Sunday, January 20, 2013

10 Things to Do and See at TwinsFest

The days are beginning to get noticeably longer. Football teams are being eliminated from the playoffs one-by-one. The Twins Caravan is in full swing. So it must be almost time for TwinsFest.

I know many fans enjoy going to TwinsFest yearly. Those folks already already know what they want to do. But, if you haven't been in a while, allow me to point out some of my TwinsFest traditions.

  1. Make a plan: Be sure to visit the TwinsFest website to view the autograph and photo schedules. If you're in to these things, you'll want to plan your arrival at the optimum time to visit with your favorite players. Now is the time to gather or purchase the items (photos, baseballs, jerseys, etc.) that you want signed. Allow plenty of standing-in-line time.
  2. Grab Seth's book: You've already ordered Seth Stohs' Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2013, right? It's a must-have for all the cool Twins fans. A fun thing to do is have the prospects sign their entries in the Handbook. If you haven't ordered it, you should get on it (however, you might not get it in time if you opt for standard shipping; there are expedited shipping options). There is also an e-version available for a reduced price. Be warned that I don't recommend you have prospects sign their entries on the e-version of the book. It might ruin your device.
  3. Decide whether you'll carry your coat, stash it, or do without: If history is any predictor, it's likely to be the coldest weather in a generation during TwinsFest. This makes it worth taking pause when you're deciding whether your awesome Twins sweatshirt will be warm enough to make the dash to the Dome from your parking spot. If you do wear your coat, try to score a plastic bag when you walk in (they give bags filled with coupons, ads, and other stuff at the doors). If you trust the masses to not steal it and want to stash it among the blue seats, please be considerate to the said masses and stick it somewhere where it isn't likely that some masses will want to place their asses (i.e.: away from the ESPN1500 radio area).
  4. Score a grab bag: I love stadium giveaways. Who doesn't? And being the neat freaks that they are, the Twins clean out their closets of all the old giveaways and other treasures, bag them up, and sell them -- a couple years ago, they went for $15 for a large grocery bag. And sometimes, they'll throw in an autographed item. Be sure to get there early, though. They sell out quickly.
  5. Get your (or your kids') pic taken with the best mascot in the bigs: There is no doubt that our friend TC Bear is a great mascot. He usually hangs out in the kids' area. And if you're the one getting your picture with him, don't be afraid to butt in line in front of all those kids waiting their turn. (Joking.)
  6. Revisit the past: Make sure you take a stroll through the National Baseball Hall of Fame exhibit. They always put on an fascinating display of Twins and baseball heroes from past generations. Plus, you can say howdy to the two Twins World Series trophies.
  7. Shop 'til you drop: TwinsFest features the area's largest gathering baseball card and memorabilia vendors. So if you're looking for that elusive 1972 Charlie Manuel card or that Twins-themed Hamm's beer can, you can look for it here. The Twins Pro-shops will also be there, so you can get yourself a sweet new shirsey.
  8. Sing your heart out: They'll be holding auditions for singing the National Anthem and God Bless America for the season. So, you're at all musically inclined, you may as well give it a go. What do you have to lose? The worse they can do is point and laugh.
  9. Take a load off: It's probably been a while since you've had some horrible stadium food, so grab yourself a Dome Dog and a pop, and take a seat in front of the ESPN1500 radio booth area and listen to what some players, coaches, and other Twins folks have to say. They'll be conducting interviews throughout the event, and it's kind of fun to sit there, rest up, and listen.
  10. Get excited for BASEBALL!
See you Friday, January 25th through Sunday, January 27

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Book Review: Out of My League

Dirk Hayhurst. Out of My League: A Rookie's Survival in the Bigs. New York, NY: Kensington Publishing Corp., 2012. ISBN 978-0-8065-3553-1

I loved The Bullpen Gospels, Dirk Hayhurst's first book, so much that I went out of my way to recommend it to anyone who would listen. Unfortunately, I can't muster that much enthusiasm for his follow-up book Out of My League. In fact, I hesitate to recommend it at all.

While Gospels is primarily a humor book, League is not. I wouldn't expect him to be able to carry the accounts of minor-league baseball hijinks through a second book -- after all, locker room humor is just locker room humor no matter how many times one writes about it. However, I liked Hayhurst and his storytelling so much, I had high hopes for this story.

In Gospels, I really appreciated how he opened himself up and shared his self doubts and family struggles, and League focuses on that aspect of his life. Unfortunately however, this time he comes across as whiny and weak. As far as I can recall, the timeline of the two books is about the same. I understand that minor-league life is very difficult, especially for fringe-y talent players, but I found myself just wanting to scold him to buck up and do better. He didn't become sympathetic to me until the last few chapters.

This book lacked balance. He spent so much energy concentrating on his demons and fears, that his joys and successes seemed out of place and unappreciated. He does share his relationship with his girlfriend/fiancee, but he makes himself seem like such a jerk, I had a hard time believing they're really a happy couple.

I found this book very difficult to get through. My grade: C-.