And Their Bats Trembled

If I am fortunate enough to have kids one day, this is one of the stories I’ll tell them about the first year the Minnesota Twins played at Target Field.

Back in 2010, kids, we had a lot to look forward to in Twins Territory. We had a brand-spankin’-new ballpark, we had signed a few new players during the offseason who looked full of promise for the best lineup we had seen for a while, and our hometown hero Joe Mauer signed a long-term contract during spring training. But when we learned that our closer, Joe Nathan, would be out for the season, it was like a little black cloud settled over the bullpen, bringing uncertainty, debate, speculation, and perhaps even a little fear among Twins fans everywhere as we wondered who could save the day in Twitchy’s place. We had become used to what he brought to our team, used to his entrance music, used to seeing number 36 come in at the end to close out games.

At first we were told it would be “closer by committee,” but soon we learned that Jon Rauch would be given the opportunity to prove himself as our closer for the season. I didn’t know much about this guy, except that he was the tallest player in the history of major league baseball, at 6’11”. And that he had a lot of tattoos. As it happened, he had a couple of feats to his name before coming to the Twins in August of 2009. While playing with the Expos/Nationals, he became the tallest player to hit a home run (against Roger Clemens in 2004), and he was the first pitcher credited with a win at Nationals Park (March 30, 2008).

Now, no pitcher is perfect, and in his first 13 save opportunities, Rauch had a couple of blown saves (one of which I was at Target Field for), but one (the other one) ended up being a win for him, similar to that first game at Nationals Park actually, so it wasn’t so bad. I can’t speak for other Twins fans, but by the end of May that year, any fears I might have had about our closing situation had disappeared. I even started considering downloading his entrance music (“Wherever I May Roam,” by Metallica, which was also his music when he was the closer for the Nationals in the injured Chad Cordero’s place in the first half of 2008) from iTunes, despite never really being a fan of metal.

It’s possible the guy was a just a good pitcher, but I’m pretty sure that much of his success was because when he came to the mound, the opposing hitters’ bats simply trembled at the sight of him. That’s my story, anyway.

When Baseball and Knitting Collide

The title of this post would be kind of an awesome name for a blog, but alas, I’m having enough trouble coming up with stuff to write about here, let alone elsewhere.

With the cooler weather today, I started thinking about ways to keep warm at the ballpark. As it happens, one of the ways I spend my free time, besides taking in as much baseball as I can, is knitting. I have quite a few other hobbies, but since teaching myself the basics of knitting about a year and a half ago, I’ve become very addicted. A few weeks ago I noticed a post on my favorite online knitting hangout, Ravelry, calling for “baseball lovin’ test knitters.” I’d never done any test knitting, but I was intrigued. It turned out someone had designed a pair of fingerless gloves with a baseball theme. The pattern is called “Double Play,” and the pair I made are pictured below. The baseball lacing is subtle in this version, but still a neat effect. They were really fun to knit, and I’m very happy to have them as part of my personal Target Field Weather Preparedness Kit.

doubleplay

These can be knit with any color(s) you like so they’re customized for your baseball team (I was sort of going for Twins colors, but they’re not quite right, I know). The designer’s blog shows another version with the baseball stitches done with doublestitching (I’d like to knit this version too, but I need to find just the right red yarn first).

If you (or someone who likes you very much) knits and you must have a pair of your very own, the pattern is available through Ravelry (free to join, and you can find me there as tygress) for $4.00 here.

The (Unwritten) Rules of Baseball

I don’t think it was our plan to do so, but perhaps our theme for this off-day is books on baseball. While reading this post over at Babes Love Baseball today, I was reminded of a book I learned about from another blog several weeks ago that intrigued me.

It seems like I’m constantly trying to catch up with all the Twins and general baseball blogs I enjoy reading (if it weren’t for Google Reader I’d never even know where I left off, so thank goodness for RSS). A while back I read a post at Over the Baggy that mentioned a New York Post article about a new book, The Baseball Codes by Jason Turbow. Parker pulled out one Twins-related story from the article, but I was curious enough about the topic that I read the entire article, which I found fascinating.

Probably part of the reason I found this fascinating is just that my knowledge of baseball history is pretty lacking. I want to improve that, and I do pick up a little here and there, but there’s only so much time in the day, you know? I’ve picked up a handful of books over the past few years, but finding time to read them is an entirely different issue.

But a larger part of the reason for my fascination is that I just don’t know very much about the rules behind the rules of baseball, the ethical code the players follow that doesn’t really have anything to do with MLB’s rules (as far as I can tell, anyway). I played some community rec center softball when I was in elementary school, but none of this really came up at that age. Certainly most, if not all, subcultures have these types of customs that I have no reason to know about as an outsider, but I didn’t realize how much baseball’s affect actual game play. So, I have decided I need to learn more.

When I looked for the book mentioned above at Amazon.com, a couple of other books published within the past couple of years or so popped up in my search as well. So, dear readers, I’m asking you to help me decide which one I should purchase. I might have a slight preference for the first two in the poll just because they both have Kindle editions available and I really don’t have much room for books in my new home, but I’ll go with the consensus. If there is one. The full titles and links to Amazon.com follow.

The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America’s Pastime by Jason Turbow (published March 2010)

The Unwritten Rules of Baseball: The Etiquette, Conventional Wisdom, and Axiomatic Codes of Our National Pastime by Paul Dickson (published March 2009)

The Code: Baseball’s Unwritten Rules and Its Ignore-at-Your-Own-Risk Code of Conduct by Ross Bernstein (published March 2008)

(I sense a theme with those publication dates.) (I really hope the poll works, as I had a tough time getting this to save and publish.)

GameChat – Exhibition – Cardinals @ Twins

I haven’t quite figured out where Babs copies the lineups with links from, so for the moment, lineups grabbed from Kelly’s Corner. Come join me/us in the GameChat channel!

Here’s the chart!

St. Louis @ Minnesota
Schumaker, 2B   Span, CF
Ryan, Br, SS   Hudson, O, 2B
Pujols, 1B   Mauer, C
Holliday, LF   Morneau, 1B
Rasmus, CF   Cuddyer, RF
Ludwick, RF   Kubel, DH
Lopez, F, DH   Young, D, LF
Freese, 3B   Hardy, SS
Pagnozzi, C   Punto, 3B
Lohse, P   Pavano, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
St. Louis 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 5 0 8 13 2
Minnesota 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 4 4 1

But the boxscore just really can’t accurately describe what it was like for those of us here watching the game from the live chat.  From Span kicking tail and getting the first  HR in Target Field, seeing random friends enjoying the amenities, or even seeing Jacque Jones back in Minnesota!!  What a fantastic day for baseball in this state!

Because it wasn’t enough for Span to have the first triple at Target Field, he also had to smash the first home run.

span040210

It’s always nice to see someone you know, Seth Stohs, on TV. Eating a cheese-covered nacho chip.

seth040210

It was great to see that the fans at the ballpark remember Jacque Jones fondly too.

jones040210

What Not to Wear: Baseball Edition

It just about figures that just when I have a little extra time to sit at the computer and write a bit for the blog, the mechanism that holds my laptop on the computer stand at the right angle goes wonky. Typing with my laptop actually on my lap is a challenge. But the show must go on…

It’s been quite some time since I watched an episode of What Not to Wear, but I’m pretty sure that if they got a look at my closet, the hosts would not approve of much in there. At the top of list of things that don’t look great on me would probably be my Twins jersey collection.

I was thinking about this recently after stumbling upon a few posts around the blogosphere discussing the new MLB clothing line for women being sold by Victoria’s Secret. You can find better insight than I’m likely to provide herehere, and here.

Before I go on, I want to mention that if you’re digging the MLB clothes at Victoria’s Secret, or any of the other offerings I’m not into, that’s totally cool with me.

When I first heard about this new women’s baseball clothing line, I didn’t think about it much beyond “Gee, it’s great that the Twins are one of the teams included, but Victoria’s Secret doesn’t sell anything that fits me, so there’s no point in checking this out further.”  The fit problem isn’t exclusive to Victoria’s Secret by any means, but when I read what others had to say, I starting thinking about how it’s harder for me to find clothes that look decent on me to wear to games than it is to get tickets to Target Field in the first place.

My problem with what I’ve been able to find so far at the Twins Pro Shops isn’t necessarily that the offerings for women are pink or glittery or have things written on them I wouldn’t want to wear on a shirt, though I totally understand and agree with those issues, but rather that even if I wanted to wear these things, they aren’t offered in a size even close to what I wear.

Sure, I could stand to lose more than a few pounds, and though I don’t plan to generally talk about personal stuff like that on this blog (heaven knows I don’t really to care to talk about it most of the time anyway), the fact is there are lots of women baseball fans of all shapes and sizes, and we should all have at least a few good options. I like my jersey collection just fine, but I’d like it even better if I could get them in a fit more suitable for a woman. I have to get a men’s XXL to really be comfortable at all and be able to wear a long-sleeved t-shirt underneath in cooler weather, and I mostly feel like I’m wearing an unflattering box of a shirt that’s ridiculously too long. If I don’t feel good in it, I very much doubt I look good in it. And I’m sure Stacy and Clinton would disapprove of the look.

There is a replica jersey for women available in the online Twins shop, but I can’t find any information about the sizing. There’s an XXL available? Great! But what is the equivalent in real sizes? (Note: I did eventually find a link to sizing information with a different item, but it only went to XL, and it didn’t look promising for me.) And putting aside the sizing issue, why only one style for women? Shouldn’t 45% of baseball fans have more options than one style in a narrow range of sizes? I counted four replica jerseys for men, plus several other jerseys, like the batting practice one or the Cooperstown one.

One thing I noticed while browsing the online shop is that there’s actually a Plus Size category under Women’s. Hooray! Except the only thing there is a tank top. Boo! I might have to get the tank top, though. It might be nice to have the option for hot summer days at Target Field. But it would be nice to be able to purchase it at a Pro Shop where I get a lovely season-ticket holder discount. UPDATE: Since I originally wrote most of this a week or two ago, a few more items have been added to the Plus Size section of the online store. The tank isn’t available in my preferred size, but there’s a jacket I might have to pull the trigger on since I received a 20% off code the other day.

While at a Pro Shop recently, I was happy to see more women’s styles in regular team colors, including a sweatshirt I’d love to have for early spring and later fall games, but none looked at all like they’d fit me. So I’m relegated to the men’s clothes and yet another long box.

My First Look at Target Field

Because I went a little crazy last weekend and bought that season ticket package, I was able to head down to Target Field today and check out my seats, the sights, and a little bit of the food. My friend Molly came along with me, and it was happily not too difficult to find our way into one of the parking ramps.  We had a short hike through the skyway, during which we saw this view.

01-skywayview

Just about the time you’re wondering if you’re going to make it where you want to go, there’s this door to the outside, revealing Target Plaza and Gate 34.

02-doorfromskyway

These are the stairs that come down from the skyway to the plaza.

03-stairsfromskyway

This is the view of the plaza as you leave the stairs.

04-plazagate34

After entering through Gate 34 and heading to the left, a lot of food and beverage options await you on the concourse.

05-concourse

This vendor was a welcome sight.

06-beer

I love that there are escalators. We took two to get up to section 322.

07-escalator

I forgot to log onto the season ticketholder website (I don’t have my actual tickets yet) to verify what the numbers of my seats are; I thought they were 3 and 4 but they’re really 13 and 14. Thus, this is sort of the view from my seats. I’m hoping that the view of home plate won’t be behind rails ten seats to the left.

08-viewfromseats

Here’s the view of the videoboard from not-quite-my seats.

09-anotherview

I’m not sure why, but I’ve been assuming the bleacher seats are the kind without backs. I was very happy to see they do indeed have back support.

10-bleachers

Molly and I both tried the Italian sausage and deemed it pretty tasty. Molly also got a cup of fries, which weren’t bad at all (I’m not as much into fries, but I might buy them sometime).

Not Part of the Day’s Plan

Yesterday started out innocently enough. I had a lazy morning getting ready to attend the TwinsCentric Viewing Party and picked up CapitalBabs a little bit before 11 a.m. to head down to Apple Valley. After we arrived and said hi to some of the TwinsCentric guys, we set up our computers for the live GameChat. Watching the first televised game of the year and hanging out with a bunch of other Twins fans for the first time this year was a great time. I even won one of the door prizes, a copy of TwinsCentric’s 2010 Minnesota Twins Annual. Since I’ve already purchased one, I’ll be giving the second one as a gift (recipient to be revealed at a later date). I’m really not all that great with meeting people at these types of events (or pretty much any other type of event), but if we have more of these throughout the season, I’ll eventually start to get to know folks.

One topic of conversation between Babs and me and between us and others at Majors was the availability of single-game tickets, which went on sale to the general public yesterday. The more I’ve heard about availability, the more I’ve wondered if I’d be able to get to many games at all and considered whether it might be worth going for a season ticket plan and just selling tickets for games I can’t go to or don’t “need” to attend, but wasn’t sure that was a good financial decision to make right now. After discussing it very briefly with Babs and another friend of ours and realizing how easy it’ll probably be for me to sell my unneeded tickets, Babs dialed the number to the ticket office and I took the plunge.

I am now the owner of two seats in section 322 in the 20-game plan C (orange). Part of me feels like it was one of the craziest things I’ve done in a while, part of me is relieved to know I’ll have tickets to as many games as I generally care to attend in a year, and part of me is just thrilled to be a season-ticket holder. When I woke up this morning I had to go look at the notes I took while on the phone to confirm it really happened.

Next Sunday I get to check out Target Field, including the view from my seats. Remind me to take my camera, okay?

Speaking of Baseball Boyfriends

While Babs is trying to sort out what to do if her baseball boyfriend ends up on the DL, I’m sitting here wondering if I’ll ever be able to choose another Twins boyfriend at all.

I’ve had two BFs in the past, and both ended with the players being traded. It’s sort of interesting that both are pitchers because I don’t necessarily consider myself to have a favorite position or anything, but there it is.

While some girls may have practically a harem of BFs, backup BFs, and flirt buddies, I’ve always been pretty monogamous about the whole thing. I don’t really remember now how I pinned by BF sights on Eric Milton, but I’m guessing his no-hitter back in ’99 didn’t hurt. I finally bought my first Twins jersey in 2003 with Milton’s name on it, and he was traded after that season. *sigh*

[Milton was before I had a digital camera. Considering how long it's been since I got my first one, wow, it's been a long time since he left. If I scrounge up a non-digital photo I'll scan and add it.]

One problem I have with choosing a Twins BF is that I don’t really like to share, at least not with those I attend games with or talk baseball with ever, which might explain my fling the next couple of seasons with J.C. Romero. He seemed to be someone others loved to hate, so I pretty much had him to myself. I didn’t get as far as buying a jersey with his name on it, but I probably would have if he hadn’t been traded after the 2005 season.

romero071905-3

Wait — it’s been four years since Juan Carlos (that’s what I called him in my head) was traded? I’ve really lost track of the time while trying to figure out who would make a good new BF.

The first place one might look is who my former BFs were traded for. Milton: Carlos Silva (now with the Cubs), Bobby Korecky (now with the Diamondbacks) and Nick Punto. Huh. It feels like Punto’s been around longer than that. He isn’t BF material for me, but I can’t imagine the Twins without him right now.

Romero: Alexi Casilla. I love watching Casilla play, but also just not quite right for my baseball BF.

So I’m back to the rest of the guys. I’ve been perusing the 40-man roster and no jumps out at me at all. I like so many of them, but either they’re not a good fit for me or they’ve been claimed by someone else.

Maybe the problem is that I really need to be able to see these guys out in the sun or something before I’ll find one who makes my heart sing. I know I saw many of them in a new light when I attended an away game in Anaheim a few years ago, so maybe the new ballpark is what I really need.

Rather than studying the roster maybe what I really should be doing is figuring out if I’m going to be able to buy tickets for a game or two when the single-game tickets go on sale this Saturday.

So, who makes your heart go pitter pat?

Better than a Good Day Anywhere Else

I’m a baseball fan, particularly of the Minnesota Twins. I’m not a baseball analyst or any kind of expert. Just a fan.

But apparently I’m a fan who’d like to share a few of her thoughts about the Twins with more people than just her baseball-loving friends and coworkers. The first thoughts I’ll be sharing are about our intro topic, the dreaded offseason.

When the offseason first arrives, it’s nice to catch my breath, especially after a whirlwind like what was the last week or so of the Twins’ 2009 season. And sure, when I’m ready to put the season behind me there are plenty of distractions that attempt to fill the void, like football or Christmas or the Winter Olympics, but as much as I might enjoy them at the time, they’re just not the same as sitting at the ballpark with a Dome Dog (*sigh*) in one hand and my scoring notebook in the other (this is not actually a feat I can accomplish — how can I hold a pencil and napkin too?), watching nine blessed innings of my favorite baseball team.

I always have big plans for the offseason because I have a lot of things I still want to learn (remember that part about how I’m not an expert?). Such as, how is it other people I watch games with seem to have some sort of innate ability to be able to tell what type if pitch was just thrown? How have I not picked that up by now? How does everyone but me remember minute details about seemingly every single game that’s ever been played? Sometimes I think that maybe if I can just watch enough replays during the offseason I might be able to have more intelligent baseball discussions, but I always end up too busy to try the experiment.

The one good thing about the offseason is that we have something to look forward to when the long, dark winter is over. Because as the saying goes, a bad day at the ballpark is better than a good day anywhere else. Especially when stuff like in the following photo happens (and pay no mind to the uniform; he’ll always be a Twin to me).

Doug M. 4/11/07