Today's post features Andrew Bryz-Gornia of Off the Mark, a relatively recent blog that I discovered and immediately fell in love with. Don't let him fool you with some of his tongue-in-cheek posts that would give you a heart attack if not for their disclaimer at the top, he's one of the most level-headed, eloquent bloggers that I've had the pleasure of reading, and his site is usually ripe with fresh posts to keep you satisfied throughout the week. He's also one of the bigger supporters of my blog out there, so I owe him many hat-tips and probably many beers some day for that as well. Without further ado....
NAME: Andrew Bryz-Gornia, but call me Bryz (rhymes with "is").
WEBSITE: Off The Mark
BIRTHDAY: April 6th (Bert Blyleven's birthday!)
HOMETOWN: Blaine, MN
WHAT KEEPS YOU EMPLOYED OTHER THAN BLOGGING: Student at Gustavus Adolphus College (mathematics and secondary education). I have a job as an assignment grader for a low level math class at GAC. In the summer, I hope to be an usher at Target Field.
FAVORITE COLOR: I rotate between red, blue, and orange.
FAVORITE FOOD: Gustavus cafeteria gyros. They have a spicy feta spread that is amazing.
FAVORITE MOVIE: Ferris Bueller's Day Off
FAVORITE BOOK: I don't really do much recreational book reading anymore (my computer fulfills all my reading needs) unless it deals with baseball. I highly recommend either "Baseball Between the Numbers" or the "Baseball Field Guide," which is essentially the entire MLB rulebook in an easier to read fashion (and colored diagrams!). Maybe if I go back to my elementary school days, it was probably "Frindle."
FAVORITE TYPE OF MUSIC: Rock, although quite a few of my favorite bands are a pseudo-alternative rock. I'm not exactly sure how to categorize them, they almost make their own genre.
FAVORITE SPORT TO WATCH OTHER THAN BASEBALL: Probably football.
FAVORITE SPORT TO PLAY: Baseball/softball but I'm not picky.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE VIKINGS/TIMBERWOLVES/WILD: I'm an extreme homer. I never found the appeal of cheering on an out of state team since I wouldn't usually be able to watch their games live or on TV, though these 3 teams and the Twins will always have a special exemption. I am not a bandwagon fan, although it has been a little hard for me to watch the Wolves and Wild this year. I was raised to love the Vikings (my mom still says the Vikings would be better if Cris Carter still played).
WHAT MAKES BASEBALL SO GREAT TO YOU: There's so many variances in the game. I have always been interested in the different types of pitches, the different pitching windups and batting stances, the fact that you cannot rely on your star player to carry the team every single game because he only bats 3-5 times per game or pitch every 5 days. No two stadiums are alike, you have the Green Monster, Tal's Hill, the triangle in Landshark Stadium, the Western Metal Supply Co. building...
IF YOU HAD TO FOLLOW ANOTHER TEAM, WHICH AND WHY: I've always had a thing for the Houston Astros. I loved seeing Billy Wagner and Octavio Dotel together in the back of their bullpen earlier this decade. Lately they haven't been a great team, but I think Minute Maid Park's train, a 440 foot center field fence, and Tal's Hill (along with the in-play flagpole) always kept me interested.
BEST EXPERIENCE AT A BALLPARK OTHER THAN THE DOME: Watching Kerry Wood become the fastest pitcher to 1000 strikeouts in a career at Wrigley Field in 2003.
OPINION ON INTERLEAGUE PLAY: There's not enough of it. Every other sport allows a significant portion of the schedule to be against non-conference teams despite having fewer games. Plus, this natural rival thing is a bit ridiculous. In '09 the Twins played every NL Central team except the Cincinatti Reds ... and that's even with having Milwaukee (an NL Central team) as the natural rival, thus being a required opponent on the schedule!
OPINION ON THE UNBALANCED SCHEDULE: My solution to adding more interleague games would be taking away some games from the unbalanced schedule. 18 games is too much, so I think it should be shortened to 15 games or so. Actually, I'd just be in favor of having more games against the AL East and West teams (well, maybe not against the Yankees, I suppose).
FAVORITE NON-TWINS PLAYER IN BASEBALL HISTORY: I hate to pick a popular answer, but I'd probably go with Jackie Robinson. It's not just the fact that he was a pioneer, but also that he faced so much hatred and opposition and he took it in stride.
MOST HATED NON-TWINS PLAYER IN BASEBALL HISTORY: I've discovered I have a major beef with Mark Teixeira ever since he admitted that his wife helped him pick the Yankees last offseason. Otherwise, there's not really anyone I hate.
DID YOU EVER PLAY BASEBALL/SOFTBALL, WHAT POSITION: I played all over the field. I started out as an outfielder, then added the infield and pitcher, then catcher and outfield in high school. Now for softball, I play everything but 2nd base and catcher.
I apologize, but I have a funny anecdote to share as well. My senior year of high school (and only year on the varsity team) we had a foreign exchange student from the Czech Republic named Martin. He had never played baseball before and was a bit heavyset, but he made the team because the head coach had an extreme loyalty towards seniors. Due to our playing abilities, neither of us played very much baseball that season. As a result, I have the shame of knowing that our foreign exchange student that had never played baseball in his life had a better batting average than I (who had been playing since T-ball) did in our single varsity season. We both had a single plate appearance. Martin had a line drive single to center. I walked.
WHEN DID YOU BECOME A TWINS FAN AND WHY: I don't know exactly when I became a Twins fan, but it definitely was during my childhood. My parents (as all good Minnesotan parents should) brought me to a few Twins games as a child and I loved the atmosphere at the games, especially the cheers after hearing "KIIIIIIRBEEEEE PUCKETT!".
BEST EXPERIENCE AT THE DOME: Game 163 against Detroit. So loud that you couldn't hear the Star Wars music after Cabrera's home run, there was tension in every single at-bat. I had a massive headache from the 5th inning to the end, I felt physically and mentally drained in the 7th but still found the energy to jump up and down like a little school girl after Casilla's game winning hit ... definitely the best game I've ever attended. Watching the team spill out of the dugout right after Gomez rounded 3rd was one of the coolest things I've ever seen, especially since I had a bird's eye view in the upper deck of center field. The celebration after the game was fun also.
EVER BEEN TO TWINS FEST, HOW WAS IT: Nope, but I will make it someday. Does the Winter Caravan earn me partial credit?
EVER BEEN TO SPRING TRAINING, HOW WAS IT: I've gone several times, thankfully because of my parents and the fact that we like Florida. I've only been to Fort Myers once though, and finding the Twins complex wasn't very enjoyable, if I remember correctly (I blame my parents though). Overall, the atmosphere is so relaxed and carefree. Very easy to get autographs. Off the top of my head, I've gotten baseballs signed by Ron Gardenhire, Brian Buscher, R.A. Dickey, Joe Mauer (twice!), Lew Ford, Cristian Guzman (my dad almost hit him in the head with the baseball tossing it over the fence at the same time another fan tossed his), Jason Pridie? (if it was him, it was the ST when he was a Rule 5 pick) and two minor leaguers that I'm in the process of re-identifying.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN CIRCLED BY BERT: Not that I know of, but I have tried twice. First time was with a near 4 ft. tall poster that was way too much of a hassle to unroll during each break on Opening Day/the birthday Bert and I share (the "her" on the poster refers to my girlfriend's birthday on April 4th and was holding the poster with me ... also I suppose I didn't explicitly ask to be circled), and the second time was before the summer ended by use of the back of a business card. My friend and his family each held their own card, hoping that it was gimmicky enough to work.
HAVE YOU EVER CAUGHT A FOUL BALL OR HOME RUN AT THE DOME: Almost. When I was about 14, we were sitting right above where the Dodge pickup truck changes bases mid-game. I almost got a ball that was shanked by a Devil Rays coach while he was hitting flies to the outfielders, but my 10 year old sister got between the ball's landing spot and where I was standing. She tried to catch it and avoid it at the same time, and the ball hit about 2 seats away and bounced back onto the field. At least the D-Rays bullpen pitchers gave us some bubble gum before the game started, that made me feel better.
Twins Player Specific-
FAVORITE TWINS PLAYER IN HISTORY: Kirby Puckett, without a doubt.
FAVORITE CURRENT TWINS PLAYER: Pat Neshek. You have to love his North Side Funk.
FAVORITE OBSCURE TWINS PLAYER: Tony Fiore, for throwing a palmball (before I knew Eddie Guardado threw one as well) and he won 10 games in relief for the Twins in a single season. Too bad I don't remember a single game he pitched (this was before I had cable at home). Honorable mention goes to my sister's (same one from the shanked ball incident) irrational love of backup catcher Tom Prince.
ARE THERE (WERE THERE) ANY TWINS PLAYERS YOU DISLIKE: Delmon Young, he seems like a jerk, doesn't listen to the Twins coaching staff, and yet they seem to refuse to give up on him.
FAVORITE EXPERIENCE MEETING A PLAYER: Unfortunately I haven't had a conversation with a player that was more than small talk, so I think I have to default to Brian Buscher. As he signed my baseball and held his bag of fast food between his teeth, here was our conversation:
Me: "Hey, great game!"
Buscher (slightly muffled): *signs ball* *pauses* "Thanks."
Me: "I'm a little disappointed they signed Crede, I was really hoping to see you play 3rd this season."
Buscher (still slightly muffled): *pause* "Same here."
CURRENT PLAYER YOU'D MOST LIKE TO WATCH A GAME WITH: Denard Span, he seems to be a calm, friendly guy that wouldn't complain incessantly after ever negative event in the game and you could have an intelligent baseball conversation with.
YOU'D MOST LIKE TO GO TO A BAR WITH: Jason Kubel. He looks like he's chugged a beer or two before.
YOU'D MOST LIKE TO BE STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH: I guess I'd pick Joe Mauer ... his high IQ would help us get off the island. Wait ... oh, I didn't realize you meant he has a high baseball IQ.
YOU'D WANT TO BE THE FRONT MAN OF YOUR NEW BAND: With Jon Rauch as lead singer, nobody would mess with my band.
YOU THINK SHOULD BE A MOVIE STAR: Joe Nathan. He's got some acting ability as he shows here and here.
YOU'D ASK FOR HELP ON A SCIENCE LAB: Where's Craig Breslow when you need him? How about Kevin Slowey? Good control = fewer messes and restraint against starting fires.
YOU'D LIKE TO START A BUSINESS WITH: Pat Neshek. We'd run a trading card shop.
EXPECTATIONS OF TARGET FIELD: I'm a bit worried about the inevitable rain out or four so I will miss the Metrodome in that respect, but I know I'm going to love the place. The outside looks amazing and I can't wait for my first Twins game.
EXPECTATIONS FOR THE TEAM NEXT YEAR: I see them finishing anywhere between first and third in the AL Central. If they make the playoffs, it'll be another 1st round exit, however.
Huge thanks to Andrew at Off the Mark! If you haven't checked out his site before, do so! In fact, check it out daily, I do, and I can't remember what my daily blog reading was like before it existed. Be sure to check back next Friday when I profile Shawn Berg of On the Road With... as he takes the hot seat!