Sunday, September 28, 2008


The Minnesota Twins have done their darnedest to choke away the AL Central division. But after losing the first two games of a three game series against the Kansas City Royals, the Twins are exactly where they were after sweeping the Chicago White Sox earlier this game ahead in first place.

The good news for today is that no matter what happens, the Twins will not be completely eliminated. Even if they lose and the Sox win, Chicago will be up by a half game. If that's the case, Chicago will have to play the Detroit Tigers on Monday to make up a game which was rained out earlier this season.

If I had to make a prediction, I believe both the Twins and Sox will win today. If that happens, Chicago will still have to beat Detroit tomorrow afternoon just to force a one-game playoff against the Twins on Tuesday.

Looks like we're just getting warmed for what will be an intriguing baseball postseason!


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Debate roundup

I did indeed take in the first Presidential debate last evening between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama. To me, there were no surprises or "campaign changing" moments contained in the debate aimed primarily at foreign policy.

However, I thought McCain had some pretty good zingers towards The One Obama in what at times became a spirited exchange:

McCain, on emphasizing his own record of bi-partisanship:

"It's hard (for Sen. Obama) to reach across the aisle when he's that far to the left."

McCain responding to Obama scheduling meetings with foreign leaders:

"I don’t set the President’s meeting schedule yet, and I don’t have my own Presidential Seal."

McCain on Obama's willingness to meet with thuggish dictators without preconditions.

"Let me get this right. We sit down with Ahmadinejad and he says, 'we're going to wipe Israel off the face of the earth,' and we say, 'no, you're not?' Please."

But the question I have is what is the criteria for "winning" a debate? If "winning" is determined by who is more eloquent, Obama wins almost any contest because of his inherent ability to speak in platitudes. But while Obama might be able to more eloquently make the case that 3 x 2 equals five, he'd still be wrong. So the winner should be determined by who is right on the substantive issues. Of course that will always be McCain, especially when it comes to matters of foreign policy.

While I don't think last night's performance will vault McCain into a big lead in the polls, it's pretty clear he dispelled his opponent's notion that McCain has "lost his bearings."


Friday, September 26, 2008

Box score of the week

UPDATE: I'm thinking I should re-name this bit "Try to stump Mark Heuring." The boxscore I referenced was from a Cubs-Dodgers game at Dodger Stadium on April 25, 1976.

Two protesters, a man and his son, ran into the outfield and tried to set fire to an American flag they had brought with them. Outfielder Rick Monday, then playing with the Cubs, noticed they had placed the flag on the ground and were fumbling with matches and lighter fluid; he then dashed over and grabbed the flag from the ground to thunderous cheers. He handed the flag to Los Angeles pitcher Doug Rau, after which the ballpark police officers arrested the two intruders. When he came up to bat in the next half-inning, he got a standing ovation from the crowd and the big message board behind the left-field bleachers in the stadium flashed the message, "RICK MONDAY... YOU MADE A GREAT PLAY..."

Can anyone tell me what was special about this particular game?

A hint: The answer doesn't have much to do with the on field play.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Twins season may be salvaged courtesy of 22-year old.

With the Twins now a ½ game out of first place, the focus has shifted to postseason possibilities. Personally, I am stunned that it has gotten to this point. Just three short weeks ago I had written off the Twins after another bullpen meltdown. In the midst of what was a 14-game road swing, the Twins inexplicably blew their fourth game in which they had a lead in the seventh inning or later.

But in a remarkable turn of events that has the Twins on the brink of their fifth division title in seven seasons, could it be they have found a late-inning pitching savior? If so, stout left-hander Jose Mijares earned his way in last night’s victory.

By (the seventh inning), White Sox starter Mark Buehrle was in cruise mode and the Twins had only a one-run lead to protect in the eighth.

Gardenhire went to Mijares, 23, a surprising September callup. He had a limited minor-league season after breaking his left elbow in a car accident this winter.

Mijares had pitched the eighth in a victory for the first time Sunday. This was a one-run lead, a crowd announced at 42,126 was screaming and the White Sox were bringing up Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Ken Griffey Jr. and their combined 1,345 home runs.

Mijares opened with three balls to Thome. What were the young man's thoughts?

"He says, 'I knew I had to throw strikes,'" said (Dennys) Reyes, interpreting for the Venezuelan.

Mijares came back to get Thome on a sky-high fly to center. Konerko and Griffey went out easier.

Could Mijares have imagined -- as he was recovering from his accident -- pitching in a big-league division race?

"Not at all,'' he said through Reyes. "He says, 'I just wanted to be able to come back and pitch again this season.'"

After seven relief appearances (covering seven innings), Mijares has allowed only two hits and has an ERA of 1.29. Since making his big league debut on September 13, he has impressed the organization so much that I believe he has more than a fighting chance to be part of the Twins possible postseason run.

This stretch of games by Mijares reminds me of the brief impression his fellow countryman made in 2002 with the LA Angels of Anaheim. A 20-year old phenom made his major league on debut on September 18th that season. In only 5 2/3 innings pitched, the young man struck out thirteen batters while giving up zero runs. Those five relief appearances so impressed the Angels that they made the youthful right-hander the setup man for then closer Troy Percival. It was that season that Francisco Rodriguez played a key role in the Angels winning their first ever World Series title. In eleven postseason appearances, he sported a 1.92 ERA. Rodriguez, now the Angels closer, has set a single-season record for saves with 62 thus far this season.

Like Rodriguez in '02, Mijares appears too young to know he’s not supposed to succeed in pressure situations. Here’s hoping the Twins lefty remains blissfully ignorant.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Gonna make you sweat.

This may not be a very long post as I can barely lift my arms to type.

A couple of weeks ago, the gal and I joined a local health club. Now we had been members of Lifetime Fitness from 2004 to 2008. Unfortunately there isn't a Lifetime near our new home in Ramsey so we decided to join the local Anytime Fitness. Since we won't be living in our house until next week, we decided to work out at the Anytime near my Mom's place in St Paul.

With life having been quite chaotic over the past year, the good eating and rigorous exercise has taken a back seat. As such, we decided to take advantage of the free six-and-a half hours half hour with a personal trainer this evening. Yes, it was one of those workouts where you discover muscles you don't realize you have. And since fat guys like myself sweat like dogs when unwrapping a McDonald's cheeseburger, I looked like I had been standing in a monsoon when the session was complete.

But you know what? After six months of implementing a more stringent workout regimen, I will look back on this time as the first step in a thousand mile journey. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day.....and neither are six-pack abs.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Full Speed Ahead!

So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:31-33

The last piece of our big move is now complete. We closed on the sale of my mother-in law's house today after said closing was postponed three times. We are scheduled to have a walkthrough of our newly constructed home on September 25 and then move in on the 30th!

Sure it's been a long process, especially the uncertainty at being able to sell two homes in a slumping housing market. In fact, we've had more than a few people tell us we were crazy and that there was no way we would be able to pull off such a feat. But we also knew that if God can create the universe, certainly He can help us move two houses.

So with all the gnashing of teeth over the seemingly grim financial news this past week, I simply refuse to participate. While I don't take such news lightly, I do realize where our best investments have been made. And the return on those investments will last an eternity!


Box score of the week

UPDATE: Once again, Mark Heuring nailed it. This box score marks the final game in the all-too-short career of slugger Lyman Bostock. After his California Angels lost to the Chicago White Sox on September 23, 1978, Bostock was gunned down in nearby Gary, IN while visiting relatives that evening.

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of that tragedy, ESPN's Outside the Lines details a life and a baseball career that was senselessly cut short. The program will air this Sunday at 8:00 am CT

Can anyone tell me the significance of this box score.

A hint: It's a rather somber reference.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Yet another great reason for McCain-Palin (UPDATED)


(Actress Lindsay) Lohan writes, "I really cannot bite my tongue anymore....

Why? Because of the piercing there?

...when it comes to Sarah Palin.

Oh. Sorry to interrupt.


I find it quite interesting that a woman who now is running to be second in command of the United States, only four years ago had aspirations to be a television anchor, which is probably all she is qualified to be."

Well, that and she reformed her home state of corruption in her own party. Your guy, meanwhile, votes 97% with his own party and did nothing to change the culture in politically corrupt Chicago.

Lohan also spoke about Palin's views on homosexuality.

She adds, "Is it a sin to be gay?. Should it be a sin to be straight? Or to use birth control? Or to have sex before marriage? Or even to have a child out of wedlock?

Not nearly as sinful as making movies like Georgia Rule and I Know Who Killed Me.

"Is our country so divided that the Republicans' best hope is a narrow-minded, media obsessed homophobe?"

Sheesh, Linz. You've gone gay all of a few months and you're already whipping out the "homophobe" card?

While I wouldn't call Gov. Palin a "homophobe", I do believe she opposes underage drinking, driving while intoxicated and cocaine use.

That said, I'm surprised you kept silent as long as you did.


UPDATE: Obama camp steers clear of Lindsay.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

More Education Minnesota Shenanigans

One of the conservative staff members secret handshake club members came up to me today and asked if I had received a phone call from Education Minnesota. I told her I had not, as I am a fairshare member and don’t get those calls (I do get the literature however). The phone call was in the guise of a survey about political views. At the end of the survey, the caller identified himself as representing Education Minnesota and strongly suggested candidates she should vote for. She took it in stride and told him ‘thanks for your opinions’ and promptly hung up.

I can’t help but wonder if there are any other ways I can control what happens to my union dues. My local union certainly does not need $500/year to negotiate our contract. The local union itemizes expenses in a transparent and accessible way, but neither Minnesota Education nor the NEA do. Looking at our local expenses, I often wonder what my money is paying for.

Politically like-minded teachers in my school are relatively quiet about their opinions. I am an exception. I don’t have a problem talking to anyone about why I believe a conservative government is best for our country. It’s almost a joke around here. I’m the lovable wing-nut. Anyway, there are no hard feelings among most staff members when it comes to our politics. The republican/conservative voters in my school have our little quiet conversations and secret handshake. It’s all in fun. I am very fortunate because I know this is not the case in every work place.

I don’t know of any staff having a problem with me being a fairshare member of the union either. Most are respectful of my right to pay 75% of my dues, lose my liability insurance, and any help from my union if I get in trouble in my bid to keep my hard earned money from promoting political causes I am opposed to. The truth is it’s a financial wash as I purchase my liability insurance through my home owner’s policy. It was an ordeal to go fairshare, but once I did no one questioned my decision. My local union secretary asks me every year if I wish to remain fairshare which I appreciate. I am the only full-time employed fairshare member in my district that I am aware of. I wish more teachers would take this option. It would send a strong message to our union, and hit them in the pocket book. Perhaps it would even focus them on labor issues rather than supporting the DFL.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Box score of the week

UPDATE: Infielder Duane Kuiper had an 11-year career in Major League Baseball. This box score features the game in which he hit his first and only career home run in 3,379 at bats. It is the major league record for most at-bats with only one HR.


I stumped my readers last week so I'll try again.

The significance of this box score would be.....?


Friday, September 12, 2008

Pass the Dutchie

Every Saturday morning (8-9 CT) my wife's cousin, "Dutch" (a/k/a "Smartmonies"), hosts a one-hour sports talk show on a Uniontown, PA radio station. Because Uniontown is an hour south of Pittsburgh, Dutch is an absolute Steelers nut. In fact, his overall passion for the NFL is second to none.

Unfortunately, said passion often crosses the line into nutty conspiracy theories. To give you some insight, Dutch has had a frothing-at-the-mouth obsession with "Spygate". Ever since it was revealed that New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick videotaped opponent's defensive hand signals since 2000, Dutch has been on a mission. His mission is to ensure the NFL record book contains an asterisk next to each of the Pats' three Super Bowl championships in the Belichick era.

Now his disdain for the Pats has gotten...well....sad, just sad.


So the physician who confirmed Brady has a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee was lying? And what does an injury to his right foot have to do with his torn knee ligaments?


I suppose you also believe that Lee Harvey Oswald didn't act alone. Answer me this: Since when does a sprained ankle require surgery? A little ice would do the trick. I'm sure Gisele Bundchen could've accommodated that while on a boat somewhere else in the world.


Or on something.


Ah, but riding a motorcycle without a helmet just a month before training camp seems quite selfish, too. Did that at all affect your man crush adulation of Ben Roethlisberger? Did it hurt Big Ben's reputation?


Do you wear that tin foil hat with your Roethlisberger jersey? Now that would be a bold fashion statement.

Also, I'm hoping you can answer another question. Why do you refer to yourself in the third person (i.e. "SMARTMONIES SAYS") when you're writing?

Just curious.

Teacher's union dues: Funding Democrats

As some of you may know, my wife is a Science teacher in a local Twin Cities public school district. The fact she is God-fearing, pro-life and pro-America makes her an anomaly in such a left-leaning profession.

But now she has even more insight to the additional "benefits" her union dues bring:

It's no surprise that Education Minnesota is a shill for the Democrats. But they also recommend that the union heads at all the Minnesota public schools place the above laminated placards in the mailboxes of all the teachers! I guess EM wants to make sure their propaganda "talking points" are safely transferred to their union members.

However, I must give credit where credit is due. The union head at my wife's school balked at placing such material in the teacher's personal mailboxes.

Nevertheless, this is typical of left-leaning institutions: Vote for our candidates or watch your profession suffer.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Kid stories

During lunch today, a lot of the Dads were telling anecdotes about their kids. Unfortunately, a lot of the stories concerned their kids using cuss words, which I didn't find particularly humorous.

However, there was one story this guy Mike was telling about his mother and son. Apparently Mike and his Mom were hauling some stuff out to the barn with Mike's 4-year old son in tow. Given the taxing work, Mike's mom exclaimed "I really hate hauling this s--t to the barn.".

Mike's son replied "Nana, we don't say 'hate'."


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

No surprise: Olbermann, Matthews out as MSNBC "anchors".

Perhaps ultra-lefty Bill Maher's take was the final straw.

Whatever the case, the insufferable Keith Olbermann and Chris "I get this thrill up my leg" Matthews will no longer anchor MSNBC's 2008 election coverage.

The...ahem..."impartial" David Gregory looks to be taking over.

As I was leaving the GOP convention last Thursday, Olby was kvetching over the Republicans showing graphic footage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, thus causing an emotional reaction from him. He also went on to claim that if his network showed that much coverage of said tragedy, the GOP would "eviscerate" his network. Never mind that Olby & Co. themselves demagogued the attacks by parading out the 9/11 widows during the '04 and '06 elections (especially those widows who were anti-Bush).

On the other hand, Matthews personified the phrase "in the tank." His proclamation that hearing Barack Obama speak gave him a thrill up his leg would have been hung around his neck this entire election season. In a July appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Matthews stopped just short of making a plea to the country to not be racist and vote for Obama. Then upon the conclusion of Obama's August 28 speech at the Democratic National Convention, Matthews basically told his critics to go to hell when conveying how much Obama inspires him.

Truth be told, I'll kind of miss Olby & Thrill boy. They provide a lot of fodder and entertainment for us political junkies.


Monday, September 08, 2008

Monday Night Football: Vikes-Pack

I'm in Des Moines, IA on business but I'm ready to unwind and watch the Vikings' season opener against the Green Bay Packers.

The general consensus seems to be that the Vikes would be a Super Bowl contender if they had an established QB. The fact is Tarvaris Jackson has made improvements, but will it be enough? He will have plenty of chances to make plays this season since opponents will be stacking the box against Adrian Peterson.

The Vikes have a good shot tonight but I believe home field will eventually make the difference.

I hope I'm wrong, but I'm thinking Packers 20 Vikings 17


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Box score of the week

UPDATE: Hah!!! I finally stumped my readers who are baseball fans (either that, or no one cares about this bit).

The significance of these box scores is Texas shortstop Toby Harrah played all eighteen innings in that July 1976 doubleheader --- and never had one fielding chance! That is a record which still stands today.

As Ernie Banks used to say: "Let's play TWO!!"

What is the significance of the July 25, 1976 doubleheader featuring the Chicago White Sox & Texas Rangers?

Game 1.

Game 2.


Friday, September 05, 2008

Witnessing History

A good friend of mine (whom I had not seen in nearly ten years) was in town from Washington, D.C. this week for the Republican National Convention. So I get a call from him at 6:30 last evening inviting me to the RNC. I had to think about it for, oh I don't know, a millisecond before I responded "ABSO-FRIGGIN-LUTELY!!!"

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, former Homeland Security Director (and former Pennsylvania Governor) Tom Ridge and Cindy McCain were the warm up acts for the man of the evening.

I have to say it was an honor to witness first hand a truly historic moment. It's not often that one gets to hear a true American hero like John McCain accept his party's nomination for President of the United States. Combine that with the fact his running mate is the first female Vice Presidential nominee in the history of the GOP, and you have yourself an energized party.

As Senator McCain wrapped up his speech, one thought occurred to me when thinking back on all of the speeches I heard this past week: No way could Democrats have given those talks. The reason quite simply was that there was too much optimism and pride in country displayed by the likes of Senator McCain, Gov. Sarah Palin, Fred Thompson, etc.

But now, the real fun begins. The next sixty days is the sprint portion of what has been a near 18-month marathon.

Game on!!

All those cowboy hats represents the Texas delegation

Everyone in our suite anticipating the appearance of John McCain

A shot of media row. Al Jazeera is to the right of MSNBC (physically, not politically. Although one has to wonder sometimes)

The post-convention dropping of balloons and confetti

Glad I was here!!!

When we move to Ramsey on September 30, Michele Bachmann will be our Congresswoman!!!


Thursday, September 04, 2008

This October will be golf season for the Twins

The two strongest components of the Twins (pitching and defense) has failed them miserably on this 14-game road trip (mercifully coming to an end tonight).

Over the past thirteen games, the defense has made critical errors in critical situations, leading to closer extraordinaire Joe Nathan to blow three save opportunities (He had a grand total of three blown saves before that). Add to that the rest of the bullpen struggling just to keep a lead into the ninth inning, and I just have that nagging feeling. It's that feeling that tells me the Twins are not ready for prime time.

The coup de grace was last night's game against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Twins kicked away two one-run leads due to poor defense. An error by shortstop Nick Punto (allegedly their best infielder) in the seventh inning allowed the Jays to tie the game at three. Then with two outs in the ninth, a fielding miscue by outfielder Jason Pridie (brought into the game for "defensive purposes") allowed pinch runner Curtis Thigpen to score, knotting the game at four. The Jays would go on to win 5-4 in 11 innings.

Oh well, as Cubs fans have been saying for 100 years, there's always next season.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Democrat ticket wisely avoids flawed strategy.

Since the addition of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to the GOP ticket, many conservatives have warmed up to the idea of a John McCain presidency. As a result, many lefty blogs (along with the New York Times) seem hell bent on reminding us all that Gov. Palin's 17-year old daughter is pregnant. The objective of such overkill would be an attempt to drive a wedge between social conservative voters and the McCain-Palin ticket.

But to Barack Obama's credit, he's not partaking in such tactics.

"Let me be as clear as possible," Obama said. "I think people's families are off-limits, and people's children are especially off-limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin's performance as governor or her potential performance as a vice president."

Obama said reporters should "back off these kinds of stories" and noted that he was born to an 18-year-old mother.

"How a family deals with issues and teenage children, that shouldn't be the topic of our politics, and I hope that anybody who is supporting me understands that's off-limits."

While Obama appears to be making a noble plea to his supporters, I would venture a guess that he's learned from the resounding blunders made by his party four years ago.

In the 2004 Presidential race, both John Kerry and John Edwards made blatant attempts to convey the fact that Vice President Dick Cheney had a lesbian daughter. It was made worse by Kerry's campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill when she declared Mary Cheney "fair game." The obvious references to Mary Cheney's sexual orientation wasn't the sole reason Kerry-Edwards fell short but it certainly didn't make the waves they had hoped for.

Obama also realizes this could be used to the advantage of the pro-life ticket of McCain-Palin. Both have strongly professed their pro-life stances. The fact that Bristol Palin is committed to carrying her child to term and raising it with the father further emphasizes the Palin family's commitment to the unborn. Imagine that. Young people owning up to their mistake by accepting the consequences. Pretty noble for teenagers being "punished with a baby", wouldn't you say Senator Obama?

But I digress.

Obama may have no discernible agenda and no significant political accomplishments but he must be given credit where credit is due: he knows all too well of his party's failed history.


"The voice of God" is silenced.

A legendary broadcaster has passed on. The thing is you probably don’t recognize his name or face.

A report out of Los Angeles says that Minnesota native Don LaFontaine, known in Hollywood as the "King of Voice-overs," has died.

"Entertainment Tonight" is reporting that LaFontaine, who turned 68 last week, died Monday afternoon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

His agent, Vanessa Gilbert, told "ET" that he died following complications due to a collapsed lung.

At last count, he worked on nearly 5,000 films, including "The Elephant Man," "Batman Returns" and "The Terminator."

"In a world ..." became one of his best-known catch phrases.

Since I was about 8 or 9, I’ve always had this dream of being a broadcaster. Initially, it was just sports. But as I’ve grown older, my interests have broadened out into news talk radio, something I was fortunate enough to do three years ago. As I got to hear the work of LaFontaine, I surmised that a voice over career would be an absolute blast!! As such, I will never completely abandon that dream.

In the mean time, the internet will preserve the memory of the best voice over guy in the industry.

R.I.P., Don.


Monday, September 01, 2008

Day 1 at the 2008 RNC

With today being Day 1 of the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, many of us freedom loving, pro-America folks decided to witness the kook protesters in action.

To be honest, it wasn't much different than all the other protests I've seen over the past five years. Their lack of creativity led them to spew the same old buzzwords/phrases like "Halliburton", "Chicken Hawk", "Go enlist", "No blood for oil", etc.

They march under the guise of "peace" even though they use language that would make a sailor blush. They preach the merits of "pacifism" in spite of threatening us with bodily harm. They call us "fascists" while sporting Che Guevara t-shirts. And they throw out false statistics of 1 million civilian casualties in Iraq while conveniently ignoring the tens of millions of babies aborted in the past 35 years.

Don't believe me?

Check out the video clips and see for yourselves.