Record Store Day 2015 – Electric Fetus and Hymie’s Vintage Records in Minneapolis, MN (April 18, 2015)

Remember my post from 2013’s Record Store Day?  Man, what kind of idiot gets up at 3:30 am to go to a record store?!  Everyone knows that showing up at…

3 am? Nope…

1 am? Not even close…

Midnight? Try harder…

10 pm? Getting warmer…

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NINE at night, THE NIGHT BEFORE, is now considered cool!  Yes, twelve hours before the opening of the doors, I was camping out – sixth in line – for exclusive pieces of physical media/music.  Downloads?  Those are for losers and pirates.  Give me old fashioned music that I can feel and admire.

So what was on my list?

  • Courtney Barnett – Kim’s Caravan 12″ single
  • The Dandy Warhols – Dandys Rule OK 2×12″ 20th anniversary (#ed and first ever pressing on vinyl)
  • The Dresden Dolls – The Virginia Monolgues 3×12″ (#ed, combined packaging of “Yes, Virginia” and “No, Virginia”)
  • Foo Fighters – Songs From the Laundry Room 10″ EP
  • The Hold Steady – Boys and Girls In America 12″ purple vinyl re-issue
  • The Hold Steady – Heaven Is Whenever 12″ orange vinyl re-issue (this was a RSD 2010 exclusive, though different artwork and on clear vinyl)
  • Tegan and Sara – Live at Zia Records 12″ blue vinyl
  • The White Stripes – Get Behind Me Satan 2×12″ red vinyl and white vinyl (first ever commercial release on vinyl, lenticular front artwork)

Of these 8 releases, how many would you guess that I was able to score?

The answer is embedding in the (semi-)hourly breakdown below:

  • 9-9:59 pm: I show up as the 6th person in line – the other folks ahead of me arrived around 7-7:30 pm.  Person #7 shows up within 15 minutes of my arrival.
  • 10-10:59 pm: My hunger and restlessness have me dreaming of vegan doughnuts from Glam Doll Donuts (who would later make an appearance at RSD, serving only “regular” donuts).  I convince #7 that he, too, is hungry.
  • 11-11:59 pm: The walk to Glam Doll (maybe half a mile away) and Spyhouse Coffee happens.  My sharing of an extra chair pays off; #7 (who was the recipiant of said chair) buys me two doughnuts and a soy Chai latte.
  • 12-12:59 am: Craziness on Franklin Ave.  Someone has their car pulled over and subsequently searched.  We heard police yell loudly and an arrest made.  Might they have been smuggling contraband records?  Most definitely not, but jokes of those sorts were told, nonetheless.
  • 1-1:59 am: Music is still being played on a small speaker and iPod.  Emotions/nerves and caffeine are carrying those that are present (probably 30-50 by now).
  • 2-2:59 am: I lost it.  I needed some rest.  I tried to sleep at about 8 pm, thinking I would be showing up at 1:30 am, but my inability to sleep (and photos of people already in line on Instagram making their rounds/likes) “forced” me to leave a warm, comfy bed – and loving wife and dog.  I end up sleeping in a car for the first time in a LONG time… for about an hour.
  • 3-3:59 am: I think I can make it – plus, the car was getting cool, as I left my blankets on the chair in line – and I show up to hold down the line again.  After about a half an hour I go back into the car for some more sleep.
  • 4-4:59 am: I wake up after another hour of rest.  When you have an alarm set, you’d think your mind would be at ease.  It was not; Record Store Day transformed into paranoia – I thought I was going to wake up to doors already opened… this feeling happened at about a 5 minute cycle.
  • 5-5:59 am: More fun in line.  Talk with #7 and #5, guess what about… Yep, MUSIC!  We exchange more stories of RSDs, vinyl collections, and favorite bands/guilty pleasures.
  • 6-6:59 am: One last rest.  A final hour of napping in the car and all of a sudden we are at the home stretch.
  • 7-7:59 am: The line is massive.  Stretching around the corner and towards Wendy’s, my hours of waiting are suddenly validated in my mind.  “I am going to get some damn fine records,” says the motto in my brain, over and over.

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  • 8-8:59 am: Numbers are handed out at 8 am by the store manager and everyone is now “locked in place.”  The homestretch, which is normally brutal, proves to be a breeze.  I don’t know if it is the sleep deprivation or the fact that I had waited in line for numerous hours only days before (Opening Day at Target Field), but I rarely check my phone and time FLIES!

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  • 9-9:05 am: Doors open and the true test begins; will or wait prove worth it?  Will everyone get what they had hoped for?  “Are number one through five going to take my shit?!”  Calm down, Tony… #1-5 have first crack and after one leaves I am the next to enter the adult candy store.
  • 9:06-9:19 am: I search for everything on my list, finding 7 of the eight with no issue… but where is the Foo Fighters’ EP?!  It’s alphabetical, but I do not see it… Ah, yes, behind another release, with an insanely ill-sized name tent… with only two copies remaining.  SCORE!!!  Aperfect eight for eight.  If I were playing baseball, this is a game/series that folks would talk about for quite some time.
  • 9:20-9:25 am: As I exit the RSD-exclusive area, I stop by the jazz section (the store is packed and travel is not recommended).  I see no Miles Davis, but Jean-Luc Ponty is staring at me in the form of “Upon the Wings of Music.”  I see five albums at 99 cents a piece.  Jean-Luc’s posse now resides in the makeshift mancave.

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  • 9:26-10 am: I checked out and headed back to home.  The original plan was to go over to Hymie’s right after, but that was when I thought it’d be closer to a 11 am arrival.  instead, I agree with Jael that I would stop back home and travel as a family to Hymie’s block party.
  • 10-10:59 am: Get home, nearly pass out, regain my composure, clean up, and head back out on the road.
  • 11-11:29 am: Travel from Prior Lake to Hymie’s in Minneapolis.

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  • 11:30 am – 1:30 pm: Attend the block party at Hymie’s.  Pick up a few used records in the store, search the free music bins outside, let Evie experience the crowds and other dogs, and have some snacks on a park bench as live music plays.

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  • 1:31-2 pm: Head back over to Glam Doll Donuts to get a few more pastries… for jael, of course.
  • 2:01-2:30 pm: Head back home.
  • 2:31-3:59 pm: Calm down, enjoy the doughnuts we picked up, catalog the music, and watch a little MASH.
  • 4-8:30 pm: CRASH.  Sleep never felt so good; while waking up never felt more strange and panicked.  I normally am not able to sleep very well if I take a nap during the day, but I was so drained that by 10 pm I was able to sleep like a baby again.

So would you like to see some pix of the newest members of the vinyl collection?  (If not, then please exit this post now.)

Electric Fetus Pick Ups:

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Courtney Barnett – Kim’s Caravan 12″

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The Dandy Warhols – Dandys Rule OK 2×12″ (Hand-numbered 200 of 2,000)

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The Dresden Dolls – The Virginia Monolgues 3×12″ (stamp-numbered 2,525 of 5,000)

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Foo Fighters – Songs From the Laundry Room 10″ EP (limited to 4,000)

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The Hold Steady – Boys and Girls In America 12″ (limited purple vinyl)

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The Hold Steady – Heaven Is Whenever 12″ (limited orange vinyl)

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Tegan and Sara – Live at Zia Records 12″ (limited blue vinyl, 4,500 copies)

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The White Stripes – Get Behind Me Satan 2×12″ (one red and one white vinyl)

The Jean-Luc Ponty 99 cent bargains:

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And a free local 7″…

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Charlie Parr – Over the Red Cedar 7″ (thanks RSD and those participating in MN!)

Oh, and a free slip-mat to promote Muse’s new album coming out later this year…

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Hymie’s Vintage Records:

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The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Time Out 12″ (only $2 and sold “As-Is”… well worth it for this masterpiece of an album)

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Miles Davis – Bitches Brew 2×12″ (under $20 for a very fine copy of another masterpiece in jazz/jazz-fusion)

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Various Artists? – ‘Gypsy Songs’ (Google translation tells me that the album is named ‘Gypsy Songs’, but the back of the album has more info that I have yet to decipher – this was a “wild card” pick up… totally worth it for $3!)

And now, just like any of my other posts, how about a group shot?  A look at the haul…

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(Three additional records are shown towards the top, but those were free ones that Jael – my wife – grabbed at Hymie’s.)

Opening Day 2015: A Couple Firsts During My Sixth – Balls 401-404 (April 13, 2015)

Kansas City Royals 4 – Minnesota Twins 2

Target Field – Minneapolis, MN

April 13, 2015


Six Opening Days at Target Field and I have attended… ALL SIX.  My traditional partner, Jared, was also present (aren’t traditions/superstitions great?!).  I got to the gates around 9 am and soon after I was doing this…

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Wicked flow, eh?  Anywho, after the gates opened, and the sweatshirts were received (yep, best clothing stadium giveaway, ever), Jared and I made our way into the right field seats – along with Paul.

Jared was the firs ton the board, a toss-up from Casey Fien.

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I had called out to Casey and he turned quickly to see Jared (20 feet to my left) and tossed it to him.  He realized shortly after that it was not Jared who had called out for a ball, but me, so…

Ball #1:

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Casey Fien was the first to hook me up with a non-Selig baseball at a regular season game!  Casey wins the award for the most toss-ups in 2015 (so far), as well as consideration for most ever that I’ve witnessed at a game.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the totals were in the double-digits during the brief time I started keeping track.

Ball #2:

Shortly after the first ball of the day (being on the board alleviates a lot of stress) I went over to my Champions Club seat/section.  I had one last goal in mind, getting an Opening Day ball.  I wasn’t worried about a big total, just “needed” to get my hands on the first (and only attempt) at this commemorative.  Having the 2013 and 2014 versions made me feel like I had a streak to keep alive.

Then it happened, by the grace of Dominique Frost…

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So pretty, so fresh, so clean.  This game-pearl came straight from the ball bag – the first of any Opening Day ball to be in the hands of any spectator in the stadium.

But before we get into the game-time details, let’s reflect on a few of the Opening Day festivities/sights:

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Royals taking BP.

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Paul Molitor and Joe Mauer talking to KEVIN GARNETT AND TYUS JONES!

Ball #3:

***ANOTHER FIRST!!!!***

Fast-forward to the top of the 5th, one out, Omar Infante at the plate with Trevor May pitching.  Omar fouls one off and it sky rockets, with very little backwards trajectory… this will be landing in the Champions Club!!  Not only that, but down an aisle that no one is in… except me!!

My Willie Mays impression failed (I got in my head and thought my surroundings were closer), but I still got it on the bounce.  My first foul ball, ever!

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Awesome, another dream crossed off the list.

Ball #4:

The last one of the day was another toss-up, from the best bat boy in the Bigs.

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This was a pitch in the dirt during warm-ups thrown by Tim Stauffer.  Shortly after this (during the bottom of the 7th) I got a call from my wife – she was locked out of the house and the puppy NEEDED to be let out (she’s new to the long work days in a kennel).  DANG IT!!

I had to leave before the game was over… when was the last time I had done that?  Probably the Harmon Killebrew bobblehead day last year (where I didn’t even have a glove).

So let’s close this entry out with a few more photos:

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View from the right field pole.

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Vargas at bat and Plouffe on deck.

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Plouffe hits a dinger (his first of the year).

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A posed pic of a special ball.

The haul:

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Recap:

Thank you:

  • Dominique (x2) – Still the best.  I’m not worthy.
  • Casey Fien – First regular season Manfred ball… THANK YOU!

The Evolution of the Tony Voda Baseball Card

In case you missed it, I now have my own baseball card.  I was lucky enough to win a contest with Topps as part of their #ToppsLive series that morphed into a Topps Opening Day 2015 insert called “Stadium Scenes”.  Mine (unsurprisingly) is of Target Field… in 2013!  It was even part of my #Project365Pix.

Why am I still so excited?  Because it was literally a childhood dream of mine to have my own baseball card.  Sure, I wanted to be on the front, in a major league uniform, and have just one stat (either a hit or 1/3 of an inning pitched), but that ship sailed LONG ago.

Before I reveal my card, which I was able to find in a pack of cards (don’t ask how many) – thus completing my elaborate dream – I want to share with you my homemade cards.  These cards are from 1991 and 1992, when I was 7-8 years old and the Twins won their last championship.

1991 Topps Homemade:

1991 Topps Front

1991 Topps Back

1992 Topps Homemade:

1992 Topps Front

1992 Topps Back

1992 Donruss TwinsFest:

1992 TwinsFest Front

1992 TwinsFest Back

2015 Topps Opening Day:

2015 Topps Front

2015 Topps Back

How cool is that?!  Sure, I understand that some of the stats do not make sense on my homemade versions, but give me a break, “Slugging Percentage” is hard for a kid to understand.  The cool thing is that I tried to use my real stats in those cards.  My numbers were not big power numbers, but I like to think that I was a solid, smart player.

Florida is Closed For Business – Balls 393-400 (March 20, 2015)

Pittsburgh Pirates 4 – Minnesota Twins 2

Hammond Stadium – Fort Myers, FL

March 20, 2015


The last day in Florida and I had one last goal: snag my 400th career ball.  Doable?  Yes.  Tough?  Snagging 8 isn;t exactly a cake walk.  Hopeful?  Mildly, but not stressing over it.  If I was able to reach 400, then it meant that I averaged more than 10 balls a game in Spring Training for the 2nd straight year.

As sad as it was to be leaving, I was also looking forward to getting home.  When you have your own little slugger waiting for you, it’s hard to stay away…

Evelyn Baseball

I love my little Evelyn.  She was staying with my parents and getting spoiled (and being the subject of many photos).  Check out her Instagram feed for more examples.

Ball #1:

393

Tommy Milone warm-up ball.

Ball #2:

394

Eric Farris BP homer, caught on the fly.

Ball #3:

395

Danny Ortiz toss-up.

Ball #4:

396

Unknown Twin HR caught on the fly.

Ball #5:

397

Unknown Pirate HR, caught on the fly.  This was AFTER I took a ball to the inside part of my right calf – one that was hit by my favorite player, Trevor Plouffe (and one I didn’t even snag).  I should have dove for that ball in hind-sight, but thought I would get hurt.  I was wrong.

Ball #6:

398

Another unknown Pirate HR caught on the fly.  This one was caught on a dead sprint – I started in the corner closest to left-center and tracked it down at the line.  Numerous people told me “nice catch” afterwards – some even said it after BP as I wandered the stadium.  Nothing beats making a good catch that goes noticed by those around you.

Ball #7:

399

Have no fear, the gamer streak carries forward to the regular season of 2015!  This one was a toss-up from Joe Mauer after the Twins recorded out #3 of the first inning.  Since the kids weren’t aware of the toss-ups yet, this was my only chance at landing one before it turned into kid-central.

Ball #8:

400

I was honestly happy with being at 399, and thought I would have to crack 400 at Opening Day at Target Field (doing so with a commemorative ball would have been perfectly dandy).  Oh well, this near-pearl was from a stadium worker who was cleaning out the dugout.  Not exactly the most memorable of ways to reach a milestone, but still unbelievable when I think of it with my grade-school version of myself.

Here’s the haul from the game:

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…And the haul from the entire trip (packed neatly in my suitcase:

FL Suitcase 2015

Lastly…

The Game Recap:

Biggest Day of 2015? – Balls 379-392 (March 19, 2015)

Minnesota Twins 2 – Tampa Bay Rays 4

Charlotte Sports Park – Port Charlotte, FL

March 19, 2015


Unlike Paul Kom (aka: A Piece of the Game), I had been to Charlotte Sports Park before… once.  The last time I was there was 3/2/2014 and I put up a respectable 11 spot.  Not bad for knowing nothing about this park, but could I replicate my luck again?  I had already had a lower-than-2014 day at Hammond Stadium, so I didn’t know what to expect.

There was one thing I knew I would try… search the scummy pond for signs of (baseball) life.  After all, last year I was able to find the innards of some sort of ball, and Rick Sporcic has had similar luck in the past.

Here are some of the finds that I DIDN’T bring home…

No Leather

Rotten Minors

Those were the various stages of “ball rot” that were happening in that swampy graveyard.  Since neither could be identified as an Official MLB, I “threw them back” (more like “catch and release”).

But all hope was not lost.

Ball #1:

379

A Manfred ball already in the pond/swamp?!  This was a pleasant surprise, and after some deduction and decyphering of clues, i am coming to the conclusion that this was a “gamer” and more than likely a HR (due to its place where found and how deeply it was lodged in the mud).

The details/facts/clues:

  • The ball looks mud-rubbed (compared to other swamp balls and other gamers received this trip)
  • All other balls used by the Rays’ BP were Selig balls
  • The Rays’ BP was on their practice field, not the real stadium, where this was found
  • The location of the ball was in fair territory and not too deep from the back of the stands
    • A HR was hit during the game that carried close to the same distance
  • The ball was lodged quite deep in the mud, making this an unobstructed HR “splash”
  • There were not many marks on the ball, making it less likely to be used in BP – since most BP balls are hit multiple times and have scuffs

If anyone has any videos of HRs hit at this park pulled down the left-field line, please let me know.  Obviously there can be no definitive answers, but maybe some deeper clues that I can add to the potential story.

Ball #2:

380

See where these things can hide?  Again, I pulled it from the mud – this is not the exact location, but a recreation.  Between thick, yet forgiving mud and hard, bushy weeds, balls can easily get lost.  I probably didn;t even find a quarter of the identifiable MLB balls back there.

Ball #3:

381

The last of the “Mud Eggs/Gator Eggs”… these are definitely NOT Easter Eggs.  This one was lodged in the weeds, not the mud.  This particular ball is not still drying out, unlike the other two.

Ball #4:

382

After wandering the swamp, trying to peek in the stadium, and roaming around like a weirdo, I settled on the practice field a ways back from the 1st base side of the main park.  The pitchers were getting loose and soon the team took batting practice back there.  This ball was from coach Kyle Snyder.

Ball #5:

383

Once batting practice started I met a kid and his father who were Twins fans from Prior Lake (where I live!!) – he threw out the first pitch at the game before this one (which I got to see and was insanely jealous of).  We were allowed to hop the fence that separated the parking lot from the home run fence of the practice field if any balls landed in this “no man’s land”.  Thank you, kind parking lot attendants!!

Ball #6:

384

Another Rays’ BP HR.  All of these HRs were hit by unknown players.  It was hard to pick up on 3s as you hop fences and try to peek through the green screen.

Ball #7:

385

Rays BP… and we were only getting started.

Ball #8:

386

The only downside?  So many Seligs!!  Think this one is a bit lumpy?  I do.

Ball #9:

387

Woohoo!!  One more until double-digits, and the gates were not even open yet.

Ball #10:

388

I am starting to wonder if this part was open last year.  And if it was, then how many would I have snagged in addition to my 11?!

Ball #11:

389

We are winding down, but it ain’t over…

Ball #12:

390

The last of the Rays’ BP.  But again, it ain’t over.  I still have a gamer streak in jeopardy…

Ball #13:

391

STREAK PROLONGED!!  Thank you, Kennys Vargas!  I was sitting next to an awesome little boy and his parents (think his name was Max, who was only 4 or so?), so I decided to give a ball to him at this time – his father was very happy and when Max returned with his mother, so was he.  Little Max got two more and ended the day with three!!  (And no, I did not count the ball I gave to him, since I do not count balls given away).

Speaking of Kennys Vargas…

Twins Dugout

Notice his batting gloves in hand?

Well, here’s a better look…

Kennys Vargas Batting Gloves

EXCELLENT!!!!!  Mr. Vargas said that he remembered me!  I introduced myself to him before the game (during Twins’ BP, which is why I was absent from ballhawking during their portion).  I started to say that I was the guy who caught his first homer, but he already knew, even if his English was a little broken (but hey, it’s getting pretty good… much better than my Spanish).

Ball #14:

392

Practice ball from the man in frame – Butch Davis.

The final haul:

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I forgot my sunscreen, which can be seen here:

Sunburn

I am now peeling as I write this.  Kids, don’t forget your sunscreen, not even once.

After two games in FL in 2015 the total is 23 balls… only 8 more until #400!!!!

Lastly…

The Game Recap:

Welcome to the Bigs, Mr. Manfred, Jr. – Balls 370-378 (March 18, 2015)

Baltimore Orioles 3 – Minnesota Twins 2

Hammond Stadium – Fort Myers, FL

March 18, 2015


Now that I have 3,601 miles of travel (for baseball alone, not including the additional travel to see my wife’s grandparents), I can finally blog about the adventures I had in Florida.

March Baseball!!  Nothing is more sweet than ditching the cold, baseball-less tundra of Minnesota and wrapping yourself in warm weather, beaches, and all-day baseball.  I started this trip with two goals in mind:

  1. Get a Manfred ball – preferably a gamer
  2. Reach 400 career balls – needed only 31, but was only attending 3 games (that’s an average of more than 10/game)

I had a few other “wants” in there, but those two targets were the main ones.  I thought that one was more than attainable, and the second could easily be within striking distance for Opening Day in April – if not broken in Florida.

***I have a few things to say about non-baseball activities, but I will save those for the “Road Trip Recap” entry that will follow the game entries.***

I arrived at the gates somewhere between 8-9 am.  The first scene was that of the namesake of this blog… in a semi-Godzilla inspired form…

Plouffe Mural

The rest of the Twins’ stars were also featured, but it was pretty cool to see nonetheless.

After watching some batting practice – with a cool ASG bucket – I finally got to enter the stadium and work my magic.

Batting Cages

Ball #1:

370

(Sorry, I couldn’t take photos of the first four balls, since I received them faster than I could record them.)

This ball, my first Manfred ball, EVER, came from the bottom of the steps as I got the closest spot to the players warming up their arms.  So whoever had “Easter Egg” as the ‘person’ who would provide me with the first Manfred is the winner.  Collect your prize and enjoy!

Ball #2:

371

A nice toss-up by a Twin – unknown, sorry.  Two baseballs, both Manfreds.

Ball #3:

372

Three for three on the “Only Use Manfreds for BP” Rule.  Unfortunately, this was another unknown Twin.  Like I said, the first four happened so quick.

Ball #4:

373

Fourth ball, fourth Manfred.  Eduardo Escobar gets the assist on this one.

Ball #5:

374

A Selig?!  And this was the first one that was actually part of any BATTING practice?!  I am confused.  This one was off the bat of a Twin.  It sailed over my head, but I played the berm perfectly and picked it up.

Here is the view from the LF grass area in Hammond Stadium…

LF View

Ball #6:

375

Another Selig?!  This time it had a practice stamp on it – which I promptly questioned in my head, “Are there any Manfred practice-stamps?”  This ball was caught on the fly from the bat of an Oriole.

Ball #7:

376

See ball 7.  Everything is the same.

Ball #8:

377

First Manfred gamer!!  This was tossed to me by the man in the background – Dan Rohlfing – coming in during the middle of the 1st inning.

Ball #9:

378

ANOTHER GAMER!!  This one is modeled by my wife, Jael, doing here best Ervin Santana impression.  #SmellBaseball

This ball was a triple hit by Dariel Alvarez and tossed into the stands by Eduardo Escobar in the top of the 3rd inning.  I love it when a ball gets thrown into the stands during the inning… especially if it lands in my glove.

After the game I met up with a fellow blogger and Minnesota Twins’ enthusiast, EverythingTwins!  Here we are showing off our prized possessions – mine is a Manfred gamer and his is his 50th career ball.  Go read his blog and add him to your community of bloggers.

EverythingTwins

***It was nice sharing the outfield with you, EverythingTwins!  It was even better just getting to know you.  I’m sure we’ll run into each other at games this year.  Best of luck!***

After the photos were taken, I tried my first ever, video recap.  It was an idea I wanted to try since last year, but I had no excuse this year NOT to try.  Might as well test it out in Florida/Spring Training… especially if I have a videographer (the wife) to help me.

So what do you think?  Should I include these for regular season games?  Anything else you want me to say in this BRIEF recap?

So there it is/was.  The first game of 2015.  I didn’t quite get double-digits, but nine is NOT a bad number.

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LASTLY…

I asked this question on Instagram, but it’s also a good one to post here:

Which signature do you prefer – Bud Selig or Rob Manfred – and why?

Selig vs Manfred

I prefer the Manfred ball, personally.  It’s probably because it is nice and new (more rare at this point), but also because there are more letters (including a “Jr.”).  Plus, Bud’s is a bit too slanted and sloppy.  I don’t mind sloppy if it is artsy (like I make my signatures), but that ain’t artsy.

Writer’s Block (These Are a Few of My Favorite Things?)

I don’t know if it is the cold temps, the excitement of baseball that seems forever away, or just a good old fashion writer’s block, but here I am – late February and nothing half-formed ideas and frustration.

So instead of dwelling on what I cannot think of or write, how about something I have enjoyed as of late?  I guess this is my last non-baseball/offseason/filler post until October (or November, if my team defies Vegas’ odds).

Music:

I know that I gave my 2014 top ten less than two months ago, but a lot has changed in under 60 days.  Though the 2015 music cycle is slowly gaining traction (few releases are winter releases), my focus/time has been spent on older albums and genres I have only recently started to explore.

  • Miles Davis – What can I say, except, “late to the party”, I guess.  This man was a genius.  I’ve fallen in love with:
    • Kind of Blue
    • Sketches of Spain
    • Agharta
    • In A Silent Way
    • Bitches Brew
    • The Cellar Door Sessions
    • …OK, I guess it’s more like his entire catalog
  • Ornette Coleman – Rules?!  There are none – this is the beautiful “Fight Club” of jazz.
    • Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation
    • At the “Golden Circle” Stockholm (Volumes 1 + 2)
  • John Coltrane – The perfect blend between Miles’ controlled harmonies and Ornette’s free thinking that jazz has not limits.
    • Ascension
    • The First Trane!
    • Standard Coltrane
  • King Crimson – I’ve listened to them for a few years, but getting deeper into jazz/jazz-fusion has led me back to them.
    • In the Court of the Crimson King: An Observation By King Crimson
  • The Mahavishnu Orchestra – John McLaughlin worked with Miles Davis, so of course I had to revisit them.
    • The Inner Mounting Flame
    • Birds of Fire
    • Apocalypse
  • Captain Beefheart – Straight-up crazy/odd music.  This might be the artist that started my “challenge yourself” campaign.
    • Trout Mask Replica
  • Jean-Luc Ponty – Frank Zappa (Captain Beefheart’s discoverer) AND John McLaughlin used this jazz violinist?!
    • Enigmatic Ocean

Photos:

I like to take pictures (which works well with detailing my ballhawk and baseball adventures/roadtrips).  So here are a few of my favorite in the last few months – be forewarned, I take a few pictures of my spoiled puppy (@evelyn_nibbler_voda on Instagram).

Evelyn Nibbler:

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Post-surgery.  Glad we made it through the spaying with no huge complications.

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Snow-cone… Puppy-style.

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My childhood puppy (Kirby) photographed on the same couch that Evie is being photographed in.

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Grandma is proud that she can still hold Evie.

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“O hai!”

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“I said MORE pupperoni!”

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“This is the face that mom cannot resist.” – Evie’s brain

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Embarrassing Christmas Sweater photo.

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Puppy-dog eyes: Maximum Power

 

Minneapolis:

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Best movie advert ever?  Little did I know that this was a movie about the Soviet hockey teams of long ago.  (This is Lagoon + Hennepin.)

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A date night would not be complete without some food.  Galactic Pizza was our destination.  (This is 29th + Lyndale.)

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On our way to Glam Doll Donuts.  (This is Franklin + Nicollet.)

 

TwinsFest:

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With temps above freezing and a sunny sky, TwinsFest could have been mistaken for the Home Opener.  You never know what you’ll get in April in MN (or January for that matter), so we’ll see which day has better baseball weather.

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How about a night game?  In January?  Got to the park just a few months too early.

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Trevor Plouffe, Stand Up 2 Cancer.

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That Miguel Sano guy, I think people like him, yeah?

 

Music:

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See above: You do not have to like this album, but challenge yourself, you just might find something you’ve been missing out on for years.

Food:

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What vegans eat: A homemade meat(less)ball pizza.

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Remember the 90s?

 

Valentine’s Day:

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From Evelyn… best Valentine ever.

My Wife (Jael):

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…in LEGO form.  Re-enactment of a nasty fall.

SELFIE:

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My wife did my hair.  She also braided it.

 

So that’s it.  The last post until baseball starts (or lightning strikes and gives me back full control of my brain as a very amateur writer).

Opening Day… Moments Away

TwinsFest Tickets – Check

Spring Training Tickets – Check

Opening Day Tickets – Check

Baseball Fever – Double Check

Outlet for Baseball – NONE

 

I’m going stir-crazy, so many baseball things on the horizon, but nothing substantial for nearly two more months.  Sure, I can get a small fix at TwinsFest (tomorrow), but that’s more of a trade show – nothing more than a cash-grab without actual baseball.

But before I pathetically pine for Opening Day any longer, let’s revisit some good memories and examine a sweet “Opening Day 2015” related story…

Tony in the Media – 2014:

  1. Intentional Talk – HR Derby Outtakes
  2. Rolling Stone – Balls Deep: A Home Run Derby Diary
  3. MLB.com – Kennys Vargas’ First MLB HR
  4. 96.3 KTWIN – Interview with Lindsay Guentzel

Not a bad list, if I do say so myself.  Self-pimpery doesn’t come easy for me, but it was a great bit of fun to bit involved in all of these various media bits.  I don’t ever expect to be the focus of the limelight, but to say I hope to have my likeness show up like “Where’s Waldo” would be nothing short of true.  Who knows what 2015 will bring…

2014 Collage

Wait, I will be featured (somewhat) on a form of media near and dear to my elementary-school-aged heart…

Topps Opening Day 2015 Series!

Yep, I was lucky enough to have one of my photographs chosen for the inaugural “Topps Live” insert that will be included in the Opening Day Series of baseball cards.  I always dreamt of having my own baseball card – I may or may not have two that I drew back in grade school that my mother still holds on to – but once it was apparent my baseball dreams were over, the next best thing would be to have a photo I shot be on a card.

Quest fulfilled!

Here is a sneak peek at the image that they will use:  (Raw first, Instagram second)

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Phillies at Twins - June 11 2013

I do not know how they will crop it, but this picture will be used in some form.  So go out and buy a few packs/boxes and cross your fingers.  You might just pull an insert that I had a part in making!  (PS: You have NO idea how cool that sounds being able to say that.)

So baseball gods, I ask you this: Please make Opening Day (at least the Spring Training version) come soon.  I miss baseball.  The readers miss baseball.  Baseball players miss baseball.  THE STADIUMS MISS BASEBALL!  Think of the poor empty seats!

Top Ten Albums of 2014

Much like the 2012 and 2013 entries:  Here it is – my top ten of ’14, starting with 10 and working up to the top spot.  I’ll also list my favorite and second favorite track from the album, that way you can try to get a glimpse into what sounds I truly like.

 

10.  …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead – “IX”

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Tony’s Review:

“This record could be better than the #10 that I give it, but forgive me for still being caught up in the beautiful 3-part saga that is the “Tao of the Dead”.  The music itself is pretty fantastic, and maybe over time the lyrics will strike me, too.”

Grade:  B-

Favorite Track:   Bus Lines

Second Favorite:   How to Avoid Huge Ships

 

9.  Jack White – “Lazaretto”

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Tony’s Review:

“Not a fan of Jack’s first solo album, his sophomore LP seems a lot more cohesive and re-establishes Jack as a modern-day guitar hero.  Also, RIP Ikey Owens – I best liked your work with Cedric and Omar (De Facto and The Mars Volta), but your work on this “poppier” album was solid as well.”

Grade:  B-

Favorite Track:   Lazaretto

Second Favorite:   High Ball Stepper

 

8.  Tokyo Police Club – “Forcefield”

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Tony’s Review:

“The lyrics take a little bit of getting used to, but the poppiness really strikes you a couple listens in.  For a band that writes sub-3 minute songs, opening this LP with a near 9-minute track was ballsy… and TOTALLY paid off.”

Grade:  B-

Favorite Track:  Argentina (Parts I, II, III)

Second Favorite:   Gonna Be Ready

 

7.  Lily Allen – “Sheezus”

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Tony’s Review:

“Quite simply: She’s back!  Lily Allen’s return to music was not a timid foot into icy water, she dove head-first.  All the songs are not only perfectly poppy, but her cutting wit is peppered into every lyric.”

Grade:  B

Favorite Track:   Air Balloon

Second Favorite:   Hard Out Here

 

6.  Weezer – “Everything Will be Alright In the End”

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Tony’s Review:

“I am fantastically ecstatic to be listing my “favorite band” in my top ten of the year list.  The last time they had non-cringe-worthy output was the Red Album-era, and the last true top ten album they released was probably Maladroit.  The lyrics are no longer terribly corny (minus “Back to the Shack”) and Rivers picks up the axe again.  The closing opus is actually amazing, and not just because they are my sentimental favorite band.”

Grade:  B

Favorite Track:   The Futurescope Trilogy

Second Favorite:   Go Away

 

5.  Manchester Orchestra – “Cope” (and the acoustic companion album, “Hope”)

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Tony’s Review:

“Even before the news of Hope, the dark and loud Cope hit me like a top ten album should.  The album just felt special, even if it was a relentless pounding in a very similar tone throughout.  After the release of Hope (whose clips sounded terrible on iTunes to me) I was confused as to which I loved more.  The reimagining and polar opposite takes provide a new life for this album.”

Grade:  B

Favorite Track:   Top Notch (Cope) / Every Stone (Hope)

Second Favorite:   Choose You (Cope) / The Ocean (Hope)

 

4.  Möngol Hörde – “Möngol Hörde”

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Tony’s Review:

“Frank Turner goes back to hardcore?  Sign me up!  The song titles and lyrics can sound like meaningless throw-away scribblings, but listen closely and you’ll start to piece together the double entendres.  Plus, who doesn’t like a bit of screaming and pounding instrumentation?!”

Grade:  B

Favorite Track:   Casual Threats From Weekend Hardmen

Second Favorite:   Hey Judas

 

3.  Julian Casablancas + the Voidz – “Tyranny”

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Tony’s Review:

“Which was the most surprising album of the year?  Tyranny.  I was not expecting to be challenged by Julian – since his last solo output was very poppy and his Strokes stuff is, well, the Strokes.  The dark soundscapes, eclectic synths, grungy guitars, and varying track lengths make for a genre-less LP.”

Grade:  B+

Favorite Track:   Human Sadness

Second Favorite:   Take Me In Your Army

 

2.  The Flaming Lips – “7 Skies H3″

01013 - The Flaming Lips - 7 Skies H3 - 01 - 12 Jacket (3mm Spin

Tony’s Review:

“I like the Flaming Lips.  This is a recent development and the stranger they get, the more I love them.  Even though this was released in 2011 as a 24-hour song, this LP didn’t get a condensed release until 2014 – finally making it reviewable for the list!  Some songs are crazy Wizard of Oz-like soundtrack cuts while others are slow-burning minimal pieces that couple with beautiful lyrics.”

Grade:  B+

Favorite Track:   Battling Voices From Beyond (song is from 11:23 to 14:30)

Second Favorite:  Can’t Let It Go (song is from 41:18 to 49:38)

 

1.  Jeremy Messersmith – “Heart Murmurs”

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Tony’s Review:

“Being signed to a national label, the expectations were high – and worries were also just as high.  Would more money and a label head force Jeremy’s sound to change?  For a brief second I thought “yes”… but as the disc finished, I knew this was something special.  The bigger budget was well spent and the songs were still Messersmithian (did I coin a new term?).”

Grade:  B+

Favorite Track:   It’s Only Dancing

Second Favorite:   You’ll Only Break His Heart

 

 

Honorable Mention:

  • Tyte Jeff – “Tyte Jeff (EP)” – Grade: A
  • Sims – “Field Notes (EP)” – Grade: A
  • …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead – “Tao of the Dead, Part III (EP)” – Grade: A-
  • Electric Würms – “Musik, Die Schwer Zu Twerk (EP)” – Grade: B
  • Morrissey – “World Peace Is None of Your Business” – Grade: C+
  • Mogwai – “Rave Tapes” – Grade: C+
  • Sonny Knight & the Lakers – “I’m Still Here” – Grade: C+
  • Koo Koo Kanga Roo – “Whoopty Whoop” – Grade: B-
  • The Flaming Lips – With A Little Help From My Fwends – Grade: B+ (Excluded, since it is a compilation album – complete cover of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band)

Disappointments:

  • The Hold Steady – “Teeth Dreams”
  • Lana Del Rey – “Ultraviolence”
  • Beck – “Morning Phase”
  • Damon Albarn – “Everyday Robots”
  • Foo Fighters – “Sonic Highways”
  • Pink Floyd – “The Endless River”

 

So there it is – my favorite of 2014!  I would once again like to thank these artists, some of which I have been able to see perform this year and give my personal thanks.  All of the albums listed above are albums are albums which I believe to be above average and strike a chord with me.  I know that this is the time of year where everyone becomes a critic and tries to show off their “musical knowledge”, but it’s no more knowledge than it is their personal opinion (or in major publications’ cases, which artist sells best and can bring in more clicks/ad revenue).  I hope you enjoy this list and maybe, just maybe, I can turn you on to one of my favorite artists/albums/songs.

 

Bonus Thoughts/Musical Musings:

Other artists that I have been getting deep into this year are as follows:

  • The Flaming Lips (obviously)
  • Miles Davis (Cool is just the tip of the iceberg, this guy is a god!)
  • Zach Hill (more like continuing to follow his musical path)
  • Deafheaven (Sunbather = OMG)
  • Mogwai (thanks to The Reurned for kickstarting them in my mind again)
  • Mahavishnu Orchestra/John McLaughlin (again, a reintroduction was necessary – thanks, Miles!)
  • Captain Beefheart (specifically, a new all-time favorite of mine, Trout Mask Replica)
  • metal in general (black/death/doom/drone are the most appealing to me)
  • jazz in general (free/modal/fusion being the most appealing)

Happy Thanksgiving!!! (2014 Version)

In the same tune as last year’s post, I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving/Thursday Maximus.  While I have more people that I can count that deserve thanks, the ones listed below were instrumental to making 2014 another great year.

  1. Ballhawks of Target Field (both official and honorary) – Catching your first home run? Amazing. Catching it in front of friends and other fellow Target Field ballhawks? Priceless. Mateo and Paul had many work commitments, which is why I’m back on top for lifetime balls caught at Target Field, but I’d imagine that next year’s race will be a wonderful thing. I think Target Field ballhawking is growing nicely.
    • Nate Duppler
    • Nick (whitesoxfan)
    • Dave Forstad
    • Mateo
    • Paul
  2. Mental Illness advocates – I said this last year, but whether you support NAMI financially, or helped support a friend going through a tough time emotionally, thank you. It was also great to hear from a Twins player and his wife about how anxiety has affected their household.
  3. Chicago – The experience was amazing. Getting to view the stadium tour for FREE and snagging a ball while inside the stadium early was insane. Add on top of that a few more commemoratives and best of all hanging out with friends afterwards? Not a bad road trip at all.
  4. Florida – Lovely tradition. Meeting up with Paul was a highlight, for sure. It’ll be weird to see the newest renovations… hopefully they don’t shut off access like other teams have seemed to do in the area.
  5. The Minnesota Twins – I see the bright spots, I really do, but here’s hoping that we finally see something positive in 2015. Thanks for a great ASG experience and friendly players who are good to the fans.
  6. Trevor Plouffe – Continued progress is a good thing; breaking your arm in the last home game is not. Career highs in games, plate appearances, Runs, Hits, Doubles, Triples, RBIs, Walks, Batting Average, On-Base Percentage, Total Bases, and OPS+ should translate to a well-deserved pay increase and maybe a shot at an All-Star Game in the future? Plus, he also put up a better fielding percentage at 3rd than any previous year. We’ll see if he stays at that position, though.
  7. Dominique Frost – Dominique contributed to the most amount of money by baseballs for my donation to NAMI for a second straight year. All those commemoratives snagged at Target Field? Yep, I have no one to thank but Dominique.
  8. Mother Nature – It’s like you know how to treat a ballhawk at Target Field. When games have low attendance you give us perfect weather, and when attendance looks to be on the uptick, a rainstorm you send. The Home Run Derby and final home game come to mind most vividly; a perfectly timed downpour caused a few extra balls to be pocketed by this humble narrator. Thank you.
  9. Evelyn – The newest addition to my numerous “collections,” she is a one-of-a-kind puppy that I got at the end of the baseball season. I got to watch the World Series with her and will probably be attending fewer games in the future because of her (more accurately: because I want to spend time with her).
  10. You, the reader – I know a decent amount of the regulars who visit my site, but there are countless others, people I do not even know by name; to you, THANK YOU!  Feel free to make your presence known and sign in on the comments below.

 

My 2014 in slideshow form:

 

Another “copy and paste from 2013”:

Lastly, I want to thank my wife.  She didn’t “make the top ten” because she’s just too damn vital.  Thanks for all of the baseball stuff (by going, not going, listening to my stories, looking at my pictures, storing the baseballs in our home, sharing links via your Facebook, and not strangling me) and all the non-baseball stuff (every other single thing under the sun).  THANK YOU!  And yes, I know that you technically got a ball before I ever got one; you can hold that over me for all of eternity.

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