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Puckett Memorial Hits and Misses

I fully intended to go down to First Avenue and check out the Ghostface Killah gig, but instead got sucked into the Kirby Puckett Memorial on television. Here are some quick impressions.

Hit: Former Twins GM Andy MacPhail will apparently forever be boyish and classy. His leadoff speech deftly put into perspective how much energy Puckett selflessly expended keeping himself and his teammates so upbeat--and how important that is on during the long baseball season.

Miss: All of us were once again subjected to the myriad foibles of Tom Kelly. Chosen to close out the proceeedings, TK strutted his ostentatious false modesty by breaking from the script and hauling all of the ballplayers up behind him from out of their chairs, mysteriously passing it off as a once-in-lifetime photo op when it became clear that the stunt was a confusing and time-consuming dud. He announced he wasn't going to do a speech because we'd all had enough of speeches, then gave a long rambling speech anyway that happened to slip in that he was an early champion of bringing Puckett up from the minors, then proclaimed that was one of the very few smart decisions he'd ever made (notice where all the emphasis is being put?). Kelly then invoked his favorite straw man--the clueless media guy--to showcase his honorability, claiming some unnamed media person asked him why he and all the people were at the Dome. They were there to respect Kirby Puckett, Kelly responded, then abruptly said, "I'm done," and walked away from the mic. Only the last two words were well put.

Hit: Mudcat Grant's surprise cameo and stirring rendition of the song Louie Armstrong made famous, "What A Wonderful World."

Miss: GB Leighton. Maybe there was a reason Leighton was tapped for this gig. But it was never explained to the rest of us.

Hit: Al Newman's great remark that he and Puck would occasionally fall asleep on each other as one kept talking and the other waited to get a word in edgewise.

Miss: Harmon Killebrew. Next time there is a filibuster in Congress, a text of Harmon's remarks would be an appropriate thing to throw into the breach.

Hit: Cal Ripken Jr.'s anecdote about Puckett babbling so much to him and Eddie Murray before a Twins-Orioles game that the two missed batting practice.

Miss: Kent Hrbek reprising his groaner about the God calling Puckett to heaven too soon because he needed a number three hitter for that great baseball game in the sky.

Hit: John Gordon was just what you want from an emcee in these circumstances: succinct and heartfelt without getting carried away.

Hit: Two moments of surprising poignance: Watching Kirby's two children bewildered and/noncommital about all this attention suddenly focused their way; and seeing Carl Pohlad unsuccessfully try to stand when his name was announced.

Hit: Puck, bad eye and all, doing a Letterman top ten on the ten ways to misprounounce the name Kirby Puckett.

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