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Twins v. Yankees

October 3, 2017

Disillusioned by the Minnesota Twins being a huge underdog in tonight’s game in the Bronx, I turned to my generally, more often than not, sometimes, always reliable Magic 8 Ball for some insight into what might happen in 10 hours in this one game playoff (undoubtedly MLB’s most nerve-wracking game of all) and learned that after Ervin Santana falls behind early and things are looking bleak, the Twins rally and get to Luis Severino in the 5th and (assuming they don’t pitch to Aaron Judge at all) go on to win the game 7-5 behind Joe Mauer and his four hits and Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler home runs and Jose Berrios’ five innings of brilliant middle relief. This is exactly what we wait 27 weeks and 162 games for! Go Twins!

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What I’ve Learned from Facebook

September 29, 2017
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What have I learned from Facebook?

The easy answer is nothing. The slightly more complex answer is, well, still nothing.

I took a three week break from Facebook and I was surprised at how easy it was. Here’s a place I dropped into every morning to see what other people were saying and talking about. How, I wondered, would my mornings ever be the same without that deep, meaningful social interaction?

Guess what? They were.

How so? Because for the most part, no one talks on Facebook; people just talk and brag and talk and struggle to impress and there’s no real interaction in that. It’s thought to be social networking, but it’s not, by my definition, anything close to social.

What I thought I’d miss, I found, was something I didn’t want in the first place. How very Wizard of Oz-ish of me. . .

“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”

While I missed a few people with whom I share interests, and a couple of special interest groups, I didn’t miss the majority of the messages that are splattered across the timeline message feed. And to be honest, it felt good not seeing the inane messages of some. If you’re familiar with Facebook then you know what I’m talking about: the posts from people who believe themselves to be next Robin Williams, George Carlin, Steve Martin or Phyllis Diller when they’re more along the lines of Steve Urkel, Carrot Top, Gallagher or Sarah Silverman.

You put up with it because, hey, they’re ‘friends’, right?

Maybe Facebook isn’t really so different from real life, eh?

So, to sum it all up –

  1. Three weeks away from Facebook was not so difficult.
  2. Facebook takes a lot of time. And I’m not so sure that I’m willing to give it that much time.
  3. To the friends I missed on Facebook: I missed you!
  4. To some of the others: you’re still there, huh?

There’s a quote and I can’t verify who originally said it so take your pick between Robert Quillen or Will Rogers.

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people they don’t like.”

Facebook is sort of like that. It’s too many people saying things they haven’t the foggiest notion of to impress friends they don’t know.

I guess I like the old fashioned way of getting to know someone.

Random Thoughts #27: Kiwifruit

September 29, 2017

Kiwifruits are tasty and nutritious so why do they only make them in the small size?

(Random thought #27A: why is “kiwifruit” one word?)

Did ‘ya Hear the News?

September 28, 2017

Just two days ago I wrote about the Twins having a magic number of two to make it into the postseason. Well, the Minnesota Twins have just done what many – myself included – thought was impossible and in about 126 hours our hometown nine will be entering fall baseball and playing in the MLB postseason as the second Wild Card team and play either the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox in the one-game play in game.

For me there’s no sport that comes close to baseball and when we’re talking baseball there’s nothing that equals postseason baseball and when your team is a part of postseason baseball . . . damn, where are the words?

First, congratulations to the Twins’ players, manager Paul Molitor, team staff and management for bringing some postseason baseball back to Minnesota. I don’t care if it’s just one game or four games or 20 games; this is baseball and this is the postseason and this is what it’s all about.

The last time the Twins were in the postseason was in 2010. We had won the AL Central with a 94-68 record and then went on to lose the AL Division Series to the New York Yankees in three straight games over four nights. (If it’s any consolation, the Yankees then went on to lose to the AL Championship Series to the Texas Rangers) What followed were some dreadful years where we finished in last place with 90+ losses. In 2015 it looked like we had turned the corner by finishing with a respectable 83-79 season but then last year’s campaign saw us tumble to an embarrassing MLB worst record of 59-103.

But, hey, that was then and this is now, and now says the 2017 Twins have set a MLB record by going from having the most losses in a season to making the postseason the following season.

Did I mention that the Twins are in the postseason? Or that I’m excited?

Who knows how it’ll play out but today it’s looking like we’ll be playing the Yankees next Tuesday in the Wild Card play in game.

The assumption is that staff ace Ervin Santana (16 – 8; .3.36 ERA; 1.134 WHIP; 173 hits/85 runs) will be making Tuesday’s start, but I’m not so sure that’s a good idea. Yeah, Santana is pretty good so you’d think you want your best pitcher on the mound in a win-or-go-home game, but if Santana starts the Wild Card game that means (assuming the Twins win) he’ll only get one start in the American League Division Series instead of two. If I’m managing the team, I’d want him on the mound for two in the ALDS. Also, assuming it’s the Yankees we have to play (which isn’t a guarantee at this point) Santana’s numbers against the Yankees aren’t so spectacular.

Santana’s numbers against the Yankees in 20 career starts: 5.66 ERA; 1.517 WHIP; 138 hits/81 runs

Those numbers are a little better against the Red Sox in 15 career starts: 5.17 ERA; 1.264 WHIP; 82 hits/52 runs.

If it were me taking this team through the postseason and toward a 2017 World Series I’d have Kyle Gibson as my Wild Card Game pitcher. While Gibson had a horrible first half (16 games: 5-7; 6.31 ERA, 1.770 WHIP; 106 hits/61 runs), he rebounded brilliantly in the second half and over 12 starts he put up a great 7-3 record with a 3.58 ERA and a 1.247 WHIP while allowing 69 hits and 29 runs. I’d start Gibson and keep him on a short leash and if he runs into trouble then I’d pull him as early as the second inning and bring in Jose Berrios and go from there.

But that’s just me and I’m just a fan and all I care about is that the Twins are in the postseason!

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Go Twins!

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?

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.

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