Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My First Twins Game of the Year

I went to my first Minnesota Twins game of the year on Friday, and promptly watched the Twins bullpen blow a 5 run lead in the 8th. I found out later the Twins had their major league record 755 game winning streak when entering the 8th inning leading by 5 or more runs snapped with the loss.

The record was a tribute to the many good relievers the Twins have had over the decade like Joe Nathan, Eddie Guardado, LaTroy Hawkins, Juan Rincon, Matt Guerrier, etc. Unfortunately it looks like the current Twins bullpen does not posses relievers of such quality.

One good thing that did happen at the game was I got an autograph Nick Blackburn baseball. I obtained the ball by buying a “Ball in a Bag” from the Twins Wives Organization. They have several brown bags in a basket that had an autographed baseball in them. If you donate $25 you get to choose a bag.

I asked Carroll Gardenhire, manager Ron Gardenhire’s wife, to pick a bag for me with the hope she would get me a ball signed by someone decent who I do not have a signed ball from already. Nick Blackburn fits the bill. Thanks Carroll for coming through for me!

In case you were wondering you had to pay $100 to have a shot at a Joe Mauer, Jim Thome, or Justin Morneau ball. That is a little above my price range, and I already have signed balls from Mauer and Morneau.

Despite the loss, I did have a good time at the game, and wish I could go to more, but the tickets are pricey, the parking is pricey, and the food is pricey and not all that good. Still the environment is enjoyable and it is worth attending a couple of games a year in person.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Harmon Killebrew

Harmon Killebrew has died. Harmon was the Twins all-time career leader in home runs (475), RBI’s (1325), and OPS + (143). As a Twin Harmon amassed a Wins Above Replacement (WAR) of 54.9 which is second best total in Twins history.

Some Twins fans will tell you Harmon is the face of the Twins franchise. Other Twins fans will tell you, as they did when he died, that Kirby Puckett is the face of the Twins franchise. While other Twins fans will tell you Joe Mauer is the true face of the Twins franchise. Oh, and don’t forget Rod Carew who advanced statistical measurements say was the greatest Minnesota Twin of all-time. I say why do we have to have only one face of the Twins franchise?

Most Twins fans will tell you Harmon was one of the nicest men they ever meet.

I have meet Harmon twice in person. To honest he basically ignored me the first time we meet, but he did hurriedly sign my baseball for me. The second time we meet he signed a baseball card for me then took the time to tell me about the pen he was using to sign the card with. He said he had specifically brought the pen with him to signed baseball cards.

I have been in four autograph lines where because Harmon talked too much to the people ahead of me I did not get through and get his autograph. I also sent a donation to his foundation in exchange for Harmon to sign a picture and baseball card for me. I asked him to sign in blue, he signed in black. I was told he would be put “HOF 84” on both items, and he only did so on the picture.

Of course Harmon was no different than any other person. He had his good days and his bad days. He had his reasons for basically ignoring me the first time we met just as he had his reason for being friendly to me the second time we met.

It was not his fault I cut off in his autograph lines. The Twins people who running those lines knew Harmon was the slowest autograph signer in all of baseball. They should have cut the line off after 100 people rather than let people sit there and fester then get angry when they did not get through the line.

Like what happen when Kirby Puckett died, people will spend too much time talking about how great a man Harmon was. In reality no one deserves all that praise. We all do good things, we all do bad things. We all at times are nice people, and we all have our moments of being not so nice people. No one is perfect.

I think Harmon would say of himself that he was a very good baseball player who tried to be as good a person as he could be. Sometimes he succeeded being that good person, sometimes did not succeed.

In the end that is all we could ask of him. Rest in peace Harmon, you did the best you could.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Liriano Autograph Signing

Here are some pictures of my encounter with Francisco Liriano who was signing autographs at Fan HQ. Francisco signed a photo for me on which he added the inscription “No Hitter 5/3/11”, and he signed an Allen Ginter baseball card for me.

Francisco does not get out much to sign autographs, so it was great of Fan HQ to stage this signing. Thanks to Shaun and everyone at Fan HQ for doing this. If you ever need some sports memorabilia and apparel, and you live in the Twin Cities area, check out Fan HQ as they have a nice selection of items.

I also added this picture of me at the free Drew Butera autograph signing at Fan HQ a while back. As you can see Drew is attempting to hand me back my baseball card, but I am to busy posing for the camera.

I also notice I am wearing the same jacket and hat. I only have one Spring/Fall jacket so wearing it is understandable, but I have at least 5 Twins hats so we will have to work at getting a little variety my choices of head gear.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Liriano's No-Hitter

I have never seen a no-hitter from start to finish till I saw one last Tuesday (5-3-2011) thrown by Francisco Liriano against the White Sox. Liriano had never thrown a complete game less a shutout in his major and minor league career. Yet there he was pitching the first Twins no-hitter in roughly 13 years. Let’s hope this is the start of revitalization of Liriano the ace pitcher. The Twins certainly need him.

In my previous post I said the Twins have chance to contend because they have a franchise player in Joe Mauer. I also mentioned the only thing could prevent Mauer from keeping the Twins in contention was his health. Well guess who has played only 9 of his team’s first 31 games? Joe Mauer is on the disabled list, and may not be back till the end of May which might be too late to help the Twins this season.

Let hope it is not too late, and Mauer can come back and carry this team. Let’s hope Liriano becomes the staff ace. Let’s hope that several other Twins start playing better, and this team heads to the World Series. There is always hope. As Twins fans saw on that magically night in May, sometimes hope is realized.

On a side note, I will have in-person encounter with Francisco Liriano. He is scheduled to sign autographs at FanHQ which a sports memorabilia and apparel store in the Twin Cities suburb of Minnetonka. For $20 a pop you can get him to sign a card, photo, or ball. $10 for inscriptions including what I think will be the most popular inscription – “No-Hitter 5-3-11”.