Our seats were located in the upper club section just slightly to the right of homeplate (section 224). Not bad. The field was decorated with special insignia for the '87 World Series. The jumbotron was playing highlights of the '87 season. Two guys sitting a few seats down from me were enjoying the highlights and quizzing each other on '87 trivia.

Just after the autograph stations closed at 6:30, the '87 players started making their way to the field. It was interesting watching as old teammates/friends greeted each other with slaps on the back and hugs. This team shared something special together...a life-defining event. And as the players themselves have said, the fans were a part of that event as well.

Once the players were gathered, top plays from the '87 season were played chronologically...and with each play, another '87 player was introduced. I love this stuff. I'm the fan typically standing up and yelling. Sometimes I get goosebumps as well. It was great to see Gaetti, Viola, Herbie, Bruno...all those guys take the field.

Something special was saved for the end. Jeff Reardon, the closing (and winning) pitcher of the '87 World Series (every bit as good as Nathan), was the last Twins player to be introduced. When Reardon was introduced, much of the crowd stood to welcome him with loud applause.

The fans were trying to send Reardon a message. "Hey, we know it's been rough, but we're still here for you." Reardon has seen hard times these past few years--one of his 3 kids died of a drug overdose. Life seemed to fall apart for Reardon following this tragedy and slowly, he is getting his life back on track. Reardon has started a foundation, in his son's name, to help other kids overcome drug problems.

Reardon was joined by his family on the field. His fellow '87 teammates presented a check to Reardon for that foundation in the amount of $100,000 (the money was raised from the sale of the '87 bobbleheads). Man, it was a great thing to see.

The festivities were over and the game began...with the memory that this little team that no one thought could win it all did just that...20 years ago.

Friday, August 17, 2007

87 World Series Reunion

I've been waiting for this series since I first heard about it during Twinsfest. I know some may argue that the '91 World Series was better, but for me, nothing can compare to the '87 World Series.

I'll admit it, I was not much of a baseball fan before the '87 playoffs. But as the '87 season progressed, I started watching more and more games. When they started winning in the postseason, I was hooked.

To borrow a famous line from literature, "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times"... as the Twins were entering the playoffs, my first marriage was ending. It was watching the Twins win that year--on a small black & white t.v. with my two young children (ages 3 & 1) beside me, that helped me escape for a few short hours the misery that was pervading my life at that time. It worked. The Twins' underdog championship season gave me the inspiration I needed to rise above the mud and muck that life was slinging my way.

O.k. maybe I'm being a little dramatic...but truly, baseball carried me through a hard time...and when they won the World Series, I vowed I would be a fan for life, whether the Twins were winning or losing.

My appreciation for the game has grown over the years. I am not some fair-weather fan. I am not a casual spectator. I have been accused of being a baseball geek and I can handle that.

Baseball is pure bliss for me. There's nothing like walking into the stadium (even the Metrodome) for the first game of the season. On even the worst day, baseball makes life a little better. I swear it lowers my blood pressure (and when a game is going badly, sometimes raises it a few degrees).

So with joy in my heart, I'm making my way to two of the games this weekend. I am sure to have goosebumps when '87 highlights are played and the '87 team is introduced.

I'm still a fan. And I will be for life.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


The Twins must be pushing themselves back from the table, having gorged on Seattle pitchers for 28 hits in the past two games. 18 hits on Tuesday, with a final score of 11-3. 10 hits today, with a final score of 6-1. It was looking today as if the Twins were repeating past mistakes--following a day of fantastic hitting with poor production--that is until Torii Hunter hit a grand slam in the final inning of the game. 3 homeruns were hit these past 2 days, including the first HR by White this year. Watkins had 2 hits today as well.

As I've said, it's been feast or famine when it comes to Twins' hitting this year...but let's hope we're eating at the buffet table for the remainder of the season.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A roller coaster ride

Fox Sports North just went out...wait, maybe that's FSN's way of sparing Twins' fans from viewing another ugly loss. Drats, the Twins are back on...and even have 2 runners on the bases...but hey, we have 2 outs, so there's no way we're bringing those two home.

Excuse the sarcasm. I am usually an optimistic fan. That's one of the things that I love about baseball...until that final out, there is always hope. But this season has been a bit of a roller coaster ride for Twins' fans and I'm starting to feel nauseous. (Yup, Casilla just struck out). Just when the fans are ready to give up on the Twins, they come back strong and seem to be in the thick of things (it helps that Detroit and Cleveland have been playing sub-par as well). When the pitching is great, the hitting is nonexistent. All season it's been feast or famine when it comes to hitting and I think most would agree the Twins have been starving of late.

They're playing a late game tonight and I know I won't be able to stay awake for it. I'm just hoping the morning paper brings news of a winning score.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

New lineup

New lineup tonight:


Not sure what magic a new lineup may bring, but god knows it can't hurt. The thought is that Mauer will get some better pitches to hit...that would certainly be a good thing. Off to a good start...Bartlett just hit a triple in the 1st.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Fathers and Sons

My dad passed away on Wednesday. 85 years a Minnesotan.

I wish I could say he was a big baseball fan. In minor ways he was. He went to the old Saints and Miller games as a kid, with his aunts and uncles saving Wheaties box tops, which with two and a dime you got a ticket to a ballgame.

I actively collected baseball cards starting in 1962 when you got one with a gum for a penny. My dad would tell me stories of the neighborhood corner store where the owner opened all packs and put the cards in one jar and the gum in another and you could pick the cards you wanted and take a corresponding piece of gum.

I learned about early era baseball players when I unearthed my dad's 1933-1935 Goudey cards in the attic...yes, he had them all -- Ruth, Gehrig and the gang. He did sell them in the late '70s. They weren't as glamorous as the Topps photo cards of my youth, but showed the charm of baseball -- small gloves and big bats. When every man could play the game with a modicum of skill.

My dad was never a big fan of catch or playing ball. We went to few games, my live action attendance mostly with friends of the family. But he religiously listened to WCCO radio and both my parents fueled my baseball interest on our yearly cross country trips by driving to baseball stadiums, letting me get postcards of the parks, going on the tour of the then new Astrodome, and even waiting outside Fenway Park when this 13-year-old got his own seat down the line from the "Green Monster" all by hisself in this strange land knowing that when the last out was recorded the family station wagon would be waiting outside the garage door exit.

My dad was a good dad. Yes, I miss not playing catch more with him more...but it was the afternoons of hitting balls to other kids in the park, playing tennis ball baseball in the alleys, and always afternoon little league games that parents of that generation could not attend because of the working environments.

I remember my parents getting me one of those bounce back nets to perfect my non-existent pitching skills. I placed it with its back to the alley on the first day of use, anchoring it to the grass, wound-up and threw the ball. The bounce came back high and hard and just missed breaking the kitchen window. I quickly reposition the net now facing the alley, then side-armed a wild pitch missing the net and cracking a basement window. You can't win some days.

The game was always on the radio in those days, during sunny afternoons, when out doing yardwork, travelling the roads. My dad knew the players (his work shared the same physician as the Twins team and a co-workers son was the Twins public relations guy during the early days of the franchise). He would bring home photos of the players, used game balls, Twins souvenirs.

And he listened to my fascination with stats, my gaining knowledge of home run records and pitching feats. And I'm sure he loved his own days as a kid, sitting on the plank bleacher seats of the hometown teams cheering on your everyday working stiffs playing a little baseball.

I'm going out to the park with my glove and a ball and loft a pop up high towards the sky. And when it comes back down, I'll catch it!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Great Escape

I suppose it's time to get back to this baseball blog. Blogging, and even baseball, hasn't been of the highest priority this past week. My aunt died this past week, my father-in-law entered the hospital and is in serious condition and then there is the tragedy of the bridge collapse--all these have contributed to baseball being put on the back burner. It is a game after all.

Prior to the bridge collapse, much hoopla was going on in the Twins baseball world in regards to trades...Castillo was traded and no one, at least no one ready to help this season, was acquired before the trade deadline. Santana, along with other players, were perhaps, rightfully, upset. It hasn't gotten any better in the past few days...Cirillo was picked up off waivers by the Diamondbacks. I'm not sure how big a loss that is, but it does seem to indicate that Terry Ryan is more focused on downsizing the payroll than bringing on board some new bats.

I'll admit there have been times in recent days that I've been frustrated. I think the Twins are contenders this year. I think the current players need to stay focused and play their best ball. It may not be a perfect world, but hey, they are playing major league ball. How bad can that be?

And Pohlad needs to quit worrying about his pocketbook and open up the pursestrings so Terry Ryan can actually do something to help this team get stronger.

So, this week I hope to get back to enjoying baseball...perhaps with the perspective that the world won't end if we drop a game...much worse things can happen.

But oh the joy to be found in the game...because finding bliss in 9 innings of baseball have made this game the great escape...and I'm quite sure we all could use a little of that right now.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Consolation prize

Lost in all the bitter disappointment over the Castillo trade was the joy in a pretty sweet win at the Dome last night. It was nice to see the Twins get off to a quick start--with Tyner getting on base in the first inning as the leadoff man. Bartlett followed with another nice single and Mauer brought both Bartlett and Tyner home. It seems like a long time since we've had something to cheer about in the first inning.

Tyner had a great night. 3 hits. One of those hit the baggie in center field and Tyner turned it into a triple. The throw to 3rd was off the mark and for a moment there I thought Tyner was going to make it home. I swear, if Tyner gets another homerun this year--one at the Dome, I'm celebrating by buying a Tyner shirt.

Baker pitched a gem. 8 innings. 7 strikeouts. No walks. 2 hits and only 1 earned run. He definitely deserved the win.

Mauer had 2 nice hits. We need Morneau, Hunter, & Kubel to produce more runs, but if we string together more games like last night we have a shot. My hope is that TR actually acquires a bat for us today and the players feel a bit better about Castillo's trade.

A series of wins would sure help console fans and players alike.

Monday, July 30, 2007

So long, Castillo. We'll miss you.

The opportunity to see Castillo in a Twins uniform again is gone. Castillo was pulled out of batting practice this afternoon and given the news of his trade to the Mets. I was at the game and no such announcement was made to the fans in attendance. The trade was widely known by game time however. I understand that we were not likely to keep Castillo next year, but if we are expecting to make a serious run for the playoffs, Castillo will be sorely missed.

I hate this part of baseball. Baseball players gone without a goodbye.

Who will be next? One can't help but wonder.

Obviously, the players are not happy to lose a veteran .300 hitter for players that won't help this year. Just hours before a game they had to say goodbye to a friend who they knew always played hard. Yes, it's a business. But sometimes these decisions suck.

As a fan, I will miss watching Castillo's incredible acrobatic catches in the field and his ability to find a way to get on base.

So long, Castillo. We'll miss you.

In Uniform

Tonight we're headed to the game to see the Twins take on the Royals. I wouldn't take the Royals lightly these days--they have the best record in the division since the All-star break. They took series in Boston and Detroit this month. I think it's quite possible that they WON'T end up in last place this year. (I would enjoy seeing Chicago take that honor.) They are hitting well, more consistenly than the Twins it seems. Still, I think the Twins know they need to keep it will hopefully be a good series going in our favor. (It's a 4 game series and a split ain't good has to be 3 out of 4 at least).

It occurs to me that tonight could be the last time I see some players in a Twins' uniform. Hopefully, the wins in Cleveland have put off any fire sale. We don't need to get rid of anyone. We could use a quality bat and even a relief pitcher (Rincon of yesteryear seems to be gone).

It's obviously on the minds of the players. Hunter was quoted as saying: "I look around and see Johan [Santana] walk in and think, 'Maybe that's the last time I joke around with him like that. I look around and see Joe Nathan, Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer -- both who I've watched grow as hitters. I mean, it's tough. This might be the last time I play with these guys."

In the past two days, rumors have perhaps been the strongest about trading Castillo. Castillo has commented, "It hurts a little bit, the trade rumors. I want to stay with the team and try to finish my year here. I don't have any control over that. I just try to still be focused on winning the game, but I have to be ready if something does happen."

Why, in god's name, would we want to trade one of the few players who has been consistently hitting .300 or better all season? This man plays with such heart, such intensity...I know, it's about looking forward...we're not going to keep him next year...Blob, blob, blob. Are we making a trade for someone who can help us today? I don't think so. That, my friends, is stupid.

Hopefully I'll see these guys (and the rest of the roster) in Twins' uniforms tonight. And many more nights to come. I'll be standing up and screaming my lungs out when they take to the field tonight!

On a side note: Has anyone noticed of late that the St. Paul Pioneer Press seems to have a better sports section, at least baseball coverage (compared to the Mpls paper)? The Sunday edition definitely gives a better overview of player/team stats, not just of the Twins, but the entire American & National leagues. Today inside the front page of the sports section they featured a fun interview with Neshek. It's better in print, but otherwise, check it out here.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A reason to smile

There were actually many reasons to smile tonight.

Starting with Tyner's homerun. It was a fun moment for a dugout that has had little to smile about on this roadtrip. Tyner's homerun loosened up the team and it was a nice reminder that while team wins are what they're gunning for right now, it's always good to celebrate the individual victories. Hats off to Tyner for playing a great game and giving Twins fans the first something to smile about in a long time. (Plus I think Tyner at least tied the throw on that punt, so that should have been Tyner's 3rd hit.)

Santana. Santana pitched a quality start. 12 strikeouts. 4 hits. 2 earned runs. I think I saw some some ass shaking tonight.

Buscher. Buscher is showing some promise in his first 2 starts. His game-winning RBI brought home the winning run in the 9th inning. How long has it been since we've won a game in the 9th? It feels like an eternity. Welcome to the majors.

The Twins bullpen. After some dismal outings of late, the bullpen kept us in the game tonight--actually brought us the win. Neshek was back to his stellar self and Nathan got the job done without drama. Way to go.

It wasn't the most convincing of wins, but I sure feel a whole lot better than I have after the past 5 games. It's a tough road ahead, but with 5 games against Cleveland in the next 10 days, we have the opportunity to pull closer to Cleveland.

And that's how it's done--one game at a time.

Tyner hits 1st career homerun!

There has been little to cheer about during recent Twins games, but such a moment came in tonight's game. In the 3rd inning, Tyner hit his first career home run! What joy for Tyner, his fans, and the team! Everyone can use that little morale boost.

It was fun watching the team congratulate Tyner when he made it to the dugout. The smile on Tyner's face told the story--how good it must feel to have that monkey off his back. The camera shot I liked best was tiny Wayne Hattaway giving Tyner a huge bear hug in the dugout.

Way to go Tyner!

Let's hope the rest of the team takes your lead tonight!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Season Countdown

2007 Baseball Calendar
(remainder of the season)

07-27-2007 - Hall of Fame Induction Weekend Begins 1 Days

07-31-2007 - Non-Waiver Trade Deadline: 5 Days

08-31-2007 - Postseason Eligibility Lists by Midnight: 36 Days

09-01-2007 - Active Roster Expands from 25 to 40: 37 Days

09-30-2007 - Final Games of the 2007 Regular Season: 66 Days

10-23-2007 - 2007
World Series Begins: 89 Days

Wow...this baseball season is winding down faster than I would like. And even if the Twins don't make it to the playoffs, I want to enjoy what baseball is left. I'm actually anxious to get past the trade deadline and not have to wonder any longer who's staying and who's leaving.

On Sunday I bought tickets for 3 future Twins games. The first game is next Monday when they come home from Cleveland (where they have hopefully been shaking some ass). And then I bought tickets for 2 games in mid-August against the Texas Rangers. I picked those games not because we're playing the Rangers, but because that weekend we're celebrating the '87 World Series title. A reunion of the '87 players is planned--and I can't wait to see who's all there. Too bad Puckett isn't around to be part of the festivities.

Like I've said, win or lose, I plan to enjoy all the baseball I can before the end of the season. The losses since the All-star break have been painful--in part, because they make it more improbable we will make the playoffs. They were also painful because they were just such awful games for the Twins. 13-1 vs Toronto? Ouch.

As a baseball fan, I am an optimist; but at a certain point, also a realist. If we are eliminated from the playoff picture (and I'm not ready to throw in the towel yet), then I can move on and still enjoy baseball. Playoff-bound or not, I hope the guys can still play quality baseball.

Many times the integrity of a team is revealed more in how they deal with defeat, than in how they deal with victory. Look at Kansas City--even though this season finds them in the bottom of the pack (again), they are still going out there and shaking some ass. They played well against Detroit and Boston--teams that are considered much better than them.

I just want the Twins to play with the same integrity they've played all season. I take pride in the fact that they are a team that never says "die". I take pride in the fact that they still play with heart, even when they're losing. Yes, being swept by Detroit and Toronto was ugly. But there is no time to lick our wounds. Tomorrow we open a series in Cleveland, a team we have lost 5 games to this season (the only 5 times we've faced them).

We need to go out there and Shake some ass!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Shake some ass!

I can just hear it now...the media is going to have a field day with Santana giving up 4 homeruns. The bloggers probably will go to town as well. Man, all I know is that it is so discouraging to see Santana struggle on the mound. Word has it that Santana wasn't feeling 100%...which isn't hard to believe given how he pitched. Has Santana ever given up 4 homeruns in a game? He just didn't seem to be his usual self. He was pitching hard, but didn't have his usual finesse. He didn't seem to be in "the zone"...that place he goes to when he's throwing like blazes, mixing up his pitches and fooling the batter to swing wildly at a pitch. You can tell he's in the zone when you see that little butt wiggle before he throws the pitch. I'm not the first one to notice that butt wiggle...a co-worker mentioned it today.

I love seeing that little butt means we have a good chance of winning the game.

On the positive side of things, our favorite Canadian had a good night--2 homeruns for Justin Morneau. I believe these were the first homeruns Morneau has hit in Canada. Hunter also got a homerun. That makes 28 for Morneau and 21 for Hunter. It would be nice to see them both break 30 again this year. I think Morneau has a good chance to reach 40 homeruns.

But what was that ugly play with Tyner and Punto in the 5th? If you ask me, that was the deal breaker. If we had been able to bring them home, I think we could have pulled out a win.

I do not feel witty following a Santana loss. Morose would sum up my mood. I want to sit aound and pout about the loss. I think I might. I'm going to sulk until the Twins can pull out a win. Hmmm...there better be some butt wiggling going on out there tomorrow night. That's right, shake some ass, get in the zone, and make some magic.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Win or lose

It was good to see the Twins win last night. Again, the bats came alive and that made all the difference. And geez, how does Kansas City beat Detroit in Detroit? Kansas loves to be the spoilers and more power to them, but I hope they're not so hot when they come to town at the end of the month.

In reading many of the other blogs, it seems the sweep by Detroit has many a fan writing off the Twins for the season. I won't say that it wasn't like a self-inflicted shot in the foot. It hurt. But all hope is not lost. The season isn't over by a long shot.

And till the end, even if the Twins are mathematically out of the playoff picture, I'll be watching the games rooting the team on. I'll be watching the game for the pure joy of it. November and the end of the baseball season comes soon enough. Until then I'll be lovin' every minute of it, win or lose.

For me the joy of basball cannot be found in nitpicking how poorly the game was played, who screwed up or who should be traded. Yes, I will on occasion bemoan lack of hit support and a pitcher's lack of prowess on the mound. I will definitely bitch and moan about the Twins' management not keeping or acquiring talent that would help the team win (Pohlad, open up your wallet. We all know you've got the money. This team is your legacy). But I do not find joy in focusing all of my attention on the win/loss column.

Baseball is woven into the fabric of my life. Sometimes the baseball season becomes a marker for what was happening in my life. In '87, the Twins' post-season ride to the World Series title carried me through a pretty dark period in my life (the initial weeks of my separation from my first was ugly). What I choose to remember from that time, is the joy and hysteria that was felt in this town as the Twins kept winning. I played hooky from work and went to that incredible ticker tape parade. I still get goosebumps when I remember it.

I remember attending one of the closing series against the Brewers a few years back ('05 I believe). The Twins were already "out of it" but I attended the game knowing that my opportunity to enjoy a ballgame would soon be gone until the next spring. I sat behind 2 dads with their young sons--Brewer fans. Normally I hate having opposing fans sitting next to me (at least vocal ones). But this was different. It was a joy to watch these dads enjoying the game with their young sons--obviously on a roadtrip to take in this game. The Brewers led most of the game, but in the late innings the Twins mounted a rally (initiated by Shannon Stewart) and won in the bottom of the 9th. That day those boys learned that the game is never over till the last out. And I was reminded that a comeback win is exciting whether you're going to the playoffs or not.

In one of those last games that season, I was also present to witness Morneau's first career grandslam. That is a goosebump memory as well.

And of course, my ultimate goosebump baseball memory--being proposed to on the Jumbotron on September 8, 2006 (that story is coming). Matt Garza was the starting pitcher, but not doing so hot (we were losing). Around the time of the proposal, Garza was pulled and Neshek came in. The bats came alive and we won (Neshek getting the win). I think it would have been a sweet game whether we won or lost, but the victory made it sweeter.

So there it is--I'm in it for the long haul. Yes, I will be grouchy when we lose games. And my mood will take a lift when we're winning. But I plan on watching game #162, playoff bound or not. And when that game is over, I'll be counting the days until the Twins take the field again.

(For an excellent blog on "watching the game when the going gets rough, check out Thursday's entry at A Fan's View from Section 220-- )