In the Academy Award-winning classic, The Shawshank Redemption, Morgan Freeman’s character famously said, “Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane”. While Morgan Freeman was talking about hope in reference to prison life, I related with this quote so much in reference to the Minnesota Twins.
As I navigated my way through the Target Field concourse and exited through Gate 34 Monday night, I was heartbroken. My favorite baseball team managed to break my heart again. Surely, you’ve heard all of the stats by now – 16 straight playoff losses, 13 straight to the Yankees, 4 straight sweeps, etc., etc., etc. For some reason, though, this playoff exit hurt more than any other for me. No, there weren’t any Joe Nathan blown saves or Phil Cuzzi missed calls, or Mark Teixeira walk-off homers, but this playoff exit hurt me for a different reason. I had hope.
In prior seasons, I had always been a classic Minnesota sports pessimist. I would prevent myself from having any sense of hopefulness so that when the Twins inevitably lost in soul-crushing fashion, I wouldn’t get hurt as badly. Sure enough, year after year my pessimistic expectations proved correct and my heart was spared.
This year, though, the team felt different. And I allowed myself to have hope. I don’t know if it was the 40-18 start, the bombas, the rally squirrel or what, but this year I allowed myself to completely buy in and be a part of something exciting. I truly could not get enough of this team all season. I couldn’t read enough articles, listen to enough podcasts, or watch enough innings of ball. I lived and died on each and every pitch and it was exhilarating. Until October came and the Yankees knocked us out of the playoffs again. It sucked, and it hurt so bad this time. More than ever before. But you know what? It was so worth it. I’ve never had so much fun watching a Twins team and these 6 months of baseball have been so memorable that I would trade the excitement from this season for the eventual playoff heartbreak and misery every time.
At the end of The Shawshank Redemption, Morgan Freeman receives a letter from Tim Robbins’ character that concludes with the line, “Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies”. This Twins season taught me that, indeed, hope is the best of things and that my memories from this Twins season will never die.
Here’s to a 2020 season full of hope.