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Winter in Minnesota can be a drag. I was driving around Northern Minnesota on Sunday night and the temperature reading in my car read ‘-20.’ So, on Monday morning, driving to work, that same gauge read as low as ‘-31.’ I heard reports from people in the areas that such readings were as long as ‘-40.’ Now that is cold! At the same time in the Twin Cities, temperatures were above zero. Temperatures varied from the Canadian border to the Metrodome by as much as 45 degrees.
But as you know, that is no reason to stop thinking about baseball. In fact, if you’re a Twins fan, this is really an exciting time of the year. Why? Hey, you’ve got a few opportunities to meet some of the Twins players and coaches, and members of their media.
Each year, the Twins set out on their Winter Caravan, making stops around the Upper Midwest. This year, starting next Monday (January 12th), the Twins will be doing it again. The Northwest Tour will include Gardy, Joe Vavra and Glen Perkins. They will make stops in Little Falls, Wahpeton (ND), Grand Forks, Thief River Falls, and many stops in between. Yes, Gardy will be making another appearance in Fargo. I wonder if he will joke about being more careful with his words there! The same day, the Northern Tour will begin. Mike Redmond and Matt Guerrier will travel to Duluth, Ely, Bemidji, Wadena and points in between, also making several stops over a four day period. The following week, the Central Tour will feature Kevin Slowey, Jesse Crain and Bert Blyleven and they will travel from Rochester to St. Cloud, to Marshall and many other towns. At the same time, Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, Rick Anderson and Dan Gladden will be working the Southern Tour. They will travel from Northfield to New Ulm and throughout northern Iowa. For the full press release and list of communities the Caravan will be traveling, click here. I have attended three or four of these events (here and here, and here) and they truly are a lot of fun. The players and others do a very good job connecting to their fans.
Then that weekend (January 23-25), the Twins will host Twins Fest at the Metrodome. Now again, I have been to the last three Twins Fest events (2006, 2007, 2008) and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Twins Fest is an experience that I think all Twins fans should experience at least once. They have things to do for people of all ages. Sure, it’s a big collectibles show with cards, pictures, magazines and much more available. There are going to be over 50 current, former and future Twins players signing autographs throughout the weekend (specific schedule still to be determined). There are games and events for younger kids. There is the ball park concessions (WHAT? Admit it, you miss the dome dog!). There are locker room and press box tours. There are a lot of events that make it worthwhile. I am planning on ordering some tickets ahead of time because they are cheaper.
For those of you who have purchased your copy of Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook – 2009 already, consider bringing your copy of the book to any of these events. Specifically at Twins Fest, there are going to be many players in attendance that are mentioned in the book. Don’t you think it would be pretty neat to have them sign their profile? One great thing about Twins Fest is that players with no major league experience are found signing in the Down on the Farm section (an area where they highlight each of their affiliates). As of right now, it appears that 12 minor leaguers will likely be in attendance (although my guess is that they will add another 3-5 minor leaguers as well). Those who are listed to be in attendance include Drew Butera, Cole Devries, Brian Duensing, Toby Gardenhire, BJ Hermsen, Kevin Mulvey, Trevor Plouffe, Ben Revere, Andrew Schmiesing, Anthony Slama, Anthony Swarzak and Steven Tolleson. That is already a very impressive collection. Each of these players is included in the book. Other prospects who are profiled in the book, but whose autograph you will need to pay something for ($5 or maybe $10 for their autograph and others in their group) include Philip Humber, Bobby Korecky, Matt Macri and Jason Pridie. And hey, if a player isn’t mentioned in the book, there are two pages for Autographs in the book as well. Here is a challenge for the most ardent autograph collector… see if you can get signatures of each player in the Prospect Handbook. I would be impressed. (Oh, and if you do get a book signed by any players, I definitely want to hear your stories, or if they said anything about it!)
For those of your who have not yet purchased your copy of Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook – 2009, or want a few more for your collection, you can still get yours in time for Twins Fest. To do so, you will need to go to Lulu.com, do a Search for Minnesota Twins, and purchase it. Another option is to just click here and then buy your copies! Of the 210 copies that I ordered to cover pre-orders and some media requests, I now have just three copies left. So I just ordered another 80 copies. I should have them before Twins Fest but would not be able to get them to you on time.
And then the following week, the final Winter Caravan group will head out. Denard Span, Jason Kubel and Tony Oliva will travel the Southwest Tour. That group will also head into southwest Minnesota, but also cover most of eastern South Dakota.
And then just a week or two later, it will be time for pitchers and catchers to report. Then the other position players will report. Then the WBC will start and spring training games. And then Minor League spring training, and before we know it, Opening Day!
Now don’t you feel just a little bit warmer?
Any thoughts? Please leave your comments here.