Welcome back, Knuckleballs readers. Long time-no see.
My contributions here have been sparse, at best, lately. I’m hoping that’s about to change.
I took a little time off, for a couple of reasons. I think they were good reasons, but then I’m biased, obviously.
After completing my third season of covering the Cedar Rapids Kernels for MetroSportsReport.com and contributing articles to TwinsDaily.com, I simply needed time away from writing on a regular basis.
Oh, I also lost my “day job,” so that’s taken a bit of getting used to, too.
I got a decent “separation pay” deal from my employer and by officially “retiring,” I’m also able to keep most of the most important benefits (health insurance, etc.), so there are certainly worse ways to lose your job.
I’m not looking for sympathy here. I was ready to move on and, as it turns out, my employer was ready enough to have me move on that they’re willing to pay me for quite some time NOT to work for them. Not a bad situation, at all.
Still, it leaves me in a position to essentially reboot my life, or at least significant aspects of my future. I make a lot of “old man” jokes at my own expense, but I’m really not all that old. I haven’t reached the big six-oh yet, though I’m certainly closing in on it. The point is, I feel like it’s far too early for me to simply do nothing with my day.
The nice thing is that my financial situation allows me to take some time to examine my options and find something that I feel I’ll really enjoy doing with my time going forward. That will be a nice change.
In the meantime, I think I’m ready to get back at the keyboard on a more regular basis. For now, that means, hopefully, posting more frequently here. I realize that, when you take the kind of hiatus I’ve taken, it will be difficult (and, possibly, impossible) to get readership levels back to what they used to be.
That’s OK (for now, anyway).
I couldn’t decide on one topic to write about today, so I’m going to just touch on a number of issues.
World Series Game 1
Wow. How are they going to top that?
Game 1 had all the usual stuff (good pitching, good defense, good hitting) and then some:
- Human interest (Volquez pitching after his father passed away earlier in the day)
- Network difficulties (What the hell, FOX?)
- A totally unexpected defensive lapse that threatened to cost the Royals the game.
- A deep home run in the 9th inning off a shut-down closer to tie the game.
- Five extra innings, before the guy who made the aforementioned error drove in the walk-off run with a sacrifice fly.
On Twitter, I went on record as picking the Royals to win the Series in seven games.
That’s probably less of a prediction than it is a hope. I’m an American League guy so, as long as it’s not the Yankees in the Series, I’m almost always going to be pulling for the AL representative. Mostly, though, I just want to see a great Series and that would include a deciding seventh game.
Torii Hunter’s Retirement
Hunter made the right call. There’s no way to look at his work on the field this season and objectively say that it looks like he still has enough in the tank to be a regular contributor on a team that expects to be a contender and, let’s face it, Torii Hunter is not cut out to play a reserve role. It’s not in his personality.
I give credit where I believe it’s due, however. His presence on the team was a net-positive for the Twins and, without him, I do not believe they have as much success in 2015 as they did.
It sounds like he’ll get an opportunity to join the Twins’ front office in some capacity. I have mixed feelings about that and I suppose where I come down on the subject will depend on what role he’s given.
On the one hand, clearly Major League Baseball needs more African-Americans in front office positions and Torii Hunter has the background and personality that one would think might make him successful in some kind of front office role.
On the other hand, given some of Hunter’s stated views on certain social issues, I would have a difficult time trusting him to make any sort of personnel decisions that call for inclusion of staff from diverse backgrounds and beliefs.
In the end, nobody really should care all that much what a professional baseball player believes, with regard to racial, religious or any other social issue. I know I don’t. But if/when that player is being considered for a position in a professional business organization (which is what the front office is), now we can and should care about those views because they can impact who that team hires and how employees are treated in the workplace.
It will be interesting to see how this turns out. In the meantime, I would congratulate Hunter on a terrific Major League career and thank him for what he contributed to my enjoyment of Minnesota Twins baseball during his years in a Twins uniform.
Big Ten Football
Yeah, I know this has been primarily a baseball blog since we opened the doors here going on six years ago. It will probably stay that way, for the most part, but I do have interests outside of baseball, so sometimes I’m going to write about those things. This is one of those times.
I gave up my Iowa Hawkeyes football season tickets this season for a number of reasons. I’m not sorry I did so. Surprisingly, even though I now have a lot more free time on my hands, it would have been very difficult for me to make it to many games at Kinnick Stadium this year and the home schedule, frankly, was not something to get too excited about.
Fortunately, the Hawkeyes have rewarded my lack of financial support by going 7-0 so far this season and, thanks to a pretty weak B1G West, they have a reasonable shot at being undefeated in the regular season and heading to Indianapolis for the conference Championship Game.
I have probably jinxed the Hawkeyes, however. I bought Championship Game tickets on Stubhub last week.
I also have tickets for the November 14 game against Minnesota.
That should be an interesting day, for a couple of reasons.
First, it’s a night game at Kinnick and that’s always a good time. The Hawkeyes and Gophers usually battle one another pretty hard, so it shapes up as being perhaps one of the few really good games left on the home schedule.
Iowa will also finally join the “alternate uniform” trend that night with all-black uniforms on tap for the game with the Gophers.
As a warm-up for the game, Hawkeye wrestling has a meet with Oklahoma State scheduled for 11 am that Saturday – in Kinnick Stadium. Yes, an outdoor college wrestling meet in Iowa in November. What could possibly go wrong?
The plan is to break the college wrestling meet attendance record set at Penn State last season. Based on initial demand for tickets, the old record won’t just be broken, it will be obliterated.
So on the 14th, I’ll need to get to Kinnick for wrestling by 11, then tailgate a few hours before the Hawks and Gophers tee it up at 7 pm. It’s quite possible that I’m too old for that, but we’ll see how it goes.
On a much less pleasant note, I think everyone who’s a fan of college football was sad to see Minnesota coach Jerry Kill step down from his job with the Gophers for health reasons. It’s impossible to watch the video of his press conference and not feel heartbroken for the man, his family and, by extension, the U of M Community.
Despite seeming to take a bit of step backwards this season, Kill appeared to have the Gopher football program moving in a positive direction, but regardless of what you feel about the program, he has always come across to me as a genuinely good man with his heart in the right place.
I’m confident he will successfully transition in to other roles that he will find fulfilling, eventually. I wish him all the best.
That’s it for today.
I’ll do my best to be back with more regular postings and you can look forward to on-site reports (and photos) next week from the Arizona Fall League in Phoenix. I’m looking forward to spending a few days down there because there are several Twins prospects (most of them also former Kernels) playing and – well – it’s Arizona in November.