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The Game

Posted by ashburyjohn , 11 August 2014 · 869 views

The Game (This is an entry in the Blogging For Pizza contest.)

April, 2010...

"I don't want to be the catcher on the Twins anymore," Joe Mauer said. He looked around the table at the others inquiringly. "Like that?"

Gardy beamed. "Exactly like that." The manager picked up his glass and made a vague toasting motion with it, in acknowledgement of the catcher's quick comprehension.

Morneau's eyebrow inched up. "And the purpose of this rather esoteric activity is...?"

Gardy sighed. "It's a game," he informed Morneau with exaggerated patience. "And a sort of a psychological exercise, too." He scowled slightly at the Canadian, who still looked unconvinced. "Look, we four think we know each other pretty well, right?"

Morneau regarded Ryan, Mauer and Gardy gravely before he answered. "Yes," he said cautiously.

"Well, this'll show how well we know each other. You and Terry and Joe, for instance, will all come up with a sentence that you think is exactly the opposite of what I would normally say. And then, I'll try to top it with something even more opposite."

Morneau tilted his head and regarded the manager solemnly. "It is not possible," he told Gardy pedantically, "to be 'more opposite.' It is like saying that a thing is 'very unique.' It is either unique or it is not: there is no matter of degree in an absolute."

Gardy rolled his eyes. "Yeah, whatever. All right, then, let me put it this way: I'll try to come up with something even more outrageous than the three of you have said. It'll show whether I know myself the best, or whether one of you does." He shot a challenging look at Morneau. "So what do you think?"

"I think," Morneau replied slowly, "that if the object of the game is to generate an outrageous statement, you will most likely be declared the winner almost instantly."

Ryan snickered and Mauer threw his head back and gave a hoot of laughter. "He got you again, Skip," Joe told the manager.

Gardy shot a disgusted look at the Canadian, but decided not to waste time with a response. "O.K.," he said to Ryan, in a businesslike tone. "Let's start with you. We'll all come up with something Terry Ryan would never say. And then Terry will try to top it. Let's see..." He thought for a moment, shrewd eyes narrowed, and then suddenly brightened. "I've got one. Ryan would never in a million years say, 'I've been kidding you all this time--I've really got a full head of hair.'"

Morneau's eyebrow shot up, but he remained silent.

Mauer chuckled appreciatively. "Not bad, but I think I can top it." He leaned back in his chair and studied the general manager with a playful smile. "You can have all the ace caliber pitching you want, Catcher," Mauer said, in a fair imitation of the general manager’s earnest demeanor. "Don't worry about there being any baserunners to throw out, one wee bit."

Ryan looked a bit abashed, but had to laugh.

There was an expectant silence as the three Americans turned to look at Morneau.

"Well?" Gardy finally demanded.

"This is most illogical."

"C'mon, give it a try," Gardy goaded. "What are you afraid of?"

Morneau regarded the manager with thinly disguised exasperation. "Very well," he conceded reluctantly. He turned to Ryan. "The farm system of the Brewers," he intoned, "is vastly superior to that of the Twins."

"What?" demanded Ryan, instantly incensed, and then settled back in his chair with a somewhat stunned expression. "There’s no doubt," he growled finally, and lifted his nearly empty glass to take a sip. "That was a good one," he admitted to the Canadian, "a very good one."

Mauer chuckled and laid his hand on Morneau's shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. "Good job," he murmured to his first baseman. "You've got him pegged, all right." Morneau looked away, both embarrassed and pleased by the catcher's praise.

"I don't think I'll have another drink tonight," Ryan said slowly.

"Really?" Gardy asked, surprised. "Why not? It's still early."

Ryan flashed a triumphant grin. "It's what I'd never say." He picked up his glass, displaying its emptiness to the manager.

"Ohhhh," the skipper said, light dawning. He craned around and hailed the clubhouse guy. "Another round," he told the lowly employee.

"None for me," Mauer said quickly. "I've got batting practice."

"I too must decline," Morneau said.

"Yeah," Gardy said dryly. "Wouldn't want to get too much of that tea, would you? Next thing you know, you'd be swinging from the chandelier nude while belting out a couple of choruses of 'Sweet Adeline.'" He turned back to the clubbie. "Just him and me, then," he said, and laid a couple of bucks upon the desk as a tip.

Morneau stiffened. "As you are well aware," he informed the manager coldly, "the tea of which I have partaken tonight is completely devoid of intoxicating ingredients. Therefore, the chances of my, as you say, swinging unclothed from the chandelier are..."

"...Slim to none," Gardy interrupted him. "I know, I know. And let me just tell you that I think it's a goddamn shame."

Morneau opened his mouth to reply, but Mauer broke in. "Gentlemen," he chided. "Aren't we forgetting our game?"

"Yeah," Gardy said, willingly dropping an argument for once. He studied Mauer. "I've gotta admit, I think you've won your part of it already. I honestly can't think of anything you'd be less likely to say than that you didn't want to be catcher for the Twins anymore." He raised his eyebrows. "Terry?"

The general manager shook his head. "There’s no doubt. The day I heard that from our pretty darn good catcher, I'd know the whole universe had been turned inside out."

"Indeed," Morneau acknowledged hastily, privately relieved that he would not have to come up with an outrageous statement for Mauer.

"Well, why don't we do mine, then?" Gardy said. "Terry--you know me pretty well. You go first."

"There’s no doubt," the general manager said speculatively, and studied his friend for a moment. "Hey, let's give the rookies a chance," he finally offered, "and don’t worry about how many games might be lost."

Mauer nodded. "Well done," he told the general manager. "I can't imagine Skip ever saying that, under any circumstances." He thought for a moment. "How about this one?" He grinned at the manager mischievously. "I don't really have an opinion either way about college types."

Ryan snorted, and even Morneau gave a tiny almost-smile. "Highly unlikely," the Canadian said dryly.

Gardy shook his head ruefully. "And I just can't wait to hear what you have to offer," he told Morneau, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "I've got the feeling, though, I'm gonna be sorry I ever started this thing." He picked up his fresh drink and took a slug of it in an effort to brace himself. "Well, go ahead—might as well get it over with."

Morneau regarded him impassively. "Bill Smith is always correct," he said blandly.

All three Americans hooted and pounded the table, even Gardy, who was hard pressed not to spew his mouthful of drink.

"Morneau wins again," Mauer told the others, when he could finally talk.

"There is no doubt," Ryan agreed.

"Hmmph," Gardy said gruffly.

Mauer smiled at him. "Admit it," he coaxed. "Even you can't come up with anything less likely than that."

Gardy bit his lip and stared down at the table, torn between laughter and a scowl. Finally, he looked up, with a dangerous glint in his eye. "You know," he said slowly, "I can't. I honestly can't think of anything more outrageous than saying that Bill Smith is always right."

Morneau's left eyebrow disappeared beneath his cap; Ryan and Mauer dissolved into laughter again. After the chaos subsided, Ryan asked, "And what about Mr. Morneau? What would he never say?"

The three Americans turned to regard the Canadian speculatively. Morneau found that he suddenly had to fight an illogical urge to squirm; he stared back at them stonily in an effort to hide his discomfiture.
"That's easy enough," the manager said. "Gardy is always right."

Mauer laughed softly. "Copycat," he gently accused. "How about you, Ryan?"

Terry Ryan regarded the Canadian with a twinkle in his eye. "This is too easy," he boasted. "It'd have to be something like, 'I don’t give a rat's ass about hockey--let's just watch some porn.’"

Mauer burst out in laughter, and instantly fell under the quietly reproachful gaze of Morneau. "Sorry," he murmured, shrugging apologetically. "There's just something about the idea of you using the term 'rat's ass' that I find a little hard to take." He smiled at the Canadian fondly, his eyes still twinkling in amusement.

"What do you think, Joe?" Gardy asked. "What would Morneau never say?"

Mauer studied the manager for a moment, and then looked at Morneau, who sat as still as if carved out of marble. "There are lots of things Morneau would never say," he told the others quietly, while staring at the Canadian intently. "He'd never say anything vindictive or dishonest, for instance." He pursed his lips thoughtfully. "It's funny," he finally told Morneau slowly. "I think I know you very well. But it's hard to nail down just one sentence I'd never expect to hear from you."

Mauer lowered his gaze to the table and fiddled idly with his empty glass. "I guess," he said slowly, not looking at Morneau again, "it would be something like, 'I refuse to give you my all.'" He studied his glass as if looking for an answer at the bottom of it, and then finally nodded. "Yeah. That I think I'd never hear from you." He looked up and smiled a little sheepishly at the others. "That's my entry in the Morneau category."

There was a long silence, during which Gardy and Ryan, abashed at the suddenly serious tone the conversation had taken, found renewed interest in staring at their drinks. Mauer and Morneau, meanwhile, subsided into conducting a thorough study of the top of the table.

Gardy finally broke the silence by clearing his throat. "What about you, Morneau?" he asked. "Tell us what you'd never say."

Morneau hesitated, his brow slightly furrowed. He still appeared to be unduly fascinated by the pitted surface of the table; he traced his slender fingers over it for a few seconds before he replied. At last, he lifted his dark gaze to the manager's face. "I would never say," he told Gardy, "that this activity serves any useful purpose, or that it should be prolonged any further." He rose from his chair decisively. "If you will excuse me, I have several scouting reports to review tonight."

"What?" Gardy sputtered. "You can't leave now! You haven't held up your end of the deal."

Morneau regarded him calmly. "But I have," he said stubbornly.

The manager glared, ready to erupt in indignant protest, but Mauer broke in. "You know," he said easily, "he's right. We shouldn't prolong this any longer--not if Morneau's going to get his game prep done, and not if I'm going to get my beauty sleep before BP." He stood up and stretched elaborately, and then smiled down at Gardy and Ryan. "It's been fun," he told them. "I needed to unwind a little." He clapped Morneau on the back. "C'mon--let's head on home."

They made for the the clubhouse door and waved good night to their companions.

"You were a good sport tonight," Mauer told his first baseman as they made their way through the tunnels en route toward the parking lot. He cast a sidelong glance at the Canadian, who matched his catcher stride for stride with a contemplative look upon his chiseled features. "And you really skewered Gardy. What you came up with for his outrageous statement was absolutely inspired." He chuckled a little at the memory.

"Indeed," Morneau replied quietly.

They walked the rest of the way in silence until they came to the catcher's car. Mauer hesitated at the door, and then flashed a somewhat wistful smile at his first baseman. "You know," he said impulsively over his shoulder as the door opened and he sat down. "Someday I wish you'd tell me."

Morneau regarded him gravely, his hands clasped behind his back. "Tell you, Joe?"

"What you'd really never say." The catcher opened his mouth as if intending to speak more, and then shrugged, dismissing the thought. "Well... Good night, Justin."

The door shut before the Canadian had a chance to reply. He stood alone in the deserted parking lot. For a few seconds he contemplated the car solemnly, thinking about the man who was inside. Finally, he reached out and touched the shut door lightly with his fingertips, just before the car began to move.

"I do not love you," he whispered.

Stolen shamelessly from this Kirk/Spock fan-fiction story, and edited only a little:
"The Game", K/S by Jesmihr, theargentian @ mfire.com

Holy!! This is awesome!! This (and a few of the other blogs) is why this "Blog" section of Twins Daily can be so great. Seriously, this is very creative. It's unique. I't's fun!! I loved this!!

    • ashburyjohn likes this
Aug 12 2014 03:27 PM

I appreciate the kind feedback; I had fun too.Just don't promote it to article-hood - it won't be to everyone's taste for one thing, and the derivative aspect of using someone else's writing quite so boldly is funny when it's just a guy's blog but problematic for a full website IMO.99% of the creativity was from the original author.


One prediction: you'll never look at the photo up at the top the same way again. :)

    • Don't Feed the Greed Guy likes this
Hosken Bombo Disco
Aug 15 2014 12:08 AM
I liked it too - I was wondering why Mornie was sounding so Spock-like. :) also, typical of Mauer to kill the mood. Very nice edit there..
    • ashburyjohn likes this
Aug 15 2014 11:11 AM

Everything somewhat came together except for Morneau inexplicably being super logical and all.I decided that "oh, he's Canadian" was enough of a joke to carry his alien-ness. :)If not for that, coolly confident Mauer would be the better Spock, but then there is no captain of the team - Gardy? Nah.Ryan? Nah.Or I could have brought back college-boy Slowey as Spock, but I didn't think any special chemistry between him and Mauer would make sense.Gardy's a good sputtering humanist like McCoy, but he doesn't consider Morneau/Spock an annoyance.Ryan makes a passable "engineer" of the team as Scotty, but I doubt he's a heavy drinker.More work could make it better, but I liked the idea of making minimal edits (of a story nobody has ever heard of :) ), and hey, it's only a blog. :)