Thursday, January 29, 2009

Good Mail Day

I frequently differentiate the days of the week as being either Good Mail Days [Netflix, free stuff, magazines] or Bad Mail Days [bills, non-entertaining junk mail]. Depending on the type of Mail Day it is, it really sets the tone for the rest of the day. For instance, Tuesday was a Bad Mail Day, and things got progressively worse: I went to work and something with the boiler broke which left us all freezing cold and made me contemplate setting random things on fire.

But Wednesday was a Good Mail Day, because I got my Twins spring training tickets in the mail. So things just got progressively better: I didn't get charged the $.30 for the extra cheese on my veggie sub at Subway AND I heard Belinda Carlisle on the radio.

You can't beat that.

I feel a little guilty that as a Twins fan, I'm only going to 2 Twins games when I'm in Florida: the Twins vs. the Netherlands WBC team and the Twins vs. the Pirates. But I'm visiting family, which makes my base of operations Sarasota. So, while I love the Twins, I also love not getting creamed in Florida traffic. I figure, the less I drive back and forth to Ft Myers, the less likely I am to die a painful fiery death on the freeway. Plus, I do really just love baseball in general. So I'm rounding things out with a Pirates/Rays game and a Reds/Jays game. Should be satisfactory.

Beats going to work in the cold.

Of course, given my luck, I have a feeling that while I'm in Florida it will be unseasonably warm here, and shockingly cold and rainy there. It would not surprise me.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The '09 Twins Fest Awards of Excellence

January=Awards Season. I think the Oscar pool is a little bit lame this year, so I am forced to make my own fun. Which brings us to the '09 Twins Fest Awards of Excellence.

I'm not sure what it is about Twins Fest that brings out the inner Joan Rivers in Those Girls. But over the course of the weekend, we become pretty exacting fashion critics. Before we get to the coveted "Best Dressed" award, here are some interesting fashion nuggets from the weekend:
  • The classic striped button down shirt is still a perennial favorite they're-making-me-dress-up-for-this garment of the Baseball Player.
[In fact, our biggest disappointment of the weekend came when we were wandering around the Skyway on Saturday night and saw 4 guys in striped shirts approaching from a distance....only to get closer and realize that they were NOT, in fact, baseball players, but just 4 dudes who apparently just all enjoy the slimming effect of vertical stripes.]
  • I think Boof Bonser might have financed 6 months of African civil war all by himself with the purchase of his wedding ring. It is very.......sparkly.
  • I have given Brendan Harris a new nickname. He shall forevermore be known as Brendan "Fancy Pants" Harris. Or, just "Fancy Pants" for short. It beats my previous nickname for him, "The Republican" which can only be said correctly if you throw in a smidgen of disdain, a heaping dose of soul-crushing disappointment, and a small growl.
But onto the main event. The award for Best Dressed Twin goes to Brian Buscher. A particularly classy looking striped shirt on Friday:


a plain white button down on Saturday (so as not to clash with any fans' ensembles in the photo line, I'm sure--very thoughtful), and a little more sporty, casual look for a lazy Sunday afternoon at the ballpark.

Of course personality is equally, if not more, important to Those Girls. And so, we award the title of Funnest Twin to Alexi Casilla. Which is quite a feat, considering he was really only around on Friday due to coming down with the plague that attacked the team over the weekend. It seemed like Alexi got more fun once Gomez joined the team, and now the student is out-funning the teacher.


It really looked like Alexi was enjoying himself. Good to see.

Not that Carlos is going home empty handed. Carlos Gomez actually took home TWO Twins Fest Awards of Excellence this year. The first is a new award I'm calling The Twin Who Makes Liriano's '08 Lines Look Short Award. As I correctly predicted, the Carlos Gomez autograph lines were out of control and the Friday night one was twice as long as Liriano's line last year.



The second award of the weekend for Carlos is also a new award. Best Dancer. Thanks to the brilliant addition of the Celebrate Diversity stage at this year's Fest, which included interviews in Spanish and various multicultural demonstrations throughout the weekend, we were treated to a display of Carlos salsa dancing. Let me just say that if all of my hopes and dreams come true and the Twins ever have a Dancing with the All-Stars event like the Red Sox did, Carlos Gomez is going to kick some ass. If he was on Dancing with the Stars, Len Goodman would never be able to criticize that boy for not having enough "hip action."

Awarding the title of Best Hair '09 was a particularly difficult decision. There were a lot of really excellent entries this year. Nick Blackburn stepped up his game. Nick Punto is a finalist every year, and this year was no exception. Craig Breslow made an impressive showing for his first attempt. And an enthusiastic tip of the cap to Bobby Korecky for really thinking outside the box and going bold with the faux-hawk on Saturday. But the evenual winner was Matt Guerrier for his effortless-looking, perfectly tousled coif.


Nicely done, Matty G. We were very impressed.

Another highly coveted Twins Fest Award of Excellence is the Golden Nose, which goes to The Best Smelling Twin. A little disclaimer, this award is generally only given to a Twin who participates in the fan photos, because it's the only way we know who smells good without being SUPER creepy. I'm afraid this year, I have to declare a tie. The award for Best Smelling Twin will be shared by last year's winner, Joe Nathan, and plucky infielder Nick Punto.

Kudos to them, or their wives, for their mad cologne choosing skills.

And speaking of Nick Punto, he will also be taking home an award for Mr. Congeniality....as well as another new pretend award I just invented:

The '09 Twins Fest Those Girls Weekend Achievement Award
.

This award is not intended to simply recognize one or two aspects of a Twin's performance, but rather to celebrate their entire body of work throughout the 3 days of Twins Festivities. This award is given to Nick Punto because, honestly, if Twins Festing were a competitive Olympic event, Nick would win the Gold Medal. Every player we interacted with this weekend was perfectly lovely and friendly and polite. But Nick Punto really goes that extra mile to connect with fans and make the experience a good one.


Those Girls feel like Nick should put together some Twins Fest training materials for all the young players coming up in the system. We think Punto's pre-Twins Fest checklist goes something like this:
  • Wardrobe: Sharp.
  • Hair: AWESOME.
  • Cologne: Smells good; not overpowering.
  • Personality: Sparkling/Disarmingly Charming.
What can I say? It's a recipe for success. I have a theory that if all of the Nick Punto haters stopped being hateful and observed and took some notes, they'd have more friends and girls would like them more. But that's just my opinion.

All in all, another successful Twins Fest. I really give the players a lot of credit. That's a lot of social interaction jam packed into 3 days. We appreciate the time and effort they put into rewarding the fans with a great weekend. Especially during flu season.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Twins Fest: Day 3

I would LOVE to tell you about Day 3, but I am too exhausted and my feet hurt, in spite of completely appropriate footwear choices all 3 days.

By Kevin Slowey photo time at 2:00 today, I think both Those Girls and Kevin Slowey were all pretty much over it. It's fairly evident in our facial expressions, because we all have an identical "Oh my god, would you take the freaking picture already?!" look on our faces. Which is terrible. We should have been super excited to do picture time with Kevin Slowey. And I know that if it hadn't been at the end of such a long weekend, Kevin Slowey would be super excited for picture time with us too. Obviously.

So, more recap action and the announcement of the Official Those Girls Twins Fest Awards of Excellence tomorrow. I know you're all hanging on the edge of your seats to see who took home the pretend trophy for "Best Hair '09" and "Best Smelling Twin" so I will try not to keep you waiting too long.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Twins Fest: Day 2

I lost a mitten today.

It's a bad day to lose a mitten.

I also lost my camera battery. Don't ask me how. I have no idea. Luckily, I brought an emergency back-up camera. Unfortunately, it's not a very GOOD camera. In fact, it malfunctioned mid-Brian Buscher photo which resulted in him holding us a little longer....so it wasn't a total loss.

Nick Punto was quite chatty during picture taking, and afterward a Fest volunteer asked us "Did he smell wonderful?" Yes. He did. And I'm glad we're not the only ones who find such details vitally important.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I Heart Alexi.

If someone had said a year ago that Alexi Casilla would be a highlight of Twins Fest '09, I would have called them a dirty liar.

And yet.

Here I am. Hearting him. I am hearting the heck out of him. He did an interview en espanol, then a little boy asked "did you know that at spring training last year you hit a foul ball and it hit my grandma?" Alexi said he doesn't want to hit foul balls. Then later, Alexi forcefully insisted that Those Girls make gangsta looking peace signs with him in our photo. It was pretty awesome.

Also, at some point during the evening, I became Bobby Korecky's biggest fan. Without my knowledge. Long story. It involves BBQ.

TGITFF! [Or...Thank God It's Twins Fest Friday!]

Whew! I made it. Baseball is [sort of] back. Baseball players are back anyway. And that's close enough to make the world make sense to me once again.

The other night I was trying to help Lipgloss Baseball Jen decide which day of Twins Fest she'd like to attend most. It's a hard decision, frankly. It's like trying to decide which kidney you'd rather keep. [Incidentally, after giving it much thought just now, I believe I would prefer to keep my left one.] But I did my best to break it down compare/contrast style. I thought there might be others out there who could benefit from the analysis, as they make their weekend plans. I'm all about the community service, folks.

Friday Night
Pros:

-Carlos Gomez photo session
-Morneau photo Session (although I have a feeling this line could get crazy, even for the quickly moving photo line)
-If you have any interest in autographs, Friday night contains--unless there are last minute subtractions, which is entirely possible--what I have dubbed "The Best Value" of all of Twins Fest: Boof Bonser, Craig Breslow, Carlos Gomez, Glen Perkins and Kevin Slowey all together for $10
-First pick of Grab Bags for purchase

Cons:
-Clocking in at only four hours, this is the shortest day of Twins Fest


Saturday
Pros:
-Soucheray and Reusse talk to Carlos Gomez
-Photo sessions with Nick Blackburn, Brian Buscher, Boof Bonser and Nick Punto
-Saturday is a longer day--all the better to ogle with, my dear
-Toby Gardenhire (the human embodiment of the phrase "Minnesota Nice") and Ben Revere are signing at the free table at the same time (but they ARE both signing on Friday and Sunday also...just at different times)

Cons:
-More people=longer lines

Sunday
Pros:
-Less people=shorter lines. Especially right away in the morning.
-Photo sessions with Joe Nathan, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey and Michael Cuddyer
-Corey Koskie--according to the schedule, this looks like the only day he's signing

Cons:
-Grab bag selection begins to dwindle/sell-out
-No afternoon radio interviews, due to the live auction
-After a long weekend, I get the feeling that players kind of phone it in on Sunday. Not that I blame them
-Sunday also seems like the day most likely to see schedule changes due to people calling in sick

But really, any day is a good day at Twins Fest.

Numbers time! As promised, here are some predictions for this year's Twins Fest:

Number of times I will tramp up and down the entire length of the Metrodome steps:
12. But I could just be feeling optimistic.

Number of times I will bitch about tramping up and down the entire length of the Metrodome steps:
21.

Number of copies of the Twins Yearbook '08 I will own at the end of the weekend:
5

Number of times Joe Mauer will hear "How are you feeling?":
7,431--although there's no way to prove this one unless Joe counts and shares the info with us.

Number of times I hear "Who is that?" from someone in line for said person's autograph:
16. [And I'm only counting the times they say it about a player who started 15 games or more last season.]

Number of embarrassing things I say/do without thinking:
3.


Check back to see how accurate I was.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy Happy Happy

It's a happy day. There's all the fun inaugural stuff, sure. But Twins Fest is also just around the corner. It's a few blessedly short days away, and this fills me with joy. For one, winter just seems so much less depressing when all our players are back at the Dome. And two, Twins Fest Friday will mark the first day I've had off of work since Christmas Day. I get a little giddy every time I think about it.

So naturally, I've been going overboard with Twins Fest planning. I'm meticulous. I'm highlighting top priorities with blue on my schedule, because blue is pretty. Pretty, blue highlighted things I'm most excited about:

  • Ben Revere. It's the perfect opportunity to make snap judgements about the fabled new kid.
  • Photo sessions with Carlos Gomez, Brian Buscher, Nick Blackburn....and well...mostly everybody else too. I kind of feel like the photo schedule was designed to maximize my personal happiness. So, to whoever scheduled that....THANK YOU.
  • The Joe Soucheray and Patrick Reusse interview with Carlos Gomez. I have very high entertainment expectations for this particular interview.
  • Corey Koskie. I miss Corey Koskie.
  • Grab bags. So I have a chance to get some of those promotional items only given to kids during the season. Michael Cuddyer Growth Chart.....here I come.
Ugh...I can't wait. I hope everyone else is busy making their plans too. Twins Fest is like Christmas, but with baseball players, and the money you spend goes to charity.

If you want to hear some of my rambling Twins Fest tips, plus some other stuff, you can check out the first pilot episode of the podcast (which took a lot longer to get off the ground than I had anticipated because I really underestimated the pain-in-the-butt-ness of the initial set-up, but we're all good now). You can go listen to it on the web HERE, or you can just use the RSS feed url:

http://baseballhappyhour.com/rss

to subscribe to the podcast feed directly. I use iTunes for all the podcasts I subscribe to...go to "Advanced" and click on "subscribe to podcast" and paste the url in. Easy peasy.

I'll be posting some Twins Fest predictions here later this week (ie, the number of times strangers ask me "Who's That?" in reference to baseball players they are in line to get autographs from, and the number of 2008 Twins Yearbooks I bring home from Fest this year). Good Times.

Happy Inauguration Day!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Here's to you, Carl.

You know, I have about 7 unfinished half-posts sitting here unpublished. It's silly. I just always end up either a) having to leave for work or b) falling asleep at the keyboard, before they're done, and then by the time I get back to them, the topic feels irrelevant. It's not like a TON has been going on, anyway. Still, my apologies if anyone thought I had disappeared Without a Trace-style. (FYI: One of my New Year's resolutions is to publicly reference a popular CBS television show every day.)

But it's a new year, and work is getting slightly less crazy (I hope to soon be able to go from 56 hour work weeks to maybe 50 hours....It's going to be AWEsome), so here's hoping we're back with a vengeance in '09.

Exhaustion be damned, I knew I couldn't let the passing of Carl Pohlad go without a comment or two.

I read the news at work yesterday, and my first instinct was to announce it to everyone in a loud voice with accompanying wild gesticulations. Then I looked around and rethought that plan....because nobody in my vicinity would know who Carl Pohlad is. Luckily, Jen from Lipgloss & Baseball could share in the moment with me via text messages, where we discussed what music would be appropriate for the inevitable 7th inning video montage tribute. Jen threw out the idea of LL Cool J. It's pretty hard to disagree with that kind of genius. I wonder if he put something in his will about it. If I was the boss of the Twins organization, I probably would plan ahead and put my demands for my musical tribute music (title and artist) in writing....just to make sure they didn't pick something lame for me.

Even 7 years later, my emotions about that nasty contraction business are still pretty raw, so it'd be a lie if I said I had a lot of warm fuzzy feelings left for the man. But Carl Pohlad has been the Twins owner for the entirety of my Twins fandom (at least all of it I consciously remember) and that counts for something. It's been a good time. Since Pohlad's been around I've seen 2 World Series wins, a plethora of players I've adored come and go, and more memorable moments at the Metrodome than I can count. Good times. Thanks for that--minus the late '90s.

So, here's to you Carl. I hope you figured out a way to take at least some of it with you.