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Monday, May 23, 2011
We were hereby Circled; What a birthday treat!

A birthday to remember

Iím sure Iím not the only one, but I seem to like my own birthday less and less the older I get.  But for several reasons, this past anniversary of my birth will always be remembered.

It started in early April when I checked with my brother-in-law, who shares a Twins season plan, if he had the tickets for my birthday, Sunday, May 15.  When he said he did, and that heíd let me and the family have his 4 seats, the plan was set in motion.

We make a lot of day trips with the family, but we are always running late, or just on time.  Well, with this being the kids 1st trip to Target Field, I wanted to get there early.  With a 1 p.m. game time start, leaving early Sunday morning was going to be difficult.

Luckily, I had a free hotel night coming to me, so my lovely wife and I decided to make a weekend of it.  Go down Saturday, have some fun, go to the hotel, get up nice and early and head to the stadium well before game time.

Soon after getting the tickets while watching the Twins on T.V., I saw the promo for getting circled by Bert Blyleven.  So I went to FoxSportsNorth.com and went to the Circle Me tab.  I entered the date of our tickets, and the seat location.  I also entered why we should be circled.  I wrote it would be my birthday and Justin Morneauís (I know how Bert loves his birthday).  I also had an autographed baseball from Bert from the 1985 All-Star game, which was played at the Metrodome.  I was going to photocopy the ball and put it on our sign, which I did.

Well, when the week of the game came around, my kids and I got to making the sign.  By Thursday night, it was ready.  On Friday, I received an interesting e-mail.  It was from Fox Sports North.  It read:  Someone from Section 130 (which is where our seats were) will be circled by Bert at the May 15 game.

Could it be us?  Why not?  I told the kids, who got incredibly excited.  I was playing it cool, but got pretty pumped too.  What were the odds?  It HAD to be us.

Well, we made our trip, which included a great stop at the Minnesota Historical Society on a rainy Saturday afternoon, followed by a trip to Chuck E. Cheeseís.

We woke up Sunday to a beautiful morning in the Twin Cities.  All was right with the world.  I was now 41 years old.

We got to the park and walked around beautiful Target Field.  We watched some batting practice, and saw Jose Bautista (who would smack 3 homers, including an upper deck shot, during the game) tater shots all around us in the Home Run Porch. 

About 20 minutes before game time, I got a tap on my shoulder.  It was a Twins intern.  We were selected to go to the Fox Sports North Booth to meet Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven!

I knew some selected fans were chosen for this honor, so, when I got that tap, I have to admit knowing exactly what he was going to say.  When he left, I told Kathy and the kids.  WOW.  What a moment!  We were all buzzing.  Kathy and I whipped out our phones, and started texting and posting on facebook.

We were told we would be circled prior to the 5th inning.  The intern also told us that he would return around the 4th inning to bring us to the booth.

Fourth inning?  How were we going to wait that long!  Itís all we could think about!

The game moved along quickly, and the Blue Jays took the lead.  The kids diligently stood up between every inning, holding up our sign, not sure when, or from what camera, we would be circled.

Then, the 4th inning came, and there was the intern.  Soon, we were on our way to the booth. 

We walked in and Dick and Bert were just about to go on the air, but said a quick hello.  During the next half inning break, we got to chat a little.  Dick, a graduate of Staples-Motley High School, asked what I did for a living.  When I told him Iím a sports journalist, he immediately asked me about Lynn Peterson, the successful, long-time S-M coach who recently resigned from the school.  They also talked about Dead Lake, and wondered how such a nice lake can be called that.  Bert wanted to know if it really was a dead lakeÖDoes it have any fish in it? He asked.

After another half-inning, they snuggled us into camera view, and let us watch Dick and Bert do their job up close, and for a brief moment, the T.V. cameraís showed us in the booth. 

The inning ended, Bert signed some baseballs for the kids, and our sign, we took a picture, and left.

By the time we returned to our seats, the sun had moved into position to shine right in our faces, but we were already all glowing.  The textís and facebook messages started popping up.  You couldnít have whipped the smiles off the kids faces the rest of the day.

The Twins lost, but thatís not what we will remember.  The kids had a historic weekend, and the memories from it will last a lifetime.

Posted By John George
Friday, May 13, 2011
LakesAreaSports.com photos now available on Shutterfly!
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Posted By John George
Thursday, May 5, 2011
State Picture CD's for sale
Looking for pictures from recent State Tournament's?  Look no further.  Photo CD's for State Cross Country (Perham Boys & Girls), State Gymnastics (Perham), State Wrestling (Frazee team) and of course, State Boys Basketball (Perham) are available now.
CD's include hundred's of photos from State Tournament action, including State Championship team photos.
CD's are $10.  Please e-mail lakesareasports@arvig.net to place an order.
Posted By John George
Thursday, May 5, 2011
What's wrong with the Twins?

Just who are the Minnesota Twins this year?

One month into the season, one thing is clear.  This is not the team we thought they were.

This past week, Iíve had several discussions with numerous friendsÖin person, texting, and through facebook.  Everyone has one concern or another.  There are several theories about whatís wrong with them, and what they need to do get back on track, both for this year, and beyond.

Anyone who knows me, knows Iím a die-hard Twins fan.  So I get asked about them a lot.  Here are my questions/concerns.

First of all, this team doesnít really have an identity. 

Are they a small-ball team?  Not really.  Manager Ron Gardenhire doesnít really steal a lot.  The Twins donít hit-and-run often, and they donít sacrifice.  Arenít those the basic characteristics of a ďsmall-ballĒ team?

Although they have a few guys capable of the long-ball, they really canít be called a power hitting team.  We just canít sit back and wait for a home run every time we get a runner on base.  Target Field has obviously played differently than the Dome did.  So, can we expect the likes of Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, Jim Thome and Michael Cuddyer to approach the 30-home run plateau?  I have doubts.

So, the Twins offensive identity is hoping they can go station-to-station with a bunch of singles hitters?  Really?  Maybe if they have 5-6 guys who can stay around .300 that can work.  It seemed to last year.  That hasnít worked so well the first month of this season.

Now, letís talk pitching. Frankie Liriano finally showed the stuff Tuesday against the White Sox that everyone thought he was capable of.  Now, if he can turn that into a consistent season, the Twins will have the No. 1 starter they desperately need.  Someone who can strike fear into an opponent.  Someone that can shut any team down on any given night.  Someone the team can play behind every 5th night knowing they are probably favored to win.

The Twins, pre-no-hitter, didnít have that guy.  There wasnít one guy on the entire staff that struck fear into opposing batters. 

Now, the teamís defense has always been solid.  Nowhere to go there.  They just have to be perfect now to make-up for the other deficiencies.

So, where does that leave us?  How do they get better? 

Well, it would help to get healthy.  They need Joe Mauer 100 percent.  Period.  Delmon Young had a break-out season last year and should return soon, as should Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Kevin Slowey.  Iím not convinced Morneau is totally recovered from his concussion.  He just doesnít seem right.  I hope he gets back to his old self, but deep down, I have a sinking feeling he might not ever be the same.

They also need Liriano to step up to be a true No. 1, and for guys like Slowey, Scott Baker to finally reach that potential weíve been waiting for so long.  And a healthy Joe Nathan would be nice.

But, if the time comes in July and the Twins are on the edge of making a run, I PRAY they have the courage to make a big deal to get the team over the edge.  Go get that big bipper.  Go get that No. 1 guy.  Arenít all you Twins fans tired of just being good enough to get to the playoffs, but not do anything?  Wouldnít you like to make a run to the Championship Series?  World Series?  Be a serious contender?

I really like Gardy, but at some point, we might have to ask whether heís taken this team as far as he can?  Maybe just a different voice in the clubhouse could make a difference.

But before they consider letting Gardy go, I think they have to take a serious look at replacing pitching coach Rick Anderson, and hitting coach Joe Vavra.  Iím not terribly impressed with either. 

O.K.  Feels good to get that off my chest.  Now, letís hope as the warm weather approaches, the Twins get hot and get back into the race. 

Posted By John George
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