June 22, 2005

Twins Blogger Night: Report

Well, we sure picked a crappy game to get together for. Despite the Twins' listless performance against Jeremy Bonderman and the Tigers last night, "Twins Blogger Night" at the Metrodome was a lot of fun. I always enjoy hanging out with the Stick and Ball Guy and his buddy Moss, and I got to meet the baby of the Twins blogging community, the Twins Junkie.

Twins Junkie (I'm not sure if he wants people using his real name, so I won't) told me he is going into the 11th grade, which made me feel old for the first time at one of these get-togethers. I mean, it wasn't that long ago that people would make comments about how young I was, yet there I was chatting with a kid who probably just got his driver's license. Twins Junkie also had a buddy with him who was wearing a name tag that read: "Not Aaron Gleeman." (I never did catch his real name.)

At one point I was sitting at a table outside the Metrodome, chomping on a hot dog and talking to Stick and Ball Guy, Moss, Twins Junkie, Not Aaron Gleeman, Twins Geek, and Frightwig. All great guys, all a lot of fun to hang out with, and all apparently prefer to go by a "stage name." It was almost enough to convince me to solicit nickname suggestions here, but I'm pretty sure that would just be asking for trouble.

Tony Oliva never did show up, which was disappointing. Instead, Twins owner Carl Pohlad made an appearance. Now, some people might want to meet Pohlad (who Moss referred to as "Montgomery Burns" last night), but for me it was like the Twins announcing minutes before the start of a game that Johan Santana was sick and would be replaced on the mound by some rich old guy in a wheelchair who doesn't spend enough money on the team.

Several readers of this blog introduced themselves to me, both outside at the picnic and inside at the game. I'm sure that will never stop giving me a little thrill. One of them (Matt, I think, although I'm horrible with names) even asked me how my poker playing was going, for which he got a response that was far longer and more detailed than he intended.

When I sat down in my seat along the third-base line I didn't recognize anyone around me. But I ended up sitting next to a couple of readers who were great guys. The funny thing is that neither of them really announced that they read the blog, but rather just sort of started talking to me about Luis Rivas or Defensive Efficiency Ratios, and quoting stuff I had written in the past. It almost made me feel like a mini-celebrity, if not for the part about sitting in the upperdeck.

David Wintheiser sat behind me and introduced himself after about three innings by saying, "You aren't Aaron Gleeman, are you?" For those of you who don't recognize that name, David is a frequent poster over at Twins Territory, and as far as I can tell writes something negative about me in about 98% of his posts.

Despite the event being hyped as "hot dogs, Twins talk and busting on Aaron Gleeman," David was far more agreeable in person, as you might expect. I'm sure I'd behave myself in the presence of John Kruk, too. He was also far less pro-Rivas in person, which I can only assume had something to do with the beer at the Dome being so watered down.

Rather than negotiate my way downtown through rush-hour traffic and pay a ridiculous price to park, I took the light rail to the game, which was a first for me. It was not a great experience. It all started well, as I parked at the Mall of America and caught the light rail there for what was supposed to be an easy 30-minute trip to the Dome.

About 10 minutes into it, the train suddenly stopped. After a few minutes, the conductor made an announcement that was more or less: "We have some sort of delay and I'll let you know if I hear anything else." Another 10 minutes or so passed, at which point we were told that the delay would be another "six or eight minutes." When eventually started moving again, but then stopped after just a few moments.

To turn what is already far too long a story into something you might be able to get through without falling asleep, I ended up arriving at the Metrodome about an hour and 10 minutes after I boarded the light rail. So despite leaving the house at around four in the afternoon and boarding the light rail at around 4:40, I missed a little more than the first hour of the event.

The problem with selling a product or service is that you never know when a potential customer will be judging it for the very first time. In other words, everyone had been saying wonderful things about the light rail, but the very first time I decided to try it I ended up stuck on a motionless train for half an hour while the guy sitting next to me yelled into his cellphone.

It's like someone going to a restaurant they've heard such great things about and then discovering a band aid in their soup. Whether or not the restaurant is good is secondary to the fact that it sucked that night, and whether or not that sort of thing happens often seems fairly irrelevant. Of course, later I found out the reason for the long delay:

Light-rail service was stopped for about 30 minutes Tuesday evening after a woman walked into a slow-moving train near the 46th Street station in Minneapolis.

She was not seriously injured. She was trying to catch a southbound train when she walked into the northbound train, said Metro Transit spokesman Bob Gibbons. She fell and bruised her leg.

Gibbons said she might have thought the bell and flashing red lights announcing the arrival of the northbound train were for the southbound train standing at the station.

All trains were delayed until a relief driver arrived; drivers involved in accidents must get drug and alcohol testing. Service resumed about 5:35 p.m.

I'm really not sure if this makes me more or less likely to use the light rail again. On one hand, it's not like the system just shut down for no good reason. On the other hand, if all it takes is one woman being completely oblivious to her surroundings to keep hundreds of people from getting to where they want to go, it's not exactly a guaranteed smooth ride.

The ride home was perfectly fine, just as I'm sure the replacement soup you'd get after sending the first one back would be absolutely wonderful.

UPDATE: Sadly, I didn't bring my digital camera after frantically searching in vain for the battery charger right before I left for the game. However, Twins Junkie did use his cell phone to take a horrible picture of Yours Truly and Stick and Ball Guy at the picnic. And by "horrible" I mean the quality of the picture, not how I look. I more or less look like that all the time, unfortunately.

Today at The Hardball Times:
- Those Who Can't Do, Teach (Part 1: Managers) (by Aaron Gleeman)
- Business of Baseball Report (by Brian Borawski)

Today's Picks (61-53, +$715):
Oakland (Zito) +110 over Seattle (Moyer)

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