All it takes is a couple banquets and TwinsFest to get a scribe fired up for spring training on sun-drenched fields in Florida.
Some thoughts coming off last week:
We raised $263,000 on Thursday for neurologial research at the U of M, which is less than last year but still an impressive number. In four years, the Diamond Awards banquet has raied just over $2 million for those causes.
It was also a great night to talk baseball, as Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer and other Twins receieved awards from last season and gave some really good speeches.
As Joe C. pointed out, Morneau took a good-natured shot at me about my MVP vote. I was prepared to take a shot from him, but what I didn’t expect was for MLB.com’s Kelly Thesier to twist the knife. While presenting Morneau’s award, she pointed out that Morneau beat Sidney Crosby out for the Canadian athlete of the year award. “When you beat Sidney Crosby, you had a good season, an MVP SEASON…”
Needless to say, Thesier is on my list…..
Poor Anthony Slama. Players were supposed to accept their awards and engage Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven in a Q and A and NOT deliever a speech. But Slama,“saw a podium and went for it.’ So Slama delievered a speech after receiving his minor league pitcher of the year award THEN did the Q and A. Now, every player felt on the spot to say something witty, which a couple of the veteran award winners weren’t thrilled about. (It also lengthened the banquet by about 30 minutes).
That, in addition to calling Twins GM Bill Smith, `Jim.’ set Slama up for a weekend of ribbing….
The annual Hot Stove Banquet on Saturday attracted a more hard core, rowdy crowd. It was a great time and it’s always great to see Mike Samelson. `Sammy.’ has survived three kidney transplants and had his left arm amputated last year but his spirit and love of the Twins remains unchanged.
It was great to hear speeches by Twins president Dave St. Peter and MLB umpire Tim Tschida. And former Twin Corey Koskie knocked it out of the park as the main speaker, telling funny stories from his playing days – including the day he put peanut butter in David Ortiz’s underwear and watched Ortiz nearly walk out of the clubhouse before someone suggested he check his shorts.
Saw Seth Stohs during the banquet. I quickly grabbed the microphone in front of me and fired at him, `You scooped me on the Russ Springer story, you Son of a ….!!” Which drew a lot of laughs.
St. Peter offered up Target Field as a possible location for next year’s banquet. That would be impressive.
Delmon Young looked in great shape, and Justin Morneau looks as powerful as ever.
Ben Revere couldn’t stop smiling.
Jesse Crain was adamant about the Twins bullpen being able to get the job done. He pointed out how careful the Twins were with him early last season as he came off of surgery and how that won’t be the case this year. so he’ll have a chance to get off to a fast start.
It will be interesting to see how Boof Bonser does this year. I sense that while he’s in the bullpen for now, he views himself as a starter. He could be an X-factor in the bullpen this year if he fully embraces the role. He did tell me he hit 97-98 on the gun his first year in pro ball and hopes he can consistently throw in the mid-9o’s this season.
Springer looks headed to Oakland. Brando Lyon is headed to Detroit. A Twins official told me over the weekend they still have options to land a reliever. Other than Eric Gagne, I’d like to know how many options they really have.