Baseball Talk Enough To Warm Up A Cold Winter Day

There is nothing to warm up a cold day like talking baseball. Having had that opportunity twice this week, I’ve been feeling pretty warm of late.

Tuesday, of course, was the Minnesota Twins winter caravan stop in Yankton. Because it was just a quick stop-over at WNAX, the local Twins radio affiliate, the event was not open to the public, meaning that there was a lot more one-on-one time with the Twins people who came down.

What you learn on a day like that is, as much as people like Tony Oliva, Dick Bremer, Jason Kubel and Denard Span may be famous — regionally, if not nationally — they are still pretty down-to-earth people.

One of the organizers brought kuchen and kolaches from a local business, and Bremer called and thanked the business owner, talking to him for around five minutes. While Kubel drew the most attention — several relatives from the area showed up at the station — all four were more than happy to have a casual conversation with whoever wanted to talk.

In fact, the most arrogant thing — and I wouldn’t even call it that — that was said was Span commenting that he never wanted to see a minor league ballpark again, at least as a player. I don’t know about you, but I would want that out of a young man who was able to take advantage of a break — Michael Cudduyer’s “break” last year — and is willing to do the work to prove he belongs.

Later in the week, I sat down with Mount Marty baseball coach Andy Bernatow for a look at the 2009 season, which begins just one week from today.

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While he admits the team “took a step back” in 2008 after coming just one win away from an NAIA regional berth in 2007, they have worked hard and added a lot of new pieces that should help the team get back in the top half of the Great Plains Athletic Conference in 2009.

MMC won’t play a home game for a while — March 21 with the conference opener against Dana, the 22nd game of the season, to be precise — but start next week with two games in the Metrodome, followed by three trips south — two weekends and one spring break — before getting into a league slate.

While Bernatow, a good friend since back when the donned the Blue and Gold as a player, is a promoter at heart — and I know that — it was still hard not to get caught up in his excitement about the team.

The last time I wrote about spring fever, we got a blizzard … in April. I’m hoping Mother Nature got that out of her system and we’re in for a nice spring.

Back With The Jacks

Last weekend, the Press & Dakotan did something that hasn’t been done in at least five years. We sent someone up to Brookings for a South Dakota State event, the Jackrabbit women’s basketball game with North Dakota State.

Actually, if you look at it, it might be something we’ve never done. (I say “might” because I wasn’t involved in the first 118 years of the publication, so I’m not sure about it.)

Yes, we have covered SDSU games in Brookings before, but I don’t ever remember us covering a SDSU game against anyone other than their rivals to the south, the University of South Dakota. We have covered track meets and such that involved SDSU in other places, but never a home event with someone other than the Coyotes, at least in my brief 16 years at 319 Walnut.

We did not do a regular game story. Jeremy Hoeck, my very capable assistant, went up to Brookings to double-dip on a couple of player features, SDSU junior and Yankton native Ketty Cornemann, and NDSU sophomore and Parker native Abby Plucker.

I have made a couple of trips to Brookings over the years — mostly State-U football games, as well as a first-round NCAA Division II region game. Those trips stopped when SDSU made the jump to NCAA Division I and quit playing the Coyotes in the “major” sports, i.e. football and basketball.

Now that USD has begun its transition to Division I and trying to get into the same league as SDSU — The Summit League — hopefully we can start making Brookings a regular stop.

Listen to Press & Dakotan assistant sports editor Jeremy Hoeck and 1450 KYNT’s Brady Donovin on “Breakfast With The Coaches,” live from Yesterday’s Cafe, today beginning at 9 a.m.

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