Vote for the Peanuts from Heaven Hall of Fame

As January draws to a close our eyes will turn southward to Spring Training in Fort Meyers and the joys that go along with it. Sunshine. Blue Skies. The sound of Joe Mauer's bat hitting a ball so hard that PETA activists charge him with cruelty to animal skins. And, because we're a weird crew we baseball fans, we'll be dreaming of October--in February...'cause we're like that.

But we'll also be thinking of the players who've left us over the last offseason, and as is our habit here at Peanuts From Heaven, we like to commemorate the fallen with one final photoshop as an induction into our very own Hall of Fame. This is a hall dedicated not to the absolute BEST Twins players, but instead dedicated to those who make watching the game so entertaining and make writing and reading about the Twins one of our favorite pastimes.

This year, instead of unilaterally deciding which former Twin should be enshrined alongside such ever amusing icons as Bert Blyleven and Carlos Gomez, we're going to open the voting to you! In the right menu bar you'll see a poll--click next to the player you want to see a hall of fame photoshop of and we'll provide it! The poll will be open until pitchers and catchers report and the induction ceremony will be held on the first day of Spring Training.

In case you need a reminder the candidates are:

Jesse Crain (A guy so nice we called him "Uber-Menschy" or...Ze Ubermensch!)
Orlando Hudson (About as bombastic as I am)
JJ Hardy (Boy Detective/Dreamy Shortstop)
Nick Punto (Enough Said)
John Rauch (who I didn't make a photoshop of, but who did have this sweet intro video for half a year--which just screams Kenny Powers-esque, doesn't it?)

Matt Guerrier (who also didn't get a photoshop, but was a great straight man to the antics of the rest of our bullpen.)



My Arbitration Demands

As the Twins prepare to bicker and dither over the salaries of several key players, I've reviewed our blogging contract and come to the conclusion that my partner Stinky and I are vastly underpaid for the services we provide.

Just look at our stats, gentle reader! Sure our posts per year average dropped last year...but we were in foreign countries for large chunks of time! We can bounce back to good form! Besides, the big stats--drawing new visitors, keeping a high loyalty rate among regular visitors, providing links to other parts of the blogosphere--all of them were stable or improved! Heck, we increased the the number of graphs and charts 400%! Blog readers love statistics! And we love our blog readers!

But, sadly, love don't feed the bulldog, Dottie. If you want us to keep churning out sassy commentary on Twins news we'll need a few things. And while Stinky may have her personal demands, I'd like to state my own contract requests now:
  • An annual salary in the low two-figure range
  • A no-trade clause that precludes me from being sent to a Yankees blog against my will.
  • A puppy (the one at the right will be acceptable)
  • Bonus incentives at a rate of 20 gummy worms for every 25 new photoshops I make, maxing out at 100 gummy worms if I create 100 or more.
  • At least one comment, at any point in the year, that says: "THAT WAS AWESOME!"
If these requests seem out of line expensive just remember: if Matt Capps is getting 7 Million dollars, aren't my contributions to Twins Territory worth a bag of gummy worms over the year?

But this is not a point-blank demand, I'll happily negotiate and continue writing this blog. But we've got to work together to come up with an equitable solution for us all gang. So please, leave your counter offers in the comments section below.

***Update January 21st
As there's no response yet I'll lower my demands to
  • A salary in the low ten-cent range
  • The no-trade clause
  • A signing bonus of three gummy worms
***Update January 24th
Fine, I give in...I'll keep blogging without a salary and without the no-trade clause...oh, and I found an unattended bag of gummy worms at my office yesterday--so we'll call that good enough



Just when it looked like our offseason was frozen in carbonite, ESPN reported that Mr. Jim Thome will be returning to the Twin Cities next year as our designated hitter, veteran clubhouse leader and de facto Paul Bunyan impersonator.

This is great news for us as both Twins fans and snarky bloggers. It not only gives our team a potent right handed bat off the bench and helps us avoid the soul-sucking morass of signing Manny Ramirez or Johnny Damon, but also allows us to pluck the low hanging fruit of ageism. To wit:
  • Jim Thome's so old, when he draws a walk, he goes to first base on his rascal
  • Jim Thome's so old, he celebrated the Twins playoff berth with a big glass of Ensure.
  • Jim Thome's so old, he thought Carl Pohlad was an ornery whippersnapper.
But seriously, I only make those terrible terrible jokes because I am very fond of Mr. Thome, and I show my appreciation through playful mockery rather than overzealous regurgitation of stats and stories. Thanks for choosing us Jim-bo, you're a gentleman, a scholar, and a damn fine hitter if ever there was one. If you take offense to my lame jokes, I will try to be insightful next season...I probably won't be insightful...but I'll try.


Hall of Fame Voting Philosophies--and why they're stupid

While I know it's about a week after the fact, I wanted to write about Hall of Fame voting. Though we Peanuts already made him a Hall of Famer years ago, we have to congratulate Bert Blyleven again on getting into the "official" Hall of Fame. But Bert-Fever's been tempered by a scad of curmudgeons who still believe he doesn'tbelong in the Hall of Fame. Their reasons are varied, but few have to do with his statistics. Now, complaints about Bert are less about his resume and more about the ways in which Bert violates their delicate sensibilities about who should be a "Hall of Famer".

It is those voters, those sensibilities and those complaints that I want to address, by taking a number of their arguments and pointing out the fallacies of such claims. I don't mean to claim that I'm smarter or better than the people who hold to these arguments; I'm just a former/future English teacher (hopefully*) who can't resist the urge to correct the writing of people who can't distinguish personal opinion from genuine reasoning. Below, I've listed their opinions and scrutinized their failings. If you enjoy semantic discourse read on, if not, just appreciate the fact that Bert's in and they can't kick him out now.

1) Bouncer Philosophy--If you weren't a first ballot Hall of Famer, you aren't a Hall of Famer:
Some would say that the truly great are obvious and instantly admitted. This allows the Hall of Fame voters to act like bouncers at a happening night club, letting in A-listers with casual coolness and keeping the plebes at bay until those great unwashed stop bothering you or leave. Problem is, real bouncers often have to bear in mind fire code and occasionally ask even the awesomest of the awesome to wait just a tick. Cy Young (you know, the pitcher so good they named the "best pitcher of the year" awards after him) had to wait a year; Rogers Hornsby (one of the best hitters/2nd basemen ever) waited five; Duke Snider (a player frequently compared to Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle) waited eleven. Even bouncers make mistakes.

2) The Omnipotent Writer Philosophy--If I didn't vote for you before, I can't vote for you now, so you aren't a Hall of Famer:
Some writers value consistency, and once they vote for someone, they vote that way forever. Unfortunately some people apply the same logic by voting against candidates. Because apparently, if you're a baseball writer, once you develop an opinion it can't change no matter how much thinking you do. This theory drives me nuts, especially when I hear people say: "how can someone who you didn't think was good enough for years, suddenly become good enough?!?!?" Why not ask, "how can you think a movie is better after you watch it a second or third time?" or "How can you change your opinion on _____? What are you some kind of thinking person who thinks?"

3) The Reputation Philosophy--If you didn't "win the big one" or intimidate your enemies you aren't a Hall of Famer:
Some voters believe the the opinions of others are a good basis for their own. If you couldn't win a World Series or a playoff game; if you never won an MVP or Cy Young award; if you didn't have other players cowering in your shadow...well, you clearly suck. Here's the thing though: baseball's a team sport. You can be the greatest hitter of all time, but if your pitcher doesn't throw strikes you're going to lose. You can have an incredible unbelievable season on the mound, but part of the credit for it has to go to the defense that saved you runs and games. And I don't care how fearsome a player is, part of their intimidating nature depends on the situation (Mauer having Denard on base and Morneau hitting behind him). I won't deny that over time the best rise to the top and are rightfully venerated, but reputation alone is not enough to make a judgement.

4) The Wealthy Dowager Philosophy--Nobody lives up to the standards of the past, so to let in the "nearly excellent" would destroy the standards of the Hall of Fame:
I admit I love baseball history and doubt that some inductees are as great as others. (Bert's great, but he's not Sandy Koufax.) But I've never heard anyone say: "I went to the Hall of Fame, and it was okay, but that damned Hack Wilson plaque--just ruined it for me." This isn't the last bastion of Western Civilization, it's the Baseball Hall of Fame, let in who you want, but remember the Hall of Fame existed for decades before you and will exist for decades after. Whenever I hear these opinions I think of Aunt Augusta in The Importance of Being Earnest (like I said, English teacher), dropping her pince nez in disgust and recoiling in horror: "What Mr. Blyleven? Your ERA is 3.31 and you were born in a handbag? A HANDBAG!?!?!?!?!?"

I'm glad we can have these kinds of debates, and gladder still to have some baseball to talk about. Whether you agree with me or not, it's my pleasure to instigate the conversation. So, what do you think?


A quick note before bed

I've been bounding about the Twin Cities taking care of some business most of the day. But I thought I should say this today, rather than tomorrow: Congratulations to Bert Blyleven, the greatest Dutchman to ever play the game and a brand new Hall of Famer.

(Reactions to the news included high-fives between my brother and I at a bar downtown where we ate lunch, thumbs up from the bartenders and waiters and a small woop from a guy at a table by the windows. Even in Turkey, Stinky shouted out her excitement and gave a number of smiley faces: Turks for BERT!)

In honor of Bert, I will happily post this interview with the new Hall of Famer, which shows vintage Blyleven: bemusement, and poop jokes--gotta love him.

Back with more on the Hall of Fame tomorrow...or today..or whatever.


New Years Resolutions

After a delightful holiday break, we loyal Peanuts are back in business for your 2011 in Twinnesota.

There's all kinds of big things coming up in the year ahead, heck, in the next week alone, Carl Pavano will probably pick where to pitch, Bert Blyleven will find out if he gets a Hall of Fame plaque, and Bill Smith will see if he can return ugly sweaters after a couple of weeks. But while each of those events will merit big news coverage, we should also bear in mind the personal stories that distinguish just what makes our team so special.

Of course, every team wants to win a World Series, but what are the personal goals of our favorite athletes? Since we can't ask them ourselves, let's just make up what their New Year Resolutions could be!

Joe Mauer: Drop debut rap album Catcher in the Raw in time for the 2011 holiday season.

Jose Mijares: Find whoever keeps posting pictures of me as a princess and beat them up.

Denard Span: Go rest of life without hitting mother with a foul ball.

Carl Pavano: Keep the facial hair comeback alive by adding mutton chops.

Justin Morneau:Learn how to play first base inside a protective bubble to avoid future injuries.

Matt Capps: Pitch well enough to avoid the nickname "Fat Capps".

Delmon Young: Popularize the nickname "Fat Capps"

Brian Duensing: Convince bouncers in Minneapolis that I am actually old enough to get in to local night clubs.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka: Figure out how to play baseball in a very cold American city (wearing this blanket as a uniform might be a good start)

Scott Baker: Grow facial hair that doesn't get mocked endlessly.

Michael Cuddyer: Perfect the "Vanishing Yankee" illusion.

Ron Gardenhire: Learn how to use the twitter, so I can critique how other people do their jobs...that's the point of the thing...right?