"Let us go forth a while, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our closed rooms...
The game of ball is glorious."

--Walt Whitman

Friday, February 05, 2010

Signings, Both Real and Imaginary

When the Twins signed Jim Thome--who, believe it or not, has passed his physical--TBL was cautiously optimistic.  He hasn't been at his best the past couple of seasons, but he's still Jim "Holy Crap, Lookit That Go" Thome.  And, best of all, he won't be hitting against our pitchers anymore.  (The evidence suggests that Thome will still be able to go yard off Twins pitching from his wheelchair in 2050.)  The official line out of the organization at the moment is that Kubel is our DH, and Thome will be our big bat off the bench. 
Then, oh joy! oh rapture!, word came down from on high (okay, from WCCO) that Joe Mauer had signed a 10-year contract extension!  TBL's ecstasy lasted about 4 hours, when news that there was no contract extension after all penetrated the haze of confetti and champagne here at Casa Liberales.  Sigh.  Pout.
But now, today, another real signing!  Color TBL stunned, because the Twins have gone out and gotten themselves a real, live, honest to goodness second baseman.  Yes, dear readers, you read that correctly.  And not just any ol' second baseman who knows what that stick thing is for and has some concept of "fielding", but Orlando Hudson.  Four Gold Gloves.  Two-time All-Star.  Career .282/.348/.778 hitter.  A mere 32 years old. 
Who are these people, and what have they done with the Twins front office?
With the acquisition of shorstop JJ Hardy from Milwaukee, the infield is nearly complete.  Unless Gardy's unnatural love of futility infielders leads him to make a tragic staffing decision at third base, we Twins fans may actually be treated to a Twins lineup without the black hole that is Nick Punto's bat on a daily basis.  Can you picture it, dear readers?  TBL can.
Who are the contenders at third?  Most obvious are Punto, Matt Tolbert and Brendan Harris, but TBL hears there are some youngsters just itching to get to the bigs, so spring training may offer some surprises.  Players are already trickling into Fort Myers, and soon there will be baseball again!

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fair and Balanced

a mistake-rib scarf knit on the bias

I love the look of a bias-knit scarf, especially in self-striping yarn, but garter stitch is just so darn boring. So I set about converting my favorite reversible stitch into a bias-knit pattern. Several hilarious test swatches later, I think I got it right...

I used James C Brett Marble Chunky on size 10 needles, but the pattern is gaugeless.

Sl - slip stitch purlwise
KFB - Knit through front, then back, of stitch. This creates a new stitch.

Cast on a multiple of 4 stitches plus 2.

Row 1: Sl1, KFB, [P2, K2] to last 4 stitches, P1, P2tog, K1
Row 2: Sl1, [K1, P1] to last stitch, K1
Row 3: Sl1, KFB, K1, [P2, K2] to last 3 stitches, P2tog, P1
Row 4: Sl1, [P1, K1] to last stitch, P1
Row 5: Sl1, KFB, [K2, P2] to last 4 stitches, K1, SSK, P1
Row 6: as Row 2
Row 7: Sl1, KFB, P1, [K2, P2] to last 3 stitches, SSK, K1
Row 8: as Row 4

Repeat until piece is desired length, bind off loosely, stay warm.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Who'd'a Thunk It?

After the abyss o' despair that was the Toronto series, the sucking continued unabated through the seventh-inning stretch on Friday when---WHAM!  BANG! BOOM!  A week's worth of unused hitting (smuggled onto the field by one Jason Kubel) descended upon the unsuspecting Angels, hitherto possesors of a 9-4 lead.

Kubel went 4-for-5 and hit for the cycle, including a lead-grabbing grand slam, and then trotted out Saturday night to give his teammates another hitting clinic and lead them through a romp of a win, 9-2.  Sunday, Kubel was too tired to do much at the plate, but ace-thus-far Glen Perkins took charge, buffed his 1.50 ERA on the Angels' lineup and handed the ball to Joe Nathan after 8 brilliant innings for the 3-1 win and the sweep.

Wow.  Hitting AND pitching.  In one series.  Remarkable.  TBL is still pinching herself. 
Yesterday the Twins enjoyed their first day off of the season--the last team in the majors to get one--and we can only hope it wasn't a momentum-killer as they take on the Red Sox in Fenway for a 2-game visit. 

Tonight, Scott Baker tries to put his last (and only) outing and its four home runs behind him to face the slugging Sox, while Twins hitters have the unenviable task of swinging for Tim Wakefield's evil knuckleballs.  Wednesday, Francisco Liriano will continue his search for a hot streak against Brad Penny, who hasn't exactly had the season of his life so far, either.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Fever Dreams

Twins vs Blue Jays series totals (4 games):

Team RunsHits (HRs)ERASuck Factor
Jays3156 (9)2.87-3
Twins1336 (2)7.11+12

TBL had a dream last night. This is not an analogy or storytelling device, but a true and accurate description of the effusions of TBL's subconscious after she trudged home from the horror that was last night and attempted to escape into sleep.

In her dream, TBL was at the Dome, and the Twins were not playing very well. The identity of their opponent was not clear. She left the game early, for reasons similarly unknown, and ventured with her friend Jessica to a cabin in the woods in search of popcorn. (No, she does not understand that part of the dream any more than you do.) The next morning, she turned on the news and was horrified to learn that the Twins had suffered baseball's first 3-digit defeat. The score was 126 to 11. That is when TBL woke up, disturbed the cat, noticed that her alarm would be going off in less than a quarter hour, and decided to use those minutes to huddle under the blanket and swear.

As much as TBL would like to blame the absence of Baby Jesus and believe that his supposedly-impending return will restore the Twins to glory, let us be realistic, dear readers. If only for one moment.

Yea, though Mauer's bat is mighty, it cannot keep the other 8 fellows from striking out all the freakin' time. And though he is a game-caller without peer, he can only call the pitches, not make the pitcher deliver them both in the strike zone and in such a location as to maybe, possibly, get someone out.

Mauer's triumphant return, in other words, stands to make the Twins approximately 1/10th better. Ponder that for a moment, would you? Ah, yes. Now you see it.

1/10th will do precisely bupkiss against this level of suck. Which is why TBL proposes that the gentlemen on the active roster at once embark on this simple three-step plan:

1. Cease awaiting their fearless hero's return. He will be here when he gets here.
2. Pull their craniums back into the light of day.
3. Play baseball at a level resembling the professional.

And please, please stay out of TBL's dreams for a while.

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Monday, April 06, 2009

In the Beginning

At last, dear readers, baseball has returned. TBL has little to report: the Dome was crowded, the "food" remains unchanged, the score was not all one hoped it would be. It appears our boys left all the good bats in Florida. Overnight courier, anyone?

(By the bye, does anyone know why there were no Gameday programs?)

On the bright side, the Twins are tied for first in the division (with Cleveland and Detroit, who also lost, half a game ahead of Kansas City and Chicago, whose game was postponed). And Joe Crede's back appears to have survived the night.

Postscript for the psychotic Justin Morneau fan a few rows back: He can't hear you. Give it a rest, already.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009


To be honest, TBL just hasn't been feeling the excitement. Sure, pitchers and catchers reported last week. But that passed in a blur of being food poisoned. And sure, spring training games start this week, but it has been passing in a blur of doing all the things one neglects while puking one's guts up, like going to work. Still, TBL might have worked up some vague feeling of anticipation if the offseason hadn't passed in a blur of...nothing.

Honestly, what does the team pay their scouts and office-type folks for? Their biggest pre-Spring-Training move was signing R.A. Dickey. No, TBL had never heard of him before, either, and a gander at his stats does not inspire glee. The best year of his career was 2003, when he posted a 5.09 ERA. Be still TBL's beating heart.

Sometimes TBL thinks they do it just to taunt her.

And now, they've gone and signed Joe "Single-Handedly Keeping the Chiropractic Profession Afloat Through the Recession" Crede. Sure, if he can stay healthy, it could be brilliant, fantastic, wonderful. But given the Twins' longstanding history of luck and health, it is far more probable that we have just paid Mr. Crede $2.5 million for the pleasure of watching him sustain some horrible, season-ending injury in the third inning of the home opener. We could have paid Corey Koskie half that to keep Brian Buscher's spot on the field warm for a few days before leaving in an ambulance, and TBL would have had the additional pleasure of dusting off her old jersey, too.

While TBL was checking the news wire for the exact amount the team's insurance will have to pony up to cover that salary, up came the news that Boof's shoulder is in much worse shape than they thought and he will be joining Pat Neshek on the "See Ya in the New Ballpark" list. Yes, sirree, luck and health. That's Minnesota for you. (Though whether or not that was actually unlucky is debatable, in light of Bonser's last year or two...)

However, on the way home from the salt mines work, TBL chanced to see, through the window of a downtown bar, a few seconds of someone's spring training game on TV. And something stirred deep within her disgruntled breast. Not hope--that would be asking entirely too much right now--but yearning. For the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd, for the recording of Bob Casey's voice before the game and the blur of Gomez rounding second in the late innings. For scoresheets and stale popcorn and the betting pool on how many games until Gardy's first ejection.

Opening Day will come whether the Twins are ready or not (TBL thinks "not"), and there will be baseball. Baseball, Mom, apple pie and kvetching. It really doesn't get much better than that!

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Autumnal Knitting: Lotus Hat

This is an autumn hat I made based on the Crosshatch Lace stitch. I call it "Lotus Hat" because the decrease at the crown forms a lotus-like pattern, while the lace on the body looks rather like stems and leaves. I made it beanie-style, designed to only cover the tips of the ears, but have included instructions for lengthening it.

TBL's Lotus Hat

Original pattern

5 st/in in stockinette

I used:
Pakucho color-grown organic cotton, worsted weight
Size 6 needles

CO 96 st. Join into a round, being careful not to twist.

Work in K1, P1 ribbing for 6 rounds.

Work Chart A (Crosshatch Lace) around 3 times, ending on row 8--24 rounds total. (For a longer, earlobe-covering hat, work one extra time--32 rounds total.)

Work Chart B once. Break yarn and thread through live stitches. Pull tight, secure, and weave in ends.

Gaugeless pattern (extrapolated from the original and NOT TESTED):

CO a multiple of 12 stitches. Join into a round, being careful not to twist.

Work in K1, P1 ribbing for 6 rounds or until desired band height is achieved.

Work Chart A (Crosshatch Lace) until hat is approximately 2 pattern repeats shy of total desired length (as measured from crown to edge), ending on row 8

Work Chart B once. If there are more than 16 stitches left on the needles, work row 20 again. Break yarn and thread through live stitches. Pull tight, secure, and weave in ends.

Apologies for the blurry charts--Blogger doesn't like the very tall image size. Click here to see the original image.

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