I actually discovered Jeremiah's blog, Cheap Seat Chronicles, in the Milwaukee airport when I was playing around with my new blackberry and as soon as I arrived at my destination I plugged in my laptop and bookmarked it. Not only is he a fellow Midwestern expat stuck out on the eastern seaboard in one of the two most annoying MLB markets to live in, but he still finds a way to write one of the best Twins blogs I've ever read despite being 2000 miles away from the team he discusses. That's ingenuity:
NAME: Jeremiah Graves
BIRTHDAY: December 5, 1983
HOMETOWN: Hartley, Iowa. Currently living in Boston, MA.
WHAT KEEPS YOU EMPLOYED OTHER THAN BLOGGING: I work in the Science and Engineering Libraries at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology
FAVORITE COLOR: Red
FAVORITE FOOD: Bacon Cheeseburgers
FAVORITE MOVIE: tie between "Field of Dreams" and "Bull Durham"
FAVORITE BOOK: Animal Farm by George Orwell
FAVORITE TYPE OF MUSIC: Country
FAVORITE SPORT TO WATCH OTHER THAN BASEBALL: Professional Football
FAVORITE SPORT TO PLAY: Baseball, although I will settle for slow-pitch softball. At this point, my knees and back actually prefer it...
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE VIKINGS/TIMBERWOLVES/WILD: I love Brett Favre -- always have, always will -- so I guess I was a Vikings fan by default last season. If he comes back next year, count me in for another go'round. As far as the T'Wolves and Wild, I couldn't care less if I tried.
WHAT MAKES BASEBALL SO GREAT TO YOU: The history and nostalgia of it all. The cold, tingly feeling you get on Opening Day. Ken Burns' "Baseball" series. Joe Mauer. Dome Dogs. Afternoons in the sunshine. Pennant races. $10 bleacher seats. $8 beers. The pop of a good fastball in the mitt. The suicide squeeze. Chase Utley. Headfirst slides. Vin Scully's voice. The memories. The bar talk. The debates. The stats. Cooperstown, New York.
IF YOU HAD TO FOLLOW ANOTHER TEAM, WHICH AND WHY: I suppose it'd be pretty easy to transition into life as a Red Sox fan now that I live in Boston. The problem is that Red Sox fans, like most east coast fans I've met are just too damn stuck up and un-educated about the game beyond the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry. If the Twins were to disappear and I had to wake up tomorrow and pick a new team, I'd go with either the Washington Nationals -- because I think they're going to get real good in a few years and it'd be fun to be on board for all of that, plus they have a gorgeous new stadium -- or a different Midwestern team to represent. I dig the Brewers and the Royals still have the most beautiful stadium I've ever seen, so either of those two could win my love. The White Sox and Cubs, however, still stand no chance.
BEST EXPERIENCE AT A BALLPARK OTHER THAN THE DOME: I'd say I've got two, both at Fenway. The first was in September of 2007 when my dad -- the reason I'm the huge baseball fan I am -- came to visit and I got to take him to a Yankees/Red Sox game that was Clemens vs Schilling. It was an amazing game and I'll never forget it.
The other would be Jon Lester's no-hitter against the Kansas City Royals in May of 2008. That was simply awesome. Making it even more special is that I will forever be on the highlight tapes of that game as I was sitting in the centerfield bleachers when Jacoby Ellsbury made the game's biggest play. I'm the pleasant looking gentleman in a Twins cap, in case you were wondering.
OPINION ON INTERLEAGUE PLAY: I was completely against it initially, but at this point I've come to accept it and deal with it. Plus it gives fans a chance to see teams they normally wouldn't be exposed to, so that's pretty cool. Additionally, the Twins tend to roll-over the NL, so that's a plus.
OPINION ON THE UNBALANCED SCHEDULE: Again, I've more or less come to deal with it. Living in Boston it annoys me that the Twins only come out this way once a year. I think in the end it's a better way to determine the division winners, so I'm cool with it.
FAVORITE NON-TWINS PLAYER IN BASEBALL HISTORY: Willie Mays
MOST HATED NON-TWINS PLAYER IN BASEBALL HISTORY: Jose Canseco in a landslide.
DID YOU EVER PLAY BASEBALL/SOFTBALL, WHAT POSITION: I played baseball up into college and was primarily an outfielder. I play slow-pitch softball nowadays and I pretty much play all over the diamond. I prefer outfield, because I love the feeling of tracking down a flyball and there is nothing I love more than nailing a runner at one of the bases with a rocket from deep center field.
WHEN DID YOU BECOME A TWINS FAN AND WHY: I grew up -- brace yourselves -- as a Yankees fan. My dad, who was born and raised in northwest Iowa, is obsessed with New York sports, so growing up I was too. When I got to high school and college I started to grow fond of the Twins and by the time I hit my sophomore year of college I was a complete convert and I've since become the biggest Twins fan that I know.
BEST EXPERIENCE AT THE DOME: I'd say my best experience at the Dome was a walk-off win over the Yankees back in the spring of 2006. The Yankees appeared to have the game won, but the Twinkies battled back and eventually used a broken bat single off of Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the ninth to win the game. Awesome stuff.
EVER BEEN TO TWINS FEST, HOW WAS IT: I haven't, which is unfortunate, I couldn't ever get anyone to go with me when I was going to Minnesota State and now that I live in Boston, I can't afford to fly back for it.
EVER BEEN TO SPRING TRAINING, HOW WAS IT: I haven't but it is definitely one of my goals. I'd love to try and head down there for a week or so next year, but money is always a little tight, hopefully I can swing it next year.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN CIRCLED BY BERT: Maybe. My first game at Fenway was a Twins/Red Sox game and I brought the sign and someone from back home said they saw me, but couldn't remember if I was circled or not and no one I know taped the game. As such, it remains a mystery.
HAVE YOU EVER CAUGHT A FOUL BALL OR HOME RUN BALL AT THE DOME: I've had pretty solid luck with this. I've gotten a foul ball and I've had balls tossed to me a few times as well from guys in the bullpen.
Twins Player Specific-
FAVORITE TWINS PLAYER IN HISTORY: I loved the way Torii Hunter played the outfield and I thought he was always a consummate professional, so he gets the nod, barely beating out Johan Santana.
FAVORITE CURRENT TWINS PLAYER: I'd have to say either Mauer or Morneau. I like what JJ Hardy brings to the table and I've got no doubt I'll be worshipping at his altar by season's end. I'm also still really high on Delmon Young, I might be the only one left on his bandwagon, but I'll keep chuggin' along.
FAVORITE OBSCURE TWINS PLAYER: Lew Ford, no doubt about it...
ARE THERE (WERE THERE) ANY TWINS PLAYERS YOU DISLIKE: I don't like Brendan Harris. Nothing personal, I just don't think he's any good. He's got no range. He can't hit for power or average. Yet somehow he just landed a two-year deal?! I don't get it. Couldn't we have released him and signed Felipe Lopez for that money?!
FAVORITE EXPERIENCE MEETING A PLAYER, PLEASE DESCRIBE: Back when Matt LeCroy was with the team he and I chit-chatted about places to eat in Mankato, Minnesota. I found out he was a huge fan of Perkins. It was a lot of fun talking with him.
Michael Cuddyer lied to me that same year and told me to pick him up in fantasy baseball because he was going to have a big year and steal some bags. That was 2005. I think we all know how that turned out.
CURRENT PLAYER YOU'D MOST LIKE TO WATCH A GAME WITH: Joe Mauer, it'd be intriguing to see how he approaches the game from a fan's point of view.
YOU'D MOST LIKE TO GO TO A BAR WITH: JJ Hardy, that dude would bring in all the chicks. Plus he looks like a fun guy to chill with...
YOU'D MOST LIKE TO BE STRANDED ON AN ISLAND WITH: Hmmmm...I guess Jim Thome, that dude is country strong and could probably kill us plenty of wild animals for survival.
YOU'D MOST LIKE TO HAVE DINNER WITH: Orlando Hudson, that dude loves soul food and I think he'd know some kickin' places to get our grub-on.
YOU'D WANT TO BE THE FRONT MAN OF YOUR NEW BAND: I've heard that Mauer sings, so he'd be the obvious choice, but I'm going to go with Jon Rauch, because it'd give my band instant credibility.
YOU THINK SHOULD BE A MOVIE STAR: Denard Span. That dude is walking charisma.
YOU'D ASK FOR HELP ON A SCIENCE LAB: Joe Nathan, the dude is cool under pressure and if there's any place I want a dude to be really chill, it's in a freakin' science lab.
YOU'D LIKE TO START A BUSINESS WITH: Justin Morneau, he's Canadian and we could setup the company across the border so that we wouldn't have to play for healthcare for our employees. It's just good planning!
EXPECTATIONS OF TARGET FIELD: I think it's going to be gorgeous, but I think the Twins are going to find they miss the home field advantage (and consistent temperatures) of the Metrodome. Losing the 10th man atmosphere and the baggy and the dome and all that will definitely take away from the home field advantage that has been so big for the Twins for so many years, but I think the positives of opening a gorgeous new facility clearly out-weigh any nominal advantages.
EXPECTATIONS FOR THE TEAM NEXT YEAR: The team is built for a playoff run and if the pitching can live up to expectations, a deep playoff run. The AL Central isn't as open and shut as everyone wants us to believe. The Tigers and White Sox are still solid teams and could give us a run for the pennant. In the end, I see the Twins taking the AL Central and possibly making a legit World Series run. Lots of things need to go right before October for that to happen, so I guess we'll see in about eight months.
A huge thanks to Jeremiah over at the Cheap Seat Chronicles! Be sure to check out my fellow expat and add him to your daily reads, it's well worth it!