Monday, December 21, 2009

"Twins Bloggers: Get to Know 'Em" presents: Parker Hageman

Ok, ok, enough excuses, I missed a week! To be fair, my office Christmas party was last Thursday night -- and I was in no condition Thursday night or even Friday to attempt a post -- even if it's already been written for me by the amazing Parker Hageman. But the good news is that you get not only one but two Get to Know 'Ems this week!

Parker Hageman needs absolutely no introduction. As a member of the amazing Twins Centric group with John Bonnes, Seth Stohs, and Nick Nelson, Parker is one of the best bloggers I've ever had a chance to read. At Over the Baggy, he provides some of the best analysis I've ever seen, and has a fundamental understanding of pitching that few can provide. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that he was the first person to realize what an asset Carl Pavano would be last season when we picked him up from Cleveland. If you want to dissect the underpinnings of the Twins -- Parker is the person to talk to.

NAME: Parker Hageman
BIRTHDAY: January 19th
HOMETOWN: Minneapolis, MN
FAVORITE FOOD: Giants Sunflower Seeds. (Pay me my money Giants).
FAVORITE MOVIE/BOOK/TYPE OF MUSIC: My tastes fluctuate so often that you probably would not get the same answer out of me twice on my favorite movies, books or type of music. For the time being, I'll go with St. Elmo's Fire, Steinbeck's Travels with Charley and anything not speed metal or clog-dancing.

General Baseball-
WHAT MAKES BASEBALL SO GREAT TO YOU: Baseball is like a Monet painting. Casual fans and observers will look at it as a whole and recognize the beauty, but those of us that like to study and analyze see that when you take the opportunity to examine the game up close, you find so much more about it to appreciate.
IF YOU HAD TO FOLLOW ANOTHER TEAM, WHICH AND WHY: It's a hard question to answer since I have become so indoctrinated to following the Twins. There just isn't anyway that I could embrace another organization the way I do with the Twins. I used to get in lengthy discussions in college with friends from Iowa or South Dakota that rooted for the Yankees or Dodgers. This seemed incomprehensible to me. Obviously there were teams that broadcasted in to the areas that they grew up that were closer (Iowa had the Cubs, Cardinals and a little Twins influence while South Dakota had the Twins and later, the Rockies) yet they choose to follow a team 3,000 miles away. If for some reason the Twins were contracted I'd probably wind up following the Brewers out of proximity.
BEST EXPERIENCE AT A BALLPARK OTHER THAN THE DOME: Any of the 10 I have visited have been great experiences for different reasons. I've had a weird affinity towards Miller Park in Milwaukee, but more so for the social functions outside the stadium than inside. The Strib ran my story in 2008 about the first trip to Miller Park in 2001 which was an unbelievable coming out party for the Twins and their fans who had been dormant since 1991. Wrigley and Kauffman are beautiful and old Yankee Stadium, less so, but historic nonetheless.
OPINION ON INTERLEAGUE PLAY: For it. I love the National League-style of play. There is so much more strategy involved in personnel handling and other subtle nuances that make it fun to watch. For those Twins fans that did not grow up in an era that did not have a DH in the AL, read Three Nights in August. Wonderful primer.
OPINION ON THE UNBALANCED SCHEDULE: Undecided. On one hand, it probably gives teams like the Twins the ability to beat up on the cushier division opponents and thereby obtain a post-season berth. On the other, I'd rather just have the year's two best teams ascend to the World Series and face each other after 162-game schedule. Then again, home field advantage does reward the best records...see? I can't even come to a consensus now.
FAVORITE NON-TWINS PLAYER IN BASEBALL HISTORY: This is probably dating everyone except for John Bonnes but I'd say Rube Waddell. Not only was he a great pitcher at the turn of the century when professional baseball was first taking root in America, but he was an outlandish character both on and off the field. Because of his child-like behavior, opposing managers would try to distract him with toys while he was playing. He was a drunk (both on and off the field) who caroused around with all types of women, was married three times (and divorced three times which drew national attention at the time), loved chasing fire engines, acted in plays in the offseason and wrestled alligators. Plus, he had a hell of an arm, striking out 349 in 1904 well above the runner-up, Jack Chesbro who K'ed 239 that year. As his career teetered out, Waddell made two stops through Minnesota at the end of his career: first with the Minneapolis Millers and then in Virginia, MN so maybe we can call him "one of us".
DID YOU EVER PLAY BASEBALL/SOFTBALL, WHAT POSITION: First base. Starting in high school I was moved from short to first and I tried to emulate my play after Doug Mientkiewicz since I was undersized for the position. I spent hours after practice having teammates rifle balls all over the dirt in front of me from just a few feet away to hone my scoop-skills. You couldn't throw anything past me.

Twins Generic-
WHEN DID YOU BECOME A TWINS FAN AND WHY: Why do you become a Catholic, Hindu or Muslim? You are pretty much born into it; I don't think there was ever any choice. That, and you are a product of your environment. Some of my earliest memories were of watching Twins games with my old man who indoctrinated me at a young age. On top of that, then something like a World Series championship happens at the impressionable age of 7 and that does it: You are hooked for life. I'm sure my fellow generation of Twins fans will cite the same.
BEST EXPERIENCE AT THE DOME: Game 163 this past year was probably one of the greatest games I witnessed first-hand but one of my favorite non-Twins memories was being an extra in the movie Little Big Leagues. To this day, I swear you can see me walking up an aisle. I'm actually afraid to watch it in high-def only to be proved wrong.
EVER BEEN TO TWINS FEST, HOW WAS IT: TwinsFest is good. It is definitely geared for fanatics, kids and collectors but when you are in a serious need of a mid-winter fix for a Dome Dog, it is downright Xanadu.
EVER BEEN TO SPRING TRAINING, HOW WAS IT: I just went to my first this past year. I cannot stress enough how great that experience is -- all Twins fans should visit Hammond Stadium and the complex at least once in their lives.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN CIRCLED BY BERT: Not to my knowledge but then again, I'm not a sign guy.
HAVE YOU EVER CAUGHT A FOUL BALL OR HOME RUN BALL AT THE DOME: No. I'm not really a ballhawk either. That Zack Hemple kid makes me sick. One game I went to when I was 11 or 12, I was sitting up the first base line and a guy two rows in front of me caught two foul balls. Seemed un-American to me. That's about as close as I got.

Twins Player Specific-
FAVORITE OBSCURE TWINS PLAYER: Terry Felton. He's probably not obscure since his 0-16 career record is often cited as the pantheon of futility so I enjoy the tragic nature about him. A close second is Karl Best who pitched 11 games for the Twins in 1988. Even at the young age I recall my Dad referring to him as Karl Worst (you can see where I get my clever genes) which was fitting when you consider he allowed 9 runs in 12 innings before being traded for Alan Cockrell (WHO?) in August.
ARE THERE (WERE THERE) ANY TWINS PLAYERS YOU DISLIKE: That Tommy Herr always pissed me off. First, I hated him because he was on the Cardinals in '87. Then the Twins traded one of my personal favorites, Tom Brunanasky, for him. Once with the Twins he hit like Nick Punto (.263/.349/.326 in 345 PA) and bitched constantly. Finally the Twins traded him to the Phillies for Shane Rawley who came in and sucked some more. Herr was like herpes, just a continuous problem that no one wanted around.
FAVORITE EXPERIENCE MEETING A PLAYER: I've met a few in my day (some at moments that I wish I had the balls to photograph and send into Deadspin but those are other stories) but Tony Oliva was just the best kind of person. He was attending my company's charity function and most people had purchased new balls or cards for the legendary Twin to sign. All I had was a ratty ball lifted from my town team's batting practice bin. Tony saw my ball and went into some childhood memories of playing with patchwork balls. Just the best kind of person.
CURRENT PLAYER YOU'D MOST LIKE TO WATCH A GAME WITH: Mike Redmond seems like the kind of guy you are going to learn something from while watching it.
CURRENT PLAYER YOU'D MOST LIKE TO GO TO A BAR WITH: Ron Coomer. He commentates. Does that count?
YOU'D MOST LIKE TO BE STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH: Brendan Harris. He doesn't seem to talk much and if I am stranded on an island, you can bet I'm pissed off and not wanting to talk about it.
YOU'D WANT TO HAVE DINNER WITH: Jose Mijares. You know that guy knows where good food is.
YOU'D WANT TO BE THE FRONT MAN OF YOUR NEW BAND: Matt Guerrier. Think it is the goat.
YOU'D ASK FOR HELP ON A SCIENCE LAB: Kevin Slowey seems like the brainiest player on the team.
YOU'D LIKE TO START A BUSINESS WITH: Michael Cuddyer. He seems like a guy that can ooze charisma everywhere.


A huge thanks to Parker of Over the Baggy. I'm sure you already read his blog, but if for some reason you haven't, do yourself a favor and check it out before you read anything else! You get a special treat by having another Get to Know 'Em this week! Since it's a holiday week and most people will be out of work on Thursday and Friday, check back here on Wednesday, Dec. 23rd when Nick Nelson -- another member of Twins Centric, takes the hotseat!

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