March 31, 2008
Let me put it this way ...
The ballpark site at 7:30 this morning
Let me put it this way, I find it very painful going into the Metrodome on a beautiful sunny day. By comparison, going to the new ballpark on a snowy day won't be painful at all.
In fact, if it is snowing on opening day in 2010, I will still be happy beyond belief.
And as Cheesehead Craig as already pointed out, don't eat the yellow snow.
That is all.
March 24, 2008
Don't Meet Me in St. Louis
In spite of the wonderful time I had at the SABR convention, I did not enjoy the "ballpark" experience that I had at Busch Stadium. You would think that my $27 pavilion box seat ($30 from a scalper) would have guaranteed me a good seat at the Cardinals' new $355 million playpen, but that was not the case. The pavilion box is essentially the upper deck in left field, and for what might cost me $10 in another stadium (and $7 at the Metrodome), I had a clear view of about 80 percent of the stadium. Naturally, one couldn't see any of the plays occurring in left field or in the left field corner. Okay, I thought, this is a complete rip-off, but it's a beautiful evening and Mathew and I did this kind of on a whim. Tomorrow night we'll be in the lower deck as part of the huge SABR contingent; that will be the game where we get the great view of the park and really feel like we're at a ball game. Or so I thought.
Turns out that our $34 outfield loge boxes (for which SABR got a $10 discount per ticket) were no better. We didn't see the left fielder all game—except when he was trotting to and from the dugout—and having to wait for the crowd to react to know what was happening in left field greatly diminished the night's experience. Baseball can argue all it wants that the oval cookie-cutter stadiums of the 1960s weren't good baseball venues, but I guarantee you there were far more good seats in Busch Memorial Stadium than in what can now only be described as the standard HOK brick and steel retro park replacement ... Three to four thousand lousy seats (and that estimate may be low) in a stadium with a forty-six thousand capacity may not seem like much, but it's inexcusable given the sizable public investment involved and the millions of dollars of legislative time that was devoted to the issue.
In the grand scheme of things—i.e., the war in Iraq, the tragedy in Darfur, etc.—I would never suggest that paying exorbitant prices for tickets to a ball game is something worth spending a lot of time belly-aching about. (In fact, the $16 bleacher seats at field level—apparently sold out for the games we attended—were absolutely stunning in comparison to the grossly overpriced pavilion and loge seats in left.) And yet, I would argue that this whole process of shaking down the public for extravagant new stadiums that are geared almost exclusively to the affluent is symptomatic of the larger ills that lead to war, famine, and the like. America may be good at a lot of things, but what we seem especially adept at these days is fleecing the public to benefit the few, and that's completely inimical to the egalitarian heritage that set baseball apart from the rest of the spectator sports. It's no wonder that the gap between the haves and have-nots widens at the ballpark; it's been happening for decades in the real world.
What I've been told is that taking care of the fat cats, with their extra wide seats and catering service, will mean more cheap seats for the rest of us. In other words, the more some people pay at the ballpark will mean less that I will have to pay for my own ballpark experience.
The more stuff I read like this, though, the more pessimistic I get. However, I still feel it is our responsibility to keep the pressure on.
There is a chance that our ballpark will be completely fan friendly, not just for the fat cats but also the rabble that do most of the working, living, and dying in this town.
I still have hope, but my hope has a price limit.
March 17, 2008
There is only one "17th" worthy to be celebrated
So, during breakfast this morning, my impressionable young son asked me a question that set my blood to boiling. He asked, "Hey Dad? Why don't the Norwegians have a day like St. Patrick's Day?"
I answered, "They do son! Don't you remember celebrating Syttende Mai last year? We had some lefse, and we joined in on a Hanson Pogrom. Don't you remember?"
"No," he said, "Do you like the green shirt I am wearing?"
|The height of Irish culture?|
Egads people! Why do we go out of our way to celebrate this tiny little island's snake removal/pest control technician (St. Patrick) when we should be celebrating the richer culture of the proud Norwegian people? Let's look at some of the facts.
Fact: The Vikings dominated Ireland from about 800 AD to about 1100 AD. Heck, they didn't just dominate, they ruled with an iron fist.
Fact: The Vikings had a lot of children whilst in Ireland. As a result, the Vikings are a big reason the Irish culture is what it is today. According to Brian Sykes in the book Saxons, Vikings, and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland, more than 30% of the Irish gene pool comes from the Vikings.
Based on my math, that means Norway has an awesome culture sitting at 130%, while the Irish culture is knocked down to only 70% awesome. Chalk one up for Norway!
Fact: St. Patrick's Day is a day of massive drinking (a big cause of alcoholism), dieing rivers green (an environmental nightmare), and listening to bag pipes (my ears are still bleeding). Seriously?
Syttende Mai is a day of parades, ice cream, lefse, and ridding the country side of those pesky Hansons. Ding ding! Norway wins again!
Fact: The official symbol of St. Patrick's Day is the shamrock, or a three leaf clover. Hmmm ... where have I seen that before. Oh yeah! It is that weed that infests my yard every spring and kills all my grass!
The Norwegian equivalent? None! Our symbols are usually a little more regal in nature than a common weed enjoyed by cows. Norway wins again!
Fact: St. Patrick's Day is celebrated once a year. Ha! We celebrate Norse heritage every Wednesday (Odin's day), Thursday (Thor's day) and Friday (Frigga's day). Did someone say "Norway rules?" No? Well I'm saying it now!
Fact: Norway is a world leader in two-syllable band names. Ever heard of "A-Ha?" I think it is safe to say without A-Ha there would be no U2. Norway wins again.
Let me cut to the chase. As a Norwegian American I have long wondered why the Irish are given such wide latitude to flaunt their suspect culture, especially in Minnesota. I think I have demonstrated why as Minnesotans, with our rich Norwegian culture, it is our responsibility to set the record straight.
People, there is only one "17th" worth celebrating, and that is Syttende Mai. I think we all know what to do this May. In fact, I think we should get a head start: so get out those lefse pans, start peeling those potatoes, and let's give the world a celebration worth remembering!
Ja, vi elsker dette landet!
(For more of my musings on St. Patrick's Day please see my history of the Battle of Clontarf.)
March 15, 2008
Man the Big Ten Network sucks. Who was the genius that came up with this idea? I used to be able to watch all the Gopher games, but not any more. Last night's basketball game was probably the most exciting Gopher game in five years, and I have to "watch" it on an ESPN gamecast.
I live in St. Louis Park! I should not have to watch the highlights after the fact!
I know some people blame Comcast or Time Warner more than the BTN for this fiasco, and I'm sure there is enough blame to go around. All I know is I got to watch the games last year without any problems. This year, not so much.
The only difference between this year and last year is the creation of the Big Ten Network. If I have to go through this again next year ... I may just have to write a nasty letter!
March 12, 2008
Give him the job
Concerning the Twins this Spring Training, besides the pitching of Francisco Liriano, I am mainly interested in the battle for center field.
What I have read so far (and seen this last Sunday) convinces me that Denard Span should get the job.
He has proven he has patience at the plate, he obviously listens to the coaches, he has a hunger and a fire (not to mention a chip on his shoulder), and he is committed to getting on base. He has toiled in the Twins farm system for 6 years.
Span deserves a chance.
Did you see this little nugget in Sid's column this last weekend?
The new Twins stadium will include the Champions Club, which will have 400 extra-wide seats behind home plate and will cost about $200 each, which will include food, beverage, parking and access to the Champions Club Lounge, which will have sit-down dining. There will be about 3,000 club seats that would be in the $50-plus range.
I'm still waiting for the news to come out about the cheap seats. I will never, ever, sit in a seat that costs $200. Never. Tell me about the cheap seats! How many cheap seats will there be?
Finally, I have just heard that the celebration for the merger between the Minneapolis Public Library system and the Hennepin County Library system will be on March 18th at the downtown Central library. And part of the celebration will highlight the expanded library hours provided by the ballpark tax! Woohooo!
I gotta say, that is something I'm really, really happy about. The fact that the ballpark tax is helping keep libraries open longer makes it all worth while. It gives me a warm, squishy feeling in the depths of my soul. Or maybe that is the ham I ate for lunch today ...
Anyway, do any of you find yourselves looking at your receipt after making a purchase in Hennepin County and computing how much you just put towards the ballpark? I do it all the time. Simple pleasures people, simple pleasures.
March 10, 2008
Sorry you had to see that folks
Well, as you might have noticed, the last entry on this fine blog was directed at a specific individual who had finally driven me over the edge.
Of course, I am speaking about Stop the Madness, or as he is better known: STM.
STM has been commenting on this blog for about a year now. He is most definitely against the building of a new Twins stadium, and most other public subsidies for ... well ... anything I suppose. I'm honestly not sure the sun rises in his world, or if the birds chirp. He seems to be an angry, maybe even lonely, person with a consistent gripe that really was turning into a broken record.
Now, it has been the policy of this blog to allow the free flow of ideas. Over the now four years this blog has been up and running I have (almost) never deleted a comment just because I disagreed with it. This includes STM's comments.
However, like I said, STM would write about the same stuff no matter what topic I was writing about. And he would do it in an arrogant, attacking, passive-aggressive fashion that, like I said, finally drove me over the edge.
So, I have blocked STM from this site. I have blocked as many IP addresses as I could find that STM has used in the past. I have also banned the use of the term "STM" in any comment (so don't use it, the comment will be blocked). That seemed to hold STM back for a while.
Over the weekend, though, STM (in his never ending quest to have the last word) started to post comments again through his cell phone. So, I blocked that. Then he tried to post comments through anonymous proxy servers. I have blocked as many of those I could find. Of course, I have also deleted his comments. That is why the last entry's flow of comments may not make sense.
In addition, I have changed this blog's front page so that when STM's primary IP address hits the page he sees the message "The Greet Machine is no more. It isn't worth it" and a blank screen. Hopefully this will dupe him into thinking I have given up. I note through the logs that he has already seen the page (and he was searching for Freealonzo's blog ... sorry Free).
STM is the first person I have ever banned from this site. I hope he is the last. Again, I welcome dissenting opinions. From now on, though, I am going to monitor the comments to make sure they have something to do with the topic at hand and are somewhat respectful of the people that read this site. If not, off they go.
Thanks everyone. I think the worst is over. Life is too short, you know what I mean? I'd rather focus on the positive. Have a good day everyone!
March 7, 2008
I am a winner
I think it is important to note some developments that have made me happy in the last few years:
- A new Twins stadium.
- A new Minneapolis central library (approved through referendum by the citizens of Minneapolis).
- Expansion of light rail to the north and down the Central Corridor.
- More recently, an increase in library hours thanks to the ballpark tax (thanks for pointing that out Free).
What I hope to see, and will fight for, in the future:
- Healthcare for all.
- Affordable higher education (I liked Pawlenty's plan from a couple of years ago, and hope it gets expanded), and increased support for my childrens' education.
- Light rail down 394.
Now, just like the bullet points above, I will get what I want. It is only a matter of time. The minority of complainers can whine all they want, but progress will happen. And if you don't like it, fight it yourself, or move. I really don't care because ...
History has already proven this since I am getting what I want. This trend will continue. I have no doubt about it. Deal with it.
Anyone else have any examples of how the principles of truth, justice, and the American way are winning?
March 5, 2008
Favorite albums: 2007
Here they are:
- Hollywood Town Hall by The Jayhawks -- Better late than never.
- In Rainbows by Radiohead -- OK In Rainbows.
- Sound of Silver by LCD Soundsystem -- Who didn't like this album? Phenomenal.
- Cease to Begin by Band of Horses -- "Is There a Ghost" well worth the price of admission.
- Armchair Apocrypha by Andrew Bird -- Don't like this album? You are an idiot.
- Challengers by The New Pornographers -- Neko Case steals the show.
- Fox Confessor Brings the Flood by Neko Case -- Speaking of Neko Case ...
- At War With the Mystics by The Flaming Lips -- Seeing them in concert gave me a new respect for this album.
- The Flying Cup Club by Beirut -- Not as good as Gulag Orkestar, but good enough
- Straight Outta Lynwood by Weird Al Yankovic -- Where is the respect for Weird Al?
- The Stage Names by Okkervil River -- Listened to this late 2007. Great album.
I have spoken.
March 4, 2008
Cower before the awesome might of Rashad McCants and his devastating running jump shot! Be afraid!
Wait, did something else of importance happen today? Eh, whatever ...
March 3, 2008
I can't find that album anywhere
My correspondence with iTunes:
Me: I recently switched from a PC to a Mac and I successfully moved all my purchased iTunes music to the new Mac using IP over firewire. Or I thought I did. For the life of me I can't find my purchase of Bob Dylan's The Freewheelin Bob Dylan anywhere. On either computer. I am afraid I somehow deleted it.
Could I redownload the purchase from iTunes? Please let me know if this is possible. Thanks!
Emily at iTunes: I understand that you switched from a PC to a Mac, and you were able to transfer all of your iTunes Store items except for the album "The Freewheelin Bob Dylan Anywhere". I apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused you. I would be happy to assist you in regards to this matter.
I reviewed your iTunes Store and found that the version of the album "The Freewheelin Bob Dylan Anywhere", is no longer available in the iTunes Store. I sincerely apologize for this inconvenience.
Since the version that you purchased is no longer available, I have issued 5 replacement song credits to your account "firstname.lastname@example.org", which you can use to buy the individual songs of your choice from the iTunes Store.
So, let's see. She couldn't find the album "The Freewheelin Bob Dylan Anywhere" ... I guess it is the thought that counts, but I must admit after reading this ...
A small tear slowly trickled down my face.