Monday, February 21, 2011

Quick Notes: Feb. 20, 2011

Well, it's's finally here. The end of the long dark offseason is finally here! Pitchers and catchers have reported to Florida, and the position players continue streaming in. Sure, they're not really playing games. Sure, they won't start playing games for another two weeks. Sure, those games in two weeks won't count. Sure, games that actually count won't start for another six weeks or so. But, yup, guys whom I admire are doing baseball-related activities in the warm sun. It's the beginning of the end.

It's great to see the accounts and pictures from the beat writers who are there. It's interesting to see how Nishioka's getting along. I guess he grunts as he swings a bat, and he fields grounders one-handed. But it's most interesting hearing about the Japanese media circus that's following him. I'm curious if that'll keep up and whether all these reporters will be an intrusion to the other players. It'll be different, but I'm sure it'll be fine.


The Twins avoided arbitration with all their eligible players by coming to terms with both Francisco Liriano and Delmon Young recently.

Liriano signed a one-year deal for $4.3 million, which is the halfway point between his and the team's offers. Joe Christensen of the StarTribune indicated that the Twins aren't necessarily interested in signing him long-term. This news started a tempest in the Twitter and blogging worlds. One would've thought he was about to be traded to the White Sox.

I'm going out on a limb and state that I don't think the Twins will trade him in the near future; he's still under team control for a couple more years. With that being said, I'm also sure that if Bill Smith gets a phone call, he'll answer it. I'm also going out on a limb and state that I don't think that he and the Twins are a perfect match. Yes, I know he's immensely talented, but I just get the feeling that he and the front office personnel don't always see eye-to-eye. For example, he just recently received an MRI for a sore shoulder without contacting the Twins first. This after he pretty much got his Tommy John surgery behind the Twins' back. And now, LaVelle Neil reports that Liriano admitted that he didn't do his proper conditioning this off-season. This kind of lack of communication and stubbornness is a sure recipe for getting traded (see: Garza, Matt). So, while I hope they don't trade him, I wouldn't be surprised if they do. If they do, however, I certainly hope they get a haul for him; he's worth it.

Delmon signed for one year at $5.375, which is less than the halfway point of his and the Twins' numbers. I find it interesting that he accepted less. It makes me wonder if perhaps there were some incentives included. Or, and I'm just throwing this out there, perhaps there was a promise of further negotiations once spring training starts for a long-term contract. Or, maybe he was tired of the whole thing, said "screw it," and signed so he could worry about getting ready for the season.

I tell ya', we're all getting ready for the season.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Why Baseball is Better Than Football (Day 4 - Playing)

So far, I've gone over that baseball is better than football because of its fan-friendly spring training, the great game atmosphere, and the superior broadcasts. There are still a million other reasons, but I have to stop sometime, so I'll wrap up by talking about the actual playing of the game.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I don't play football or baseball; if you've ever seen me run, you'd know why. I think I played mud football once in college, and I've stepped into a batter's box maybe five times in my life (one of those times, I was playing a parents vs. kids game, my kid was pitching ... he plunked me in the wrist). So, bear with me here.

One of the beautiful things about baseball is that anyone can play it. To succeed in football, players have to be ginormous. A kid can have a great high-school football career and win a number of awards, but if he's not a big guy, he won't get letters from colleges. And there aren't many opportunities for adults to play organized amateur football. Sure, a bunch of buddies can get together and play flag football, which is the equivalent to sand-lot baseball, but that's about it.

Like I mentioned the other day, baseball offers fans many more opportunities to watch at various levels. Opportunities to watch means opportunities to play. Obviously, it's very hard to make it to the pros -- at any professional level. But players with even a little talent can still play town ball. And players who have no talent can still play beer league softball.

Additionally, baseball and softball offers gender equity that football simply can't. From the youth ball through college, girls are playing in fields right next to the boys -- sometimes playing on the same field with them. Professional women's softball is increasing in popularity every year. Oh, and those beer leagues? Many of them are co-ed, and always need more women to sign up. Heck, they'll even let me play.

So there you have it. There's no doubt that baseball is better than football.

Happy Pitchers and Catchers!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why Baseball is Better Than Football (Day 3 - Broadcasts)

Previously on k-bro's baseball blog... spring training outranks two-a-days by a long shot, and... baseball offers more games, and more games equals more fun.

On tonight's episode: broadcasting.

(See what I did there? Since I'm talking about broadcasting, I made it sound like a TV show. Yeah; lame.)


Baseball, and the networks that broadcast it, are enjoying unprecedented viewership and revenues over the past few years. Of course, football games receive wide, national audiences, but each team only plays once a week. Baseball on the other hand airs several games per week, but usually each game is shown to two markets. While it's true that no one baseball game draws as many eyes as any one football game, consider all the games over a week's time through all the markets. Cumulatively, baseball draws nearly as much revenue as football.

With all that being said, the experience of watching baseball games on television is much better than it is for football. Like I said, football games are shown to a very wide audience. Crews and announcers from FOX, CBS, NBC, and ESPN swoop into host cities, set up, air the game, and flee. As the announcers call the games, they try to fill in downtime with tidbits of info fed to them by the producers and research assistants who've read up as much as they can about the participating teams. The announcers don't care about one team over any other. And because of that, when they do talk about your favorite team, they probably won't really give you too much in-depth information about it.

However, most baseball games are aired only in the two interested markets with dedicated broadcast crews. These folks spend the entire season with the teams and travel with them. If they want to know something about a player that they can relate to the audience, they just go talk to him. The announcers are invested in the team and they are familiar what's important to the fans. They understand the players, the quirks of the team, and the background info fans enjoy. They do, and they should, show a bit of favoritism to help generate more interest.They like their teams, and they help us to like them more.


Football radio broadcasts don't follow the same model as television broadcasts. In fact, they do it the same way baseball does, with a dedicated crew. So the radio personalities aren't really the issue. However, because of the nature of the game -- very short burst of intense activity followed by long stretches of inactivity, then all over again -- it's just plain hard for listeners to keep up with the action. In reality, football is meant to be watched.

Baseball, however, is perfectly suited for radio. When the activity gets exciting, it doesn't happen so fast such that announcer becomes unintelligible. And there's just something perfect about having a baseball game on the radio as you're doing chores outside or driving in your car. Baseball, and the great radio voices who have brought it to fans over the years, makes a great companion. It's been that way for generations. 

Stay tuned for scenes from our next episode: Playing

(Get it? I did it again...)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Why Baseball is Better Than Football (Day 2 - Going to the Game)

Yesterday I explained that baseball is better than football because it's spring training is superior to training camp. Today, I'll explain the benefits to going to baseball games.

Don't get me wrong, going to football games is great, and I'd recommend it to anyone. No other game generates so much raucous fun. Going to high-school, Friday-night-lights football games is a great way to get together with folks from the community and cheer on the local boys. College games have great traditions (I wish I was cool enough to sit in the student section of Wisconsin Badgers games and do Jump Around). And NFL games turn into an all-day crazy party. These are great times, but they're not all that great.

For one thing, good luck being able to afford taking a family of four to NFL games regularly. Even though the Vikings are a bargain compared to most of the rest of the league, it's not easy to get tickets for under $50 each. You can get a great seat for the Twins for about $30 each -- under $20 for outfield seats. Go for a St. Paul Saints game, and the best seat in the house is $20.

And even if you can afford to go to a pro football games, it's not always the most family-friendly atmosphere. I took my kids to a Vikings game once, and the very inebriated woman sitting directly behind my youngest son (he was 13 at the time) couldn't stop groping him -- rubbing his shoulders, stroking his arm, ... ew. I couldn't tell if she loved him or wanted to puke on him. She only stopped after one of her companions noticed my infamous stop-touching-my-kid-before-I-go-all-momma-bear-on-your-ass glare and he told her to stop. Sometimes, football fans are just a smidge too crazy. I have nothing against occasional craziness, but if I'm going to spend that kind of money for my son's seat, I want him to have a good time too.

This is not to say the grown ups at baseball games don't indulge some -- there's nothing like a good beer at the park, -- but the worst crimes tipsy baseball fans commit fall somewhere along the lines of trying to start the wave. I can honestly say that I've never had to issue a death glare at a baseball game. There's just something about the nice, easy pace of the game that generates nice, laid-back fun.

Even if you can get past the cost and the crazies, the opportunities for attending are limited in football. There's only one game a week and eight home games a season. Baseball gives you 81 opportunities to go. If you're always free on Wednesday evenings, there will be a number of chances for you to take in a game. Plus, playing hooky from work to go to a day game is just delicious. And that's just the MLB games -- the minor leagues, independent leagues, and town-ball leagues offer pro-quality ball just about every day of the summer. Heck, even watching beer-league softball is a ton of fun. I've never seen beer-league football.

I'm pretty lucky. I live in a town where I could take about a three-mile walk and possibly see four or more baseball or softball games going on. Baseball doesn't just happen in summer; baseball is summer.

So, yeah. Go to football games, but go to more baseball games. You'll be glad you did.

This was part two of my series on why baseball is better than football. Next time: Broadcasts.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Why Baseball is Better Than Football (Day 1 - Training)

Plain and simple: baseball is better than football.

Of course, we've all heard the old George Carlin monologue comparing football to baseball ("The object in football is to march downfield and penetrate enemy territory, and get into the end zone; in baseball, the object is to go home!"). But there's more for baseball fans to love. So over the next few days, I intend to prove it.

So, here we are. The football fans are a week in to their off-season hebetude (except for Packer fans; they're still recovering from overindulgent joy), and the baseball fans celebrate the eve of Pitchers and Catchers reporting (for most teams -- for some reason, the Twins start after everyone else). Spring is in the air and the better sport is about to start.

Baseball's spring training is miles better than football's training camp. Baseball training starts at just the right moment. Fans are weary of winter and need green grass, sunshine, and baseball activities to think about. However, football's training comes at the end of the summer, when it's hot and sticky. No one wants to think about two-a-days and sweating.

Sure, both football and baseball make their training facilities open to the public, and they both attract fans and the dollars those fans bring. However, because of timing and location, baseball's spring training makes for a lovely family vacation. Football's...not so much. In the case of Minnesota fans, where would you rather go? Florida or Mankato?

After all: "Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life. Football begins in the fall, when everything's dying." - George Carlin

So, I plan to come up with other examples over the next few days. Up next: Going to the Games

Thursday, February 3, 2011

It's Good to Have Friends

No Twins news lately. So, I wanted to give a little love to some friends of mine and of this blog. I really like what they're doing, and I want to give them a shout out.


The Ladies:

Let me tell you, female sports fans and bloggers don't always enjoy the attention the guys do (boy, don't I know it). Well, Cubs blogger Julie DiCaro decided to do something about it, and formed, G9 Sports, a network of sports blogs written solely by female writers. I imagine this was an awesome undertaking -- organizing all those writers, obtaining web hosting, getting the site designed, and so on. Wow. And it looks great.

The Twins are delightfully represented by two blogs:

I know these gals personally and I've read their other works. I know you'll love these efforts. Be sure to check them out, along with the other writers on the G9 Sports network.


Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook by Seth Stohs

Seth is at it again. If you read this blog, chances are that you already read Seth's blog, so you already know that his 2011 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook is ready. This is a fun book to have around. I like to pick one or two prospects to keep an eye on and follow, and he gives me all the information I need. Seth does a great job, and it's clear that he likes writing about all the prospects.

If you're planning to go to Spring Training, I recommend you order it soon. It would be great to have handy as you're watching the prospects practice and play.


Maple Street Press 2011 Twins Annual

It's time to pre-order the Twins Annual, written by the TwinsCentric guys (John Bonnes, a.k.a. Twins Geek; Seth Stohs; Parker Hageman, a.k.a. Over the Baggy; and Nick Nelson) and others. I bought last year's edition and I loved it; it's a beautiful publication with informative and interesting articles.


DiamondCentric Clothing

You know you want a "Thome is My Homey" t-shirt just like mine. Or a "I Love Koobs" t-shirt. Make sure you check out all of DiamondCentric offerings. Parker Hageman has a hand in this.

I just love my "Thome" shirt. It fits, wears, and washes well. And it's so soft and comfy.


And the Others

Generally speaking, make sure you check out the blogs I have listed in the sidebar. The Twins fan community is great, and we're quite lucky to have so many great writers contributing to a fun fan discussion. Many of these folks are my friends in real life, Twitter friends, and/or Facebook friends. I love being part of this great group.