Thursday, October 21, 2010

Twins Song: The Report

It's been quite nearly a month since I was hired to write and perform a song for the Minnesota Twins. If you're wondering what that is all about, you can read my last post and catch up. I'll wait.

OK, now that you're up to speed I'll let you know how the whole thing went. The party for the team was thrown at the Chambers Hotel in Minneapolis the evening of Sunday September 19. I got there around 5, but it was way too early as the guests were not to arrive till around 6:30. So I called my buddy Joe, who happened to be nearby at a bar, and stopped by the bar and had a couple of beers. This may or may not have been a good idea.

So after a couple beers it was getting close to 6:30 and I headed back to the Chambers. The first person I ran into was Jim Thome, in the Men's Room no less. "Hey, Jim Thome!" I said, cleverly enough. An awesome homerun hitter--he's number 8 on the MLB all time home run list. Number 5, if you don't count the steroid users, which I don't. In other words, he's a big deal. As we were leaving the men's room I noticed he had a bit of a hitch in his gait, so with that and the fact that he's 40 years old I felt a little twinge of guilt that in the first verse of my song I was making fun of the way he runs.

My instructions were that the song had to be funny, and I think it's kind of funny the way he runs "like a Rock'em Sock'em Robot."

Anyway party guests began trickling in. Members of the team, coaches, front office people, big shots from FSN, FSN talent, and of course the Pohlad family.

The plan was that I would perform the song right before dessert. They were serving a four or five course meal, so I had lots of time to get uncomfortable. Basically I was hanging around--in the lobby, in the courtyard, here and there--just waiting. As I was wandering about I ran into Twins play-by-play announcer Dick Bremer, who was having a conversation with Twins infielder Nick Punto and his (Nick's) wife. Dick introduced me to the Puntos, and explained that I was there to perform a song about the team. I mentioned to Nick that he is in the song, and he got all serious and said "What do you MEAN, I'm in the song?" And Mrs. Punto asked "Am I going to have to throw a shoe at you?" And so now I had that to think about.

Later while wandering about I ran into the Twins CEO Jim Pohlad. Mr. Pohlad explained that his niece, Sarah, has a lovely singing voice and thought I should ask her to join me in singing Happy Birthday to Twins players Danny Valencia and Scott Baker. So Jim took me over to Sarah's table where she was sitting with her husband Joe. (This is where I realized that there are more Pohlads than I even knew. I had seen Joe in the pressbox many times and always thought he was an intern. He's young.) Anyway Jim Pohlad introduced me to Sarah and Joe, and I sat down. I mentioned that her uncle had said she was a very good singer, and would she care to join me later in singing Happy Birthday? Well she was absolutely not interested, and I said of course that's fine, I understand. And Jim Pohlad, who was standing right there, said "No you don't. Keep trying," which I was not comfortable doing, but I made a half-hearted attempt anyway. Joe was not amused with my second attempt and signaled that we were through by saying "Nice talking to you Jim," and turning away from me. Wellll, THAT was kind of awkward.

Later I ran into Twins President Dave St. Peter, who had a big smile on his face and asked "how did that go?" Clearly Dave had witnessed the exchange and knew quite well how it went.

Jim Pohlad had said that I should have some food, which I hadn't done up to that point because seeing as that I was the hired help I didn't think I was invited to sit down and eat with all the guests. But by then I was not too hungry, and though it was a very gracious offer I declined and continued to wait to perform.

Ocassionally while I was waiting I went "backstage", behind a little partition in the dining room, to go over the song. I have to confess that since I had just wrote it I was not entirely comfortable with the song. I was, in a sense, learning it myself even though I had written it. So after going over the song again, I came out from behind the partition and ran into William Pohlad, who I regard as the coolest Pohlad.
He said to me "You're that guy!"
And I said, "Yes I am."
He put out his hand and said "Bill Pohlad. They're looking for you."
And so it was showtime.

I was glad it was Danny and Scott's birthday, because at least that gave me an opening song I was familiar with. I noticed Jim Thome out there, and I made a little speech about running into Jim, thinking "wow, that's Jim Thome!", and then apologizing for the first verse. And Nick Punto was right up front, but I didn't notice his wife anywhere. So without further ado I launched into the song. And while I don't remember much about the performance, I can tell you that the Jim Thome verse got a big laugh, as did the verse about Ron Gardenhire. Other than that, it's a blank. I've performed lots of shows at lots of places and I don't get nervous, but I have to say that this night as soon as I started singing my mouth went as dry as a desert. Lips sticking to teeth, cheeks sticking to gums--I had to enunciate with as much precision as I could muster to make sure the song was intelligible. That may have been a good thing. Why the nerves? Maybe it was due to singing a song I wasn't yet comfortable with that is supposed to be funny in front of the people I was singing about? Maybe I was looking for a flying shoe?

But I guess it all went well, at least that's what people have told me. Though Twins bullpen coach Ron Stelmaszek said I was a bit rough on Thome.