A Slight Detour

Now that the non-waiver trade deadline has passed, there’s a little more time to stop and take a breath. I admit that I generally really enjoy the days and weeks leading up to the trade deadlines, both the one we just went through and the waiver-deal deadline that comes up at the end of August. That’s the date by which players have to be on a team’s roster in order to be eligible for post-season play with that team.

The Twins were particularly interesting to follow this month because of all the uncertainty concerning whether they were buyers or sellers or, as some of us have begun to suspect, have very little clue which they are or should be. But regardless of what any of us think about the Twins’ front office and their performance during this critical period, the fact remains that this particular trade deadline period is over… and I find myself a little burned out on writing about the Twins.

Partially as a result of that fact, my focus has begun to shift a bit to other areas and today I’m going to take a little detour off of the Twins highway.

As I’ve indicated before, I’m also a Vikings fan as well as a fan of Iowa Hawkeye athletics. The whole labor issue thing with the NFL has frankly soured me a bit on professional football, but I’m sure that by the time the Vikings play their first game, I’ll be taking a glance at their roster to see who’s still here and who isn’t.

But I’ve been really getting geared up for college football. I’m a Hawkeye season ticket holder, which means I can also put in for tickets to road games. I’ve received word I got a pair of tickets for the Hawks’ visit to TCF Stadium this fall, but, alas, I apparently don’t donate enough $ to the I-Club to have earned tickets to their game at Nebraska. I’m kind of bummed about that. The game is scheduled for the Friday after Thanksgiving and we’re kind of hoping that becomes a big traditional game. I’m going to try to get tickets through other avenues, because I hear Lincoln, Nebraska is a really nice place to spend a couple of days in late November. Besides, they’ve decided they’re going to play for a trophy or something… how cool is that? Yes, I know pretty much EVERY Big Ten contest involves a trophy these days, but this contest even has a NAME… “The HEROES GAME”. How can a guy not want to go see that?!

While I’m on the subject, I just want to mention how excited I am about Nebraska joining the Big Ten Conference. I thought it was a good fit when it was announced over a year ago and I think it’s an even better fit after several months of reflection.

I’m not always a big fan of the people who run college athletics at any level, whether it’s the NCAA or the people in charge of the Big Ten (or even the people in charge of the Iowa Hawkeyes, but I’ll spare you all that particular rant today). But I have to say I think they got this realignment thing pretty much right, with the addition of the Cornhuskers and the way they divided up the schools in to divisions. No, I’m not fond of the “Legends and Leaders” division names, but off hand I can’t say I’ve heard suggestions I liked any better.

I don’t mention it often here, but I’m also not generally a huge fan of most of what I read in my local home town Cedar Rapids Gazette sports section. Some of the writers there do an OK job covering local and college sports, but I don’t remember the last time I read something and thought, “Wow… that was really good. I’m glad I read the Gazette today!”

Until a week or two ago, that is.

A local writer for the Gazette, Scott Dochterman, wrote a 10-part series about what the Big Ten Conference went through as they tried to figure out how to divide up the twelve schools in to two divisions. He interviewed conference staff and almost every school’s Athletics Director and while he didn’t come out of those interviews with any juicy stories of ADs in fistfights, he did manage to give readers a good look at the process and challenges that the decision-makers had to work through. I came away with a lot of respect for the way people set aside some parochial interests in order to do what was right for the whole conference. When you compare the way these people conducted themselves with what was reported about how the Big 12 poobahs comported themselves in the past, you really feel good about being a Big Ten fan.

The series doesn’t focus on Iowa, despite being authored by a writer who covers the Hawkeyes, so if you have an interest in Big Ten football, I highly recommend checking the series out. You can click here to go to a “Postcript and Links” entry, which includes summaries and links to all ten chapters of the series.

As for the Twins, I’m planning on driving up to the Twin Cities this weekend to catch at least some of the White Sox series, so I’m sure I’ll post some pictures and thoughts about those games at some point. I was hoping to have a chance to catch Jim Thome’s 600th home run, but the way things are going, I may have to settle for seeing Joe Nathan’s record-breaking save (since he and the Twins seem bound and determined to screw up our DVD contest!). It may also be the last time I get to see Ozzie in action if rumors of him managing the Marlins next season turn out to be accurate.

If you’re going to be in the Twin Cities over the weekend and especially if you’re planning on going to any of those games, leave a comment or drop me an email and maybe we can find a way to get together for a beer or something. The season may not be going the way we all hoped it would, but there still aren’t many better ways to kill a few hours than going to a ballgame and I’m going to do a bit of that this weekend.

– JC

5 thoughts on “A Slight Detour

  1. If you are going to the weekend games, I think the most important question becomes what prominent location in your house will the beloved Hrbek-Gant bobblehead be displayed? It would be great to not be “afar” for the ’91 weekend.

  2. I confess that the Hrbek/Gant bobblehead promotion is a part of my incentive to drive up this weekend. Yes, I’m a closet bobblehead fan. It took all of my self-control to keep from spending almost $400 for the “complete set” of 1991 bobbleheads when they went on sale a couple weeks ago.

    Assuming I’m one of the first 10,000 fans in the gates and I get one of the prized bobbleheads, it will end up in one of two places… either on the shelf above my fireplace (alongside my autographed Mauer, Morneau and Nathan bobbleheads) or at my son’s house in the bedroom that his wife has graciously allowed him to turn in to a sports memorabilia shrine of sorts.

    Of course, I can’t guarantee I won’t offer someone a bit of cash for his/her bobblehead on the way out of the game Friday night, so that Hrbie and Gant end up in both homes. It’s been known to happen before.

  3. Yea, I think I’ll scour Ebay in a few weeks after people have overpaid for them. By the way, the Rock Cats just did a Danny Valencia bobblehead giveaway, and because no one goes to the games, you can purchase it for $9.99 online now.

  4. While it will be fun to see the Nebraska-Iowa rivalry develop, I’m still grieving Big 10 expansion and breaking into divisions. Hate it, Hate it, Hate it. And will absolutely miss the Wisconsin rivalry.

    BLECH.

  5. jb, obviously the Wisconsin/Iowa game was one of the fatalities. In the articles I linked to, it sure reads like Alvarez tried hard to keep that game in place… harder than the Iowa people did.

    Maybe it’s because I lived in both Minn and Iowa growing up, but that’s the only “rivalry” I have ever had any attachment to. The Wisconsin game, to me, was never any bigger than any other B10 game. It was big if both teams were good, but not so big when they weren’t.

    I’ve hated the mid-November to early-December stretch because no B10 games were being played and we had to read/listen to how great the SEC and Big12 teams were for 3 weeks straight. That shouldn’t be the case any more and I’m looking forward to seeing how this new alignment works out.