"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

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Well, Yes, But NEXT Year...

There may not be crying in baseball, but there sure is swearing. To get all of the cursing out of her system following the ALDS sweep, TBL required a week and a half and seven different languages. Did you know that it's possible to get banned from BabelFish?

But oh, think of next season, when we will not have Juan Castro or Tony Batista clogging up the infield and, in the latter case, occasionally the basepaths. We will have Jason Bartlett all year, or else we will have Twins management in traction and TBL begging for bail, one or the other. We will have Francisco Liriano, and the reigning Cy Young winner, and Pat "Skippy" Neshek.

Juan Rincón will get his groove back, or else, and Jason Kubel will be healthier. Justin Morneau will go for 40, and Joe Mauer for .400. Boof Bonser will get 15 wins and three new tattoos, and Nick Punto will be the shortest third baseman ever to win a Gold Glove.

It'll happen. Just you wait.

P.S. Check out the remodeled and expanded TwinsCards.com (there's a link in my favorites, under "Baseball Blogs"). They've added all sorts of non-card memorabilia and are adding more all the time.

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Well, That Explains It

No wonder they lost the first two!

St. Paul Pioneer Press: TWINS' 'BIG FELLA' IS BACK

The Minnesota Twins will have a familiar face back in their dugout today.

Wayne Hattaway is again with his beloved team in Oakland, Calif., likely pacing the clubhouse and ribbing the players in his Southern drawl. 'Big Fella,' as Hattaway is known, is a team legend, a clubhouse guy and the organization's most outlandish cheerleader.

Sidelined by cancer surgery, he's had to watch games from the clubhouse or his living room for the past two weeks. Players and coaches who cared for him since his rare diagnosis of breast cancer have missed his ubiquitous presence.

"We miss his cackle," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We need that cackle back. He's been our good luck charm."

A slight, nearly blind man of 66, Big Fella has been a familiar figure with the minor leagues and the Minnesota Twins for more than 50 years. He was hired in 1963 to help Twins minor leaguers, and, for the past five years, he's worked part time to keep the clubhouse running from day to day.

"It's been depressing me to not be there," Hattaway said. "I'm more upset about that than I am the cancer. There ain't nothing I could do about my illness, but I could be there for the team."

Read the whole article. It's great.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Finnegan Was A Realist

It ain't over 'til it's over.
--Yogi Berra

On June 7th, many Twins fans (I admit to being among them) had already dusted off the familiar mantra of "maybe next season". Our team was awful. Worse than awful, on occasion. The hitting was pathetic, the fielding erratic, and the pitching was just fine unless the hitters actually got something going, then it imploded. It wasn't just Murphy's Law, it was Finnegan's Corollary* out there.

And then, hey, whadda ya know, something or somebody reminded our boys that spring training was OVER. I imagine they looked at each other, dropped their eyes to their feet, blushed a little, chuckled like people do when they've just said something really embarrassing into the sudden silence after the music stops, and went out there to start playing like it mattered.

After a while, it did matter. They climbed out of the division cellar, had a poke around the living room, trotted upstairs and rifled through the drawers a little, pulled down the ladder to rummage through the attic, and before we'd had a chance to absorb the fact that they were a shoo-in for the wild card, they'd snuck out the back door with the division title and Ozzie Guillen's dreams clanking against each other in a pillowcase.

Now, this situation we find ourselves in after two ALDS games is not good. It is, as a college friend of mine used to say, double-plus-ungood. I'm not going to feed you a line of crap about how it doesn't matter, they were just working the bugs out, they'll come back no problem.

It matters. There are problems. The biggest one being that the team we saw Tuesday and Wednesday was not the same team that went medieval on the AL's ass for the last four months. Same names, same numbers, different team. I can't explain it. I could theorize, but believe me, you do not want to hear it. My most plausible explanation to date involves cloning, moon phases, and mushrooms of questionable origin. This is how baffled I am.

The thing is, these guys have been counted out before. Remember what happened? Lightning can strike twice. Ask that forest ranger who's on every Discovery Channel show about lightning ever made--he's been hit like five times. This team can climb out of the deep, dark pit of despair they not only dug for themselves but voluntarily jumped into.

And if they don't? Remember the season. They did the impossible. It was stunning, amazing, unbelievable, magical. Nothing that comes after it should be allowed to take that away from us, or to tarnish it in any way. We're all greedy, we all want more, want a win, another series, another trophy. Of course we do. But what we have already been privileged to witness is more than we ever dreamed we'd have, on June 7th.

I'm proud of my Twins. And that's enough. If it has to be.

*Murphy's Law: Anything that can go wrong, will.
Finnegan's Corollary: Murphy was an optimist.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

And As For Game 2...

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ALDS 1: In Pictures

No time for a postmortem this morning, so here, have some photos. If you click on them, they'll pop up full sized.

These and many other Twins photos will appear on my Flickr page in the offseason, when I've time to sort them all. If you want the original of any of these (taken at 2048 x 1536), drop me a line.

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Oh. My. Deities.

There are words to describe this season. There are. And they will come to me eventually. But right now, oh, I just have to wrap all the wonder around me and hug it to myself like a warm sweater on a cold night.

And it was a very cold night--do you remember May? I am no longer young enough to think of four months as a long time. I remember May. I remember trudging up to Gate F and handing my ticket to the nice lady who's been there longer than I have, feeling like I was being punished for something I didn't do. And the game hadn't even started yet. But I went.


Because I'm an unrepentant baseball addict.

Because I love my Twins.

Because I paid so freakin' much to sit in a plastic bubble gnawing on a congealing veggie burger while Tony Batista and Juan Castro played endless rounds of "Lot's Wife" in the infield.

Because even in the darkest days Johan Santana and Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer and Juan Rincón had the power to make me giddy with joy.

Because I was not-so-patiently waiting for the return of Jason Bartlett and the day (presumably soon afterwards) when I could point to him and, with my other hand, thumb my nose at the Twins management.

And because that tiny little optimist inside me, of whose very existence I am constantly resentful, kept saying they can't suck forever.

The tiny little optimist was right. Bartlett stormed back to the big leagues and joined Nick Punto and 'Cisco Liriano and Pat "What the Heck Was THAT?" Neshek and a bunch of other faces both new and old in making me ever more giddy with joy. There were wins upon wins upon wins. There was crash-bang-BOOM to every field and Radke throwing the ball with his left ventricle because his heart was all he had left and holy crap we're in third, we're in second, we're the wild card, we're the AL Central champions.

We are. Those 25 guys on the field, I love 'em, and they did all that running and hitting and pitching and smelling 'em and yes, they are the pirahnas, but we the fans are the river. This is our party, too.

And I know it's trite, and I know it's overused, but it's so true I have to say it:

This was magic.

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