January 2008

Caravan Day 4

Hey crowd…Sorry for the delay, but things got a little hectic that last day of caravan. Thursday wasn’t just our last day on the private motor coach, but also the date of The Twins annual Diamond Awards banquet. This scheduling clash led to a bit of chaos, but was solved in the end when Joe Nathan showed up to claim my spot on Caravan as well as drop off our transportation back to the Cities. Before the player swap was finalized, we spent the greater part of the morning at the Mayo clinic visiting the ICU in the children’s ward. This stop was absolutely the highlight of the trip, for a couple reasons. First, it really gave us a chance to be ourselves with the kids. No microphones, no reporters, and only a handful of photographers made the visit less formal and more honest. Second, I finally got a chance to see what makes TC so special. Yes, he is just a mascot, but he has a way with children that almost never fails to bring a smile to their faces. Something about a giant bear… pretending to eat you, falling out of his chair, or just giving a hug lights up the room like little else can. Finally, our stop at Mayo reminded us how truly blessed we are. We met some families who were finally going home, others just checking in, and still others who had taken up a near-permanent residence in the hospital for a variety of reasons. If it was our choice, Im sure we would’ve been there all day… but after a couple hours we took off for a quick radio interview and a sit down lunch. After lunch we made our way to an autograph signing held at the local eatery before J.Nathan showed up to save the day…

Note: Next post I’ll get to the Diamond Awards and Twinsfest.

Winter Caravan Diary Day 3

It?s day three here on the Twins Caravan, and things are moving right along. This morning was the coldest one yet, with a neon -22 flashing on the bank sign next to the hotel. At this point in the journey, our daily schedules have started to follow a pretty predictable pattern. The first stop always seems to be a radio visit. No one else wants visitors at 6:45 in the morning, no exceptions. The second visit has proven to be the most enjoyable one of the day, with schools, nursing homes, and hospitals filling that slot. Sprinkle in another radio spot and that usually brings us to lunch time. Our first two lunches were part of groups events ( American legion, Kiwanis), but today we had no hosts, so we accompanied ourselves to a local BBQ pit to enjoy a sit down supper. After lunch is a bit of a toss-up slot? the best of which was filled with a visit to the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, complete with an up close bald eagle encounter. Our days routinely round out with a dinner event hosted by Bert and John. Tonight?s event was hosted by our friends at Owatonna High School in Minnesota, where we showed a 2007 highlight video before taking some questions and signing all sorts of autographs. Now we are making our way to Rochester, where we finish out the last day of the Caravan tomorrow before heading back to the cities for TwinsFest this weekend?Bert is already taking a nap on the couch, and I?m off to join him?

Note: The term ?Southeast? usually means south (as in South Carolina, Georgia) and east (maybe North Carolina or Virginia)?this ?Southeast? leg of Caravan isn?t exactly living up to those connotations.

Winter Caravan Diary Day 2

Day two got underway this morning with a sit down breakfast at a Perkins (no relation to LHP Glen) Family restaurant in Winona. Baker and I stumbled into the hotel lobby to find that John Gordon had been up since 5 a.m., eaten, checked his e-mail, and was now contemplating getting a workout in before we took off. Who knew? Maybe that?s why he can nap on command?

Anyway, after breakfast we all piled on the motor coach and headed off to Lacrosse, WI for a middle school visit and some radio interviews. Following introductions and stories, our crew took time to answer questions from students and staff. We finished up with a Twins trivia game spearheaded by TC before pushing on towards Spring Valley for a Kiwanis luncheon. This particular Kiwanis group (band, troupe?) employed a full time pianist, which made for some spot-on impromptu songs by Bert and Gordo. Our Tuesday trip concluded with a stop in Mason City at the world famous ?Music Man Square," an exact replica of the Broadway musical stage of the same name. Now we are off to dinner and back to the hotel. That is all. Thank you.

Note: So far this trip our motor coach is 0-2 on USA Today crossword puzzles. Monday and Tuesday got the best of us. Maybe tomorrow we can make a breakthrough.

Winter Caravan Diary Day 1

Monday, Jan. 21

Today was the first day of the ?Southeast? Twins Caravan leg…brought to you by Dodge, Monster Energy drink, USA Today crossword puzzles, the complete Seinfeld DVD collection and anything else that might entertain you on long, cold bus trips through the Minnesotan wilderness.

After stumbling into a casual conversation on blogs, and mentioning my very minor experience during the Arizona Fall League, and most recently blogonoscopy.com, I was duped into signing a three-day contract to keep the fans informed as to exactly what goes on behind the scenes, on the private motor coach, and anywhere else we might find ourselves this week.

Today started bright and early as we (Scott Baker, Bert Blyleven, John Gordon and me) shoved off from the Twin Cities and headed toward Winona. Our first stop was a breakfast/radio sitdown with our friends at KSTP, and a handful of diehard Twins fans. Three interviews and a few good cups of coffee later, we took off on our way to Fury Motors in South St. Paul. While Scott and I signed autographs, Bert and John attempted to negotiate complementary vehicles for our group (we succeeded, Bert and John came up a little short). From there, our crew took off for a fan Q&A session at the American Legion post in Red Wing, MN. Lunch was a good time, and gave us a chance to get to know some genuine Twins fans, most of whom have been baseball fans since the days of spitballs and Murderers Row. Today?s travels concluded with an evening event at the Cathedral in Winona. We were welcomed by the biggest crowd of the day, as close to four hundred people sat down with us to eat dinner, talk baseball and share stories.

With the first full day behind us, we are headed to the Quality Inn for what I hope will be a quality night sleep…tomorrow?s departure time is sure to be early.

Note: Today?s temperature range was -10 degrees to +4 degrees, with snow flurries and a 15-mph wind. This is why teams go to Florida for Spring Training.