Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I am back and I smell like Hippies.

Hey folks, hope you didn't miss me too much while I was enjoying a much-needed vacation in Portland, but I'm back and better than ever.  Or not, who the hell knows.  Before I get into the sports goings-on that I missed, let me tell you something about Portland.  It is full of two things:  1.  Beer and 2.  Hippies.  I only approve of one of these.

The beer is awesome, with Portland being just full of Microbreweries and a ton of Brewpubs.  Pretty much everywhere had a huge selection of local beers on tap (and always just one macrobrew), and even places like hotel bars had a selection in the double digits.  My favorite joint was a place called Henry's, which had 105 beers on tap, enough to make even Old Chicago feel embarrassed.  If you're ever in the Pacific Northwest, I highly recommend trying Mac and Jack's African Amber.  Very, very good.

The hippies were far less awesome, and they are seriously every where.  The problem is you can't tell the hippies from the homeless, and the city is overstaffed with both.  I saw some dirty person sitting on the ground with a cup in front of them and assumed it was a homeless dude, but when we got closer his cup was actually full of coffee and he was listening to an ipod.  So really he was just some dirty hippy sitting on the ground listening to his hippy music.  And every dude here either has those ear gauge things that stretch your ipod like some kind of African tribal shaman or is wearing a stupid looking hipster hat, and all the chicks here wear really tall socks with weird designs on them.  And they're proud of it, too.  There are signs and bumper stickers everywhere that say, "Keep Portland Weird."  Well you're doing a hell of a job.

Lastly, three quick recommendations if you are ever in Portland:

1.  Voodoo Donut is absolutely worth the hype.  The line was never shorter than a 15 minute wait, but like I said, worth it.

2.  If you like books, definitely check out Powell's City of Books.  It's the biggest non-chain bookstore in America, and they aren't kidding with the "big" part.  Imagine a Walmart, but on three levels, and all they sell are books.  It's huge.  There's like, a room for sports books, and a room for history books, and different rooms for each book subject, and they aren't small rooms either.  Very cool, and I could have probably spent a full day in there, no problem. 

3.  Rent a car and take a drive up the Columbia Gorge.  Very scenic and a really cool drive.  Thanks to a recommendation from my good buddy Tim Dogg, we crossed into Washington and drove up that side, stopped at Cape Horn to take some incredible pictures, then kept going and crossed back into Oregon at the Bridge of the Gods to head back, stopping in Multnomah Falls for lunch and a little hiking on the trails.  Good times. 

This concludes your travel guide portion of this post.

- Obviously the biggest news since I've been gone is the Twins getting bounced from the playoffs without so much as a whimper.  It wasn't exactly a shock, but it was definitely a disappointment.  There were plenty of opportunities in Game 2 and Game 3 to win, but thanks to Joe Nathan's batting practice fastballs they were swept and revealed to be exactly what we should have always known they were - a thoroughly mediocre team who got white hot at the same time as their biggest division rival commenced completely tanking their season.

Meaningful baseball in september and making the playoffs are always good things, and honestly I'm having trouble being at all negative about this season since I didn't think they had a chance to really beat the Yankees anyway, but it would have been really nice if they would have at least put up a fight.  I was really hoping for a split in New York and getting it back to the Dome with a chance to win two and take it, and it almost looked like that was going to happen, but unfortunately Nathan and A-Rod decided not to let that happen.  Second choice would have been to win both at the Dome after losing the first two in New York and getting it down to a 1-game toss up, but once again, it was not to be - although Pavano looked awesome for about five innings.

Obviously for me the biggest disappointment was Jason Kubel, who looked like he regressed back to two years ago when he had zero chance of hitting lefties and was nothing more than a fourth infielder type, not the top ten hitter in the league he developed into this season.

It's still too early to really think about next season, but the Twins should be similar.  Span-Morneau-Mauer-Kubel-Cuddyer is a very nice base to a line up, but there are plenty of other holes and decisions that need to be made.  I've warmed up quite a bit to Punto, but you can only have one of him in the lineup, not two or three.  I'd like to see Crede back, but only if he will sign for 1-year at $1 or $2 million, other to man third for 80 games again or, if Valencia is ready, to be an actual power bat off the bench - the Twins' pinch hitters this year were really sad.  I suppose bringing Cabrera back wouldn't be the worst thing, if he's cheap, and in terms of free agents I haven't really done any research yet, but if the Tigers let Polanco go I'd like to see them go after him.  I hear Chone Figgins name a lot, but I don't think that's possible.  He's going to have a lot of interest, and even in a down economy I expect him to get a pretty good deal.

As for pitching, if Slowey comes back all the way you have three pretty good young pitchers as your core, and that's not counting whatever you think of Duensing (optimistic) or Perkins (not optimistic).  I haven't thought to hard about if I want Pavano back, so that's a maybe, and I have no idea who might be available.  The bullpen is interesting because the numbers look pretty good, but I swear they suck.  Nobody typifies this more than Guerrier, whose numbers show he had an excellent year but I swear he got lit up every time I watched him hit.  I've heard talk of Nathan being washed up, but that's pretty retarded.  Who knows what happens with Bonser or Neshek and how they come back.  I know of at least one pretty big Twins fan (Snacks) who is convinced Bonser will be an absolute shut-down 8th inning guy.  We'll see.

Maybe the biggest question is what to do with the outfielders.  Kubel should be locked in as DH even against lefties, despite his struggles in the playoffs, which still leaves you with four outfielders for three spots.  Both Gomez and Young need a full year as a starter so we can really figure out what they can do, but with Span and Cuddy needing to be in the lineup that can't happen.  Maybe a trade.  They can't trade Gomez yet and Delmon's value is likely pretty low, so it might have to be Cuddyer.  His numbers show his value, but he has a big contract as well and is wildly inconsistent.  If you put Cuddyer together with someone like Morales or a minor league prospect, maybe that will get teams interested, who knows?  Could be an interesting off-season, or perhaps the Twins will follow the same model and do nothing except sign a couple of retreads and hope they stick.  The fact of the matter is, they need to get better.  A mid-eighty win team in the worst division in baseball isn't going to get it done. 

-  Finally, in case you missed it, my NL team, the Rockies, also got bounced thanks to a blown save by a usually reliable closer.  In this case, you are probably wondering who I am rooting for now.  I think my answer is "not the Yankees." 


SSF said...

What is wrong with hippies? I love hippies. Dreadlocks, patchuli, those old mexican style hooded poncho shirts, phish,roaches,guitar circles. They are quite peacecul nice people. You are starting to sound like Dawg WWWW. We all know you don't want that.

And don't worry the preview is coming! :)

Anonymous said...

W = Dawger Jr.

Helton is Rocktober said...

Big shout out to the following Rockies players for going all Jason Kubel on the Phils
A)Clint Barmes. 0-series, really, not even one little hit in 15 abs? Thanks Clint, thanks
B)Huston Street, yikes. Maybe next time we pitch to Utley to avoid R.Howard, think about it.
C)Todd Helton, Dawger, your guy sucked, again. .188???? What a champ, that is the production 1 seeks from the 3 hole, especially when Gonzalez and Fowler are constantly on base in front of you. At least you were once really good, and to the people at coors, that is all that matters.

Sidenote, big Rockies v. Twins series next season at Target, can't wait.

Anonymous said...

What about trading Morneau and Nathan while their value is stil something?