Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Twins Homer’s Guide to the World Series

If you’re anything like me, you’ve still been watching every game of the playoffs since the Twins were eliminated. There is only so much baseball left before the long, cold, hard off-season, and I’ll take anything and everything I can get. Not to mention, watching the playoffs provides me with a great excuse to stop doing law school work, lay on the couch in my Twins snuggie, and drink some beer.

I think it should be quite predictable that I was rooting for the Giants to beat the Phillies (who wants to see them again?) and the Rangers to beat the Yankees (a no-brainer). Now that I have my “dream” match up, who do I root for??

Perhaps others are having this dilemma. However, the answer became quite obvious to me with only a second or two of reflection. Below I share my thought process, which I firmly believe covers all of the relevant points a Twins fan ought to consider when deciding who to root for this year.

Rooting for the San Francisco Giants

Point: The team hasn’t won a World Series since moving to California in 1957.
Counter-Point: The Giants were supposed to move to Minneapolis, but went to California instead.

Rooting for the Texas Rangers
Point: The Texas Rangers have never won a World Series since the organization’s first season in 1961.
Counter-Point: The Senators (the replacement team who later became the Texas Rangers) beat the Twins in their first ever home game at Metropolitan Stadium in 1961.

Winner: Tie. Giants 0, Rangers 0.

Rooting for the San Francisco Giants
Point: Tim Lincecum is pretty damn likeable. How does someone who looks like such a freak throw a baseball so well?
Counter-Point: Am I taking crazy pills, or doesn’t anyone else notice Brian Wilson paints that beard on his face?

Rooting for the Texas Rangers
Point: It’d be nice for Vlad to stick it to the Angels. How about that, Torii!?
Counter-Point: The Rangers left Cristian “Guzzy” Guzman off the post-season roster.

Winner: Tie. Giants 0, Rangers 0.

Rooting for the San Fransisco Giants
Point: Every time a Giant hits a homerun, the ReLeaf Herbal Center is giving a free joint to every Giants fan at their dispensary!
Counter-Point: Pretty sure marijuana is still illegal.

Rooting for the Texas Rangers
The Rangers are giving away free red pom-poms to fans attending playoff games (while the Twins, for the first time, made fans buy their Homer Hankies.)
Counter-Point: Pretty sure shaking red pom-poms at a baseball game is illegal.

Winner: Giants. Giants 1, Rangers 0.

Rooting for the San Francisco Giants
The Giants managed to just barely squeak into the playoffs in the last few days of the season, which is very Minnesota Twins-esque.
Counter-Point: The Giants were not swept in the opening series, which is very un-Minnesota Twins-esque.

Rooting for the Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers are managed by Ron Washington.
Counter-Point: ….

Winner: Rangers. Giants 1, Rangers 324,325.

So yes—if it wasn’t already obvious, the only factor that really matters for the Twins Homer is that Ron Washington manages the Rangers. Not only is Ron the only ex-Twin (as far as I’m aware) involved in the World Series (my normal method of picking a team to root for in a Yankees-less series), he was Kirby Puckett’s "big-league father" and sat by Kirby’s bedside during his final hours. So how can I not be rooting for his team to win? Kind of a chimerical concept.

Go Rangers!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sad? Why should I be sad?

The Yankees finished their ALDS sweep of the Twins last night, meaning the Twins’ 2010 season is over. So what am I doing this afternoon? You guessed it—I’m taking the afternoon off to celebrate the Twins amazing 2010 season!! WOOHOO!!

Okay—so I know a lot of Twins fans out there are very sad/depressed/angry, because their dreams of a World Series Championship have been dashed. You know what I think about that view? How depressing! Why should I let 3 lousy games make me forget about the joy and excitement I got from watching the Twins play over the last 6 months?

There are different ways one can go about their fandom. One way is to expect your team to win the World Series every year. This, obviously, is the ultimate task to be accomplished every season. Why else does your team play? So, then, if your team is clearly having a losing season, there is no point in watching (except, maybe, to complain about what the team needs to change to win a World Series the next year). If your team is clearly having a winning season, you don’t really need to pay much attention until October, because a few extra wins or losses during the regular season are meaningless. All you really want is for your team to win the World Series, and if they don’t, the entire point of the season has been frustrated. The year will be a failure, and you’re understandably peeved about the whole thing. You complain about what you think needs to be changed to make sure next year isn’t such a god damn awful failure as well. But if your team happens to win the World Series, your expectations are met and you can gloat to all other fans about how your team is so much better than theirs. What a joy! Because the whole point is just to win it all—right? So your team wins! This might be called “being a Yankee fan.”

But that is not the only way to be a fan. You can also be a fan just because you like to watch your team play baseball. You want your team to win, of course—but that’s not the ultimate point. The point is actually watching baseball. That’s what makes it a pass-time. That’s what makes you look forward to game time everyday, because every game is unpredictable: maybe today someone will hit for the cycle. Maybe tomorrow everyone on the field will hilariously be attacked by bugs. Maybe the next day someone will break a record. And maybe the day after that, your team will play horribly and lose. But because you continue watching everyday, you become invested in your team. You notice how different players interact, how they react to wins and losses, how they grow and change over time. You might even start to notice similar interactions, reactions, and growth among the fans and society around you. You might notice your team becoming more popular, or how a new stadium has transformed the city you were born and have lived in the majority of your life, or maybe even how fans are starting to become disenfranchised by recent events. Most importantly, however, is that over time, you really start to care about noticing these things—because this isn’t just a movie, this is real life passing before your eyes. This is it. As a great Twin once said, “Don't take life for granted, because tomorrow isn't promised to any one of us.”

I cherish every Twins game I get to attend, watch, or listen to. The Twins have certainly given me a lot to be happy about throughout this season. Why should I be sad? Sure, I would love a World Series championship, or just to be able to watch the Twins play more baseball games. But thus is life. All I can do, being the fan that I am, is try my best to cherish every moment I have. That's what makes me a fan. And that's what makes me happy.

And that's why I love baseball.

P.S. Perhaps my explanation of fandom will help explain why I still think this was my favorite moment of the entire "season". How far this team has come since 2001, how much they have been through, and how loyal true Twins fans are... This made me so proud to be a Twins fan.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Are You Kidding Me?

Let me start off by saying how awesome the atmosphere was at Target Field at the start of yesterday's playoff game against the Yankees. It was loud, it was exciting, home hankies were twirling, everyone was hanging on every pitch.

Then, when CC Sabathia hit Thome in the 2nd inning, followed by Cuddyer's homerun, Target Field went even crazier.

The Twins were definitely feeding off the energy. So great home field advantage, right?

But fast forward a few innings. In the top of the 6th, the Yankees score 4 runs to take the lead by 1--and the fans just went silent. Things perked up a little when the Twins tied it up in the bottom of the 6th, but when the Yankees scored two off Jesse Crain (!#!@!) the next inning, Target Field just went dead. And I mean dead dead. I literally turned to my mom and said, "You could hear a pin drop in here." You could even hear people cheering for the Yankees.

Oh, but it gets worse.

My reaction to all this quietness, quite obviously, was to continue to cheer. I mean--these are the Twins! This is a playoff game! We're only behind by two runs! You would think it would be acceptable--no, mandatory--to continue to cheer for your team. Apparently, the family sitting in front of me did not agree. All three of them turned around and glared at me whenever I opened my mouth. They said something to my sister. And then, their daughter did this:

SHE SHOVED A HOMER HANKY IN HER EAR. Yes. She shoved a Homer Hanky in her ear because she was so annoyed with the girl sitting behind her cheering for the Twins at a Twins playoff game. No, I was not yelling in her ear. Yes, I was loud, but frankly, it was no where near as loud as it had been just a few innings earlier, when the girl was happily waving her Hanky around as it is properly to be used.

I look at the picture, and a part of my heart just dies.

Out of the hundreds of baseball games I have gone to in my life, I could count the number I left early on one hand. And after this family continued to tell us to pipe down, last night's game became one of them. It was probably the first time I left Target Field both before the game ended and thinking "I miss the Metrodome."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Front row seats? Front row seats!

Last Thursday I had the awesome opportunity to sit in front row seats behind the Twins dugout for their game against the Blue Jays—and yeah, okay, I realize I’m a bit late on writing about this, and everyone has moved on to the Yankees, and such forth and hereto with. Unfortunately, law school classes have started up again, and being a law school student seriously cramps my Twins fandom style. And my time available for blogging. I apologize.

Anyway, these were the same seats I got the chance to sit in very early in the year on May 3rd, during the game in which Wilson Ramos convinced Twins fans for a week or so that he was the second coming of Joe Mauer and ought to play 3rd base. Good times, right? Target Field was still fairly new at that point and I had nothing bad to say about sitting in the front row.

Mind you, these are still entirely awesome seats and I think every Minnesotan should get the chance to sit there. Standing up, you’re able to look right down at the players in the dugout, literally just a few feet away. It's really just like you could lean over and rub Thome's head.

Jim, by the way, was awesome. A fan yelled for him and he turned around and just game him a "Rock on" sign. He really genuinely seem as nice as everyone says.

The thing is, you can only see this stuff standing up, and being in the front row, you feel obliged to sit for most of the game. The dugout comes up rather high—presumably to protect fans from objects flying out of the field. So when you sit down, you can no longer see any players in the dugout.

Ok, I lied—you can see the top of Jon Rauch’s head.

Now I know the real point is to watch the game, but the view of that isn’t necessarily the best either. I personally feel that the view would actually be much nicer a few rows back. Of course, then you'd lose the novelty of sitting in the very front row, where you can pretend you're a superstar.

Jose Bautista.

ME and Jose Bautista.

Anywho, I had an enjoyable time--drank a beer, saw Jose Bautista absolutely murder a baseball, drank more beer, saw Bautista murder another ball, waved at Jerry White (he likes waving to fans), and took a lot of pictures.

Mauer on deck.

Plouffe warming up the pitcher (they really don't let Morales do anything)

Danny Valencia!

Crowds clearing out after the Blue Jays hit homeruns like it's the Metrodome.

I also managed to take a video, apparently of Jose Molina's homerun.

And Julie--the umpire twirling his finger around in the air means it's a homerun.

I went to the games Friday and Sunday as well (although not in the front row seats, of course). Some people might get bored at these games since they 'don't really matter'. Personally, I love watching the last few games of the season, both in person or on TV. In fact, I especially love watching games between two teams who are totally out of the playoff picture. Back when I had Extra Innings (or even any cable at all), I used to try and watch as many of the last games as I possibly could. The very last games were, understandably, usually on the West Coast. I remember a few years back, watching the very last regular season game in all MLB--a Dodgers game--and both teams were totally out of the race. But then the Dodgers scored a run, and the camera panned around to show all the cheering fans. "And for one brief moment," Vin Scully orated, as the camera zoomed in on a small boy, sitting on his father's shoulders, barely holding on to an ice cream cone as his dad jumped up and down, "it's Camelot in Dodgers Stadium."

"But then," Vin Scully went on, as the boy and his father still cheered, "reality sets in."

As a Twins fan, this season has been an absolute dream come true--and I know I can saw that regardless of what happens in the playoffs.

Thank you 2010 Twins!