Thursday, July 29, 2010

It's on now!

Yours truly won two tickets to see my beloved Minnesota Vikings host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, November 21!!!

While I have been to a handful of Vikings games in my life, I have never once been live for the Border Battle.

Should be a blast!!


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

In this life, we can count on........



Pitcher Ben Sheets suffering an injury.

In looking back, I put together essentially the same post a couple of years ago.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Quick Hits: Volume VIII

When I read a recent headline that Howard Dean supported a Newt Gingrich Presidential run in 2012, I was certain I would click on the latest article in The Onion.

Sadly, Mad How was serious.

“I don’t agree with very much that Newt Gingrich wants to do,” Dean said of the field marshal behind the 1994 Republican takeover of the House. But, he added, “there are no ideas in the Republican Party right now in Congress — they are the party of ‘No.’

“Whatever else you can say about Newt Gingrich, he can supply intellectual leadership. So I hope he does run.”

Intellectual Leadership?!?! Is that a euphemism for "selling out GOP principles"?

-Did a Jimmy Carter speech ever give MSNBC guy Chris Matthews a thrill up his leg?

-Tuned in to see the Twins take on the Royals tonight. After Joe Mauer hit a three-run homer, I was wondering why the Twins were wearing their road uniforms at Target Field. Turns out the club actually was on the road in Kansas City. It sure sounded like 40,000 of the Twins faithful invaded Kauffman Stadium Monday night. The Twins edged Kansas City 19-1.


Friday, July 23, 2010

What sucks worse than the Baltimore Orioles?

That would be the security personnel at their home field in Camden Yards.

This kid is lucky he didn't pull this asinine stunt in Philadelphia.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Quick Hits: Volume VII

-A mere eighteen months into his Presidency, Barack Obama (and many in his administration for that matter) has been a public relations embarrassment. From apologizing for our country being a super power to his lackadaisical response to the BP oil spill to alienating a long-time ally, there is no shortage of examples.

But what has really struck me about the White House's current occupant is his utter lack of grace or humility. The latest example was aimed at Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI). While in Holland, MI Thursday to showcase money spent in the American Recovery Act, President Obama made a visit to the future site of a new facility for LG Chem (a Korean conglomerate by the way). Despite Rep. Hoekstra's opposition to the stimulus package, he attended the groundbreaking ceremony "out of respect for the office of the president."

The President's response?

"Some made the political calculation that it's better to obstruct than to lend a hand,” sneered Obama at the end of his remarks. “Now that doesn't stop them from being at ribbon cuttings, but that's OK."

Stay classy, Sir.

-In their first series post-All Star break, the Twins hosted the first place Chicago White Sox for four games. In what has been standard fare since he joined the Sox in 2005, former Twin A.J. Pierzynski was booed incessantly every time his name was mentioned. This has never made sense to me, since Pierzynski didn't exactly demand a trade nor express any dismay at being in Minnesota. Now, is the guy a jerk off? Sure. His trash talking is pretty classless. But why should fans care? The Twins players don't get too overwrought.

But think of what the Twins received in return when trading Pierzynski to the San Francisco Giants after the 2003 season. Relief pitcher Joe Nathan (246 saves from 2004-09), starting pitcher Francisco Liriano (best pure stuff of all the Twins starters) and pitcher Boof Bonser. The move also allowed catcher Joe Mauer to be called up to the big club in 2004. All Mauer has done is become the first AL catcher to win a batting title, and he's won three in the past four seasons.

Personally, I give A.J. a standing ovation whenever he steps to the plate.

-Vice President Joe Biden appears convinced that the 2010 midterm elections will not be as bad for Democrats as many would surmise (including White House spokesman Robert Gibbs).

"I don't think the losses are going to be bad at all. I think we're going to shock the heck out of everybody."

Say, wasn't it the VP who also assured the citizens of Cleveland that NBA star LeBron James would re-sign with the Cavaliers?


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Quick Hits: Volume VI

-Can you imagine if Smokey the Bear lectured his community fire department on how to fight fires, but then lobbied for a pyromaniac to be Fire Chief?

To wit:

Former Republican Gov. Arne Carlson is urging the state GOP chairman to encourage "more thoughtfulness and less vindictive politics," and is criticizing Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Republican legislators for not doing enough to tackle a daunting budget deficit.

Carlson has had a strained relationship with the Republican Party, endorsing Democrat Barack Obama for president in 2008.

So how was endorsing Obama for President (as Carlson did in 2008) advocating a balanced budget? Are there different standards for the state of Minnesota than for that of our entire country?

-Is there any more of a buffoonish jackass in all of media than Chris "Thrill up my Leg" Matthews? I'd be open to examples.

But to ask a prominent Democrat Congressman "What percentage of the Republican Party would you put in the nut bag category right now?" Beyond idiotic.

-In early 1973, a Cleveland shipping magnate purchased the New York Yankees baseball club for $10 million. Even though he became the principal owner, the shipping tycoon said he would be far too busy with his primary business to focus on the day-to-day operation of a Major League Baseball team.

But in his first 23 seasons as owner, George M. Steinbrenner III changed managers 20 times (including dismissing Billy Martin on five separate occasions), and general managers 11 times in 30 years.

Nevertheless, under Steinbrenner's watch, the Yankees won 11 American League pennants, seven World Series titles and are now valued at approximately $1.6 billion. Not bad for a $10 million investment, eh?

But a mere nine days after turning 80 years old, the self-anointed Yankee "Boss" died today.

Steinbrenner had a heart attack, was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, Fla., and died at about 6:30 a.m. ET, according to multiple reports.

"He was an incredible and charitable man," his family said in a statement. "He was a visionary and a giant in the world of sports. He took a great but struggling franchise and turned it into a champion again."

Of all I've heard about Steinbrenner the man, he was an incredibly complex individual who meant something different to many people.

Someone who knew him once said that a biography could be written about how Steinbrenner was a domineering, petty tyrant while yet another book could be penned on what a kind, loving and generous person he was.....and both accounts would be spot on.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Boxscore of the week (UPDATED)

UPDATE: This box score represents the second game played by Joel Youngblood on 8/4/82. On that day, Youngblood became the only player in history to get hits for two different teams in two different cities on the same day. After Youngblood had driven in two runs with a single in the third inning for the Mets in an afternoon game at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs, he was replaced in center field by Mookie Wilson, and traded to the Montreal Expos. Youngblood rushed to Philadelphia in order to be with his new team, and hit a seventh inning single. Interestingly, the two pitchers he hit safely against, Ferguson Jenkins of the Cubs and Steve Carlton of the Philadelphia Phillies, are both in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Haven't done one of these in a while, so here goes.

What is the significance of this baseball boxscore?

See if you can come up with the answer without Google, Bing, etc.


Quick Hits: Volume V

-America's strong bond with Israel, the lone western outpost in the Middle East, has been a staple of every Presidential administration (Republican and Democrat) since the very beginning in 1948.

Ahhh, but the Obama administration is like no other, and not in a good way. It's been no secret that the White House and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not see eye-to-eye over Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In fact, when Netanyahu visited Washington a few months ago, he was not so subtly snubbed by the President. As a result, the Obama administration's approval ratings with Israelis are sinking like a stone.

In a recent interview with the Israeli Prime Minister, CBS news anchor Katie Couric practically pleaded with Netanyahu to vouch for Obama.

"To change public opinion in your country, should you be more strongly advocating on his behalf?"

Couric preceded that question by citing a recent poll of Israelis, which she seemed perplexed by: "Can you explain this to me, then? In a poll conducted a month ago – just a month ago – 71 percent of the Jews in Israel surveyed said they dislike President Obama; 47 percent expressed a strong dislike."

Earlier in the interview, Couric tried to gauge Netanyahu's feelings toward Obama: "Do you trust Barack Obama?...surely there have been disappointments with the Obama administration. Can you just be candid with me and tell me how the administration has disappointed you?" While Couric asked about Israeli "disappointments" with Obama, she never cited any specific Obama administration policies or actions as the cause of those disappointments.

Of course not. That would entail pointing out something which is not the fault of George W. Bush.

-I'll admit it. I watched the ESPN special program Thursday evening where NBA star LeBron James announced he would be signing a free agent contract with the Miami Heat. This means James will leave the Cleveland Cavaliers, his hometown team an the only franchise for which he has ever played. As a result, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert was less than kind in his feelings regarding James' departure.

"He has gotten a free pass," Gilbert said in a phone interview with The AP. "People have covered up for (James) for way too long. Tonight we saw who he really is."

Gilbert feels James quit on the Cavs during their second-round series against the Boston Celtics, who rallied from a 2-1 deficit to eliminate Cleveland.

"He quit," Gilbert said. "Not just in Game 5, but in Games 2, 4 and 6. Watch the tape. The Boston series was unlike anything in the history of sports for a superstar."

I guess I have one question: Why in the world was Cleveland so hell bent on re-signing LeBron James if he "quit" on the franchise in a pivotal playoff series? It appeared LeBron was good enough to return to the Cavs during the free agency period which began July 1. But now that he's left, it's as if James wasn't worthy to don the uniform of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

But I digress.

I have already contacted my friends Joy & Andrew, who are season ticket holders for the Timberwolves. I asked that they keep me in mind if indeed they are out of town during the Miami Heat's one visit to Target Center.


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

July 7, 2000: The ultimate covenant

Approximately 11-1/2 years ago, I told the woman of my dreams that if she would just stick with me that she would have no worries except if the cats had fleas.

Would you believe she bought it? Yeah, she had wisdom beyond her years!

And it was exactly ten years ago today on a hot, humid Friday evening that we made our union official in the presence of our Lord and about 150 guests.

Love ya, Babe! Here's to the first ten years!!


Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Quick Hits: Volume IV

Yes, I still recall fondly the days of when dissent was considered the highest form or patriotism, especially from 2001-2008. And said dissent was never exercised more fervently than in song. Musicians such as The Rolling Stones, Neil Young and Pink even penned tunes specifically to savage the Bush administration. Naturally they were heavily lauded by the entertainment industry for speaking "truth to power" (we really need to retire that moronic phrase).

But if one is a lesser known musician who dares to tug on the cape of the proverbial liberal Superman.......?

American beauty Ash Soular recorded “Obamanation” in 2008 as a protest song. She warned Americans about slick media sensation Barack Obama.

The upside was that she got over 4,000,000 hits on the song she posted on YouTube. The downside was that she was harassed and received death threats for posting the song on YouTube.

"I wanted to express how I felt about this past election, but I’m not very good at writing political blogs or particularly fond of debating" Soular said. "So I figured, how better to express my opinion than to write a song."

Check out the rather prophetic lyrics for yourself. I'll say this: If I were a bettin' man, I'd ask Ms. Soular to accompany me to Churchill Downs the first Saturday in May.

-As we approach the Major League Baseball All-Star break, the talk of baseball trades begins to heat up. Perhaps the most coveted player this year is Seattle Mariners' starting pitcher Cliff Lee. It is rumored that four teams are currently in the hunt for Lee, including my favorite squad.

If this move is made, it would send yet another signal to Twins fans that the club's front office is serious about utilizing the new revenue streams brought on by Target Field. And it also would send a clear message that it is "World Series or bust", since there is zero chance the Twins will pursue Lee when he becomes a free agent after this season.

Such a trade might actually help the Twins scale that proverbial postseason mountain known as the New York Yankees. In their past four postseason appearances, my favorite club has been eliminated by the Yanks on three occasions. And lest we forget, Lee was the winning pitcher in the two games the Philadelphia Phillies won in last year's World Series versus the Yankees.

Let get this done, Mr. Smith.


Monday, July 05, 2010

Acknowledging a milestone birthday

He was born Hugh Anthony Cregg III exactly sixty years ago today in New York City. As a youngster, Hugh and his family would relocate to the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically Marin County.

After his parents' divorce, Hugh, a highly intelligent young man, graduated from the prestigious Lawrenceville prep school in New Jersey at age sixteen. He even scored a perfect 800 on the Math section of his SAT. But his Dad, who treated Hugh like an adult since he was a young boy, encouraged him to see a little bit of the world before going to college. As such, Hugh hitchhiked across the country until he arrived in New York City. While waiting for rides along the way, Hugh killed time by playing the harmonica, eventually becoming very proficient.

From there, he hung around the NYC airport for a few days before stowing away on a flight to Europe. While visiting such places as Scotland and Spain, Hugh would get by financially playing the harmonica. He would earn enough money for a flight back to the USA where he enrolled in the engineering program at Cornell University. While at Cornell, Hugh struck up a friendship with several other aspiring musicians. As a result, his focus shifted away from academics and more on his newly formed band. Hugh would return to San Francisco after dropping out of Cornell in his junior year in 1969.

In the early '70s, while working odd jobs, Hugh joined the Bay Area band Clover, a country/rock band out of Mill Valley. He would stay with the band until it dissolved in 1979.

Hugh and childhood friend Sean Hopper, who also played keyboards with Clover, decided to form a band of their own. Johnny Colla (saxophone/guitar), Mario Cipollina (bass) and Bill Gibson (drums), who played with the Bay Area band Soundhole, were also recruited to play. The lineup would be rounded out with guitarist Chris Hayes. While tinkering with various stage names, Hugh would eventually settle on Huey Lewis.

Having settled on the name Huey Lewis and American Express, the band was in the midst of recording their initial album. However, credit card company American Express issued a complaint about the band's name in early 1980. From there forward, the band would forever be known as Huey Lewis and the News.

Later in 1980, the band would debut their self-titled album to little fanfare.

It was at that point where Huey began to assess his life and career path. Having just turned thirty years old with a mere $300 to his name, Huey realized the sense of urgency in producing a hit record. With that in mind, he reached out to a record producer whom he had known from his days with Clover. Robert John "Mutt" Lange, who was the brain trust behind AC/DC's hugely successful comeback album Back in Black, offered Huey a tune called We Both Believe in Love. With some slight adjustments, the band released the song Do You Believe in Love as the featured single on their second album Picture This. The song peaked at number 13 on the Billboard charts, and seemed to sustain the band's immediate future.

With some momentum, Huey & the guys began work on their third album Sports. When the finishing touches were put on said album, manager Bob Brown was convinced it was the best thing which he had ever been associated. However, when he attempted to contact the band's record label, Chrysalis Records, Brown learned that the company had disconnected its phone lines in Los Angeles, New York and England. With Chrysalis having experienced financial troubles, it was feared that the band had created a musical masterpiece without a record deal to release it. Huey recalled that the master reel-to-reel tapes had to be held under lock and key to ensure they not fall into the hands of a foundering record company.

Eventually, Chrysalis co-founder Terry Ellis convinced Brown that the company was stable, and thus Sports would be released. By far the band's most successful album to date, it has been certified 7x Platinum by the RIAA and had five top 20 hits. Sports was also ranked number two on Billboard's year-end album chart in 1984, behind only Michael Jackson's Thriller.

With the kind of enormous success brought on by Sports, there was a tremendous expectation for future albums. Despite scoring a number one hit with The Power of Love from the Back to the Future movie soundtrack, Huey's fans were clamoring for a follow up album. The release of Fore! in 1986 was a fantastic response. Having peaked at number one on the Billboard album chart, Fore! featured two number one singles in Stuck with You and Jacob's Ladder. The album had five top ten singles and was certified triple platinum.

Having the credibility of tremendous mainstream success, Huey decided to do something a little different with the band's fifth album Small World. With more of a jazz feel, the album did not approach the commercial success of the previous two offerings. While the album did reach Platinum status, it featured only one top ten hit with Perfect World.

In 1991, Hard at Play, under new record label EMI, would be Huey's last album of original material in nearly ten years.

While the lineup has changed over the past decade-and-a-half (both Hayes and Cipollina retired), Huey continues to thrive with whomever wants to come along for the ride. While there are plans to release a new album this year, Huey Lewis and the News continue to tour and play much smaller venues than in their heyday of the 1980s.

Having attended one of their concerts recently, I can tell you that Huey Lewis puts on the same kind of show in front of 5,000 people as if it were 50,000. As a fan of Huey's music for more than 25 years, I'm just as big a fan of the person. Despite more than a dozen top twenty hits and several million in album sales, Huey has never appeared to let the success go to his head. I recall a story one of his handlers told about a concert appearance at the height of the band's success in the 80's. After said concert, the band was ushered out the back door and into a non-descript vehicle to take them back to their hotel. Upon arriving at the hotel, Huey and the guys entered in through the alley way and took a service elevator up to their suites. Yet despite going through the extra effort to smuggle in the band incognito, Huey was down in the hotel bar within thirty minutes, having a drink with all of the fans. It also wasn't all that unusual for Huey to stay up well past Midnight to accommodate all of the fan autograph requests.

So it is on this day I would like to wish my boyhood (and early college-age) idol a very happy 60th birthday. Admittedly, I don't keep a "bucket list". But if I did, meeting Huey Lewis would be in the top ten.