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And the Magic Number is . . .

September 26, 2017

If my math is right (and when it comes to math I never claim to be right), the Twins Magic Number to reach the post season is two. With five games left to play and a five game lead over the Los Angeles Angels, that mean a combination of one Twins win and one Angels loss will put secure the second American League Wild Card spot and put the Minnesota Twins into the MLB post season.

That’s pretty amazing.

It’s pretty amazing because the Twins finished the 2016 season with a horrible 56-103 season and the lack of substantial off-season moves didn’t give anyone anything to be excited about.

It’s pretty amazing because we traded away our veteran All Star closer, Brandon Kintzler, at the break and we lost our All Star slugger, Miguel Sano, to a stress fracture of his right tibia on August 21st.

It’s pretty amazing because players like Jorge Polanco (.260/.316/.414 with 14 HRs) and Eddie Rosario (.287/.327/.504 with 26 HRs) and Eduardo Escobar (20 HRs) have developed into legitimate baseball players, and starter Kyle Gibson has turned into a completely different person after reversing his terrible 5-7 (6.31 ERA) first half record into a stellar 7-3 (3.58 ERA) second half record.

It’s pretty amazing because Brian Dozier (32 HRs) keeps hitting homers and Joe Mauer has returned to form as an everyday player, both at the plate (.308/.384/.421) and in the field (.998 fielding percentage).

It’s pretty amazing because relievers like Trevor Hildenberger (2.95 ERA in 39.2 innings) and Alan Busenitz (1.50 ERA in 30 innings) and Matt Belisle (4.17 ERA in 58.1 innings) have stepped up and become legitimate relievers.

It’s pretty amazing because after the Kintzler trade the team was left with no closer and that speaks to the rest of the bullpen. But maybe that’s not so amazing when you see a team averaging 6 runs per game in the second half.

It’s pretty amazing because Byron Buxton, league leader in stolen base percentage (96.43%) has, during the second half of the season hit .304/.354/357 with 11 HRs and blossomed into the bona fide superstar that people like me have been waiting three years for. Regardless of how the season plays out for the Twins, just watching Buxton these last couple of months makes this season a success for me.

Honestly, the success of the 2017 Twins has to be the most under covered news story in Minnesota.

With the optimism of Spring Training pumping through my veins I picked the Twins to play right around .500 back in February and it never felt better to be wrong.

So the big question now is with the Yankees and Red Sox running neck and neck for the AL East title, which team would I as a Twins fan rather face in the win-or-go-home play-in game next Tuesday? I’ll pick the Red Sox, but in truth I don’t like the prospect of having to face either Chris Sale of Luis Severino. But I go with the Red Sox because the Twins have a fairly decent history playing against Sale. And because the Yankees are the Yankees and it doesn’t seem to matter what year it is or what the game situation is or what the Twins roster is, the Twins can never seem to beat the Yankees. (No, I don’t believe there’s a Yankees jinx, I believe that the Yankees are simply a perennially better team than the Twins) The best-case scenario would be for the Yankees and Red Sox to battle each other in high-scoring extra-inning games and then by the time one of them faces us their bullpens will be so beat up that it won’t matter who we’re playing!

Of course this might all be moot if the Twins can’t win a couple more games. And it’s not going to be easy for them as they’re going into a three-game series starting tonight in Cleveland before ending up at home against the Tigers. None of those six games are going to be easy. The LA Angels, on the other hand, have the more favorable schedule as they play three against the lowly White Sox and then return home for three against division rival Mariners.

Baseball is the best game on the planet in the universe and for your team to be playing meaningful games in September is more than any fan can ask for. But to be holding a post season spot at this point is like heaven.

Go Twins!

Are you a baseball fan? Who’s your pick?

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Colin Kaepernick and other American Heroes

September 25, 2017

This morning I saw one of the most absurd memes I’ve seen in a long time. The picture showed football player Tim Tebow taking a knee in prayer before a University of Florida football game and the dopey caption read: “Tebow took a knee in prayer and was too controversial. Now they #TakeAKnee in protest and are considered hero’s [sic]. #LiberalLogic”

“They”. Gotta love it, huh? Who are “they” anyway?

I’m sorry, but anyone who makes that comparison and who honestly believes that type of garbage, anyone who refuses to recognize and acknowledge police violence against African Americans and who is happy to bury that important issue under this type of nonsense is someone who I have no interest in talking with.

Someone who can sit back and refuse to recognize social – and racial – injustice, who is so blissfully unaware that he or she believes that NFL players who take a knee during the National Anthem are out there protesting the flag, who can – like some anonymous poster commenting on a news article sarcastically thanking NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem for “ruining football”, is . . .  well . . . deplorable.

Go away.

I saw another meme that read: “Thinking NFL players are ‘protesting the flag’ is like thinking Rosa Parks was protesting public transportation.”

That’s a great comment, but I’m not sure the people who believe the players kneeling during the National Anthem are protesting the US flag actually know who Rosa Parks was.

You want to keep on misrepresenting the issue and hiding behind the US flag? “There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people for a purpose which is unattainable.” – Howard Zinn

When did the brains of so many Americans turn to mush?

To Colin Kaepernick and every every other football player, coach, or team owner, singer or friend, to the Minnesota Lynx and the Los Angeles Sparks, to Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland A’s, to Stevie Wonder, to all who rally against divisive statements, who recognize diversity and tolerance and acceptance, and who, through their peaceful protest, bring the horror and tragedy of injustice to our awareness; to all of you who aren’t afraid to stand up: you’re all heroes.

To those who rant against and misrepresent the good intentions of others and who would deny the constitutional rights of those same people to peacefully express their beliefs, who think a peaceful protester is a “son of a bitch” who should lose his or her job: just go put on your MAGA caps and go away.

“It’s a shame and disgrace when you have the president of the US calling citizens of the country sons of a bitches.” – Minnesota Vikings running back Bishop Sankey

Minneapolis Skyway: #1

September 21, 2017

Minneapolis Skyway: #1

I work downtown Minneapolis and every day I try and make it a point to go for a walk through the skyway system. These “Minneapolis Skyway” entries are some of the things I see and hear and think.

This found conversation occurred this morning as I slowed down behind two women as we’re all walking down the five steps between the Canadian Pacific Plaza and the Rand Tower. I arrive in the middle of the conversation as the woman on the left says, “…and I’m really glad he didn’t go down there or I never would have gotten to sleep last night.”

 

The Minneapolis skyway system is a 9 mile above ground pedestrian walkway that connects nearly every downtown Minneapolis building over nearly 70 blocks. The skyways are climate controlled so they’re generally not too hot and not too cold and they’re filled with many small businesses. From restaurants and coffee shops to clothing stores and flower shops, from boutiques and dry cleaners and tailors, to a medical clinic and a physical therapy office. You’ll find chair massages, beauty and barber shops, hotels, jewelers, liquor stores, grocery stores, some art galleries, theaters and at least two museums and, if you’re lucky, a talented busker, all while walking through some of Minneapolis’ most historic buildings. And if that’s not enough, you can do it all while being safe from the insanity that makes up downtown drivers. Not to mention while being safe from the rain and the snow we sometimes get in Minneapolis. Despite the convoluted grumblings of some folks to remove all the skyways in order bring energy back to the streets and shoppers back into downtown retail, I personally hope they stay right where they are and continue to branch out.

How ’bout those Twins, eh?

September 20, 2017

I was talking with someone this morning about the Minnesota Twins’ poor performances in their last two games in New York and the guy wondered aloud why, when we go to New York, Joe Mauer can’t give the team a pep talk. I don’t necessarily disagree, but Joe Mauer isn’t, and never has been, that type of player. And while I’m fairly certain there’s someone else on the team who is, I’m not sure if a pep talk is what’s needed.

I won’t say the Twins have had a bad season, but when you look at our record this year against the Yankees, Cleveland, Boston, Houston and the Dodgers, all teams on the golden path to and through the post-season, we’re a combined 11-26 (.297), and with that record against the top teams, I don’t think our performance against the Yankees is an aberration, or that it’s a locker room pep talk that we need. These guys need to be roused into upping their game, this is their game.

I believe the issues with this team go well beyond a locker room pep talk or player determination or talent and speak to management’s approach to fielding a team.

This is the team that was, by design, assembled during the off season and during Spring Training and took the field on Opening Day and, with a few exceptions, are the guys we’re watching in September. The team was assembled, I believe, with just one goal: the ability to play competitive baseball (translation: a .500 team) in order to keep fan interest as high as possible for as long as possible. This is big money we’re talking about and interested fans buy tickets and food and merchandise; and ticket, food and merchandise sales is what pays the bills and makes the owner and his family richer. I don’t believe it was ever management’s intent to field a team with a legitimate chance at contending for the post-season or the World Series, but to just make money this summer for as long as possible.

So these guys are playing at their level (or above their level if you listen to most of the local sports commentators) – which is right around .500 – so I don’t know where pep talks are going to make a difference. With all due respect to the team, the reality of the 2017 Twins is that we’re a mediocre team that’s managed by an inexperienced (and maybe not so good?) manager, and because we play in the AL Central – a perennially weak division – we find ourselves in the postseason picture. None of that is bad, even the mediocre part, and I’ve certainly enjoyed this season as much as the next fan, but our position in the standings on September 20th isn’t, in my opinion, necessarily a reason to get all giddy over the post-season potential in front of us. Yeah, it’s fun, but I don’t think it’s anything to be excited about for anyone other than bandwagon jumpers and fair-weather fans.

And not to end on a total downer, considering we finish out the season with three against Cleveland and seven against Detroit (another team we’ve posted a losing record against this year) after today’s Yankees finale, there’s really no guarantee that we won’t get passed by KC and drop to 3rd in the division.

Powerball

September 20, 2017

In a world with relentlessly depressing – and oftentimes disturbing – news, I’m always on the lookout for something positive and, if I’m lucky, something that goes beyond test missiles, and hurricanes and earthquakes, and racism, and gun violence, and sexism, and discrimination, and lack of respect for other cultures, and the religious right, and fake this, and alternative that, and false political promises, and a certain shade of the color orange. I’m just looking for something simple and real and that speaks to me about the important things in life.

This morning I heart a story that spoke to me. Sixty-seven-year-old Judy Finchum of Colorado was on the news this morning because she won a $133 million Powerball jackpot. It wasn’t so much that Judy won the jackpot or that she’s been playing the same exact numbers every week for the last 30 years that spoke to me, it was her 70-year-old husband Mac. While I’m sure Mac is happy that Judy is now going to retire, all he wants of the $133 million is a new set of tires for his ’96 Ford truck. When Judy told him he could have a brand new truck now he said, “I don’t need a new truck, I like my truck. It’s just fine.”

And so, too, Mac, are you.

Thank you Mac Finchum for bringing me a message of simplicity this morning and reminding me of the important things in life. And thank you for putting a smile on my face. To you and Judy, enjoy the money in the best of health.

What Pegman Saw: When You Can’t See the Forest

September 19, 2017

What Pegman Saw is a weekly flash fiction writing prompt hosted by “author, nerd and mom”, K. Rawson. Utilizing Google Maps, she takes us to a new corner of the world every week where our task is to write a story in 150 or fewer words based on what we see at our destination.

This week’s trip takes us to St. Petersburg, Russia.

What Pegman saw:
Can't See the Forest

What I saw:

Can’t See the Forest

The motion was raised at the May 2015 City Council meeting, was seconded and unanimously passed without debate. Construction, to everyone’s surprise, took less than two weeks and citizens were so excited over the new recreation area that none of the residents of Hobbleton questioned why work was only performed at night or thought the absence of trucks and workers unusual.

That November, the Hobbleton council members voted to pass a motion to expand the pathways and two days after Christmas, the work, a myriad of rings within rings interlaced with mysterious designs, was complete and everyone was thrilled.

Including the surviving Kelbrath. The lizard-skinned alien race had been searching for a suitable planet since their own world began dying. The journey that brought them to Terra had taken roughly 300 years but the new landing pads would bring all Kelbrath to their new home. And a planet of food.

150 words.

= = = = = = = =

If you want to travel with Pegman just click HERE.

To hitch a ride with other travelers click on the little blue frog.

A different brand of baseball

September 18, 2017

This is too bad because I miss “old style” baseball where you strategized and used player and managerial skills to create and earn runs. Baseball, for me, as a power sport is not as good or as much fun as baseball as a finesse sport. Sure, home runs are fun, especially when it’s Joe Mauer hitting a Grand Slam like he did yesterday, but I’d much rather watch a game where runs were created by actually playing baseball than a guy throwing as hard as he can to a guy who’s swinging as hard as he can.

“The game has changed. From when I started, there’s a lot less stolen bases, there’s a lot less bunting, there’s a lot less hitting-and-running. You don’t give outs away, and you let guys swing the bat.” – New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi

From Ronald Blum at the Associated Press: “Smashing: MLB home run record set to fall Tuesday “

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