Second, if you're lucky enough to live in Minnesota and are looking for some fun Twins activity this weekend, you need to get yourself over to the Twins Centric Viewing Party on this Saturday the 10th. It's a great opportunity to watch the game with like-minded Twins fanatics and also a way to meet and get to know some of the great bloggers along my sidebar that you are hopefully all reading! It starts at noon at Major's Sports Cafe in Blaine (10950 Club West Parkway). There's great food and drink deals if you go out wearing Twins gear and there's also plenty of giveaways. So get out there!
Now, speaking of meeting Twins bloggers, let's introduce ourselves to one of the great new Twins blogs that I've discovered...
This is a special in-season presentation of my Twins Bloggers: Get to Know 'Em series. Today I'm proud to feature Dan DiVincenzo of Twins Jabber, a great blog that I stumbled across awhile ago and have been following ever since I first set eyes on it. Like me, Dan's stuck out in the Empire State cheering for his team from the heart of Yankee Land. His proximity to the Rochester Red Wings lets him get a nice Twins AAA fix and also supplies him with an edge on everyone else as to what's going on with our affiliate out there. His blog is amazing, and has been running for awhile now so if you haven't already added it to your daily fix I highly recommend you do from here on out! Without further ado:
NAME: Dan DiVincenzo
BIRTHDAY: February 20th
HOMETOWN: Greece, NY
WHAT KEEPS YOU EMPLOYED OTHER THAN BLOGGING: I sit in a cube all day and develop software. I also do some freelance website programming on the side.
FAVORITE COLOR: Blue
FAVORITE FOOD: A Lo mein-like dish my grandmother makes. She's from Okinawa and it's delicious.
FAVORITE MOVIE: Major League
FAVORITE BOOK: I can't really pick one, but I'm a fan of Robin Cook's stuff.
FAVORITE TYPE OF MUSIC: Thanks to my fiancée, I'm now a big Country fan.
FAVORITE SPORT TO WATCH OTHER THAN BASEBALL: Wait, there are other sports besides baseball? Kidding - I watch a little bit of football during the winter months.
FAVORITE SPORT TO PLAY: I'd have to save baseball/softball. I used to play baseball in high school, but I've been playing softball recently.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE VIKINGS/TIMBERWOLVES/WILD: Indifferent, I guess. I'm not from Minnesota, so I'm more apt to root for the Sabres and the Bills. Not that I have any malevolent feelings towards the Vikings or anything - I save those for New England and Miami.
WHAT MAKES BASEBALL SO GREAT TO YOU: The strategy and the statistics. I love that we have a history of the game based primarily on numbers and I find it great that there are so many different ways to win. I'm digging what Seattle's doing this season and I'm very interested to see how their run prevention plan works out.
IF YOU HAD TO FOLLOW ANOTHER TEAM, WHICH AND WHY: I know I'm going to take some flak for saying so, but I'd have to say the Yankees. My fiancée and her family are huge Yankees fans. They're also the 'local' MLB team, so I'm able to watch all their games on television.
BEST EXPERIENCE AT A BALLPARK OTHER THAN THE DOME: Last summer, I took a trip to NYC with my fiancée and some friends to watch the Yankees play the Twins. Of course, that was the 'walk-off weekend' so the outcome wasn't a great experience. However, I did get to see Mauer crush a ball into Monument Park, and Morneau launch one over the right field wall.
OPINION ON INTERLEAGUE PLAY: I like it, but I think everyone should get to play each other. I'm not sure how the scheduling works, but it doesn't seem fair that one AL team could draw the Cardinals and Phillies one weekend, while another team gets to play the Nats and the Pirates. Maybe they try to break that up some how, but it's hard to predict with 100% accuracy before hand which teams will be strong or weak.
OPINION ON THE UNBALANCED SCHEDULE: I don't like it. Actually, I think it helps the Twins out but I don't think it's fair in regards to the Wild Card race. I think teams like Tampa Bay and Florida would have better records if they didn't have to face the huge market teams in their divisions 18 times a year. While the Twins get to face the Royals and Indians 18 times.
FAVORITE NON-TWINS PLAYER IN BASEBALL HISTORY: Cal Ripken Jr. I used to be an Orioles fan back in the day.
MOST HATED NON-TWINS PLAYER IN BASEBALL HISTORY: I don't like Cliff Lee at all. It probably started when he went after Go-go for trying to bunt on him. Unsportsmanlike and too whiny for my taste. Just seems like a jerk in general.
DID YOU EVER PLAY BASEBALL/SOFTBALL, WHAT POSITION: I was a catcher in High School, but I play third or short for my softball teams.
WHEN DID YOU BECOME A TWINS FAN AND WHY: It was around the time of the 2002 playoffs. Cal Ripken Jr. had retired and he was pretty much the only reason I was still following the Orioles. I hated how that team was run, and it seemed like the Twins had it figured out. The Twins also became the parent team to the Rochester Red Wings in 2003, so it was fun to see guys like Cuddyer, Morneau, Kubel, Baker, Garza, Slowey, Boof and others playing in AAA before they became regulars for the Twins.
BEST EXPERIENCE AT THE DOME: Sadly, I was never able to make the trip out.
EVER BEEN TO TWINS FEST, HOW WAS IT: I've also never been to Twins Fest. Hopefully that will change soon!
EVER BEEN TO SPRING TRAINING, HOW WAS IT: I'd also like to take a little vacation down to Florida for Spring Training in the near future.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN CIRCLED BY BERT: Not to my knowledge. I was in the nose-bleed section at Yankee Stadium 2.5 so I doubt I saw much camera time.
HAVE YOU EVER CAUGHT A FOUL BALL OR HOME RUN AT THE DOME: Nope.
Twins Player Specific-
FAVORITE TWINS PLAYER IN HISTORY: Since my personal Twins history is pretty short, I'd have to say Brad Radke. That guy was nails.
FAVORITE CURRENT TWINS PLAYER: Jason Kubel is the man. He was an absolute monster for Rochester in 2004, before he blew out his knees. (I don't think he'll be stealing 16 bases again anytime soon)
FAVORITE OBSCURE TWINS PLAYER: Jason Tyner. Okay, maybe not terribly obscure, but I liked the fact that he has eight major league seasons under his belt, despite only one career home run. Runner up was Garrett Jones, but he's not really obscure anymore.
ARE THERE (WERE THERE) ANY TWINS PLAYERS YOU DISLIKE: Torii Hunter always rubbed me the wrong way, throwing teammates under the bus and all. He also took a swing at Morneau and punched Nick Punto instead. Two strikes in the matter of a few seconds right there. I've also lost some respect for Johan ever since he demanded a trade out of Minnesota. But hey, maybe he did the Twins a favor.
FAVORITE EXPERIENCE MEETING A PLAYER, PLEASE DESCRIBE: Not a Twins player, but the player that made the biggest impact on me was infielder P.J. Forbes. The Red Wings used to run clinics (maybe they still do) for Little League kids and Forbes always volunteered. He was a nice guy and good with the kids. Cal Ripken Jr. was also very tall and my favorite player at the time, so that was cool. My father actually has more interesting stories than I do: He once had a one-on-one conversation with Jason Kubel about the opposing starting pitcher. He also had an inning long conversation with Kevin Slowey's father, who had come to see Slowey's first AAA start.
CURRENT PLAYER YOU'D MOST LIKE TO WATCH A GAME WITH: Pat Neshek, definitely.
MOST LIKE TO GO TO A BAR WITH: Carl Pavano? Despite what Yankee fans say, he seems like a nice enough guy. Plus I'd like to hear some stories about what really went down in New York.
MOST LIKE TO BE STRANDED ON AN ISLAND WITH: I'm going to go with Glen Perkins. He sounds like he has a good sense of humor and seems like a redneck to boot. I don't think we'd have any trouble getting food.
MOST LIKE TO HAVE DINNER WITH: Toss up between Nick Blackburn and Jim Thome.
WANT TO BE THE FRONT MAN OF YOUR NEW BAND: It would be a country band and we'd have Jim Thome in a cowboy hat.
YOU THINK SHOULD BE A MOVIE STAR: J.J. Hardy has a great movie star name.
YOU'D ASK FOR HELP ON A SCIENCE LAB: With Craig Breslow gone, I'd probably go to Kevin Slowey. He seems like a smart guy. Or maybe Joe Mauer - he's good at EVERYTHING he does, so he must be a natural at Science too.
YOU'D LIKE TO START A BUSINESS WITH: Nick Punto. He'd work hard and never give up. I'd also like to imagine he'd slide headfirst down the conference room table to start off every meeting.
EXPECTATIONS OF TARGET FIELD: I think it's going to be beautiful, and I think it's going to be cold.
EXPECTATIONS FOR THE TEAM THIS YEAR: The top of the order will score a ton of runs, but I'm a little worried about the pitching. We saw last season how a couple of injuries could throw the staff our of whack, and they didn't really do much to address that. I wonder if losing Joe Nathan will make some of the younger starters less confident out there. Overall though, they should be at or near the top of the AL Central all season long.
A huge thanks to Dan! If you haven't checked out Twins Jabber yet, do so from now on, it's a great site and Dan has excellent posts. Go Twins!