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Reflecting on the Best and Worst First Half Ever


In terms of team performance, this was probably the most disappointing and soul-crushing first half of a Twin season I've ever endured. 

And yet I can honestly say that – as a pure baseball fan – I've enjoyed the first half of this season as much as any I can remember. 

I love baseball in all of its dissectible minutiae. I delight in overthinking every at-bat, sweating every intense moment, and debating pointless frivolities. I get a kick out of analyzing and opining on the many twists and turns of a marathon season. And offseason. (If you frequent this site, you might have noticed.)

But more than all that, I just love the baseball experience. Removing all of the stats, trends, trades, analytics, and hot takes, I am plain and simply a baseball fan to the core. I feel at peace in the ballpark, or with sounds of the game droning on my TV or radio.

When I was a young pup riding the bus down Cedar Avenue to the Metrodome, I didn't care much about Kirby Puckett's OPS or Brad Radke's trade value. I was just happy to be wandering through this majestic Dome, eating a hot dog and staring on at the action alongside thousands of other contented folks. If the game went long, maybe I'd even get to stay out late on a school night.

Much has changed since those days, but the fundamental source of my passion has not. And I was reminded of this very starkly in 2020, when a cherished annual summer routine – uninterrupted since I could remember (mind you, I was 9 years old when the '94 strike took place) – fell apart.

As the pandemic unfolded two springs ago, I was highly skeptical a season of record could be salvaged. Happily I was wrong. Major League Baseball managed to pull off a shortened 60-game season, and it was entirely fine. Much better than nothing. 

But it never quite felt authentic, and was over almost as quickly as it began. (The Twins played their 60th game of this season five weeks ago.) Most crucially, like so many diehards across the country, I never got to attend a game. It's an irrelevant footnote in the face of all the tragedy and trauma faced by so many last year, but losing the ballpark experience was a bummer. I promised myself that when we emerged from it all and congregated once again at the stadium, I'd savor the hell out of it.

And that I have. I've attended more Twins games at Target Field in the first half of this season than any previous. (And a couple at Kauffman Stadium!) I've run into random friends, heckled opposing outfielders, inhaled messy brats, beat the buzzer on bottom-of-seventh beers, and gazed wordlessly from my seat for indefinite stretches at the beautifully bland cadence of baseball, in all of its calm and rhythmic glory. 

Lord, did I miss it.

I attended two games this past weekend, during a sweep of the Tigers to close out the first half. Let's just say it cemented my deep gratitude for the return of (relative) normalcy in the realm of baseball. On Friday I grabbed bleacher seats with high school friends and felt the electricity of the year's biggest crowd. The place was alive. Sunday, I joined up with a whole gaggle of Twins Daily writers – many of whom I'd scarcely had met before, what with the absence of events for 16 months – and we had a ball milling about on the Gray Duck Deck. Considerable Bomba Juice was consumed. 

These times are golden. They're what fuel my fandom and love for the sport, through thick and thin. I don't know if this year's Twins season would be described as thick or thin (kinda weird descriptors?), but what matters is we're all trudging through it together, and Sunday was an excellent reminder of that: a perfect punctuation to the best and worst damn first half of Twins baseball ever. 

The return of baseball as we know and love it would be way more fun, obviously, if our favorite team did not fall flat and completely erase any pretense of contention by the All-Star Game. But them's the breaks. 

The home team hasn't won much, and it's a shame.

Still, those eternal words ring truer than ever: Take me out to the ballgame. Take me out with the crowd.


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Being 71 y.o. and a non drinker of adult beverages, I have discovered that I prefer listening to the games on the radio, and watching TV with the sound off, unless Jim Kaat is doing the game. Cory Provis is an exceptional announcer. Danny G is fine too. 

I have also discovered the wonderful announcing team for the dreaded Yankees, John Sterling and Susan Waldman. I am not a Yankee fan, but I greatly enjoy them. 

I have discovered in my old age that Target Field is too noisy, ( due to incessant PA system), the concessions way over priced, and missing the certainty and comfort of a game that A RETRACTABLE ROOF would have given us. Guess I'm just a grumpy old man. In a few weeks I will sample in person the delights of CHS Field. We shall see.

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50 minutes ago, Richard Swerdlick said:

Being 71 y.o. and a non drinker of adult beverages, I have discovered that I prefer listening to the games on the radio, and watching TV with the sound off, unless Jim Kaat is doing the game. Cory Provis is an exceptional announcer. Danny G is fine too. 

I have also discovered the wonderful announcing team for the dreaded Yankees, John Sterling and Susan Waldman. I am not a Yankee fan, but I greatly enjoy them. 

I have discovered in my old age that Target Field is too noisy, ( due to incessant PA system), the concessions way over priced, and missing the certainty and comfort of a game that A RETRACTABLE ROOF would have given us. Guess I'm just a grumpy old man. In a few weeks I will sample in person the delights of CHS Field. We shall see.

Old man yells at cloud! Get those dang kids off my lawn!! 

Anyway, I agree with Nick that this has been an oddly magical first half of the season. It's just been so great to get back into the normal summer routine of a Twins game nearly every day. 

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You know what I’ve missed as a long distance fan watching on MLB.tv? Ball park sounds! I understand why they disabled the feature last year when there were no fans, but it needs to come back now that we’re back in the stands! 

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I love watching two evenly matched teams play.  I've been known to pull over on the road when I spot a game in progress at a town park with no spectators, in case there might be entertainment.  Or, two last-place major league teams?  Could be a good battle, with a little less taken for granted and thus more surprises.  Seesaw lead changes can be great.

But when it's my team, which was supposed to be putting together a roster for a deep post-season run?  I don't enjoy watching them get clobbered by the good teams, and I don't enjoy a contest between them and another "evenly matched" bottom-dweller team, because it just hurts too much.  The game the other day when they had a walk-off win against a mediocre team after blowing the lead meant absolutely nothing to me except further pain.

I've been watching the games on radio with the sound off, mostly.

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I am SO JEALOUS of those who live in the cities to visit Target Field or watch the Saints as they will. (But for a variety of reasons, happy to live in Omaha instead! Lol)

For various reasons, not sure the plan of my dad and I journeying up there for this season is going to happen. But I can live vicariously through you and John and everyone else who had a good time and tipped a few back in the LF bleachers this past weekend. Really hope to join you guys soon for a Meltdown and a game.

But as I've often stated, the world is just better with baseball, I learned the game in car and transistor radios in my youth from my dad and my own learned knowledge from him. I have fought late night static due to west coast games just to hear what the Twins might do. 

This season sucks due to expectation. Period, But even though I can't attend....hopefully the Saints here in Omaha for the second half....its just wonderful to have baseball back with fans and hope and disappointment and fun watching young players and dreaming about tomorrow. And that's the beauty of baseball....there is always tomorrow. 

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Good perspective. Yes, 2021 is a super frustrating year, but at least we have baseball!

Last year's abbreviated season, with the cardboard heads and the rule changes, paired with the fact that we were all living through a very weird and unsettling time - that's a true "lost season".

Glad we have baseball, outside, with fans back in the seats. Much more enjoyable to watch....especially when they win. Target Field is indeed a gem - I always found it strange to focus on the food prices: it's a baseball stadium, not a restaurant! :)

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1 hour ago, bighat said:

Good perspective. Yes, 2021 is a super frustrating year, but at least we have baseball!

Last year's abbreviated season, with the cardboard heads and the rule changes, paired with the fact that we were all living through a very weird and unsettling time - that's a true "lost season".

Glad we have baseball, outside, with fans back in the seats. Much more enjoyable to watch....especially when they win. Target Field is indeed a gem - I always found it strange to focus on the food prices: it's a baseball stadium, not a restaurant! :)

Outside food is once again allowed at Target Field (no sunflower seeds though). You can also bring up to a 32 ounce factory sealed water bottle so you should be able to feed yourself at the stadium for the same cost as at home. 

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It's been a weird season for me.  I can't watch games on TV (Hulu subscriber) and I can't always listen on the radio.  Even attending games has been difficult this year.  I do usually find a way to at least check into a game somehow though.  The teams play only compounds much of my other frustrations surrounding the season.  So, it's kind of a love/hate relationship that I have with baseball this season.  Even so, it's still great to be able to talk baseball, whether it be here or at the water cooler.

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Interesting article.  First let me say that the radio team of Provis and Gladden is awesome.  They certainly are better than the tv crew.  Although I don't have to hear the tv crew that much because I can't get them on tv.  You had to do a lot of stretching to say it's the best first half ever.  I'd like to but the teams play has been horrendous.  I still follow them daily as I have for nearly 60 years.  But MLB is changing a lot and for me is ruining the game.  If there is a strike/lockout after the CBA expires on December 1st, they have lost me for good!

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I also do not care about stats and think in a way it has "ruined" the game.  I liked the days when you would see the same line-up almost every game. Now it is more about righties v lefties and who hit better against who.  

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I don't much care for Bremer and get really annoyed when he brings up pitch count every 5 minutes.  It is on the TV, we can see it.  I also hate the new pitch count crap.  Another huge game changer and it does not usually work out for the best.  I would rather have Berrios in the 7/8th inning if he is doing well then all of the sudden bring in someone else who mostly this year lose the game for Berrios.  He is one pitcher that can usually work out of a jam and isn't that one of the fun parts of baseball?

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This season has been a real tug of war in my mind.

First, I agree that it's *so exciting* to see baseball in person again and every night for 162 games. That was badly missed last year and a big reason why I struggled in the early days of the pandemic. I discovered I set much of my internal clock to the ebbs and flows of baseball.

But... the Twins suck this season. That's a bitter pill to swallow and has taken a lot of shine off the first point. But wait...

Usually, I watch *a lot* of baseball beyond the Twins so the Twins being a crap baseball team doesn't affect my love of the sport that much. That isn't the case in 2021. I've watched less baseball this season than I have in a couple of decades, excluding the weirdness of last year. But baseball *itself* kinda sucks now. It was easy to gloss over the game's flaws in 2019 because the Twins mashing was so much fun to watch. 2020 was... 2020. But in 2021, as we return to normalcy, it's no longer possible to ignore how much the game has changed in the past five years, and those changes are rarely for the better.

MLB needs an overhaul and needed it five minutes ago.

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21 hours ago, Richard Swerdlick said:

Being 71 y.o. and a non drinker of adult beverages, I have discovered that I prefer listening to the games on the radio, and watching TV with the sound off, unless Jim Kaat is doing the game. Cory Provis is an exceptional announcer. Danny G is fine too. 

I have also discovered the wonderful announcing team for the dreaded Yankees, John Sterling and Susan Waldman. I am not a Yankee fan, but I greatly enjoy them. 

I have discovered in my old age that Target Field is too noisy, ( due to incessant PA system), the concessions way over priced, and missing the certainty and comfort of a game that A RETRACTABLE ROOF would have given us. Guess I'm just a grumpy old man. In a few weeks I will sample in person the delights of CHS Field. We shall see.

Highly recommend left field bleachers 128-129, row 9+ for guaranteed shade and protection from weather. They're inexpensive, decent seats to begin with, plus there are monitors you can look up and see for a closer view of the game. The right seats can make a big difference!

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18 hours ago, VivaBomboRivera! said:

Jeez, what a season for injuries.  Even the writers are banged up!

image.png.e7d4a589a5c58886bf9765442e15b615.png

No way, looks EXACTLY like every Twins pitching prospect in the system. Has to be. Look at the sling!

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There are advantages to "suck" seasons. While we may not be looking forward to the Twins playoffs this season, we can look forward to opportunities to see big roster shifts and young players getting opportunities. How exciting it is to see a guy come up and get a chance out of the minors and just RAKE or dominate on the mound? It really fuels excitement all the way into the next year.

A lot of our young prospects are already getting vital MLB experience and it could help them avoid a sophomore slump. Plus, cheap tickets, etc.

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Wonderful writing, Nick -  thank you! I’ll be 68 years old and miss aspects of the “way things were,” especially having set rosters as mentioned above. But hey, that’s life, things change, even on the eternally beautiful baseball diamond.

My enjoyment is diminished this year by the team’s erratic and often poor play, but having The Game around again is so fine. And watching the new kids is fun!

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