Very Well Then

Contradicting myself, always contradicting myself

Archive for May, 2010

Target Field Trip — Hrbek’s beer trap, Squirrel Hunting, etc.

Posted by verywellthen on May 30, 2010

Very Well Then Goes to Target Field

I’m back in the Pacific Northwest after meeting three of my brothers to check out a couple games at Target Field. We brought good luck to the Twins, who exorcised a demon or two by beating the Yankees on Thursday evening, and holding on to beat the Rangers on Friday evening. Two short-sleeve weather evenings that delivered on the beautiful promise that is outdoor baseball.

Some quick thoughts on the trip:

  • I’ve been to many baseball stadiums – new, as well as well-established – and one always knows from far away where the stadium is. Stadia aren’t usually subtle. At least from the route that I approached Target Field (Rod Carew gate) I thought I might have arrived at a museum or something. I walked around the outside and got a few other angles, and I was intrigued that TF does not have the isolated brick fortress feel of most stadiums. Yet, as soon as I crossed in through the gate, suddenly, there’s a baseball field below – all that familiar dirt-diamond and green — and the surrounding structure that must have been built like a ship-in-a-bottle to fit it in its place.

Beautifully done, all.

  • My brother got caught in an odd little trap in the stadium’s beer policy. He chose Hrbek’s to buy last-call beers for us before the sales were cut off at the end of the seventh inning. He was racing against the clock (well, in baseball there is no clock, so he was racing against the outs) to buy the allotted two beers – one for him, one for me waiting back in my seat. He had the transaction complete and beers in hand – which would count as sufficient for any beers bought on the concourse – but between the time he left the bar counter and got to the door at Hrbek’s, J.J. Hardy flipped a ground ball to Orlando Hudson for the third out of the seventh. The security guard at Hrbek’s stopped him from leaving – no beers go out of Hrbek’s after the seventh inning. I was wondering where my beer was and why he never came back to the seats. A text message told me to meet him at Hrbek’s after the game.

Sometimes I think my brother fits closer to that type of fan who goes to the game to drink beer and be social – where Target Field is a pub with an expensive cover charge. So he was fine watching the end of the game on TV from the bar and meeting new friends there.

  • Sometime over the weekend, I overheard that the front office had the field crew do a rigorous investigation of how the squirrel that interrupted Tuesday’s game got onto the field. The Twins don’t want there to be a chronic squirrel problem at Target Field. I just want to recommend to Target Field’s groundskeeper that I know someone who’s perfect for this job.   Please give a call to this guy.  His name’s Carl.  He’s got good experience with this type of thing.


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The Great South Dakota Home Run Chase

Posted by verywellthen on May 17, 2010

[Updated 7/25/2010 — Jason Kubel hits a grand slam against the Orioles today.  With the home run, he takes the lead in the Great South Dakota Home Run Chase for the first time.  The latest stats below.]

Here is the updated South Dakota HR count:

Jason Kubel 83
Mark Ellis 82

Original Post dated May 17, 2010 follows:]

After Jason Kubel’s grand Grand Slam on Sunday, I decided to go see how the Great South Dakota Home Run Chase was going.    I know Mark Ellis is the record holder for native sons of the Mt. Rushmore State and was wondering how Jason Kubel was doing in advancing on him.  I was surprised to see how close things were — just 6 Home Runs separating the two after Jason’s big homer.  Apparently, I hadn’t checked in a while.  I know it’s hard to believe, but I must have had better things to do.

But now that the buzz is beginning to gather from Aberdeen to Sturgis, I present to you the race as of end of baseball day, May 17, 2010:

               From   To    PA  HR 
Mark Ellis     2002 2010  3605  80 
Jason Kubel    2004 2010  1988  74
Dave Collins   1975 1990  5507  32

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/18/2010.

As a Twins fan, I am pulling for Jason Kubel, the boy from Belle Fourche, on this one.  Mark Ellis, the pride of Rapid City, still has the lead.  But  Jason has going for him both the first derivative (velocity) and the second derivative (acceleration) on this home-run projection, and should pull into the lead sometime soon.  Mark is still playing (well, once he comes back from the DL)  and maybe this could see-saw back and forth a bit, but I think he’ll have to turn over the crown to Kubel for good sometime soon.

You have to admit, this is the Golden Age of South Dakota Home Runs.   Until Mark Ellis came along, the career home run leader from a native South Dakotan was 32.    The Grand Total of home runs by a South Dakotan (as of the original date of this posting) is 227.    Marquis Grissom hit that many just by himself.    Howard Johnson surpassed that total.

I believe that by the time Jason Kubel’s career is over, he’ll present South Dakota with a formidable record for the state home run king.   But, for the mean time, that’s a pretty wimpy record.

Now, up there in North Dakota — South Dakota’s fraternal twin and my home state — they know how to hit some home runs.   With less than half the representation of Major Leaguers (15 native NoDaks to 36 native SoDaks), the Northern friends have 358 homers.    That’s Yogi Berra territory.  A couple more dingers by all-time North-Dakota-Home-Run-King Travis Hafner(166 HRs),* and the Great State of North Dakota will pull even with Gary Gaetti on career home runs.

I’ll note that we are coming to the end of the Golden Age of North Dakota Home Runs, with Travis Hafner appearing to have his best days behind him and Darin Erstad (124 HRs)at or near retirement.  Before those two, Ken Hunt held the record of 33 (still a step ahead of  the classic-era South Dakota record).

* No, it’s not Roger Maris**.  Roger was born in Hibbing, Minnesota, but grew up in North Dakota.  Roger is third on the Minnesota list w 275 HRs, behind Dave Winfield (465 HRs) and Kent Hrbek (293 HRs).  State total 2650 HRs w/ 153 MLB players.

**  My mother went to high school with Roger Maris at Fargo Shanley High School.  I shook his hand when I was a wee kid at my mom’s 20-year class reunion.  I remember on the way to the reunion, my brother exclaiming that Roger Maris was going to be there.  I asked, “who’s Roger Maris?”  My brother laid into me.  “You don’t know who Roger Maris is?”   “He’s the home run record holder, stupid.  He broke Babe Ruth’s record.”   I was no dummy.  I knew who Babe Ruth was.   But, by shame, I got a baseball lesson.   I recall “Mr. Maris” (as I called him) to be very nice.

Until the nationwide excitement settles down, I’ll try to keep the Great South Dakota Home Run Chase up to date.  (Or maybe I’ll figure out how to have the stats update themselves.  Anyone?)

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The Metrodome Rats

Posted by verywellthen on May 12, 2010

Ozzie loves talking about rats.

Ozzie and rats.  No, I’m not talking about Black Sabbath.  (Hold it, that was “bats”, wasn’t it?)

Ozzie Guillen – the White Sox manager – slighted the Metrodome the other day, suggesting it to be rat-infested.  The baseball doesn’t seem to be carrying well in Minneapolis outdoor spring baseball and when Justin Morneau’s deep center field shot died at the warning-track in Tuesday’s Twins loss to the Sox, Ozzie quipped, “In the old place, that would have hit some rats.”

Last year, Ozzie disparaged Wrigley Field as rat-infested.

This year, it’s the Metrodome.

Of course, we’re all in love with the new place (I’m flying in for a look over Memorial Day).  So let’s kick the old place while it’s down.  Of course, the Vikings still have to play there, but that’s football.

I shed no tears for the old Dome.  But, now that I know about them,  I am concerned about the Metrodome Rats.  They have some serious re-adjustment to do.    They’ve lost 81 days of fans leaving behind French Fries and sunflower seeds and scraps of Dome Dog buns.

There’s still Gopher baseball and truck and tractor pulls.    But there is a serious reduction in the sustainable concession-food environment at the Dome.  The rat population there is based upon an expectancy of fattening up in the summer baseball season and surviving off the fat and occasional Vikings game though the winter hibernation.    The Metrodome Rat eco-system has been severely altered.

Expect hard times for the Metrodome Rats.    The population level there will have to adjust, which is always a painful process for an animal colony.

But I’m not too worried for them.    Rats are what conservation biologists refer to as “weed species” – those species able to adapt and thrive in disturbed environments.  (Starlings, pigeons, mule deer and humans fit well into that description).    So, the rats have been challenged by the switch to the new ballpark.   But I can safely assure you that those pitter-patter sounds you hear beneath the bleachers when you attend your next Vikings games will be those of a in tact, if somewhat reduced, Metrodome Rat population.

And, as for things at the perfect new immaculate ballpark: Don’t worry.  All is well.   But did anyone else see those Metrodome Rats clinging to the Twins moving vans  when they set sail from the Dome?   Just like the velociraptors clinging to the supply ships departing Jurassic Park?

No, I didn’t either.

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