Archive for January, 2012

Going Beyond Sports

January 30, 2012

I wanted to write about my recap at TwinsFest, but events over the past week and a half have caused me to want to write about something else. If you or a person you know has been attacked unfairly, or been the victim for unjustifiable reasons, regardless of if the attack was physical or verbal, then I strongly recommend you continue reading.

If you recall, I am part of a Twins Facebook group. Thanks to the archiving process Facebook undertook months ago, we had to start over. A group of over 20,000 members was no more, and we’re now a group of just over 40.

Back when we were larger, we had many discussions about the Twins, as you can probably imagine. Many of these discussions were airing our frustrations about Gardy, the players, and other issues that we felt could be easily fixed if we were in charge.

Well, there was one person in these discussions that kept popping up, disagreeing with everything we had to say (I’ll call him Tim). He wasn’t trolling us, but rather was an eternal optimist. Tim was upset that we kept bad-mouthing the Twins. Quickly, our discussions turned to aggression as one side became frustrated with the other. Maturity disappeared as one person even took the time to create a fake Facebook profile of Tim and make fun of everything he was saying. He was banned several times from our group because our members were just fed up with his consistent defense of every Twins move and decision, and we eventually made the ban permanent after we felt we had given him enough chances to change.



Which Memory Will You Choose?

January 23, 2012

Ever since the recent news of the Jerry Sandusky controversy at Penn State and Joe Paterno’s involvement, it seems like there’s a significant divide between those that still revere Paterno and those that now despise him. With his death, it appears as though most people (especially in the Pennsylvania area) still look upon Paterno as the perfect man, a legacy that will become timeless. Meanwhile, there are people like me that prefer to look at his decision to enable Sandusky to rape young boys by not coming to authorities about these crimes.

I have a friend that was a transplanted Pennsylvanian that briefly lived in Minnesota. As I follow him on Twitter, I sometimes hear about their sports news more than I care about. One of these things were all the well-wishes being said about Paterno after he died yesterday. With that, it shocked me. How could all these people be blind or ignorant to what he did, or perhaps more appropriately, did not do?

Then I had a thought, and another person popped into my consciousness – a man that was a hero to me when I was growing up. A man that himself had his public image do a 180 in some people’s eyes, right before his sudden death.

That man is Kirby Puckett.

Kirby, a man that helped bring home the only two World Series titles the Twins have ever seen. A man that I took a liking to immediately, simply because the Metrodome crowds always cheered the loudest for him and Bob Casey always said his name with the most flair. A man that was charged with sexual assault after his retirement.

To some, Puckett was a sex offender. But to many Twins fans, he will be remembered as the heart and soul of many Twins teams. After all, he has been honored with a Target Field gate named after him, and there is a statue of him on Target Plaza. Clearly most of us were willing to ignore what he did after he retired.

I’m still not going to pay my respects to Joe Paterno, and yet I’m okay with Kirby Puckett. It’s tough to change my mind when I had no emotional ties to one, and the other was my childhood hero, and well, that makes me a hypocrite.

After reading this, I bet some of you are hypocrites as well.

Note: After discussions with the Pennsylvania friend I mentioned above, I’d like to point out that the comments on Paterno’s involvement in the case are not entirely true, but are rather my interpretations of the incident. That’s what bias can do to you.

Kevin Slowey Returns to the AL Central

January 20, 2012

It’s been announced just a little while ago that Kevin Slowey has been traded from the Colorado Rockies to the Cleveland Indians. In return, the Rockies will be getting relief prospect Zach Putnam.

At first glance, Twins fans should be frustrated with this trade. After berating Slowey constantly, both publicly and likely privately as well, they shipped him off to Colorado for sidearming reliever Daniel Turpen. The reason I say fans should be frustrated is because the Rockies took a player with moderate value (Turpen) and eventually ended up with Putnam, a good relief prospect. Turpen repeated Double-A last year (though his first time at Double-A in the Rockies organization) and he put up a 4.98 ERA with more walks than strikeouts. Meanwhile, Putnam had a September call-up with the Indians last year, and although his 6.14 ERA wasn’t pretty, he didn’t walk a single batter in 7.1 innings while striking out nine. He did well in Triple-A, tallying a 3.65 ERA with 8.87 K/9 and 3.00 BB/9 in 69 innings.



January 18, 2012

The title says it all. If you don’t want to hear me talk about SOPA, then stop reading now.

If you have been well-informed, you know of the Wikipedia blackout today (and if you have not been well-informed, your tweets are likely being retweeted by either of these two accounts). Not all major websites have taken part, but we can also include one of my favorites from my younger years (read: last year), and that is the comics website The Oatmeal. Since the owner of The Oatmeal, Matthew Inman, gave his blessing to “pirate the shit out of this animated GIF,” I have provided a picture from said GIF below, as I am not technically skilled enough to actually “pirate the shit out of this animated GIF.”

Would dressing Jesus and Oprah like pirates make this picture meta?

I, like many other people you may now, am opposed to SOPA. Yes, it’s designed to stop rogue websites from stealing content from companies. But it also has the potential to shut down innocent websites. For example, this one.

Yes, Off The Mark would be in violation of SOPA. Take a look at this post back in May 2011. In tackling a particular play in a game against the Detroit Tigers, I used screenshots from a video highlight to present my argument that the umpires made an incorrect ruling on this fan interference play. With what I understand from SOPA, if MLB were to find this post, they could have this site shut down, if WordPress didn’t get to me first. If the government had Off The Mark shut down, then WordPress could be shut down as well for failing to get to me first. Also, websites that have linked to Off The Mark could disappear as well. All because I wanted to explain why the Twins got screwed in a game from early last season.

Another post that could end Off The Mark is this one, where I used song lyrics from Rise Against’s “Help Is On The Way” to describe how the Twins’ bench and minor leaguers were not actually providing much help to the major league club. I’ve been discovering that record labels are having their bands’ lyrics copyrighted on lyrics websites (so you can no longer copy and paste lyrics from the website), which could very well mean that simply posting the lyrics to a song would be in violation of the copyright. Now, it’s possible that I’m fine because I did cite Rise Against and the song when posting it, but living in fear or having to even take down the post is not right.

I don’t draw in many readers with this blog, but that was never my intention when I started. I started this blog because it gave me a chance to do what I wanted (write about the Twins) while avoiding what I didn’t want (editors, deadlines, and majoring in English, communications, or journalism). If Off The Mark was to end because of SOPA, I certainly could just start up a new blog. But I don’t want to do that, nor do I feel that I should have to, just because I violated some copyrights in the name of enhancing my own creative content. I would appreciate it if you contact your state representative and/or senator and tell them that passing SOPA is not in the best interest of this nation. Thank you for your time.

*trips off soapbox*

The Benefits of Waiting

January 13, 2012

Every offseason, we see some teams go out and get a jump on signing free agents, while others sit back and wait for prices to drop. Each tactic has its pros and cons. The teams that sign their players right away guarantee they get what they want, but at the risk of overpaying. Meanwhile, the teams that wait for the market to develop risk losing their preferred options to other teams and also risk having prices actually increase instead (see some non-closing reliever contracts over the past 5 years). However, it’s more likely that prices will drop as free agents realize having a lower paying job than they first wanted is better than no job at all.

The reason I bring this up is mainly because of the Phillies and Reds. The Phillies had just converted their stud reliever Ryan Madson into a closer, and they had a choice. Either they had to re-sign Madson, bring in a new pitcher, or “promote” a current reliever on the roster to closer. Well, the Phillies went the aggressive route and signed former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon to a 4-year, $50 million contract on Nov. 14th. Sounds expensive, but remember that the Twins once threw 4 years and $47 million at Joe Nathan prior to the 2008 season.


Not The Same Wolves

January 11, 2012

When it comes to sports, I’m typically not picky. If any of the Minnesota home teams in the big four sports are on TV, I’m most likely watching the game. This has caused me to watch games regardless of the respective team’s place in the standings. I still remember the 1998 season for the Vikings (are there any Minnesotans that do not?), the playoff runs in the 2000s for the Twins, countered by suffering through this past season, and the constant mediocrity from the Wild over the past couple years. As I just demonstrated, there have been good seasons, and not so good seasons, and if there’s anything I pride myself on, it’s that I am not a bandwagon fan.


Fixing Nick Blackburn

January 2, 2012

Between the 2008 and 2009 seasons, Nick Blackburn showed an amazing level of consistency. Both years, he posted a nearly identical ERA, but the similarities extended beyond that.

Click to embiggen – er, see more clearly.

This consistency led the Twins and Blackburn to agree to a 4-year, $14 million contract just prior to the 2010 season. However, Blackburn has done little to reward the Twins for this commitment, as he posted a 5.42 ERA in 2010 and a 4.49 ERA in 2011. That 2011 ERA actually doesn’t look that bad, but the average ERA last season was 3.94, the lowest it’s been since 1992.