Category "Cheesehead Craig"
Category "Stadiums 2006"
May 30, 2006
Life is good
What the heck people!?!?!? What the heck am I supposed to write about? For the past three nights I have sat down at my computer ready to lay into those morons at the legislature only to realize they have actually passed a workable stadium bill! Can you believe it? Who am I supposed to lay into now? This recent development has changed my life. You remember the Seinfeld episode where George stops having sex and becomes more intelligent? That is now happening to me. Not thinking about stadiums has freed up oodles of time and brain waves. I can feel myself getting smarter, healthier, happier. Needless to say, I am a better person because the legislature passed a workable stadium bill. In fact, the Minnesota legislature may have actually saved my life (if not my marriage). It is a strange feeling not having to think about stadiums. I kinda like it.
So, Cheesehead Craig and I were watching the Twins game on Sunday when we started talking about the players on the current Twins roster that will be around when the new stadium opens in 2010. Specifically, we asked the question, what 5 players do you want to see on the Twins roster when the new stadium opens in 2010? What five players do you want to still see in a Twins uniform in 2010? Anyway, here is the list I came up with:
Yep, that is my list and I'm sticking to it. Santana and Liriano are no brainers, Mauer is a must have, and Moreneau ... I just really like him. But more than anything, I want to see Torii Hunter in a Twins uniform in 2010. I think he has given enough of himself and his body to stick around 4 more years. Pohlad has already said he wants Torii to stick around. Torii himself has said he wants to stick around. And this isn't because I think he is the best player, or because I don't think Denard Span will be ready, it is only because seeing Torii Hunter in center field on opening day 2010 will make me feel good. It will give me the warm fuzzies all over. It will make me happy. And I like to be happy. If you've got a list of your own, put it in the comments.
So, I got an email from Jiminstpaul today. Jiminstpaul has been reading this blog almost as long as Cheesehead Craig, and more importantly Jiminstpaul is putting together the big New Ballpark Celebration going on this Thursday at the Summit Brewery Rathskellar (you are invited). Anyway, when Jim first came up with this idea last year to hold a "ballpark celebration" it was going to be just for "Greet Machiners" ... maybe 20-30 people who read this blog and who would be interested in getting together to quaff a few brews in the company of friends. Well, Jim now tells me that his little party has been advertised in the Star Tribune and on Cities 97. What was originally going to be 20-30 people may now actually be hundreds of people. So, are you coming? I'll remind you again tomorrow.
So, I got a comment today from long time reader, and stadium opponent, David Wintheiser that was just too good to not highlight:
Betty Crocker Park. Come on.
General Mills has long been a supporter of pro sports in the Cities - they had a long-standing agreement with the Vikings to purchase unsold tickets so that Vikes games wouldn't be blacked out on local TV, though that agreement finally ended some time around the start of the Red McCombs era. It's a well-known Minnesota company with strong ties, would make a nice family-friendly image, and opens up some interesting cross-marketing opportunities, since food is a big reason to go to a game (and Hormel will still be there regardless).
And those of us who aren't quite classy enough to get behind the ballpark now that it's a fait accompli can refer to the place as 'The Crock'. It's a win-win!
I'm sorry, but that is funny. "The Crock!" Genius! David! Where the heck have you been all this time? By the way, I think some Summit Brewery fans/employees have made my little poll on the ballpark's potential name a little less than "scientific." For shame! I'm of half a mind to declare Land O'Lakes Park the winner and start the negotiations for naming rights! Don't mess with the Greet Machine!
Finally, back to my opening point. What the heck am I supposed to write about now that the legislature has passed a ballpark bill? I'm sure I'll write about more ballpark stuff as the news comes out, but 2010 is four years away, and as I said above, I don't want to think about this anymore. It isn't healthy.
So, after the big New Ballpark Celebration, I may take a little break. I've got to regroup and "reinvent" this little site. I may talk more about music, or religion, or books, or libraires (I am a librarian), or maybe all of the above, including new ballparks. We'll see. Whatever the case, I am looking forward to a little vacation. Hopefully I'll see you on Thursday!
Category "Stadiums 2006"
April 4, 2006
Let the games begin
Let's get the obvious stuff out of the way: I am very excited for the first Twins game of the season today. Santana vs. Halladay should be a good one. And I am also excited to see 1) Kubel take over right field, 2) Liriano get the Rookie of the Year award, and 3) Morneau belt over 30 homers. I think all of this is a given. So, let the games begin!
But you don't come to this blog to hear all of that, do you? You come because, like me, you like to torture yourself with news about stadium politics. Well, as has already been reported, the Twins actually won their first game of the season yesterday when their 10th stadium bill effort passed through the Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee. And not only did the bill pass, but it passed quite easily.
For those of you that want to know, the Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee has 14 members. 11 of those members voice voted "Yes" for the bill.
Linda Higgins - Yes
Charles W. Wiger - Yes
Debbie J. Johnson - Yes
Dick Day - Yes
D. Scott Dibble - No
Michelle L. Fischbach - No
Gary W. Kubly - Yes
Sharon Marko - Yes
Claire A. Robling - No
David H. Senjem - Yes
Yvonne Prettner Solon - Yes
David J. Tomassoni - Yes
Jim Vickerman - Yes
Betsy L. Wergin - Yes
Sen. Fishbach made an interesting speech at the end saying that she only voted "No" because there was no referendum attached to the bill and that she expects the Senate Taxes Committee to attach one in the next couple of weeks. She said then she would vote "Yes." Gutsy position, Senator.
All of this talk of votes in the Senate has whetted my appetite to figure out where all the Senators stand on my favorite topic. Yes, I am putting together a Senate version of the Voters' Guide. I am about a fourth of the way through and I should be done by the end of the week. I must say though that putting the Senate version is proving to be more difficult than the House version. Our senators have been a little quiet about this issue.
And speaking of Taxes Committees, I read in the AP version of yesterday's committee hearing that the House Taxes Committee will hear the bill this Monday. Can anyone confirm this? I don't see it on the schedule yet, and quite frankly I would be surprised if Krinkie has agreed to hear the bill so soon. Stranger things have happened I suppose.
In conclusion, I've got three thoughts. The first is that yesterday's committee hearing has now prompted the Twins and Hennepin County to begin negotiating a new agreement. Opat hinted yesterday that the extra $30 million would be split between the county and the team and that the agreement will look almost the same. We'll see how that shakes out. Secondly, it is very interesting to me how it looks like both the House and the Senate are building off of the work that was done last year concerning this bill, especially the House. Thankfully, it looks like this bill will not need to go through the House Government Operations Committee or the House Local Government Committe since last year's bill already passed these committees. Methinks House leadership (Sviggum) is working in the background to move this bill along in a timely fashion. Finally, now we will see the real fun begin when the bill is heard in both the House and the Senate Tax Committees. Oh boy, this will be interesting. Truth be told, I don't think the bill will get out of either of these committees without referendum amendments attached. And this might not be a bad thing. It looks like there are enough votes on the whole in both bodies to strip these amendments off if the bill gets to the floor of the House and Senate. At this point, it may be more important to get these bills to the floor than to fight off referendum amendments. We shall see.
Talk to you soon.
March 13, 2006
Thoughts on the Puckett Memorial
I went to the Puckett Memorial last night. Like many of you, because of the snow coming I thought I would just watch it on TV, but I'm really glad I went. It was a beautiful ceremony complete with lauging and tears. I choked up when Andy MacPhail started to choke up, and I shed a few tears when John Gordon introduced Kirby's kids. Man that must be hard.
All of the speeches were wonderful, but I especially enjoyed Cal Ripken's, Harmon Killebrew's, and Kent Hrbek's. Ripken described his first meeting with Kirby and how Kirby talked his, and Eddie Murray's, ear off for 15 minutes during a one-sided conversation before finally letting Cal and Eddie go on their way. Cal then jokingly revealed that Kirby talked them right out of their chance to take BP before their game. Who knows if that was Kirby's true intent, but I wouldn't be surprised.
As the papers have already described, Hrbek talked about how God must have needed a 3 hitter and that He took Kirby too soon. Hrbek also said that during their time as Twins, most of the animals, dogs and cats, in Minnesota were named Kirby. But if anyone ever had a horse or a cow in Minnesota they named it Herbie. That got a big laugh.
I would have to say that the Killer got the biggest ovation last night. That was special to see and I think he was touched by it. But his lamenting on how Kirby will no longer be able to sing at his funeral was heart-breaking.
I brought my older son with me to the ceremony. He saw Kirby play when he was younger, but of course has no recollection of him, or any of the other old-time Twins that were sitting on the field. He still said he was glad he went. I think he could see how choked up I was.
So, after the ceremony walking back to the car I tried to explan what Kirby meant to me and the state of Minnesota. I told him about how Kirby never left Minnesota, and how rare it is for a baseball player to play their entire career for one team. I described to him my freshman year in college during the 1991 World Series, and I how I don't think I have ever hugged that many people at once after Kirby hit that game 6 home run. I told him about dancing in the streets into the wee hours of the morning in Moorhead after game 7, and how Twins baseball has given me lifelong friends and memories I'll never forget.
I told him that I hope he will have his own Kirby Puckett, and his own memories of Minnesota on top, because I have never seen this state so happy and so in tune with each other since that magical 1991 season.
My son just smiled at me, and laughed at my stories, and let me ramble on until we got home. It was good to get it all off my chest. And while it would have been nice to see the Metrodome packed last night, 20,000 people gave Kirby a really nice send-off and it hopefully gave the organization and the current Twins players a nice bit of closure. Gardy promised us all Kirby-style baseball this year full of hustle and hard work. Because of last night, I honestly feel better now, and I am very excited for another season of Twins baseball.
March 9, 2006
The Kirby Puckett Memorial in front of the Metrodome
I went to the Kirby Puckett Memorial in front of the Metrodome today. It was a touching and moving display. These pictures really don't do it justice. And while I expected to be one of the only mourners at the memorial, there was actually a steady stream of people while I was there.
Those of you with slower internet connections, there are 12 more pictures in the extended entry.
March 8, 2006
So, needless to say this has been a tough week for Twins related bloggers such as myself. Like I said below, Kirby's death has impacted me in a way I didn't expect. I don't mind admitting I have gotten a little misty eyed reading some of the great stuff that is being written about Minnesota's greatest sports hero. (For a great listing of all the stuff that has been written about Puckett see this fantastic post from Seth Speaks. Nice work on that one, Seth!). The outward display of affection towards Puck has been inspirational and I only wish Puckett could have been alive to see it. There is no doubt he had a rough go of it the last few years of his life. While he might have deserved some of it, everyone deserves a second chance. This is especially true considering all the positives Puckett brought to Minnesota as a state, and the upper Midwest in general. Puckett became a forgotten man, it seems, these past few years. Maybe even the butt of some ill-conceived jokes. That is a shame because truly, of all the athletes I have watched throughout my life, he did not deserve it. What he deserved are the accolades he is receiving now.
Speaking of which, I have some comments about some of the articles I have been reading:
- I agree with Seth that Reusse's article on the topic was one of the best. His description of Puck ribbing Harper over the fall of Jimmy Swaggart is hilarious. I also liked Jim Souhan's piece about how Puckett was so welcoming of new teammates, young and old.
- And as you might expect, I just about lost it reading Nick "Stupid Head" Coleman's tribute to Puckett in today's paper. It really, really has me steamed considering all the hate he pours towards the Twins franchise. It is like Stalin writing a tribute to Trotsky. It is like Nero writing a tribute to the Christians. It is so shallow and hollow and deceiving ... it just really ticks me off that he would even dare to try to buddy up to Twins fans. Where does this guy get the balls?
- I was also ticked off with this ESPN article by Gene Wojciechowski. First of all let me just say I agree with all he has to say about the mockery of a baseball player that is Barry Bonds. He is a drugged monster who has no place on the field. He has tarnished the game and shouldn't even be able to buy a ticket to see the displays at Cooperstown. But what has me ticked off with Wojciechowski is that he even mentioned Puckett in the same breath as this turkey. Leave Puckett out of it. (Isn't it ironic that I have just made the same mistake in this post?)
- I loved this piece by Boof's Bergblog. How he pulled off a comparision between Optimus Prime and Puckett I will never know, but I am impressed. And regarding the Transformers movie in which Optimus Prime was killed ... that has to be the dumbest idea ever in the history of animation. Who was the marketing genius who approved that idea? Kill off everyone's favorite character? Sheesh ... it almost makes Nick Coleman look like a Rhodes Scholar. OK maybe not a Rhodes Scholar, maybe just a graduate of National American University (hey Tim!).
There were more articles I enjoyed, but I would have to say that these were the ones that prompted a reaction. Also, now I am reading that citizens of Minnesota are clamoring for a new stadium to be named Kirby Puckett Park or something like that. All I have to say is don't hold your breath. Personally I would love it, but there is too much money to be made to allow that to happen. We'll see how it shakes out.
Finally, I hope this event has taught all Minnesotans what a powerful impact sports can have on all our lives, fans and non-fans alike. Puckett brought us together like no politician or celebrity ever could. Like the Star Tribune said concerning the '87 and '91 seasons, "No one who lived here in those magical days can doubt the spirit that sports can bring to a community." That is what we can thank Kirby for: reaching the pinnacle of his sport and brining us all along for the ride. Thanks Kirby!
October 18, 2005
The first step has been taken
Thanks governor. Thanks for nothing.
August 24, 2005
How about those Twins?
I'm speechless. It really doesn't happen too often that you watch a game that will be remembered, not just for a couple of years but I would wager for a long, long time. So much drama! The pitching, the fielding (!), the fact that Jacque Jones seems to always come through when most of us would have been hobbled by grief ... Man! What a game.
Too bad Mays is pitching tonight.
Charley Walters is reporting today that:
Although talks have picked up in recent days, no decision on whether to have a special Legislative session that would include stadium issues is expected until after Labor Day, and insiders say odds are no better than 50-50 that it will occur.
50-50 is better than nothing. Our best bet still remains in the fact that the Gopher's stadium bill needs to be heard before December:
In the past seven days, almost 2,000 e-mails have landed in the offices of Gov. Tim Pawlenty and state legislators, asking for a special session to pass a bill providing the public's share of the football stadium's projected $235 million cost.
Apparently, a large group of Gopher stadium backers have been successful in catching the ear of the governor. In addition, the article included this quote:
"Their Web e-mail thing works,'' Brian McClung, the governor's chief spokesman, said Monday. "It's a noticeable volume of e-mail.''
Too bad the thousands of letters they've received in favor of a new Twins stadium seem to have gone unnoticed. I guess its only when they all look the same and have the same content do they start counting them.
But whoever would have thought that the best chance for a Twins stadium bill would be to piggy back on another stadium bill's chances? I still say a special session will be called.
August 22, 2005
Me and Joe
In honor of Joe Mauer's excellent play, I am growing out my sideburns. I encourage everyone else to follow suit and post a picture, or send me a picture and I will post it for you.
And yes, I realize this is a little goofy, but as I've said before it is the little stuff that makes life worth living.
August 17, 2005
Yoo hooo ....
Sorry for my silence yesterday everyone. I am working on a new, redesigned University of Minnesota Libraries web site and it is sapping all of my time. But enough about that ...
What a joy it is to watch Justin Morneau play baseball. I see nothing but good things in his future (as long as Scotty Ulger stays away from him). His blast in the White Sox game last night seriously had me launch myself out of my chair to sing the introduction to the "Also Sprach Zarathustra" which, as you probably know, is pretty hard to do considering it doesn't have any words. In fact, the introduction to the "Also Sprach Zarathustra" should be Morneau's walk up music. That would be awesome. Man can he smack the ball!
And speaking of last night's game, as you probably also already know, the Twins play the White Sox 11 more times. If the Twins win all 11 games they will probably win the American League Central. The chances are slim, to be sure, but there is a chance! This "jinx" was officially brought to you by McDonalds: you deserve a break today at McDonalds! Seriously though, sweeping the White Sox for this series would be quite spectacular for this team. Tonight's game should be a doozy (unless you've been living under a rock it is Santana vs. Buehrle). If the Twins can manage to get even one run, Santana better hold on tight...
So I walked out of church last Sunday and turned on the Sports Huddle with Sid and Dave (which I normally do) only to hear Sid say, "Well, that was Dean Johnson on the phone. Sorry about the length of the conversation everyone, but there was some important things that he said concerning a special session." Argh! I was beside myself with grief for missing the contents of that call. Anyway, knowing Sid I knew that he would discuss the call in his Monday column. Well, while he did discuss it, his recap was a little disappointing because of its brevity:
Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, said Sunday he was going to talk to House Speaker Steve Swiggum, R-Kenyon, about sending a letter to Tim Pawlenty suggesting that the governor call a special session this fall to discuss a limited agenda including stadium bills for Gophers football and the Twins. Johnson said everything would have to be agreed to before calling the special session, but that he was for it.
So, let's do our own recap. A couple of weeks ago Steve Sviggum, the Speaker of the House, spoke in favor of calling a special session for stadium issues, and now we have Dean Johnson, the Senate Majority Leader, also publicly giving his approval to the possibility of a special session. This is good people. So, so good. It makes me happy, jubilant, thrilled, and wholly too optimistic. I need to calm down.
Of course, Pawlenty has been silent for a while on the chances for a special session, but we should here from him pretty soon concerning the possiblity. My guess is after the state fair.
And even though I missed the call itself, I listened to Steve Thompson's show afterwards where he asked callers to call in and let him know whether or not they (the people!) approved the idea of a special session to discuss the stadium issue. Of course the vast majority of the callers expressed their strong approval for this idea, but there were definitely a few misguided individuals who were against a special session. But not for the reasons you think. Sure, some of them were just flat out against a Twins stadium being built with taxpayer money, but a lot of them were against calling a special session because our legislators "don't deserve another chance." According to some callers, our legislators had their chance to pass meaningful bills and they shouldn't get another. What?
This reasoning is pure stupidity. These callers think we should punish our fine legislators by NOT letting them come back to the state capitol to take care of their unfinished business. This is exactly what those morons want! They don't want to come back to the state capitol. They would rather play tic-tac-to, or stare blankly into the distance, or change their drool bibs (or whatever it is morons do when they aren't working) than come back to the state capitol and finish what they started! Gah! I say we demand that they come back and finish their business! If you haven't already, please write Pawlenty and demand that a special session be called to deal with the stadium issue.
I'm still of the opinion that a special session will be called. Our saving grace is the Gophers stadium and the fact that it must be dealt with before December. Keep the faith people. Just like the Twins are proving on the field, it isn't over until it is over.
July 12, 2005
I like that the Twins have acquired Bret Boone. Some interesting facts that I've been reading about Boone:
- He is a career .271 hitter at the Dome with 4 homers and 16 RBI.
- Concerning the Dome, Boone has said: "And the Dome ... I love playing there, I really do." I am always stunned to read something like this.
- He has 25 extra base hits this year which would put him in second place concerning this statistic on the Twins.
- When the Twins acquired Shannon Stewart in 2003 they were 7.5 games back. They went on to win the division. The Twins are 9 games back now.
- Boone has won 4 Gold Gloves at second base. That is 8 more Gold Gloves than Luis Rivas has (since Rivas actually has negative Gold Gloves).
Will this be the spark the Twins need? I think the chances are good. This is an upgrade at second base no matter how you slice it.
OK, now let's talk about stadiums. Of course, you've probably heard by now that the legislature will most likely adjourn without dealing with this sticky problem. It has already been suggested that Pawlenty may call another special session to deal with the Twins' and Gopher's stadia, but even if that happens it may be as much as four months away. With this reality, Bell has already stated:
"We're going to find out if the numbers still work," Bell said. "We calculated this on beginning work in June, foolishly believing that the Legislature would end on time."
Bell hinted that the delay caused by waiting for a special session this fall may collapse the proposed deal entirely.
You know, at this point I wish Bell would just shut up. That is a stupid thing to even hint. Here we have Hennepin County raising over $1 billion dollars over 30 years for the ballpark, and Bell "hints" that a delay of 4 months may kill the deal entirely. Of course, he may be saying this to try to convince the legislature to deal with the issue now, but you know and I know that that Twins will take whatever they get whenever they can get it. 4 months shouldn't make a lick of difference and if Pohlad has to pay an extra $10 million then so be it.
The best shot the Twins have at even being heard in a special session is the fact that the Gophers stadium bill will also need to be dealt with. The Gophers stadium lobbyists are working hard right now to try to convince the legislature to deal with their bill now. If they are successful, if the legislature decides to take up the Gophers stadium bill in the waning moments of this special session, then the Twins stadium bill is dead.
In other words, I can see the governor calling a special session to talk about stadiums if the Gophers are part of the mix, but if it is just the Twins (and Vikings)? Forget about it.
What are the chances then of a special session being called for stadium discussion? I would say they are pretty good. The Gophers deal with TCF hinges on a financing plan being in place by this December to build their stadium. Since the next legisaltive regular session doesn't begin until after that another special session will need to be called this fall to pass the Gophers stadium bill.
In addition, I was listening to Mike Max last night on WCCO and he had former Senate Minority Leader Duane Benson as his guest. Benson said the chances for a special session to deal with stadiums is very good. He would not give the same chances to a Twins stadium bill actually passing in a special session, but the bill will be heard. He also said that part of a Vikings stadium plan could also be dealt with. The Twins, the Vikings, and the Gophers ... the legislature would indeed have a lot to discuss.
Here is hoping that Pawlenty does the right thing and calls another special session to deal with the stadia issue in Minnesota once and for all. It is all in his hands now. I know, this is a scary thought.
June 1, 2005
Going to the game
Cheesehead Craig and I are going to the Twins game tonight. It will be only my second game of the year and I am very excited to be going. Radke is pitching, which should make for an interesting score, but that is OK. I have a feeling Radke is going to come through for us tonight. Call it a gut feeling, but I think Radke will be all right.
So, if you are going to the game tonight and you see two short, dark complexioned, mustachioed men trying to get the wave started in section 220 ... well, that won't be us. But we will be there. Skol Twins!
April 21, 2005
Tiffee had a chance
Terry Tiffee had a chance today. He had a chance to stay with the team and not be sent to Rochester. Bases loaded, bottom of the 9th, 2 outs, Tiffee enters to pinch hit for Rivas:
Click for larger version
Unfortunately, he struck out on a foul tip. If he would have hit a grand slam, gotten a base hit, even if he would have walked, I doubt Gardy would have sent him down.
Sucks to be him.
April 11, 2005
Attendance and winning (or losing)
One thing you won't see much of on the Greet Machine is statistical analysis of baseball. It's not that I don't enjoy the statistics of baseball, I just don't want to take the time to compile all the statistics nescessary, and I think other Twins bloggers do a fine job of it already. Having said that, one statistic I find very fascinating that doesn't get much attention from other bloggers is attendance. Whenever I look at a Twins box score, especially for home games, my eyes always dart to the bottom to check out the attendance. Of course, it is usually pathetic for the Twins as evidenced by their ranking in the bottom 1/4 for attendance in the American League. I wonder, though, is this such a bad thing?
Whenever I see the Twins actually break the 30,000 person mark for attendance at a single game, or whenever I hear that the Twins are expecting a big crowd for a particular game, it always 1) makes me happy since I want the Twins to be successful and 2) I always think, "They had better win." Because whenever there is a big game in terms of attendance I always think the Twins are going to play poorly. It may be my Norwegian pessimism, but my impression of the Twins is that they do not play well, they do not win regularly, when they are playing in front of a big home crowd.
Take this weekend for example. They stunk it up against the White Sox by losing the first two and winning the last thanks to the heroics of Santana and Hunter. And the crowds were huge! They drew over 118,000 fans for the three games making this the biggest opening day weekend in 9 years. In my mind, though, the fans were not rewarded for coming out to the ballpark. Another obvious example of their attendance-based futility are the playoffs where the Twins have only won two out of eight home playoff games in 3 years. That sucks.
So, in order to get to the bottom of this I decided to take a look at the Twins record in home games where the attendance was above 30,000 over the last 3 years (including playoff games). While the numbers aren't as bad as I thought they would be, they still aren't that good either:
|April 12, 2002||Detroit||W||48,244|
|April 20, 2002||Cleveland||W||30,146|
|May 10, 2002||Yankees||L||35,727|
|May 11, 2002||Yankees||L||43,465|
|May 12, 2002||Yankees||L||26,165|
|June 29, 2002||Milwaukee||L||30,125|
|June 30, 2002||Milwaukee||W||33,193|
|July 27, 2002||Toronto||W||40,306|
|July 28, 2002||Toronto||W||30,554|
|August 3, 2002||KC||W||32,567|
|August 4, 2002||KC||W||35,641|
|August 16, 2002||Boston||W||35,824|
|August 17, 2002||Boston||L||43,345|
|August 18, 2002||Boston||W||37,196|
|August 28, 2002||Seattle||W||31,414|
|Sept. 7, 2002||Oakland||L||43,628|
|Sept. 28, 2002||Chicago||W||32,072|
|Sept. 29, 2002||Chicago||W||31,270|
|October 4, 2002 (playoffs)||Oakland||L||55,932|
|October 5, 2002 (playoffs)||Oakland||W||55,960|
|October 8, 2002 (playoffs)||Angels||W||55,562|
|October 9, 2002 (playoffs)||Angels||L||55,990|
|April 4, 2003||Toronto||L||48,617|
|April 5, 2003||Toronto||L||31,421|
|April 18, 2003||Yankees||L||37,843|
|April 19, 2003||Yankees||L||36,139|
|August 13, 2003||Cleveland||L||30,082|
|August 21, 2003||KC||W||30,179|
|August 22, 2003||KC||L||36,101|
|August 23, 2003||KC||L||37,782|
|August 24, 2003||KC||W||34,265|
|Sept. 16, 2003||Chicago||W||32,921|
|Sept. 17, 2003||Chicago||W||40,304|
|Sept. 18, 2003||Chicago||W||39,948|
|Sept. 19, 2003||Detroit||W||30,013|
|Sept. 21, 2003||Detroit||W||33,396|
|Sept. 23, 2003||Cleveland||W||33,650|
|Sept. 24, 2003||Cleveland||W||32,986|
|October 4,2003 (playoffs)||Yankees||L||55,915|
|October 5, 2003 (playoffs)||Yankees||L||55,875|
|April 5, 2004||Cleveland||W||49,584|
|May 21, 2004||White Sox||L||30,116|
|July 30, 2004||Boston||L||34,263|
|July 31, 2004||Boston||W||40,283|
|August 1, 2004||Boston||W||38,751|
|August 17, 2004||Yankees||W||38,766|
|August 18, 2004||Yankees||W||41,125|
|August 19, 2004||Yankees||L||37,959|
|September 5, 2004||Royals||L||33,855|
|September 19, 2004||Baltimore||W||31,399|
|October 8, 2004 (playoffs)||Yankees||L||54,803|
|October 9, 2004 (playoffs)||Yankees||L||52,498|
|April 8, 2005||White Sox||L||48,764|
|April 9, 2005||White Sox||L||41,533|
According to the table above, the Twins have a record of 28 wins and 25 losses in home games where the attendance is over 30,000 over the last three years. So, they are barely breaking .500. This is not too bad, but it is also not very good at all. In addition, in games where the attendance mark breaks the 40,000 barrier, the Twins are an anemic 8-12. In other words, I just don't think the Twins are rewarding fans for coming out to the ballpark. I just don't think they play well in front of big home crowds. Are they nervous? Do they try too hard? The Twins may also be subliminally sending a message to fans that says if there is a big attendance the Twins will not perform well. Twins fans may also be sub-consciously thinking that they should stay away from the ballpark so that the Twins play better.
I know what a lot of you are thinking right now. That this is hogwash. And I would have to agree with you that it doesn't (that it shouldn't!) make sense. There are also, obviously, a lot of other factors involved when it comes to winning and losing a baseball game. But you gotta admit, fan attendance at Twins game as yet another factor is kind of interesting. So, what is a Twins fan to do about this startling data?
What the table above might also suggest is that we need to go out to the ballpark this year like never before if for nothing more than to get the Twins used to playing in front of big home crowds. Of the 252 home games (including last night) the Twins have played over the last 3 years, they have only drawn over 30,000 fans 53 times. That in itself is a problematic number as compared with the rest of MLB. However, what I think it suggests more is that as fans we need to get over our hatred of the Metrodome and our desire to be outside and start going to more baseball games. We need to start giving the Twins more big home crowds so that when playoff time comes they are used to playing in front of more than 18,000 people.
Anyway, thanks for stopping by today. And I'm sorry if you don't share my passion for attendance numbers. As always, I just gotta be me.
April 8, 2005
Sorry about my lack of posting this morning. I went to the Twins' "Breakfast on the Plaza" and it took me quite a while to get through. I didn't get into work until 9:00 AM. But I did get a nifty Twins poster from UPN 29. So, that made it worth it. It lists 29 great moments in Twins history, and it includes the game in 1990 where the Twins turned two triple plays. I actually remember when that happened. So, I thought it was neat that they included it on the poster. I know, you could probably care less, but it is my blog and I'll write about what I want to.
And for all of you going to the Twins home opener tonight go outside right now! You'll be spending three hours in the stifling Metrodome air so get outside now and enjoy this beautiful weather while you can.
Finally, I am really beginning to hate the Boston Red Sox. I mean, I hated them before, but now they have become even more intolerable. For years I have been subjected to all this whining about the "curse." Thankfully that is over. But now I have to be bashed over the head with how wonderful the Red Sox are, and how they are the antithesis to the Yankees, and how Red Sox fans are the best in the world ... blah blah blah. I tell you that I would now enjoy the Twins beating the Red Sox more than I would enjoy the Twins beating the Yankees. The Red Sox and their fans make me sick.
Now we have this new movie Fever Pitch coming out. Please, for the love of all that is holy, DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE. If it makes even a little bit of money we will all be subjected to this Boston Red Sox love-fest that much longer. And somebody tell me how anyone in their right mind thinks Drew Barrymore is attractive. Anybody? Look at that picture. She looks like the studio model for The Scream. So, Fever Pitch ... first its a movie about the Red Sox, and then they cast Drew Barrymore to play the love interest ... please, I'm begging you, stay away from this movie. We have to stop baseball fan abuse like this in its tracks.
February 11, 2005
Sorry for the prolonged silence everyone. Things have bee really busy for me lately. And then when our connection to the Internet went down yesterday here at the U it just totally discombobulated me. I swear, I just sat in the corner drooling all day mumbling "fix the router, fix the router..." I could not be consoled. So, today will be an extra special edition of my inane ramblings. Lucky you.
Let's start this off with some stadium news. No, not Minnesota stadium news, but some interesting news coming out of New York/New Jersey. The Giants are planning on building a new 80,000 seat stadium next to their existing stadium, and they have agreed to pay for the entire cost. Wow, wow, wow. However, their plans have hit a snag because an entertainment and shopping district called Xanadu (read "big mall") is also being constructed in the area. The Giants are very concerned with this. They want Xanadu to be shut down on gamedays because they think it will be a parking nightmare if the mall is also open at the same time. This could seriously stop the entire project from happening. I truly can't believe this. In addition, check out this little snippet:
The team currently occupies 33 acres of the 400-acre facility. The sports authority's land offer was about 50 to 75 acres, the source said.
The Giants have offered to pay $4.8 million in rent and another $1.5 million in PILOT fees, payments in lieu of taxes. The state is looking for more than $6 million in rent plus PILOT fees, said a source close to the state.
What in the world?!?!? I don't think I have ever seen anything like this. Let me see if I understand this. In addition to paying for their own stadium (to the tune of $700 million), the Giants will also pay rent for the land and these strange PILOT fees, and the total of these payments could be close to $6 million. Wow.
Back to Minnesota. Unless you are living under a rock you know that we now have a two horse race between Fowler and Taylor to buy the Vikings. Sid wrote an interesting piece today talking about this potential sale and saying that Taylor is still very much in the running and actually might be preferred by the NFL.
Taylor is a Minnesotan who has the financial wherewithal to own the team and, in my opinion, has a better chance to get a stadium built. Fowler would be the NFL's first minority owner, but his group would be new to this community.
After the league's bad experience with a splintered ownership group before McCombs arrived on the scene, there's little doubt in my mind the NFL would prefer Taylor.
I gotta admit, I would prefer Taylor. I'm really excited to have the Vikings sold, but Taylor, hand's down, has the best chance to build a new stadium or renovate the Metrodome. Unless, of course, Fowler is planning on going the Redskins/Patriots/Giants route and paying for the stadium himself. His partners, which include the mall magnate Zyggi Wilf and New York real estate tycoon Alan Landis, might suggest that he is putting together a unique plan. Given my choice, though, I'll take Taylor if only because he is a Minnesotan who would be committed to keeping the team in Minnesota. In fact, I'm a little ticked that Taylor has waited until this point to get serious. It seems like a repeat of what happened the last time the Vikings were put up for sale.
Did anyone watch the finale of the "Amazing Race" last Tuesday? I thought it was pretty good, although I was upset that Kris and Jon didn't win. I have never seen a better combined attitude out of a couple in my life. Always happy, always nice to each other, they were simply an inspiration. However, what I found most interesting about the show was when the teams were in Japan trying to catch flights out of Tokyo to Chicago. Two teams found out that they could catch earlier flights to Chicago so, at separate times, they ran up to the gates and begged to be let on the flights. Both times the Japanese staff at the gates admitted that there were seats available on the plane, but that they wouldn't let the teams on. Here is what I found interesting though. Both times, and at separate gates mind you, the teams begged to be let on and the attendant said, "But you would not get a meal." This was always the first reason given why they would not let the teams on the flight. It seemed that they thought not having a meal would be enough to dissuade someone from wanting to be on the flight. Do most Japanese people say, "No meal? You animals! Of course I'll wait for the next flight. I mean, I have to have my meal. I don't think I could live without my meal." Of course, both teams said, "We don't need a meal, please let us on." Only then did the Japanese staff at the gate revert to the old standby, "It is against company policy." Anyway, I thought that was weird. You probably could care less.
And this ends another edition of "Who Gives a Rat's Butt Theater."
I think most people will agree with me, but I hope the Twins sign Santana to a 4 year contract. Right now the offer on the table seems to be 4 years for $38-$40 million. I realize that this is a big gamble, especially for someone who has already had elbow surgery, and for a team that has already been burned by the Joe Mays deal, but this is the freaking Cy Young award winner. This is the next Sandy Koufax. If the Twins wait, it will only get more expensive. To me, it is worth the gamble. Let's get it done Terry.
You know what I hate? No? Well, I'll tell you. I hate it when I open my camera up to take a picture and there is a big fingerprint smudge on the lens. And this happens every time I go to take a picture. What is it about the lens that makes kids want to touch it? I am befuddled by this. Given the choice between touching a big Teddy Bear, or touching a camera lens, I would bet that 90% of children will go for the camera lens. And I don't care if I put my camera in a vacuum sealed, airtight room with alarms and electric shocks attached to the camera itself, the next time I open it, it will have fingerprints on the lens. I need this to stop. I really do.
That's it. See you all later.
February 4, 2005
Community ownership of the Twins
Vince has chastised me for not writing about this sooner, so I've decided to tackle this before the weekend starts. In today's Star Tribune, Julian Loscalzo writes a thoughtful opinion piece concerning community ownership of the Twins entitled, If it's our baseball team, the funds will come. Personally, I think this is a pretty good idea and I wouldn't mind seeing it happen. Have the state buy the team, and then the state and the people of the state profit from the team and the construction of a new stadium. No brainer, right? I don't know if it is very fesible, but it is a good idea.
There is a little history with this initiative, as there is with almost every stadium plan in Minnesota. Loscalzo is no stadium newbie; he has been around for a long time and actually fought against destroying Metropolitan Stadium with his "Save the Met" campaign. Plus, this idea of community ownership of sports franchises is definitely not unique. Green Bay has done it, the Boston Celtics have done it, the Kansas City Royals have (kind of) done it, and even the Twins have tried it before. In 1997 Pohlad offered to donate the Twins to a local foundation, a move that would have tied the Twins to Minnesota seemingly forever. There were two "catches" though. First, he would only do it if the deal included a new publicly financed ballpark. Secondly, the state, or the foundation, had to cover Pohlad's accumulated losses while owning the Twins. At the time that was $85 million. The deal obviously fell through.
What are Pohlad's thoughts about this now? Would he still donate the Twins to a local foundation ala the Kansas City Royals? And if he did, would he agree to donate the team without the promise of a new ballpark? And what about all that debt? Loscalzo wants to do something a little bit different than having Pohlad donate the team to a foundation, though. He wants the state to buy the team. I would expect that this means the state would incur the team's debt, but that a new stadium would not have to be a part of the deal. I must admit that I don't know how Pohald feels about this or if he has ever made any comments about it. It has also been widely reported that Jim Pohlad, Smilin' Carl's son, wants the team to remain in the Pohlad family. All of this, of course, means that Loscalzo's plan will be an uphill battle no matter what. What else is new.
Loscalzo does have some convincing arguments though. He writes:
[C]ommunity ownership of the Twins is the only way to determine whether the Twins are a valued community asset: If fans, corporations and taxpayers are not willing to invest in their team, there is no reason to expend any public dollars for a new stadium.
This is a little bit of a sticky wicket, if you ask me. How much of an investment from the public would be necessary before we proved that we are "willing to invest in the team"? Whatever the figure though, I don't think the Twins would have any problems reaching it. In 2003, Harris Interactive found that the Twins were America's 5th favorite baseball team. The Twins dropped to 17th in 2004, but even then, I think this is an indication that the Twins have a nice fan base who would probably be willing to make an investment in the team.
We successfully passed in the Senate last year a "community ownership" bill with a 55-10 margin and had more than 35 House members from both sides of the aisle as coauthors. Our proposal complies with Major League Baseball's ownership guidelines and its rather traditional business ownership model.
If anything, this demonstrates once again what a bunch of idiots the legislators in the House are. The Senate is not the problem when it comes to stadium politics in Minnesota, it is the House. A bunch of worthless stiffs if you ask me. But, I could go on and on about that. Let's move on. I found this next statement by Loscalzo to be a little confusing:
The last thing Minnesota ought to do is repeat our Metrodome mistake. The Dome was the last multipurpose stadium; now stadium backers seem to want to build the last of a generation of ho-hum "renaissance stadiums."
We should get ahead of the curve and think about how to build the next Wrigley Field or Fenway Park -- a cantilevered stadium that would keep fans close to the action but still provide them with better amenities. We don't need or want the next Miller Park.
First of all, I love Miller Park. The seats are close, the atmosphere is great, the grass is green, the sky is blue, the brats are tasty, the stadium sauce is spicy. I don't think we could go wrong with Miller Park. Does Loscalzo not like the retractable roof? Does he not like Wisconsin in general? I would love an explanation of this. Secondly, I am of the opinion that Bostonians hate Fenway Park. The seats are too small and uncomfortable, they are angled poorly, and people are practically sitting on each other. Am I wrong here? Do I have the wrong impression? Still, I'll give Loscalzo the benefit of the doubt. He seems to know what he wants in a stadium whereas I'll take anything at this point.
Loscalzo makes some good arguments throughout the article. And I would love to see his plan implented. It would keep the Twins in Minnesota, and I do think that the state could monetarily benefit from owning the team and building a new ballpark (since the state only seems to care about ROI in terms of money). These questions still remain though: is the House capable of doing anything that involves the word "stadium," and is Pohald willing to go along with this plan? In order to buy something, you have to have a willing seller. Right now, I think Pohlad wants to keep the team.
December 14, 2004
It ain't over till it's over
I just read this little tidbit on Mr. Cheer or Die's Viking Underground and I gotta say that I am shocked. The Vikings still have a chance to win the division. If the Vikings win all of their remaining games, they will win the division, even if the Packers lose to the Vikings and win two more. That is remarkable. The Vikings can play horrible all season, have the same record as the Packers, and still take the division.
I truthfully don't know how I feel about this. After the Seattle game I was practically begging the Packers to beat the Lions just to put me out of my misery. After they won I thought, "Well, I don't have to worry about the Vikings any more. If they beat the Packers on Christmas Eve I will be satisfied." Now I find out the Vikes are still in the running! OK ... you know what, I may be a glutton for punishment but I think I am actually happy about this!
So here is what we know:
- Daunte Culpepper has never lost to the Detroit Lions. I don't see why he would start losing to them this Sunday.
- If the Vikings beat the Lions, I don't see them losing the Packers at home. The Vikings know they are playing for their playoff lives and Mike Tice's job. Beat the Lions and I practically guarantee the Vikes will beat the Packers.
- Again, Mike Tice's job is in serious jeopardy. The Vikings, I predict, will use this to their advantage and play with a little more heart.
- Linehan will never, ever allow Randy Moss to pass again. So, we've got that going for us, too.
The Vikings can win these last three games. So, I cannot give up hope until its all over. I'm a Vikings fan. I'm used to this.
Well, it is over for the Twins and Corey Koskie. Again, this doesn't upset me too much. That is what we get for being Twins fans. The Twins are like a college team. About every four years the team completely changes and we find ourselves with a new set of players to cheer for. Koskie had a good year last year, not great but good. He will certainly be missed, but it is time to give someone else a shot. Is anyone else really upset that Koskie is leaving? I mean he was injured a lot, he is getting old, and the Twins have at least two players that can fill in. I like Aaron Gleeman's take on the situation. One of the biggest negatives to Koskie leaving is that it opens a door for Rivas to still play second. Yikes! For me, though, again being a Twins fan I'm kind of used to this.
One thing that never seems to be "over" is my favorite subject, stadiums in Minnesota. In case you missed it, Sid Hartman reported this Sunday:
Behind the scenes, the Twins are working with Hennepin County and St. Paul in order to come up with a reasonable plan in which each group could present a plan to the Legislature for a baseball stadium. Then a vote would be taken and a committee would decide whether the ballpark is in Minneapolis or in St. Paul. Sam Grabowski, executive director of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, calls the ballpark a top priority, as do officials of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce and the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce.
See where it says officials from both Minneapolis and St. Paul consider a baseball stadium a "top priority?" Here is what I don't understand: why are Minneapolis and St. Paul so desperate for a stadium if, as we are led to believe, stadiums have such a negligible economic impact on a community? Why? I don't think I've ever heard of a city ever say, "You know what? We don't want a new stadium. There is nothing in it for us." No, over and over again in cities all over America city officials practically beg for professional sports stadiums to be built. If the Minnesota legislature would allow it, the St. Paul city government would tax the wazoo out its people to build a stadium.
I ask these kinds of questions sort of facetiously since I think I know the answer, but still it makes me wonder why cities are always so gung ho about stadium construction and state legislatures are so typically against it?
December 8, 2004
Yesterday I was getting ready to write a much different post for today. I was fully expecting neither Koskie or Radke to sign. This wouldn't have bothered me much, though. I remember two years ago when Radke was just pitching awful, and some guy joked in the paper that his kids must not love him very much because for Father's Day they bought him tickets to a Twins game with Radke pitching. So, I think Terry Ryan was wise to give Radke only a two year $18 million deal. With pitchers, you never know when they are just going to tank it. Don't get me wrong, though. I think Radke had a very good year last year and I am excited, no thrilled, to have him come back. When I saw the news this morning it immediately brightened my whole outlook.
However, again, losing Radke wouldn't have bothered me that much. That is what we get for being Twins fans. We should come to expect this kind of crap now: losing our best players, watching baseball indoors on a beautiful summer day, losing to the Yankees every year, praying that our minor league system can keep churning out talent, etc. It makes life exciting doesn't it? I love being able to complain about all this stuff. What would I do with my time if I wasn't belly-aching about Pohlad and his cheap ways or those idiots at the state capitol? I have no idea.
Having said that, I gotta also say that my respect for Radke has just gone up big time. How many times have we heard a player say "its not about the money" and then prove to us that it is, in fact, almost all about the money? Too many times (Guardado?). Radke could have probably gotten the 3 year $33 million dollar offer his agent wanted from another team given his track record, but obviously staying in Minnesota is important to him. I can relate. On the librarian free agency market I could probably command at least $500 - $1000 more per year from another library, preferably in a warmer climate, but I choose to stay at the U of M. Oh yeah, it's all about loyalty. Brad and I have something in common now.
With this deal the Twins starting rotation looks like this: Santana, Radke, Silva, Lohse, Mays. Mays, of course, is the big question mark, but if he can come back with his normal stuff I like the looks of this rotation. The TwinsGeek had a great column yesterday talking about what other teams in the Central have been doing and quite frankly it doesn't look like much. With the signing of Radke the Twins may have just become the favorites in the Central again.
What about Koskie and Jones? Again, the TwinsGeek did a nice job in today's column talking about how he expects that Jones and Rivas both will be gone next year to make room for Radke and Koskie. And even with Jones and Rivas gone the Twins payroll will be about $4 - $5 million more than last year. Has Pohlad had a change of heart? Sid Hartman reported on December 5th:
On another subject, Bell said he never has seen Twins owner Carl Pohlad as determined to win another World Series. "Sure, finances are important to him, but he talks much less about finances these days and a lot more about how we can put a team together that can win a World Series," Bell said.
This is good news, and the increase in the Twins payroll may be proof that Pohlad does indeed want another World Series. We shall see.
I would be remiss if I didn't discuss the article in Sunday's Star Tribune that talked about the rumors of a Vikings sale to Glen Taylor. Of course, those rumors "fizzled" out, but the article itself was loaded with interesting tidbits, including news about Reggie "Donald Watkins" Fowler. That isn't really fair, I guess. It appears he is still in the game:
Fowler, whose group of potential partners appears to be growing, met with members of the Anoka/Blaine stadium contingent Nov. 22 at the Minneapolis Club. During the meeting, Fowler and a host of other interested businessmen listened to a presentation of development possibilities for the 740-acre land tract off I-35W.
Good news. Very good news. I think Fowler would have a good chance with the state legislature given that 1) he is a minority, 2) he has said he will move to Minnesota, and 3) he isn't insanely wealthy. It looks like Fowler is waiting patiently until either Red lowers the price or he can line up some investors. The article also had a good explanation of the total cost of buying the Vikings and why Fowler is taking his time:
Private development of a new stadium might prove critical to the team's future in Minnesota. The Anoka County Board, the only public entity to step forward for the Vikings, has approved a county-wide sales tax that would contribute $250-$300 million toward a new stadium.
That total still would leave some $300 million to complete the stadium portion of the project, and the state's $700 million budget shortfall makes it unlikely that any further public money will become available. The conceptual development -- which would include a major shopping area, a hotel, restaurants and a team museum -- is projected to cost $1.5 billion.
The stadium cost would come on top of the Vikings' purchase price for any new owner. McCombs had been seeking $600 million for the franchise, a number that could grow when the NFL completes negotiations on its remaining television contracts. The magnitude of that investment has led Fowler to continue his search for big-money investors to back his candidacy.
Truthfully, I hope Glen Taylor just puts us all out of our misery and buys the team. According to today's Pioneer Press (Charley Walters):
Of his interest in buying the Vikings, Taylor said owner Red McCombs' asking price of $600 million makes it a difficult transaction. He also said there wouldn't be many changes required if he bought the Vikings because the team has been well run and isn't far from becoming a contender.
I wonder what kind of price Taylor would be happier with: $500 million? $550 million? I have a feeling this off season will be very interesting for Vikings fans.
December 2, 2004
First things first
OK, first things first. I can't believe it, but it appears that Pawlenty is in the midst of creating yet another stadium working group to try to solve this sticky issue. Members will come from both the House and Senate and it will be co-chaired by Andy Westerberg R-Blaine who, according the my voter guide, is pro-stadium. Don't get me wrong, I think this is great news, but this seems to me to be an effort in futility. What is this, the 3rd or 4th stadium working group that has been created? And with a $700 million deficit on the horizon whatever recommendations this group comes up with will, at best, be totally ignored. We've seen it all before. Every stadium working group so far has recommended building two stadiums using a variety of funding sources including ticket taxes, lottery games, taxes on sports memorabilia, taxes in the stadium district, metro area liquor and car rental taxes, etc. etc. This plan is usually thwarted by anti-stadium legislators who amend the resulting bill to death until no one wants to vote for it anymore. That is if the bill even makes it out of committee. I'm beginning to believe that our legislature is incapable of doing anything of value when it comes to stadiums (or possibly anything else I care about, such as funding for higher education) . Curse this Norwegian pessimism!
Ah! But there may be a silver lining in all of this. According to the article above, the Senate Majority leader Dean Johnson may reopen "the door for Indian gambling to fund stadiums." Again, the tribes have already suggested this and appear willing to work towards making this happen. How is this not a good idea? I've already talked a little about why I think it is a good idea, so I don't want to repeat everything, but I will say that this plan would NOT use any new, state, local, metro, clothing, take your pick, it would NOT USE ANY TAXES OF ANY KIND. It would finally solve this huge mess, make the Native American tribes heroes in our state, and keep a good working relationship between the tribes and the state government. Oh well, I'm sure Pawlenty will screw this up somehow.
Having said that, the Minnesota Daily reported something very interesting today:
But if stadium plans will be discussed, Pawlenty said more emphasis will be necessary to complete stadium plans for the Twins and Vikings.
An on-campus stadium would be easier to approve than a professional stadium, Pawlenty said, because the University is a public institution and it will raise a lot of the money.
“They’re the one team that can’t leave,” he said.
I don't want to get too enthusiastic about this, but Pawlenty is right. The Gophers can't leave. And while I wish and hope that every single stadium problem can be solved this session, the Twins and the Vikings (especially the Twins) will not stay in the Metrodome forever. This problem needs to be solved.
Speaking of the Twins, it appears that the Twins will up their offer to Corey Koskie a whole $1 million for a total of $8 million over two years. I'm sure he is getting 3 year deals for at least $5 million per year from other teams. We will soon find out how much he really wants to stay in Minnesota. I'm a little torn about this. While I hope Koskie signs with the Twins, I also think they could do reasonably well with Tiffee at 3rd or by moving Cuddyer to 3rd. Regardless of what happens, the Twins have got to get Cuddyer some consistent at-bats. He has payed his dues. It is time for him to start.
Finally, here is today's clue for what I got my wife for her birthday. And I've got to say, don't expect this to be the greatest gift ever. I feel like I'm hyping it up too much with all of these clues. I think my wife will love the gift, but keep in mind that I am buying this gift on a librarian's salary:
Beatles single released April 1965
Now we are getting a little easier.
October 21, 2004
Red Sox, Chimneys, and Gopher Basketball
Well, I would be lying if I said I wasn't impressed. For the Red Sox to come back from 0-3 to take the AL pennant against the hated Yankees is something truly spectacular. David Oritz and Dougie deserve it and I am happy for them. However, spare me this underdog/curse/anti-Yankee mumbo jumbo. The Red Sox payroll is almost $130 million. That is still $60 million less than the Yankees, but it is also an obscene amount of money. In my mind the Red Sox are just as much to blame for the economic problems in baseball as the Yankees and for this reason they don't deserve, and they will never get, my support. I know, I'm sure they are crying and gnashing their teeth over my lack of support, but I gotta take a stand somewhere. Are they the lesser of two evils? Barely and it pains me to even feel a little spot of goodness in my heart for their victory last night. All I've got to say is go Houston. If it is a Red Sox - Astros World Series only then will it have a modicum of respectability. But that is just me. All of you go ahead and slobber all over yourselves proclaiming that the Evil Empire has been defeated when in truth the evil regime's little brother has merely taken over.
The Gopher's basketball team is in trouble. How do I know this? Advertisements in the student newspaper to help sell student ticket packages feature Jeff Hagen. In fact, he is the only player featured in the advertisements. Now don't get me wrong. I like Jeff Hagen. He is a good player and a hard worker. He is not someone, though, that you build your team around and I think he would agree. If that is the best player on the Gophers, the only player worthy of featuring in an advertisement to build excitement for the team, then they are in a load of trouble this year. He wasn't even awarded a scholarship until his sophomore year. Again, I like Hagen, but I am feeling a little queasy about the Gopher's chances this year.
I had my chimney cleaned yesterday. Nick of Nick's Chimney Service came out a did a great job. However, he was the second person to come out and take a look at my chimney and wood burning stove. The first company to come out, and I can't remember their name now, told me that my chimney was so bad that they would have to pretty much rebuild the chimney for me. They said the tiles were all cracked and falling apart, that it wasn't up to code, and that it would need a stainless steel pipe running the entire length of the chimney to make it safe for use. They quoted me $3,000 to repair it. Now, either they thought they could give me a royal porking, or they were just plain stupid. Nick and his people came in and cleaned the chimney, showed me everything they had done and described it all in detail, assured me that the chimney looked very safe, and then charged me less than the first company would have just for the cleaning. Moral of the story is in the world of chimney cleaning, get a second opinion.
You know what pains me the most about the Yankees-Red Sox series? It should have been the Twins vs. the Red Sox. Maybe that is why I am so bitter. The Twins should have won game 2 of the ALDS, and they had game 4 wrapped up too. I like what the Twins Geek had to say about the Yankees victory over the Twins, "this series was won when one team had (and continues to have) more mojo - not because they bought it." Were the Twins the better team? I would argue they had better pitching, but I will agree that the Yankees definitely had more of that confidence, that cocky attitude, that winners usually have. Will next year be different for the Twins? I sure hope so.
That is all for now. Maybe more later.
October 15, 2004
Let's talk about sports
OK, I've got some things to say concerning some stuff I've been reading about our favorite teams. Let's get to the important stuff first:
I love Charley Walter's column. If you don't read it you should really check it out. I don't know where he digs up all the crap he reports, and I'd be really interested to know if even half the rumors he reports on turn out to be true, but he almost always has something to discuss in his column. Here is what Charley Walter's reported Tuesday that piqued my interest:
"More than the possibility of contraction for the Twins if they go two more years without a new ballpark is the possibility of relocation, as has happened with the Montreal Expos, who are moving to Washington, D.C. The site that will be mentioned most for the Twins is Las Vegas."
What does everyone think about that statement? Even CNNSI.com picked it up and put it in its "Truth and Rumors" column so it is getting some national press. I'll tell you what I think. Contraction was for real. If not for Judge Harry Crump, God bless his everlasting soul, baseball would have contracted the Twins. So we know that MLB and Pohlad were prepared to carry through with their threat. We also know that recently Jerry Bell has both said he personally will not lead another stadium effort, and he has also said that the Twins are right now evaluating whether or not they will even attempt to lobby the legislature this session. We also know through the example of the Expos that baseball is completely capable of buying out an owner and attempting to move a team. We also know that the Twins will not stay in the Metrodome forever. They can't and they won't. Two years may be a little soon, but if the Twins don't have a stadium solution in place by that time it wouldn't surprise me at all to see the ball start rolling towards an Expos like scenario. What other choice will they have? The Metrodome sucks as a baseball stadium. And not only that, the Vikings want out, and the Gophers want out. Do you think the Twins are going to stick around as the only Metrodome tenant? One day the Twins will move out of the Metrodome. That is inevitable. We can choose to have them move down the street or across the country.
According to reports coming out of Green Bay, Favre's 5 year old daughter wants him to retire. Couple this with the dismal season the Packer's are having and that means trouble for cheeseheads everywhere. Personally I would be shocked to see Favre retire on such a sour note, but it is obvious his playing football is taking a toll on his family. I was shocked to read that his 15 year old daughter doesn't even live with the family during the season. That would be really difficult on me. Regardless, as a Viking fan I think it would be a very sad day to see Favre retire. Very sad. He has provided me with some world class entertainment and he has single handedly brought the Packer-Viking rivalry to another level. I can't see the Packers being competitive for a few years after his retirement, unless they bring in another stud QB. Anyway, while I would love the inevitable Viking dominance on the division after his retirement, I would miss Favre. No doubt about it.
Has anyone seen the Fox commercials for the baseball playoffs this year? The tagline is "October isn't scripted" or some such nonsense. How many years in a row have the Yankess been to the playoffs? 10? How many World Series have they been to in the last 10 years? 6? It is ridiculous. Until there is more parity in MLB, until someone other than the Yankees wins the AL East, baseball is scripted. What other conclusion is there?
Here is one person's view. Mark Yost of the Pioneer Press wrote a great article chastising Pohlad for his cheap ways and practically canonizing Steinbrenner for his committment to winning:
As a longtime Yankee fan from Brooklyn, let me say that Steinbrenner has given even the most faithful fans plenty of heartburn over the years. But the one thing we have never been able to criticize him on is his commitment — both economically and emotionally — to the team. Too bad the Twins fans can't say the same thing about their owner. For if Pohlad could pry his wallet open an inch, the Twins could probably win another World Series — and beat the Yankees on their way to doing it.
He's got a point. How close were the Twins to beating the Yankees? Pretty close if not for game 2 of the ALDS. How many more decent players would it have taken to finally get over this hump they've been trying to get over in the past three years? 1? 2? In addtion, Yost had this to say:
How has Steinbrenner built such a successful franchise? He's been willing to pay top dollar for top-notch talent. Of course, that's the primary knock on the Yankees; they buy titles because they're willing to pay more for players than any other team. That makes for nice rhetoric, but doesn't stand up to economic analysis. The Yankees formula has been a success because it has consistently filled the trophy case as well as the seats at Yankee Stadium.The Twins lack of attendance has been discussed quite a bit lately, but one thing I think people have failed to mention as a possible reason is the lack of any big name players on the Twins roster. The last time the Twins drew 2 million fans was the year the Twins had Kirby Pucket and Dave Winfield. These are two big, recognizable names that filled the seats. Who do the Twins have right now that can fill the seats? Santana? Yes, but he only pitches once every five days. Torii Hunter? He isn't nearly consistent enough. Morneau, yes in a couple of years he will fill the seats but he is to raw right now and by the time he is hitting 40-50 home runs the Twins will lose him to free agency. I don't know, but it seems that the Twins are in a real catch-22. They are reaping what they are sowing in terms of poor attendance, but claim they can't raise their player budget because they aren't filling enough seats. Anyway, it was definitely an interesting and thought provoking article.
That's all for now.
October 8, 2004
Pain and hope
Pain, pain, pain. Santana, you are our only hope.
See you on Monday.
I'm going camping this weekend. I don't know what I did to anger the baseball gods so, but instead of watching Johan wrap up the ALDS on Saturday night I will be sitting around a campfire singing "Kumbaya" and eating smores. Usually this wouldn't be a bad thing. I've got a new tent, and I love camping, especially camping with my son and the rest of the Cub Scouts. But why, oh why, did it have to be on this weekend? Not only will I be missing the Twins game, I will also miss the Gopher game of the century against Michigan. Apparently, SI.com has already picked the Gophers to win 24-20 (although I can't find the page). That game starts at 11:00, at which time I'll probably be learning the difference between a double half-hitch and just a plain old half-hitch. Argh! It is very frustrating. But I've got a plan.
I bought a little radio last night that I hope to smuggle into the camp. The camp is in Stearns County, close to St. Cloud. You're not supposed to bring any electronic devices, but I'm sure I won't be alone. My question, though, is will I be able to pick up WCCO at the camp with this little radio? Does anyone know for sure, or if I should be tuning into a different station? I would greatly appreciate any advice anyone has. I plan on stringing the headphones up through my clothes, out my neck hole, and into my ear. Or I could string it through my sleeve and out my arm hole and pretend to scratch my ear a lot. Even if I can only listen like every 5 minutes it will still be worth it.
Stick and Ball Guy has a good post today that you'll want to check out, but one part of his post in particular struck a chord with me. After he picked the Yankees to win game 3 he said:
You know what? I am not writing for a newspaper and I never will be. I don't have to be objective. Who really cares if I'm right or wrong? When it comes to the Twins, I am first and foremost a supporter...So forget that earlier prediction. The Twins are gonna rough up Brown and Silva's gonna give 'em enough. Twins win game 3. Good. I feel better.
Amen brother. What is the point of picking the Yankees to win? First of all the Yankees won't win, and secondly, there are many good reasons why they won't win and why the Twins will win the whole series for that matter:
- Kevin Brown is an idiot. Any pitcher who punches a wall, even if it is his non-pitching hand, is an idiot.
- The Yankees are evil. And I don't know if anyone ever told them, but good always beats evil in the end.
- A-Rod is bad luck. A-Rod leaves the Mariners and they still go to the playoffs and they win 116 games. A-Rod leaves the Rangers and they have their most successful season in years. The only way the Yankees are ever going to win another World Series is if A-Rod leaves the team. That is the way it works.
- I think the Homer Hankies this year look like the 1987 design. The Twins won the World Series in 1987. Enough said.
- The Twins have Dome field advantage. If you are reading this and going to the game please, for the love of all that is holy, scream like you've never screamed before. Scream so much that Derek Jeter wets himself. If he hasn't wet himself yet, you aren't screaming loud enough.
- I pet my lucky cat this morning and I smoothed the lucky Homer Hanky in a counter-clockwise direction. I will also wear my lucky Twins shirt tonight and I will probably put on my favorite Twins hat. Oh yes, I will do my part. Now it will be up to the Twins to do the rest.
- Because, because, because! The magic is back people! Who else feels it? Who doesn't believe in their heart of hearts that the Twins can pull this out? Two games! That is all it will take. If Silva can pitch his usual ground ball inducing stuff and the Twins can knock Brown around early, the Twins will be victorious. I personally feel it is inevitable.
Man, I am pumped up! Everybody sing along: We're gonna win Twins! We're gonna score! We're gonna win Twins watch that baseball soar! ...
October 7, 2004
Before I begin let me say that I am not, nor will I ever be, a manager in baseball. Not little leagues, and certainly not in the major leagues. The game was painful last night, as I'm sure you'll agree, and I can't decide if I would rather lose in a blowout, or a close game in extra innings. I am leaning towards a blowout.
Having said that, I would have left Nathan in, too. I cringed when I saw Jesse Crain warming up. Granted, he might be the closer of the future, but this was going to be too much for him. His first postseason appearance at Yankee stadium in an extra innings game? Come on. No way. When Nathan walked back out I was relieved. In hindsight, should Gardy have put Crain in? I have no idea. Should he have put Romero in to face Matsui? Possibly, but Romero has really struggled as of late. I would have liked to have seen Nathan finish it off. My question now, though, is will he be able to pitch Friday? Probably with a day off. And yes, I would still put him in. No question.
And speaking of managerial decisions, I would have pinch hit for Kubel in the 8th. Here is another situation where a rookie was expected to produce, but it wasn't even a normal situation in regards to a playoff game. He was facing possibly the greatest reliever of this generation: Mariano Rivera. I know Gardy probably liked the fact that Kubel was a lefty, but the rookie looked so outmatched out there, it wasn't even funny. If only Koskie's ground rule double would have stayed in the park! We wouldn't even be having this conversation.
Have no fear, though, Twins fans. We only need to go back 2 years to see somewhat of a repeat of this situation. In the 2002 ALDS vs. Oakland the Twins won the first game and then lost game 2 in Oakland 9-1, and then lost game 3 at the Dome 6-3! Man that was painful. However, you all know the rest of the story, the Twins take the last two games and go on to the ALCS. Here is hoping the Twins won't even need game 5. Come on Silva!
Non Twins news, I don't know how many of you saw this, but Charley Walters reported on Tuesday that Reggie Fowler and Denny Hecker are getting closer to making an offer for the Vikings. I predict next week. It is funny how my mind can change so quickly. When we first heard about this maybe happening, I was freaking out. Who is this Reggie Fowler character? Now I think it is exactly what the Vikings need. It will be a happy day when I don't have to think about Red McCombs and his veiled threats ever again.
Mr. Cheer or Die of Vikings fan fame has created a blog on my humble U of M blog system, UThink, called Mr. Cheer Or Die's Viking Underground. I am thrilled to have him aboard! Anyway, he has already posted a hilarious account called "The Switch" which describes his efforts to display a Vikings lamp in his house. I encourage you to check it out and the rest of his site as he gets more content up.
Category "Links of the day"
October 6, 2004
Links of the day, Twins edition
- Yanks baffled by Santana
Posada on Hunter's throw to nail him at the plate:
"That's why he's got a Gold Glove," Posada said. "We tried to get on a little run there, make him be accurate. There's not much you can do."
A-Rod on Hunter's defense:
"Torii saved two runs for them," Rodriguez said. "The throw home and the leadoff double -- or whatever that would have been -- in the eighth. Pitching and defense usually wins, so you just tip your cap. We played a good, sound game. We didn't beat ourselves."
That is true, the Twins just plain beat you.
- Closer Look from CNNSI.com
On El Duque making a start:
"The news on Orlando Hernandez wasn't good for the Yankees. Joe Torre said El Duque didn't have a bullpen session Tuesday and is a 'fingers-crossed proposition' to make a start in the Division Series."
People, we just saw the only "ace" the Yankees will throw at us in Mussina.
On the Twins chances:
"Truth be told, Minnesota toed the line between victory and disaster all night. If any of those double-play ground balls had found a hole, if Sierra's fly ball had not been ruled foul, if Torii Hunter hadn't made two sensational plays in center field -- throwing out Jorge Posada on a sac fly and robbing Alex Rodriguez of a home run -- the Yankees easily could have erupted for one of their trademark big innings. Brad Radke and Carlos Silva, the Twins' starters for the next two games, might not prove nearly as evasive."
Hmmm ... very interesting. No comment. We'll see what happens in game 2.
- Twins all about team from ESPN.com
"Perhaps best of the all, Santana only threw 93 pitches, leaving Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire with the option of bringing him back Saturday in Game 4 at the Metrodome.
'I think he's going to pitch the fourth game,' Twins catcher Henry Blanco said. 'That's why they got him out after seven -- to give him a little breather. I think he's going to be fine.' "
I don't think there is any question he will pitch game 4 if necessary. Wow. I like the sound of that.
- Cudd-iary: ALDS Game 1
"Compared to last year being up, 1-0, just remembering what happened last year will help us out a lot. Knowing we were feeling good about ourselves last year and they came and took it to us the next three games. We've got that feeling. We'll go out Wednesday with the same intensity level and try to take [it] to them."
Good to hear, Cuddyer.
- Nothing Is Easy for Yanks, and This Series Won't Be Either
"'This game is over with,'' Jeter said. 'You have to have the approach that every game you play is the last game of the season. If you have that, it doesn't matter if you're up or down.''
Jeter might want to be careful about mentioning the potential last game of the season because that could arrive much faster than the Yankees expected."
On the Yankees hopes to score early:
"Jeter said the Yankees had hoped to score early off Santana, but that fizzled in dramatic fashion in the first two innings. Rodriguez was nabbed by about 20 feet breaking for third as Bernie Williams struck out on a hit-and-run play to end the first inning, and center fielder Torii Hunter nailed Jorge Posada at the plate as he tagged up on a fly ball to end the second."
Sheffield on the Yankees performance:
"'We don't have anything to hang our heads about,'' Sheffield said. 'We hit the ball hard. They made the plays behind him. That's baseball.'
The Yankees kept reiterating how they hit the ball hard, as if the mere recounting of the grounders that turned into double plays and the shots to the warning track that became outs would suddenly change them into hits. But nothing was changing about how the Yankees looked on a lost night."
Yep, that just isn't going to cut it against the Twins, Sheffield.
- Series Page: Minnesota vs. New York. Everyone at CBS Sportsline is picking the Yankees for game two. Here is hoping Radke proves them wrong.
- Escaping From New York. If you haven't read Will Young's experience at Yankee stadium last night, you are missing out. It is a very enjoyable read. I'm hoping he gets the chance to elaborate more when he gets home.
October 5, 2004
Home field advantage
I am spent. I am a sweaty mess. When A-Rod hit that towering blast to center my heart stopped and I just about collapsed. But the Twins have come out on top and they have gained the home field advantage they lost in the last weeks of the regular season. Not only that, they did it with what is quite possibly the most perfect playoff game we have seen out of them in this string of three consecutive division titles. Let's look at what I'm sure you already know about:
- 5 double plays. This ties a record that goes back to 1914 for the most double plays in a playoff game. Even Cuddyer got in on the action. I don't want to brag, but this is what I was referring to 3 days ago when I said Cuddyer isn't that much of a defensive liability and getting his bat into the lineup would be huge. That brings me to ...
- Timely hitting and manufacturing runs. Cuddyer's single in the third, Blanco's perfect bunt, and Stewart's hit-and-run single was Twins baseball at its finest. Remarkably this one run would be all the Twins would need. Amazing! However ...
- Jacque Jones. The game wouldn't have been complete without some heroics by Jacque Jones. I mean, are you kidding me? His father just died, he catches the red-eye to New York, and he proceeds to muscle an opposite field home run against a pitcher who has dominated him in the past. Torii Hunter said he would do something special, which brings me to ...
- Torii Hunter. Wow. Wow, wow, wow. The playoffs are only one game old, and I don't know how he can defensively come up with anything better. Most people will focus on his robbing A-Rod of a triple in the 8th, but his throw in the 2nd nabbing Posada at home was as spectacular as it gets. It took the perfect throw! Olerud flies out to center, and even before Hunter caught it Cheesehead Craig, who watched the game with me, is yelling "You don't run on Hunter! You don't run on Hunter!" We both got up out of our seats and sure enough, Cheesehead Craig was right: you don't run on Hunter. Wild celebration ensued. Santana must have been pumped. Speaking of Santana ...
- Pitching. Santana labored tonight, no doubt about it. Was it the cold? Was it the pressure? An atypical Santana performance, and yet he still got the shut out. Even when he is off, he still dominates. As Gardenhire said in the post game interviews, "He didn't have his best stuff, but he had very good stuff." The Yankees had 8 hits, but 7 of them were singles. What I find remarkable about his performance, though, is that he only threw 93 pitches. He is going to be ready and rested if he is needed on Saturday.
Rincon did his job in the 8th (with some heroics by Hunter thrown in for good measure), and then Joe Nathan came in with a 2 run lead. Who else was nervous? I was a basket case, I'll admit it. Things were going the Twins way, but this is the bottom of the ninth against the Yankees at Yankee stadium for goodness sake! Having said that, Nathan proceeded to blow everything past the Yankess and make it look easy. His performance was dominating. It is obvious the Twins are a team that is very confident right now.
This was a great game. An absolute joy to watch. Great baseball from a great team. People, the Twins just shut out the Yankees at Yankee stadium in the playoffs!
This picture would be perfect if it included Jones and Nathan. The heroes of the game. Bring on game 2.
October 3, 2004
What a great weekend. It was the type of weekend that you get a whole lot accomplished and still feel oddly relaxed and rejuvinated. And to top it off, I didn't make a fool of myself today running the sound system at my church (like I did last time) so that was nice. Overall, life is good.
I am really, really looking forward to the playoffs starting on Tuesday. I don't remember who said it, but if you can get past the Yankees, half the battle is won. And the Twins can definitely get past the Yankees. Did you see that Mike Mussina will be pitching in the first game against Santana? While it is true he has dominated the Twins in the past, he is still coming off an injury plagued year, and this isn't really the same Twins team he has faced in the past. Mussina finished the season 12-9 with a 4.59 ERA. And if you'll recall, the last time Santana and Mussina met was August 18 when the Twins beat the Yankees 7-2.
The second game pits Brad Radke against Jon Lieber. Lieber has put together a very nice season at 14-8 with a 4.33 ERA, and he has a great deal of success pitching at Yankee stadium. The last time the Twins faced Lieber was just last week (Sept. 29) when the Twins knocked out 10 hits against him for 4 runs. You've got to like the Twins chances given Lieber's opponent will be Radke and his 3.48 ERA, and considering Radke usually turns it up a notch in the playoffs.
Who else is pumped about the playoffs starting on Tuesday?!?!? Man, I can't wait. The fact that Aaron Gleeman said he would rather face the Yankess is really all I need to hear to know the Twins will be triumphant. Besides, I couldn't afford playoff tickets this year (unlike the last two years), so because I didn't buy any this pretty much gurantees they are going to the World Series. You can thank me later.
Reusse chastised me over the weekend and I deserved it. I'd like to apologize to Gardy and all the Twins for all my whining.
I've heard a rumor that Michael Cuddyer may be starting at second base in the playoffs. What a gift that would be. Last weekend I was listening to the Ron Gardenhire show on WCCO Sunday morning, and Gardy said they would much rather start Rivas at second because of his defense, specifically his ability to turn the double play. I was shocked. I was always under the impression that Rivas is a horrible defensive second basemen, regardless of how well he turns the double play. That's why I'm not the manager I guess. However, I would love to get Cuddyer's bat in the lineup and I'm not so sure the Twins would be giving up a whole lot in terms of defense. So, if it is Cuddyer at second come Tuesday you won't see me shedding any tears.
What a great week this will be for the Minnesota sports fan. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday we have the Twins vs. the Yankees (and if the Yankees can manage to win at least one game there could be another game on Saturday), on Saturday we have the 13th ranked (yes, 13!!!) Golden Gophers taking on Michigan at the Big House for that stupid Brown Jug, and on Sunday we have the Vikings taking on the Texans at noon (and the possibility of an unlikely 5th game in the ALDS). I am in sports heaven.
Unfortunately, I will have to miss watching the Michigan/Minnesota game on Saturday. I will be at a Webelos camp out with my son until Sunday morning. While I am ticked off beyond all reason that the Gopher game of the century is on the day of this camp out, I am also looking forward to spending some quality time with my son (and with my yet to be purchased mini-radio). Michigan, if you must know, is ranked 14th, and again the Gophers are ranked 13th. As hard as it is to believe, that is not a misprint.
People, Ohio State lost to Northwestern this weekend! Michigan lost to Notre Dame a few of weeks ago and barely beat San Diego State at home! And the Gophers don't play Purdue ... oh man, I've got to calm down. Things are looking good for the Maroon and Gold. Time to jump on the bandwagon.
And if you haven't had a chance to check this out yet, you should definitely read Ivan Maisel's profile of Barber and Maroney on ESPN.com. It is a good read, although I always heard that Mason took Maroney to Murray's, not Manny's, for his infamous cheeseburger meal. Does anyone have the definitive answer?
Stay tuned for my take on the Vikes Geek's recent article on the Vikings stadium situation. I am really tired of articles like this, especially the line "slap a tax on the tickets to pay for construction." Ummmm ... yeah, that will pay for about 7% of the annual debt service. Again, more on that later. So many things to comment on.
September 21, 2004
Euphoria and Disgust
If you were anything like me last night, this is how you watched the Twins celebration:
FSN: Yay! The Twins won! Look at all the champagne. It doesn't get any better than this. Let me flip on over to the Vikings game...
Channel 5: Daunte! You moron! Hold on to the freaking ball! Sheesh! My whole night is ruined. I wonder what is happening with the Twins...
FSN: Oh look! Torii has goggles on! Hilarious! Man I love this team. I am so happy! Hmmm ... maybe Daunte crossed the goal line before he fumbled...
Channel 5: Daunte! You were about 5 millimeters away from the goal line! I swear my daughter has stronger hands than you! HOLD ON TO THE BALL!!!!
I have a funny feeling that was how most of us watched TV last night.
So, looking at the picture, on the right we have a team that knows how to win, and on the left we have a team that has yet to figure that out.
The Twins clinching in Chicago was a thing of beauty. A great pitching performance by Carlos Silva (who has all but wrapped up that third playoff spot) and a dominating performance by the Twins hitters. The White Sox players just talk, while the Twins let their bats do the talking. Mark Buehrle was absolutely put in his place early with two two-run home runs in the first inning. None was better than Torii Hunter's, since Torii took Buehrle's comments last week the most personal. I tell you what, Torii has really stepped up this year into a leadership role on the team, and he obviously has it in him to take it to another team when he feels a message needs to be sent.
And unlike years past the Twins cannot take it easy now. They have a real shot at home field advantage in the ALDS, most likely against the Red Sox. I don't know about you, but the Red Sox make me nervous with Pedro and Schilling on the mound for the first two games, not to mention the one-time dominant Derek Lowe. Actually, the Twins might face Tim Wakefield. His knuckleball has always given the Twins trouble. However, the Metrodome has got to give the Twins an edge. The last time the Twins faced Pedro at the Dome they won, but only after Pedro was taken out. With Radke and Santana pitching the way they've been ptiching recently, though, I really like our chances and I don't care who we are playing.
The Vikings ... ugh. It is amazing how you can be so pumped up for the game only to be so crushed at the end of it. The game was dominated by Viking mistakes and mistakes by the officials. Let's take a look back:
- The Vikings stopped the Eagles on their first drive. The phantom holding call on Winfield should have never been called.
- Rosenthal leaving the game with an injury began a painful night for the Vikings O-line. Haayer got abused by Kearse, and Daunte had no time in the pocket the whole game.
- Daunte getting stuffed on the goal line in the first quarter was only the beginning of red zone difficulties the Vikes would have the whole game.
- Speaking of which, every time the Vikings crossed the 50, they would implode under holding and false start penalties. And who is this Dugan kid? It may be time for the practice squad for him.
- Matt Birk's holding penalty wiped out yet another Viking touchdown in the third.
- But Daunte's fumble at the goal line was the biggest killer. If not for that fumble, the Vikings would have been up 13-10 going into half time. That fumble just punched me in the gut.
- T.O.'s TD was obviously not a touchdown. Although the officials should have never called it a touchdown, Tice should have thrown the red flag. I mean, wasn't anyone watching replays of the play up in the Vikings' booth?
I'm sure there other examples of ineptitude, but these should cover it for now. Matt Birk said after the game that it isn't a talent issue, and it isn't an effort issue. It is an execution issue. The Vikings choked, and that is all there is to it. They have not figured out how to win the big game on the road and until they do they won't get very far. Thankfully the season is young, and the mistakes they made can definitely be corrected, but just this once I wanted Daunte and Randy to step up and lead the Vikings and prove that this is a different team. Unfortunately I'm still waiting for proof. The only silver lining is that Green Bay lost at home to the Bears. There, now doesn't that make you feel better?
To wrap it up, at the same time the Twins were celebrating we had Daunte Culpepper coughing up the ball yet again (and right at the goal line! Ahhh!!!). So, a night of euphoria and disgust. The life of a Minnesota sports fan in a nutshell.
And for those of you that are wondering, I love Daunte Culpepper. I wouldn't trade him for anyone. I just wish he would hold onto the ball, or at the very least limit his fumbles at the goal line.
September 20, 2004
Tonight is the night!
Oh boy, who isn't excited about tonight? First we have the Twins game with the possibility of them clinching on the hated White Sox's own turf ... Sheesh! It brings a smile to my face just thinking about it. Then we have the Vikings making their return to Monday Night Football ... Man! Owens vs. Moss and Culpepper vs. McNabb. My family had better know that the big TV is mine tonight! I may have to get home early and camp out in front of it with a clicker in each hand. Of course the dilemma is if the Twins clinch tonight, when will it exactly happen? I'm hoping for half time, but that probably isn't likely. So, I may have to make use of my picture in picture capabilities, or tape the Twins celebration with my DVR. Is there anything better than watching the celebration of your favorite team after they have won something? I swear it just doesn't get any better.
Did anyone see the FSN-Sporting News breakdown of the Vikings-Eagles game tonight? According to Viking Update:
The Sporting News on-line preview for the Vikings-Eagles game gives check marks for everything from positions to coaching and, of the 11 categories listed, gave the Eagles the edge in nine of the 11 -- only giving the Vikes the edge at QB and wide receiver. Eight of their "experts" all picked the Eagles to win the game. Why they give the Eagles the edge at offensive line remains a mystery, but that's irrelevant. With such domination one would expect a blowout. Their official score prediction? Eagles win 38-35. With such a disparity, one would think 38-7 would be more accurate.
Interesting. I'm under the impression that the Vikings offense line is much bigger than the Eagles. Perhaps they give the edge to the Eagles O-line because of how pathetic our D-line played last week? Who knows. Nonetheless, I can only hope that the score will be this close. The Vikings are already ranked last in pass defense in the NFL which must have McNabb and Owens licking their chops. However, if Onterrio Smith can rush for 100-150 yards, and the O-line can protect Culpepper, it should open things wide open for Moss/Burleson/Campbell/Robinson. This is just a great early test of the Vikings as a Super Bowl contender. A close loss wouldn't worry me too much, but a blow out would have me rethinking the Vikings place amongst the NFL elite.
Time for my bold prediction for tonight. Everyone is talking about how the Vikings should be able to run against the Eagles. With the focus on Onterrio Smith and our running game I expect the Eagles secondary will be very active in trying to help shut Smith down. So, I'm predicting it will be the right time for a little flea-flicker action. That would be sweet.
Make sure you fill out ESPN's Sports Nation poll on the game tonight. Interesting results so far. It seems people think the Eagles and Vikings are neck and neck right now in terms of who they think will win.
September 15, 2004
An evening with the Twins
Well, there it is, the Santana button. Obviously they handed these out at the game last night. Already it is being sold on E-Bay for approx. $4.00. In fact, I have two due to the fact that I found one sitting under a seat on my way out of the Dome. What luck! And you would think all the stars would be aligned for Santana to have a let down during the game, but you would be wrong. He, of course, pitched magnificently and managed to lower his ERA to 2.76. Wow. He also had seven strikeouts, and he took care of a little business by beaning Carlos Lee in the fourth after Hunter was beaned in the first. Gotta respect that. Santana said after the game, "You have to protect your players." Indeed.
I was a little worried for the first five innings due to Garcia's no-hitter up to that point. I think every inning through the fifth ended with a variation of me saying, "This is pathetic," or "This is despicable," or "This is atrocious." To think that Santana could lose with a 2 hit shut-out was unbearable. But Cheesehead Craig and I agreed that the no-hitter would be hard to keep given that Garcia was pitching more balls than strikes. He ended up pitching 51 balls and only 45 strikes. Well, in the bottom of the sixth the Twins finally seemed to figure this out and got a couple of walks to start their half of the inning. Stewart then laid down a great bunt and Jones got the 9 run inning started with an RBI single. That was a relief and the rest of the inning was great fun to watch.
One thing that I did not like about the game, though, was the way Santana was taken out of the game. Santana was just rolling through seven with his two hit shut-out and the crowd all expected him to pitch the 8th. Well, Gardy sat him for the 8th and didn't give the crowd a chance to cheer Santana as he left the mound. All of the sudden Joe Biemel was on the mound. Very upsetting. Biemel proceeded to give up two runs for a 54.01 ERA in his debut. Yikes!
And let me send out a public "thank you" to Cheesehead Craig for supplying me with $25 in Dome dollars so that I could engorge myself on junk food during the game. Cheesehead won $50 Dome dollars at work and shared half with me. I ate a Dome dog, nachos, ice cream, pizza, and of course I washed it all down with a Coke. I was stuffed, and I was happy. Thanks Craig!
Finally, let me give all of you a little advice. When you have to get up and go to the restroom or get a little more food at the Dome, please use the row that you are in to exit into the aisle. Cheesehead Craig and I sat in a row that didn't have too many people, so the row ahead of us (which had a lot of people) constantly climed over their seats to exit through our row. It got to be so much that Craig and I started to chuckle about it after a while. Even the people above us gave us their sympathy. I mean, I realize our row had less people, but does that mean we should be inconvenienced 50 times? I started to use the tactic of getting up really slowly when someone needed to pass. Just because they wanted to use my row to get to the aisle doesn't mean I have to be quick about getting out of the way. Anyway, if someone from my own row needed to pass I certainly got up in a timely fashion. There is nothing wrong with that. So, to sum up, when at the Dome use your own row to exit into the aisle, unless the row above or below is empty. If the row above or below has people in the way, why is it better to inconvenience them?
Twins 10, White Sox 2. Santana for the Cy Young award. Twins magic number is 8. All in all it was a good night.
Category "Sports business"
September 12, 2004
What a weekend
What a weekend for Twin Cities sports enthusiasts. We had the Twins, we had the Gophers, and we had the Vikings and they all won their respective contests. Let's get to my "thoughtful" observations (yeah right):
The Gophers took a step back, in my opinion, this weekend. They say a win is a win, but I say a win is a win unless you are playing a Division I-AA opponent. Then you had better Win with a captial "W" and win convincingly. The Gophers struggled against a team picked to finish in the middle of the pack of the D I-AA Gateway conference. On the bright side the mistakes they made can be corrected. For example, Justin Valentine being stuffed at the goal line and then stripped was rather embarrassing. That touchdown would have blown the game wide open. I tell you, it looked like the Gophers were trying to pump themselves up the entire game but just couldn't do it due to the caliber of opponent they were playing. Note to Mason: never schedule a D I-AA opponent again. It just ain't worth it. A win against a D I-AA opponent doesn't count towards bowl standings, but a loss sure would.
Three things I've noticed watching Gopher football: 1) the Gophers' offensinve line will wear down opponents. A close game doesn't matter in the first couple of quarters. Sooner or later the O-line is going to wear down the defense and Barber-Maroney is going to go wild. It is inevitable. 2) the Gophers' defense needs to defend the short pass better. Teams are starting to figure out that if you want to beat the Gophers just nickel and dime them down the field. That has got to stop. And 3) Cupito is a much more accurate passer that Abdul-Kaliq, especially on the run. That pass to Ernie Wheelwright was a thing of beauty.
Do you know how cool it is to work for the University of Minnesota? Let me explain it to you. My place of work, my employer, has a football team. Not only that, but the place I work also has a basketball team, a baseball team, and a hockey team that all play on a national level. Does your place of work have any teams to that you can cheer for? Does, say, General Mills have a nationally ranked football team? I bet they wish they did so they could take on those jerks at Kelloggs. I tell you, working at the U really has its perks. You just have to know where to look.
Illinois State is located in the cities of Bloomington-Normal. These two cities are known as the "Twin Cities" in Illinois. So, in a way, last Saturday's game was a battle between the two "Twin Cities"!! So, needless to say, Minneapolis-St. Paul crushed that pansy town of Bloomington-Normal to claim the title of the real Twin Cities. I'm sorry, these are the things I think about. It cannot be helped.
Let's talk about the Twins. What is really on my mind right now is who finishes out the three man rotation in the playoffs? Mulholland, Silva, or Lohse? I think we can knock out Lohse right now. He has just been way too erratic this year to be considered. So that leaves Mulholland and Silva. If you would have asked me on Friday I would have said Mulholland for sure. He's got the experience and has been somewhat consistent this year. However, Silva's performance on Saturday was very good. I think the coaching staff is taking a liking to his approach his last couple of outings. Plus, he can probably last a little longer out there than Mulholland at this point in the season. He might just be the third starter in the playoffs.
I'll be going to the game this Tuesday to see Santana pitch. I swear every time he takes the mound I think he is going to get a no-hitter. And now that I have just jinxed him it probably won't happen, but I'm not really the superstitious type. I think the bats of the White Sox may have more to do with the difficulty Santana will have pitching a no-hitter on Tuesday. Anyway, this Tuesday the Twins will be handing out a Santana/Cy Young button at the game and that has me pumped! I already have the "Get to Know 'Em" and "Gotta See 'Em" buttons, not to mention the complete set of Twins fishing lures, so a new button will be nice to add to my collection of atypical Twins memorabilia.
Finally, we have the Vikings game. Much like the Gopher's game. I was not impressed with the defense. First of all, the Vikings could not get to the quarterback. We had one sack in the fourth, but up until that point Testaverde had all the time he needed. Was Hovan even out there? They showed a replay on the JumboTron that featured Hovan just getting stuffed. Anyway, also much like the Gophers, Dallas picked our secondary apart with short passes. Vinny passed for 355 yards for goodness sake, and they converted 8/15 3rd downs. To make it worse, Dallas is an average offense at best! Am I being too critical? They did only score 17 points.
No wait, I have even worse news: our starting cornerback, Ken Irvin, injured his Achilles tendon before the game in warmups and is probably lost for the season. He's not really our starting CB, but Brian Williams has been hurt most of the preseason. Brian Williams, you had better get to 100% really quick. And everyone, please say a little prayer for the health of Winfield this season. Our secondary is looking very, very thin right now.
Now for the bright side. Our offense is humming. Daunte looked spectacular out there today. I mean, five touchdown passes! Five! He is on pace for 80 TD passes this year! OK, deep breath. Daunte's audible to Onterrio Smith in the 2nd quarter demonstrates, at least to me, what a mature QB Daunte is turning into. And Moss, although he officially had only 27 yards, really marched the Vikings down the field. I saw in his press conference that he too was shocked with the 2 interference penalties called against the Dallas defense. I think we'll see a lot more of that throughout the season. And did you see Randy Moss lay down the guantlet when a reporter asked him to compare himself to Terrell Owens? Moss said, "There is no comparison." Ohhh ... I love that kind of stuff. Let the trash talking begin.
The Vikings win was great, don't get me wrong, and I think the defense will improve as the season progresses. I mean, they are already better than last year. However, the best news to come out of the day was Reggie Fowler's interview with the press. In his interview he said he anticipates making a formal offer "in the next few weeks." And concerning his relationship with Denny Hecker he said:
"I think it's very important, as an outsider, to give a level of comfort to the people here," Fowler said. "And with people like Denny Hecker involved, I think that goes a long ways towards establishing credibility that we would keep the team here. It takes enough work just getting involved in buying the team. Can you imagine the work it would take to buy a team and then move it?"
This is very , very, very good news. I am so pumped about this. To have a local owner again (Fowler would move to the TC and Denny already lives here, duh!) will be huge. Fowler also hinted if he bought the team his company's real estate arm could get involved in the development of a new stadium. I don't know what that means exactly, but I would suggest Fowler tries to go it without the aid of the state legislature. It just isn't going to happen with the state's assistance, I'm afraid. Maybe (hopefully!) he has already considered that.
Good weekend. See you soon.
September 8, 2004
Barring an incredible and unlikely meltdown, Johan Santana will win the Cy Young award. I would say that he is now the "in" pick with the national media. The ESPN anchors tonight were just gushing about him to the point of embarrassment. However, he really does have the nubmers to back it up. For one, he leads the AL with a 2.85 ERA, and since the All-Star break his ERA is 1.38. That is incredible. He also leads the AL in strikeouts with 233, and among the other Cy Young candidates he has given up the fewest hits and the fewest runs. The only thing Mulder or Schilling have on Santana are more wins, but with tonight's win Santana moves to 17-6 to Schilling's 18-6. If wins are so important then Kenny Rogers should be in the running for the Cy Young. Like I said, it would be shocking if Santana doesn't win the award. Terry Ryan must be saying a few prayers tonight concerning Santana's likely salary when he becomes a free agent. I can't imagine how much he will cost in 3 years.
While I was watching the game I was surprised with the sparse attendance at Camden Yards. I mean, it looked like an Expos game. However, I said to myself, "I bet they report 30,000 people attended." Well, it wasn't that bad, but they did report 19,358. That is a joke. There is no way there were almost 20,000 at the game. Then I read this in the AP article covering the game:
The Orioles sold 19,358 tickets for the game, but because rain swept through the area during the day and continued into the early evening, only a few thousand fans were on hand...
Is this the way MLB normally reports attendance? I was under the impression that they count actual attendance, meaning how many people passed through the turnstiles. There is no doubt some teams pad their attendance numbers and I think we saw a little bit of that tonight.
I also think we saw a little of the Twins lineup next year:
Shannon Stewart -- LF
Joe Mauer -- C/DH
Torii Hunter -- CF
Justin Morneau -- 1B
Lew Ford -- RF
Michael Cuddyer -- 2B
Terry Tiffee -- 3B
Jason Kubel -- DH/RF
Cristian Guzman -- SS
That's right: Jones? Gone. Koskie? Gone. Rivas? Gone. Well, definitely Jacque Jones. At most I could see a sign and trade deal with him, but I would be very surprised if he stayed in a Twins uniform next year. And I don't see Ryan keeping both Guzman and Rivas. Of the two Guzman is the lesser of two evils, and I think Gardy is really ticked off with Rivas and this big toe business. If we've learned one thing, you don't want to tick off Gardy. And I think the Twins really like what they are seeing out of Cuddyer at 2nd base. I mean, he was drafted as a shortstop.
Finally, ESPN played one of my favorite commercials tonight, the Starbucks commerical that parodies Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger." You know the one: Glen! ... Glen! Glen! Glen! ... Glen! Glen! Glen! ... Glen! Glen! Glen! Man, that one is hilarious. Here are the rest of the lyrics:
Glen's the man, going to work
Got his tie, got ambition
Middle management is right in his grasp
It's a dream he will never let die
Glen's the man of the hour, he's the king of his cube
Status call reports have final met their rival
Burning the candle at both ends on his way to the top
He knows one day he just could become ... supervisor!
Roy! ... Roy! Roy! Roy! Man, that just kills me. Simple pleasures people, simple pleasures. If you are interested, you can watch it for yourself. Apparently, that really is Survivor in the commercial too. How the mighty have fallen...
August 18, 2004
How about those Twins?
Let's talk about something else for a while. Let's talk about the Twins. The Twins got an exceptionally good performance from Brad Radke last night to take game 1 of their series against the Yankees. There are three things that struck me about the game. First of all, Justin Morneau can really hit the ball far. It has been a while since I've seen a blast that went as far as his did. Watching TV, I thought it was going to hit Kirby's picture in the right field upper deck. Gardy had this to say:
"I said I wouldn't take my eyes off him, and then I look at the lineup card, and he hits that one," Gardenhire said. "Stupid. You can't go to the bathroom or anything when he's up."
It's true. You can't turn your eyes away for a second when he is up because you might miss something special. When was the last time we felt that way about any Twins player? Kirby? Hrbek? It has been a while.
That brings me to my second thought: the Twins lack of a marquee player has also done a lot to hurt attendance at games. I've written about the lack of fans at the Dome before (and again) but I think the fact that the Twins haven't had any big name players has also hurt them at the gates. Look at the last time they drew 2 million fans: Kirby and Winfield were in the lineup. Those were two exciting players to watch. Who has been "exciting" for the Twins in the last three years? Hunter? Jones? Koskie? None of the above. I mean, I get excited when Morneau gets up to the plate. I stop whatever I'm doing to pay attention. He just might be a reason for fair-weather fans to come to the ballpark. Him and Santana, of course.
And that brings up my third thought. I keep on hearing the Twins have no shot at the World Series if they get in the playoffs. Excuse me, but their pitching staff leads the league in team ERA, and Radke and Santana are something really special this year. Especially Santana. He's got a shot to win the Cy Young award and he will lead the AL in strikeouts. When you look at the '87 World Series team all we had was Blyleven, Viola, and Reardon (and Senor Smoke, of course). That, and some timely hitting, was enough to raise the banner. Could this year be the same? I should think so with Morneau and Ford hitting consistently and especially if Mauer comes back from his injury.
Well, with this Vikings mess on my mind I just needed to give myself something to smile about. The Twins handily beating the Yankees last night certainly gave me reason to hope they can go far in the playoffs. Even if Giambi and A-Rod weren't in the lineup.
August 2, 2004
Thanks for the memories
I don't think it was any secret that I wanted the Twins to trade Doug Mientkiewicz. He was batting .240 with 5 home runs and 25 RBI. That sucks, plain and simple. However he has always been one of my favorite players, ever since he tore up AL pitching in the first half of 2001. Do you remember? He flirted with .400 before the All-Star break and Twins fans were just giddy. He has been consistently inconsistent ever since. The biggest reason to trade him, though, was the emergence of Justin Morneau. ESPN is predicting that he'll win the MVP award in five years. That would be amazing and make us forget about Dougie real quick.
Having said that, it was still sad to see Dougie go. I really appreciated his work ethic, and I was happy to see Twins fans reward his time in the organization with a couple of standing ovations. That was nice to see. I wish I could have been there to clap along with them. And I was not at all happy with Gardenhire's bumbling method of handling Mientkiewicz as the trade deadline approached. Seriously, it was stupid even to tell him he was going to be traded regardless of the other stuff he supposedly said to Mint. First of all, it spooked Mint big time and created a less than ideal club house atmosphere. Secondly, and more importantly, it tipped Terry Ryan's hand and forced him into a corner. Gardy told Mint that he was going to be traded because Gardy thought the Benson deal was in the bag. When that fell through, Ryan was forced to find anything to get Mint out of Minnesota. If Gardy hadn't said anything, Mint would have just heard the rumors and if nothing happened, well that would have been OK. Hopefully next time Gardy just keeps his mouth shut. Of course, Mint was probably going to be traded no matter what, but why ruin his last days as a Twin by shoving it in his face a week before hand?
Speaking of Terry Ryan, ESPN is again reporting that the Twins were one of the big losers at the trade deadline. That is just silly. I think Terry should be commended for not giving away "the farm" for a shaky pitcher like Benson. Apparently the Pirates wanted Cuddyer, Kubel, or even Morneau and that wasn't going to happen. So instead Ryan gets another left handed pitching prospect, the Cubs 2002 1st round draft choice Justin Jones. For one thing, this guy went to high school about 10 minutes away from my high school in Virginia Beach, VA, but more importantly he was ranked as the #2 prospect in the Cubs system. So, overall Terry did a pretty good job, I should think. Also consider that Benson got absolutely shelled in his Mets debut and the Twins are coming out of this smelling pretty good. We've got a power hitter at first now who already has as many home runs as Mientkiewicz, and we've got another left handed pitching prospect. Plus the Twins are 5 games above the White Sox, and they just beat the hated Red Sox 2 out of 3 games to take the season series. They are not the anti-Yankees people. I enjoy beating the Red Sox just as much as the Yankees.
Anyway, it is still sad to see Dougie go. I heard he teared up a little in the batter's box on Saturday night. He will always have a special place in the heart of Twins' fans, and it sounds like he will miss us too. However, as Patrick Reusse writes today, bring on the Morneau era. Truthfully, the best part of the trade in my mind is that this will be the last time I ever type "Mientkiewicz." So long Dougie!
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: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!
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!
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.
July 7, 2004
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:
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:
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?
That's about it.
July 2, 2004
Thoughts rattling around
"[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."
That's all I got for now. See you soon!
June 30, 2004
"Brew-haha in the Backyard"
|The shame ... the overwhelming shame!
Click for larger image
So, as you probably know, two weeks ago the Twins played the Brewers at Miller Park. Craig and I decided to actually travel to Milwaukee to see the games. Feeling a little cocky, and looking back at the Twins usual dominance of the Brewers at Miller Park, I made some bold predictions concerning what I felt would be the scores of the games we would see. Such is my blind love for Minnesota sports teams! Surely with me there at the games they would win! So, we made a wager. If the Twins won 2 out of 3 at Miller Park Craig would mow my yard, and if the Brewers won the series I would mow his. The post above documents this ill-fated bet.
The Brewers won the first game on Friday, but my faith in the Twins didn't waver. Coming off a three game sweep of the Expos, the Twins were due for a let down. Winning the next two games would be easy. The game on Saturday started out with a lot of promise. The Twins jumped out to a 6-0 lead which was capped off by a Joe Mauer home run. Then I made a fateful mistake which surely angered the baseball gods, I told Craig that I like my grass cut about "yay high" and I showed him about 2 1/2 inches between my index finger and my thumb. Yes, I counted my chickens before they hatched. Then the hammer dropped. The Brewers stormed back and took the lead on a monstrous Geoff Jenkins home run off of the 80 year old Terry Mullholland. Yikes! What made it even worse is that Geoff Jenkins is the spitting image of Brett Favre. I swear I can't escape from that guy!
|Oh, my aching back!
Click for larger image
In all seriousness, though, I am thankful to have a neighbor like Craig. We have a great time together. And while I might wish he were a fan of Minnesota sports, his blathering about Wisconsin sports teams has added a little bit of spice to my life and created a unique relationship for both of us. The fact that he is a Packer fan, coupled with the disgrace he put me through mowing his lawn, will make the Vikings NFC North crown this year that much better. Ah, victory will be sweet. Oh yes, another wager is in the works.
June 28, 2004
What's good for the goose...
One of the most popular links on this here blog is an old post entitled Restaurants to Avoid. It probably gets hit at least once a day since I put it up, usually from a search on Google or another search engine (yes, there are other search engines). The page lists restaurants in St. Paul that signed a petition against a restaurant/bar tax in St. Paul to fund a Twins stadium. The list was graciously provided to the Greet Machine from long-time reader Jim in St. Paul. What usually happens is a person will see the post and either agree with my stand against these restaurants, or disagree. However, a couple of weeks ago someone left a comment. It went a little something like this:
"It seems wrong to penalize a business for a political position, would you want that to happen to you, because you support something[?]"
So let me get this straight, these buisnesses have a right to take a political position, one that severely affects my potential quality of life, but I shouldn't do anything about it because ... what was her reasoning ... oh, because if it happened to me I might feel bad? Yikes! I am swooning from her well reasoned argument. Again, apparently businesses can take a stand on a political issue, but as potential patrons of those businesses we should disregard that stand because if we disagree we might affect their business. I am dumbfounded by this reasoning. She goes on to state:
"As for the Twins, you're right that we should support them staying here - just not sure forced restaurant tax would lend to that, what about those pitiful cigarettes, alcohol, or other things that add to policing costs in our communities?"That is interesting. I don't know enough about the potential of a cigarette tax, but we all know that a state-wide alcohol tax is about to expire. I have been harping for months that this tax should be extended to pay for all of our stadium needs in the Twin Cities, even if we just extended it in the Twin Cities area. I agree that this kind of tax would see more support from metro area residents than a forced restaurant and bar tax, but I'll support either one. She goes on:
"Many of us feel that on what the Twin's make, they should be able to support their own stadium, or at least find the high-rollers to do so. It's not the citizen's job to finance activities many of us can't afford to attend. Never been to see the Twins, tickets too high. Love a good Saint's game."I agree that the Twins should be able to finance their own stadium, but as has been proven in many, many other metropolitan areas, they don't have to. This is the way the game is played. Either we pony up and prove we are a major league city, or they leave and we are left with nothing. And for those of you that would say, "Good riddens," I've got news for you. In about 10 years our state will again be desperate for baseball and it will cost us three times as much as it does right now to bring in another team. If you don't think it will happen I need only point out the Minnesota Wild. So, I've got an idea. Why don't we keep the team we have, save ourselves a lot of money in the long run, maintain our quality of life, and keep the Twins in Minnesota? I don't see Milwaukee crumbling into dust as a result of building Miller Park. In fact, I see a reviatlized and very proud city.
Finally she pointed out that Twins games are too expensive for her. Sigh. This is just plain nuts. I will agree that Saints tickets are cheaper, but you can still go to a Twins game for $6. And if you do what I do and park at the U of M's West Bank, parking is usually free. Sitting above the baggie in right field is not a bad deal. Consider that the Boston Red Sox charge upwards of $100 per ticket for the privilege of sitting above the Green Monster. Anyway, if she had said she doesn't attend Twins games because she wants to be outside, that I would have understood.
June 22, 2004
Miller Park part deux
I'm still on my Miller Park kick. Sorry. For those of you interested in some pictures I've posted a few for you to gawk at. It really is an amazing ballpark. Now for a little history for all of you concerning Miller Park. Legislators were told the ballpark would cost $250 million to build and the bill (One-tenth of 1 percent 5 county stadium sales tax) passed by one vote. The man that cast that vote, George Petak, was later recalled from office. The Brewers contributed $90 million to the effort, and it is now estimated the ballpark will cost upwards of $400 million to pay off. Recently, Wisconsin legislators unanimously passed a bill that will retire the stadium tax in 2014, I guess whether the stadium is payed for or not. There is also an effort to try to recoup 5% of the proceeds of any sale of the Brewers from the Selig family. According to some Milwaukeeans I spoke with while I was there, people are generally in favor of the ball park, but there are still some people that are really ticked off that it was ever built.
Looking at this history I think Minnesotans and the Twins can learn a few things, and I think they have. One is to tell the truth about stadium costs. No problem there. In fact, I think the Twins have been too truthful. The Twins are estimating that today a ballpark will cost $535 million to build. And I'm sure that estimate will be higher next year. Ouch. Secondly, wouldn't it be nice if we could spread the burden of the tax to pay this thing off? Miller Park is being payed off by taxing five counties. I swear it probably comes out to about $5 a person per year. I would pay $5 a year for the rest of my life just to never hear another stadium debate ever again. Thirdly, legislators are really between a rock and a hard place on this issue. Really, they are damned if they do and damned if they don't. If they don't build a stadium for the Twins and the Twins leave, people are going to come out of the woodwork condemning them. I know polls show about 50%-60% of Minnesotans are against building stadiums using tax dollars, but those same polls show over 90% of Minnesotans want the team to stick around. People are generally a fickle bunch and I am 100% positive that if the Twins ever left you would suddenly have majority support for a stadium and a few legislators feeling the heat. I fell bad for George Petak of Racine, but he made the right decision (and he doesn't regret it either). In 10 years, no one will even remember any of this, but they'll still be enjoying Miller Park and reaping the benefits of having MLB in their community and state.
Finally, the Twins have learned that you've got to give back to the community who builds the stadium. They have already agreed to give the state back a percentage of the proceeds from a sale of the team. In other words, the Twins are already willing to do what the Wisconsin legislature is trying to force the Brewers to do.
It is a tough issue. There is no arguing that. However, Wisconsin found a way to get it done and in the long run they will be better off for it. And thanks to the Brewers bumbling, the Twins and Minnesota have both learned some valuable lessons on building a stadium the right way. Now we just have to make something work. There is a buzz in Milwaukee thanks to that stadium. Everywhere I went people talked about it and were proud of it, and the two games I attended were packed with fans. Heck, I traveled 6 hours and spent some good money in Milwaukee thanks to that stadium as did about 15,000 other Minnesotans. When the dust settles, no one is going to regret building Miller Park.
June 21, 2004
What can I say that hasn't already been said about the wonder that is Miller Park? After watching baseball indoors for over 20 years I can't adequately put into words the profound joy I felt watching the game inside this beautiful park. Everything was done right from the parking, to the food, to the seats, to the dimensions, to the overall ambience. Everything. I'm sorry that I don't have more pictures up yet, that will come tonight. But suffice it to say I was deeply impressed, and also a little depressed. Those of you who know me know that I have been blathering about stadiums in Minnesota for well over 7 years now. But I've never really truly understood the importance or reasoning for building a new ballpark for the Twins. Scratch that. I've always understood the importance, but I've never been able to argue the importance from experience. Well, "mine eyes have seen the glory" and it was good. It also put the Metrodome and the state of Minnesota to shame. I'll be writing about that more later.
I went to the games on both Saturday and Sunday, and although my predictions for the scores of the game were a little off I still had a wonderful time. I went with Cheesehead Craig and his friends, and they really showed me a good time. Especially Craig's friend Gabe. A top-notch guy and a class act. Anyway, we parked a ways from the stadium to take advantage of a free parking spot. As we began our journey to the stadium, Miller Park peaked over the trees in the distance. Craig and his friends slowly walked to the park, but I couldn't help but practically sprint to get there. And once I got there it was a flurry of photographs as I tried to soak it all in. As I said above everything was done right and the stadium was just beautiful to behold in person. The grounds were packed with people, and there was a large contingent of Twins fans. The night was beautiful and everyone was happy.
We walked in the doors (and you can walk in any door you want!) to a wide open concourse. Straight ahead was the field. Honestly I couldn't help but tear up a little at seeing the Twins practicing and running around on real grass. Hold on a second ... I'm OK now. We walked up the stairs to the Loge level (how did they come up with that name?) and took our seats in Section 214 on the first base line. It was amazing. Every seat was perfectly angled to get the best view of the field, and we were right on top of the diamond. The 4 levels of Miller Park are built right on top of each other which means everyone is as close to the field as possible. And as I said, all the seats perfectly surround the field. I swear, there probably isn't a bad seat in the house. But what was most impressive was the open sky above. Cloudless and blue, birds flying around, and a gentle breeze swirling onto the field.
So, the game started and the Twins got to an early lead. There was probably about 15,000 Twins fans there so it almost felt like a home game for a while. I was so happy with the whole experience I was speechless. My head was on a swivel just looking around at everything. Then the unthinkable happened. They started to close the roof! It was a beautiful night and they decide to turn the place into the Metrodome! Needless to say, I was a little angry, but it was nice to see how the stupid thing worked. Flawlessly of course. That was when things started to go downhill for the Twins. For some reason Radke started to tank, and the Brewers started to hit some monster home runs. None more impressive, though, than Geoff Jenkins' blast in the 8th. Wow. It was like a golf swing that sent the ball well into the stands in right field. Brewers fans went into a frenzy which definitely quieted those of us cheering for the Twins. But you know what? It was still wonderful. Great home town support and good natured ribbing for all of us Twins fans. We all had a smile on our face.
The game ended and we were able to quickly exit the ballpark. Again, the wide open concourses allowed for a lot of people to move at a relatively fast pace. When we got to the doors I thought about maybe the one advantage the Metrodome has over Miller Park and maybe the one thing I'll miss about the the home of the Twins: the blast of wind that blows people out of the doors. I swear I'll never be able to exit a stadium again without thinking I need to brace myself. And it was over. I laughed, I cried, I had a good time. My first game outside in over 20 years. It was great, and the fact that the Twins lost couldn't diminish my euphoria.
And my disgust. The Metrodome ... blech. It is an abomination to baseball. We deserve better and I can't believe more Minnesotans aren't demanding better. Oh yes, the juices are flowing. Get ready for some long winded diatribes in the days ahead.
June 18, 2004
It's Miller Time
Do you know how long it has been since I've watched an outdoor baseball game? I don't remember the exact date, but I was a young boy of around 8 or 9 years of age when I went to Met Stadium for Burger King Helmet Day (and what a fine piece of merchandise that was). I sat in left field, and unfortunately I barely remember anything. I think the Twins were playing the Brewers, but I can't even say for sure. What I do remember is a home run landing in the aisle right next to me and my best friend screaming at me to "Get the ball!" The next thing I know about 10 adults dove at it, trampling everyone around them. I looked at my friend and said, "Are you nuts?" And that is my final memory of watching the Twins at Met Stadium. Pathetic isn't it?
Ah, but this weekend I will again witness outdoor baseball. Cheesehead Craig and I are taking a Father's Day road trip to Miller Park to watch the Twins play the Brewers. I am very much looking forward to this. Just imagine actually sitting in a stadium designed for baseball! Sheesh! It gets me fired up just thinking about it. I know it is hard to even fathom for most of us, especially the Minnesota legislature. Speaking of which, if there is anything that will get my stadium juices flowing again it will be this trip. I guarantee that after 18 innings at Miller Park .... Man! When I get back my legislators won't even know what hit them. I may even have to join Larry Spooner and march around the state capitol and demand that stadiums are built! Watching baseball at Miller Park will be like giving heroin to a drug addict. Stadiums are my addiction and Miller Park will fuel my unhealthy obsession. In other words, I am looking forward to this trip! Needless to say I will document with words and pictures our excursion to Milwaukee.
The Twins should easily beat the Brewers, too. After sweeping the Expos, the Twins are primed to continue their dominance of the Brewers at their own home ballpark. I mean come on, who do the Brewers even have that can compete with the Twins? Scott Posednik? Flash in the pan. Lyle Overby? The only word that comes to mind when his name is mentioned is FLUKE. Radke and Santana are going to dominate this mediocre Brewer lineup. My prediction? Saturday night Twins 9, Brewers 1 and Sunday night Twins 11, Brewers 2. A good time is guaranteed for all (Twins fans that is!).
June 17, 2004
Lew Ford: All-Star?
Besides Joe Nathan who else on the Twins has a shot at making the All-Star team? Personally I think Lew Ford has the best shot. He is currently leading the Twins in batting with a .319 average, and he only trails Jacque Jones by one RBI with 36. He also leads the team in hits and runs. He has been the most consistent Twins hitter and is right now in the midst of a nifty 9 game hitting streak. Really, what hasn't he done that he needs to do to be considered?
When you look at top All Star vote getters for outfielders in the AL, Lew's numbers are nothing to sneeze at. Vlad Guerrero's numbers are hard to touch (.345, 15, 56), but when you get to the fifth place vote getter, Hideki Matsui, you start seeing some similar numbers to Lew. Matsui is batting .284 with 11 homeruns and 37 RBI. Granted, he probably is in fifth place only because he plays in New York, but it is still hard to argue that Lew has similar numbers to All-Star caliber outfielders. And he is probably more deserving than any player on the Twins.
Truthfully, though, the All-Star game is secondary for Twins fans to the impact that Lew Ford's play could have on the long term lineup of the team. When Shannon Stewart comes back where do you put Lew? Unfortunately for Jacque Jones, probably in right field. Jacque's trouble with lefties is surfacing again this year with a vengeance and Lew isn't doing anything to warrant sitting him down. If Stewart comes back and proves that he is healthy, Jones is gone. He knows it, Terry Ryan knows it, and Twins fans know it. That must suck. Does anyone know of any trade rumors that have surfaced recently with Jones going to another team?
June 14, 2004
Why the lack of fans?
In recent years, Twins officials (Dave St. Peter especially) have been wondering why fans are not coming out to the "ballpark" (I use that term loosely) to support the team. Every year around this time we have an article in one of the TC dailies which quotes Twins officials lamenting the fact that the Twins aren't drawing like they thought they would. This year is no exception. Of course, I have the definitive list of reasons why the Twins are not drawing fans to the Metrodome. Starting with the least important reason:
- The unbalanced schedule -- Thanks to the unbalanced schedule, the Twins play the lowly KC Royals, Detroit Tigers, and Cleveland Indians about 19 games a piece. Besides Sweeney and Pudge, these teams have no big names to bring the crowds out (and Sweeney is even a stretch). If the Twins played at least two home series against the AL East teams like the Yankees and Red Sox you would see attendance go up. That is a fact. Besides, even Sid agrees with me. And look at the attendance figures for the other AL Central teams. They aren't much different than the Twins.
- Carl Pohlad -- Pohlad has brought Minnesota two World Series championships, but Minnesotans will never forgive him for his stadium shenanigans. There is not a doubt in my mind that there is a fair number of Twins fans that boycott the games just because he owns the team. Not me, of course, but enough to make an impact.
- The Metrodome is a football stadium -- Seriously, there are only about 20,000 good seats for baseball in the Dome, and they are all encompassed between first and third base and behind home plate. There are some more decent seats in left field, but that is even stretching it. The rest of the seats, especially the seats beyond third base, are absolutely wretched for watching baseball. When I call for tickets and find out the only seats left in the lower deck are along the third base line in left field I decide to just stay home. I'm sure I'm not alone. Yesterday's Twins game drew 23,479 fans. That is really good considering how bad the seating is for baseball at the Dome.
But the number one reason is:
- Minnesotans do not like to watch baseball indoors -- Consider this: today is June 14. In exactly three months the temperature will probably be dipping into the 50s. Really, Minnesota only has about 3 months of good "summery" weather. It just isn't right that we have to watch baseball indoors under the Teflon sky when we've already spent nine months indoors waiting for summer to arrive. Given a choice of spending a beautiful summer day out on a lake, swimming at a beach, or watching the Twins play in the Metrodome, most Minnesotans will opt for staying outside. They may listen to the Twins game on the radio, but they will choose to be outside. The Twins know it, the legislature knows it, everyone knows it.
So, there you have it. My reasons for the lack of fans at Twins games. The big question now is, if we built a new stadium would fans come to the games? Or would we still see a lack of fans? Given that the two biggest reasons for poor attendance is the Metrodome seating and indoor baseball, I think we would see a huge spike in attendance if we built an outdoor stadium. In other words, if you build it we will come.
If you've got any other reasons for the poor attendance, let me hear 'em!
June 9, 2004
Every fan counts
Good game tonight vs. the Mets. Radke was spectacular and I thought Gardy pinch hitting Cuddyer for Rivas in the ninth was a good move. Cuddyer is hitting .351 over the last 10 games and deserves to play more, especially considering the anemic batting average of Rivas. Could we be seeing the last days of Rivas as an everday player?
If you didn't see the article about the Detroit Tigers complaining about the Metrodome vents working against them in the ninth last Sunday you should definitely check it out. I gotta admit it gave me quite a laugh. According to another article (PDF) from the Star Tribune, Ivan Marusic, a professor of fluid dynamics with expertise in aerodynamics at the University of Minnesota, conducted a couple of experiments last year to see if the vents could really affect the distance traveled of the ball. In the first test he found that the vents could affect the distance by as much as 3.5 feet depending on if they were blowing in from the outfield or out from the diamond. That would be fairly substantial. However in his second test he found that the vents had no affect at all. He concluded that based on these two tests it is unlikely that the vents have much of an impact, unless someone could relplicate the exact conditions of the first test. There obviously was a little more to these tests, so check out the article above if you are interested.
So, here is the way I see it. Really, there isn't much the Twins can do regarding the airflow during the games. According to Gardy, the Metrodome vents are controlled by the same system that controls the nearby hospital and prison. This fact, coupled with the inconclusive experiments from above, means the Twins should have a field day with this. They should use it to their complete advantage. In a way they already are with their "Every fan counts" ad campaign, but I think they should take it a step further now and totally try to psych the other team out by coming out and saying they will manipulate the fans during games. I'm not saying they should do it, I'm only saying that they should use this little bit of "Metrodome mystique" to their advantage more. I mean, what if before a big series in September Gardy was talking to some reporters and he let something like "the fans will be blowing our way tonight" slip out? Or what if he said, "We've asked the fan operators to blow out during our at-bats for this series." Again, none of this would be true, but it would really get under the other teams' skin. The fireworks from the opposing manager would be fun to watch, I would think, and the other team would be more worried about air flow then the game itself.
Anyway, the Twins play in arguably the suckiest baseball stadium to ever host a baseball game. I'm just trying to think of ways to make the experience more enjoyable.
May 18, 2004
Couple of good articles
ESPN has a couple of good articles today focusing on two of my favorite sports franchises, the Twins and the Vikings. First we have an article about the Twins from Peter Gammons. Usually I find Gammons's articles to be highly unreadable, full of inappropriate quotes and song lyrics that just make his articles confusing and painful to read. I don't really mind him as a TV commentator, but as a writer he stinks (look who's talking). Anyway, his article today was more about the genius that is Terry Ryan and it hinted that he may be willing to trade away some of our young minor league talent to make a run for the World Series this year. That is great news, although who could he be talking about? Surely not Justin Morneau, but what about Restovich or even Michael Ryan? And I know Adam Johnson is finally considered expendable. I'd like to think that going to the World Series would do wonders for the Twins' stadium chances, but going to the ALCS two years ago didn't help any.
The second article comes from another baseball writer, Rob Neyer, who amazingly enough seems to be quite the fan of the Vikings. His article focuses on the most painful moments in Vikings history, and certainly brought back some not-so-good memories for me. You see, my birthday is on January 17, so almost every year around that time I get to watch the Vikings crumble. Last year was no expception. Hey Denard! The Cardinals are going to throw it in the end zone! Play some freaking defense! Anyway, Rob's list of painful moments included these fun b-days:
- January 17, 1988: NFC Championship -- I don't care what Neyer says, I don't think Darrin Nelson ever had "great hands." Don't get me wrong, I love Darrin, but I wasn't surprised when he dropped that pass. What was most painful about this is that the Vikings dominated the 49ers the game before. No one was a better WR than AC on top of his game.
- January 17, 1999: NFC Championship -- The most painful memory of all, the year that could have been. Probably the only moment in all my sports watching past when I almost cried. I was so stunned after the game I must have sat there for a good 30 minutes totally immobile. But it was my birthday so I had to open some presents ... stupid birthday presents. Why can't they just let me wallow in my own depression?
- January 14, 2001: NFC Championship -- Not on my birthday, but close enough. This game was so stunning it became laughable. What really ticked me off, though, was the postgame interview with Randy Moss when he said the Vikings would never win the Super Bowl. Moss has never been one to hold back, but much like his I-play-when-I-want quote, this one really set me off.
Neyer's article begins with a great put-down of Red Sox fans which I totally agree with. Boston fans, especially Red Sox fans, are the biggest bunch of whining prima-donnas on the planet. It's like they feel entitled to everything from a World Series to a Stanley Cup to a Super Bowl because they are "the greatest fans on Earth." Please. They give new meaning to the term "fair weather" and their accent makes my ears bleed. Learn how to speak coherently you bunch of Cro-Magnons! Next to Packer fans, I despise Red Sox fans the most. They whine and complain about Steinbrenner and the Evil Empire yet they spend almost as much and have nothing to show for it. I can't wait until baseball's divisional series this October when yet again the Red Sox are at home playing Mario Golf or whatever lame game they must play and the Twins are battling for a berth to the World Series!
And on that note, I will leave you. If I want any team to win the AL East it is the Orioles.
May 12, 2004
|In a rare swing of the bat,|
Denny strikes out to retire
If you were watching the Twins game yesterday you probably saw Corey Koskie leave the game due to a strained sternum. Gardenhire looked down his bench and put Michael Cuddyer in at 3rd base. Now, in past seasons we didn't have the luxury of someone as strong as Cuddyer coming in for an injured player. That's right, we had Denny Hocking. Honestly, I don't know how this guy is still in the majors. My nickname for him has always been Denny "The Tree" Hocking. If you needed anything bad to happen from a game ending double play to a pop up to second base, Denny was your man. But what he was most skilled with was not swinging the bat. If you needed someone to just stand there in the batter's box, not swinging at anything unless it was behind him or bounced first before getting to the plate, Denny was (and still is for the Rockies) the guy you would turn to. Let's take a look at his statistics for Colorado this year:
Nice to see Denny hasn't lost his touch. Maybe Denny had his faults, but one thing is for sure, he gave me reason to believe that I could have played major league baseball if all it takes is just standing there at the plate waiting for "your pitch." For that I thank him.
May 2, 2004
Life is goodSometimes life is just plain good. Sometimes the planets are aligned, the stars and cards are all in your favor. Sometimes, life is so good the apex of the cone of time screams stay back! Slow down, there is still life to live! What could make me so happy? That's right, it was Twins fishing lure night at the Metrodome on Saturday, and I have the complete set! Behold, the Jacque Jones fishing lure!
Unfortunately the Twins lost, but that didn't stop me from celebrating the fact that I have every Twins fishing lure (that I know of) that has ever been created. And all of them have never been opened and are still in their original packaging. Some people collect bobbleheads ... bah! Who doesn't? Fishing lures are where it is at. Behold, the rest of the set:
So there you have it, the complete set. Please let me know if you know of anyone that also has every one of these. I am pretty sure I am one of the few people that do. Cha-ching!
Category "Sports business"
April 21, 2004
Victory and stadiums
OK, let's get the important Victory Sports news of the day out of the way way right from the start. Charley Walters is reporting in the Pioneer Press:
"Word is the impasse between Twins' TV rights-holder Victory Sports One and some of the six primary cable and satellite operators could be resolved next week as negotiations continue behind the scenes."
This is really good news, and hopefully it has a little bit of truth to it. My day is immediately brightened when Shooter has a new article in the Pioneer Press, but even more than Sid you've got to take his columns with a grain of salt. Speaking of Victory, my son's Cub Scout den went bowling last night at the Park Tavern in SLP. Park Tavern is one of the few bars in the area that shows Victory Sports so I got to watch most of the game. The place was packed and the atmosphere was good. Needless to say, I was in heaven.
The Pioneer Press is also reporting that the impasse in negotiations between Victory and the cable companies is hurting the Twins' chances for a workable stadium bill this year. After yesterday's tirade you might think I'd be really upset about this, but I'm not. First of all, I love how the Twins are always on the minds of our legislators this year. Apparently our representatives and senators are getting "peppered" with messages from constituents demanding that this issue is resolved. This fact, coupled with all the messages they get in favor of building stadiums, has got to demonstrate to them how important the Twins are to the residents of this state. True many of the messages they are getting are negative towards the Twins, but I would think if the Twins were contracted or moved to another city the legislature has got to realize they would get some really negative messages. Secondly, the minute Victory Sports is put on cable in the TC area (and surrounding areas) people will forget all about this impasse and hopefully start focusing on how the network will start helping the Twins bottom line. In other words, Twins fans are not going to care, they are just going to be happy that the Twins are back on TV. Finally, we have this quote:
"The connection with the stadium legislation involves more than just votes. The stadium bill, should it pass, permits the taxation of cable revenue to help pay for the ballpark."
This should be the focus of every fan of the Twins: Victory Sports could make a new Twins stadium in Minnesota more of a reality. Again, let's give the Twins the benefit of the doubt on this one and put things into perspective for now. We have missed 8 games on TV so far. Patience, people, patience.
Finally, my best buddy in Grand Forks, ND points out this little piece of news that TC the Bear was almost injured last night:
"Mascot T.C. Bear, driving a four-wheeler before the game, unexpectedly veered into the wall, tearing down a banner in the process. The bear was unhurt."
I know kids love the bear, but I can't stand him so I got a little chuckle out of this news. Although my respect for him shot through the roof when I saw him cranking homeruns in his softball challenge before games last year. Yikes has he got some power! So, perhaps I'll have to start showing TC a little love.
April 7, 2004
The game last night
It seems the Twins are refusing to lose this year. What a fantastic game last night. It's not often that you can say "the game finished early this morning" but that is exactly what happened. 15 innings and two "7th" inning stretches later, the game finally ended when Jose Offerman ripped a bases loaded game winning single up the middle. The crowd that was still there gave off quite a loud cheer and was happy. What happened before that, however, was a little troubling.
The new field looks great. As Torii Hunter said, it actually looks like a baseball field. Having said that, did the new field cause at least two injuries last night? Santana will be fine, but I am really worried about Mauer and Hunter. Apparently Mauer suffered a mild knee sprain just chasing down a pop up behind the plate. And Hunter injured his hamstring just running to first base. I'm sure I'm not unique when I think these kinds of thoughts, but doesn't it seem like injuries you and I would just deal with in the "real" world become a much bigger deal in professional sports? I wouldn't be surprised if Mauer is scheduled for surgery tomorrow. What is up with that? If that is how it is supposed to work, I should have had surgery a lot in high school playing basketball. I remember once I made a pretty good shot and a very strong teammate of mine came up and gave me the hardest slap on the butt I have ever experienced. It shouldn't even be called a slap because it felt like he actually grabbed my butt cheek and tore it off of whatever it was attached to. I swear I was limping for two weeks. If I was playing for the Twins, I would have had butt surgery and I would have been out for at least a month. But I digress.
Aside from Carlos Pulido the Twins bullpen looks solid. I honestly don't think we'll have much to worry about there. Brad Thomas looked decent, but Aaron Fultz and Joe Roa looked really, really good. Especially Fultz. I think we'll be seeing a lot more of him. Well, maybe not seeing, just hearing. Speaking of Victory, Aaron Gleeman has a nice interview with Kevin Catoor posted at the Hardball Times. It is a pretty good read.
And could I just say that it is shocking how stupid some of the "fans" are that go to Twins games. Unfortunately for me I was sitting in front a whole family of stupid fans last night. No children, thank goodness, because their conversation usually consisted of sex, cussing, and disgusting anecdotes about using each other's toothbrushes and who they've all slept with. I'm not kidding. At one point the conversation veered to Victory and the patriarch of the family smugly stated that "Pohlad isn't getting a dime from me." Hey Nimrod, buying a ticket to a Twins game is giving just a few of your dimes to Pohlad. Sorry to be so negative, but people's ignorance of what Victory Sports could do for the Twins bottom line really gets me going.
That's about it. I'm sure I'll be going to a lot of games this year, but I'll definitely be going to the May 1 game to get a Jacque Jones fishing lure. I've got the whole collection.
Category "Sports business"
April 5, 2004
What a game!
Wow! What a great first game to the season! Shannon Stewart ... can you say enough good things about him? It doesn't get much better than a three-run walk off home run. And Joe Mauer looked solid: two walks and two singles for his first game in the big leagues. Tomorrow night I will be at the game and I expect more of the same. And it is a good thing I'll be at the game, too. It seems rumors of a deal between Victory and the cable companies is not even close to being in the works. According to Kevin Catoor, "There doesn't seem to be any urgency from the operators' standpoint to get this thing done." For more information on Victory Sports check out this great interview with Kevin Catoor on SethSpeaks.net.
As the Twins opened their season at home in the Metrodome on Monday, state Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson predicted that "it's better than 60-40 percent we're going to build a ballpark this legislative session."
Wow. When the Senate majority leader says something like that, you really have to pay attention. Next stop for the bill is the House Taxes committee and it sounds like Pawlenty is really putting his muscle behind it. You know, I was ticked off when Pawlenty was elected governor. I thought the Twins wouldn't have a chance with him at the helm. But now it appears as though he is doing the best job anybody could do reining in the Republican controlled house. According to Jim in St. Paul in a comment on my old site:
It wasn't reported in either paper, but there was an arrangement made that the stadium bill would not have to pass through the legislature's Capital Investment Committee. This committee is headed by Rep. Phil Krinke, any stadium booster's arch enemy. From my understanding Speaker Sviggum was able to convince Krinke that the stadium bill was not in the "purview" of his committee.
To take Krinke out of the picture is significant. It looks like the stadium battle could be coming to an end ... well, we better not hold our breath. For at least a day, though, it is good to be a Twins fan.
April 4, 2004
We're gonna win Twins!
Unless you are living under a rock (or your just not a sports fan) baseball season officially begins tomorrow. The Twins are my pick to again win the Central, but that is because I'm the biggest "homer" in the blogging world. I have no trouble admitting that. Tomorrow Brad Radke will face C.C. Sabathia and the Cleveland Indians at the Metrodome on the new field. I found it humorous that all last year the Twins complained about how bad their turf was, and now Doug Mientkiewicz is complaining that the new turf takes away some of their dome-field advantage. Is it just me, or has he been overly negative over the past few months? Can anything go right for him? By the way, does anyone know what they are doing with the old turf? I want some so I can cover my porch with it (I hope my wife doesn't read this).
How about some bold predictions? Actually, I don't think they'll be too bold. Anyway, I predict that Michael Cuddyer will play more 3rd base than Koskie this season. Boy, maybe that is bold! I think Koskie will injure his back early, and Cuddyer will play so well it will be tough to take him out. I also predict LeCroy will hit 30 or more home runs. If he has enough at bats, he will be dangerous. And how about the first call up from the minors of the season ... I predict it will be J.D. Durbin. He's got the attitude and the determination, and either Silva or Thomas will tank in the rotation. I also wouldn't be surprised to see either Nakamura or Crain called up. But I'm pretty sure it will be a pitcher.
And what about Victory Sports? Charley Walters reported on Thursday that:
Contrary to rumors, there is virtually no chance Fox Sports Network will be able to acquire Twins cable and TV rights. The only option is Victory Sports One, which remains at an impasse with several broadcasting outlets.
Walters then reported on Friday that:
The Twins don't expect an agreement with Twin Cities cable outlets Comcast and Time Warner in time for Monday's season opener against Cleveland. Insiders say it could be a month before the stalemate is settled.
Latest word is Fox Sports Net is willing to pay $12 million a year to reacquire Twins broadcast rights. That would be nearly triple what Fox paid last season.
Fox Sports has gotta know that the Twins could make $18 million more by running their own network. I still feel pretty strongly that we should all back the Twins in this fight. I think it is a forgone conclusion that some of this money could be used to pay for a stadium, and that should be the number one goal for all of us as Twins fans.
Finally, the StarTrib had a good article on Victory today that discussed some of the interesting broadcast strategies they have cooked up, like less mindless replays. Too bad we won't get to see these strategies. Here is another bold prediction, we won't see any Twins games on TV until after the All-Star break, and that is bad news for any pro-stadium Twins fan. Does anyone have any news that I haven't heard about Victory?
And if you are wondering, I won't be at the game tomorrow. I have to teach Monday nights. But I will be at Tuesday's game. So, if you see a tall, gangly blond headed Twins fan walking through the Metrodome concourse with a 2002 royal blue DQ Twins cap, it is probably me. I can't wait!