"Let us go forth a while, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our closed rooms...
The game of ball is glorious."

--Walt Whitman

Monday, June 27, 2005

Panic Button

Well. Judging by what I'm reading in the papers and hearing on the TV and radio and even in person, the world has come to an end, the sky is falling, there can be no joy in Mudville, and we're all doomed to squalid, meaningless lives until Death opens his arms and finally takes us into the blessed, icy embrace of the grave.

Wake up, people. It's not like we're Cubs fans.

(Oh. Sorry, Mom....most of us aren't Cubs fans.)

Let's just set aside how incredibly sucky the last 15 games have been. For those of you who haven't been paying attention, and I don't blame you in the least, the Twins have lost their last five series. They've won one game in each series. Yeah, thanks for not getting swept, guys. That means...well, actually, that means pretty much nothing at this point. But I digress.

Despite the last two weeks, the Twins' record is almost exactly what it was at this time last year. And last year, they won the division. Got that? Good. There's a lot of baseball left to be played. Anything can happen, and that includes a return to a more familiar reality for both the Whine Sox and the Twins.

Failing that, the Twins are solidly in the wild card race. Good play will keep them there. There's no shame in being the wild card, folks. It's a whole new season after the first 162.

And really, what's the worst thing that could happen? The worst is this: they can continue to lose and end the season in third or even fourth place, with a record under .500.

Whoopie. Remember the 2000 season? Or the six before that? How about the last half of 2001?

I hate to break it to you, but no team wins forever, and the Twins don't have enough money to even do a fair imitation. We have been blessed with three glorious seasons in a row, and a crop of young players who will make the next few years well worth following, win or lose.

And let's just say, for argument's sake, that this season does end as a crashing disappointment. No playoffs. A losing record, perhaps. Bitterness and tears. Alas.

There's always next year. We'll still have Brad Radke, Johan Santana and Carlos Silva. We'll still have Juan Rincon and Joe Nathan. We'll still have Lew Ford, Torii Hunter, Jason Bartlett, Luis Rodriguez, Glenn Williams and Nick Punto. Jason Kubel will probably rejoin the team in '06. Matt Guerrier, Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer will have a full year's MLB experience under their belts, and we'll have them. Francisco Liriano and Scott Baker will have (more or less) a full year's experience at AAA, and will be expected to vie for any open position on the pitching staff in spring training.

And then there's the offseason. A lot can happen in an offseason. The Twins could acquire a hitting coach. JC Romero could take up yoga and calm the hell down. Michael Cuddyer could leave baseball to embark on a career as a carnival magician. Terry Ryan could make a brilliant trade at the winter meetings, or a brilliant claim off the waiver wire. Kyle Lohse could have success with an experimental treatment for his chronic cranial rectitis and remember that he can be dominant.

The whole team, staff included, might learn from this season, maturing by realizing that you can't take success for granted, and come back (humbly) to take it all next year.

Even when the worst happens, the best can follow. Even, horror of horrors, if this is the beginning of another 8-year drought, our turn will come again. Take a lesson from the Cubs' loyalists--love the game for its own sake. Love the team for its own sake. Bitch about the little things, accept the rest. Believe fervently, hope irrationally and, if failure comes, shrug it off.

So take your finger off the panic button, everyone. Take a deep breath. Have a beer. Enjoy the game.

3 rejoinders:

bubblemint sounded off...

"JC Romero could take up yoga and calm the hell down. Michael Cuddyer could leave baseball to embark on a career as a carnival magician."

LOL...
Yes...We can only hope.

Fourth pew, center sounded off...

Irrationally?? Geesh, we just don't get no respect . . .
Just for that, I'll expect a major contribution to my travel expenses when the Cubs go to the World Series.
(hey, travelling with a wheelchair and oxygen can't be cheap!)

Batgirl sounded off...

" Love the team for its own sake. Bitch about the little things, accept the rest. Believe fervently, hope irrationally and, if failure comes, shrug it off."

Bravo.