Sorry for the two week delay in posts, things got a little crazy as Stinky and I travelled to India - a place where stable internet connections are rare and baseball is even rarer. But while we ventured through planes, trains and automobiles we found time to discuss the awesomeness of 13 runs against the Brewers, another victory over the Yankees, and precisely what would be the appropriate punishment for the Yankpires and their villainy (hint: it related to India).
Stinky takes over:
However, our lack of internet access does not mean we didn't bring baseball with us to India, or that we didn't make an almost ridiculous effort to follow the Twins despite the many obstacles that lay in our path. These efforts included waking up at 4:30 am to watch games vs. the Brewers at the one hotel that actually DID have reliable internet, checking scores and updates as often as humanly possible...and last but certainly not least, we were accompanied on our journeys by two very special guests - Carlos Gomez and Joe Girardi!
Carlos was mostly used as a bookmark, but we also managed to take his picture in trains an cabs. We wanted to bring him with us to Fatepur Sikri, but we forgot. We also wanted to bring him to the Taj....but again....forgot. Oh well....
Our master plan for Joe Girardi was to help him meet a grisly end - preferably death by monkey attack, or by just abandoning him in a pile of poo in Dehli. Sadly, we never found a hungry enough monkey and my irrational fear of littering squelched the abandonment plan, so the evil jerkface is still safely with us. I'll figure out something I guess.
Scruffy back to wrap up:
In all it was a productive trip, many pictures snapped, many ideas sparked, many verbs past tensed. We're happy to be back with friends and family, including the boys in Blue. We may ask our friend Sparky for a recap of games played whilst we were away, but for now rest assured that we will be back with much commentary and much silliness in the days and weeks to come.
Let us not dwell on what happened this afternoon. Let us instead imagine a wonderful thing that would make all the evil of the stadium which shall not be named fade into nothingness.
Imagine, if you will, a typical sight: a demon in pin stripes trotting gamely around a dirt track, smiling broadly in acknowledgement of the nefarious deed they have just committed. We've seen this several dozen times before, it is what usually happens to the Twins in the Bronx. We stand there, frozen like a bunch of Greek demi-gods faced with Medusa, frozen in time and space, wondering what the f* just happened to our awesome team.
But in our imagination there's a different ending. As the lap comes to a conclusion, our catcher, whomever he may be, says: "F-this noise!" and cocks his right arm, then follows through with a massive haymaker, clocking the pinstriped hoser and sending him crumpling to the ground crying out for his mama.
Suddenly the spell is lifted. From 3rd base to Right Field our boys suddenly realize: "hey! These guys aren't deamons or medusa's or anything remotely frightening. They're just smarmy, smug punkasses. If we beat them up we'll take away their power!"
And so, en masse, the Minnesota Twins (in our imagination) grab bats and chase down the team which shall not be named. They throw fastballs at their shin bones and cackle like Yosemite Sam saying: "dance you cotton pickin' varmint, DANCE!!!" They use their bats as cudgels and rampage through the clubhouse swinging their weaponry like marauders of yore. They wage an epic war of brilliance and awesomery and aren't even punished for it because, let's face it, the pinstriped punkasses had it coming, and every baseball fan outside of the Bronx would love to see this happen.
This is our dream--more violent than most, but that's what the Yankees do, they bring out the worst in us (also, I'm taking mefloquine, which doesn't help). It could never happen because our team's just not that violent (I mean, seriously, Cuddy, doing anything that wasn't adorable? Not possible). We just can't stand to see the defeats happen over and over and over again, it's like rewinding Bambi to watch his mom get shot time after time after time.
Today we fully expect that the Twins will be shot, and Ron "Bambi" Gardenhire will be forced to fend for himself in the scary, scary forest. (And the whole world weeps a single tear in sadness)
Another day, another seeming opportunity to end our curse, another Yankpire victory.
This morning Stinky and I discussed how bad it would get today.
Stinky: "We'll either lose by one or two runs in another late inning collapse or we'll be behind from the beginning and never come back"
Scruffy: "We'll probably have a couple run lead and then the heavens will part and A-rod will descend riding on a centaur as a chorus of hoochie-mamas proclaim his greatness and we will be so blinded by this that our faces will melt and we'll have to forfeit the game."
We're prepared for the worst. BRING IT YANKEES
The Twins are in the Bronx to play the world champion Yankees tonight, and it will mark a much needed worthy adversary for the Twins and a true test of their mettle, but even if they lose (which they probably will) we should be proud of the fact that unlike the Yankees we are not blood sucking drains on society.
After all, the Twins have inspired many creative/inventive characters on this blog: Grizzled Prospector Mike Lamb, Master Librarian R. A. Dickey, Dread Pirate Joe Nathan, Chairman Joe Mauer, Carlos Gomez (who still seems like a figment of our imagination), and of course the Nefarious Dr. Cakeburn. The Yankees view such shenanigans as unbefitting to their hoity toity status as "the winningest baseball team ever" but really they're afraid that the truth will get out.
Consider the woman pictured at left. She discovered the truth, and then vanished...why? Because she discovered the horrible secret, the horrible secret revealed below.
Girl: "There's something odd about you and your friends"
Boy: "...think so?"
Girl: "You all hit the ball harder than any other team."
Girl: "You run faster than any other team."
Girl: "Your stadium is littered with free agent corpses."
Boy: "So what?"
Girl: "Are you a..."
Boy: "Say it...say what you know to be true!"
Girl: "A Yankee?!?"
Boy: "Not just a yankee, a yankee vampire!"
Boy: "A Yankee vampire with endorsement contracts!"
Boy: "A Yankee vampire who sparkles in the sun! BEHOLD MY ROBERT PATTISON BRAND BODY GLITTER!!!"
Friends don't let friends sit in meadows with Yankpires.
God Speed Twins, we're sure that you will probably blow up in a fiery hellstorm of bats, balls, and CC Sabathia's cheeseburgers. Anything better than that and we'll be happy.
And in case you need something to cheer you up here's Orlando Hudson on, among other things: Delmon and Nick's special relationship, Cuddyer's butt, the Lifetime Movie Network and why Kevin Slowey isn't as cool as him.
Victory is loverly, and as I wrote yesterday, so is our new ball park, but there's something which we will have to remember as we gear up for the long summer slog ahead of us.
You see, outdoor baseball brings with it outdoor issues. Things we never had to worry about before suddenly have an effect. While we could always rely on the Metrodome shielding us from the rain, snow and flying monkey attacks which occur throughout the Minnesota spring/fall, at Target Field we must make do with this--we accepted this fact and dressed accordingly. (My mother's flying monkey poncho has been especially helpful this year.
But we forgot about the wind...yes, the wind...you might remember it from 1st grade weather charts...remember with all the velcro that made the cool Ccchhhhrrrrrrrrrrrrip! noise? Right between hanging up your coat and story time you had to note what the weather was the day before and what it was today. And that's when you met our friend Mr. Wind.
It seems that Mr. Wind is not a fan of home runs. As is evidenced by the fact that in the past two games Messers Morneau and Cuddyer hit balls so hard that the cows who supplied the hide for the balls mooed in pain up in Cow Heaven*. Yet these balls did not go over fences, instead they came up short and what could have been higher scores for us did not come to fruition.
It's easy to say that later in the year that Mr. Wind will change direction and these hard hit pitches will fly out of the stadium, but we must remember that not only will our fly balls will go farther, but so will those hit by our opponents. Which means that all those noisy outs hit against Pavano and Baker will turn into home runs...painful, painful home runs.
So, we must adjust again and to adapt to Mr. Wind, we need a Mr. Run-Like-the-Wind, a Mr. Silent-as-the-Wind. We need, Denard Span: Ninja General** of Twins Territory.
We hope that Denards Ninja skills translate to more wins at Target Field, but also that he remembers to pack his kitanas and nunchucks for this weekend's series in New York. We'll write more about this in future, but if you want a refresher, click the link at the left of this post that says: "A Guide to Recognizing Your Yankpires".
*In case you were wondering, in cow heaven all the grass is green and all the cabernet is complex and oak-y.
**Note: In Chairman Mauer's Utopian Twins Territory, Ninja General is a position similar to Surgeon General in America. Only far more badass.
Yesterday we reported that the madman who guides the Chicago White Stockings through their diabolical baseball deeds had been foiled in his scheme to control the weather. BUT! we neglected to mention that there are other dastardly White Stockings. They might not be as obvious about it, but believe you me...they are precisely that evil.
Take the White Sox leadoff hitter, sure he seems like any other left-fielder/lead-off hitter/aging ballplayer, but just look at that name, Juan Pierre? I don't know about you but when I see a guy named Pierre in white and black...I can think of only one thing...one diabolical and sinister thing and it was that thing that I will blame for yesterday's loss.
Don't believe me? Think I'm rabble rousing to denounce mimes just because I find them creepy!? Au contraire mes amis. I know that Monseuir Pierre of the Les Chausettes Blanche, has already startled the Twins with his Mimery. It seemed that every fly ball hit his way looked like it might land. They certainly brought me to my feet and made me and those around me hopeful that they might, just might land in. After all...he seemed to be having so much trouble fielding: constantly running into the wind, occasionally being trapped inside an invisible box, and yet the catch was made. We should have won, but we just couldn't outwit the mime.
Join me in my petition to ban Mimes in the Twin Cities. Together we can end the scourge of street performers who distract and surprise us leading to defeat for our team, and guilting us into spending money on the arts. I dream of a Mime free Minneapolis! A place where children enjoy balloon animals,and jazz musicians play with pride but where no one NO ONE has to endure the japes and gambols of Juan Pierre in his Chausettes Blanche. Dare to dream my friends.
So I finally went to Target Field last night, amid the rain drops that made my mother say: "oh dear" and made my father call home to repeatedly encourage me to wear rain pants to the game that night. But after everything I had heard it was something I had to see for myself, and when I saw it...well...geekiness ensued.
I marveled at the lime stone, at the great views afforded by the entire concourse, at the bullpens, the milling people, the wide range of food options and the genial excitable nature of the fans who still can't believe their good luck. I have seen stadiums around the midwest, and though some might complain that I'm biased, I honestly do believe that we have a true gem of the game. It's more convenient than Milwaukee or St. Louis, less crowded than Wrigley, more quirky than Cleveland, Toronto or Kansas City and far more welcoming and less dangerous than Detroit. The only stadium that compares is the jewel of the Allegheny, PNC Park in Pittsburgh. But Pittsburgh doesn't have Tony O's Cuban sandwhich...so...we'll claim victory.
I mean, honestly, ham, pulled pork, melted cheese AND pickles. Tony Olivia must be some kinda genius.
The game itself was less enjoyable, and we'll be back later this afternoon with a recap of those shenanigans but I just have to ask again: "why are we booing AJ Perzinsky?" Spending the games with Stinky's parents and my mom in seats close enough to see the spit I could almost feel like I was in AJ's shoes during all the boos. I mean, I get that he was mad that we dumped him in favor of Joe Mauer...but Joe Mauer is better than just about every other player in the game, it's nothing personal AJ...we would have done it to anyone. Plus there were reports that even after he left, he still watched games and cheered us on...sure he's a pest, an irksome trickster who has never let a potential advantage go to waste, but he's out there right now fighting for his career. A bad average and continuously diminishing defensive skills may send him out of Chicago soon enough, unless AJ Perzinsky has approached you personally, slapped you around, put sugar in your gas tank or told you that you were a poophead, leave him be.
As if the fireworks surrounding AJ weren't enough, Justin provided one of the few bright spots of the night, leading to explosions over the scoreboard that ruined this picture but still allowed me to capture the hand shaking sign in centerfield. If you have an active imagination, it almost seems like there's sunshine in the darkness.
But there is darkness, and unlike the Metrodome it isn't something we're ignoring any more. The Metrodome seemed like an escape sometimes, a place where it was permanently 72 and cloudy and where the grass was unnaturally green and firm. But we are the Minnesota Twins, and the fans of that team. We ought to be in that nature, surrounded by it, seeing it happen all around us, watching the day turn to night, the spring turn to summer, and a group of men turn into a team of "our boys" for at least one season.
It's a new day in a new stadium and while it doesn't have quite the history of the Metrodome, home of our two championships, it does have a sense of where it come from and where its going. And so, walking home, disappointed at the game's result but by no means unhappy about the way I spent my time, I look forward to seeing new legends rise with moments to match the greatness of guys like Kirby, sweet Kirby, excited, elated and loyal to the end, just like us.
So apparently April was part of Spring, and May is part of Fall, and I'm sitting here humming "rain rain go away" before tonight's game. What is behind this sudden shift in our weatherly fortunes? Perhaps JJ Hardy Shortstop/Detective can find out in this latest edition of the JJ Hardy MYSTERIES!!
While recovering from his wrist injury, JJ Hardy, shortstop/detective ,did what he always does
in his spare time: he checked his surroundings to make sure there were no diamond smugglers in the Twin Cities. But being new to town, he wanted to have a friend join him.
"C'mon guys!" said JJ in his most eager-beaver voice, "there's always a diamond smuggler, or an art thief or an escaped criminal posing as a wealthy dowager! You just have to look for them!"
"I don't know, JJ" said Joe Mauer "wouldn't it be more fun to just free-style in my massive mansion?"
"Yeah, I mean why fight crime when you can just make it...disappear!!!" shouted Michael Cuddyer as he vanished little Wilson Ramos' bats.
Then Jesse "Ze Ubermensch" Crain suggested that, "better yet, we could ponder the the intense complexity of nature's synchronous relationship with one's soul and whether this confirms the intervention of the divine in the daily world or purely the power of biological forces elemental in the Darwinian undertones of evolution!" Then crickets chirped and everyone on the team ran away from Jesse Crain.
JJ's feet took him to the banks of the mighty Mississip, as he patrolled the caves searching for smugglers and other villains, but all he could see were stalactites, stalagmites and the city's one remaining Timberwolves fan. "Maybe, Milwaukee's the only smuggler saturated city in America." BUT JUST THEN he heard a monstrous laugh reverberating down the banks of the river. With each syllable of the "MWAJAJAJAJAJAJAJA!!!" the goosebumps on JJ's arms multiplied, and he knew from the "Big Book of Mystery Words" that this was what his idols would call "a clue"
Tip toeing towards the sinister cackle he peeked inside a cave and was overwhelmed with the fetid stank of unwashed sox. "Whoever is inside here, sure doesn't like laundry! What a silly billy!" Just then he turned the corner and saw a mad man with long white hair pulling levers and spinning dials and cackling, my goodness, the cackling.
"Purple Pig Great Food good choice Todd Stein Jajajajajajajja!" said the madman. And JJ knew immediately that this man had lost all contact with reality, but with each twist of the knob and each pull of the lever rain and storms persisted outside. Then JJ did what he always did in situations like this, he stated the obvious to guide the plot.
"He's controlling the weather! I must stop him!" and so JJ used the only thing guaranteed to overwhelm any critically deranged pseudo wizardish being: cable television. As it's ethereal glow burned in the dark smelly underbelly of the Dirty Sox cave, the wild man turned and began to ramble "I love bull fight, oh my god too much, I watching one in this moment. Watch that movie matador you see big nuts man. Very very awesome thanks comcast!"
With the madman distracted, JJ fiddled with the machinery until the rain and snow abated and it was safe to play baseball again. As he left the cave he looked back at the madman in front of the telvision and quipped "Talk about an idiot box..."
But little did JJ know that though the tv was on, the madman's brain was still hard at work, imagining more diabolical schemes. If he appears again, to bend the weather to his will, to smuggle diamonds or to pose as a wealthy dowager, he will be met by the ingenuity and passion of JJ HARDY Shortstop/Detective!!
Have I mentioned lately how excited I am to be back in Minnesota? Picture a small child hearing the first ice cream truck chime of the summer, and then discovering that in addition to ice cream, they also sell lemonade, cookies, puppies, unicorns and laser vision robots...ahh...to hell with selling they're just giving them away! I'm that excited.
Add to this the fact that Stinky's almost done with her exams and that school is over for me and that we have a beautiful magical summer ahead of us full of sunshine and baseball and (hopefully) laser vision robots.
Unfortunately, some internet issues waylaid our post on the Baltimore series, which is probably a good thing given that our posts after the first two games would have been more or less saying: "The orioles...I mean the--the orioles! We have to--THE ORIOLES?!?!? Maybe we're just--JEEZE the ORIOLES?!?!" but after an offensive explosion Saturday Night and yesterday's mother's day victory we're proud to welcome back a beloved character, Dr. Nicholas Cakeburn.
We will be back with a vengeance throughout the next week as I go to my first game at Target Field, we attempt to bury the dirty dirty White Sox, and then we head off to the den of villainy in our yearly battle with the foul Yankpires
At last the 9 game string of MLB.tv Blackouts has been broken and tonight I will be able to watch the Twins play the Orioles.
Game 1 Monday:
Cuddy: WOO! WOO!!
Thome: [Smoke Monster Noises]
Gerald Laird: Why can't I be in the in crowd, frowny face.
Justin: Dude, if you want to be cool, don't announce your emoticons.
Twins 10-Tigers 3
Game 2 Tuesday:
Well that's the last time I bake cookies for these jerkwads.
OH MY GOD! NICKY P. CAN LIFT SOMEONE!!!!!!
Twins 4-Tigers 3
Game 3 Wednesday:
Psssh...My ninja skills are wasted on you.
Twins 5-Tigers 4
Series in a Nutshell
No, seriously Justin, if you're going to sweep you've got to lower your center of gravity. Maybe try shrinking a foot and a half...it works for me.
Want to know why I'm so excited to come back to Minnesota?
1--There are people I love there
2--There is a pretty new ballpark I've not yet seen
3--Living in the black hole of Northwest Ohio has deprived me of watching the last 8 games in a row on MLB.tv, driving me closer and closer to the brink of insanity. Add to this the fact that after tearing my hair out over an extremely tense episode of LOST I came home to find that a thin lead had shrunk and shrunk until at the very moment I turn on Jon Gordon and Danny Gladden Brennan Boesch hit the ball very very far. And, being the good Minnesota Twins fan I am, I began to despair.
But no one told a particular short stop/mystery enthusiast, one JJ Hardy--BASEBALL BOY DETECTIVE! In the latest installment of his popular series: "JJ Hardy and the Mystery of the Tiggers"--The climactic excerpt is quoted here
...With a crash, the peace of the deep dark night in Targetville was shattered and JJ Hardy, baseball boy detective, knew that he would have to act fast to solve this mystery.
"Hmmm," said JJ, "I better act fast in order to solve this mystery! I'd hate it if Dr. Cakeburn's Red Velvet Laboratory were ruined by these messy messy Tiggers. After all, like Gardy always says, a clean Laboratory is a SAFE laboratory!!"
Just then, Detroit catcher Alex Avila kaboing-ga-boinged his way to second base with a double while singing the Tiger theme song. which gave JJ an idea.
"HEY! I have an idea!" said JJ. "Tiggers are bouncy, trouncy, pouncy, flouncy and quite a bit of fun, but the most wonderful thing about tiggers, is that they're the only ones! So if I behave like a Tigger...they won't know what's happening!! I may need to get messy, I hope Gardy forgives me."
And so when Ramon Santiago hit a grounder loaded with vim and with vigor, JJ flung himself after the ball, and, doing his best Tigger impression bounced up to surprise Alex Avila and catch him off guard near third base causing Little Nicky Punto to yell: "YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY TIGGERS ARE FUN!!!"
Nick may have been right, but JJ still had work to do, to solve the mystery of the Tiggers he'd have to keep thinking like a Tigger until the game was over. And so when he came to bat he hit a jumpy bumpy ball to left center field and ran his clumpy thumpy way to third base. And poised on top of third base he sang out the magical words sure to solve the mystery.
"Boy this sure has been fun fun fun fun and so forth, but the most wonderful thing about Tiggers is I'M the only one...YES I'm the only ONE!!!!"
It's not a good idea, dear child, to ever intentionally exacerbate another person, but for the sake of Targetville, for the safety of Dr. Cakeburn's Baking Laboratory and for Twins fans everywhere it was a good thing that JJ irritated the Tiger's pitcher. Because that led to the pitcher, through big salty tears to cry out, "nu-uh!!!!" and throw a slider whose top was made out of rubber and whose bottom was made out of springs to go bouncy flouncy past the catcher and allow JJ and all the Twins to snatch victory from the Jaws of defeat and solve the mystery of the Tiggers.
P.s. Before the game tonight came news that Ernie Harwell, former Tiger's announcer had passed away. The last in a line of legendary announcers, his poetry unites all fans, not just those who agree with him. He will be missed
It's nice having MLB.tv, it would be nicer if I didn't live in a region that's 33% Tigers fans, 33% Indians fans and 33% Cincinnati Communist Sympathizers Fans (at least according to mlb.tv's blackout restriction policies).
However, the AP is always willing to oblige with pretty pictures, then I just fill in the captions as best seems to fit my mind--even if it is patently false.
Game 1: Friday
You know, I'm doing these laps so often now I might try to come up with a solid playlist to listen to as I run 'round the bases.
O-Dog: "Uhhh...can I get up now?"
Cabrera: "Oh, sorry I just got lost in your eyes."
O-Dog: "Yeah...that can happen...but how 'bout you just get lost instead."
Twins 9--Indians 3
Game 2: Saturday
"YEAH! NEVER FORGET THIS NAME MINNESOTA!!! IT WILL HAUNT YOU FOREVER!!"
Twins 4--Indians 5
Game 3: Sunday
I remember when Livan had a pig buried under the mound...I wonder if I'll have time to dig it up between strike outs?
"Umm...seriously, I thought you guys said this was going to be hard?"
Twins 8--Indians 3
SERIES IN A NUTSHELL
Whenever possible, employ the buddy system while running the bases. Not only can it help you score more runs, it also prevents your bajillion dollar catcher from hurting his heel.