Joe Mauer has made his retirement official and it has me reflecting on favorite ballplayers and how our relationships with them change as we age.
As previously mentioned, the day after Martini’s wedding, I took Quinn, Harvey, and Katie to Target Field to see the Twins play the Brewers. Except that Quinn was, uh, recovering and didn’t show up until the top of the 5th. No worries however — he still got to see 9 full innings of baseball as the Twins and Brewers decided it was a good day to play 15. In fact, Quinn saw more innings than Harvey and Katie, who had to leave after the 9th in order to catch their respective flights. There was also a 45 minute rain delay in the 12th, during which I got to visit the Metropolitan Club for the first time, thanks to a new friend I had previously only known on Twinkie Town and twitter, who happened to be sitting a few rows in front of us in the third deck. Thanks, Anelle (not her real name)!
As for the game — the good guys won! Both teams scored a run early through a combination of small ball, but then the Brewers went up 4-1 in the 5th on a Corey Hart 3-run homerun. (This coincided with Quinn arriving at our seats, so we decided it was his fault.) The many Brewers fans in the park went crazy, but their joy only lasted a few innings as the Twins tied it up in the 7th on a walk and four singles. And then the score stayed tied… and stayed tied. And then it rained… and rained.
After our field trip to the Metropolitan Club, where I checked out some Blyleven memorabilia and some Twins china, we relocated to the first level, right behind first base. Jeff Gray came in to pitch for the Twins and performed like an ace for three innings, before getting replaced by Swarzak in the 15th. In the bottom half of the innings, the Twins managed to load the bases in the 12th, but failed to score. Then came the 15th and they put two runners on. Jamey Carroll hit a single and Trevor Plouffe came around to score what I was sure would be the winning run, only to get caught in a run down. After a Brewers pitching change and some defensive indifference, Denard Span came to the plate with runners on second and third… and boom! Solid single to right to win the game! Twins win! The crowd (all eighteen of us left — which apparently included my uncle and cousin) went crazy!
Take that, Wisconsin. Here’s some pictures.
I’m currently in Minneapolis for Martini’s wedding. On Sunday, I’ll be at Target Field taking Harvey, Quinn, and Katie to the Brewers-Twins games. I was so excited about this that I forgot to notice that it was going to be Father’s Day and I’d be at a baseball game in my hometown without my dad. To make up for this, I bought four Legends Club seats to tonight’s game against the Phillies — Jim Thome’s triumphant return to Target Field — and took my parents and sister.
Now, Jim Thome holds the current record for number of homeruns hit at Target Field. He hit his 600th career homerun for the Twins last season in Detroit (which, if you’ll recall, I screwed up by not being at), and then they released him so that he would get picked up by a contender. Now this year he’s playing for his old manager Charlie Manuel in the National League where there is no DH… except tonight in the Interleague game against the Twins. He already crushed one homerun on Wednesday, so my hope was that he’d gotten it out of his system and the Twins could win today’s game and thus win the series.
Jim Thome crushed a 3 run homer in the third to put the Phillies up 4-1. Odds are, that’s his last homerun at Target Field. Slightly smaller odds are that that’s his last homerun, since I’ve heard rumors that he’ll be retiring once these interleague series are over. Unfortunately, I foolishly left the good camera at home, so the only picture I took is this camera phone shot of Thome about to cross the plate… good job, Gentleman Jim. And happy father’s day, Dad!
I’m a little late, but it was State Fair time again… I left my camera at the cabin, so the only photo I have is one taken with my phone of a calf just after being born. Moo.
I went to the fair twice this year. The first time was with my sister on a slightly rainy Tuesday. We arrived early in the morning (8:30-ish) and got in as much as we could before I went to work at the milk booth for the second year in a row. As we were heading in, the ticket takers offered us a map.
“Do we want one?” I asked my sister.
“We could,” she said, “Or we could just rely on the fact that we’ve been coming here for over 25 years and we have the place memorized.”
“Right,” I said, “Let’s go with the second option.”
And into the fair we went, eating in chronological order…
- Deep fried pickles — a breakfast of champions, including all three varieties (regular, gourmet (with cream cheese), and cajun)
- Sarsaparilla — not root beer, the real stuff (Anne passed)
- Deep fried cheese curds — from the Mouse Trap
- Strawberry banana smoothie — Actually, this was just Anne
- Sunflower honey ice cream — made with real Minnesota honey
- French Fries — World’s Greatest, so says the sign
- Brownie — The brownies used to be by the milk stand, and Anne and I reminisced about when they used to be breakfast
- Free water from the WCCO booth — They no longer carry Twins games, but they still give away free water at the fair
- Lots of milk — poured by yours truly
- The best chocolate malt in the world from the Dairy Barn, given gratis for my milk booth shift — Anne missed out on this
- Hotdish on a stick — It’s not that I like it because it’s delicious, but because it’s ridiculous
- Corn dog — Okay, just my mom, but I had a bite
- French Fries — Again, the World’s Greatest!
- Frozen Key Lime Pie on a Stick — Dipped in chocolate!
- Virgin pina colada served in a real pineapple — These were $9 each or two for $10, so unexpectedly getting one for my mom seemed like a no brainer. She was a little perplexed when I showed up with one for her.
- A big tub of taffy — We didn’t actually eat this at the fair, but delivered it to my dad (and I had a few at home)
- A big bucket of Sweet Martha’s Chocolate Chip Cookies…
- … and another glass of milk.
Being in California for the weekend, I’m slightly behind on posting the news of the Metrodome’s spectacular roof collapse on Sunday.
What’s particularly fascinating to me is that I saw this happen once in person. While my memory is fuzzy, doing a little research leads me to believe that I was there for the April 26, 1986 tear in the middle of the 8th inning of a Twins-Angels game. What I remember is that we were sitting in the general admission outfield area (I think centerfield), and everyone was evacuated to the concourse as dirt poured onto right field in front of the baggie. My dad stayed near the edge of the stairwell into the seats to watch and I stayed with him, which made my mom nervous. She was further back in the concourse with my sister (who was apparently a day shy of her 2nd birthday). But it’s that flush of dirt pouring onto the field that I remember, the memories of which came flooding back when I watched the video of this weekend’s much more dramatic collapse.
What I don’t remember is that apparently the Twins were well on their way to winning when the roof collapsed and they gave up a 5 run lead in the 9th after the game resumed. I also don’t remember how they patched the hole in only 15 minutes!
In its recap of today’s Vikings-Cowboys game, ESPN (well, Chris Berman) referred to the Metrodome as the Homer Dome even though a) no one hits home runs there any more and b) the Vikings have painted a whole bunch of it purple in an attempt to make people forget about the Twins being there, plus it’s been rebranded as Mall of America Field. I guess that rebranding isn’t working yet.
Also, as I passively watched the game before my curling match (more on that later), I couldn’t help but wonder how Marion Barber reconciles the fact that he was a Vikings fan growing up, cheering for Randy Moss, with the fact that he was playing against them (and Moss) today. And just for the record, Barber sat behind me in health class senior year (his junior year). That kid fell asleep all the time, but was such a genuinely well-liked guy that the teacher never really got mad at him for it.
Oh, and curling started this weekend. I’m in two leagues — Friday nights and Sunday nights. We won on Friday (when I played lead) and lost tonight (when I was vice-skip). I recall feeling more or less competent at the end of the mini-leagues last spring. I’m not there yet this season.
|Tony Oliva pitches wiffle balls to little kids, minutes before he SIGNS MY HAT!|
Yesterday was my annual trip to the Minnesota State Fair with two major highlights: Tony Oliva signed my Twins cap (!!!!!!!) and I poured over a thousand glasses of milk while working the All-You-Can-Drink Milk booth.
Plus, I ate a lot of food… the annual list:
- Cheese Curds
- Deep Fried Mac and Cheese on a Stick
- Honey Sunflower ice cream — possibly the best thing I ate
- Scotch egg
- Milk (two glasses only — 1000+ poured)
- One (free!) chocolate milk shake (in exchange for pouring all the milk)
- Ginger Beer
- Sweet Martha’s Cookies (actually, still eating them as I type)
|Four hours of pouring over 1000 glasses of milk!|
My dad, as an employee of the University of Minnesota Ag School, was notified of the sign ups for volunteers to work the milk booth. Given that paying my dollar and consuming a lot of dairy is one of my annual highlights, it seemed fitting that I should give back and work a four hour shift pouring milk. In return, my mother and I got free admission to the fair, a T-shirt, a hat, all the milk we could drink (but not during our shift, which severely cut back the amount I drank) and one free item from the dairy barn (of which I picked a chocolate milk shake).
Despite my currently still sore right shoulder, working the booth was a ton of fun. My favorite customers were the elderly couple who very calmly drank four glasses each (him white, her chocolate) before waving goodbye and saying “See you next year.” I got the feeling they’d been doing that for 50 years (which is possible — the milk booth first opened in 1955). Another highlight was the little girl who, upon prompting her for her favorite dairy product, responded “Pizza!”
“That’s not really dairy,” I told her.
“No, but it has dairy on it!” she said.
And for the other highlight of the day… over behind the Twins booth was a small “stadium” where I noted some kids playing wiffle ball. My mom wanted to skip it, but I insisted that we go look. And who should be pitching to the kids, but Twins great and should-be-Hall-of-Famer Tony Oliva! We stayed to watch him toss a few wiffle balls and then he left the “field,” walking right by me. I suspect because I was wearing my Twins hat and 2009 Central Division Champions shirt, he patted me on the arm as he walked by and said, “How you doin’, babe?” After calling my dad and getting a message to pass along, we followed him into the Twins booth where he started chowing down on some cheese curds. Someone else asked him to sign a book, so I decided that was a good time to ask him to sign my hat, which he graciously did.
“My dad says to tell you that the Cuban sandwich at the Tony O’s stand at Target Field is really good,” I told him.
He, with a mouth full of cheese curds, made the “Let me finishing chewing” gesture before saying “Thank you!”
Highlight of my year, I tell you.
Then we went off to the Minnesota Public Radio area where Garrison Keillor was giving an interview for the Midday show. What a Minnesotan day!
- A sarsaparilla custard float… think root beer float, but with sarsaparilla and frozen custard
- State Fair French Fries… an annual tradition and favorite of my mother’s
- Hotdish on a Stick (see photo)… this might be the most quintessential State Fair Food I have ever eaten. Take a stick and make a kebab of meatball, tater tot, meatball, tater tot, etc. Cover it in corn dog batter and deep fry it. Serve with cream of mushroom sauce. It was delicious.
- All-I-Could-Drink-Milk… only three glasses this year. I think they’ve gotten bigger. Plus, we screwed up our ordering and went from here to the Dairy Barn, where my stomach refused to let me order a milkshake. Sad, because those are the best milkshakes in the world.
- Stuffed Olives on a stick… onion, garlic, pimento, sun-dried tomato (given away due to allergies), and a jalapeno
- Honey taffy… actually, I’m still eating that as I brought a bunch home.
- Deep fried cheese curds… Quite possibly the most unhealthy thing I look forward to all year. Yes, you can get cheese curds in Wisconsin, but can you get them deep fried?
- Deep fried macaroni-and-cheese on a stick… you think we’d be all cheese-on-a-stick’ed out at this point, but no.
- A sample of some organic-all-natural-whatever cheese from the environmental building… it was good, but a little too healthy for the fair.
- A Happy Dog Meal… okay, I didn’t eat this. But we did buy one for Cooper. It included “french fries” which smell remarkably like real french fries, a “mini-bacon cheeseburger,” a “bacon bone,” a “cheese biscuit,” a “cheesy chicken wrap,” and a “peanut butter cannoli.” (Okay, in actuality, these were all flavored dog biscuits.)
- Chocolate-Vanilla twist frozen custard in a cone… This was to make up for the lack of a milkshake.
- A lingonberry sno-cone… A good refreshing palette cleanser after a solo trip on the Sky Ride (because my sister refused to go).
- Sweet Martha’s Cookies… two buckets of them. Mmmm… delicious with ice cold milk.
A recent Onion headline: Orlando Cabrera Hates Metrodome’s Tuna Casserole Smell
… except here’s the problem. No one in Minnesota would call it “Tuna Casserole.” It’s tuna noodle hotdish. It would be like having the headline “Orlando Cabrera Hates Metrodome’s Late Night Duck Duck Goose Tournament” — Minnesotans don’t play that.
It is time for my annual report of being gluttonous at the Minnesota State Fair. This year I hit the fair in two separate trips. Last night with my mom and dad, we saw Brandi Carlile in a free concert, which was awesome — her cover of “Hallelujah” is fantastic (better than Rufus Wainwright, not as good as Jeff Buckley… but who is?). Today with my mother and sister we saw the animal barns, which was also awesome because of my first ever observation of placentophagy. (Note that I don’t mean to imply any similarities between the awesomeness of Brandi Carlile and the awesomeness of placentophagy.)
But before I get to the sheep eating one of the richest sources of proteins available, here is the list of foods I ate:
- Pig Lickers (chocolate covered bacon) — Delicious, but rich
- A turkey drumstick — generally reserved for Renaissance Festivals, it fits in well with the State Fair’s “on-a-stick” theme
- Frozen apple cider — So fresh it still tasted like apples
- A honey stick — Just a quarter for a straw full of clover honey
- The best chocolate malt ever — I wait all year for this dairy barn treat, located next to the butter sculptures
- Birch Beer — Why drink a standard Coca Cola or Pepsi product when all this variation is available?
- Sweet Martha’s Chocolate Chip Cookies — Comes in a giant bucket
- Scotch Egg (hard boiled egg stuffed in pork sausage and slathered in horseradish… on a stick, duh) — Always a favorite
- Deep fried cheese curds — A mouthwatering heart attack waiting to happen
- All-I-Could-Drink Milk — A pathetically low number of three glasses this year (because we were only there once and my sister wouldn’t let us return for more)
- Raspberry Chocolate Wine Ice Cream — I couldn’t taste the supposed wine
- Black Cow (root beer float with chocolate syrup) — I was skeptical, but it was good
- Bites of my mother’s corn dog and my sister’s brownie — Always share
- Free water from WCCO radio to wash it all down!
And now for the part you’ve been waiting for… at the Miracle of Birth Center (i.e. stick a bunch of pregnant animals in a barn and hope most of them give birth during the fair), a sheep had given birth to two lambs just before we arrived. When we got there, the birth was so new that the placenta had just fallen out and some of it was still attached to the mother and the umbilical cords were still attached to the lambs. Sure enough, mom and babies were nibbling at that rarest of protein sources, the placenta.
For the human kids in attendance, it was quite the learning experience. I heard more than one parent awkwardly trying to explain to their kid just what they were seeing. “No, dear, it’s okay that she’s bleeding. That’s natural.” “Um, I’m not sure why she’s eating it. Maybe it tastes good.”
And for lasting this long into the entry, if you’re not easily grossed out by the facts of life, here’s one of my tamer photos of the scene. And here’s a little more detailed one, but not for the faint of heart (or all work places). (Both photos are >2MB.)