Very Well Then

Contradicting myself, always contradicting myself

Brian Harper’s Index

Posted by verywellthen on October 26, 2010

Harper’s magazine begins each issue with a list of number-oriented factoids called Harper’s Index.   Below are a series of number-oriented factoids about the 2010 Twins Season.   Here on the Twins-ernet, such a list has to be called “Brian Harper’s Index.”

 

Brian Harper’s Index:

Assorted Numbers on the 2010 Twins Season

Justin Morneau’s rank in games played at first base amongst members of the Twins : 2

Attempted Bunts by Joe Mauer : 1

Joe Mauer’s batting average after that bunt : .378

Number of pinch-hit home runs by Jim Thome : 1

Number of pinch-hit home runs by Drew Butera : 1

Date of every pinch hit home run(both of them)by a Twins player in 2010 : June 19

Twins Team Rank in American League in Triples : 1

Twins Team Rank in American League in Stolen Bases : 12

Percentage of Plate Appearances as a Left Handed Batter (Twins) : 54

Percentage of Plate Appearances as a Left Handed Batter (American League) : 45

Increase in OPS of Twins as LHB vs. as RHB : 71

Denard Span’s percent success rate of stolen bases per attempts : 87 (26/30)

Denard Span’s percent success rate of stolen bases per attempts plus pickoffs : 67  (26/39)

Twins Team Rank in American League for fewest walks (pitching) : 1

Twins Team Rank in American League for strikeouts  (pitching) : 10

Twins Team Rank in American League for best strikeout to walk ratio (pitching) : 1

Regular season game number (home opener = 1) of games at Target Field not officially sold out: 2, 3

Number of Double Plays hit into by Twins batters (led league) : 159

Number of games started by both J.J. Hardy and Orlando Hudson : 76

Twins record in those 76 games: 47-29 (.618)

Reduction in number of plate appearances given to Nick Punto and Brenden Harris over 2009 : 485

Combined WAR of Twins starting pitchers in ALDS : 12.6

Combined WAR of Yankees starting pitchers in ALDS : 11.2

Series sweeps against the Twins (not counting ALDS) : 2

 

Most stats above derived from Baseball-Reference.Com

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The Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Twins Fan’s Mind

Posted by verywellthen on October 5, 2010

I just learned that the Twins are playing the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs this year.

I learned this after coming back from a visit to the labs at Lacuna Corporation.*  This doctor there, Dr. Howard Mierzwiak, perfoms a medical procedure of selectively erasing memories.  I went there for some reason, I forgot.  Maybe to erase some sort of heartbreak or something.    It must have been over some girl from New York, I’d bet — since Dr. Mierzwiak said for best results, I should refrain from reading New York newspapers.  Maybe she was someone famous since Dr. Mierzwiak has famous clients — I saw pictures of Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet in his office.   Of course, I’m not famous.  I don’t think.

Anyway, I’m glad to see the Twins are playing the Yankees.  I don’t think they’ve ever faced them before in the playoffs.  It’s good to go into a series without any history getting in the way.   Because sometimes if you lose over and over, especially to the same team, this sense of being cursed builds up.  You play to not lose instead of to win.  Thoughts creep into your head.  Maybe your closer grooves one to their best player to blow a save or the do-the-little-things-right guy runs through the third base coaches’ sign or you blow leads in extra innings.   You get the sense that fate is throwing nothing but vicious bean balls.   Those that don’t remember history may be damned to repeat it, but those that do remember history seem to repeat it a lot too.

So Twins, you drew the Yankees — no history, a blank slate.  You are not boats against the current, you need not be borne back ceaselessly into the past.

You know the Yankees did pretty good against the Twins this season, but that was the regular season.  The playoffs are different.   The Yankees may do pretty well in the playoffs most years, but its not like they’ve faced Gardenhire before when the season is at stake.   Gardy knows how to win when things are on the line.  The Twins were awesome last year against Detroit in the only time that the Twins have gone to a 163rd game in the season.  (For the life of me, I can’t recall what the Twins did next – damn! I must be getting old).  And back in 2002 against the A’s — Gardy’s Twins rocked the A’s (Go Brad Radke! — though how’d that turn out in the long run, anyone recall?)

So Twins, go out there and play like those games, like there’s no tomorrow.  Because if you don’t, there just may not be a tomorrow for me to remember in my future.

* In this amazing ether of the internet you can discover things like there are two versions of the script from Eternal Sunshine of A Spotless Mind.   I discovered both the script as filmed [link], and the original Chalie Kaufman script.  In the original script it turns out that Joel and Clementine have their memories erased 16 times over the course of the lifetime of their rocky relationship.    Imagine that.  Needing to erase your memory 16 times over the course of your life.   That could never happen, could it?

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An Intercession for a Concussion — Seeking a Miracle for Morneau

Posted by verywellthen on September 22, 2010

It’s going to take a miracle now.

When we first heard of Justin Morneau’s head injury, the thought was “yeah, a few days as a precaution.”   Then came the trip to the disabled list and it was “okay, you don’t want to mess around with concussions, let’s give it a couple of weeks.”  Then weeks turned into months; a 15 day DL turned into a 60 day DL.    Yes, we were told from an early point that concussions were serious business — and that this could take months and even cost Justin the season.  The Twins are (rightfully) taking a thoroughly enlightened approach to let Justin come back only when the time is right.

Yet we have hoped.  We always held out hope.   Even now, as we see the Automatic-Garage-Door-of-Hope closing fast, we still stare at the gap and wait for Justin to roll through, like a Canadian Indiana Jones.    Maybe he can be a bat off the bench in the ALDS.   If the Twins advance, maybe he’ll be ready by the ALCS.

Well, the A.L. Central is clinched and we’re two weeks away from the playoffs.  Even if Justin’s bad days were suddenly to be diagnosed to be behind him, there’s still the rehab.  The minor leagues have shut down.

But maybe, just maybe, we are in the trying moment just before the miracle occurs  — Roy Hobbs staring at his broken bat, Kirk Gibson limping in the locker room.

I apologize to my Very Catholic Mother  that I did not think of this earlier.  But as she taught me, when you need a miracle, you turn to the Patron Saints.

My first thought was the obvious:  St. Jude, the Patron Saint of Desperate Cases.   But in doing some research, I learned there is a Patron Saint of Head Injuries.*    For the miracle I am seeking, I’m going with specialization, and will go with Saint John Licci.

* My research also pointed out that there is a patron saint of hangovers (St. Vivian).  Why didn’t I know this in college?

Of the miracles attributed to St. John Licci, there are three incidents of curing people whose heads had been crushed in accidents.  Hence, he is known as the Patron Saint of Head Injuries.   To see Justin in the playoffs, I think it’s time for Twins fans to turn to St. JoLi.

I figure it can’t hurt and it just might help Justin Morneau.  And this might work out well for St. John Licci too.

You see, despite the “patron saint” designation, John Licci isn’t officially a saint.  As near as my quick internet research can tell (Google’s search archives don’t go back to the year 1511), his followers dubbed him a saint but he’s never been officially canonized by the Catholic church.   This is sort of like St. Bert of the Holy Curveball being in the Twins Hall of Fame, but not in Cooperstown.

Officially St. John Licci is only “beatified”.*   Perhaps a new miracle might push him over the edge to sainthood.  In comparison to his attributed miracles of ressurecting a dead boy, curing a paralyzed man (when St. JL was an infant!) and providing perpetual food for a poor widow and her six children, the healing of a concussion of a multi-millionaire first baseman might seem a bit trivial.  But if Justin was to come back and have a big post-season, a new and well-publicized miracle might bring some attention back to his previous impressive work.  If a few Cardinals (no, not Pujols and Holliday) catch wind, they just might check into what can get done.

*Sainthood is Catholicism’s equivalent of the Hall of Fame, equivalent right down to the disputes over what standard should qualify.  It helps to have a penultimate level in a hall of fame.  Cooperstown should look into a beatification process — a place for the not quite Hall of Famers, Hall-of-Famers-but-for-steroids-or-gambling, and designated hitters (though it would be tough to keep from canonizing a guy nicknamed Big Papi).

Official saint or not, he’s a holy man (and holy cow, he lived to be 111!).  And he’s the guy to talk to about head injuries.   So tonight, I am going to light a votive candle and beseech the intercession of St. John Licci to cure Justin Morneau’s concussion.

As I said, it can’t hurt.

Now, is there a Patron Saint of Catcher’s Knees?

Posted in Minnesota Twins and Baseball | 2 Comments »

Portland Paint-By-Number Bike Lanes

Posted by verywellthen on July 12, 2010

On the streets of Blue Heron Town, I found a piece of paper with the diagram below.   These symbols (sort of a bicycle with corporal stripes)  are being laid down on streets all over my neighborhood — I believe soon coming to all of Portland.
I kind of thought diagram looked like a paint-by-number.   So I created a paint-by-number — somewhat inspired by World Cup colors (scroll way down).
If you feel so inclined, create your own paint-by-number and send it to me and I’ll try to post it.
HINT:  Make your browser real wide to view.  Surprisingly, it looks good on a smart phone.


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Mazzy the Hound Dog predicts Twins games

Posted by verywellthen on July 11, 2010

No doubt you’ve heard about Paul, the World-Cup predicting octopus — correctly selecting the fate of the German World Cup team throughout the South African tournament.

Well, I was wondering if my dog, Mazzy, had any prognostication skills in selecting the winner of Twins games.  Before Saturday’s game (July 10), I put down two snacks, one I designated for the Tigers and one for the Twins.  She initially ran toward the Twins snack, sniffed it, and then passed it over for the Tigers snack.  Things didn’t look too good for the Twins… and sure enough, the Twins went out and lost 7-4 to the Tigers — with another starting pitching performance so bad that Mazzy would roll in it.

Mazzy’s record was 1-0 in predicting Twins games, so far.

So now I’ll be recording her predictions, posted before each game.  The most recent predictions are at the top.  I’ll keep this going until she gets one wrong.

UPDATE 7/15:  Mazzy gets one wrong.  White Sox win 8-7.  I think she properly envisioned the events of the game.  It’s just that I forgot to tell her about the “balk” rule.   Oh well.  Experiment ends.

UPDATE  7/14 :

Mazzy got last Sunday’s game correct.  She’s now 2-0.

The video below is Mazzy’s prediction for the first game back from the All-Star Break — White Sox at Twins.  Mazzy predicts a Twins Win.  Sorry about the sideways video.  I didn’t think it through, that YouTube would only support horizontal video.  Mazzy says “Go Twins.”

UPDATE 7/11:

So this video is her prediction made before Sunday’s game (July 11, 2010) between the Minnesota Twins and the Detroit Tigers — posted before I know it’s results.  Let’s hope she’s right and the Twins world has a little something to wag their tails about before the All-Star Game.

Posted in Minnesota Twins and Baseball | 1 Comment »

Incorporating Soccer Terms into Baseball’s Lexicon

Posted by verywellthen on June 19, 2010

[NOTE:  I swear I already had this written, with just some clean up to do earlier in the week.  The subject matter meant it needed to be posted sometime during the World Cup, but the Cup was continuing for another 3 weeks – no hurry.  But then that Posnanski guy, in the middle of a post about the US-Slovenia tie game, drops this line:

Michael Bradley …would …deflect the ball into net for what soccer fans like to call “the equalizer.” I tend to think we should try to fit “the equalizer” into our baseball lexicon as well — it’s just better than “tying run.”

…which is just about the opening segment of this post.  Oh well, I’m going to go with what I had written.  Poz beat me to print and he’s got the influence that just might make ‘equalizer’ a baseball term.  So listen to that Posnanski guy — henceforth, it’s not a tying run, its an equalizer.]

It all began the first time I learned of the phrase “equalizer.”  Though, I’m sure it was spelled “equaliser.”

That’s what started this thought that baseball could stand to import some of the lexicon of soccer.

Baseball calls the run that ties a game the “tying run.”  Soccer (in English speaking soccer circles) calls the goal that ties a game the “equaliser.”  I’m no monarchist, but the Brit soccer term is so much better than the American term.  It has as much chance as the U.S. converting to metric, but I’d like baseball to pick up a few terms from soccer.

About the only thing I know about soccer is from my frayed memory reading Nick Hornby’s “Fever Pitch”a decade back.  But since I learned the word equalizer, I’d been on the look out for other words that baseball could adopt.   My list was pretty short – 2 of the terms below, “clean sheet” and “in aggregate” had been stashed in a notebook somewhere over recent years.  But with the World Cup coming around, I dug through a hand full of web-sites that tutor newbies in the lingo of soccer to see if there are other terms suitable for use on the baseball field.

And no, I won’t call the baseball field a “pitch.”   Baseball already has a meaning for that.

My proposal for terms from the language of soccer to be added to the lexicon of baseball:

Equalizer is a tying run (only appropriate to use the Americanized spelling for baseball). As in “Carl Crawford represents the equalizer out there at second base.”

A Clean Sheet in soccer when a goal keeper keeps the other team from scoring.  It’s analogous to baseball’s very suitable term “shutout.”    The term “shutout” can still be reserved for the individual pitching accomplishment. To make room for soccer’s cool term, I propose baseball to adopt the term “Clean Sheet” for a team shutout.   A Clean Sheet is attributed to a team – the starter, the relievers and the defense.  All shutouts are clean sheets, but not all clean sheets are shutouts.

In determining the winner of a series of soccer matches (i.e. a home and away series), it can often come down to who scores the most “In Aggregate” (i.e. total goals) in the series.  Even though baseball resolves all of its games into wins and losses, making the term meaningless, I’d like to see in aggregate results for a series – just for bragging rights.

In the World Cup, when one tournament pairing of a group of four is stocked with good teams such that some otherwise deserving team is going to be held back from advancing (only 2 teams emerge from each group), it is called a Group of Death.  The group of Brazil, Portugal, Ivory Coast, and North Korea has been pegged as the Group of Death for the 2010 World Cup.   From now on, in baseball, the AL East will be known as the Group of Death.

Conversely, the least interesting grouping of teams is called the Group of Sleep.  In MLB, it varies from year to year, but I nominate both Central divisions for MLB’s Group of Sleep.

In soccer, a game against a cross-town rival is called a Derby.   That’s a way-better term than baseball’s “natural rival” arrangement used in interleague play.  From now on, the annual interleague match-ups between (typically) regional teams shall be known as “Derbies,”  as in “The A’s and the Giants are playing their derby this weekend.”

In soccer a Golden goal is an overtime goal that ends a match.   I’m still fond of the recent (if overused) development in baseball as referring to game-ending events as “walkoff” events (i.e. walkoff homer, walkoff walk, walkoff balk).  Still, I’ll go with this and say that a “walkoff hit” and a “golden hit” can be used interchangeably.

I’m lifting this definition straight from the “soccer-training-info.com” website.  The site defines  “Handbagging” as “when players are fighting on the field but just throwing soft punches or slaps, like old ladys throwing their handbags.”  I can’t wait for a baseball announcer to broadcast that there has been a bench-clearing handbagging.

Wikipedia defines “Lost the Dressing Room” as a soccer term used to describe “the situation where a manager of a club is seemingly very near to being sacked. The team will invariably be struggling on the pitch, the manager will be under a lot of pressure and the signs may be that he has lost the faith and respect of his players.”  Chang the word “sacked” to “fired” and the term is instantly transportable to baseball, describing two or three managers even at this moment.

If you have other terms you’d like to export across the pond or across the soccer/baseball divide, suggest away.

The following are websites I used to learn about soccer terms.

http://www.soccer-training-info.com/soccer_definitions.asp

http://www.gq.com/sports/guides/201006/world-cup/soccer-terms-group-of-death-cheat-sheet

http://www.firstbasesports.com/soccer_glossary.html

http://www.shoebacca.com/resources/glossary/soccer.html

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Baseball Disaster Movies (2010)

Posted by verywellthen on June 15, 2010

Today’s blog post is really just an expanded Tweet with links and a Posterisk.

Baseball Disaster Movies : Towering Inferno (Target Field has a small fire), Earthquake* (Petco Park has a small trembler), Poseidon Adventure (the Mariners 2010 season).

* Disaster movies were a staple of my movie diet for a certain period of my youth.   And there was no movie that I more eagerly awaited than Earthquake.  It was advertised as being available in “Sensurround” which was supposed to be something that would shake theater seats during the earthquake moments in the movie.  Maybe it worked well in the “select theaters” that got the full technology, but in my small-town theater it felt like nothing more than the projector guy turning up the bass for a few seconds.   And even with only 10-year-old standards to uphold, I thought the movie sucked.  One of the biggest disappointments in my personal cinema history.

YouTube has the only image I can find of the Target Field fire of Sunday night (6/13/2010).

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Joyce: Yes I will yes I said he was safe Yes

Posted by verywellthen on June 2, 2010

Umpire Jim Joyce’s blown call that cost Armando Galarraga his perfect game reminded me of one of my favorite snippets of sports writing.  It was by King Kaufman, the former sports writer for Salon.com.  Kaufman described a blown call by Jim Joyce on a Mark Bellhorn homerun during Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS (the “Reverse the Curse” Red Sox pulling even with the Yankees).  In that game, Jim Joyce had the good fortune of the other umpires gathering and overruling his initial missed call.

Here is Kaufman’s account of the 2004 game:

Bellhorn’s fourth-inning homer was originally ruled in play. The ball had hit a fan in the front row and dropped back onto the warning track, but this was missed by left-field umpire Jim Joyce. And then Red Sox manager Terry Francona asked Jim with his eyes to ask again yes and then he asked the other umpires would they yes to say yes and first the umpires put their arms around each other yes and fans’ hearts were going like mad and yes they said yes it was a home run yes.

When I read it back in October 2004, it took me a few moments to figure out what Kaufman was doing.  It wasn’t until I looked at the name of the umpire that I figured out he was riffing on the end of Ulysses.   I loved that Kaufman never bothered to explain his joke.  If you got it, you got it.  If you didn’t, just keep on reading.

I read Kaufman religiously after that, just looking for that kind of stuff.  I miss you, King.

Here’s me riffing on King riffing on Joyce for tonight’s missed call:

And then Galarraga asked me with his eyes to ask again yes he was out and then he asked me would I yes to say yes he was out and first Cabrera put his arms up and then drew them down to his crotch and Jim Leyland’s heart was going like mad and yes I will yes I said he was safe Yes.

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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:

HR’s
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 Baseball-Reference.com: 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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