Commenter Clarence Swamptown will delight you with his borderline inappropriate takes on just about anything in life. He's been doing this for almost exactly a year now, and we have to think almost everyone agrees his weekly segment has been a great addition to this blog. As always, his thoughts on sports and life in general do not necessarily reflect those of RandBall or the Star Tribune. Clarence?


With their playoff hopes behind us and Brad Childress gone, let's take a brief, well-deserved break from the Vikings and focus on the upcoming Twins season.  Here are some important dates to remember before spring training:
November 30:  Deadline for potential free-agents to accept arbitration.  It is also my 35th birthday. I believe the traditional gift is Carl Crawford.
December 2: Non-tender deadline.  Even though he is injury prone, I’ll go on record as a charter member of the “shortstops like J.J. Hardy don’t grow on trees” fanclub and I hope they retain his services. 
December 6: Start of the Baseball Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Hopefully Bill Smith nuggies Jack Zduriencik’s bald little head until the Mariners agree to trade Franklin Gutierrez.  IT’S A RATIONAL TRADE FOR BOTH SIDES JACK
//purple nurple.
December 21:  Jim Thome finally reaches home plate after being sent by Scott Ullger in late August.
January 5: Arbitration filing period begins.
January 31:  Don Shelby’s retirement processional is 95% done, with only a 14-page expose in the Gibbon-Winthrop Penny Saver and guest-hosting Viva & Jerry's remaining.
February 17:  Rejoice. Pitchers and catchers report to Fort Meyers. 
*Outstate Bar of the Week:  Ballard's Resort, Baudette, Minnesota. 
What is the bar famous for?   Ballard's is located on the south bank of the Rainy River, just downstream from Lake of the Woods. It's owned and operated by the family of former Gopher and current Vancouver Canuck Keith Ballard.  If I am traveling through a tourist town, I like to stop at a resort bar even if I am not staying at the resort.  Most outstate bars are full of sullen, surly goobers who always give the YOU MUST BE FROM 'THE CITIES' SO WE WILL HATEFULLY STARE AT YOU WITH OUR GOOGLY EYES when you walk in the door.  Resort bars are full of out-of-towners on vacation and the bar is usually not the main source of profit, so many times the customers are friendlier and the drinks are stronger. 
Can I watch the game there?  Yes, there are a few small televisions usually turned to a hunting or fishing program, but I am sure they will turn on the game if you ask politely.
Can I watch the NASCAR race there?  Sure, but please remember that the NASCAR season is over now that Jimmie Johnson (aka the most boring "sports" superstar since Johnny {redacted} Unitas) won his 5th-straight championship on Sunday.  I understand that NASCAR fans are a fickle bunch so you have to walk a fine line between brash and boring, but the guy celebrates with all the excitement of a hospice euchre champion.  Feel free to let down your pseudo-mullet any day now Mr. Johnson.
Do they have a website? Yes. It's an NL West-like competition, but Ballard’s has the best Outstate Bar of the Week website to date.
What bar games are available?  You are footsteps from over one million acres of world-class walleye fishing.  Ask for a to-go cup and go do that.
*Country & Western Song of the Week:  In an effort to combine Randball’s 2Day Top 5 segment, the award-winning TUGS on randballsstu’s Twitter account, and the Clearance Clarence C & W Song of the Week, I asked Stu to provide his Top 5 C & W songs of all time.  Stu’s musical knowledge is unrivaled, and he did not disappoint. It’s a solid list, please enjoy:
Via Stu: Clarence asked me for my top 5 country & western songs. Here are 15 off the top of my head, because I couldn’t decide:
15. “She Took a Lot of Pills (and Died),” Robbie Fulks. 
14. “You Belong With Me,” Taylor Swift. 
13. “God Will,” Lyle Lovett
12. “The Road Goes On Forever,” Robert Earl Keen, Jr.
11. “Seven-Year Ache,” Rosanne Cash. 
10. “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” Willie Nelson. 
9. “Hot Burrito #1,” the Flying Burrito Brothers. 
8. “Long Black Veil,” Lefty Frizzell. 
7. “You Ain’t Going Nowhere,” the Byrds.
6. “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” Kris Kristofferson. 
5. “$1000 Wedding,” Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris. 
4. “Flowers on the Wall,” the Statler Brothers.
3. “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way,” Waylon Jennings. 
2. “Fist City,” Loretta Lynn. 
1. “The Ballad of Ira Hayes,” Johnny Cash
* I know, Taylor Swift isn’t “real” country, whatever that is. She identifies as country and it’s the catchiest song since “Since U Been Gone,” so there you go. I am absolutely serious about this.
* I apologize to the Townes Van Zandt estate, as he deserves a mention up there somewhere.
* With a few exceptions, these songs are brutally sad. 
* You could put 30 Johnny Cash songs in a hat, draw one at random, and you’d have the best country song ever. 
Lastly, if you have a history of seizures you may want to avoid clicking on this link to the alleged Minnesota Vikings’ uniform in 2012.  Horrible. That’s the worst thing I saw on the internet last week. Here is the best thing:  a random, illustrated story about a woman moving her two dogs to Oregon
Please offer your thoughts on Franklin Gutierrez, Don Shelby, rube stare downs, the greatest C & W songs of all time, and the proper level of teasing Stu should endure for listing Taylor Swift, in the comments below. Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone. Go Irish.

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