April 8, 2007

Notes From the Weekend

The bad news from the weekend is that the blogger get-together Saturday afternoon centered around a game that was the Twins' only loss thus far and truly awful to watch (aside from Carlos Silva's five solid innings, of course). The lineup was helpless against Javier Vazquez in the freezing Chicago weather, Michael Cuddyer made a little league-style baserunning mistake, Dennys Reyes had a mini-blowup out of the bullpen, and Joe Mauer struck out twice. It wasn't pretty.

On the other hand, the good news from the weekend was ... well, just about everything else. The get-together itself was very well-attended and a lot of fun, with somewhere around three dozen Twins fans getting together at an otherwise-empty Buffalo Wild Wings in Crystal. There were bloggers all over the place, quite a few wives and girlfriends of bloggers nice enough to sit through the dorkiness, and a whole bunch of blog readers who got a chance to meet the people behind the blogs.

My one regret from the get-together was that I didn't get a chance to talk with more people at length, because for the most part I sat at one end of a very long table and chatted with Stick and Ball Guy and his lovely (and very pregnant) wife. I like SBG a lot--we've hung out at several of these get-togethers in the past and even went to lunch once--but I'm also pretty lazy (it was the first open chair I spotted) and a horrible mingler at parties (which is why I didn't really make the rounds).

I talked only briefly with Howard Sinker, Trevor Born, and Nick Nelson, and unfortunately the only words I said to Nick Mosvick were as he headed out the door. I also didn't talk much to Will Young, but to be fair we instant message back and forth so much on a near-daily basis that we're probably out of conversation topics anyway. Of course, there were plenty of non-bloggers there too, and I was able to meet quite a few AG.com readers, which is always great.

In what is a first for me--and could very well be a last too--a longtime reader named Marty Andrade asked me to autograph a baseball for him. I did a double-take when he asked and then checked around the table to make sure I wasn't being Punk'd. Assured that I wasn't on Candid Camera--although Born did snap a picture with his digital camera--I then asked if Andrade really wanted me to completely ruin such a nice baseball.

He insisted, so I stuck my signature on the sweet spot while learning the hard way that signing a baseball is a lot more difficult than it looks (especially with a table full of camera-toting, blog-writing people looking on while trying to contain their laughter). If there's one thing in the entire world that's less valuable than an Aaron Gleeman autograph--and there may literally be only one thing--it's a barely legible Aaron Gleeman autograph. I'm sorry, Marty.

I wasn't the first person to arrive--showing up about 15 minutes before the first pitch and sitting down at a half-full table--but made up for it by being the last person to leave. I stuck around afterward and had a couple beers with John Bonnes, which is something we've seemingly done about once a year since I became a blogger in 2002. Actually, as the Twins Geek pointed out, it started off as milk shakes instead of beers, because I wasn't actually of drinking age until 2004.

The get-together was a tremendous success and I think everyone enjoyed themselves despite a depressing game, and I'm hopeful that we can arrange something similar at least a couple more times this season. Johan Santana was then nice enough to wipe away whatever bad memories were lingering from Saturday's game by tossing seven innings of one-hit, nine-strikeout ball against the White Sox yesterday afternoon.

Seeing Santana dominate a lineup is no more unexpected than seeing Justin Morneau hit a game-changing homer, but seeing him pitch this well so early in the year is out of the ordinary. His Opening Day start wasn't particularly good, but it was the best first start Santana has turned in since becoming a full-time member of the rotation. Sunday's outing would have fit perfectly into one of his annual midseason stretches of unhittability, which makes it completely out of place for Santana in mid-April.

Following his less-poor-than-usual debut, I said half-jokingly that Santana was on track for the best year of his career, but there's no need to joke about it now. If he's truly in midseason form during a time when he's always struggled, Santana is capable of ridiculous (or more ridiculous) numbers. He's 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA after two starts, whereas two starts into his Cy Young-winning seasons he was 0-2 with a 5.73 ERA and 0-0 with a 5.00 ERA.

He always catches up anyway, so apparently Santana has decided that he's sick of giving everyone else a head start.

Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.

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