Since I don’t have any "normal" hobbies like collecting stamps or coins or baseball cards, I’ve decided to take pictures of people who "look" like famous people. The most recent addition to my collection is "Phil Jackson."
I found this guy at The Liffey in St. Paul a couple months ago. He was very eager to take a picture with me but claimed that no one has ever told him he looks like Phil Jackson, head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Not once. I found that hard to believe. I picked him out of the crowd rather easily. Whenever he walked by our table the rest of the night he would give us a knowing nod of the head. He was either being polite or he was carefully acknowledging his first stalker.
TV’s David Schwab and I made the longer than normal journey to Roseau yesterday. What made it longer was that the bridge at Drayton is still closed so we had to cut through EGF and then take what is commonly referred to as the "Stephen Passage." It adds about an extra half hour each way. Probably because of the heavy traffic coming in and out of Stephen. Wink.
We didn’t stop at my parent’s house because they never have any Diet Coke (which I like) nor expensive coffee (which Schwab likes.) So we carried on through Karlstad, Greenbush, Badger and then to Roseau. We shot our story and then set our sights on Earl’s Drive-In, but alas, it was not open. So we took our anger out on the Pizza Ranch. The Roseau Pizza Ranch is currently ranked number two in the Pizza Ranch rankings. Cooperstown is #1. Devils Lake is third. Note to self: a Pizza Ranch would work in G. Forks.
One other thing, I’d really like to unleash my golf game on the Roseau Golf Course. I’ve never played there, and although I haven’t swung the wrenches yet this spring, I think I could tame it with a crisp 98. I’d get my money’s worth. And if I didn’t, I’d go to the Pizza Ranch.
The Metrodome opened for baseball in 1982. I can remember vividly walking into the dome for the first time that year. I thought it was the greatest thing ever. Over the last 28 years I went to approximately 60 games (in fact, I used to keep very close track of the number of games I attended there, and the win-loss record of the team while I was there. If I had to guess now, it would be something like 50-10.) Anyway, I am a product of inside baseball in Minnesota and it always seemed somewhat normal to me. I was at games 6 and 7 of the 1991 World Series in the dome and I went to the Kirby Puckett retirement game,and many other special games. In fact, as I think about it now, when Red Sox Daughter was about two, we were on the big screens at the Dome as I hurled playfully tossed her in the air, with the crowd doing the obligatory "ahhhhhhh." I’m pretty sure she was a Twins fan that day, but I digress.
So when I attend my first outdoor baseball game in Minnesota on April 14th, it will be pretty special. It’s not that I haven’t seen an outdoor game before. I’ve made stops in Baltimore, Washington D.C., Denver, St. Louis, Kansas City, Milwaukee and Chicago (White Sox, not Cubs…ugh.) An interesting fact that I dug up while researching this topic is that baseball was intended to be played outside. Not under a gray roof.
So when Target Field opened yesterday with a Gopher’s game, I was excited. 37,000 people showed up for a college game that had very little meaning. What it did was give a lot of people a chance to kick the tires on the new ballpark. And the reviews are off the charts. I think I’ve read every story about the opening, and even the crustiest old sportswriters are gushing over Target Field. I can’t wait to share my take on the stadium.
I was cleaning out my Blackberry and found a few pictures that I’d taken in Vancouver at the Olympics that didn’t make the cut in the original blog. Remember the old blog? Henry? The Dogs? Matt Lauer and Michael Buble? I miss the good old days.
Al Roker and Stephanie Abrams of The Weather Channel. This was at a USA Curling practice.
The condo I stayed at. 4th floor.
Downtown Vancouver from the water.
5 story building in downtown Vancouver draped with a Canadian flag.
No explanation needed.
More free food from Henry. This was the custard with the cranberries soaked in brandy. Notice the laptop in the background. I had every intention of working until Henry made me drink eat this. It made me sleepy.
*I was watching a story about UND alum and Northern Iowa Basketball Coach Ben Jacobson this morning on Sports Center when I received a text message…from Ben Jacobson.
*Ralph, are you going to see Michael Buble in St. Paul on Sunday?
*Can someone send me David Robertson’s phone number? firstname.lastname@example.org
*At the Twins new ballpark, Target Field, you will be able to buy a Murray’s Steak Sandwich from the famous Murray’s in downtown Minneapolis. I hope I remember to watch the game.
*I finally watched "Up in the Air" last night. I was really expecting a lot. I’d give it 3.5 stars out of 5.
*Speaking of movies, has there ever been more promotion for a film than "Hot Tub Time Machine?" There are about 15 commercials for it during any given sporting event on television. It’s either going to be an instant classic or one of the worst ever. Discuss.
*A special Reggie Tales shout-out to my #1 Finnish fan, Colby. See you in a few weeks.
First Joe Mauer, now Ben Jacobson. Jake and Northern Iowa showed how much they like each other today when they agreed to a 10-year contract extension which begins next year. The contract calls for $450,000 next season and a $25,000 a year raise for the lengh of the contract which runs through 2020.
That puts an end to the speculation about who might come sniffing around for the Sweet 16 coach. At least for the near future. Things could change in a few years. Good for Jake.
The Minnesota Twins and the Boston Red Sox both make their Spring Training home in Fort Myers, Florida. The two teams played last night in an exhibition game at the Twins complex and I tried to crawl through my big screen to see if I could get to the game. After three attempts I gave up and decided to watch it on TV. If you’re a fan of either the Twins, or the Red Sox, of sunshine, green grass or the beach, or any combination thereof, Fort Myers is pretty much the greatest place on earth. Located in Southwest Florida, one of the few drawbacks is the traffic. It’s not that they don’t have roads, I just don’t think they can handle all the people that flood that area during the winter and the early spring. And it’s a real scary mix of people driving 40 mph with people driving 80 mph. But back to baseball. Time really stands still when you’re at Hammond Stadium with your favorite beverage, the sun, and the players of baseball running around the field. And it’s the greenest grass you’ve ever seen, courtsey of the legendary George Toma. Toma is known as the NFL Turf Guru, as he has been the head groundskeeper at every Super Bowl ever played. Grass is his life, and in the spring he works for the Twins (Minnesota, not the Lamoureuxs. I promise that will be the last time I use that joke for three weeks.) He’s 81 years old and literally gets on his hands and knees to clip grass around the infield with a scissor. He’s the Denny Gunderson of grass, but with a way, way better tan.
As I think about this, you really have to be a sports geek to know the name of the groundskeeper. And the fact that I could pick him out of a lineup of 81 year old men is disturbing at best. I’ve been to Fort Myers 4 or 5 times, and I enjoy watching George Toma working on the field three hours before the game more than I do watching Toby Gardenhire ground out to shortstop in the ninth inning of a Spring Training game. Go to Fort Myers. There is something for everyone.
I realize that "Dancing With The Stars" has been on television for 10 years, but I watched it for the first time ever last night, so it was new to me. I’m not sure what I was hoping for, but I assume it was something along the lines of Kate Gosselin tripping or Shannen Doherty pulling Pamela Anderson’s hair. It’s like when people watch NASCAR only for the crashes. Because really, at the end of the day I don’t know what constitutes good dancing, but I think I can figure out what bad dancing is. I mean, Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon and now he’s being subjected to this? He must have misunderstood what they were asking him to do. I assume all he heard was something about "stars" and he said yes, thinking it was some kind of space travel opportunity. And I have a question about the judges: who are they? Anyhow, I will watch the show when I can. PS, my favorite part of the show was the frequent shots of "Home Improvement’s" Tim Allen sitting with Buzz Aldrin’s wife. I guess I don’t understand the connection.
For the last couple of years, I’ve had the great pleasure of taking a handful of flights along the Red River. WDAZ’s unofficial pilot is Randy from Reynolds, ND. I grabbed the TV camera this morning and took another flight to get an aerial view of the flooding situation in the upper Red River Valley. Our flight time today was two hours, up one side of the river, then turning around near Pembina and coming back down the other side. The plane itself is a very small two-seater, with one seat (the pilot) in front of the other seat (the TV guy). Today we flew at 800 feet above the swollen Red and at a land speed of 106 m.p.h. Randy lets me wear a headset so that we can communicate during the flight. There’s not a lot to say as most of the time is spent staring at the miles and miles of water.
If you’re not a fan of flying, or of heights, or of small planes, or of water, this is not a flight for you. And while there is a lot of water up and down the valley, it is definitely not as much as last year.
Random Travel Note of the Day
While driving to Reynolds this morning, I saw a man hitchhiking on I-29 between Grand Forks and Thompson. I didn’t give him a ride and thought to myself "Good luck." He was going to need some luck as he looked like the stereotypical hitchhiker and was wearing the usual hitchhiker garb. He also had the obligatory long, grey beard and dusty backpack. As I drove by him shaking my head and considering what he might have in his backpack, I looked in my rear-view mirror to see a van pulling over to pick him up. I thought hitchhikers only got a ride in the movies.