Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Where is the Blacklash for "Gunpowder & Lead"?

At the height of the country music career the Dixie Chicks release a song called “Goodbye Earl” which detail how an abused wife and her best friend poisoned her abusive husband. The song was controversial with many country radio stations not playing while others played it then ran a public service announcement about where abused women could get help.

“Goodbye Earl” was condemned by groups who help battered women; because they felt it signaled an inappropriate way to the situation. They deplored the violence begets violence nature of the song. The song peak at #12 on the country charts and quickly disappeared though it remained popular at Dixie Chick concerts.

Now Miranda Lambert, a personal favorite of mine, has released “Gunpowder and Lead”, a song about an abused woman waiting with a loaded shot gun for her abusive man to come home so she can basically shot, if not kill, him. I have been waiting for a similar backlash to what the Dixie Chicks have gotten to appear. It has not.

The question is why? Is it that Miranda is known for her feisty songs and people expect this and therefore accept this from her? Or did the Dixie Chicks kick in the door, take the heat, and then make it acceptable for this kind of song to now be played?

Hard to say, but I lean toward the latter. The first person or group to do something controversial usually has to take more heat then the next. They also get more credit if it turns out alright.

Miranda has never been a chart maven, but as “G& L” has now become her first top ten, one has to figure she owes the Dixie Chicks for allowing “G & L” to get the chance to be heard.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Go Go, Boof, and Me

Being I only work Monday – Thursday now, I had a chance to go see Carlos (Go Go) Gomez at local car dealership on Friday. The crowd was not too bad, so I was able to get Carlos to sign a baseball, and baseball card of him as a Twin.

Most Carlos Gomez cards I had seen were of him as a Met. However, I found a sports card store in Roseville called Three Stars Sports Cards that had a nice looking Upper Deck card of Gomez as a Twin. Cost me $1, but I got Carlos to sign it (he even put his number on it which he does not always do) and now it looks great.

Ever since Shinders closed, I have been looking for a good sports card store. Three Stars not only had a lot of the cards I needed, but they have their inventory computerized so I didn’t need go through boxes and boxes of stuff to find what I needed. I got several cards including a 1966 Harmon Killebrew for which I paid only $4. The book value for that card is $15, and I have seen it at both the Twins Cities Sports Collector Club (TCSCC) & Tom Franzen cards shows for $8-12.

I did not need to buy any Boof Bosner cards as I had three already. I got 2 of them signed Saturday when Boof appeared at the Twins Pro Shop in Minnetonka. Boof has a rough year on the mound, so the crowd was not large but he remains a nice guy who had no problem signing more than one item for people. I hope Boof can turn it around here in the second half of the season. We need him to establish himself as a good setup man who complements Guerrier and Crain.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Dave Winfield

Today I received a signed baseball card from Baseball Hall of Famer and Minnesota native Dave Winfield. This is a huge thrill for me. Dave Winfield was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota and attend the University of Minnesota. He went on to have great career playing with San Diego, the Yankees, California, Toronto, the Twins, and Cleveland.

I wanted get an autographed Dave Winfield card for my collection not just because he is a Hall of Famer, but he was one of the greatest Minnesota born baseball players. Paul Molitor (St. Paul) and Charles “Chief” Bender (White Earth Indian Reservation) are the other two Minnesota natives in the Hall of Fame. Hopefully soon, Jack Morris (St. Paul) will join them.

I have a card, ball, and photo signed by Paul Molitor, so I was eager to get something signed by Dave Winfield (Mr. Bender passed away in 1954, so getting his autograph would be a little tough). I sent Dave a card last year about the time he released his latest book. I got the card back unsigned along with a signed ad for his book. It should be noted that most players if they don’t want to sign wouldn’t even send the card back. It says something about Dave’s class that he at least had the curiosity to send the card back knowing the card might have meant something to me.

Disappointed, I waited for another chance. It came about a month ago when I learned Dave would sign cards if you included a cash donation. Many Hall of Famer charge for their autographs, but I heard Dave does not actually put the money in his pocket instead he uses it to help others through charitable work.

I have no problem donating a small amount of money to player who helps others, so I sent to Dave in June with a $10 donation. I still worried he might not sign (I was not sure $10 was enough), but to my pleasant surprise I received a signed 89 Topps All-Star card signed by Dave. He even included his Hall of Fame year on the card.

They only way I could be happier were if it was a card of him as a Twin. Sadly, Topps never produced a card of Dave when he was with the Twins. I had a card of him as a Twin which I got a Twins game. The card was part of a promotion stage by Rainbow Foods. Since was it the only one I had, I did not to risk sending it in case it never returned. I have since bought another of those Rainbow Foods cards of Dave as a Twin, but I had already sent the 89 Topps All-Star to him.

I cannot complain though. I am very happy Dave took the time to sign for me. Thanks Dave! It was very much appreciated!

Top 100 Women in Country Music

I was going to mention this earlier, but Kevin over at Country Universe did a count down of the Top 100 Females in Country Music history. While I did not agree with all of Kevin’s rankings, I did admire all the work he put into them. There are some very interesting write ups on some very interesting women.

I have listened to country music all my life, so I was familiar with almost all the women he listed. However, if you have only listened to country for a few years, it is worth checking out some of the older artists he talks about.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Twins Mid-season Report

July 5, 2008 finds the Minnesota Twins at 48-38 only 1 game out of first place in the A.L. Central Division. I don’t think anyone was expecting this. The Twins had traded away a 2 time Cy Young Award winner (Johan Santana), and allowed an All-Star player (Torii Hunter), and their #2 starter (Carlos Silva) to leave via free agency. If anything most everyone had the Twins peg as a talented, but young team which would hover around the .500 mark.

Yet here they are on the verge of first place. How could this have happened?

1. Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer are superstars and playing like it.

It is now apparent that as Morneau goes, so go the Twins. Morneau has been brilliant this year, hitting over .300, second in the A.L. in RBIs, and playing gold glove defense. He is the best first basemen in the American League. That long term extension the Twins signed him to this off-season is looking better all the time.

Mauer is simply the best catcher in baseball. He calls great games, plays well defensively, and hits with the best hitters in baseball. Healthy this season, Mauer could win another batting title. He was voted the starting A.L. catcher for this year’s All-Star game, as he should.

2. Joe Nathan is best closer in baseball.

Many wondered why a re-building club like the Twins would sign the 33 old Nathan to a contract extension instead of trading him. You sign Nathan because his presence gives confidence to a young starting rotation that their efforts will not be blown when it gets crunch time in the 9th. Nathan has saved every game he has been asked to except for 2, and the Twins rally back to win both games.

Having Nathan changes the outlook of this club. In an age where having a great closer is a key, the Twins have the best.

3. Alexi Casilla

In May the Twins offense look spotty, then Alexi Casilla arrived. I heard about Casilla a couple of year ago. He had good success in the minors and when he arrived in late 2007, I was expecting a good hitter who would steal bases and play great defense solving our 2nd base problems for years to come. Well, Casilla looked bad in 2007, and was sent back to the minors early in spring training this season.

However, I learned long ago that many a great player started out their major league career playing bad. When the opportunity to return to the major presented itself Casilla seized it and never let go. Everything I expected in 2007, I have gotten in 2008.

Casilla is the perfect #2 hitter. In fact he has lead off hitter potential. A great bunter, able to work the count; steal bases, and showing some surprising power, Casilla may be the third most important every day Twin.

One last point about Casilla, he has been a pal for the electrifying and sensitive Carlos Gomez. Gomez is a great talent, but needs someone to keep him somewhat grounded. Fellow Dominican Casilla is that guy. Gomez and Casilla are a great 1-2 at the top of our line-up. Remember in baseball, speed kills. Gomez and Casilla have speed in spades.

4. Our young starting pitching is coming of age.

Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, and Kevin Slowey are giving the Twins incredible starting pitching. All have ERA’s under 4, and more impressively all have better than 3 to 1 strikeout to walk ratios.

Glen Perkins also looks to be coming around, while somehow Livan Hernandez is hanging around and winning games. If this young staff keeps developing, they could be the Twins best starting pitching since 1991.

5. The Pohlads, Bill Smith, and Ron Gardenhire may know what they are doing after all.

The Pohlads guessed right on who to give the six year contract extension too (Morneau not Santana). Bill Smith traded Santana to the right New York team (Phil Hughes, the key to the Yankee deal, pitched horrid then got hurt).

Ron Gardenhire is doing some good managing. He kept with Gomez and Delmon Young when it seemed like they were not going to get the job done. He kept calm as the left side of the infield falter. He is smart enough to let his brilliant pitching Rick Anderson work with his young pitching staff without interference.