It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce that not only is my time at Spring Training, but my days of ballhawking as a 20-something is over. The next one I am at a game I will be 30… THIRTY!! That sounds so wrong, but oh well, it’s better than being dead.
For the last game in Florida I was accompanied by Paul Kom. With over 1,600 miles separating us from out states, it’s crazy cool to have a familiar face with you at the park.
We started off the day meeting up at JetBlue Park – Fenway South…
After scoping out the cages, we headed over towards the practice field, except we noticed some balls that rolled out behind the cage, but still behind a fence. I dug a quick hole and slid this beauty out! A commemorative that I hadn’t yet snagged – two years old now!
After about an hour or so, we made our way over to Hammond Stadium (after hitting up a grocery store)…
We arrived 9 hours before the gates opened and no ball-players were present (and very few workers). Paul and I were free to roam the grounds for quite some time and each stumbled across a few balls. These three were “Easter Eggs” found around the batting cage area.
After eating a “lunch” (glorified snack) and also seeing a few minor leaguers on their fields we stayed inside the stadium from a little after noon until the game was over. The Twins staff was incredibly cool and relaxed, we even got to walk on the field (more pix in the mega-entry).
Once the Twins started to actually hit, I moved over to the LF grass area – home of my great luck on the 3rd. This ball was a bomb off the bat of my very favorite, Trevor Plouffe. As you can see in the photo, it hit off the nice new sign and made quite a mark before entering my glove.
I do not know who hit this one, but it was well to my right. I was still in the grass, but over in the corner by center. The ball was traveling about 2/3 of the way towards the pole and me and after a split second or two of deliberating, I broke for it. My running isn’t anything special, but I tracked it down and it was just out of my reach so I dove at the last second. I watched it into my catcher’s mitt in slow-motion and knew that this was probably the best ballhawking catch of my life (past, present, and future). Rounds of applause from the fans and a few players made me feel great (especially since I landed on my stomach and had a few balls in my pocket that bruised my leg).
Three in a row!! This “Unknown Oriole” guy can sure hit! (wink wink) I tried asking a trainer who was hitting, but they couldn’t tell. I’ll take a nice trifecta of snags on the fly… in the warm, soft, green grass.
Since there was an unrestricted re-entry policy, and a ball was fouled over the stadium in the 1st inning, I decided to try my luck outside the stadium, rather than hope for a 3rd out toss-up. In the 4th inning James Beresford sent one up and over the 3rd base side. It was between me and one other guy. Can you tell who won?
After the dust settled, Paul and I met up again and took some parting photos:
Speaking of stashes:
…and that’s it. That was my Spring Training 2014 adventure. I’ll be posting a massive recap, along with an overall “group shot” of everything gathered from the games.
-Twins/Hammond Stadium staff
-My wife and family
My crazy streak of double digit games and record tying/setting (only 2, but a FULL two) came to an end. I am not too sad, because 9 balls is a great total, especially when there are NO outfield seats AND I got my second career game home run ball (more info below).
The third game in as many days was at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. This stadium is split between the Cardinals and the following team:
The only view of the field before gates opened (only 90 minutes before the game, compared to 3 hours at Hammond Stadium) was back in the player parking/LF access gate. I was able to get Arquimedes Caminero’s attention (while wearing my Marlins jersey) and got him to toss me a ball.
After getting shut out by Edgar Olmos, because I switched jerseys as the Twins entered the unloading area then the field, I was finally rewarded with the second if the day. Christian Yelich tossed me this ball after I got myself out of Olmos and Camineros’ views.
Once the workers started to let people near the right field (foul territory) grass area, I tried for a sliced ball or two. I still couldn’t go on the grass, but a worker hooked me up with one that was in foul territory I the warning track.
My wife caught* a ball! OK, so it was more like I told her to be ready with my spare glove and that I would “bobble” a ball into her glove. But I did this so that we could say that all four people in our party got a ball this trip – my father-in-law yesterday, mother-in-law at this game (off the bat of Dan Rohlfing), and finishing off the Quadrafecta, my wife with this ball. Oh, this was a gamer from the bottom of the 1st inning from Oswaldo Arcia after Byron Buxton caught it and tossed it to him as they hugged back to the dugout.
Another gamer, but can you tell where I am taking this photo from? My seats were behind the Twins dugout, but this is from the closest spot to the outfield. Why? Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a blast in the bottom of the 4th to give the Marlins a 2-1 lead. I noticed that no one else was really after it and that a worker or two appeared to be going after it. After deliberating, I chose to run over and try for it. The only other fan waiting for it had no glove and was on his cellphone. The second person I saw behind the fence had the ball in hand and I asked for it. I now own it.
This was not only the eventual game winner, but Jarrod’s first home run as a Marlin!
At this point in the trip I am averaging 13 balls a game! One more tomorrow (my last for over a month) and I will guarantee at least an average in the double digits. CRAZY!
Speaking of “tens”, our section received the prize pictures below because of Salty’s bomb.
We were looking for a place to eat after the game anyway, so this was perfect! I’ll share more about it in my vacation recap, but he shock that they let us use each if our gift cards was a pleasant surprise.
Here is the obligatory “haul shot”:
-Jupiter, Florida/Miami Marlins
-Minnesota Twins, as always
-My wife, for playing along with the “everyone gets a ball” idea
(More detailed thanks later.)
My goal this trip was 30 balls. I didn’t publish it, but that was my hope/goal. I thought I had a chance after my numbers from yesterday (11), but never did I guess that I’d do it in only two games.
I tried to get the bat-boy’s attention all game long; once he even have me the “I’m sorry, I can’t” mime. I tried once more in the 7th from the mote area, and at the same time he saw me and motioned for me to come down and get it. I went to the first row and got yet another gamer.
Are we there yet?! Yes, yes we are. The last ball of the game came after securing a lineup card from the Jays and a BP schedule for the Twins. This one was from a worker and was a leftover gamer from the batting helmet rack.
I also saw my first alligator today! Here it is in the swamp behind RF:
And here is the total haul from the game:
For those wondering, here’s how far away from home I am:
-Toronto Blue Jays
-and many more, but I am tired, so it’ll have to be written in the massive “road trip blog” post.
As a warning, the Florida posts will be short and sweet. Since it is a vacation with family AND 4 straight games, the time commitment would become too much. Do not fret, the debriefing for the entire roadtrip will hold many juicy details.
I named this one “Ball 0″ due to its sci-fi-like test-tube/embryonic state. I took a walk behind the LF side and only found Frankenstein. I chose not to count it because it is hideous AND (biggest factor) it could not be verified as a MLB or MiLB ball.
The TRUE first ball of 2014 came about an hour before gates opened, while in RF/foul area by the batting cages outside the park. A terrible throw(?) found the ball in the possession of a worker. I asked for it and was happily named new guardian of this precious gift. Its name? One-hundred Ninety Voda or 190 for short.
The Rays were taking BP upon entering and I decided to try my luck in the outfield. After a terrible play on a ball in the grass (hey, we’re ALL going through Spring Training) I made up for it with a ball that hit off a weird metal post cap on the wall in LF.
Not having a decent ball (or anything else) for Byron Buxton to sign, I hit up Oswaldo Arcia (in Spanish) and hoped for the pearl a few feet from him. I was rewarded with it, and as there is a Practice stamp on the back, the dilemma of “Sweet Spot” or not was answered for me.
How many of you have ever gotten a ball from a German? I’m guessing none? Well, I have now that Max Kepler has tossed me one! A German baseball player tossed me my 200th career ball… would not have ever guessed that would happen. (Both the German thing and the 200 balls thing.)
Shortly after snagging #200, I asked the Rays bat-boy for the lineup card that had just been tossed by Terry Steinbach (who is rather frugal at giving away said lineup cards). Did I get it? You tell me…
So in short, the haul was 11 balls, 1 mutant ball, 1 autograph, 1 lineup card, and a sunburn (mainly face).
Many thanks to my family (wife and parents-in-law) for going on this trip. My father-in-law snagged his very own first ball; I’m so proud. Thanks also to the many people listed above for tossing me a ball. Lastly, thank you, dear reader, for letting me do an abbreviated post. Sleep is important, along with family time; the massive post will be worth the wait, though.
To say that I am eagerly anticipating Spring Training (for the third time) would be a gross understatement. I have literally been dreaming about it; I’ve had to paint myself a non-baseball picture, then erase them as if my mind was using Microsoft Paint, just so I can fall asleep – otherwise I daydream of baseball(s) and keep myself awake.
Exactly what am I looking forward to…?
- Warm weather (I type this while under a Winter Storm Warning)
- Baseball returning (before many other fans even have the chance)
- Seeing the new improvements to Hammond Stadium (outfield seating)
- Snagging my first ball of 2014
- Hopefully snagging my 200th career ball (need 11 in 4 games)
- Seeing new Twins faces (Phil Hughes, Ricky Nolasco, Miguel Sano, and Byron Buxton to name a few)
- Meeting up with Paul – for the first time outside of Target Field for a baseball game
- Taking MANY photos (Instagram will explode)
- Getting back into the blogging world (not just filler)
…And which games am I going to…?
- Sunday, March 2, 2014 – Twins @ Rays – Port Charlotte, FL (1:05 pm)
- Monday, March 3, 2014 – Blue Jays @ Twins – Fort Myers, FL (1:05 pm)
- Tuesday, March 4, 2014 – Twins @ Marlins – Jupiter, FL (1:05 pm)
- Wednesday, March 5, 2014 – Orioles @ Twins – Fort Myers, FL (7:05 pm)
- Head over to the Boston complex on March 5 with Paul for the morning workouts. See if we can snag a World Series ball before we go over to the Twins complex for the night game.
- Interview Trevor Plouffe – I have a decent list of questions, ranging from baseball to the random things covered in this blog (music being one of the discussion points).
- Enjoy the non-baseball time on the game days – hit the beach, enjoy relaxing, and not make baseball the one and only thing. Having three 1:05 games should help this plan.
- Blog like I did last year – immediately following the game, giving a short recap and photos; then giving a much more in-depth recap after the entire road-trip. Who knows, if I am comfortable enough, maybe try vlogging…
In the meantime (unless I get too excited and give a final pre-road-trip entry), I’ll leave you with this:
A decent amount of baseball photos in my year-long photo project from 2013.
Florida… I’M COMING TO GET YOU!!
(11 days and not soon enough)
Now that one of the other major sports has ended (American football, I believe), the clock has officially began for baseball season. While I love hockey, it is a sport that is much better to play than watch professionals play. Why? Because investing myself in a sport that begins when the MLB playoffs are in full swing only to have it end in June – yes, JUNE!! for a winter sport – is a bit ridiculous. Sure, baseball season, when factoring in Spring Training, is February through October (sometimes a couple days in November) and a guaranteed 162 meaningful games per team, but at least it is played with appropriate weather outside.
I will concede that February is a bit early for baseball, but if you do not want to care about (or even count) spring training, then take nearly two months off and join us in April. But if you choose to join in the early celebration of “practice ball” or “clearing off the rust from the ol’ arm”, then why not cherish the opportunity to travel and escape the cold that cripples most of us fans north of the Mason-Dixon line? Tell me that Florida or Arizona in February or March doesn’t sound wonderful? If you can still say that with a straight face, then baseball is probably not your sport anyway.
The first 27 years of my life: Never been to Florida, let alone Spring Training. I remember watching the highlights during the sports portion of the local news and seeing the Fort Myers training facility, meaningless games recapped, and the relaxed interviews with players (some known, some never heard of and lost to time). I especially remember seeing the green uniforms used on St. Patrick’s Day and thinking to myself, “I want to go there!” I think it was a combination of school, hockey, baseball, money, and time that prevented my family from ever going; but as I am 29 when I write this, the math is simple – 27 years does not equal my entire life…
Weeks before my 28th (Golden) birthday: Now a married man, employed, not tied down to outside commitments, and having in-laws that live in Florida, the conditions were perfect to snap the streak. I was Florida-bound! The longest-road trip of my life stood between me and baseball in a month normally reserved to pining for baseball and shoveling snow. With over 24 hours of driving under our belts, my wife and I finally crossed the state line of Georgia and breathed in the first gasps of Florida air that either of us had ever breathed. It was already late at night, so our “view” of Florida was mainly headlights shining on about a 5-degree slice of what was ahead of our rental car, but it was sure better than a 5-degree night back home in MN. We arrived at her grandparents’ place sometime after 3am and spent the first half of the long week in Daytona before losing my Spring Training virginity in Clearwater, FL (home of the Phillies).
Days before my 29th birthday: Still married, still employed, and again without hard commitments, I wanted to find a place to escape while my wife was overseas. This recipe meant that a tradition was born – my 2nd trip to Florida for Spring Training was in the bag. Feeling like I had information under my belt and more like an intermediate-level Spring Training fan than a rookie, I took advantage of the sun, warmth, and abundance of baseball. I took many cool pictures, experienced many new things, and added to my growing baseball collection. I even did something crazy – kinda proud, but also dangerous thinking back on it – I drove non-stop from Tampa back to the Twin Cities.
Four weeks before my 30th birthday: As much as it sounds scary and gross admitting that I will be in my 30s soon, the saving grace is that I still haven’t grown up and I’m going to Florida for a 3rd year in a row as a way to bring in my 30th year (a little pre-birthday present). My baseball collection now bordering on 200 balls (189 to be exact, but 4 games planned should make it attainable), I have a sneaking suspicion that this will be a great appetizer for the 2014 year. My attention towards baseball in 2014 is the highest it’s been – Spring Training, All-Star Game, Wrigley Field 100th ball, and a better looking Twins squad are the highlights as of right now. My wife will be accompanying me again, we’ll be spending the second half of the trip with her grandparents, but I will also be meeting a familiar face down there – Paul Kom.
So as I write this, with all of the past, present, and future Spring Training moments flooding my mind, I can’t help but feel
slightly massively excited. I may have 20 days until embarking on the “Glen Perkins Land Cruise” to our Florida destination, and 1,700 miles of tar to navigate, my heart is already in Florida.
I’ll see you soon, friends, family, and memories; I’ll see you soon.
For further reading on the adventures noted above, please consult the following entries:
- 2012/3/8 – Hammond Stadium (Twins) – My first Spring Training snags.
- 2013/3/17 – Ed Smith Stadium (Orioles) – The first snags of 2013.
- 2013/3/18 – Hammond Stadium (Twins) – First commemorative of 2013.
- 2013/3/19 – Hammond Stadium (Twins) – First MiLB balls… ever.
- 2013/3/20 – Hammond Stadium (Twins) – First rainout of 2013. Last time at Hammond until 3/3/2014.
- 2013/3/21 – George M. Steinbrenner Field (Yankees) – Last Spring Training game of 2013.
- 2013 Road Trip Recap – Behind the scenes look at everything NOT baseball from my road-trip.
As this is a baseball-centric blog, I’ll start it off with the baseball-related news…
Or should I “save the best for last”?…
Hmmm, a conundrum of sorts… In times like these I ask myself, “What would Mateo do?” OK, OK, maybe I do not go that far, but what a great opportunity for a segue (this is a segue, right?)…
By coincidence (not much of one, as Mateo is not only a U of MN student, but a fellow sports fan), both Mateo and I were at both events – the Hockey City Classic and TwinsFest. Fine, I’ll stick to chronology and start with hockey and end with baseball.
Hockey City Classic
Women’s Game: Minnesota State – Mankato vs. University of Minnesota
Men’s Game: Ohio State University vs. University of Minnesota
For the first time in “more than 80 years”, the University of Minnesota hockey team(s) played an outdoor game in Minnesota… and the weather could not have been more fitting. Do not get me wrong, it was not pleasant weather, just typical “January in MN” type weather – we had a bit of flurry action and temps were plummeting as night came near (high of 13, low of 1, and wind-chills well below zero).
When I arrived at TCF Stadium, some 20-odd minutes before the drop of the puck for the women’s game, here is what I saw:
After looking around for a little bit, I headed over to where the players were to come out, and this was the view:
…and in between periods:
There is something awesome about seeing a goalie with their helmet on with a winter cap on top. I think that very nuance is the reason why I love outdoor hockey games.
Due to the cold weather and massive hunger, we took advantage of the “unlimited re-entry” policy by hitting up a campus-wide loved pizza place. Now, if you follow me on twitter or are close to me, you may know that I recently took up being vegan – don;t worry, I will not be preaching about it here. So, how does a vegan eat at a pizza place? Well, in the Twin Cities, you do it quite easily and in style. Mesa Pizza (the place we hit up and pictured below) and another well-known Minneapolis pizza place, Pizza Lucé, both serve a mean vegan ‘za.
So whether you are vegan or not, the next time you are on the U of MN campus, hit up Mesa Pizza. They have all your normal favorites as well as pizzas called Mac and Cheese, SW Beans, Guacamole Burrito, Charles Broccoli, Tortellini Pesto, and the Southern Gentleman to name a few.
After filling our bellies (that is Jared, my Opening Day yin to my yang, blurred in the Mesa Pizza photo above) we headed back to see the men take their stab at outdoor hockey.
That’s how close we were to the players as they came out of the tunnel.
…and that was the celebration after the first, and only goal of the game. Yes, the Gophers (U of MN) won 1-0. You’d think I’d be happy about that, since I’m Minnesotan and all, but I couldn’t care less. I graduated from St. Cloud State University, a major rival to the U of MN hockey team, so I actually root against them as much as possible. Even though the Gophers won, the night was still fun – it was my second time at TCF Bank Stadium and I still haven’t been to the venue for the reason why it was built (Golden Gopher football).
When I returned home (late)< I went to the mailbox and found the following:
Why is this so important to me? It is because I collect all of the ticket stubs from games that I attend and for some reason I did not have one from this game – only my StubHub printed ticket. But again, why would missing a ticket from one game bother me so much? Check out this entry. See why this might eat at me?
***Disclaimer: I will eventually get around to making a very short video of Target Field in the snow, since TwinsFest showcased this very nicely. But in the meantime, enjoy the words and photos. Plus, it sounds like a very sweet, in-depth video may be created by the duo of Mateo and Paul.***
Upon entering, my first area that I hoped to hit up was the Twins Yard Sale. This was the first time that the team had ever done one of these and the promise of cheap prices on game used stuff was enticing… but the lack of familiarity with the new layout of all the exhibits lead me to this instead:
As much as I was in a hurry to get to the Yard Sale, seeing a Silver Slugger (or two) will always lead to a quick photo op. After seeing a few of the cool items, I made my way over to the Yard Sale where I…
…Sorry, cannot tell you yet. I’ll save the purchases for last.
So after I dropped the only money I would spend at TwinsFest, I wandered around with Paul for a while – stopping by the Trevor Plouffe autograph area and quickly saying hello (it’s cool when a player remembers you). As I said before, the new layout/venue proved to be confusing (due to old habits), but it was kind of fun wandering and just trying to take in all of the activities. For some reason, it felt like the players were doing more “things” with the fans this year, especially if you were a youngster. Like this:
That is Josh Willingham playing “Base-Bowling” with the little ones. And in the other picture there was a “guess your speed” booth and pop-a-shot. I have seen, from the Twins’ twitter feed, that the players also participated by playing pop-a-shot with some kids and interacting with fans in numerous areas OTHER than the autograph lines.
The last group of photos I have to share with you is of the field itself, shown in a light not commonly seen:
Yes, that is snow on the field (kind of obvious and expected) as well as flying in the sky. We received a quick couple of inches which made the view of the new venue pretty special. In a way, it kind of reminded me of a game not too long ago…
Then, as I made my trek back to my vehicle, I decided to take a look at “my gate”:
What a strange and oddly peaceful sight; the Pohlads keeping each other warm on a quiet, snowy night in downtown Minneapolis, while thousands of people inside the building behind them dream and long for warmer weather and baseball to begin.
OK, OK, I’ll show you what I found at the Yard Sale now. Geez, no need to whine! Did you actually think that I was going to go through all of this without showing you the cool things I added to my future mancave?!
Sure, it’s somewhat strange, but how many people have the sign that lists the food offerings of their home-team’s ballpark? This just screams mancave coolness.
This photo doe snot do this justice. While it is a cool photo of Trevor Plouffe and Chris Parmelee, what you cannot see is the size and what it is made from – a thick sheet of plexiglass that is roughly 3 feet by 2.25 feet. Oh, it’s also opaque and when the sun shines behind it (or any bright light), it looks like it glows.
This was the main event, the “big ticket”… and it was only $25! What I have here is a Mothers’ Day chest protector that was one of the Twins’ very own. Ryan Doumit was the catcher that day (remember? I was there), so it may very well be his. I figured that something this rare was cool enough, and at that price?! Madness. You cannot buy a chest protector like that (brand new, which this item basically is) for $25, let alone one that was owned by a pro athlete.
With nothing less than amazing support from you (dear reader), you have made this weird little blog #76 on the list of top 100 MLBlogs. Like I wrote twice already (heading and the largest font)… sincerely, thank you.
I kind of had this as a goal in the background, but I didn’t ever think that many people would want to read about my random baseball adventures (and other baseball and non-baseball related thoughts). I was still in the growing phase for the first half of the year – since I only started in mid-2012 – so it’s crazy to see how Plouffe’s New Hairdo took off since June.
I have met some very cool and passionate people who share a similar craziness for catching baseballs, a few others that just love baseball, and even heard from a couple more that are on the fence about this wonderful sport. I want to take this time to give a huge shout out to the others I either met or have grown to call friends in 2013:
19. Mateo Fischer – The now-Minnesotan who calls Target Field his primary home, we shared the stadium too many times to mention and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. He is also the newest record-holder for balls snagged at Target Field!
42. Paul Kom – A Piece of the Game gets the awesome #42 spot; very cool considering that 2013 was the year of the great film of the same name. Another Target Field regular who is now a Season Ticket Holder, Paul and I will be overlapping for a very special game in the very near future.
76. ME?! – I found a way to make sense of this 76 number… 76 + 24 (Trevor Plouffe’s number) = Top 100 MLBlog!
…And for the folks I know online that I’d like to meet:
7. Cook and Sons – How I’d love to do this should I have children of my own in the future. Let’s hope they visit MN soon… we do have the All-Star Game this year!
15. Erik Jabs – Mr. StubHub himself AND the high-snagger of 2013! I’m thinking that I can finally meet him during All-Star madness.
24. Nick Badders – Nick seems to eat, sleep, and breath baseball, Major League AND Minor League. I’m guessing that he will continue to do great things in the future.
64. Chris Hernandez – Whenever I read Zack’s blog or read what Mateo writes when he goes back East, Chris is always there. He seems like a cool dude and loves hockey, too!
79. Rick Sporcic – Setting a virtually unreachable record for most baseballs snagged at any game (100+ balls ranging from recognizable to disintegrated cat toy), Rick seems like quite a character. Why is everyone out East?!
87. Harrison Tishler – The next wave of ballhawks has a powerful member in Philly, and his name is Harrison. Again, I’m jealous at the large community in the New England area.
Congrats, again, to everyone who made the list. While there is a little bit of competition among the community (both blogging and ballhawking), I can honestly say that it is just cool to be featured on a list, no matter the place, with all these hardcore baseball fans.
Lastly, as if I haven’t said it enough, thank you to everyone who read the blog, met me at a baseball game, tossed me a ball, drove with me to games, or made it possible to soak in this wonderful sport. My family was huge this year, letting me not only go crazy on my own, but then enduring my obsession in Denver.
Remember my entry in June describing my “favorite albums of 2013… so far”? Well, it’s time to make it official and give you the FINAL top ten. Many of the LPs are the same, but the order has been shuffled and a few new comers deserve a nice shout out. While 2013 isn’t going to go down as a year full of classic albums, the depth of “solid albums” is above average.
Much like the 2012 entry: Here it is, my top ten of ’13, 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. Tegan & Sara – “Heartthrob”
“I was so worried that the huge change in sound to a ‘pop album’ would be strange and awkward, but the Quin sisters pulled it off wonderfully.”
Favorite Track: How Come You Don’t Want Me
Second Favorite: Drove Me Wild
9. Frank Turner – “Tape Deck Heart”
“While coming off a potentially career-defining album, any follow up could be considered a let-down. Not so with Tape Deck Heart; while not as deep (life, death, and cultural roots) as “England Keep My Bones”, this LP is still very personal with a solid outing by The Sleeping Souls.”
Favorite Track: Plain Sailing Weather
Second Favorite: Four Simple Words
8. Vampire Weekend – “Modern Vampires of the City”
“Another artist deciding to change their sound, Vampire Weekend made a very mature and deep album in their 3rd offering since 2008. The quirky “international” sounds have been placed on the back-burner in favor of thoughtful lyrics and a challenging new sound.”
Favorite Track: Ya Hey
Second Favorite: Everlasting Arms
7. Bosnian Rainbows – “Bosnian Rainbows”
“Though a bit of a let down coming away from their live show before their album dropped, this album plants seeds that eventually take root in your brain; the plant is bountiful and rewarding.”
Favorite Track: Turtle Neck
Second Favorite: Mother, Father, Set Us Free
6. Queens of the Stone Age – “…Like Clockwork”
“QOTSA are no longer the ‘little band that could’, they are a well polished machine. …Like Clockwork is deeply introspective (Josh Homme’s near-death experience giving the deepest inspiration) and the music is beautiful and haunting.”
Favorite Track: If I Had A Tail
Second Favorite: Keep Your Eyes Peeled
5. Marijuana Deathsquads – “Oh My Sexy Lord”
“This album is challenging and definitely not anywhere near the mainstream. If you are a fan of P.O.S. and want to get into this side-project, this album is no sure bet. With that being said, if you enjoy some experimental and distorted sounds, your ears will thank you… over and over and over. This band makes me proud to call Minnesota home.”
Favorite Track: Ewok Sadness
Second Favorite: Crosstown Crippler: Crosstown Crippler
4. Kanye West – “Yeezus”
“Please, do not judge an album by an artist’s viewpoint and non-music output. Kanye is a difficult man to understand or even put up with; but he makes great music. The beats are top notch and the lyrics a roller-coaster of emotion and thought (from political to laughable in 2 lines). Kanye is known for pushing the musical envelop and on this album it is no different (think P.O.S. with ego problems and access to platinum-level sales).”
Favorite Track: New Slaves
Second Favorite: Hold My Liquor
3. Kate Nash – “Girl Talk“
“While maybe not the most cohesive album, each individual song is superb. Kate picked up the bass, channeled her inner-punk and made a great pop/punk feminism album. Though I cannot judge an album on things not pressed to wax (or digitally encoded on thin metal and plastic, or transferred via bytes/bits), her encouragement for young girls to chase their musical dreams is worth giving a shout-out.”
Favorite Track: Sister
Second Favorite: Rap For Rejection
2. Lorde – “Pure Heroine”
“She is 17?! OK, maybe after listening to the lyrics after learning her age you can see how this is a teenage album, but not in a bad way at all. These pop songs are perfectly crafted, much in the same way that Lana Del Ray stole my eardrums last year.”
Favorite Track: Ribs
Second Favorite: 400 Lux
1. The Flaming Lips – “The Terror”
“Being an extremely new fan of this notoriously ambitious band, this album is stripped of gimmicks (gummy skulls, furry deluxe edition, 24 hour song, etc.) as well as a lack of their normal pop-sound. The results are fantastic and eerie; the lyrics and sounds are haunting in such a beautiful way.”
Favorite Track: You Lust
Second Favorite: The Terror
(I mentioned in the “half-way” blog in June that You Lust and The Terror need to be played as one long, 20 minute piece, please heed that advice.)
Sigur Rós – “Kveikur” – Grade: B
Marnie Stern – “The Chronicles of Marnia” – Grade: B
Death Grips – “Government Plates” – Grade: B
Gogol Bordello – “Pura Vida Conspiracy” – Grade: B-
Childish Gambino – “Because the Internet” – Grade: B-
ZibraZibra – “Mr. Synthetic” – Grade: B-
Sleigh Bells – “Bitter Rivals” – Grade: B-
The Strokes – “Comedown Machine” – Grade: B-
So there it is, my favorite of 2013! I would once again like to thank these artists, some of which I have been able to see perform this year and give my thanks to personally. 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 money). I hope you enjoy this list and maybe, just maybe, I can turn you on to one of my favorite artists/albums/songs.
PS: Koo Koo Kanga Roo gets the “band I am most thankful to discover” award for 2013. Thank you, Mr. Frank Turner, for shining a light on a local band that I had not heard until my fateful drive to Des Moines. These guys put on one heck of a dance-party/work-out session that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Listen to Unicorns R Real, Friendship Bracelets, and Awesome Rainbows and tell me that you didn’t smile and sing along.
As a season ticket holder of the Minnesota Twins (since 2010) I am “in the know” when it comes to the All-Star Game that is rapidly approaching. OK, “in the know” is a bit of a stretch, but I do have info that is not privy to the general public yet. The price points listed below are probably a bit cheaper than the general public prices, but it at least gives you an idea of what the bare minimum will be in terms of murder on your bank account (worth it!).
That is just the warm-up, the order in which the STHs will be able to secure tickets. Informative, but not life-changing, as most of you (dear readers) are not STHs. The part you care about is…
PRICES!!! From the low-low bargain price of $401 for the 3 day strip to $1,416 to live a short vacation of luxury (and free food with high-rollers).
So there it is, the “big reveal.” I hope this helps shed some light. Now start saving the money you get from your grandma on Christmas; hopefully you don;t have to take out a loan for this. As always, as more info comes to me, whether digitally or in my mailbox, I will post it here for the world to see.