Conspiracy theory: Minnesota-nice style

Minnesota logo The starting pitcher for the Twins tonight will be a young man named Armando Gabino.

Mr. Gabino will be making his major league debut, so it’s kind of a big deal.

Here’s the deal though: He’s the starting pitcher. Armando Gabino hasn’t even been a starting pitcher in the minor leagues. (According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Gabino has made 163 of his 175 professional outings in relief.)

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware that the Twins’ pitching staff is a disaster right now. They’re calling lots of people up. Most of their starters from AAA are already in the Twins’ bullpen. So I get the idea of starting someone new. I just couldn’t understand why Gabino.

Until I came across this little nugget: Star Trib

Short version of the story is that, “His wife is expecting the couple's second child, and she was hoping to be at his Aug. 16 start for Class AAA Rochester against Syracuse. But there was a mixup with her itinerary. Instead of Rochester, N.Y., she wound up in Rochester, Minn.”

Holy crap, that is hilarious! Sad and depressing, but hilarious.

Can't you just totally see it happen? She’s working with her travel agent somewhere in the Dominican Republic. She’s talking about her husband who pitches in the Minnesota Twins organization. She asks for two tickets to Rochester. Makes complete sense in a bad romantic comedy kind of way, doesn’t it?

I mean, can't you just picture this poor pregnant woman and her 7-year-old? They climb off the plane in Rochester and ask for directions to the ballpark and end up having to watch the Rochester Honkers playing the St. Cloud River Bats? And, in my mind, neither of them speaks a word of English.

Now, it’s tough to feel too terribly bad for the Gabinos because I’m sure the Twins admin people are taking good care of them now that they’re aware of the situation, don’t you think? And that’s when it hit me.

Doesn’t it seem just a little too convenient that the Gabinos have this unfortunate (though, as previously stated, hilarious) itinerary mixup. Then, during that same trip to the states, Armando gets the call to come to Minnesota and make his major league debut? See where I’m going with this?

I’m just picturing manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson sitting down for a little chat with traveling secretary Remzi Kiratli…

Gardy: "Aw geez Remzi, they flew all the way up to watch him play with the Red Wings and ended up here in Minnesota. I just feel terrible."

Remzi: “Yep. It’s a heckuva deal there Gardy.”

Andy: "So Gardy, whaddya say, as long as she's here, why don't we just fly Armando-y* out here and start him – just to give her a thrill and make the trip worthwhile?"

Gardy: “Hmmm… Heck, he can't be worse than Duensing! Let's do it! Remzi, why don’t you get the wife set up for a few days in a nice hotel. Put ‘em in that Graves 601 place that Mourney does the ads for.”

Remzi: “You betcha!”

And that, dear readers, is the way I think it went down. But no matter. Come 7:10 Central Time tonight, I’ll be an Armando Gabino fan and hoping he does his part to push the Twins toward a season-high five-game win streak.

Hey, the plan’s got a shot. After all, he can’t be worse than Duensing!

*Anyone associated with the Twins organization must have a nickname that ends in Y. I’m sure our traveling secretary is tremendously qualified, but I guarantee you that Remzi Kiratli’s name did not hurt him in the interview process. (“Carl, check this one out – he’s got a double Y!”) For a guy like Armando Gabino though, this is a terrible policy. He's going to get stuck with "Gabby". And, while that nickname has recently become available in this market, it's going to carry a lot of often-injured, prima-donna baggage with it. Maybe if he’s a particularly snappy dresser we can go with “Armani”? Just a thought.

A NEW first day of college

Another of Josie's firsts: Kindergarten Today was the first day of college for Josie, Corinne's oldest. And just the degree to which that experience has changed in the last 20 years made me shake my feeble head and mumble incoherently into my bran flakes.

"Well, I'm done with my first college assignment," she announced from the chair in the living room.

Looking at the t-shirt and sweatpants that I was sure she had slept in, I was confident she hadn't left the house. (No girl wears the t-shirt and sweats she slept in for her first day of college. Second semester? Now that's a different story.) But I'm not completely tech-ignorant, so my highly trained mind quickly deduced that we were talking about her online psychology class. (Relax, that's a "psychology" class, taken online –– not a class focused on the psychological quirks of people who go online. No one's shrinkin' your head.)

"I had to figure out how to log in and then send the professor an e-mail to prove that I could," she smiled.

"You had to send him an e-mail? Just to say hi?" I asked.

"Whatever. I got points for it. My first points in my first college class," she explained.

"Good point," I conceded, grasping the significance. "Congratulations."

Corinne and I are both excited and optimistic for Josie as she starts out. And day one looks like a great beginning. Now let's see what happens on day two, when she actually has to leave the house and make the drive to campus.

Send positive vibes!


Tommy My nephew is a superhero. No question about it. Every day he

sallies forth onto the field of battle, breathes in deeply the heady scent of

impending conflict and proceeds to vanquish the forces of darkness and evil.


His foes are an eclectic but consistently evil band. One day

it’s a white witch and her minions. The next day it’s Venom and the Sandman.

The next it’s the Riddler and Two Face.


But whoever it is that threatens the peace and well being of

Tommy’s world that day, his tactics are the same. Narrowing his eyes and

gritting his teeth, he summons the power within him and lashes out with a

crazed collection of punches, kicks, blocks and parries.


I have a pretty good idea what these battles look like in

his mind, because I’ve seen lots of movies and because I’ve been a six-year-old



But I have an even better idea what these battles look like

to the outside world. Hilarious. As “grown ups”, we’ll watch out the window as

Tommy winds up and lets fly with another haymaker into thin air. We’ll chuckle

at how cute he is with his jaunty sneer of defiance.
So cute.


Deep down though, part of me still remembers – we don’t get

it. My wife, my mom, my sister…I can’t say for sure if they ever got it. I

don’t know if girls ever feel compelled to save the world. Boys do though. They

get that call in no uncertain terms.


Tommy’s not a weird kid. He’s an awesome kid. He’s a super

kid. And while not every boy fights his imaginary battles quite as physically

as Tommy, I’m pretty sure we all did some sparring with evil in our minds. So

my nephew’s not just a superhero. He is Everyman!


All of this makes me wonder about the development of the

nothing box. Maybe it’s not necessarily something that we’re born with. Maybe

the nothing box is the void created as we “mature” and eliminate our Narnia

boxes and our Spiderman boxes and our Batman boxes.*


Has the acquired joy of floating through our nothing boxes

come at the expense of the most flamboyant parts of our imagination? What do

you think?



*Don’t get me wrong. I love my nothing box. I’m just

positing a theory here.

What if Favre was one of us?

Brett_favre (blu, blu, blee, blah, blu, blu, blu… I wrote that.)


As much of Minnesota continues to metaphorically dance naked

in the mud here at Favrestock, it’s to be expected that our new quarterback is

going to have top-of-mind awareness.


So in my Vikings-fan box I drift back and forth. One minute

I’m apprehensive about prima donna stories like "separate locker rooms" that don’t make him sound

like a great teammate. The next minute I’m cynical about a 39-year-old Hall of

Famer with a legacy to protect. (If we start to realize that Brett’s not going

to be able to get it done, is Childress going to feel pressure to keep starting

him just to protect “the streak”?)


Then there are minutes of purple-sky thinking where I’ll

just let myself consider the fact that quarterback was the only obvious hole on

this team. And, while I won’t even let myself think the “S” word (for trademark

reasons in addition to superstitious ones), it’s possible that this could really go well.


That’s when I’m thinking about it.


When I’m not consciously thinking about it – or about

anything – that’s when I’m in my nothing box. And then I’ll start to wonder

things like this:


Sure, Favre’s here. But is he one of us? I care about what

kind of “locker room guy” he is. But more importantly, what kind of “guy” is



Would Brett be a guy who’d sit down with you at the local

and share a pitcher? (Or is he keeping chemical free since the Vicodin

incident?) If he was, would he spring for something tasty like a Summit EPA? Or

does his taste in beer mirror his taste in clothes? (“A round of Milwaukee’s

Best, please – and keep ’em coming.”*) Would he pick up the tab? What kind of

tipper is he?


Does he show up for his press conference with the scruffy

face and the crappy hat because he’s that much of a regular guy? Or does he do

it because he’s too rich and important to care about anyone else’s definitions

of an acceptable dress code?


In short, is he a good guy? If we’re about to invest our

energy into cheering for him (or at least for his uniform), is he a guy worth

cheering for? Obviously there are some folks in Wisconsin who would advise us,

no. Is that an unflattering snapshot or an accurate summary of the man?


Just wondering.


*That begs the question: If Brett used to be a Miller guy,

do you think he’s switched to Bud in the last couple of years?

Inside the box

Greg At least at this point, there’s very little “point” to this

blog other than a curious pastime. But what little point there is (more of a

rounded nub, actually) comes in the form of an educational tool for defining

and illustrating disparate communication styles. To wit, I want to demonstrate

general male thought processes for the benefit of wives and girlfriends



Basically, I want a woman to be able to read a few posts and

step away from this blog with a clearer understanding of exactly what her

significant other means when he responds, “Um… Nothing,” to the persistent

question: “Honey, what are you thinking?”


The premise – as was so eruditely postulated by Doug Vagle,

the Pastor at our church – is that guys are great at compartmentalizing their

thoughts. Now I’m in my “work box”. Now I’m in my “dad box”. Now I’m in my

“Twins-fan box”. I think that part’s fairly understandable, even to women.


What gets confusing is the ambiguous presence of the

“nothing box.” Pastor Doug proposes, and I’m in full agreement, that the male

mind can be fully and contentedly occupied with absolutely nothing.




And, like the Adam’s apple, I’m just not sure there’s a

female equivalent to this appendage. Briefly summed up… It’s not so much a complete

void of thought. It’s not necessarily an empty blankness. It’s more of a loose,

wispy swirl of casual half-thoughts – most of which seem to pass by the front

of the conscious mind without ever officially checking in. Occasionally, one

will accidentally bump into the consciousness for a fleeting second. But it

rarely sticks around. Just as often, two or three completely unrelated shreds

of thought will be blown by some random cerebral breeze right into the

consciousness at the same time. Again, they rarely hang around. But if you’ve ever

asked your husband, “Honey, what are you thinking?” And gotten an answer like,

“If Julia Child and Fridge Perry had a hot dog eating contest, Fridge would

kick ass. But what if it was a coq au vin eating contest? Julia loved her some

coq au vin. And I’m not sure Fridge would. Could she take him?”


You’ve just knocked on his nothing box. After getting a few

confused or horrified looks early on in life, most guys learn that it’s simpler

to just answer, “nothing.”


NOTE: I don’t know if my

above description adequately described the fleeting nature of these

half-thoughts. They come and go, but certainly not all the time. So, quite

often, if you catch a guy in his nothing box, he is, quite literally, thinking

about nothing. Seriously.


So if some of the posts I end up making to this blog happen

to be coherent and valid, that will be purely coincidental. More often than

not, I’ll be endeavoring to document my journey through the nothing box so that

those who’ve never been there can gain a sense of its contents. Sort of like

Lewis and Clark, only without the government backing.