Friday, April 30, 2010

Pavano and his wacky theories - every team has one.

Twins pitcher Carl Pavano threw a gem yesterday, giving up just two runs over eight innings. Unfortunately, Gardenhire's trotted out his JV lineup and the Twins lost, accomplishing a bunch of firsts a long the way:

first back-to-back losses
first complete game by starting pitcher
first unearned run (thought Butera was supposed to be good defensively)
first series loss
first shutout

Pavano's effort was even more heroic considering the pain in the neck he had to withstand. After the game, the pitcher theorized on his aggravated neck, saying, "it might have been the pillows that threw me off or it might have been that throwing a baseball is the most unnatural movement in the human body. That might have something to do with it, too."

Okay Carl. I appreciate your hard work and your good pitching, but hold the phone.

Isn't the notion that throwing a baseball is "the most unnatural movement" a bit self-serving? It sounds like an excuse, especially considering his history of injuries. He probably just convinced himself that human beings weren't meant to throw things while sitting around the trainers room. And then there's the Bloody Sock Theory, which says that pitchers enjoy feigning injury in hopes of heightening their bravery and skill (or excusing a bad performance.)

Also, I wish he'd present some sort of data with his ridiculous statement. Maybe a top ten list based on a kinesiology algorithm of unnatural movements in sports? I can think of about a million movements and motions for a human body that are more unnatural than throwing a baseball. Like pole vaulting. Or typing on a computer keyboard.

So you'll understand if this was a poor blog writing performance.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Season thus far: part 2

It's come to my attention that Alright Hamilton has featured literally no content about the play of the Twins this season.

Okay, maybe one line: appears those of us that have devalued a closer's worth have been validated. Albeit less than two weeks into the season, Jon Rauch has been just fine.
Sound analysis from Soup. Rauch actually leads all AL closers in Just Fine.

So before April ends, we're going to try to recap and analyze the on-field exploits of the Minnesota Twins.

It's been a pretty amazing April, definitely unlike any other in Twins history. The combination of a new ballpark, high expectations and Mauer-mania have propelled this spring into the stuff of legend. And that was even before they took the field and started playing great. Are there any other Aprils that can compare with this?

1961: Calvin Griffith moves his Senators to Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota. In a brilliant marketing move, he decides to rename the team, "the Bloomington Twins of Minneapolis." They played their first game on Minnesota soil in front of 24, 606 fans, losing to the new Washington Senators. They finished April with a 9-6 record.

1966: Coming off a seven game World Series defeat, the '66 Twins has a number of returning stars in Zoilo Versalles, Harmon Killebrew and Tony Oliva and pitchers Grant and Kaat. Expectations were high, but the Twins went just 4-6 in April and eventually lost to the emerging powerhouse known as the Orioles. Wait, they only played ten games in one month?

1985: The Twins had a young crop of talent who had surpassed expectations the season before, miraculously finishing in 2nd place. The team looked like it was on its way up. They went 11-9 in April, but couldn't keep it up and finished tied for fourth.

1993: After winning 90 games in 1992, the home team probably thought, "I hate Oakland." Alas, they took a big step backward and finished the season at 71-91.

But 1993 was great.

Remember when you first became conscious of the culture in which you lived? Everything was awesome. Nothing sucked. Heck, even Hootie was cool. I'm talking about sixth grade here. I don't think a young person realizes that there are dissenting views on stuff that was popular. If it's played on the radio, everyone likes it!

Great albums from around 1993 :

Alanis Morrisette - Jagged Little Pill
Rage Against The Machine - Rage Against The Machine
Green Day - Dookie
Weezer - Blue Album
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Jeff Buckley - Grace
The Offspring - Smash
Oasis - What's the story morning glory?
Live - Throwing Copper
Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Sublime - Sublime
Ace of Base - The Sign
Blues Traveler - Four
Adam Sandler - They're all gonna laugh at you
TLC - CrazySexyCool
The Fugees - The Score
Notorious B.I.G. - Ready to Die
Wu-tang Clan - 36 Chambers
Nas - Illmatic
Beck - Odelay

Tons of sonic memories on that list. If you compare 1993 albums to 1998, it becomes clear that the quality of music dropped dramatically. That's only five years.

Oh right, the Twins season analysis. I think they've done Just Fine.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Revolving Door at Third

Jerry Crasnick at wrote an interesting piece about the lack of consistency that teams have at certain positions. He cites the A's Travis Buck as a particularly extreme example, as last week he became the eleventh different opening day left-fielder in eleven years.

Crasnick didn't mention the home team, but they've had some notable inconsistency with personnel too. Check out this awesome chart that lists all the Twins opening day starters through the years.

There's been some turnover, to be sure. But third base is what most Twins fans should think when they hear the phrase 'revolving door.' (besides some nightmares of the Metrodome.)

2002: Corey Koskie
2003: Michael Cuddyer
2004: Corey Koskie
2005: Michael Cuddyer
2006: Tony Batista
2007: Nick Punto
2008: Mike Lamb
2009: Joe Crede
2010: Nick Punto

I get dizzier than Corey Koskie when I look at that list. Of course, the opening day starter is terribly misleading because most of those guys only made it a few months there. Closer look? Well, okay.

Michael Cuddyer: Only played seven games at third in 2003, before taking over right field. He must have shown something, because Gardenhire turned to him when Corey Koskie left for Toronto before the 2005 season. Cuddyer played 95 games there, hitting .263 with 12 home runs and 43 RBI. The company line was that he couldn't produce offensively while worrying about balls banging off his face at the hot corner. I didn't realize this, but Cuddyer was very Nick Punto-esque until 2006. In 2004, he played 48 games at second base. Why don't I remember this? He also played 43 at third and ten at first base, while only 15 in the outfield. All while hitting just .263/45/12. If the internet existed back then, I'm sure someone would have started a Free Mike Cuddyer movement. Once he finally settled into right field at age 26 in 2006, he hit .284/109/24.

Although the best move for him might have been the one that put him between two leftys: the MVP and the batting champ.

Tony Batista: Remember when the Twins were small market? That was funny. On a team that had Johan Santana, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter at peak performance, the front office patched the hole at third with this guy. What did we think when we saw this headline?

Twins grab 32-year-old Tony B. from Japanese league to start at third

I actually miss the days of low expectations and blind optimism. I'm sure I thought he'd be a decent player. At any rate, he hit five bombs in 50 games before being released in early June, at which point Nick Punto took over and the Twins ceased to lose.

Nick Punto: had an awful year in 2007. For which many fans will never forgive him. The 2007 season sucked in general. So they decided to bring on...

Mike Lamb: was a decent player, but not for the 2008 Twins. If he had signed a one year deal instead of two, he probably would have been released much earlier than September.

Joe Crede: I won't call this signing a bust, because the Twins knew they were signing an injury-prone, on-base handicapped player. But it must have been killing them when they realized, in mid-September, they were paying two third baseman to workout in Florida.


Suggesting that someone switch positions is one of the most comically silly things that rubes bring up on a regular basis. Someone, somewhere, right now, is telling his buddy that Joe Mauer should switch to first base and they should trade Morneau. Or someone else is asking is Wilson Ramos can play second.

But I'll say this: I wish Michael Cuddyer's move to third base would have worked out.

Sorta Related posts

Cuddyer Apology

Who is Danny Valencia?

Opposite Day

Monday, April 26, 2010

Riding your bicycle to Target Field

In an interview with Twins president Dave St. Peter, he was asked if there were any surprises during the ballpark's opening home stand. His reply:

The number of people riding a bike to baseball games. We were at 460 bikes for a game. We have to lead the league in people biking to baseball games. We might be able to get to 1,000 bikes at some point. That's just stunning to me. It's an example of people loving to bike in this community. We have to add more bike racks, which we'll be working on in weeks to come.
I think that's pretty neat. I rode my bike to all three games so far. It's great that the Twins are promoting this.

There are only a few issues/questions I have about biking down to the ballpark:

1. It's a clusterfuck by the lightrail station.

They use the northwest corner of the promenade as a loading area to light rail passengers. Everyone seems confused as they pour out of gate 6 toward the rail platform, only to be turned to the end of the line back toward gate 14. It's a mess, but there's not really a better way to do it. I never take the LRT, so I wouldn't care except that I need to get my bike from the promenade to westbound 5th street. And it's a clusterfuck. I've started to just lock my bike by the Ford Center instead of wade through that muck.

2. They need to finish that Cedar Lake trail.

They had planned to connect the beautiful bike trail from Uptown and the lakes all the way to the Mississippi river, with a stop at the new ballpark. Unfortunately, the path curls away from TF at the last instant, shooting you out near Lee's Liquor Lounge. It looks like they're working on it, but who knows?

3. Having a few beverages and biking home.

Alright Hamilton associates BizMarkie, Daymonster and Bagman all claim you can receive a citation for Biking While Under the Influence. I say bullshit. I contacted my old business partner Luke, who has worked in DUI court and is a mere months from taking the bar exam. He said, "bullshit."

Let's argue it out in the comments. And vote in the upper right-hand corner of this page.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Weekend Calendar - April 23rd - 25th

This is a new weekly feature only on Alright Hamilton called "Weekend Calendar," which tells you all about what's happening in Minneapolis this weekend.


Twins @ Kansas City 7:10pm


Twins @ Kansas City 6:10pm


Twins @ Kansas City 1:10pm

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Where's Waldo? On the outside looking in

He was nicknamed "Waldo" by Bert Blyleven's wife because he was always in the crowd. For years, he was one of the most dedicated and visible Twins fans. From his perch in centerfield, Waldo would snare home runs and welcome Torii Hunter back to his position at the top of each inning. And the players seemed to like him; Joe Mauer gave him a personalized autographed bat after the 2006 season, Johan Santana presented his last pair of cleats he ever wore as a Twin. He was even featured in a Twins commercial as the fan in the first television ad for the Every Fan Counts campaign. Near the end of Torii Hunter's tenure, he said of Waldo, "I know he's my biggest fan," Hunter said. "I think he's one of the guys I'm going to miss most because he comes to every game."

Indeed, he had been to every game in the Metrodome since early 2004.

So why hasn't Waldo seen a Twins game at Target Field?

The trouble started last September when his Bloomington house was burglarized. Among the stolen items were his tickets to the remaining six games and his trademark white Twins batting helmet. He called his season ticket rep to explain what happened, but they couldn't comp him tickets or even allow him to sit in his regular seat. He bought tickets to the final games, but security guards followed him around the stadium after they kicked him out of his seat. He was expecting some compassion from the Twins organization after he supported them for years.

This wasn't the only time the Twins brass looked down on Waldo. He says that whenever an incident occurred in centerfield, a fight, a drunk, a beach ball, security would approach him. He says that security didn't like how many autographs he would get after the games, even though others around him would get ten at a time, clearly to re-sell. He said some fans don't like him because he pops beach balls and won't give balls to kids, even though he'd hand any youngster in the area a baseball.
So after he gave so much of his money and got so little respect in return, Waldo has decided to take a break from the Twins. He attended the Gophers game at Target Field, but hasn't been inside to see the home team play. Of course, he can't just stay at home. Instead, he bikes up from Bloomington every day to his new perch: just beyond the fence of Gate 34. He talks with fellow fans about baseball, respectfully declines ticket offers, and plots his return to the spotlight:

He's going to catch the first home run ball that makes it to the plaza.

GB Leighton makes Twins fans blush in embarrassment

Have you seen this? The Twins have inexplicably allowed their good name to be put to music. Awful music. It looks like their television partner, FSNorth, needed some rousing tune they could play before the game and during advertisements. They probably thought they wanted something raw, original, and exciting. So where did they go to find this next great sports rock anthem?

The suburbs. Not the band, the place. FSNorth are a bunch of suits looking to make a buck off some music, so why would they investigate the seedy underbelly of the Minneapolis music scene to find something actually good? Instead, they turned to GB Leighton, whose most famous tune is 651-488-8888 (Pizza Hut Delivery Is Really Great.) With a hit single like that with amazingly wide airplay, this seemed like a sure thing.

The suits must have been ecstatic when they first read these lyrics, which GB probably wrote while shopping at the Galleria in Edina.

We got baseball outside
Minnesota Pride
Target Field bring on the heat
Twins are the team to beat

Duluth, St. Paul, Rochester, Minneapolis
Are you ready? Get Ready.

This is where we start the World Series story
this is Twins Territory

Bring on Mauer and Morneau
the fans are ready to go
Dick and Bert on every call
they're gonna circle em all
Brainerd, St Cloud, Winona, hey Dakotas

Are you ready? Get ready.
This is now our time to shine in the glory
Fox Sports is Twins Territory

This is how we start the World Series story
This is Twins Territory

As Bert Blyleven would say, that's a Grammy-type tune. It's Very Serious.

[Watch the music video HERE ]

If the Twins win the World Series this year, I know I'll be telling the story to my kids someday. And how will I start that story? By explaining that GB Leighton kicked it off by singing a very clutch and inspiring tune at the beginning of the season.

But whatayagonnado? It seems like no one can write a song for a professional sports team and get away with it (besides The Hold Steady). Prince's fight song for the Vikings was decidedly awful, but at least it wasn't completely bland and cliche. I would take that over "Twins Territory."

Amazingly, this song falls somewhere in the middle of pro sports songs. Because nothing will ever be as bad as this:

Agree with our anti- GB Leighton stance? Join this Facebook group!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Road Trip: Cardinals vs. Mets Marathon

[editors note - I'm sitting in the Waterloo airport and haven't slept much. This is a sloppy article, at best. I'm just typing out a story. There isn't much coverage of baseball in it. It's probably not funny at all if you don't know us. And not much funnier if you do]

A couple weeks ago, I received a call from Alright Hamilton contributor Waters from Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, where he was just finishing up his Army training. After a long discussion about the merits of St. Louis (blight, breweries, baseball), I agreed to meet him there with some buddies to celebrate his release back into the wild.

Our plan was to meet at the St. Louis airport on Friday afternoon and attend the 3:10 Mets-Cardinals game at Busch Stadium the following day. But the night before we were supposed to leave for Missouri, Waters called us and explained that he was on military orders to board his flight to Minneapolis. If he ditched out to hang out with his lame civilian buddies, he'd be considered AWOL. This was not good. Our whole reason for the trip was to pick him up and bring him home. We'd planned our week around it and were excited. And when I called our well-connected St. Louis contact, Mark, I found out that he had produced Champions Club passes and great seats for the Cardinals game. At no cost.

So fuckit. We'd go anyway. Besides, we had nothing else to do this weekend. (aside from playing a baseball game on Sunday. They only had seven guys. Oops.) Our timetable just got a bit trickier, because Waters didn't arrive at MSP until 8pm. This would have to be a classic overnight road trip.

I don't know if it was the sight of that sweet Minnesota soil or the fact that he was three sheets to the wind (uniform on plane = free drinks, apparently) but he was awfully happy when we picked him up.

So after a visiting some friends and stopping at the bar, we were off. Our ETA for St. Chuck, MO was 7a.m. We were looking good, until a loud crack.

At 3:45am in the middle of Iowa, I was awoken by the sound of a raccoon smashing against the front of my beautiful Mazda Protege. Dane said it was the size of a golden retriever. I thought we'd escaped major calamity until noticing the temp gauge creeping up. More like sprinting up. We killed it.

Okay, I'm bored and this is long. I have to go pick up my car. The story isn't even half done yet. Let's try to boil this down so I can finish it up. Let's pretend we're all on Twitter. YAY.

4:45 am: Split up. Creepy good sam picked me and andy up, assuring us Tow Truck can't fit all 4 of us in. Bitching about how broke he is; clearly wants money. Gave him 4 bux.

6:45 am: Been sitting in waterloo IHOP for almost two hours. Dane and Waters just arrived, got AAA to finally tow car .

7:50 am: Trying to do math on hours to StL and when rental car place opens at 9. Game at 3. It's going to be close.

8:15 am: Bad news confirmed. Hole in radiator the size of a raccoon skull. Won't be ready til Monday. Smelly, crabby, sleep-deprived walking to rental place with big backpacks on and 12-pack of Nordeast.

8:30 am: Enterprise rental agent, "Sorry, we're out of cars. I can call you a cab to get you to the airport. But just so you guys know, every place requires a credit card to rent a car." We assure her we're not transients.

9:30 am: On the road again. So long Iowa. Worst state ever. Hauling ass to the game.

3:10 pm: Walking into the stadium. Straight to the Champions Club. Free food? YES. Free Booze? yes. We have traveled many miles, thru many hardships. This is our oasis. We deserve this.

5:00 pm. No one has scored. It's good to see Santana again. My instincts make me clap when he strikes a guy out. But I'm wearing a Cardinals shirt. Ooops.

7:00 pm: No one has scored. Been here for 5 hours. We're still upbeat despite no sleep. Could be the free booze.

7:30pm: No one has scored. Getting a kick out of the people in the champions club, belly up to the bar cheering at the TV. Dude, you're at the game!

8:00pm: They keep walking Pujols because the pitcher is behind him. We're sitting in the front row of left center bleachers now.

8:30pm: Really, this is just dumb. People in stands getting desperate. We're hitting the wall. It was fun pretending to be an upset Cards fan for a while, but now I'm worn out. We're leaving.

And we left in the top of the 17th. Yes, we missed Lopez pitching and we saw ZERO runs scored. I don't care. We got out moneys worth. And we'd already peaked: the best part of the trip was when that rental car lady thought we were bums.

Created with flickr slideshow.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Season thus far: Stream of Consciousness

So far, so decent.

-First, tip o' the hat to Haas, who has done a really nice job lately of updating this blog with some good material.

-I'm a little sad I didn't get around to do an over-the-top spring/opening-day post this year. But this post will certainly do.

- I fully intended to do this Target-Field-Opener post, in which I started to describe how excited I was to witness the opening of TF, but then get hilariously interrupted by friendly guest-posters. So I would be like: I'm so excited fo...wait..we have a special guest! It's my 13-year-old-imaginary-cousin, Madylyn!

Target Field is so here, you guys. I hope it likes me. It's soooooo cool . JK, you guys. I just... I dunno. Sometimes I think, "Hey, I love Target Field and I want to hang out with it!!!" Seriously, you guys, I'm just being like totally dumb, or whatever, but should I forsure love Target Field, or like L-U-V it? But I'm soooo-to-the-nervous. I mean, It's like, I totally did like 9 BAZILLION charcoal drawings of TF in my art class :P But...I dunno. The Twilight saga is like the TF of stadiums. But, whatever.

Then, of course, our old friend, Private Fitzwilliam Bingley:

Huzzah! May Target Field, in all her Majesty, be an opening to the heavens above. Let us scrape our sweet, sweet gentiles across thee abundant limestone. O' Target Field, for who am I to engorge in your plentiful fancy? I am but a man. A man who has had nothing but an insatiable desire to be part of your most bountiful field that is Target. In this same vigor, l'm going to get so drunk, you guys! I hope they serve rotgut.

And then a couple of other guest writers, but never got around to it. You get the idea.

- Whatever night it was, the crowd at the Angels game broke the record for, "The most fleece blankets worn at a single time," or whatever. This makes me mad. Yeah, I know Snuggies are America's nice little joke. Everybody is Jerry Seinfeld when the word "Snuggie" gets mentioned. "Have you seen these things?!?! I mean, come on! It's a blanket...WITH SLEEVES! I actually liked it the first time when it was called, 'Bathrobe on backwards,' amirite?!?!"

Haha, good job. What grinds my craw, however, is the mockery The Guinness Book of World Records has become. It was once a proud institution that produced a reference book of important world records. Before the late nineties it read like an almanac -- as a book of record should. Then, sometime while I was in middle school, they sold out. They went Ripley's-Believe-it-or-Not on us.

Then, of course, Guinness had the short-lived TV show, which showcased such ridiculous records as "Who can shoot milk from his or her eye the farthest?" That is not a world record. That, Guinness, is a freak show exhibition.

A while ago I linked to a very important world record about the worlds tallest dog, which is a very real and informative world record. In that same article, however, are stupid records ripe for the mocking like "Most nationalities in a single sauna."

In rant conclusion: Screw you Guinness Book of World Records and your bullshit records too.

In unrelated news, I'm still waiting to hear back from Guinness about whether or not my 2779 victories in FreeCell in a ten month period is a world record. Beat that, rest of the world.

- Sucks Joe Nathan went down. Thus far, however, it appears those of us that have devalued a closer's worth have been validated. Albeit less than two weeks into the season, Jon Rauch has been just fine.

Before this year, I have never been a huge fan of his. This is probably because I haven't paid him much attention. Saving some games for the Nationals means nothing to me. But his ability to throw quality strikes so far this season is impressive. A 91 mph fastball from an over-the-top 6'11" pitcher looks just as fast as any Joe Nathan fastball. And while Rauch doesn't have the same bevy of devastating off-speed pitches, he does have a nice twelve-to-six-curve that will compliment his fastball just fine.

My point is, that even after Nathan went down, we still have a pretty decent bullpen. Rauch will do fine (not as well, but fine) as closer. The rest of the bully will be good. In the 8th, Neshek from the right and Mijares from the left would be ideal. But, as much shit as they get, I don't have a lot of trouble pitching Matt Guerrier or Jesse Crain in important situations.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A look back at contraction

Upon hearing of Bud Selig's visit to Target Field on Monday, every Twins fan had to roll their eyes and guffaw. It wasn't so long ago that Bud Selig proposed to contract two teams from Major League Baseball, taking the total from 30 to 28. At that time, there had been no progress made on new ballpark legislation and the team hadn't been to the playoffs in ten years. When Judge Harry Crump ruled that the Twins had to honor their lease at the Metrodome for the 2002 season, Selig relented and the home team went on to win the division.

This whole modern area of winning seems to have been born out of that short brush with death. That 2002 squad certainly played with a chip on their shoulder. And the fans came back in droves, cheering harder just to spite Bud Selig.

So it's a little hard to swallow when the commissioner claims that contraction was a myth.

"History has a way of letting myths get in the way of what really happened. Never did the Pohlad family ever waver from wanting the Twins to stay here, despite a lot of difficulties."

I don't remember anyone saying this at the time, but every time the word contraction is said now, the comment is: Oh, that was just a threat to leverage a better deal with the MLB Players Union, with whom their CBA was set to expire.

I guess I'm pro-contraction, because I hope it's not true. It was great feeling persecuted and scared, but then rising above it and going to the ALCS.

If it is completely true, and there was never any chance at all of the Twins getting contracted, then it represents another awesome anti-Selig feeling separate from persecution: conspiracy. Screwing with our emotions just to win a labor battle? Wasting the court and the cities time? He thinks he's bigger than the game.

"I don't want to go back into all that; someday, if I ever write a book. The story got more than a little exaggerated."

Seriously, you come out looking terrible either way.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Minnesota's Day in the Spotlight

Sick of all the Target Field praise? Then you've come to the wrong place. Most Minnesotans seem to agree that it's a beautiful ballpark. But what if we're wrong? Is it possible that it's a terrible place that we can't objectively analyze because we're inferior? We'd better see what others are saying.

CBS: Target Field a gem Minnesota fans can treasure for generations

True story: One morning around 7:30 last summer as Target Field was still under construction, Gardenhire fed baseballs into a pitching machine aimed straight at the right-field wall. It was the Twins' very own test kitchen. General manager Bill Smith was on the field with Gardenhire observing, while St. Peter and former GM Terry Ryan were stationed in the right-field stands with gloves shagging the balls that went over the fence.
FOX: Twins hit bull's-eye with new park

Now, I’ll admit to liking the Metrodome more than most. I appreciated its quirks. I loved all the noise when the crowd smelled a comeback. Last year’s epic Game 163 had the energy and emotion of a state title game taken to the umpteenth degree.

But it was time for a change, and I was never surer of that than on Monday.

ESPN: Twins can get used to the outdoor life

Another issue is that outfielders can no longer say they lost a fly ball against the dirty Teflon roof or in the lights hanging from the ceiling. Ex-Twin Marty Cordova would have been at a complete loss, though he probably could have claimed he lost the ball in the sun. "You can use that now," center fielder Denard Span said. "You couldn't use it for 30 years here, but you can say 'I lost it in the sun' again. That's still not a good excuse, though."

New York Times: First impressions of Target Field

There are four advertisements on the outfield walls, but otherwise there’s a refreshing lack of ads. There are several spots where the Twins could have shoehorned billboards, but they did not. The resulting solid colors are visually calming. Love it.
USA Today: Twins christen Target Field with 5-2 triumph over Red Sox

"It looks like the field was just dropped in from the sky," says Frank Viola, the Twins' former Cy Young Award winner and ace of their 1987 World Series championship team. "It going to be cold some days, and there may be some rain, but am I going to miss the dome? Absolutely not.

"Minnesota in the summer is the most beautiful place in the world."
Yahoo: Twins' new playground a Minnesota state fair

No longer are the Twins content to scrape along as what commissioner Bud Selig called the “model franchise,” an allusion to their ability to do more with less. They are the smart, charming, fun teenager who just needed a new car to bring him out of his shell, and now that they’re driving a Bentley, there’s no limit to what they can achieve.


Those were pretty glowing reviews. It was definitely a strange feeling watching that game yesterday. I just can't grasp the fact that I'll be going back again and again. It's the Twins ballpark. It's in Minneapolis. Weird.

The game itself was relatively boring, despite the Twins great team and their famed opponent. I guess that's understandable considering the last three games I saw the Twins play (against the Royals, Tigers and Yankees) featured extremely high drama. No one was just soaking in the atmosphere or staring at the skyline during those games.

I was quite pleased with the music; they must have read Alright Hamilton last week. They played The Hold Steady's Constructive Summer after a run-scoring play, played The Time's Jungle Love during the 7th inning-stretch and The Trashmen's Surfin' Bird, to which a red-headed kid delighted the crowd by ROCKING OUT on the jumbotron.

Also, here's the Homer Hanky they handed out. It's also been added to the Homer Hanky Database.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A New Era

A new era. A fancy new thing. Pretty expensive, but it was worth it. That's right, I bought a new cap.

It's a New Era 5950. My old one got pretty ratty pretty fast. I bought it at TwinsFest for just ten bucks, but I haven't worn it all. It was a little small; I wear a 7 1/4th but this was 7 1/8th. Luckily, it was easy to stretch out.

Other Twins Duds:

This 2002 Division Champs hat was purchased from a thrift store last year, brand new with the tags still on. It's especially awesome because it's a wearable tribute to that 2002 squad, which was the team that created the current era of Twins greatness.

My buddy bought this for me at a thrift store for eight bucks, never worn, tags still on. When this was made, no one knew if the Twins would win that series.

And here's the answer. Jack Morris, Kirby Puckett and.. Chuck Knoblauch? Sure. Good sac bunt to get Gladden to third.

Oh and by the way, there's a baseball game at Target Field today. And this time, it counts.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Modest Proposal: Add a Roof to Target Field

As a native Minnesotan, I'm not accustomed to dealing with cold or inclimate weather. Naturally, I was a bit shocked when I realized the Twins were moving from a domed stadium to a ballpark WITHOUT a ROOF!

I'm just glad we have national sportswriters such as Tom Verducci to tell us how we badly we messed up:

And a target of critics it will be in April, May, September and, if applicable, October, when baseball will be played, when it can be at all, in miserable conditions. In this era in which sport is as much about programming as it is competition, and when stadium roof technology has been around for more than a quarter of a century, Major League Baseball should never have allowed a ballpark to be built in Minnesota without a retractable roof.

That's right. Most games will be postponed, and the rest will be played in Miserable Conditions. And it all could have been avoided by building a retractable roof. Which was was totally feasible too. All they had to do was tack on another $150 million dollars to the project. That wouldn't have been hard to do. It only took twelve years of battle at the state legislature and county commission to secure the $390 million dollars for the stadium, I'm sure it would have only taken a couple years more to ram a stadium bill through with enough money for a roof. Like Abraham Lincoln said: good things are worth waiting for.

And to those who say the tiny stadium footprint wouldn't have room for a roof, I have one word, made up of two words, for you: HOGWASH. They could have expanded the footprint. If they closed and filled the 394 freeway and then tore down the bus terminal/parking ramp, they could have probably fit the footings for the base of the retractable roof. To make room for the roof track, the could have just taken out 5th street and 7th street. See? Easy.

It would have been beautiful too. Just like Miller Park - when the roof is open, you can't even tell it's there. It doesn't hang over your head and block the sky at all. It completely disappears, allowing every seating section to soak up that glorious sunshine.

They don't have roofed stadiums in Chicago or Detroit, but their weather isn't as bad as ours. If you look at this graph, you can see how awfully cold it is in Minneapolis:

(click to enlarge)

Clearly, Detroit doesn't need a roof because their average high in April is about 58 degrees. Same with both Chicago stadiums. But compare that to Minneapolis. It's two degrees colder. In other words, IT'S TWO DEGREES COLDER!!!!!

58 degrees in Chicago? Fine. How would you describe 56 degrees in Minneapolis, Tom Verducci? "baseball will be played, when it can be at all, in miserable conditions."

And Minnesotans can't deal with miserable conditions. Normally, we don't go outside until all the snow has melted around Labor Day. We don't own jackets. We can't wait out a rain delay. And doubleheaders suck!

I don't know why they even bothered to build a stadium without a roof. Just look at it!

Yup, we should have just stayed in the Metrodome.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Music at Target Field

This is going to be a real quick, ugly and disjointed posting continuing our discussion from yesterday concerning music at Target Field. I could probably just shoot an email over to Twins audio guy Kevin Dutcher, as I did last year, but we don't need his input just yet.

I think we can all agree that God Bless America and I Saw Her Standing There are not going to cut it as post-Take Me Out To The Ballgame tunes. Additionally, Van Hagar's Right Now should be played Never Again.

Instead of those tired songs, the home team should try to incorporate a little bit more local music. Minneapolis has a rich tradition of great music, from The Trashmen to The Hold Steady and Yanni to Tail Chaser. Dutcher certainly understands this, stating in an interview, "A lot of Prince, Replacements, Husker Du. I enjoy playing local bands. I'm trying to play more current local bands: Red Pens, Solid Gold. We'll see how that goes."

As I recall, he doesn't get a ton of free choice during the game. However, before the game he can play basically whatever he wants. So if we want to influence the music choices at Target Field, we'd have to petition the upper-management.

Until then, here are some recommendations.

Prince - Let's Go Crazy (possible replacement for Van Hagar. Warning: This video will make you want to watch Purple Rain.)

Recommendations by reader Greg yesterday:

Prince - Baby I'm a Star

The Hold Steady - Constructive Summer

The Hold Steady - Party Pit

Morris Day & The Time - Cool

I like The Time selection there, but in terms of early 80's Prince side-songs, this song has no peer. I'm not sure if we've discussed it on this blog before, but please take a listen:

The Screams of Passion
by The Family.

Lastly, Howard Sinker had this note in his section 219 blog today:

Interesting thoughts in the Section 219 blog comments Wednesday about what Jon Rauch's entry music should be. So far, Woolhouse's suggestion of Drowning Pool's "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" is my fave.

I can't believe anyone would think that would be an acceptable song to play ever. Let alone blasting across a beautiful ballpark to the horror and revulsion of 40,000 people. Just because Jon Rauch has a neck tattoo does not mean everyone who watches him pitch has to listen to awful music.

I'm too disgusted to suggest better alternatives, so I'll leave that to you. Here's a hint: ANYTHING

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ballpark Traditions and Target Field

There are certain aspects of the ballpark experience that will change during our transition from the Metrodome to Target Field. Some things will certainly stay the same, like the unmistakable organ music. But other things will be a lot different; you'll have to get used to shirtless sweat monsters in the bleachers, terrible Schweigert hot dogs, and bird shit.

Let's take a look at some common stadium experience issues.

- - Twinkies. How do you feel about that Twins nickname? One only needs to look at some Twins blogs titles to find the differing opinions on the subject: One is called TwinkieTown, another is named Twins, not Twinkies. The Twins have never officially endorsed it, but maybe they would if it wasn't trademarked. Personally, I've never really used the nickname. It seems contrived, like when Gardenhire calls Brendan Harris Harry and Justin Morneau, Mourny and on down the line. Is this the only reason he's known as a players manager?

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is this: During 'Take me out to the ballgame,' do you sing,

A) For it's root, root, root for the home team.

B) For it's root, root, root for the Twinkies.

I think the overwhelming majority sings the former. And I'm fine with that. We don't need to specify our allegiance any further. We know who our home team is. Heck, it's actually more descriptive than specifying Twins or Twinkies. It's the home team. The team from our home.
- - Beach ball activity will surely increase. And because the outfield upper deck sections practically hang over the warning track, we'll see a bunch fall onto the field. Anyway, we've discussed this before, so I'll just offer these links:

- Soup's funny article from last year

- K-Bro's blog post from a couple weeks ago

- and her anti-beach ball facebook group

- - The Wave has to die. Right? RIGHT? Despite the fact that Target Field's seating bowl isn't at all wave-friendly, there were rumors that some dumb fans were trying to get it started last weekend. Next time you see this happening, boo them mercilessly. This will cause them to feel even dumber as they slink back to their seat after failing.

- - Throwing Opponents Home Run Balls Back onto the field is another hot-button issue in Twins Territory. Most of us Lake Wobegon-type Scandinavians would never throw away a perfectly good (free) baseball. And we'd especially hate to be accused of copying anything the Cubs do. Still, it sends the fun message that, "we don't even want your home run ball because we dislike you so hard." And the momentary distraction from the crushing disappointment of seeing our Twins give up a homer is certainly welcome.

- - Do we like the old music at the new ballpark? Hearing that same cheesy 80's version of Win Twins while they take the field and Beautiful Day after a win reminds me of the dome. Is that bad? I don't know, but this sure seems like a good opportunity to mix it up a bit. Howard Sinker suggested that someone update the Twins Anthem. I'll work on it.

Until then, let's try to think of a signature 7th inning song, to be played after singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame. One rule: No more Sweet Caroline. Ever.

- - Possible stupid new tradition: Raising the Twins Territory flag. I have a bad feeling that the Twins are going to take a page out of the Minnesota Wild playbook and have some big-shot do or say something extremely cheesy. (ala Let's Play Hockey!) Baseball already has the ceremonial first pitch; they really don't need more pre-game silliness. If, at the home opener, I see some so-called dignitary raise a flag and then say, "This is Twins Territory!!!" I'm just going to lose it.

- - Awesome new tradition: shaking hands after a Twins home run. Do as Minne and Paul did before you. Pretend you're at church and shake the hands of those around you. High fives are for cavemen and bro-dudes. Let's class it up a bit.

Hands, touching hands. Reaching out. Touching me, touching you. Go Twins.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Few Notes from Opening Day

Apologies for the short post today but it was a busy weekend and this week is looking just as hectic. Today was the 2010 MLB Opening Day (TM). The best day of the year. And yes, today was the real Opening Day, not that made for TV bullcrap we all watched last night. (AH! contributors, did we decide not to swear on the blog? I forgot, and the word bullcrap just doesn't look right.)

Welp, it's official. Contrary to my prediction the Twins will not go undefeated this year. It's a shame really.

What is even more of a shame is how Twins new second baseman doesn't even get a real jersey. See that? No front number on the uniform.

You know who does get a number of the front of his jersey? Yep. Joe Mauer. That guy gets everything.

Everybody was at the game last night, even Wayne Gretzky. Apparently his kid is a Twins fan. Anybody know the reason behind that. I am guessing it involves Justin Morneau somehow. Also, sweet scarf Wayne.

That's it. Good effort Twins. While Mijares got rocked, at least Neshek looked decent. I was surprised he could keep his composure after no doubt feeling down when he heard how his alma matter lost to Duke in a great game last night. Hey, at least he didn't get hit in the face with a baseball... again.

And remember... There is no smoking in the Metrodome at Target Field.

Friday, April 2, 2010

2010 Predictions Segment

In the communal spirit of Nick Punto Day, Josh Johnson organized Predictions Day. At the end of the season we can look back to who will looks the stupidest. It's a race. I'm winning.

Twins-Specific Predictions
Twins MVP: Joe Nathan, for making the Twins play hard by realizing that the game could be taken from them at any moment.
Twins Top Pitcher: Kevin Slowey
Twins Best Rookie: Drew Butera. I don't know. He's the only rookie on the roster right now?
Twins Most Improved Player: Francisco Liriano
Bold Predictions: Nick Punto will hit over .220. Jose Mijares will lose weight. The Twins will be in third place at the All-Star break. Scott Baker will give up the most home runs in the league.
A.L. Central Final Standings

White Sox
Grienke, Soria and Butler

First Home Run at Target Field: Joe Mauer.
First Twins pitcher to allow a home run: Scott Baker. Kevin Youkilis. 3:24pm CST on Monday April 12th.

Three Keys to Success for the Twins:

- Limiting Alexi Casilla and Matt Tolbert to less than 100 collective at-bats.

- Somehow overcoming the enormous detriment of playing in Target Field.

- Proving everyone wrong by retaining a successful closer by committee model all season.

A.L. Playoff Predictions: Twins over Yankees, Rays over Rangers, Twins over Rays

N.L. Playoff Predictions: Braves over Rockies, Cardinals over Phillies, Cardinals over Braves

World Series Prediction: Twins over Cardinals; Ozzie Smith doesn't do any backflips.


Alright Hamilton on MPR

I'm glad that we were there to inform the public that tickets will be harder to come by. I don't think people knew that. Spreading useful and insightful knowlege with strangers. Doing good deeds. Great, great. It's all great.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Span Hits Mother with Foul Ball, Grounded for Two Weeks

Twins beat the Yankees 4-2. No big deal. This would be impressive most of the time, but not this year. This year this team is going to win it all. You guys all heard it here first.

But more importantly... Denard Span. WORST SON EVER!!

In an ominous tweet before the game Span wrote:

Playing the Yankees today in front of my family and friends in my hometown today
In the first at bat of the game, Span took a defensive two strike swing and lined one over the third base dugout. RIGHT AT HIS MOM! Do you believe that? He hit his own mom ferchrissakes!

CC Sabathia and Yankees manager Joe Girardi both said they heard her scream. Span looked like he realized it right away as he ran over to her and made sure she was okay. It appears as if she took the ball off the upper chest.

Span took himself out of the game (after taking the next pitch for strike three) and stayed by her side while she was treated by paramedics.

Thankfully, Denard Span's mother is doing fine. According to another tweet from the Twins centerfielder she is "feeling okay right now!" Feeling "okay" doesn't exactly sound good, but I take comfort in the use of an exclamation point. Here is hoping for a speedy recovery for Wanda Wilson.