Posted 26 March 2014 - 11:39 PM
Got hooked then and can't seem to shake 'em. You are correct that the worst major league player is an outstnding baseball player. Thanks for the article
Posted 27 March 2014 - 12:19 AM
I am totally invested in being a bystander ... of professional baseball (the Twins in particular) and this strikes me as odd. No matter how much I love watching, it seems that winning is now the most important thing. And I'm only watching. This is kind of strange.
But when I was playing it was all about the fun, competition, and camaraderie and I miss that. I'm 56 now and I remember the grassy smell on the end of the bat, riding bike 5 miles into town every day to play Little League, the bitter ending of the 1967 season when the Twins went on a slide and The Red Sox went on a tear, and I blame Rod Carew for ruining my career because he was so cool I had to imitate his stance but he had the wrists of a Baseball God and I didn't. The town I grew up in was very small so I was able to be a starter for 3 years, then I played one at a junior college.
And now on a deeper level too - as a close observer of the Twins - I invest a lot of hope. It is quasi-religious, I think. Baseball is a very practical, but giving religion. There are a lot of people who can't wait for the Twins game to come on the TV or radio so they can disappear into it for two or three hours.
Edited by ScrapTheNickname, 27 March 2014 - 12:21 AM.
Posted 27 March 2014 - 12:30 AM
In any inning of any game, any player can make the big play, offensively or defensively, and be the hero of the game.
I remember plays like when pitcher Bobby Korecky had to hit because the Twins lost the DH spot in the lineup and he got a hit in his only major league at-bat.
It's funny you have Tommy Watkins on there because I remember him as having a great little run with the Twins too.
Why the Twins? They are my team and always have been. Some injuries and some questionable moves have them in this bad run of baseball for the past 4 or so seasons and I think it's because they started thinking the wrong way about developing players from within. Maybe it was the rise in payroll or the GM at the time but it appears they've gone back to "The Twins Way" and it's only a matter of time to see this team consistently battle for the division and playoffs again.
I'm like you, Seth. I'm a positive fan. I think the Twins can win anytime and anywhere.
Is this the season they get out of the basement of the Central Division?
Posted 27 March 2014 - 04:49 AM
What I love about baseball is that it's a team sport that features great individual matchups. Plus, it means it's Summer.
Lifelong Minnesotan, hence the Twins. I remember when they were on WTCN, sometimes preempting the Mel Jass Matinee Movie.
Posted 27 March 2014 - 05:23 AM
I can't say why I'm still following the Twins, other than the fact that baseball has always been my #1 sport, and the Twins were my childhood team. I defected to being a Colts fan when I was living in Indiana and the Vikings were having boat orgies, but I have never considered being anything but a Twins fan. Maybe I should see a doctor about that.
Posted 27 March 2014 - 07:03 AM
Why the Twins? My parents tell me the story of sitting on the floor when I was 4-5 years old sorting out my baseball cards and listening to Herb Carneal and Joe Angell and the Twins games during the summer. When it was time to go to bed, my parents allowed me to listen to the games as I was falling asleep. In the days of no internet, I would always get up and turn on the radio/TV and see if the Twins won. All that was on TV for baseball were the Braves for me on WTBS, back when Dale Murphy, Bob Horner and the like were playing. I didn't go to many Twins games at Met Stadium except for the yearly Park and Rec bus trip. Then Bob Kurtz and Harmon started to broadcast games on KMSP and my interest soared.
While everybody remembers the playoff and WS games, some of the regular season games stand out to me still to this day. I remember with anguish losing the 10-0 lead in Cleveland on a Jamie Quirk HR and blowing the division title in front of about 2 fans in Cleveland. I remember the Ron Davis - Fred Lynn meltdowns night after night in Baltimore. I remember fondly the Twins comeback in Oakland after David West gave up 5 HRS to Dave Henderson and Mark McGwire in 1991. I was at the last home game against the Royals in 1987 when the Twins clinched a tie of the division title. I still remember the look on Tim Tschida's face when Joe Niekro tossed the emery board out.
Even into college, law school and as an adult, I always make time for Twins games. I was such a fanatic that I wired a headphone up my sleeve so I could listen to the Twins games while taking night classes at law school. This blog has ramped up my interest because I can follow the minor leaguers up the system and find so many knowledgeable people that can discuss the Twins on the same level that I can.
The one thing about this site that always bothers me is the constant bashing of the Pohlad family. I remembered in horror that Calvin or his family were going to sell the Twins and move to them to Tampa Bay if I remember correctly. At that time Carl Pohlad swooped in and stopped the Twins from moving. Even into the threat of contraction, I understood the Pohlads motivation. The Metrodome, while I have fond memories indeed, was not suited for baseball, and the Phil Krinkie's of the world kept stopping a new stadium from being built. Finally, the legislature passed the bill and Target Field was built and the Twins franchise was secure in Minnesota. People are still complaining about not spending more and more money and say that is why we are losing. Well the Twins are spending a heck of a lot more money now, so spending stupidly is not going to buy you the titles. I guess I will always remember with gratefulness that the Pohlad family stopped the Twins from moving.
Finally, why baseball in general? I always paid attention to the details of the game and tried to figure out what TK was going to do, he was actually the person I loved to follow. Sure Kirby Puckett will always be my favorite player, but TK was a genius in my mind (thus the moniker on this site). I was the type of player that wasn't talented enough to play even in college, but I always hustled and played the game the "Twins" way, which was a TK and Kirby Puckett philosophy I guess. I continue to watch the games on satellite and my oldest daughter is now a fanatic also. I love Dick and Bert, but am trying to get used to Cory on the radio after so many years with Herb and Gordo. We try to make at least one game per year at Target Field and regularly take road trips to other Midwest ballparks. Now, I living near Cedar Rapids, I am excited to have the Kernels be the Twins affiliate.
While I still know football is king in Minnesota, the Twins have since a very young age been my first love and baseball, with all of its intricacies, is way more interesting to me then football, and always will be.
I am now an attorney and on Monday, as I have every year of my career, will wear my Opening Day tie to commemorate the best day of the year, opening day, where no matter my realistic baseball knowledge know the Twins won't probably win the pennant this year, but there always is hope.
Posted 27 March 2014 - 07:12 AM
Then, summer rec baseball started at kindergarten in the little town in Minnesota where we lived, and I can still remember being sick to my stomach the night before the first day of baseball each summer. It wasn't nervousness, it was anxiousness and excitement because I had been waiting for that day for 9 months each year.
My brothers and my cousin would play pitcher/batter/catcher all summer long, and like you Seth, we all had every batting order of the early 90's memorized from reading every boxscore every day all summer long. For some reason we would often play the Twins vs. Reds, and Jack Armstrong would pitch to Joe Oliver against the haunted Twins lineup (who probably always won).
I even remember playing imaginary baseball with a league I made up with made-up teams and players. Living on a farm we had all the space in the world, but limited players - we couldn't just gather all our friends at all hours of the day to get a game going.
I remember baseball cards, and my parents hiring my uncle to tell me which cards I could play with and which ones I had to put in my book so it wouldn't get destroyed. I remember being crushed one day because my uncle wouldn't let me play with my Roberto Kelly rookie card - just in case he would become the next (insert HOF outfielder here).
Baseball consumed my summers growing up, and living in Minnesota I was most consumed as a fan by the home team - and the likes of Hrbek, Puckett, and Knoblauch. I watched every minute of the 91 Series in our basement annoyed by the tomahawk chop. I was forever a Twins fan at that moment.
Lastly (this is a minor thing), and this might sound stupid, but I like baseball because it's not the NFL. Not anyone can just be a baseball fan. You have to understand and appreciate the little things about baseball to enjoy watching it. There's nothing better than relaxing, watching a game at the park, eating a hot dog, and chatting with your buddies between pitches about the game - in a unique ballpark that no matter what city you are in, has something different to offer than any other ballpark in baseball.
Posted 27 March 2014 - 07:29 AM
I did something very similar. I would throw from about 45 feet away toward the back steps. I didn't have any siblings so I couldn't do the pitching practice with a sibling, so I did it myself against the back steps. I had a rough strike zone based on where the ball would hit the steps and I would throw for hours, pitching simulated innings in my head and keeping track of balls & strikes. To do less damage to the door my parents would always buy the baseballs with the foam core. They were the right size and weight but did less damage to the door when I'd hit it by accident.
At the house, there were four steps in front of the front door. I would take a baseball, from 30 feet away, and throw the ball toward the steps. Usually it would hit the cement steps and bounce back to me as a ground ball. If I hit the cement at a corner, it would come back to me as a line drive or even a pop up. Often, I hit the front door. There were so many dents in that door.
Sometimes I'd even setup our digital camera at different angles around me to study my pitching motion to pick up flaws in my mechanics. It was fun to set it up right behind my "mound" and watch the break on my pitches.
That was how I spent a lot of hours when I was about 12-15. Thanks for the nice article. It has brought back good memories.
Posted 27 March 2014 - 08:13 AM
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not as they seem.
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make out lives sublime,
And departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
For time will teach thee soon the truth.
There are no birds, in last year's nest.
- Longfellow (as edited by Harwell)
Posted 27 March 2014 - 08:37 AM
I love many things about the other major sports, but none of them can touch that unique feeling of baseball, summer, and the radio.
Edited by TheLeviathan, 27 March 2014 - 08:48 AM.
Posted 27 March 2014 - 09:05 AM
I grew up in Eastern Iowa with a lot of Cubs, Cardinals and Sox fans. My dad was a Twins fan and I grew up knowing nothing but the Twins. I was named after Tony Oliva, my favorite player was Kirby and I still have my bat from Kirby Puckett bat day when I was about 2 years old. In fact, I have Kirby's bobblehead in my office. I was too young to remember the 91 world series live, but I have watched vhs recordings so many times it might as well been live to me. There was no cooler feeling for me than when my college team played in the Metrodome and I got to run out onto the field and look up at the banners of the retired Twins.
I probably follow the Twins too much for my own good, and while the last few years have been disappointing I look forward to the future team they are building. Baseball and the Twins will always be important parts of my life and now that I am going to be a father, I get to look forward to teaching my son about the game I love so much.
Posted 27 March 2014 - 09:14 AM
But I fell in love with major league baseball and the Twins during 1965. My grandfather had recently retired “to town” after several heart attacks. Even though there were 20 grandchildren, I spent more time with him than others because I was “old enough” (10) and went to school in his town.
Occasionally a game would be televised and we would sometimes listen to games on the radio. And often we would go over the box scores and standings in the newspaper. The Twins were still relatively new in the upper Midwest and the excitement about them grew over that summer (nothing like winning to build a fanbase!).
And then came the 1965 World Series. I watched several games with grandpa (loved those afternoon games). He had coached American Legion ball when my dad and uncles were teens and was great at explaining the game to me. He also helped me understand that it was a game and to move past the crushing disappointment of that game 7 loss.
It was the start of my love for the Twins. That love would ebb and flow over the years depending (mostly) on the “busy – ness” of my life but although I had brief “flirtations” with being a fan of another team, I have remained a faithful Twins fan for nearly 50 years.
Posted 27 March 2014 - 09:19 AM
I have been on several championship teams and noted my joy at winning the city championship in 7th grade was as great as winning the state championship in high school. I have often thought that winning the WS would be no more joyful. They are all awesome. What they all had in common was that my teams were not expected to win any of them so I guess its why I like the underdog so much. To me the greatest joy in sports is when you beat teams with more talent by simply playing better. Its why I enjoyed the WS Twins so much and why one of my biggest disappointments as a Twins fan was losing game 163. I know the odds weren't great in the playoffs but I can always imagine a team getting hot and going on a miraculous run. I have never really cared for winning when the odds were heavily in our favor. I truly believe that there was more joy in Minnesota in 87 and 91 then there was ever in New York when the Yankees won. I want the Twins to win with guys we watch through the system rather than just buying the 3 best free agents each year. I guess that's why I defend the Twins philosophy on spending so much while also being disappointed about the boneheaded trades moves they have made in the recent past, few of which have anything to do with money. I will watch Hicks, Meyer, Buxton, Sano, Rosario and Stewart with great anticipation and if they fail I will watch the next group with great anticipation. Hope springs eternal.
Posted 27 March 2014 - 09:43 AM
I was a Mets fan in the 1960s--so what the Twins are going thru now is nothing!!! 1969 shows that the impossible can happen. Maybe it will happen for the Twins.
To me the best thing about the game (outside of the fact that it is played in the summer--so opening day means snow is (usually) done) is the way you pass it down generations. In the 1980s I taught the game to my son and took him to minor league games and Old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. This summer my son and I are planning to start the grandson (who will turn 1) by taking him to Bethesda Big Train games (college wooden bat summer leagues) and as he grows up teaching him the game.
Posted 27 March 2014 - 09:46 AM
* Stats. I love numbers and statistics, and baseball has more of them than any other sport. Not only does it have more, but the stats tell such a story. I've got two young daughters right now and don't have cable, so I hardly ever get to see a game any more, but I truly enjoy reading the box score every morning. There's no other sport where you can get a good feel for what happened based on a box score alone.
* Lack of Clock. I know this is a cliche, but it really is true in basebal that it ain't over till it's over. In a basketball game, if you are down 20 with 5 minutes left, it's over, but it baseball if you're down 6 going in to the 9th inning, you really can come back. It' doesn't happen much, but it happens just enough to keep me glued to the very last out.
* Beauty. There's something about the colors, smells, and experience of a midsummer night at the ballpark that is just awesome. Even the metrodome was incredible for me. I'll never forget attending my first baseball game at the metrodome when I was 8. We got there really early and there weren't very many people there yet. The seats were sooooo blue and the field was sooooo green is was almost unreal.
* Strategy. There is so much strategy in baseball, and so much can happen on any pitch. I love the war between the pticher and batter on every single at bat. What pitch will be thrown next? Where will it be? Will the fielders change position? Should the batter bunt? Hit and Run? Swing away? And I'm just scratching the surface.
Now, why do I love the Twins? It all started in '87 when I was 7 years old. No one in my family was in to sports at all so I had never even heard of the Twins, but once they were in the playoffs with Detroit I heard friends and teachers at school talking about the Twins and was curious. My Grandpa was visiting when the world series started so I set down with him to watch the games, and I was hooked.
While I was hooked by the postseason, like another poster a bunch of my most vivid Twins memories are from the regular season. Some of the best are when Randy Bush had 8 RBI, when the Twins turned 2 triple plays in a single game (and lost, then turned 7 double plays in the next game and lost), a walkoff home-run by Gary Gaetti, just about every one of Scott Erickson's starts in '91, and Kubel's grand slam off Rivera. The most crushing regular season defeat was Mike Trombley giving up a grand slam in the 12th inning (or something like that) to lose a three run lead to the Yankees.
I was never very good at playing baseball. In fact, in my first year of little league I literally struck out in every single at bat. I was that bad. Seth hit .420 in high school, but I wasn't even good enough to make the team. "Easy Out!" was the most common refrain when I stepped up to the plate in little league. Yet, my best memories of playing sports are the few good baseball games I had. When I was 12 I was finally one of the better players in little league, and I'll never forget the game when I hit home runs in my first two at bats, both of them to right-center field. In my third at bat, as the catcher saw me approach the plate he stepped forward and yelled "back up outfield!". It was the only time that was ever said referring to me, and man did it feel good.
Posted 27 March 2014 - 09:54 AM
Thanks for the opportunity. Like you, I get tired of the negativity. You’d think the Pohlads and Terry Ryan and Gardy woke every morning and set out to ruin the world. I know (or hope) that it’s the loud minority, but seriously, people don’t realize how fortunate we are to 1. Have a professional baseball team, 2. Have an amazing park with which to watch that team, and 3. To have such hometown boys like Joe and Perk that are such great stories and are so loyal to the team.
Which brings me to my “Why Baseball?” story. Loyalty.
I grew up in small-town Indiana in the late 60s/early 70s. I was fortunate in that the very first voice I ever heard call a baseball game on the radio was Jack Buck; the first players I got to follow were greats like Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Tim McCarver, and Curt Flood, and I even got to travel a couple times to St. Louis and actually see them play at Busch Stadium, and also went to Cinncy and saw Pete Rose and the Big Red Machine.
I also played little league from the time I was 8, first for the Orioles, then I got “drafted” when I was 10 to play for the Yankees of our little town, Citizens State Bank. Every year in early May, we had a parade down main street for opening day, and dressed in our cotton uniforms with stirrup socks, and were bestowed with the honor, when we walked by Citizens State Bank, to hold up our “number 1” finger to signify our Loyalty.
I was a catcher who couldn’t hit (imagine that!). I played Little League, then played in what we called Teanor League, and then played all through high school. My senior year I was a captain and we won our conference. My best friend and battery-mate, who was our top pitcher, eventually played professionally – mostly in the minors for the Expos, but did get a cup of coffee for a month, and pitched his first game… in Busch Stadium!
I went off to school, became an actor, moved to NY, got married – but while in New York, I got caught up in Mets fever in 1985/6, and was actually written up in the NY Post b/c I was in a Broadway show and would carry my transistor radio around with me backstage listening to the games, then put the ear piece in my pocket when onstage, then pull it out as soon as I walked offstage! Loyalty!
Stupidly I moved to LA. Wisely I had a child but eventually moved to MN (where my ex-wife was from), had another child and spent all my time focusing on parenting. But after my kids grew up, and a divorce in ‘07, I came back to… baseball! And this time the Twins.
The anticipation for Target Field was like being a kid again waiting for Christmas. I’ve attend over 100 games since it opened, and I have not had a bad experience yet. Even when we’ve lost games, watched Teixeira hit the HR off of Jesse Crain, sat through snow, and cheered for the first rain delay, I had a blast every time. If you are focused on losing (and don’t get me wrong, I prefer winning), then you are missing out.
Remember the first time you walked into a stadium and could see through the columns as that green grass and vast open field (that you had only seen on TV to that point) slowly revealed itself to you? The chatter of people arriving and finding their seats. The occasional breakthrough of “Cold Beer Here!” The smell of popcorn and peanuts. The players milling about playing catch or stretching out or signing autographs. The crack of the bat during BP. Every single time I go to the park, I am 8 years old again. (don’t tell the vendors or they won’t let me buy a beer!)
And though I love going to games by myself, I’m usually with friends. Sharing a beer, talking, laughing, cheering or jeering (i.e. “A-Roid!”, or booing A.J. just because…).
And the losing? Being a fan of your team is a relationship. And if you are only interested in relationships that are always gratifying and “winning”, then I feel for you. Those don’t exist unless you like to constantly jump around, and even then good luck. Sticking with your team, through thick and thin, makes the good times all the more satisfying. Because you feel the struggles along with your team, you feel the successes with them as well and know that you were there when there was only a smattering of people in the seats. You were there when those silly moments happened like the squirrel that scared Brendon Harris. You were there not only when Thome crushed it to win the game, but when the Hawk on the foul pole was eating bugs, or that fan caught a foul ball and didn’t spill their beer, or your friend got Champions Club tickets and you were so close to Miguel Cabrera you saw him smile when your friend razzed him.
So keep your negative comments coming about the Pohlads not spending enough money, and Gardy not playing the right players, and how much you hate Little Nicky Punto (who always played his heart out). As far as I’m concerned, you’re cutting your nose off to spite your face and missing the great amazingness that is happening before your very eyes. They are my hometown team and I will be loyal to them regardless of win or lose, because why? Because Baseball, that’s why.