Friday, December 10, 2010

Summing up the Wonder of the Internet

This is what happens when CraigsList, Google and Twitter work together in brilliant harmony.

Step 1: Stumble on a ridiculously overpriced item on CraigsList:

Step 2: Call them out by writing them a secretly snarky e-mail: (the other ornament mentioned in this message is a 1987 edition, listed here for $20.)

Step 3: Tweet about the amazingly high price and the inaccurate date of the items in the CraigsList ad.

Step 4: Receive two replies from the CraigsList ornament seller:

In between messages, the seller googles my e-mail handle, and replies with this:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

AH! Turkey Coloring Contest IV

Do you guys feel like doing this again? I suppose it's a tradition at this point. Like wearing pants outside or giving the finger to Mike Rowe while explaining to no one in particular that people can't honesty come up to him all the time and ask, "Why Chevy, why now?"

Past winners: 2007, 2008, 2009.

email (haasertime at them or post a link in the comments section. Good luck!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

How Not to Display Your World Series Trophy

The Twins announced a few planned improvements to their not-quite-new ballpark yesterday, including a big video board in right-field, more radiant heating and wireless. They will also try to eradicate some of the glare issues from the batters eye that the Twins constantly complained about, as if that were the reason Michael Cuddyer had a sub-par year. Still, it will probably have a greater impact on the teams performance than any other offseason move. (*hack*coughEricHacker)

What's most disappointing about all this is how Twins missed the opportunity to right a wrong. They should move the World Series trophy out of the exclusive Champions Club and into a public area. The only tangible items from Minnesota's only professional championships rest in a plush club reserved for the beautiful people. I bet Les Straker can't even afford to see the '87 trophy, and he helped win the damn thing. When the Twins were in the Metrodome, they had them in the lobby of their front office, which was accessible to anyone who wandered in from Puckett Place or the stadium concourse. But this was when the Twins were cool and didn't pander to the rich folk. It's kinda silly. It's like if the Declaration of Independence was the center piece of some la-ti-da restaurant for American financial barons and capitol lobbyists.

I wondered if this were standard practice around Major League Baseball. So I called and asked every club that had won a title since they began awarding the Commissioner's Trophy in 1967.

Diamondbacks ('01) - Lobby of front office.
Red Sox ('04, '07) - "Front office reception area"
Braves ('95) - Museum
White Sox ('05) - "Case by gate 4"
Reds ('75, '76, '90) - Hall of Fame
Royals ('85) - Hall of Fame
Marlins ('97, '03) - "Front office gate 4"
Angels ('02) - Display in main concourse
Yankees ('77, '78, '96, '98, '99, '00, '09) - Hall of Fame
A's ('72, '73, '74, '89) - Front office lobby
Mets ('69, '86) - Museum
Pirates ('71, '79) - Admin lobby - but "only one of them is here."
Cardinals ('67, '82, '06) - The trophies are currently in boxes, or something. They have no official home while they await construction of the Cardinals Hall of Fame in the adjacent Ballpark Village.
Giants ('10) - The only team I couldn't get a hold of. They probably haven't even decided yet.

These five teams don't care about their fans -
Dodgers ('81, '88) - Front office. Sounds like you'd have to take a tour to see them.
Tigers ('68, '84) - Champions club
Orioles ('83, '70) - Club Level
Blue Jays ('92, '93) - Admin lobby "but probably need a club level ticket to get there during a game"
Phillies ( '80, '08)- "In an office, not available to public."

So the Twins are definitely in the minority. If you want to see the 1987 and 1991 trophies, you'll need to be well connected, or rich, or stupid. Probably all three.

Or you could take a tour or check them out at TwinsFest, but that would defeat the point of this "research article."

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ryan Adams & the Art of Challenging Your Audience

In the history of music, there has never been an artist as skilled and musically erratic as Ryan Adams. When a popular music figure makes music unlike an earlier and more popular release, the critics always say they are "challenging their audience." And Ryan Adams is the king of that phenomenon, to the point that his fans have either accepted the challenge or turned away confused and jaded, like a NASA scientist who couldn't quite cut it.

Every time a band releases something like Pinkerton or Music from the Elder, there are two inevitable questions. 1) Is it any good? and 2) What's the meaning of this? That second question is almost more important than the first, because music listeners tend to take their favorite artists direction very personally. Everyone wonders what the hell they're thinking, even if it's actually decent music. They question the motivation of putting something out that doesn't sound anything like the successful hit album from two years ago. Is it a joke? Have they gone crazy? Am I seriously expected to enjoy this?

The two aforementioned albums represent good examples of the whole challenging your audience vibe. KISS's Music from the Elder wasn't a very good album. It wasn't good at all. It was, in fact, awful. The motivation behind it only made the ordeal worse. KISS was fading out of the 70's pretty fast - losing their devoted fans by softening up in order to reach a broader fan base. All the kids took a long enough break from trying to sew cow tongues into their friends mouths to notice that the band cared more about merchandising than making rock n' roll. Gene and company knew their album sales were slipping because of the softened image and music of the band, so he decided to do something drastic - a concept album written and recorded with the help of a symphony orchestra and a manager who later admitted that many of the disastrous creative decisions were due to his severe cocaine addiction.

The mark of a true artist is to work their craft from the inside out, without thinking of the audience. That KISS album clearly demonstrated that the band (Gene and Paul) motivations were not of an artistic nature. But the same can't be said for Rivers Cuomo and Weezers' follow-up to their break-through debut album. Everyone hated Pinkerton when it came out, citing Cuomo's emotional lyrics about sexual longing and half-Japanese girls, which stood in contrast to the Blue Albums' fun and nerdy vibe. He must have taken the criticism to heart, because Weezer hasn't released anything as heartfelt or honest (or half-way decent) since. When people look back at the album, they realize it was Cuomo making the music he felt at the time.

The problem with Ryan Adams is that he's consistently, absurdly erratic. No one could possibly enjoy all of his music. His accessible albums are pretty musically diverse, but the outliers are so far out there that they make those regular albums feel as predictable as a hipster scoffing at your bicycle. Is there another musician as wildly diverse as Adams? Prince has done a lot of different things over the years, but not that different. (though it would be hard to find, even among the hard-core Prince faithful, anyone who enjoyed Hot Summer or Purple and Gold.) Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones have both had inevitable phases and flops, but they generally stuck to one genre. Ryan Adams is different.

He started out in the band Whiskeytown in the mid-90's, which Rolling Stone called "the Nirvana of alt-country." Without really listening to much of it, I'll just describe it as country soft with a punk punch. That's where he started. Now let's look at a bunch of songs that illustrate his song output since then. We'll move chronologically, but just remember that Adams didn't move from soft to hard, he bounced all over the place - last year he released sweet acoustic songs and satanic metal.

To completely over-generalize, I'd call this song pretty typical of 70% of his catalog. He's singing slowly and beautifully to a girl, but there's definitely an edge.

I wish you would
Come pick me up
Take me out
Fuck me up
Steal my records
Screw all my friends
Behind my back
With a smile on your face
And then do it again
I wish you would

This is rockn'roll, but there's no distortion or anything. That's why folks were fairly shocked when Adams came out with Rock N Roll. I guess they could ignore his very low-key punk side project with Jesse Malin, The Finger. But they couldn't ignore this:

This album received very mixed reviews from critics and fans, but Adams reputation as a great alt-country songwriter certainly took a hit. He calmed down for the next five years with the his backing band, the Cardinals, but then word came out that he was releasing his first "fully-realized sci-fi metal concept album."

And the thing is, you can't exactly tell why he's making that amazing piece of art or, say, a satanic, pizza-oriented black metal project with a debut album entitled, "Feel the Laser." Is he fucking with us? Does he really like it? Does he really expect us to like it? Is this some sort of jab at his record label?

Luckily, Adams has been doing this for so long that people have stopped asking those questions. (they're still asking about Metal Machine Music, though.) We've come to understand that he has a real interest in many types of music, and he enjoys playing different stuff. Not only that, but Adams has a really silly sense of humor, as evidenced by his website that opens with this message:

Welcome to the new PAX•AM Records site

My Name is Bongo the Snowman – I’ll be updating you on new releases and news related the PAX•AM roster – with bands such as Ryan Adams, Ryan Adams & The Cardinals and more eclectic tastes such as Ryan Adams. I live on an invisible mountain in the sky. Good Morning
Or the time he hijacked his wife's Twitter account: (click for large)

This is what makes him fun to follow. He has to be having fun making music. And the results can fall anywhere from terrible to amazing, from hilarious to sincere, and everywhere in between. Ryan Adams can challenge me anytime.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Alright Hamilton MailBag: Offseason Questions

The offseason is officially underway and things are already getting interesting. The Twins have picked up Jason Kubel's option and declined Nick Punto's, but they're far from done. Here are some letters I've received wondering about the direction the ballclub will take this winter.

Q:   I know the Twins have a lot of guys who aren't under contract for next season. Who is coming back and who isn't? I really hope we bring back Brian Buscher!
- Mrs. Buscher, Jacksonville, FL

A:   Alright, maybe I'm not ready to answer these kinds of questions. Why does the cold beginning have to happen so soon after the bitter end? It's a serious swing in expectation levels. It was just one month ago that the Twins were in the playoffs. I was in Target Field, watching Michael Cuddyer hit a home run off C.C. Sabathia. I swear it happened. It was the peak of a years worth of excitement and hope. It was the best Twins team on paper in recent history in the first year of a grand new ballpark.

And now we're starting over again, just like it never happened? Well, I don't know if I can do it. Everyone is telling me not to be satisfied when the Twins win the division. I'm supposed to ask for more. I'm supposed to expect more. I'm supposed to will that notion upon the Twins management and players.

That 'World Series or Bust' mentality, when coupled with the soul-crushing Yankees looming around every corner, creates a neat little bumper-car complex inside the head of the average Twins fan. I mean, how can we look at anything they do, on or off the field, without our subconscious saying, "So what? How will this help them beat the Yankees?" And I'll guarantee the media, the players, the coaches and the front office have that question in the back of their mind too.

Q:   Will the Twins be active on the free agent market this year? It would be nice to get Cliff Lee!
 - Leo Spaghetti, Pine Trees, MN

A:   Maybe I'm overreacting. I've always thought that being a baseball fan is different because relaxing actually increases the enjoyment. If LaTroy Hawkins starts walking guys while the Twins are down by five in the 7th inning, just relax and get another coke with those ice cubes that are the size of jelly beans.

So that's what I'll do during the season - relax and enjoy the ride. Even though they serve regular, boring ice cubes now.

Q:   What's your favorite Mick Jagger movie role? 
 - Janice Rhinestones, Muckluck, WI 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

World Series Preview

Like most baseball fans, I have no rooting interest in this years World Series. The Yankees have already been eliminated, leaving two underdog-type teams to fight for their first title in a long time (or ever). I suppose I'll cheer for the Rangers, since they're the ones who knocked off New York. Besides, I like when the American League asserts their dominance over an obnoxious NL team.

I thought about trying to attend at least one World Series game this year. It's pretty cheap to fly to the bay area, but you'd better pack a kayak - tickets to AT&T Park are ridiculous. It's actually less expensive to fly round-trip to San Fransisco than it is to get into any of the game. On StubHub, the cheapest you'll find for tonight's game is $515 bucks. On CraigsList, there are more people begging for tickets than actually selling them. And they're probably all serial killers.

I’ve bought and sold a few things on CraigsList, but the amount of transactions is relatively tiny compared to the amount of time I spend browsing the site. Holy cow wow I love browsing the site. It’s a slice, nay, a snapshot of humanity, in all it’s disgusting hypersexuality and materialism.

Every section has it's own quirks and humor. The job section can be overwhelming because there are so many different types of jobs in so many places. There are 31 different categories of jobs on CraigsList, not including a section just for part-time work. And I love that they included an et-cetera section, just in case a job listing doesn’t fit into any of the others. I can imagine someone asking, “So, what line uh work you in?” and I’d reply, “et-cetera.”

Basically, every single job listing is written in a way that makes that position sound absolutely wonderful. Like this one, under the vague heading Project Manager.

A fast growing wholesale business is looking for the right individual to make a huge impact and to help lead the company in growth. Specific responsibilities are: strategic sourcing and vendor relations, accurate fulfilling of custom orders and managing all operations. Other job duties could include margin analysis and pricing and special projects.

Grow with the company. Sounds so loving and collaborative. Also, these ads never tell you how hard the job will be. Sure, they list job responsibilities, but they always sound so simple and easy. Strategic sourcing? Great, combines two of my favorite activities. Vendor relations? Sure, whenever I see the guy refilling the coke machine, I say hello and ask him for a free coke. Managing all operations? Well how hard can that be?

The ad continues to the qualifications section.
Must have a strong project management background with excellent organization skills. Must love details, analysis, decision making and getting things done. Must have strong software skills and be a quick learner in all Microsoft products.

If they’re looking for someone who LOVES details, analysis, decision making and getting things done, they might as well just build a robot. Seriously, some poor sap who needs this job is going to walk in there babbling on and on about how he’s loved details and analysis since he was a little kid. Can you even imagine the kind of environment that values those lame characteristics so ridiculously high? The employees probably cut loose after work by rigidly cleaning their cubicles.

Oh right, World Series. I think the Rangers are really good at getting things done, even though San Fransisco manager Bruce Bochy is excellent at strategic sourcing and managing all operations. Cliff Lee loves details, analysis and decision making, so he'll definitely shut down the Giants offense.

Rangers in 6.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Nothing Really Matress - Fire Gardenhire?

Well, that was disappointing. It wasn't crushing, though. At least the Twins had the dignity to get dominated, rather than suffering heartbreaking late-inning losses. The home team also primed their fans for disappointment by losing a load of games at the end of the season, wiping out any momentum and fan excitement. Now it's time for fans to figure out what went wrong and then turn those quick solutions into hashtags. Let's see how deeply pointless we can get.

Some fans are blaming only The Magical Walrus for the pathetic postseason record. Others are saying that it's not his fault. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

A manager has two basic jobs. The first is game management - drawing lineups, managing the bullpen and making tactical moves. These decisions don't matter much unless the game is close, and they're usually not tough to make if the team is good. The second isn't really measurable or noticeable, so the stat people don't talk about it - leading. Managing all the personalities and motivations of 25 players isn't easy, especially over the course of 162 games in six months.

Did Gardy make so many tactical mistakes that it cost the Twins the series? I don't think so. Did he not get his players to play? It's up for debate, but basically impossible to know. Yet I strongly doubt that he needs to tell these guys how to win. These guys have all been there before.

But if you want Gardenhire gone, then you should also cast away Jason Kubel and everyone else who has been sub-par in the playoffs. (nearly everyone)

If you wanted to really solve the Twins postseason failures, from an organizational perspective, you should look at what wins games in October that might be different from winning a division. (power bullpen, ace pitcher, power and speed.) Those are problems worth discussing. The managerial situation is not.

Indeed, it was pointless for me to write this, and pointless for you to read it. Because the bottom line is this: Ron Gardenhire isn't going anywhere.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

2010 Playoffs - High Fashion

There are a lot of emotions heading into the Twins - Yankee division series. These feelings of fear, pride and hope can't be put into words, but they can be expressed with the help of The Family.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The 20 greatest Twins Sports Illustrated Covers

20. 3/17/03 - I didn't care to read Frank DeFord's article on Kirby Puckett. All I know is that the cover made me extremely sad, and the piece pissed off the Twins so much that no players or executives would ever talk to DeFord again. You can read a really good critique of the article here.
19. 7/5/82 - The Twins were certainly awful their first year in the dome, losing 102 games. But Hrbek was the face of that great bunch of rookies (Gaetti, Brunansky, Viola) who would become the nucleus of the '87 championship team. And you gotta love that red batting helmet.
18. 7/18/77 - A hokey shot of Ted Williams with Rod Carew. I guess it would have become a legendary cover if Carew had hit .400 that year, but he finished at .388. This is a dumb cover because all of Ted Williams' attempts at analyzing hitting turned out to be stupid, wrong and ego-driven. I hope Rodney completely ignored him.

Carew also graced the cover of TIME magazine that summer, which probably has stood the test of time much better than this.
17. 6/29/09 -Tom Verducci is a hack. Can't a national sportswriter find a Joe Mauer angle that doesn't include tired Minnesota cliches? Surely Mauer is interesting enough to find something else. Wait, what?
16. 7/29/69 - Billy Martin doesn't look particularly fiery in this picture. But that attitude would end his only year managing the Twins after he punched out his own player, Dave Boswell. The Twins would win the AL West that year, but were swept by the Orioles in the first ever ALCS.
15. 10/4/65 - I guess this is their attempt at being artsy. That's AL MVP Zoilo Versalles. Or his hands, anyway.
14. 4/10/78 -  Rod Carew and George Foster. Photographer: "alright, give my the good baseball player bad baseball player routine." Carew: "can I be the good one?"
13. 10/19/87 - Twin killing. Gagne turning a double play. I get it. Major League copied this headline when the fictitious Indians went on their amazing winning streak in montage form.
12.  5/15/61 - The Twin Cities are officially Big Time. Well, sorta. Manager Cookie Lavagetto looks like he's just taking a break from painting his house. Which he had plenty of time to do later that summer, because he was fired just five weeks after this issue hit the newsstands.
11. 7/1/74 - When this photo was snapped, Rod was on his way to the third of four consecutive batting titles. How did he do it? Until this cover, no one knew.
10. 8/7/06 - Did he win American Idol that year? I didn't watch the show, so I can't say for sure.
9. 8/23/65 - Going into the 1965 season, the Yankees had won the AL pennant 14 of the past 16 seasons. (!!!!) This cover helped tell the world that the dynasty was over.
8. 4/6/92 - This is a cheesy shot, but it's a sentimental favorite. This picture was also used on his '93 Topps.  It's too bad Mickey Hatcher and his giant glove were long gone by then. They could have had some fun.
7. 10/21/91 - This was the start of three straight weeks of Twins covers. Brilliant headline here, twisting the title of a David Lynch TV series, and sealing the deal with the "American League Pinnacle" line.
6. 11/4/91 - This isn't as great a shot as the 1987 championship pile, but I like how they let the picture speak for itself by not including a pointless headline. I can't imagine SI doing something so minimalistic nowadays.

Fun fact - almost no issues of this magazine exist in Minnesota, because they were destroyed in The Perfect Storm/ halloween blizzard.
5. 10/28/91 - Ohhh Danny Gladden. That's a classic shot, although I think this one is better.
4. 10/26/87 - The Twins were on the cover for three straight weeks in '87 as well. I love it. In 2010, I can't imagine baseball going for three weeks straight during football season. (cover #13 was came first, then Gladden, then...
3. 10/2/87 - The Champs! That's a good photograph. You feel like you're right in the middle of the pile. Kent Hrbek is under there somewhere. A lesser man would have been crushed.
2. 4/30/01 - This is my favorite because I remember buying it and staring at it in pure amazement. Of course, the Twins could only hold on for about four more months, but the foundation was laid.
1. 9/27/10 - I don't need to tell you why this cover is great, but I will anyway. The Minneapolis skyline, the blue sky, the great Thome swing while wearing that throwback. The Garrison Keillor reference. The stadium. And it's a fantastic article written by a fantastic writer (and the inspiration for this piece). Of course, this cover will look even better if Thome indeed brings October magic to Minnesota.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Craig Finn Does It Again

This song kicks a whole bunch of ass. Craig Finn, leader of The Hold Steady and a Minneapolis native, recorded this song with something called The Baseball Project. I'm not sure what that is, but I know they rock. The song is entitled "Don't Call Them Twinkies," and sounds like an upbeat, rocking Hold Steady song. But the lyrics are the pure genius, and speak of a true Twins fan experience. (see the rough transcription at the bottom of this page)

You may remember The Hold Steady from their so-so Twins-themed cover of Take Me Out To The Ballgame. Craig Finn is a lifetime Twins fan - he even has a 20-game package to Target Field, although I haven't spotted him there yet.

This also could spell the demise of the nickname "Twinkies." There has been a small underground campaign against the term for quite some time, but I doubt if the general population knows about that backlash. This should create a whole legion of annoying fans, eager to correct someone when they say,"Twinkies."

Here's what Finn says about the song:

I wrote the lyrics quickly on tour about a year ago, and then over the next few months played with a few lines that bugged me over time. My intentions were twofold: I wanted to remind people of the proud history of my team, but also to try to capture the language that real sports fans have when boasting or arguing about their teams. I love living in NYC but I really don't like Yankee fans and the way their team outspends everyone and calls it part of baseball. I had to bring up the fact that the Twins win at baseball in a more admirable way than teams like the Yankees. I had to bring up the awfulness that was the Braves fans' Tomahawk Chop in the 1991 World Series. I had to bring up Ron Gant, and his infamous brush with Kent Hrbek at first base.
I recorded the vocals this summer at Wild Arctic Studio in Brooklyn with Dean Baltulonis, who knows just about nothing about baseball. I ended up having to explain all the references to him, and when he heard about the Ron Gant play, he suggested we do a harmony on that line, just to make it stick out. I liked that idea.
Since collaborating on the song with The Baseball Project I've gone to the new stadium a few times. Downtown Minneapolis is so alive, the bars are bustling, and the Twins are winning. It's a great summer, and hopefully this song is some way of giving back some of the joy that the Twins have given to me.

Anyway, here's a link to the streaming audio at The Current.

Please Don't Call Them Twinkies


In 1965, I wasn't quite alive yet
But I'm told they gave the MVP to Zoilo Versalles
Oliva hit the singles and Harmon hit the homers
Mudcat Grant won twenty games and we didn't play in a dome yet
The Dodgers came to Bloomington to play for the World Series
The Twins took the first two, you can even ask Vin Scully
but Sandy Koufax proved to be a bit too much to crack
and the Twins went down in seven but they vowed that they'd be back

From Nicollet to Hennepin, from St. Paul to St. Cloud
The Minnesota Twins are making Minnesotans proud
and we don't buy our titles, so there's summers where we stink
But these are grown men, these are heroes
So please don't call them 'twinkies'

In the fall of '87 I was pretty much in heaven
I got my license and a girlfriend, the Twins had won the pennant
I prayed more in the dome than I ever did in church
Kirby Puckett had the smile, Kent Hrbek has the smirk
First we tamed the Tigers then we were dealt the Cards
And they came to the Twin Cities tried to make sense of our park
It was loud and it was close, and it went to seven games
But the Twins took home the title and that Sweet Music played

Edina to Duluth, from the south side of downtown
Minnesota Twins are making Minnesotans proud
so hear us make some noise, c'mon wave those Homer Hankies
These are grown men, these are heroes
please don't call them 'twinkies'

in 1991 the Twins were once again on top
we faced Atlanta in the series, and they thought that they were hot
And I ain't seen somethin' so lame as that Fonda-hawk Chop
But we were up against the ropes when Kirby called his shot
And as he ran around the bases, smilin', pumpin fist
We all knew that he had won it, and it was only just game six
And the next night Jack Morris came and made his hometown proud
You should watch it in slow motion:
Ron Gant was clearly out.

From Mankato up to Brainerd, from Burnsville to Bemidji
Now we're playing outdoor baseball and that's the way it should be
Raise a toast to Kirby Puckett, raise another to Tom Kelly
They're the Minnesota Twins
So let's not call 'em 'twinkies'

We got Justin, we got Joe, that's enough reason to party
We don't buy our titles but we still won two World Series
So grab yourself a 3.2 beer and raise a toast to Gardy
They're the Minnesota Twins
So please don't call them 'twinkies'

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Homer Hanky History

 Everyone knows the two famous Homer Hankies, the ones that directly contributed to the World Series Championships of 1987 and 1991.

These are the classic Homer Hankies. The font and simple slogans were great. They were perfect for their time and place - they just fit right in there.

The next Homer Hanky came in 1997:

As you can tell, these Homer Hankies really aren't technically Homer Hankies, as I believe the Star Tribune owns the rights to that name. But that didn't stop the Twins marketing machine from calling them Homer Hankies and giving them away to fans during the 10th Anniversary celebration of the '87 championship.

The next "Homer Hanky" came in, you guessed it, 2001.

This atrocity is more like a golf towel than a hanky, but whatever. This was given away at the 10th anniversary celebration of the '91 championship.

Then the winning Twins came back, and started making the playoffs again. The return of the genuine Homer Hanky was a much anticipated event in the Twin Cities.

This Homer Hanky is just okay. It has the classic look of the red baseball, but the block lettering is ugly. And the slogan "PROUD AND LOUD" is being overly loud and proud of the loud, to the point of football fan-esque conceit.

The 2003 Homer Hanky strayed from it's roots noticeably, but it's not so bad. The blue is actually kinda badass. .

The 2004 Homer Hanky is really pretty cool. I'm not sure if they got the dimensions correct of the field at the Dome, but it's an original idea and still incorporates the old school feel, what with the horizontal red lines and everything. The block lettering is still ugly though; almost as ugly as Jason Kubel's at-bat against Mariano Rivera in Yankee stadium that October.

Somehow, the Twins made it back into the playoffs again in 2006. A classy, circular design was incorporated. I dig it.

The Twins and the Star Tribune pulled out all the stops as they commemorated the 20th anniversary of the '87 championship. The bi-colored, fancy logo and return to that classic serif typeface make this Hanky really stand out. It was given away to the first 40,000 fans on Saturday, August 18th 2007.

This is the 2008 Homer Hanky, which was never available to the public because the Twins lost to the White Sox in the AL Central Tie-Breaker game. They simply reused the already printed hankies for the 2009 Homer Hanky. Going green = jinx.

Here's the ugly 2010 Target Field opener souvenir Homer Hanky. They just took the inaugural TF logo, slapped come non-congruent banners above and below it, then added more corporate logos. This barely counts as a Homer Hanky.

The 2010 Homer Hanky is, again, without a year, but is otherwise a nice simple design. This marks the first postseason Hanky printed with two colors.

The 2014 All-Star Game came to Minneapolis and the Twins naturally slapped a logo on some cloth and called it an official Homer Hanky. The horizontal lines up top are nice, otherwise it's very Target giveaway. If you're keeping score at home, we now have eight hankies for playoff years and five for other.

The super obscure Homer Hankies are only myths, really.

Just look at that thing. It boggles the mind. Apparently, it was printed at the beginning of the 1988 season. The slogan is pretty damn funny, and it turned out to be ironically prophetic. The Twins were actually better in '88 than '87, winning 91 games, but they failed to make the playoffs. Fuck you, Oakland.

And there is a rumor that the Twins printed a Homer Hanky at the beginning of the '92 season, but I can't find a picture of that one. If you have one, let me know. I can only imagine what the slogan was.

Further reading: The story of the first Homer Hanky.

note: this post appeared in original form on September 4th, 2007. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Weekend Blog Notes Post

Updated AL standings: (Tuesday morning)

Yankees         91-59
Twins             90-60        1     
Rays               89-60       1.5
Rangers          83-66      a bunch

If it were 1968, the Twins would be in the middle of a massive pennant race, just a half game from the World Series. The game is certainly slower, with lower stakes now, yes?

I suspect Gardenhire will give some guys a break and start setting the playoff rotation. Which is fine, because the Twins will host the first round of the playoffs no matter what. But it's natural to go for the number one spot after dispensing of the White Sox.


The magic number is eight. Here's the obligatory sentence explaining what the previous sentence means: any combination of eight Twins wins or White Sox losses and the division is officially wrapped up. So, the earliest the Twins can clinch is Monday, but that would only come if the Twins won their next four games and the White Sox lost their next four.

Division clinch night could be a long one, since the White Sox head to the west coast on Monday, meaning their games won't be over until about two hours after the Twins are done. Here's the best case scenario: Twins win their next four in a row, White Sox win one over the weekend, but lose Monday night, whittling the magic number to 1 going into the Tuesday game. Twins win. Take a lap. That's that. Although it would be neat to celebrate at home during the daytime on Wednesday afternoon.

But don't be surprised if they clinch in Detroit next weekend.

White Sox - Lovable Losers?

There was an interesting take in the Chicago Sun-Times today by something called a Rick Morrissey. He basically says he'll take the chaotic, unpredictable ride that the White Sox provide over the Twins steady winning ways. The author clearly has a huge home-town bias, but it's a natural blow back to all the, Twins do it the right way garbage that people in Chicago hear all the time garbage. (including from their own manager.) I think the whole column is a bunch of crap.

I'll ask all you admirers of the ''Twins Way'' which you would prefer: A franchise that year after year does things by the book or a franchise with a feuding general manager and manager that has the 2005 World Series title in its possession?
Well, maybe he has a point.

Brent Lillibridge - Lovable loser with a great sense of humor? (This is the last time we'll have to mention the White Sox this season)
Light-hitting White Sox infielder Brent Lillibridge got some press earlier this week for tweeting about his midnight date with a video game store. Yep, he stood in line late Monday night for the release of the new Halo game, which reminded many Twins fans of Lew Ford (although he was an old-school nerd.)

The part that I find funny about the whole thing is Brent's lame Twitter bio.  
Play for the Chicago White Sox. Have a great sense of humor. Have a great wife, come join me on the magic carpet ride.
Who says, "I have a great sense of humor."? Is this eHarmony? He must laugh at all his own jokes.

Or maybe he's just trying to be funny?

Fanatic Jack - free to be you and me

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a short poem about Twins curmudgeon, Fanatic Jack.It was meant to be a playful jab, but Jack apparently took it hard. After he mentioned the ode on his podcast (14 minutes in), he announced he was done with Twitter. Which is truly a shame, because I really did enjoy his opinions. The Twins blogosphere is rich with differing thought and opinion, and that's what makes it great. If everyone felt the same way and had the same things to say about the Twins, the internet fan experience would be very boring. To borrow a phrase from Savoy Brown - wouldn't it be a real shame if we were all the same?
Have a good weekend, dudes.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Twins Wreck White Sox

Frank did fine, but seemed to throw wild after he got a bit frazzled.

Last nights MVP:

Jesse Crain struck out Paul Konerko and Manny Ramirez with the bases to preserve a one run lead. Great Job.

He was the Crainwreck earlier this season, and was almost released. Then he became the Crain Train. How is this possible? Asian titanium ion balancing necklaces? Braided hemp necklaces? Buca shell anklet? Something non-jewelry related?

How did he get that nickname, anyway? Crain-Train.  It's genius. Perhaps a scout said his fastball looked like an Amtrak. Or maybe his father worked for Canadian-Pacific, and he called young Jesse, My Little Engineer. Probably something even more witty and cool. But the long, complicated story behind it will probably remain unknown to the general public. Forever.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gopher Football Free Verse

South Dakota??
South Dakota..
South Dakota!!
Brewster "feels your pain",
After another perplexing performance.
And now he must go.

Student sections half empty.
Weber whines pessimistic.
"Unacceptable" results.
Please go away soon.

Where is Mason?
Free, untethered to new heights.
Where is Brewster?
Rock bottom, out of sight.

The pass drops from the receivers palm
Flies away, away. away. 
bouncing from the campus.
Brewster should go along.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The part where I jinx the Twins by talking about the playoffs

The Twins start a three-game series on the south side tomorrow night. It's nice to know that we're no longer looking at the central standings, but compiling some standings of our own:

Yankees        88-57       - -
Rays             87-57    .5 GB
Twins            86-58     1.5 GB

Those are the best records in the American League. The playoff picture is pretty darn clear, especially compared with the NL, but there are still some interesting things to look for in September. ITSET (if the season ended today) the Yankees (best record) would face the Rangers (worst record) while the Twins would host the Rays. Starting the playoffs at Target Field? Great. We're not greedy - we're Minnesotans.

But heck, one look at the standings will tell you that the Twins have a real shot at locking up home field for both the ALDS and ALCS. Not only would it be nice to have a bunch of games at TF, but it would really change the way the fans, media and players view the Twins. If they pulled it off, they would probably have the most wins in all of baseball. Now, grabbing one more win than the Yankees in the regular season won't convince everyone that the Twins are a better and World Series bound team, but it might change a few minds in the clubhouse.

Or I'm just looking for some sort of reason to believe the Twins can beat the Yankees in the playoffs. Last year, I convinced myself that they had a better shot than ever because of the way they streaked into the postseason. Of course, they streaked right back out.

Unless the Rays win the east, the Twins wouldn't have to face the Yankees until the ALCS (assuming they beat the Rangers, who just swept them in Texas.) So here are my two questions:

1. If you had to face the Yankees in the playoffs, would you rather face them in a 7-game or a 5-game series? It stands to reason that the better team will win over a longer period of time, and the underdog has a better chance taking a short series. However, this hasn't exactly worked for the Twins in the past. (If the Rays won the east with the best record in the AL, the wild card Yankees would have to travel to Minnesota.)

2. Would winning the championship without defeating New York be as satisfying? Would you rather lose in the World Series after beating the Yankees in the ALCS? Or would you rather win it all but miss the Yankees?

Friday, August 27, 2010

An Ode @FanaticJack

Here it is late August, and the Twins sit in first place
They've played so well, there may not even be a race.
By most standard metrics, they are on the right track
but one fan begs to differ, his name's Fanatic Jack

It's hard to understand why Jack's opinions have become
so negative that he calls each player a bum
To the frontier of pessimism, and never looking back
A maniac on a computer: that's Fanatic Jack.

He only tweets while the Twins are losing the game
come down with schadenfreude, and a need to assign blame.
but regardless of motivations, he just has a knack
to push peoples buttons; indeed he's Fanatic Jack.

Do you remember Randy Quaid in Major League Two?
He's just like that, with a more extreme point of view
As he sits on his computer writing another attack
He smiles to himself and says, "I'm Fanatic Jack."

If life is about happiness and spreading it around
Then Jack is what he calls Gardenhire: A clown
I'd hit unfollow, but I just can't do that,
Cuz it's too fascinating to read Fanatic Jack

Friday, August 20, 2010

You Can't Write Good Songs Because You're Over the Hill

Tupac was shot dead at age 25. Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Holly and Jim Morrison all died when they were just 27. By the time The Beatles hit 30, they were disbanded. Like baseball players, it seems musicians and song writers have usually peaked when they enter their 30's.

The below list is the top ten songs of all time, according to a Rolling Stone story done in 2004 which polled 172 musicians, critics, and music-industry figures. I've added the ages of the artists when they wrote each song.

Like a Rolling Stone - Bob Dylan - 24 years old
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - Rolling Stones (Jagger/Richards) - 21 years old
Imagine - John Lennon - 30 years old
What's Goin On - Marvin Gaye - 32 years old
Respect - Otis Redding - 24 years old (made famous by Aretha Franklin when she was 25)
Good Vibrations - The Beach Boys - Brian Wilson - 24 years old
Johnny B. Goode - Chuck Berry - 29 years old
Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana - Kurt Cobain - 24 years old
What'd I Say - Ray Charles - 28 years old

Obviously, this is a small sample size and the ten songs are pretty arbitrary, (Nirvana?) but it supports my argument. The average age of the songwriter on this list is just 23.6 years old. To put it another way, the average age of the songwriter on this list is just 23.6 years old. To me, that's wild and crazy, kids. Can you think of another career you can master at that age? Exotic dancing? Track and field? That's all I can think of.

It's hard to understand why no one makes relevant music past their 20's. Anyone who does has probably already broken through and will never make another record or song as good as the one that made them famous. Bob Dylan has had a wonderful and long career, and made plenty of great albums past the age of 30. (Desire, Blood on the Tracks, Infidels, Time Out of Mind.) But in the three year period from 1963 to his 25th birthday in 1966, Dylan released six great albums (some better than others - Freewheelin', Times They Are a-Changin', Another Side, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde.)

It's fair to say that teenagers and 20-somethings drive the music industry, so it's understandable that no artists in their 30's ever really break into the charts. Now that I'm 27, it's funny to listen to a 25-year-old Prince sing When Doves Cry or a 26-year-old Slash play the opening chords of Night Train. So when you're in your 20's, climbing the ladder of your industry, feeling like a kid, just remember that most famous musicians had mastered their craft and were living an unbelievable lifestyle at that very age.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I now understand what went through Mel Gibson's mind when he had a roflmao moment on the phone with his Ex. Watching Moon Shot give up hits where you can see tails of flames coming off the ball makes me say horrible things about women.

Jim Thome, you make me happy.

Orlando Hudson, you are my current favorite Twin.

John Rauch, DFA, anyone?

Kubel, fifty f*cking bombs.

Wow guys, this blog is dead. We need to throw in a new character like ailing sitcoms do. Is that dumb chick who was obsessed with Steve Urkel available?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Delmon Young makes me go crazy with happiness

What do you think Mr. Talking Badger?

He looks really uncomfortable when not hitting in his customary 7th spot.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Twins Twitter Followers Sing!

During Friday's game, a few of the @minnesotatwins twitter followers got to lead the singing of 'take me out to the ballgame'

A good time was had by all.


There's been a lack of activity around here lately. No one has felt like writing anything. Or even explaining why they don't feel like writing anything. I'm taking a step back for a bit. It's possible that I've been driven crazy over the amount of coverage of Carl Pavano's mustache.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Philadelphia Phillies Stream of Consciousness

The Twins finished up their homestand by practicing their take-out slides at second base against Ubaldo Jimenez and the Rockies, which helped them to drop to five and four on the homestand. Next, they head to Philadelphia to take on Ryan Howard and the Phillies. I don't know much about the two-time defending NL champs, but I know I like their uniforms. Do any other professional teams make such use of that burnt-maroon color? What's that color called anyway? Regardless, I think it's great. It's a trademark color, easily identified with the team. Of the top of my head, here are the only other quintessential baseball team colors in the bigs:

Marlins = teal
That's all I can think of. You could say Dodgers branded with blue and the Reds with red, but there are tons of pro teams that use those generic colors. I guess there are even a bunch that use teal. But there are none that use the Phillies shade of red/brown. See? It doesn't even have a name.

Anyway, the Phillies are 34-30 headed into the weekend, trailing Atlanta and New York. Notice that? The Twins get to play the top three teams in the NL East. Maybe the AL Central and the Twins will finally gain some respect once they turn them into mince-meat. It would be a real black eye if they failed to do so.... And they're off to a nice start after losing two of three to the Braves last weekend. Gee-whiz.

So Roy Halladay is pitching against the Twins on Saturday. Big deal. Unlike Ubaldo Jimenez or Johan Santana, the Twins have faced Halladay many times when he was with Toronto.

Note: In eleven starts against the Twins since 2001, Halladay is 8-1 with a 2.73 ERA.

Also, Nick Punto finally gets the chance to face the team that traded him away for Eric Milton. That should provide some motivation.

Prediction: Phillies take two of three as Twins field Sunday lineup including Punto, Valencia, Plouffe, Tolbert, Harris and Butera.