"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

Thursday, August 30, 2007



(hack, cough, sputter)

Gads, the blog was dusty! Pardonez-TBL for one moment, she missed a spot...there. Much better.

Well. Here we are again. TBL confesses to neglecting the blog partly because the Twins continue their pursuit of blah-ness. (Although, the series in Baltimore? Delightful!) But the largest share of the blame, TBL is afraid, must be laid square at the doorstep of fellow blogger Crazy Aunt Purl.

CAP is a funny, funny lady, and TBL reads her often because when one is of an age that no longer begins with "2" and suddenly finds oneself divorced and living on one's own with several cats and a yarn stash that has grown large enough to devour the neighbor children, it is lovely to know (or at least read) someone in much the same situation who can make it all seem hysterically funny.

And CAP, in the course of being very funny about things like the relative coolness factor of thirty-something spinsters with cats who knit a lot (you called?), got me addicted to a TV show on BBC America called 'How Clean Is Your House?'. Basically, these two women travel Britain going to houses that are so messy they're a health hazard, cleaning them up, showing the residents all the bugs, vermin and dangerous microorganisms they've been living with, and sharing handy chemical-free cleaning tips. Then they come back a few weeks later to see if the residents are keeping the place clean or sliding back into old habits.

Since CAP's post about the show was so amusing, TBL set the DVR for an episode. And made the mistake of watching it during dinner. Then TBL jumped up and cleaned her kitchen counters.

Long story short, BBCA airs two hours of 'How Clean is Your House?' every weekday. TBL gets home from work, makes some dinner, watches two hours of Kim and Aggie setting their "filthy beggars" to rights, and then sets to on the much more manageable problems here at Casa Liberales. And while TBL will never be as, er...exacting as Kim and Aggie, in the last two weeks she has dusted every surface in her home, scrubbed every inch of her kitchen and bathroom surfaces and floors, cleaned out and scrubbed the fridge, vacuumed twice-weekly, polished her silver, organized her closets and cupboards and even shoehorned her yarn stash into a manageable space. Furthermore, she has created a cleaning schedule and posted it on her fridge where it confronts her every day when she makes dinner. TBL has become tidy, dear readers.

That thumping sound you just heard was Fourth Pew, Center fainting from the shock.

Did you know that housework burns about 200 calories an hour? TBL's favorite jeans are looking scandalously good on her these days, if she does say so herself. All that TV-watching and frenzied cleaning, however, have not left much time for the blogging. And that is why Crazy Aunt Purl is to blame.

There has, however, been gobs of time to knit! (Well, what do you do while you're watching television? Never tell TBL you just sit there.) In what may prove to be the greatest barrier yet to managing the yarn stash, one of the knitters at TBL's Thursday evening stitch-n-bitch, as opposed to the Sunday morning stitch-n-bitch, has taught TBL the secret to acquiring incredibly cheap yarn. Those of you on a yarn diet should skip the next few paragraphs.

Go to a thrift store (and there are plenty around the Twin Cities). Yard sales can also be good. Browse the sweaters: start at large and work your way down the sizes--bigger sweater = more yarn! Also, for some reason, TBL has noticed that sweaters in very large sizes are more likely to be hideously designed but made out of lovely yarn. Check the seams--do not buy serged seams. Pick the sweater apart at home. Unraveling is the best part! Loop the yarn (which now looks like ramen noodles) into loose skeins. Wash gently to take the kinks out and dispel that lovely thrift-store aroma. Dry. Wind into skeins. Add to stash.

TBL loves this because not only is it so very in keeping with her environmenty and recycley tendencies (aka "hippieness"), but it's cheap yarn. Gobs and gobs of yarn for pennies a gram! You begin, dear readers, to see why stash size is a matter of concern.

TBL has acquired five sweaters ranging from $3.99 to $9.99. She has unraveled three so far. One, a lovely worsted weight coral and red twist in a silk/nylon/wool blend, yielded over 800 yards. A worsted self-striping jewel toned wool/mohair blend yielded about 1000 yards. An acrylic in shades of green gave 850 yards. (Many yarn snobs will not bother to recycle acrylic yarn. However, TBL is ever so slightly allergic to wool, in much the same way as she is ever so slightly fond of baseball. She finds cashmere scratchy.)

For yardage, measure out ten yards and weigh on a kitchen scale. Weigh total recycled yarn. Calculate approximate yardage thus: (sample weight in grams/10) * total weight in grams.

The silk/nylon/wool blend is being worked up into a clapotis stole. The acrylic is earmarked for a scarf. The self-striping wool/mohair will probably be a shawl someday, likely for Shiela's Shawls. The sweaters waiting to be unraveled are a variegated DK wool in crayon colors which will probably end up as a pile of hats and mittens for all the nephews and the niece, circa 2009, and a men's XXXL in sock-weight maroon tweed cotton.

One day soon--pictures!

Back on the baseball front, however, things are not so tidy and TBL is not having so much fun. There has been a great deal of talk about whether the Twins can retain the services of Johan Santana, and judging by what Santana himself has had to say lately, it does not seem promising.

Allow TBL to refresh your memory:

"I'm not surprised," Santana was quoted when asked about the lack of another trade. "That's exactly how they are. That's why we've never going to go beyond where we've gone."

And the ace said that it might jeopardize his future with the franchise.

"You always talk about future, future, future," Santana told the paper. "But if you only worry about the future, then I guess a lot of us won't be a part of it."

"Why waste time when you're talking about something that's always going to be like that? It's never going to be beyond this point. It doesn't make any sense for me to be here, you know?"

Santana wouldn't elaborate on his comments Wednesday, saying that he had said all he wanted to say a day earlier. But the two-time Cy Young Award winner did confirm that his statements were indeed how he felt.

"I was just being honest," Santana said.

This team can build for the future all it wants, but without Santana things don't look so good. Yes, there's Francisco Liriano, but he just had Tommy John surgery. It's going to be a couple of years before we have a good idea of what his future holds.

Obviously, one can't go back in time and make a big trade to boost the club and keep Santana happy. But there's an offseason coming up--how about getting something done at the winter meetings, TR? Show us, and Johan, that the organization is committed to building for the immedate rather than the distant future.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

In Other News...

...the Twins traded Ramon Ortiz to the Rockies for AAA third baseman/middle infielder Matt Macri, whom they've had their eye on for quite some time--they drafted him out of high school in the 17th round in 2001 but failed to sign him. The Rockies got him in the 5th round of the 2004 draft out of college.

TBL sez: This isn't exactly the trade for a third baseman so many of us were agitating for a month ago. That said, Ortiz wasn't getting any work here, and Rochester has got to be desperately short of players by now, the way the big club has been looting them.

...Jason Bartlett may be headed to the DL after straining his left hamstring in yesterday's game.

TBL sez: %$#*!

...Jason Kubel's strained right oblique, originally thought to be minor, may land him on the DL, too.

TBL sez: [sound of cranium making contact with desk surface]

...former Twin Jose Offerman lost his freakin' mind after being hit by a pitch in a minor league game, taking his bat to the pitcher and the catcher, dealing the former a broken finger and the latter a season-ending concussion.

TBL sez: Well, that won't get you back to the majors, dumbass. (Also, kind of puts J.C. Romero and Kyle Lohse in perspective, doesn't it?)

...lefty Glen Perkins, on the DL since late May with a shoulder strain, is pitching a rehab assignment for the GCL Twins and, if all goes well, could rejoin the Twins in about two weeks.

TBL sez: Can TBL get a "hallelujah"?

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Postcards From the Stands

While TBL is normally the most mild-mannered of fans (you may cease snickering at your leisure), recent events have gotten her a wee bit hot under the collar. In fact, TBL was in something of a temper when she sat at her escritoire earlier this evening and penned the following missives.

Ron Gardenhire
c/o Minnesota Twins
Minneapolis, MN

Dear Gardy,

It's not "just running into good pitching". It's not "a rough patch". It's a team full of asses in desperate need of a good kicking, and guess whose job it is to wear the steel-toed boots?



P.S. In case the hint passed unnoticed, it's your job.

Active Roster
c/o Minnesota Twins
Minneapolis, MN

Dear Twins,

Darling boys. You know how TBL adores you. You know that vast swathes of her life revolve around you. So TBL wants you to remember that she has your best interests at heart and listen very, very carefully. Are you listening? Good.


Not only do you suck, you are wholly responsible for your own sucking. You are the cause of the sucking, the perpetrators of the sucking, and the only ones who can end the sucking.

By blaming it on luck or the Castillo trade or Santana's infamous rant you are not only aiding and abetting the sucking, you are amplifying it. Not to belabor the obvious, but this merry-go-round of stranded runners, errors, bunt attempts worthy of Charlie Chaplin and baserunning that reminds TBL rather painfully of her own brief Little League career requires no amplification.

Pull your heads out of your collective posterior and play some damn baseball, you nodcocks.



Third Base Line Readers
c/o These Here Innernets
All Over the Darn Place

Dearest Readers,

TBL has carefully assembled this brief collection of baseball-related quotations, appropriate to the circumstances at hand, for your amusement in this bleak hour.

"I get tired of hearing my ballplayers bellyache all the time. They should go sit in the pressbox sometimes and watch themselves play."
--Padres president Buzzie Bavasi

"We had so many people coming in and out they didn't bother to sew their names on the backs of uniforms. They just put them there with Velcro."
--Pirates player Andy Van Slyke

"A man once told me to walk with the Lord. I'd rather walk with the bases loaded."
--Oriole player Ken Singleton

"I told [the manager] I wasn't tired. He told me, 'No, but the outfielders sure are.' "
--Rangers pitcher Jim Kern

"The fans like to see home runs, and we have assembled a pitching staff for their enjoyment."
--Twins executive Clark Griffith



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Monday, August 06, 2007


After letting the trading deadline and the $2 million salary savings from moving Luis Castillo to the Mets pass without further comment, the Twins have made a flurry of roster moves in the last few days.

On Friday, with the Twins searching for a roster spot for Michael Cuddyer to occupy when he came off the DL, the Arizona Diamondbacks claimed Jeff Cirillo off waivers. TBL has yet to find a story stating (or even hinting) why Cirillo was out on the waiver wire in the first place. If any dear readers out there possess such information, do please send it this way.

The Twins did not contest the claim, and Cuddyer rejoined the club. Then, on Sunday, Lew Ford was sent down to Rochester to make room for LHP Carmen Cali, plumping the pitching staff up to 12 members after a period of heavy use of the bullpen. Naturally, after this decisive action, Sunday's starter went eight shutout innings. One wonders if Ford appreciates the irony.

Speaking of Sunday's starter--eight innings, four hits, two walks, no runs. The more TBL sees of Baker and Garza, the more she mourns the losses Ponson compiled for us.

And last but not least, I came across this quote over the weekend. Nick Punto, if you're out there, this one's for you:

"It's not easy to hit .215. You have to be going terrible and have bad luck, too."
--Steve Kemp

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Regarding the Bridge Collapse

Darling readers, I am fresh out of funny today.

Last night, the I-35 bridge over the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis collapsed during rush hour. I was not there; I rarely traveled that bridge. To the best of my knowledge, no one of my acquaintance was there. The first I heard of it was an announcement over the PA at the Metrodome, informing us of the tragedy and asking us all to stay for the game, so as not to add traffic to an already chaotic situation on downtown roads.

I have not been directly affected, except...

Except, I live here. Minneapolis is my home, and disaster has struck it. My life, my community, my plans for the future all have "Minneapolis, Minnesota" writ large across them, and this terrible thing has happened here.

We know that a 2001 inspection revealed "fatigue cracking" in the bridge supports, but concluded that it was still sound and did not require immediate intervention. We know that in 2005 a federal report labeled the bridge "structurally deficient", but that this designation is somewhat vague and, more to the point, applies to thousands upon thousands of bridges nationwide which haven't exactly been falling down in droves. Bridges can be classified structurally deficient due to any number of problems, many of which are not a source of immediate danger.

We do not know what the problems with the I-35 bridge were, or how serious they were deemed. We do not know whose responsibility it was to monitor the bridge, or whether they followed proper procedures. We do not know if this was at all predictable. We want to know. We want to be angry and to punish, because then we will feel as if we are doing something, creating something out of this twisted mass of steel, concrete and horror.

Let us leave aside blame for now. There will be plenty to go around when we know why this happened. That may be months or even years in the future. Regardless of how long it takes, why open new wounds which may be undeserved? Sorrow and gratitude is the harder road, but the better.

There is a good deal to be sorrowful for. For the dead and their families, first and foremost. For the physical and mental trauma of the surviving victims, next. For our own sense of safety and trust in public works. For the city, reeling and confused today, with years of disorder and band-aid traffic solutions ahead. For all the things which will be neglected or downsized or ended for lack of a piece of the hundreds of millions of dollars it will take to rebuild.

There is also a good deal to be grateful for. Due to resurfacing, the 8-lane bridge was down to two. Imagine how many more cars might have been on it otherwise. The most-occupied vehicle involved in the collapse--a school bus carrying around 60 people--was not the site of any death or even serious injuries. The train traveling under the bridge at the time was carrying freight, not passengers. The Twin Cities boast three Level One trauma centers. (Many cities, even larger cities than this, have only one. Some have none.) The best possible emergency care for the victims was not only available, it was abundant. And let us not forget the citizens and rescue workers who rushed headlong into chaos and saved lives while risking their own.

We do not know why this happened. We may not know for years. We will all, I expect, flinch a little when passing under or over a bridge for a while. There will be memorial services, public announcements, political wrangling and fiercely-argued theories from the mundane to the boggling in the days ahead. There will be a flurry of bridge inspections, and alarming news reports on the results. Finances and partisanship willing, repairs will be undertaken. Minneapolis will knit itself back together. Memories, anguish and even blame will fade.

Someday, there will be a new bridge for I-35. And someday later still, we will drive over the new bridge and casually say, "Remember when...?"

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