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A Twins Fan's Thanksgiving

Posted by formerly33 , 26 November 2015 · 844 views

We do not celebrate Thanksgiving because we're a thankful lot but rather because we prefer to complain 364 (and sometimes 365) days out of the year. As a holiday whose historical roots are buried deep in religious traditions, perhaps it would have been better to take a truly puritanical stance on the subject and dedicate only one day out of every year to complaining and the rest to giving thanks, but, considering the human nature, one has to admit that our forefathers made the more logical decision since if we had only one complaining day, we wouldn't have much to give thanks for on the other days.

This post will probably be chaotic and not very well thought out since it takes either weeks of cogitation or else inspiration to write a good blog post, and today I have neither, but allow me to relate to you the true meaning behind this national holiday.

Commence September 2014: the setting is a metropolitan area in the Midwest commonly referred to as the Twin Cities, the subject of interest a baseball team christened in honor of the surrounding area - the Minnesota Twins. At the time of our story, they were nearing the dreary close of yet another fatal year. Times were changing rapidly, and the team was bound through management to archaic traditions which were becoming more and more out of keeping with the present era. Although not actively persecuted, the team was regularly subjected to the mockery, criticism, and disfavor of rivaling teams. After thirteen years under what had become known as The Gardenhire Regime, many felt it was time to move on and separate themselves from this outdated, repugnant state.

The past four years had been likened to a living nightmare, but finally the decision was made to abandon established leadership and distribute walking orders to nearly every person who held a prominent position within the organization.

After this selfsame commission had been carried out, it appeared to many that the team was lost at sea and worse off than before, but others adamantly argued that these moves were the birth of a new, bright and beautiful beginning. However, the only thing either party could do was wait, and meanwhile the hiring process began. Among other moves, Hall of Famer Paul Molitor was hired as manager to replace the preceding Ron Gardenhire. Also largely covered in the news, former Twin Torii Hunter was signed for one year, not so much as a separationist but more to fill a role in a clubhouse which had lacked quality leadership in recent years. And an assortment of fans of the more ebullient breed found themselves giddy with excitement when righty pitcher Ervin Santana was signed not long after the acquisition of number 48.

This latest move proved to ungratefully hurl the Twins into a rather unexpected and definitely unappreciated dilemma. In early April it was announced that Santana had been suspended for 80 games after testing positive for Stanozolol, just one of many substances which reside malevolently under the branches of a few simple syllables that baseball fans have learned to cringe (or, in the case of ill-meaning interest, smile in vindictive delight) upon hearing: performance enhancing drugs. Worst of all, this consequently meant that Mike Pelfrey would fall heir to the fifth spot in the pitching rotation.

Of more or less national importance, spring rolled around and another season of baseball unfolded before the unoptimistic eyes of the ever faithful. The first handful of games had a devastating effect on the Twins. I need not relate for the umpteenth time the horrifying minutiae of this bitter tale as my readers will undoubtedly be of an unvarying species that has already heard every plausible version of it twice over, but I will venture to articulate that many of us lost all sight of hope by the conclusion of the first week and a half.

Finally, on a day when not even Royals fans had much incentive to celebrate upon opening their eyes to another beautiful day with Royal blue skies overhead because, to slightly paraphrase the friendly Sheriff of Nottingham, taxes hurt, we hosted Kansas City to a depressed, nonchalant audience of dispirited Minnesotans. The two teams' winning (or losing, as the separate instances seem to imply) records before the game were, respectively, 7-0 and 1-6. By the end of the day, however, those records had balanced out a bit. As far as wins go, this one was hardly aesthetically pleasing, but a win is a win, even (or especially) for a losing team, and it definitely put a loss on the Kansas City board.

What's more is the next day we not only won again but in addition to that won our first series of the year (causing the Royals to lose their first), and, of added interest, we also became the first team of the season to avoid having at least one altercation per series with the boys in blue.

The rest of the month the Twins continued to win a little more often than they lost, and by the time we entered the merry month of May, our record was close to even.

Did I mention May? It was merry indeed. That month we had no more than seven losses, and that left plenty of room for twenty (TWENTY!) wins. A huge surprise to fans around the world was the performance of Mike Pelfrey, who previously threw these same fans into literal fits of despair on inheriting a spot in the rotation after the aforementioned suspension of a certain Mr. Santana whose name does not start with a D.

A memorable moment in May which cannot be overlooked in this little account was the debut of Twins prospect Eddie Rosario on May 6th. He stepped up to the plate to lead off the bottom of the third with his whole family watching in eager anticipation from the stands, each with a phone or camera in hand to record this most special of all special moments. A's' Scott Kazmir threw the ball towards home, and the rookie batter took a big swing and connected. The ball took a long, uninterrupted flight to left center field and landed in the expectant hands of a jubilant fan. He was the 29th player to homer on the first pitch of their first at bat in their first game in the majors, and probably the very first to do this while being so well documented by such a loving and supportive family.

On June 14th, another prospect (need I say his name? really, he's more than just a top prospect - he's the future) debuted. His first at bat was slightly less memorable than Rosario's. In fact, his first several games were less memorable despite his not infrequent, uncanny displays of speed. He was a reckless albeit talented player and ended up smashing his thumb less than two weeks after debuting in an attempt to steal second base, an injury which put him out until August.

And then there was Miguel Sano. I could sing his praises for all eternity and never tire of speaking of him, but I'll try to keep it brief; he missed the previous season in entirety, and although everyone knew he would be an amazing ballplayer in his time, who could predict that he'd do as well as he did in his rookie year, especially given the circumstances? One would hardly be satisfied by going back into the dusty archives of time to read or listen to all the exuberant predictions made by Twins fans around the world because, while they would probably be fairly accurate, these were the same people who expected Lord Byron to hit a bases empty grand slam in his first at bat while going 6-5 with 4 home runs (all 6 of them inside the park) and 3 triples, meanwhile stealing 5 bases; defensively he was to make an unassisted triple play and rob Mitch Moreland of a home run, afterwards turning to sprint across the field to beat Prince Fielder (who, by the way, was tagging up from 3rd) to the plate to tag him out; furthermore, he would charitably save a small child falling from upper deck after (offensively) stealing 3rd and a family floating down the Blanco River after their house had been washed away by a sudden and unexpected flash flood during the 7th inning stretch. In the post game ceremony he was to be unanimously elected for induction into the Hall of Fame for having put up the greatest single game of baseball ever played. But it was Miguel Sano who impressed, Miguel Sano who was arguably the best Twins player this season, Miguel Sano who inarguably came in 3rd in the Rookie of the Year voting, Miguel Sano who did all this while playing in only 80 games.

That's all I'll say on that subject for now, yet somehow I managed to talk more about Buxton than Sano while doing so. It's just life. No matter what Sano does, there'll always be Buxton. And vice versa. And that's not a bad thing at all!

Tyler Duffey was called up in early August, and while his debut wasn't exactly one from a refreshing daydream, he had great stuff the rest of the season. I'm trying to avoid stats because this holiday isn't one exactly centered around facts and all, but I'll say it again: he was great. Just take me at my word; I'm not going to provide the figures to prove it.

Forgive me for petering out when I've barely just touched on the Oceanus Hopkinses when I meant to not only cover the Peregrine Whites but the veterans as well, but I am completely stuffed by now and don't think I can take another bite. Alex Meyer, Ervin Santana, Trevor May, Glen Perkins, Kevin Jepsen, Trevor Plouffe, Torii Hunter (the Squanto of our season)...the list goes on. And, as I mentioned the little Peregrines, added to the list of blessings are Jose Berrios, Max Kepler, Stephen Gonsalves, Adam Brett Walker II...and of course my prospects: Luke Westphal, Trey Vavra, D.J. Baxendale, Todd Van Steensel, Tyler Jay....Again, the list goes on and on.

But you know who I absolutely love is Eduardo Escobar. He's not everyone's favorite; in fact, he tends to be overshadowed by all the young talent surrounding him, but he is the mashed potatoes of our roster: utterly and undeniably indispensable.

And don't worry, I haven't forgotten Brian Dozier either. In fact, I most deliberately saved him for last, like that delicious, delicious piece (or two...or three) of pie following a huge meal on Thanksgiving. Brian Dozier was Brian Dozier. He had all sorts of Brian Dozier moments which led him to the All Star Game. I'm running out of stamina or I'd go into details about how he got there from walk off homers left and...left to hours of dedicated fan voting only to be beaten by Mike Moustakas, but in the end, talent prevailed and he went anyway, hitting a characteristic home run in the process.

But like I said, I'm stuffed...and so is the word count. I'm neither inspired nor rewarded with an abundance of time to dedicate to the preparation of this little composition, so you'll have to relive the rest of the details on your own. It's funny, but here I am willing to put out a terrible blog post after having neglected my tiny fan base for nearly four months. It's an excellent way to attract first time visitors, I know. But somehow I'm taking all this into consideration with apathetic listlessness.

So in closing, fast forward to the end of the season. The Twins were still in the playoff race with only one series left. Yes, the Royals swept those hopes and aspirations right out of us, but the case remains that we were far, far better than most could have hoped at the beginning of the season. We pulled ourselves together, made a winning team of ourselves again. We've had our ups and downs, but we're coming through on the strong side and have years ahead of us with talent already in the majors and more talent waiting in the minors. And today we will gather together to say a prayer of thanksgiving for the season behind us and the many seasons yet to come.

Read full entry here:
A Twins Fan's Thanksgiving