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July 23, 2004

On vacation

Well, I'm going on vacation. I won't necessarily be away from home, but I won't be updating this blog again until August 2nd. I know, all 3 of my readers will be deeply upset, but sometimes a guy needs a break to relax and refresh. So, I've been thinking of what I should leave you with. What kind of pithy, well thought out commentary can I leave you with that will satisfy your Greet Machine needs until August 2nd, and actually make you return when that time comes ... unfortunately I can't think of anything. So, I will leave you with some comments about one of my favorite topics of conversation, buying books.

You might think that being a librarian that I would be in favor of buying books, or that I would have a large collection of books in my home. Not so on either count. Personally I think that by being a librarian I have given up my right to buy books all together. And therefore I don't. Obviously this saves me a lot of money, but it also requires that I use one of the greatest intellectual resources provided by this great land, our public and academic library system. Do you realize just how many books you have at your disposal right now by virute of living in the Twin Cities area? First of all, we have the U of M Libraries, which by the way is the 17th largest research library in the nation. Next we have the public library systems of Hennepin and Ramsey counties, not to mention the city systems of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Hennepin County alone consistently ranks in the top 10 nationally in terms of book circulation. They have a lot of books and they check a lot of them out. We are literally overwhelmed by access to information. Having said all of this, why on Earth does anyone buy books in this area?

Buying books is such a waste of money! We should at all times use libraries to satisfy our research and recreational reading needs. And if you say the library never has anything you want to read ... that just is plain ignorant. Right now in the library of your choice sits a book that if you read it you would think it was the best, most inspirational book you have ever read. You just have to find it. My strategy is to find a lot of books, and just put a ton of them on hold. If I don't like one I always know that I've got either more coming or more already waiting for me. How do I find a lot of books to put on hold? Excellent question! There actually is a place for bookstores in my reading strategy, especially Amazon.com. What I do is look up a book in Amazon that I really liked. Then, on the page that features that book, I scroll down to the Listmania section and check out a list from a reader. Lists from Listmania usually include other books somebody thinks you'll enjoy besides the one you initially searched for. Truly it works like a charm. When I find a book on a list that I think I might enjoy I go back to the catalogs of both the U of M Libraries and Hennepin County and wherever it is I put the book on hold. I'm so fond of this method that I wrote a web page that strips out everything from Amazon except for the lists and other recommendations they make for books. I call it the Serendipity Project. Check it out and let me know what you think (it is pretty basic right now and needs some work).

Anyway, that is how I find books to read. You might be wondering if there is any time where I feel actually buying a book is OK. Yes, I will grudgingly admit that there are times when purchasing a book is warranted. So, I leave you with the 7 Rules of Book Buying:

  1. You may buy any book you will read at least 5 times.
    This is a tough rule, but I can't justify buying a book especially if I'm only going to read it once. That's ridiculous! The next time you get the urge to buy a book you know you are going to read less than five times, stop yourself, save yourself some money, and go to the library and check the book out! In fact, take that money and save it for something special, donate it to charity, or take it to zoo, buy some sardines, and feed them to the seals.

  2. You may buy reference books.
    Of course reference books such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, manuals, field guides, travel guides, etc. will probably be read more than five times. Although you can get a lot of this material on the WWW now, so buy these books only when absolutely necessary!

  3. You may buy books for a university/college course.
    You could try and check these out from the library, or ILL them, but most likely the due date will be before the end of the class. You may also want to highlight them, so I suppose you can go ahead and buy them.

  4. You may buy a book if you are planning on donating a large collection of them to the library.
    Collecting books is a tough one for me. When people come to my house they are usually surprised to see that I have very few books. They ask, "Don't librarians usually have a lot of books?" And I say, "Yeah, I have a huge collection. Around 6 million volumes. You may have heard of it: The University of Minnesota Libraries?" But I suppose some of you have rather large collections of books. If this is the case, make sure you are buying books in order to someday benefit a library.

  5. You may buy books to use as decorations, but make sure this benefits a library.
    This one is especially tough for me. But I do concede that books can sometimes spruce up the interior of your home. However, I do have a rather restrictive rule about this one. You can only buy books for decoration if you get them from a library book sale. That way the books you buy will have a direct monetary benefit to the library you are purchasing them from.

  6. You may buy a book if you are going to get it signed by the author.
    This one is the only "no brainer" of the bunch.

  7. You may buy a book if you are buying a book written by a friend.
    If I had a friend that wrote a book, I would certainly show my support by buying the book. I may even get it signed by the author!

So there you have it. Chew on that for about a week. I'll be back!

Posted by snackeru at 10:36 PM | Comments (5)

One more thing

Again, I'm on vacation, but you may have missed some of the stuff I've written before. Here are some of the things I've written where I actually thought I did an OK job of expressing myself:


Truly though, what I write most about on this blog is stadiums. I desperately want a Twins stadium to be built. If you are interested, check out all my posts on stadium issues. Man, do I sound like a broken record!

Posted by snackeru at 10:53 AM

July 22, 2004

Everyone is talking about Morneau

I'm sure this site isn't the first web page you read every day, so you've probably already seen all the talk about Justin Morneau in the papers this morning. If not, check out:

I'm no statistician. I'll let the Twins Geek worry about that. But in the short time Morneau has been up he has produced numbers that Doug Mientkiewicz can only dream about: "Since his call-up Friday, Morneau has two home runs, six runs batted in and is batting .269 in six games. He went 3 for 5 with an RBI on Wednesday against the Devil Rays." He is batting .280 overall. Mientikiewicz is quoted as saying:
"We know he can hit, but I think they would rather have me on defense,'' said Mientkiewicz, who is eligible to come off the DL today but isn't likely to be activated before Friday. "The sky's the limit for him, but I won't sit back if I'm healthy.''

Uh, sorry Mint. You will be sitting. We are in the middle of a pennant race and you aren't producing. At all. Jim Souhan even speculated that Mint could be traded, possibly to Boston to clear the way for Morneau. That would be surprising, but I gotta admit I wouldn't be too upset about it. Mint had some pretty good years here, but his lack of consistency has grown tiresome.

And speaking of trades, Souhan and the Pioneer Press have some other juicy tidbits concerning possible trades. Restovich for Dan Wilson? Interesting, but more interesting is:

"Ryan didn't offer details, but members of the organization said the most probable target of trade talks is Pittsburgh starter Kris Benson, and that the Twins have a list of top prospects they won't trade for him that includes Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel and Scott Baker."

I tell you, I would be surprised, very happy, but surprised if the Twins got Benson. He is way too hot right now. I suppose it all depends on what Ryan offers for him, but I really don't think Pittsburgh is going to be interested in anyone besides who the Twins won't trade. Wouldn't it be nice if they took Restovich and Adam Johnson for Benson? Really, what do I know?

Next week should be interesting. Will Jacque still be a Twin? Will Mint be riding the pine? And if the Twins don't make any trades, where will they bat Lew Ford when Stewart returns to left field? The plot thickens!

Posted by snackeru at 8:56 AM | Comments (2)

July 21, 2004

Another edition of random musings

  • Yesterday my son and a friend decided to give the old lemonade stand a try to see if they could make some money. Personally I thought they would do pretty well, and as far as lemonade stands go I think they did. They made about $11 bucks. However, we live on a street that some pretty rich people drive on. I'm not saying I'm rich, not by any stretch of the imagination, but there is a desitination on my street that rich people like to frequent, so I typically see all kinds of nice vehicles out my window especially Mercedes, BMWs, and of course a Lexus every now and again. What surprised me about this fact in relation to my son's lemonade stand is not one of these cars stopped to buy some lemonade. He was selling a large lemonade for 50 cents and a small for 25 cents. I find it hard to believe that anyone doesn't have this kind of change in their car somewhere, but especially a person driving a BMW! So, after seeing this I have made a new vow for myself. Whenever I see some kids selling lemonade I will stop and buy some, no matter what. I mean really, how hard is it to stop and buy some lemonade? You get a nice cold glass of a tasty beverage, you make some kids very happy, and you feel better about yourself. It is a win-win all the way around.
  • Who else isn't sick to their stomach regarding this who Joe Mauer knee debacle? I tell you I am just sick about it. I wrote about this a while ago, but why do athletes need surgery for every little bump and bruise? If Joe was in high school they probably would have rested his knee for about a month or two and he would have been ready to go. But in professional sports they seem to do all kinds of unecessary, invasive surgery to speed the healing process. I can't help but think that this short-sighted thinking has jeopardized Joe's catching career. I know, I'm being a bit pessimistic since they did receive some good news concerning Joe's knee. Plus, I'm no doctor, but removing the cartilage from a catcher's knee cannot ever be a good thing. Weren't they a little concerned that they were messing with the knee of a catcher? Again, what do I know...
  • Speaking of the Twins management's likely ineptitude, I cannot stand how they mess around with their young talent. Take the stories of Cuddyer and Morneau for example. Here were two can't miss prospects. Do you remember how a couple years ago Cuddyer lit up spring training and then the Twins gave the right field job to Dustan Mohr? From then on Cuddyer has been looking over his shoulder and he has never been the same. He has been shuffled back and forth to the minors more than any player of his promise deserves. It has gotten to the point where the StarTrib writes that a start for Cuddyer is now a rare opportunity. Cuddyer needs consistent at bats and the confidence that the Twins won't jerk him around anymore. Personally I would love to see him at second base. What does Rivas have (besides speed) that Cuddyer doesn't? Can someone help me out with that one?

    This brings up Morneau. The Twins are coming dangerously close to doing the same to him as they've done to Cuddyer. In the five games he has been up for he has hit 2 homers and has 4 RBI, not stunning numbers but not Mientkiewicz numbers either. What more does Morneau have to do to stay in the majors? It is time to recognize that he deserves the starting job at first.

    Posted by snackeru at 8:57 AM | Comments (4)

    July 20, 2004

    Links of the day

    Posted by snackeru at 12:32 PM

    Linebackers

    donthom.jpg
    Please Mr. Thomas, don't hurt me!
    One thing I am sick of hearing about is the "question mark" people claim the Vikings linebackers will be this year. Truthfully, I will take this "question mark" over last year's pathetic squad any day. Consider last year the Vikings started Chris Claiborne (a decent player who should have a better year), Henri Crockett (thank goodness we've already released him, what a stiff), and Greg Biekert. Now, I will agree that Biekert was an intelligent player and that he provided a healthy amount of leadership to the team as a whole, but he was the slowest linebacker I have ever seen. Seriously, he couldn't stop a running play to the outside if he was told what play the other team was running and he was given a two week head start. It was painful to watch.

    Given that last year's linebacker corp was so awful, we should expect a great deal of improvement this year. I mean, there is only one way to go compared to last year, and that is up. Sure, our linebackers are young, but they are fresh. I also have a feeling that this Tabu nightclub fiasco will serve to motivate Henderson and Nattiel to prove their critics wrong. Henderson especially. According to some NFL scouts, Henderson really excelled in nickel situations last year, and that while there may be some growing pains with his new role as starter he should be fine over the long run.

    Having said all of this, the guy I am really looking forward to watching is Dontarrious Thomas. Again, according to NFL scouts Thomas has great range, is fast (he was nicknamed "Reindeer"), and is a great open field tackler. So, to recap, we have Claiborne to solidify the unit, Thomas and Nattiel on the other side, and Henderson to man the middle. And apparently we have Rod Davis to back him up. Really, I don't worry about this year's young talent. Anything will be an improvement over last year.

    Posted by snackeru at 7:30 AM | Comments (5)

    July 19, 2004

    UThink Update

    As many of you know, the blog system the Greet Machine sits on is called UThink: Blogs at the University Libraries. This is a little (getting bigger everyday!) pet project of mine that I must say I'm kind of proud of. UThink uses Movable Type as its blogging software of choice, and this software was chosen mainly because 1) it is probably the most popular blogging software after Blogger, 2) we could easily modify the Perl code to hook it to our campus authentication system, and 3) it was free for educational institutions. Really, how could we lose?

    Well, in May Six Apart, the makers of Movable Type (MT), decided to completely change their licensing with their new MT 3.0 and it really ticked me off. I felt like they used the old "bait and switch" tactic to get a huge user base and then begin charging for it. And their licensing fees were a little outrageous if truth be told. If I had known Six Apart was going in this direction it would have probably changed the direction of UThink. I say "probably" because I just don't know. Movable Type is by far the best blogging software out there that can do what we want it to do, namely connect to our University authentication system, and offer people unlimited blogs and blog authors. So, essentially I've been in a waiting game since May, wondering if we would be able to continue using MT for UThink or if we would have to start looking into something different.

    Well, I am relieved to say that it looks like we will be able to stick with Movable Type. Just this morning I had a conference call with Judy Gordon and Anil Dash of Six Apart (yes, that Anil Dash) who made it clear to me that they are willing to do whatever it takes to retain our business. It seems that universities and colleges all over the country are using UThink as a reference and they are telling Six Apart they would like to do what we have already done. This includes the mighty UC-Berkeley ... at least that's what Anil and Judy told me. So, Anil said they would like to use UThink as their "flagship" university installation and they would like us to agree to share our code modifications with other institutions. He also said that UThink is probably the most advanced blogging system for a university our size, and that we are the first university that has "done it right" as far as he could see. As my surfer friends used to say back in high school: killer! I'm thrilled other institutions think so highly of what we have done and I'm thrilled we will be able to work something out to stay with Movable Type.

    So, to make a long story short, sometime this summer UThink will be moving to MT 3.01. Of course, all the paperwork will have to be signed and licensing issues solved, but I am pretty confident this will be no problem and happen relatively quickly. I can't express enough how happy I am about this. It is such a monkey off my back and it looks like the beginning of what I hope will be a fruitful relationship with Six Apart. So, if Anil or Judy ever read this, thanks for everything, and you'll be hearing from us soon!

    Posted by snackeru at 4:37 PM | Comments (6)

    Eventful day

    The Twins are simply too painful to talk about right now. They seriously couldn't hit a beach ball. So, I'm going to write about my eventful Sunday morning, afternoon, and evening.

    Sunday morning: Church

    Thanks to my lovely wife I volunteer at my church as a sound technician. Not every Sunday, but some Sunday's I work the sound board and make sure everyone is "mixed" properly. That is sound lingo for making sure everyone has their volumes turned up (or down) properly. You see, most Lutheran churches have a couple of wireless microphones to worry about, but my Lutheran church has a full on band with guitars, keyboards, vocals, backup vocals, violins, drums, etc, not to mention flood lights and even a disco ball. Oh yes, we get funky when we worship the Lord. Unfortunately for me, I barely know how to work any of this equipment. I'm willing to learn, and I'm definitely doing just that, but sometimes that isn't good enough. Take yesterday for example. Everything seemed to be working smoothly when suddenly one of the microphones started to make a horrendously loud thumping noise. Let me tell you, there is nothing as humbling or nerve wracking as this since the second the noise starts all eyes in the congregation dart to the sound guy. Me. Seriously, about all I know how to fix is the volume (up or down?), but I frantically try to look like I know what I'm doing by flipping switches and turning dials. "What does this one say ... reverb flux equalizer? Sounds good to me, let's crank this puppy up and see what it does..." Eventually we had to turn the wireless mikes off since not even some "experts" in the band knew how to fix it. Like I said, very humbling. Then our pastor get's up to talk. Now, if there is one thing a sound guy does not want to mess up, it is the pastor's sermon. So, everything was going smoothly when my ears started to hear an echo coming from ... well ... I didn't know where it was coming from but I was determined to fix it. So, I start messing with the dials. "What does this one say ... quantum input balance authority? Let's see what happens if I max this one out..." Well, lo and behold eventually all my fiddling got the echo to go away! I was pretty proud of myself and I sat back to listen to the sermon without a care in the world. Well, I should have known something bad would happen. After the sermon the pastor ended on a very poignant note and the congregation quietly reflected on the message. The pastor then reached down to turn of his microphone when all of the sudden the most annoying and loud screech blared forth from the speakers. The congregation actually yelped from the pain this caused their ears. Again, all eyes on the sound guy. Me. While my fiddling fixed the pastor's echo, it seems it also turned on some feedback that sounded and felt like an ice pick rammed into everyone's ears. The pastor gave me a little look of annoyance and I slumped down vowing to never touch anything but the main volume control ever again. Very humbling.

    Afternoon: root beer floats

    Another weekend, another Cub Scout activity. This weekend my son and I volunteered to sell root beer floats in front of our local Cub Foods to raise money for the Cub Scouts. We worked the 2:00-5:00 shift, and we sold the most delicious root beer floats for a $1 a piece. Most of the people buying floats didn't really want one, but they did want to help the Cub Scouts. Some people just gave us a donation which was very, very nice. And then there were some people that seemed to want to rip us off. I know, can you believe it? One gentlemen walked up and said, "All I've got is 30 cents. Give me whatever that is worth." So, I gave him a little scoop of ice cream and about a third of a cup of root beer. So then he said, "Oh come on, give me some more root beer." So, being a nice guy I gave him a little more. Then he motioned to his cup and asked for more. So I said, "You gave me 30 cents! I should have given you a spoonful of ice cream and a swig of root beer from my bottle. Now take a hike!" Actually I didn't say all of that, but I did say that is all 30 cents would buy him. He grumbled and walked away. Sheesh. Anyway, overall we did pretty well. We sold 180 floats in 3 hours. Not too shabby.

    Evening: Spiderman 2

    So, doing all this Cub Scout activity with my older son makes my younger son feel a little left out. Eventually he'll be in Cub Scouts, but for now he gets a little ticked off that his brother does all this "cool stuff" and he has to stay at home. So, after root beer floats I took him out to get a little bite to eat and to see Spiderman 2. That, my friends, is a good movie. I enjoyed it immensely. I tell you, Tobey Maguire is the perfect Spiderman. I read that Sam Raimi, the director, almost gave him the boot, but it is a good thing he didn't. I can't imagine anyone else as Spiderman. The second installment of this franchise may have even been better than the first. There is action, sure, but there is also a very well done love story. That's right, I'm not too manly to admit that I wanted Mary Jane and Spiderman to work out their differences. But the best scene was in the middle when Spiderman is unmasked on the subway after fighting Doc Oc. I don't want to ruin it for you, but the reaction of the people is very touching. Anyway, it was a great movie, and my younger son loved it too (although there were a couple of scary scenes!). I'll definitely see it again.

    That's about it. I just read that Joe Mauer may be put on the disabled list again. Yikes, that is scary.

    Posted by snackeru at 8:15 AM | Comments (4)

    July 16, 2004

    What is in my CD player

    I'm sick of stadiums, and the Twins (although I'm thrilled they've called up Morneau), and the Vikings season is too far away. So, let's talk about music. Today's post about music centers around what is in my CD player right now. And yes, this music is in my CD player right now, playing as I type. Don't care? Then go away.

    This is a mix CD I've made from some of the MP3s on my home computer. It is random and demonstrates, to me at least, the variety of music I enjoy.

    1. Bitter Sweet Symphony -- The Verve
      I love this song. Very interesting lyrics too. I haven't really tried to figure out what they mean to me yet. A simple, uplifting song.
    2. Kiss Off -- Violent Femmes
      I never liked the Femmes in high school, but this song just screams teenage angst. I love the instrumentation too. All acoustic and yet it still rocks. Anyway, even though I didn't listen to them much in high school, it still reminds me of that time.
    3. Loser -- Beck
      Another frustrated teenager song. This song is just plain goofy with a good beat and very interesting lyrics. Makes me feel like a Norwegian gangsta.
    4. Don't Think Twice -- Bob Dylan
      This song is very soothing and it features some of Dylan's better singing. A pure folk song with a nice twang. I enjoy it very much.
    5. You and I Both -- Jason Mraz
      Some of Mraz's work is a little cliched, but there is no doubt he is a good song writer. This is his best song, period. His voice is another instrument and he sings the lyrics flawlessly. I would love to get a live version of this tune.
    6. Watching the Wheels -- John Lennon
      I've always liked this song. Makes me a little sad to think how Lennon's life was cut short just as he was beginning to "figure it all out." Anyway, probably my favorite song from his solo years.
    7. Champange Supernova -- Oasis
      One of their two best songs. And where have they been lately? After What's the Story Morning Glory they kind of just fell of the face of the Earth. Or maybe that's just my impression.
    8. Everybody Hurts -- REM
      This song really speaks to me for some reason. Haunting, melodic, and thoughtful. It is simply beautiful.
    9. Reptilia -- The Strokes
      Plain and simple this song has good music and a good beat. It also reminds me of music from the 70s. That's about it.
    10. Wonderwall -- Oasis
      The other great Oasis song. This is another one of those songs that you just know is good. I played it for my son once, and he knew immediately he liked it. You know those kinds of songs, right? They are just good.
    11. Spirit of Radio -- Rush
      This song just plain rocks. I have to crank this song up whenever it comes on and a big smile spreads across my face. Some Foreigner songs have the same effect on me. I know, weird.
    12. Pictures of You [extended version] -- The Cure
      This song has the "British" sound that I really love. You know that sound, right? "Clocks" by Coldplay also features it. I'd almost describe it as intelligent pop. It has that certain sound that your mind immediately enjoys, but it isn't sugary or sappy. And you gotta have the extended version.
    13. Good Souls -- Star Sailor
      I've got to study this song a little more. I don't even know what it is talking about, but I think it is powerful. If anyone knows what the theme of this song is let me know.
    14. Nightswimming -- REM
      This song has a special place in my heart. First of all it's beautiful, but it also makes me think of my wife, who I love very, very much. It is just one of those songs that remind you of all the good stuff in life, good times and good memories.
    15. Inbetween Days -- The Cure
      The Cure were gifted at writing pop songs. That is not the "gothic" reputation they have, but they have written some of the best love songs of the 80s. I'm not sure if this is a love song or not, actually, but I like it. It's got a good beat.
    16. Do You Realize -- Flaming Lips
      Really, who doesn't like this song? Absolutely gorgeous. It reminds me of my daughter thanks to the line "Do you realize that you have the most beautiful face?" The whole Yoshimi album is great.
    17. Save it for a Rainy Day -- The Jayhawks
      As I get older I start to appreciate these kinds of songs a little more. A little country feel to it, a little twang, and a sound that I would have run from screaming in high school. I like this song for its gentleness. I just feel better when I listen to it.
    18. 12:51 -- The Strokes
      Great song with a constant beat. Very simple chord structures and lyrical composition, yet again there is something about it that I like. Very 70s feel to it and easy to listen to.
    That's it. That is what is in my CD player right now. Maybe I'll write about the next album I put in, or maybe I won't.

    Posted by snackeru at 1:59 PM

    Links of the day

    Posted by snackeru at 8:38 AM

    July 15, 2004

    Twins and stadiums

    There have been a lot of interesting columns and articles in recent days concerning my favorite topic, the Twins and their never ending drive for a new stadium. First of all we have Sid Hartman who wrote a column on Sunday which was highlighted by some nice comments from our governor Tim Pawlenty:

    "If we have a special session, which is in serious doubt -- in fact, I would probably say it's not going to happen now," the governor responded. "Many legislators feel the stadium would be too much to bite off during a special session.

    "I do think, though, the good news is that it is more likely than ever that the Legislature will seriously consider and perhaps pass a Twins stadium deal or a stadium deal more broadly sometime in the next 12 months.


    So, to recap, even if there was a special session, it is unlikely a stadium bill would be part of it. That shouldn't be a surprise or a worry for Twins fans since I don't think a special session will be called at all. Secondly, Pawlenty thinks there is enough interest and desire to pass a stadium bill within the next 12 months:
    "If it doesn't happen in a special session, I think it is ripe for consideration as early as January or February, when the legislature comes back. So there is still a lot of hope, more hope than there was a year or two ago."

    You might think that I would be jumping up and down in happiness over this statement, but I've heard it all before. There is always plenty of optimism, but never any resolve to actually get something done. So, we'll see. However I think it is highly unlikely that the legislature considers a stadium bill until the end of the regular session next year, not January or February.

    The next set of articles we have come from Patrick Reusse and Tom Powers, who both wrote about the lack of fan support for the Twins. Tom Powers in particular had some choice words for the fan base of the Twin Cities:

    "We should stop kidding ourselves. Minneapolis and St. Paul should have a Class AAA team instead of the Twins. This is not major league territory."

    He later added:
    During a year in which attendance is up throughout baseball, the Twins are drawing 1,000 fewer per game than last season. After a historic stretch of three consecutive complete-game shutouts last week, they drew 14,000 against Detroit. The season-ticket base is a ridiculous 7,500.

    Once again, the Twins likely will not be able to coax 2 million fans into the Metrodome. Remember that 2 million barely is a respectable number these days — the equivalent of a batter hitting .260. And that's despite dirt-cheap ticket prices and the team contending for its third consecutive division title.


    I've written before why I think there is a lack of fans at the Metrodome but I think a couple points bear repeating. Of course, my main reason for pathetic fan support is the fact that the Metrodome is indoors and a horrible baseball stadium. There is no getting around that. And again, people are sick of Pohlad and his whining about a stadium. Pohlad absolutely destroyed the fan base during the 90s with really bad teams and threats to move to North Carolina. There is still a lot of negativity towards the Twins as a result of this. Really, you reap what you sow.

    A comment from Curt in Grand Forks also deserves repeating. For years the Twins have been telling us how bad the Metrodome is for baseball. They have beat into our heads over and over again that the Dome has "poor sightlines" for baseball and that it is a football stadium. For years the Twins themselves have been basically telling us that watching baseball in the Dome is not that much fun. Why are they so surprised that people are listening to them?

    Does this mean that the Twins don't have a good fan base? Hardly. In the same column Powers also writes:

    [Team President Dave] St. Peter says he is not giving up. He points out that, incredibly, TV ratings are near an all-time high.

    "There has been a disconnect," he said. "So many people are watching on TV, and that says there is a lot of interest. But they aren't coming to the ballpark. It's our job to figure out why."

    The recurring theme, he says, is that people don't like the Metrodome. Which is unfortunate because people don't want to build a new park, either.


    It is those precious TV ratings that are now our only hope for a new stadium. Those ratings, and the fact that the Twins were the first AL team to draw 3 million fans, prove this area is major league. People love watching the Twins, but they don't like the Metrodome. La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune wrote a great article yesterday which quoted Selig as saying that contraction is off the table and unnecessary due to MLB's better economic balance. Again, this is good news/bad news for Twins fans. Without the threat of contraction the stadium drive loses a little steam. However, if you read between the lines of Selig's comments contraction may no longer be an option, but relocation is still a very real option. Virginia may be chosen to get the Expos, but Portland, OR is also making a big push. Could Portland make a push for the Twins? Powers seems to think so:
    "My guess is that the Twins franchise one day will wind up in Portland, Ore., where the veteran players will tell stories about gloomy days and sparse crowds in Minnesota. And such a move will be good for baseball, solidifying one more financially shaky team."

    Personally I think this threat is very real. Oakland, Florida, and the Twins are all in the mix, but Pohlad has already proven he has the balls to pull the trigger.

    So, why are the TV ratings so important now? Even though Victory Sports failed it still had a positive effect towards the stadium drive. When the Twins weren't on TV people in Minnesota were literally freaking out. Legislators were inundated with mail demanding they do something to put the Twins back on TV. They were so overwhelmed they even put an amendment in the stadium bill that the Twins had to be on TV! Can you imagine the kind of mail and feedback they'll get if the Twins not only aren't on TV but aren't even in Minnesota? That, Twins fans, is reason for optimism. The Victory Sports debacle may still prove successful if it can push this stadium bill over the top.

    There will be more later. I've got to get to work!

    Posted by snackeru at 9:09 AM

    July 14, 2004

    Links of the day

    Posted by snackeru at 11:49 AM | Comments (6)

    July 13, 2004

    Time to think about football

    ticket.jpgMy Vikings season tickets are some of my most prized possessions. I don't have the best seats, not by any stretch of the imagination, but I don't have bad seats either. I sit amongst the true fans in the upper levels of the Dome, fans that are devoted and passionate (and relatively poor like me). This will be my 4th season owning the tickets, and almost every year I have made incremental moves down the stands. The first year I had tickets I sat in section 217, Row 28. That is pretty much at the top. However, after four years I am now in row 21! Baby steps, I realize, but every row helps. Next year I expect to break into the teens. You gotta have goals.

    Needless to say, I just received my season ticket package for the 2004 season. I am pumped! To the right is one of my tickets for the Green Bay game Christmas Eve. What on Earth convinced the NFL schedule makers that this was a good idea is beyond me. I must admit that I am a little ticked off that my Christmas celebration will be chopped up by a football game. Being a person of Scandinavian descent, my family usually did our Christmas on Christmas Eve. However, the game itself should be good as always. Although I'm hoping that the Vikes will have the NFC North wrapped up by then, a little piece of me hopes the game is meaningful. Who knows? Maybe we'll need to beat the Pack to wrap up home field advantage? Regardless, the Packers should be easy to defeat this year, regardless of when the Vikings play them.

    When I was in Milwaukee I asked Gabe, one of Cheesehead Craig's friends and a rabid Packer fan, what game Packer fans really get excited for. He said, "See these Christmas lights strung up all over my basement? They only get turned on for the Packer/Viking game. It's all about the Vikings." Well, this year it will be more appropriate than ever to turn on those lights for the game.

    Posted by snackeru at 9:23 PM | Comments (6)

    Sorry everyone

    Sorry everyone for the lack of posts recently. I went on a Cub Scout camp out this weekend and I just got back last night. I'm also taking today off. The camp out was a blast and my son had a very good time, thanks for asking. The Cub Scouts are so good for him (and for me) that I thank God everyday we joined up when we did. Good people and good times.

    So, today I'm going to spend some time with my family, maybe watch the All-Star game (maybe...) and generally just hang out with my kids. See you soon!

    Posted by snackeru at 10:07 AM

    July 9, 2004

    I need my fix

    I am addicted. I am addicted to the thought of building stadiums in Minnesota. It totally consumes me. I can't watch a baseball, or football, game without thinking about new stadiums in Minnesota. I soak up stadium news like a sponge. If I read or hear the word "stadium" I perk up like a little doggy and I beg for more. Listening to the radio, watching the news, reading the paper, walking down the sidewalk, I am constantly on the lookout for any tidbit, any little hint of stadium news in Minnesota. Seriously, when a decision is finally made on stadiums here in this fine state I will have so much time on my hands I won't know what to do with it.

    So, let's get on with today's news. Today the Star Tribune had a good editorial on the good news/bad news aspect of moving the Expos to the DC area. Let's dissect it a little. The editors write:

    Our interpretation is that moving the Expos holds both good and bad news for the Twins and their fans -- good because contraction is no longer a threat, bad because without contraction hovering overhead a new ballpark in the Twin Cities seems less likely.

    First of all, I'm not sure that moving the Expos to DC will take away the threat of contraction. Personally I think the Florida Marlins are ripe to try out the contraction threat. Keep in mind that the Marlins are also desperate for a stadium and have recently been rebuffed by the Florida state legislature. They are also owned by Jeff Loria, the former owner of the Expos. Mr. Loria is already pretty gifted at alienating fans so I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the Marlins offer themselves up.

    One thing I do agree with is with the threat of contraction gone, the chances for a new stadium decrease. Not much mind you since the chances are currently at the "when pigs fly" level, but the chances do decrease. Hard to believe, I know. The editorial goes on to say:

    Minnesota needs to act in its best interests, irrespective of contraction or the movement of franchises. A new ballpark is badly needed, not just to enhance the long-term viability of the Twins but to ensure the competitiveness of the region. We agree with Gov. Tim Pawlenty when he calls the Twins an important asset to Minnesota's quality of life. Smart people protect their assets and reinvest in them.

    This is a good paragraph highlighted by the phrase, "to ensure the competitiveness of the region." Like it or not, when buisnesses look to invest in a community by building a factory, or creating a headquarters, they look at the quality of life in the community. One aspect of quality of life they look at is professional sports in the area. Look at this table listing the largest metro areas in the country. The Twin Cities are number 15. But look down at number 31. Did you know that the Norfolk and Virginia Beach area was that large? That metro area is about the same size as Milwaukee, yet most people wouldn't consider the Norfolk area to be "major league." In fact, most people haven't even heard of Norfolk or Virginia Beach. Having a major league baseball team gives an area legitimacy and advertising that no amount of money can buy. Having ESPN mention the Twin Cities every night to millions of fans creates an unconscious level of respect for our area that carries over into people's daily lives. As a result of this, when people think about the Twin Cities they think of a large metro area with a lot to offer. When they think of Norfolk, VA ... nothing really comes to mind. And yes, I am saying this has a lot to do with the free advertising provided by sportscasters around the country on a nightly basis.

    Secondly, this paragraph states, "Smart people protect their assets and reinvest in them." Seriously, why do we want to give up something we already have, and something that other communities desperately want? The fact of the matter is if the Twins leave either by moving or contraction, the Twin Cities will seek another major league baseball team within the next 10 years. It will cost us at least three times as much at this point to build a new stadium. Why do we want to set ourselves up for this inevitability? Consider also that if we would have agreed to build a stadium five years ago we would have saved about $200 million dollars. Every year we wait only ends up costing us more.

    I know, I know, what about education? What about the 600 teachers laid off in Minneapolis this summer? What about priorities? For some reason it is difficult for us to recognize the intangible benefits of having the Twins in our community when faced with teacher layoffs. I agree, it sucks to see teachers lose their jobs. But the fact of the matter is we aren't building any stadiums right now, and these teachers are still losing their jobs. Whether we build stadiums or not, our decision will not affect education. Either we invest in education or we choose not to, but stadiums have nothing to do with this decision. These are two separate issues and they should be treated as such. I write my legislators about education issues just like I write to them about stadiums. I want them to address both of these issues. The editorial ends:

    It's time for the club, the fans and the public to reinvest. The Ballpark at Twinsville remains the best stadium concept. The location, transportation and parking are superb. The Minneapolis Warehouse District is loaded with dining, entertainment and housing options that will give Twins baseball a festive flavor that has made the Chicago Cubs and Wrigleyville so popular with Midwesterners. The financing plan is fair and ensures that the public will share in the increased value that a new ballpark would bring to the team. Allowing the Twins to descend the same downward spiral that swallowed the Expos is not acceptable in Minnesota.

    I'm not sure the Minneapolis Warehouse District is the best location, but I will agree it would be a fine location for a stadium. One thing I've learned about St. Paul in the past year is that they are passionate about baseball in that city. Putting a stadium in downtown St. Paul would be a real eye opener in terms of fan support, I would think, and I would love to travel to St. Paul for a game. And the financing plan is fair, given that it uses a tax increment financing method, or money that would only be there if the stadium is built. In essense, this money does not exist if not for a new stadium. How can we say no to this? Sadly, though, we are saying no, and it appears that the fate of the Expos is acceptable to Minnesotans. I sure hope I'm wrong.

    Posted by snackeru at 7:10 AM | Comments (3)

    July 8, 2004

    Links of the day

    Posted by snackeru at 12:47 PM

    July 7, 2004

    Twins news

    Since Kenny Williams of the White Sox made his move and traded for Freddy Garcia, the baseball world has been waiting for Terry Ryan to make a deal for a pitcher for the Twins. Well, the Toronto Sun is reporting that Terry has his eye on at least two pitchers:

    The Minnesota Twins, who led the American League Central Division heading into last night, are looking to counter the Chicago White Sox adding right-hander Freddie Garcia from the Seattle Mariners by obtaining a starter of their own. Their first choice is Kris Benson of the Pittsburgh Pirates and their second choice is Jays right-hander Miguel Batista.

    Here is the line on Kris Benson:

    YEAR G GS CG IP H R HR BB SO K/9 W L Sv P/GS WHIP BAA ERA
    2004 16 16 0 103.0 112 60 7 39 67 5.85 6 7 0 104.8 1.47 .281 4.63

    Apparently he has a 95 MPH fastball, a changeup, curve, and slider, and when he is on he is very, very good. But he has yet to show any real consistency. Sounds like the perfect guy for the Twins! Get him for a bargain and give him some confidence (and put him on a winner) and we may have another Silva on our hands, or better. That 4.63 ERA is a little high, but he doesn't give up many homeruns, which is very nice.

    Let's take a look at the second pitcher the Twins have in mind (and the reason the Toronto Sun is the source of this rumor) Miguel Batista:

    YEAR G GS CG IP H R HR BB SO K/9 W L Sv P/GS WHIP BAA ERA
    2004 18 18 2 117.0 104 51 9 56 71 5.46 8 5 0 102.9 1.37 .245 3.85

    The story on Batista is that he is a groundball pitcher. Again, not many homeruns. He has a decent fastball (faster than Radke's at least), a slider, curve, and split-finger. Personally I'd be surprised to see the Blue Jays give him up since he solidifies an already pretty good pitching staff, but the Jays are 14 games behind. Even the Devil Rays have passed them by. Once that happens I think teams in the East must pretty much decide to pack it in.

    So, Kris Benson may be the Twins top choice for a fifth starter. Terry Mulholland is not the answer, we all know that.

    Who said the Greet Machine never gives you any statistics?

    Posted by snackeru at 10:01 PM

    Bulleted statements

  • Sorry for the post below. Sometimes I have to wonder what the heck am I really saying? Obviously last night I thought I'm not saying much of anything. I still feel that way today, but that doesn't mean I'm not having fun doing it. Of course, if you don't like what I am saying, then don't read what I am writing. Fair enough, I should think.
  • Santana is pitching like an animal. 13 strikeouts last night is just amazing. And the Twins are back in first 1.5 games ahead of the Sox. The Sox have lost 4 straight since sweeping the Twins. That is strange but I'll take it.
  • Santana may be pitching well, but what I like from the Twins right now is their lineup. Joe Mauer in the three spot seems to be working pretty well, but what has me really thrilled is Mientkiewicz batting 6th or 8th. Since moving down in the lineup he has hit 8 for 20 with two homers. Granted the Twins have played the Diamondbacks and the Royals, but I would say Dougie is coming out of his slump. I can't understand why they haven't moved him down sooner. Mient's best year was in 2001, especially the first half when he carried the Twins and was close to batting .400. He batted in the 6 spot during that time. I would say he is the most comfortable there, but we'll have to see how he does there in the long term this year.
  • Take the 5 question quiz concerning the Vikings on ESPN.com. The last question deals with the stadium issue and I was thrilled with the results.
  • Speaking of stadiums, I'm sure everyone has seen by now that Mayor Kelly vetoed St. Paul's smoking ban last night. How does this fit in with stadiums? The hospitality industry in St. Paul basically told Kelly that if he didn't veto it they would withdraw their support for St. Paul's stadium drive. While none of the articles mention this, including Kelly's veto letter, it was a big part of the mayor's decision.
  • And speaking of Kelly, for those of us still hoping for a special session, Mayor Kelly is still pleading that Pawlenty call a special session of the legislature. Good for him. I thought the chances of a special session are all but dead, but apparently there is still a chance. I'm not sure if they will have time to tackle stadiums, but if a special session is called I would be surprised if stadiums aren't n the agenda.

    That's about it.

    Posted by snackeru at 8:49 AM

    July 6, 2004

    Blah

    Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah Twins stadium. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah Red McCombs is evil. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah Denard Walker play some freaking defense. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah build a stadium now. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah I liked this book. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah the Metrodome should be demolished. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah the Vikings will win the NFC North. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah songs for a desert island. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah I am addicted to blogs. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah I love Kevin Garnett. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah stadium, stadium, stadium, and did I mention stadium?

    That about sums it up.

    Posted by snackeru at 10:05 PM | Comments (2)

    Not moving

    Just to reiterate, the Vikings are not moving to LA. I wrote about this a few days ago, and since then more reasons have come forth which strengthen the argument that Red is doing little more than bluffing.


    • According to the Viking Update article above, Red is, at best, fourth in line to move our team to LA. First in line is the Chargers. Secondly we have the Saints whose Superdome lease expires next year. Finally we have the Colts who have already proven they have the guts to move to another city. Red has not been in "the club" long enough to be given the lucrative LA market. No way.
    • A more subtle reason, however, suggesting the Vikings will never move is the NFL's current divisional alignment. The NFL just realigned to four divisions in each conference, and most people agree that the placement of the teams is pretty good. In fact it is really good. One division I know the NFL is proud of is the NFC North. Truly, the NFC North is the NFL's most perfect division. Four natural rivalries and four really football crazy cities. Moving the Vikings would mess all of this up and create the same problem the NFL had when the Buccaneers were in the NFC Central. This may sound like a weak reason, but the NFL takes this stuff seriously.

    The Vikings sell out every home game, they have natural, healthy rivalries in the area, and the have a tradition of support from their home state. The NFL does not want another Cleveland on its hands. No way. Compared to the Chargers, Saints, and Colts, the Vikings have not been begging nearly as long for a new stadium. In the NFL ownership circles I'm sure the general feeling is Red hasn't earned and he doesn't deserve LA.

    I tell you, if Red dares show his face to the Metrodome crowd this season I will boo like I have never booed before. First of all, he is making the worst bluff in the history of stadium politics I have ever seen. Does he think we are all rookies at this? Secondly, he is a moron. There are more tactful ways of getting a stadium built. Plus it is obvious he hasn't learned anything from the Twins stadium battles. Do not threaten Minnesotans with a move we know will never happen! Red, we will never build a stadium for you! Sell the team!

    Posted by snackeru at 8:57 AM | Comments (1)

    Links of the day

    Posted by snackeru at 7:47 AM | Comments (3)

    July 2, 2004

    Thoughts rattling around

  • I went to the Twins game yesterday and saw first hand the anemic bats in the Twins lineup. I know it is not time to panic yet, but the Twins did not have the same intensity as the White Sox and basically just let the Sox walk all over them. Having Stewart out of the lineup really, really hurts, but no one in the Twins lineup is getting the job done. I mean, if anyone gets on base, the Twins simply cannot hit that person home. The futility is shocking. It reminds me of the movie Tommy Boy when Tommy describes to Helen why he sucks at sales. This is how I imagine Doug Mientkiewicz describing his at bats right now:
    "[L]et me tell you why I suck as a [hitter]. Lets say I go into [batter's box] and lets say [there is a man on base and I have a chance at getting an RBI]. Well then I get all excited, I'm like JoJo, the idiot circus boy with a pretty new pet. The pet is my possible [RBI]. Oh, my pretty little pet, I love you. So, I stroke it, and I pet it, and I massage it. Hehe, I love it, I love my little naughty pet, you're naughty! And then I take my naughty pet and I go ([hits into a double play]) chhhhhhhh, chhhhhhhhh, OOOOHHHHHHH. I KILLED IT! I KILLED MY [RBI]! That's when I blow it."

  • While at the Metrodome I thought about if and when they'll tear the place down. I'm sure they'll sell parts of the place like the seats or the turf to collectors and such. Then I though what in the world are they going to do with the urinal troughs in the men's restrooms? Are they going to sell those? Can you imagine setting one of those beasts up in your home's bathroom? Now that would be a conversation piece. The only problem would be that every time I walked into my bathroom at home I would suddenly lose the urge to urinate all together. Standing at a trough at the Metrodome is way too much pressure for me. I swear I can only drink about a half a cup of Coke while I'm watching a game because of my fear of the trough.
  • Did anyone see Cristian Guzman's three run homer on Wednesday night? That guy has some really surprising power. I've watched him blast home runs in BP and I've always wondered why he doesn't do it more in games. His swing looks so effortless and lazy, but when he connects the ball just rockets to the stands. Hopefully we'll see more of this power as the season progresses.
  • Football in Minnesota will be really good this season, and I'm not just talking about the Vikings. This is the year for the Gophers. The Golden Gophers will be very, very good this year. I personally think they have a real shot at the Rose Bowl, but unfortunately they play at Michigan, at Michigan State, and at Wisconsin this year. Ouch. Truthfully I will consider the season a success if the only thing they did was beat Michigan. To get the "Little Brown Jug" back would be amazing. Keep October 9th marked on your calendar. That is when they go to Ann Arbor, and it is also when we'll find out if they are for real.
  • It was nice to see Latrell Sprewell decide to come back to the T-Wolves. I was also surprised to see that he would be interested in a three year deal that would probably result in him retiring as a Wolf. And its a shame that Sid is reporting that the Szczerbiak trade rumors are just that, rumors. Having a backcourt of Ray Allen, Sprewell, and Cassell would be slick.
  • Did anyone listen to Sports Tonight with Mike Max last night? He was talking about the stadium issue and how it relates to the gay marriage issue. From what I could glean in the short time I listened is legislators are hesitant to call a special session because they don't want to touch the gay marriage issue. Obviously this affects the stadium issue since they would probably attempt to solve that also during a special session. Again, this is another example of our legislature shying away from anything that might cost them their jobs. Man, they all need to get a backbone. If you can't make tough decisions then you should have never run for the legislature in the first place. Get a backbone and take a stand for what you believe in. Sheesh.

    That's all I got for now. See you soon!

    Posted by snackeru at 9:00 AM | Comments (1)

    July 1, 2004

    Links of the day

    Posted by snackeru at 11:37 PM | Comments (1)

    Can't escape

    You would think that during the summer we wouldn't have to keep hearing about stadium issues, but in this blasted state we can never escape them. A couple of weeks ago the rumors were floating around that Red McCombs was going to sell to Glen Taylor. Now, more than one news source is reporting that McCombs is going to try to move the team to LA for the beginning of the 2008 season.

    This is such a load of crap, I can't believe we are even taking Red seriously. Let's take a look at the reasons why Red will never move the team to LA:


    1. The Vikings have a lease in the Metrodome until 2011. Tagliabue has already said that teams with leases will not be moving. He said this at a news conference during last year's Super Bowl.
    2. The MSFC has the infamous "Rozelle letter" which guarantees the state of Minnesota a football team until 2011. There is no getting around this letter. It was even signed off by the NFL lawyers of the time, one of which was Tagliabue.
    3. There is no way the NFL gives a relative ownership newcomer like Red McCombs the lucrative LA market. No way. As Shooter is reporting today, the NFL is much more likely to give this $800 million market to a guy like Tom Benson of the Saints. The Chargers also make much more sense to move to LA as their lease has already expired, and the team already practices in LA. Sid reported way back in January:
      "With an impasse in San Diego about the building of a new football stadium after the city built a new baseball stadium, the consensus at the Super Bowl was that if the Chargers don't get a new facility, they will definitely move to Los Angeles, either in a new stadium or a remodeled Los Angeles Coliseum. NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said he hopes to be able to report something on the Los Angeles situation this spring. Tagliabue made it very clear again at his Houston news conference that teams with leases will not be moving. However, he talked about how much need there is for a new Vikings stadium in Minnesota."

      Obviously, Tags did not get a chance to clarify the LA situation, probably to give Red and other owners the chance to hold us all hostage for new stadiums. Very savvy.
    4. Where in the world would the Vikings, or another team for that matter, play in LA? Right now the only option they have is the LA Coliseum, and already two teams have left that dump (the Raiders and Rams). There has been talk about making the Rose Bowl more of an NFL venue, but so far there has only been talk. There is no plan, and there is certainly no funding. If Red moved the team to LA he would be in the exact same boat he is in now. He would need (or demand) a new stadium. His move to LA just doens't make any sense.

    Have no fear Vikings fans. The Vikings are here to stay. Besides, did you know the Chargers moved from LA to San Diego? A move back just makes more sense. There are at least 3 other owners that have been in this business longer than Red that have the seniority to move to LA. Red is stuck.

    Posted by snackeru at 8:47 AM | Comments (5)

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