Twins Fest Weekend: Part 3
Before we get started, I do want to mention that the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook is now available to the public. You can get your copy today, electronically or the paperback printed book, by clicking here. Again, thank you so much for your support.
In the last couple of days, I’ve posted comments and thoughts and memories of my Twins Fest weekend. I’ve written about Friday night at the Hot Stove Banquet. I’ve written about the big Twitter vibe around Twins Fest, and I wrote about Fanatic Jack and I having a conversation with Twins GM Bill Smith. Today is going to be my last formal Twins Fest Weekend blog, although it is likely that additional stories may come out over time. Today, I want to write a bit about some of the people I met or talked to. There was a nice Twins blogger showing, and I also had a chance to meet many Twins prospects.
It was a lot of fun meeting up again with several of the Twins bloggers at Twins Fest. As I’ve mentioned, I spent quite a bit of time with Fanatic Jack. He is a backpack-toting autograph collector. It was fun to see what he was going after. He got some very cool stuff signed. He was excited to meet Doogie Wolfson, and if you have heard his podcasts, you can imagine how much energy he has for Twins Fest.
Cody Christie is the North Dakota Twins Fan. I met him last July on the Twins Train trip to Detroit. I met him quickly on Friday with Mrs. North Dakota Twins Fan. They got a few autographs and their picture taken.
Andrew Bryz-Gornia runs the Off the Mark blog. This past year, he worked as an usher at Target Field while going to college. He was able to work Twins Fest Friday and Saturday, and then was there as a fan on Sunday.
Topper Anton flew in from NYC for Twins Fest. He was supposed to be here on Thursday but didn’t make it until Friday because of all the flight cancellations. He does a nice job at Curve for a Strike. And Emily Jipp was also in attendance. She’s known by many as Twins Chatter.
After the completion of Twins Fest on Saturday, several Twins bloggers got together at Park Tavern in St. Louis Park. Those listed above were joined by John Bonnes (Twins Geek) and Nick Nelson (Nick’s Twins Blog), and also by Twitter friend MrHorrorPants! It was a great time.
On Sunday, it was good to see Phil Mackey hosting two hours of Twins talk on 1500espn. It was nice to be able to say hi to him. A huge “Congratulations” to him for his success in the last ten months or so. The Reusse & Mackey Show will now be on weekdays from noon to three.
I also had the opportunity to meet Lindsay Guentzel, Intern Gal at KFAN. She is very cool!
Marty Andrade made the trek down on Sunday as well with some really cool stuff. He had game used bats from Rene Tosoni and Joe Benson that he got signed. (Note – if you’re interested, head up to Alexandria, MN, go to the mall and you’ll find him there!).
The Twins blogging community is a lot of fun, to be sure.
I used to go to Twins Fest and do the autograph thing. Even a year ago, I brought my daughter and bought a ball so she could go through and ask for autographs. But this year, I didn’t go through the lines at all. Instead, I just walked around and talked to people. Of course, I generally hang out near the Down on the Farm section. The autographs there are free, and those are the players that I typically converse with from time to time. I had some fun experiences. Some of them I’ll share him, and obviously some of them I’ll keep for myself. I posted some on Twitter, but then Parker from Over the Baggy started making fun of me on Twitter for name-dropping.
I ran into Carlos Gutierrez and his family following his Saturday morning signing session. What a nice family! It is always fun for me to see people from south Florida in Minnesota in January. We chatted for probably five minutes. I don’t like to bother people when they’re with their family.
I was actually walking toward the bathroom at the time, and as I was coming out of the bathroom, I nearly bumped into Jeff Manship. I had talked to him the week before at the Twins Caravan in Thief River Falls, and again, he recognized me first. Again, he really seems to enjoy the event. We talked for maybe two minutes when I realized where he was going, and that it was likely he had just completed a nearly two-hour autograph session, so I didn’t bother him for too long.
At that point, I was just kind of walking around. I was in awe seeing how long the line was for people trying to get their picture taken with Joe Mauer. When I say people, I think it is fair to distinguish that a good 95% of those people were on the female gender. Kyle Gibson was the player whose photo session was right before Mauer’s. With ten minutes to go in his session, and no one willing to leave their spot in the line for Mauer, Gibson was left standing by himself. He looked around the curtain to see if anyone was around to get their picture taken with him. I saw him, and tipped my cap. Gibson saw me, smiled and waved me over there. I was a good 40 feet away and started walking in that direction when a security guard asked me what I was doing. I pointed and said, “He said I could.” Gibson nodded in agreement and the two of us chatted for a few minutes before it was his turn to leave the photo station and Mauer’s to come in. We talked about his hectic life since getting married in November, looking forward to spring training, and trying to figure out where he might start his season.
I then went back over to the minor league area. I was talking to someone when David Bromberg walked up. If there was one Twins player or minor league player that stood out to me as drastically changing, it is Bromberg. I had mentioned his name at the Hot Stove Banquet on Friday night (in part because Howard Sinker had asked me about him earlier) as someone to kind of keep in the back of your mind for a possible bullpen spot in 2011. When Bromberg came up though, it was clear that he has been working hard. He can run long distance, something he hadn’t done much previously. He is working out a lot. He is down to just over 240 pounds. When I asked him where he was last year, he said he was just over 260 pounds. On his 6-5 frame, he looks like a different guy with the 20 pound weight loss. Maybe it’s the soul patch? Bromberg is a very confident guy, and he is also quite competitive. He is heading down to Ft. Myers next week already to start working out in the Twins facilities.
Bromberg thought he was supposed to be there for a 2:30 autograph session only to find out that he didn’t need to be there until 4:15, but he stuck around for a bit and chatted. As Rene Tosoni was coming out of the session, I got to point out where the bathroom was for him!
The next group was making its way in. As Joe Benson led the way, I said in a deep voice, “Bear Down!” Benson looked over, smiled, came over and gave me a handshake, man-hug thing. Following Benson was Kyle Waldrop. As you know, Waldrop has been a long-time friend of SethSpeaks and has participated in the NFL “Expert” Picks for five years, but we had never met in. I know I sound repetitive, but what a nice guy. It was just a couple of minutes, but it was a nice discussion. Gibson was the third guy in that group. As you can imagine, the line for that group of free autographs was quite long.
For the last session of the day, things finally slowed down around the National Sports Center. The place was so crowded on Saturday, but things really quieted down late in the afternoon. In fact, as the final autograph groups were signing, there were none in the minor league line. So, I just went in and chatted briefly with Chris Parmelee. As you recall, Parmelee participated in the football picks this year, and there is an article on him and his development in the new Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. Again, it was brief, but it went very well.
On Sunday, I was able to shake hands and introduce myself to Nate Hanson. He is the Eden Prairie graduate who went to the University of Minnesota to play for John Anderson. He had a nice breakout season in Ft. Myers in 2010, and he was the subject of an article I wrote for the Prospect Handbook. Minnesota nice! I also was able to shake hands with BJ Hermsen who was leaving and then making the trek home to Iowa.
Late in the day, Alex Burnett had just finished up an autograph session, and I introduced myself to him. He introduced me to his fiancé and said they were going to head outside to play in the snow before a late-afternoon flight back home to southern California.
Finally, I was exhausted and ready to be done. I decided I would walk by the Down on the Farm booth. Marty Andrade had taken one of my Prospect Handbook review copies through the line to have it signed. Gibson and Benson had signed the cover. Waldrop signed the inside. As I walked along the side of the booth, Benson noticed me. “Seth! We were just talking about you!”
Gibson added, “Yeah, we’ve got a great idea, and it will be a lot of fun!”
Of course, that is the teaser, and you will have to wait to see what they had in mind, but soon… I wished them (and Waldrop) well and safe travels, and that was the end of my Twins Fest weekend.
FI NAL THOUGHTS
Here are just a few random thoughts from Twins Fest Weekend, from my perspective:
· I’m glad that the deflating Metrodome didn’t force the Twins to cancel Twins Fest. It is a great fundraising event for the Twins Community Fund, and it is a great way to get the fans excited about the game. It’s also a great way to meet and greet people/players that we typically only get to see on TV.
· Blaine and the National Sports Center was a good place for the event. Sure, it wasn’t convenient for it to be in two buildings, but they made it work. It was a good thing that they limited the number of tickets. Saturday was really hectic. But Sunday was very comfortable. Considering the Twins had about six weeks to find a location and make it work, they did very well.
· It was unfortunate that Justin Morneau wasn’t there, but I think we all fully understand that. Jim Thome was only there on Friday night. Joe Mauer was not there on Sunday. I’m assuming they had good reasons to not be there. Carl Pavano was not there. I don’t know if we ever did get a good reason for that. Dominican players Francisco Liriano and Alexi Casilla were not there either, and neither is playing in the Caribbean World Series. I can understand Tsuyoshi Nishioka not being there, unless he would go directly to Fort Myers from Minneapolis. It would have been great for him to be there and see this event, although I am guessing that the lines for his autograph would have been crazy. Matt Capps wasn’t there either.
· Michael Cuddyer and Denard Span seemed to be taking a leadership role. They were active in interviews, with the Tweet-n-Greet and more. The star seemed to be Danny Valencia though. He was everywhere, with long arms, and he looked to be enjoying it all.
· As always, I had a great time! I do believe that the Metrodome is much more spacious and is ideal, but the Twins made the best of an unfortunate situation.
If you have any questions or comments, please let me know.