VANCOUVER — Justin Morneau carried the Olympic Torch last week, then watched the Opening Ceremony in his hometown at the Molson Canadian brewery.
"My friend walked in there and said, 'I didn't think I'd get into heaven,'" Morneau said.
Morneau left Vancouver last week to spend time in Arizona before heading to Twins spring training. Our Favorite Canadian called Friday and chatted about Canadian beer, Canadian pride, Canadian hockey, Canadian curling and one Canadian's confidence that his buddy Joe Mauer will sign a contract with the Twins.
JS Give me a tip -- what's your favorite Canadian beer?
JM Molson Canadian is all I drink.
JS No Kokanee?
JM Kokanee's good, too.
JS What was carrying the torch like?
JM It's hard to explain. It's different than being on a baseball field. I was nervous, representing my country like that. It was good to see how excited everyone else was. because they had just regular people doing it, and it was the highlight of their life.
JS Enjoying watching your town on Olympic broadcasts?
JM I think it's great for the world to see how great of a city it is. Obviously, it's a little warmer now than it usually is. But whether it's summer or winter it's a great city. ... You have skiing so close to town in the winter, and during the summer it's as beautiful a city as any in the world. I think this will help the tourism and the economy.
JS How much are you watching?
JM I watched that Canada-Swiss hockey game. That was, uh, interesting. My wife was in the other room. She had enough of me yelling at the TV, so she left.
JS You were a hockey goalie. Care about any other winter sports?
JM I like the ski jumps. We actually got to go watch the short-track speedskating. That was pretty cool. We had pretty good seats, and just to see all that action was impressive. The relays are chaos.
I did some skiing when I was younger. Until I got drafted. Then that became a bad idea. I skied and snowboarded growing up. I always found curling interesting. I'll watch that for hours.
JM It's a very challenging game. There's a lot of strategy behind it. A lot of people who have never tried it call it shuffleboard on ice.
JS Including me.
JM You get out there, and you have to have balance, and deal with the weight of the stone. You have to try it to get an appreciation for it. It looks so easy, sliding the rock down the ice, but if you get to the level they're at, they're really talented.
JS When was the last time you curled?
JM Probably in high school. We did it for PE class.
JS Isn't it like bowling -- a good excuse to drink?
JM I'm telling you, it's harder than it looks.
JS What do you watch when you're not yelling at the Canadian hockey team?
JM I like watching sports you don't see every day. It always kills me when you see people doing speedskating wipe out or snowboarders fall down. They've been training for this event for four years, this is their big moment and something goes wrong. It's always hard for me to watch that. We were at speedskating and one of the people double-faulted. You wait all that time, then that happens. We get to start over every year. They have to wait four.
JS Have you gotten the Mauer deal done yet?
JM Nope, not yet. I don't even ask him about it anymore. I mean, everybody I know who knows anything about baseball asks me about it all the time. ... We're still very optimistic about it getting done. It might take a little time, but I still think it's going to get done.
JS What are you thinking as you head to Fort Myers?
JM I'm excited. Our lineup is as good as anybody in baseball, as good as we've had. We can compete with anybody. We get [Kevin] Slowey back to where he was before he got hurt, and get [Francisco] Liriano back to where he was, and considering the solid veterans we have, and I'm excited. ... Then add Jim Thome and you get to learn from the one of the greatest home run hitters of all time. It's shaping up to be a memorable season.
JS Where will you watch the Canada-U.S. hockey game on Sunday?
JM I'm going to round up all the Canadians in Arizona and bring them to my house. I can't wait.
Jim Souhan can be heard at 10-noon Sunday on AM-1500. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. • email@example.com