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Axel Kohagen

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About Axel Kohagen

  • Birthday 12/25/1977

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  • Biography
    I watch baseball. I think. I type stuff.

    If you're interested in my fiction writing, check it out at www.axelkohagen.com.

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    Baseball and the Dark Fantastic

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  1. Sunday afternoon. I’m making PB and J sandwiches for my daughter, my wife, and myself. I turn the game on the radio for a little bit and it’s the third inning. No runs in at this point. The Twins had already won the series, so I kind of wonder if we were due to lose one. The sandwiches made, I turn off the radio and go into the living room with lunch. My wife cleans up from mowing the lawn and I’m watching a JoJo Siwa special. I’m thinking about how much I’d rather be watching the Twins play baseball. JoJo slides around the stage in her heelies. My daughter watches and plays Legos. JoJo keeps talking about how you can be whatever you want to be. If that were true, I’d be The Man Not Watching JoJo. My wife is ready to go so we get our daughter to tidy up and turn off the TV. She says she’s getting a little tired of JoJo, which brings peace to my troubled heart. I don’t hate JoJo, but I do hope for smaller doses. She’s much better than the YouTube show my daughter calls The Grown-Ups and the Kids. That show kills my soul. I check the score. 6-0, Royals. Just like I thought. We were going to win the series but lose the last game. Still a good showing. We drive to Target and arrive, with our shopping list on my wife’s phone. She returns some shoes. We go to buy a present for Evie to give the host of the first birthday party she’s ever been invited to. She’s thrilled, but mostly because she wants us to buy all of the toys for her. Fortunately, she corrects herself on that mistaken belief relatively quickly. I try to sneak a Jason Voorhees action figure into the cart for my Friday the 13th collection, but my wife shuts that down real quick. This will all come back to the Twins. I just need to set the stage. The biggest surprises of the trip to Target were the lack of shoes and softballs. I recently started playing in a very relaxed (no strikeouts, not a lot of running) softball game and I need new shoes and a softball to practice. I’m currently sporting an ovoid-shaped scrape on my right knee that looks like someone slapped a slice of Italian deli meat to my leg. I need better traction. There are very few shoes, and nary a softball. Not sure how Target can be softball-less in late May, but here we are. Nearing the end of our Target trip, we are shopping for a birthday card when I succumb to a nagging temptation to check the Twins score. I assume they already lost and, for whatever reason, the Athletic app just failed to notify me of the final score. I check my phone and see the Twins have tied the game. I show the phone to my wife. My jaw hangs open. I shove the phone further into her face. She agrees this is good news, but her eyes tell me two things. First, I need to pay attention to my family and not become obsessed with my phone, watching the updates come through pitch by pitch. Secondly, I need to get the phone out of her face and quit acting like a goober in public. Now I’m smiling and walking up the main aisle of Target. I’m nodding at other people because the Twins are winning. In fact, they are going to win. I know this in my heart, and I’m so happy I feel like everyone else is happy for me. Like we could all break into a musical number celebrating the approaching victory. We make it to the car before I check my phone again – this takes a lot of self-discipline. I sit down in the passenger seat and see it’s the bottom of the ninth. Duran is in, and Gamecast tells me those first two strikes get in there at over one hundred miles an hour. He gets an out and then the next batter fouls off a million pitches. There’s a mound visit and I worry about a potential injury to Duran. I worry, but I have to pocket my phone and unload sundries from Target. We get inside just in time to see the last out come up on GameCast. Comeback achieved. Twins sweep the Royals. I feel worn out from getting worked up over the game. I cook up some supper, get my daughter ready for bed, and relax. There are a lot of baseball games in a season. The Twins will need me to monitor the games closely, wherever I may be.
  2. Being a hero means spending time in the abyss, mired down and challenged in every way. Royce Lewis has the potential for being a hero, but for now he’s spending a season in the abyss - in this case, staying patient in AAA. He’ll have to grow and add skills during this time, which is how heroes make their way back into the light. To stay a hero, he’ll need to transform into an even greater version of himself. If his brief time in the majors was any indication, he should have no problem doing that. Right now, Byron Buxton has emerged as a hero. The fate of a hero often depends on the whims of the universe, and so far Byron must not have angered them this year. Buxton is on the field more regularly, even with his limit of 100 games. He’s staying healthy. He’s adapted from his time in the abyss and matured as a player. In mythology, heroes often have supernatural help along the way. An elf or wizard adds their magic to the mix. A Greek god puts the wind into their ship’s sails. Baseball players seem to change through attrition, smoothed to perfection by water and time. The only player I can think of on the Twins’ team that had supernatural help was Chris Paddack. Richie the Rally Goat wasn’t enough, in the end, as he’s already had his second Tommy John’s surgery. The goat let us all down. As an aside, the goat let me down on a personal level. I bought my own rally goat to join in the fun. I made the mistake of showing it to my five-year-old daughter. She pushed the button for herself, listened to the thing bleat, and giggled. Then, you couldn’t get her to stop pushing it. She wanted to take it to bed with her. I imagined waking up in the middle of the night to that goat screeching at me. Anthony Hopkins asking me if the goats have stopped screaming yet. Too much. We put the goat on top of her dresser and we’re hoping she forgets about it. So, abandoned by his fate and fortune, Paddack heads back into the abyss. He is joined there by Alex Kirilloff and Miguel Sano. Fans seem less hopeful these three will rise and become heroes. Of course, before the season began, fans were less than hopeful about Royce Lewis. He had missed two crucial seasons (one due to COVID, one due to a torn ACL). Lewis grabbed hold of his opportunity. Now fans are almost disappointed All-Star caliber short stop Carlos Correa is coming back to replace him. Heroes take what they’re given and build themselves up. Unfortunately, if time in the abyss has crushed them from smooth stones into gritty sand, there may not be enough left to rebuild. Like the man says, there’s a last time for everything. Heroes either leave on top or fall down one more time than they get up. The fact that some achieve this kind of greatness, even for a brief while, is enough. The abyss waits. It is misunderstood; without its pressure and challenge heroes wouldn’t find the resistance to build strength. It takes away from many, but it gives to those gifted, resilient, and lucky. Buxton is here. Royce Lewis will return. Paddack, Sano, and Kirilloff must do the best they can with what they have.
  3. The Twins won two out of three in their series against the Guardians. As luck would have it, we managed to go to the game they lost. It would’ve been much more fun if we attended the game where the Twins put up twelve and Royce hit his first home run, but we did not. We got the low scoring game, where the teams went into extra innings tied one-all. The cliché holds true, though. A bad night at the ballpark is still a good night. I went in good company and enjoyed the conversation. The weather was nearly perfect – just a little cold when we staggered into extra innings. The skyline, and the pale blue sky above it, deepened into darkness in a beautiful, natural way. Target Field is home for me. Now that we only get to one or two games a year, I have to drink in all of the experience and savor it for months. I will hold on to memories, like the cheeseburger and root beer I missed Urshela’s solo shot while buying. Seeing Rocco Baldelli get ejected after a Guardian baserunner crashed into Miranda and went bam-kaboom down into the dirt. Rolling my eyes when fans tried to start the wave and refusing to clap along with clap-along songs – Are there two clap-along songs now? Terrified of Kris Lindahl’s stretchy, seventh-inning arms. Wondering what that woman was doing, waggling a stuffed fish near the Twins’ dugout. Taking pictures of Duran, who I just found out is referred to as the “Durantula,” and I like that. Being annoyed with fans who walk in front of me while the ball is in play. I’ve noticed I have a very specific response to good plays. I yell “yup!” and clap my hands a few times. Same word, same claps. Same vocal inflection. Nice and understated, like a Midwesterner should cheer. As Meat Loaf said, two out of three ain’t bad. But it wasn’t enough to wash the taste of that Astros sweep from my mouth. Especially because of the game we watched. The Twins got hits. They put people on the bases. They just couldn’t get them across home plate. My wife said they didn’t have a lot of pop, and as she is in most things, my wife is right. This is a good team. They just need to get better at administering the coup de gras when they have the chance. Of course, there were a lot of young players on the field last night. Buxton didn’t play Saturday night, even though I wished really, really hard he’d show up to pinch hit in the ninth or tenth. Correa is still out. I find myself silently willing Miranda to start hitting well. Like he’s my younger brother. I just don’t want him to get discouraged. We need to all chip in on a basket of muffins or something. Now it’s time to take the Twins show on the road. We’d better do well against Oakland, even though the games will start too late for an old man like me to listen to. I’ll hold onto my memories and check the scores in the morning.
  4. I remember the first time I got the wind knocked out of me. I was climbing a tree at my grandma and grandpa's farm. I missed a step, saw foliage tumble before my eyes, and landed on my back. I couldn't breathe. Then, when the oxygen came back, I sprinted into the house. I was more afraid of the sensation than I was hurt. I didn't know know my body would do that to me. By the time the Astros swept the Twins, I knew the feeling all too well. Life likes to suckerpunch you. My last blog post described the joy of victory and then, knocking us right out of the tree, the Astros served us the agony of defeat. They scored the runs. Our bats stayed quiet. We're injured and beaten. To be sure, we're far from done. There's lots of baseball left to play. A series like this was inevitable. It just keeps you off of the tallest branches of the tree for a while. Because the Twins have been playing well outside of this series, it's easier to get back to climbing. There are young players out there, showing they've got the skills necessary to play in the majors. New milestones are being recorded. Fans are forming attachments to players they'll cheer on for years to come. If we're being completely honest (and I do try to tell you the truth in this blog), I was tensed and ready for a gut punch in this series. The Astros are a very good team. We're heavily injured. Our pitching was due to be drug back into the muck. Maybe a little grit will do us a good. Plus, Justin Verlander. I just assume the Twins will lose when he's pitching against us. Would love to have seen that man in a Twins uniform, fighting for the good guys for a change. So the Guardians come in to town, ailing in their own ways. We find a branch close to the ground and hoist ourselves up. There's a new series starting, and it's time to get excited again.
  5. Three baseball games. Three consecutive one-run victories. All around Twins territory, fans’ brains are secreting happy hormones. Last year was such a different story. I had a dry-erase board at work. I drew the Twins logo on it and then two numbers underneath that logo. One for wins, one for losses. We all remember which number grew the fastest. Every day, it seemed like I’d be adding one to the loss column. “They lost again?” the people I worked with asked. “Your team sucks,” came next. It wasn’t a question. I didn’t argue with it. I’m so much happier this year. I have a Twins buddy at work.I usually don’t bring up a victory right away. I start with a pleasant greeting, then a little bit of small talk. I’m waiting, though. I’m waiting for the right moment. I’m smiling already. I’m thinking it, and I know he’s thinking it, too. “How ‘bout them Twins?” I say. And whammo! There we are! Joyously reveling in the glory of another Twins victory. Today, there was a scary side to the victory - Pagan has the potential to give both of us heart attacks. But it’s fun to be a little scared when there’s a happy ending, right? Meaningful baseball is like a campfire. It brings everyone into its glow. It inspires conversation. In our age, that conversation can happen in person, on social media, or through podcasts. When the message is winning, people want to keep spreading the message.The fire is warm; all fans are welcome. Last year, instead of a campfire, we had a desperate fan rubbing two soggy sticks together for warmth. We had cold, raw hot dogs and nothing to talk about. I firmly believe a meaningful summer of baseball adds a whole other level to the season. It’s the B story for the rest of your life. And it’s better shared with other fans.
  6. Our bodies betray us. Let’s say you’re a professional baseball player. You’ve been given tremendous physical gifts that allow you to play the game. Your muscles, tendons, nerves, eye sight . . . All of it coming together to create a ballplayer. A team puts a uniform on you, and suddenly you’re a sight to see. Like an ancient Greek, you represent the highest achievement in human athleticism. (Note: I realize not every baseball player represents a Platonic ideal of human anatomy. Babe Ruth was not chiseled from marble. Just work with me, okay?) Then, something breaks down. The machinery of flesh stops performing at an elite level. Often times, catastrophic results occur after fairly routine behaviors. Or, worse yet, for no reason at all. The ballplayer comes down to earth with the mortals. Byron Buxton has been held back by the limitations of his body for years. For a variety of random reasons, his body has betrayed him. He’s already scared us once this year, but so far our hopes for a strong, healthy hero seem to be holding up. This is good, because the sky is falling over Twins Territory. Ober’s on the IL and Gray might be coming off of it. Garlick and Sano dropped in to spend some time there. Correa’s got a bad finger, but we may be okay there. On top of that, the COVID virus has descended onto the team, taking away our coach and two players. For now, at least. We’re uncomfortable being reminded of the flesh and its random, cruel power. Just look at the ways we discuss Buxton and Sano. Before his contract, people said Buxton was “owwie-prone” or caught the “injury bug.” They were trying to make bad luck quantifiable. We love our ballplayers so much that we’d rather believe in the supernatural elements of personified luck than let that cold, sinking feeling of despair at the randomness of chance into our hearts. For Sano, the conversation always comes down to his size. It’s hard to read anything about him without the word “big” finding its way in. I think I’ve even seen “hulking” a few times. This is more than just an act of description; this is evidence of mythologizing. How can someone so huge fail to crush the ball? This feeds the despair fans feel when he’s not hitting. Maybe it’s part of the reason he gets more grief than other Twins players. In short, everything in baseball rides on a very fallible collection of bones and flesh performing tasks routinely, over and over, without falling into a state of disrepair. Try as we might, we can’t will them into being superhuman. At the same time, I doubt we can will ourselves to stop romanticizing them, either. We’re stuck in between the reality of frailty and the promise of superhumanity.
  7. I am not a handyman. I am a jack of no trades. When it became time to prepare my snowblower for storage, I took it as a threat to the peace and harmony of my weekend. Sure enough, I managed to stretch a small chore into two days of choking back cuss words because my daughter was in earshot. It's ready now. Probably. The nice part is I didn't suffer alone. I had Cory Provus and Dan Gladden to keep me company. I listened to the Twins play in the garage. It felt right, somehow. Baseball and small engine maintenance. I'm typing this with grease and oil on my hands. My wife seeded the lawn while I labored. Typical home-owner stuff, with baseball keeping us company. Same as it ever was, as long as fans have had radios and things to do. Cory Provus was being harassed for not being an athlete, but I don't think he's the only non-athlete in the world of baseball. There are lots of different ways of being one of the gang. Baseball already sports a stark dichotomy between its jocks and its nerds (both terms used with love). But that's not all. There are those of us who love the sport for its history and storytelling, present company most definitely included. You don't have to be a five-tool all-star to join the screaming hordes of Twins territory. Baseball, I believe, can be an outlet for healthy masculinity. Masculinity is a style of being that doesn't have to be tied to men. It doesn't have to be exclusive and punitive. Masculinity can be a rough and tumble ride for everyone. Yell. Pump your fist. Become a part of the howling crowd. Let out the beast in you where it's safe to be free. In an extra-innings game in the Dome, I remember what happened when Joe Crede hit a walk-off grand slam. I screamed. We all screamed. Some dude standing next to me screamed with me. We hugged hard after slapping hands in a high five. Masculine, but without toxicity. The Twins made Saturday and Sunday worth my time. Solid pitching and runs galore. I yelled and pumped my fist by myself, except not really. Other people are out there, yelling with me in their own garages and houses. It's a safe place to be a part of the team. Correa and company gave me plenty to yell about, too. In college, one of my roommates bought another roommate a Green Bay hat and told him he liked the Packers now. It worked. What a simple gesture with to bring someone onto the team. At a time where people complain about masculinity (and baseball) losing traction, what are we doing to bring people to share their voices in the roar of the crowd?
  8. "I'm not superstitious. But I'm a little stitious." - Michael Scott As fans of The Office know, Michael Scott can sometimes share deep knowledge. I think a lot of us are a little "stitious" when it comes to baseball. Prior to this Twins/Tigers series, I'd have told you I'm not a very superstitious person at all. Then, my coworker and I made Max Kepler good again. I'll explain. Before the series started, we were talking about Miguel Sano. We both remembered Aaron Gleeman's mailbag column where he showed Kepler was in the same boat as Sano, except Kepler got less grief. My friend said he thought Kepler could break out of it. Then, bam! Four home runs in two games (we'll just ignore that pesky third game for now). Kepler's hot. Maybe we need to talk about a Sano breakout next. Do I believe that we caused a major league ballplayer to hit better because of a hallway conversation? You know what? I kinda do. Just like I kinda think I jinxed the Timberwolves by watching Game 5 instead of going to bed early. I believe you can reverse jinx rainy weather by predicting it. I believe you don't talk about a no-hitter while it's going on. I once got Michael Cuddyer to hit home runs by wearing his shirsey. Of course, math and statistics doth make a liar out of me.. I UNDERSTAND that luck is just an illusion, but I KNOW it works for me. Even when it doesn't, my brain will find some way to make it work. I was glad to see the Minnesota Twins are a little stitious in their own way. I read about Richie the Rally Goat in Do-Hyoung Park's game recap. Everything about this article is wonderful. Paddack sums it up best when he says, "Baseball gods are looking out for us, and Richie here, he's done a good job of being a rally goat." Good on you, Richie. Let's face it - there are a lot of cold and unchangeable facts in the world. We need superstition to clear our heads from the frustration of banging them into the brick walls of truth and certainty. As fans, adhering to superstitions it the least we can do. Literally. I bought my own Richie the Rally Goat this morning. Count me in! Let's be a little bit stitious together!
  9. Never much cared for the White Sox, so seeing them get swept this weekend felt pretty darned good. I converted to Twins fandom in 2006, so I never knew A.J. Pierzynski as a Minnesota Twin. A Cubs fan painted a picture of him as a jerk, and I never really got convinced he wasn't. I went to the first White Sox game at Target Field just to boo him. Ozzie Guillen rubbed me the wrong way, too. If you need a team to be the bad guys, the White Sox seem tailor-made for your needs. It might not be rational, my gut reaction to this team, but they still get me riled up. Not even the Yankees get me as ornery as those White Sox. What;'s weird is that I tend to like cheering for the bad guys. I collect autographs from actors who have played Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th movies (If you have an "in" with Ari Lehman or Ken Kirzinger, get in touch with me). I like to wear black. I've seen My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult in concert 5 times, and it should've been six. I like my Batmen dark. Being a Minnesota Twins fan is one of the most wholesome things about me. Because, even though it might be naive and cliched, I believe the fairy tale Twins story. A smaller team who gets it done the right way by playing good baseball and being smarter than the smarties and tougher than the toughies. Thank you, Scrooge McDuck, for that last one. I read enough comments and articles to realize not everyone feels this way, but I still choose to see my Twins as the good guys. It's important to have good guys in your life. It helps. Life may not be filled with loathsome bad guys, but it often seems like there's a lack of heroes. Being a Twins fan doesn't automatically make you a hero, but maybe it makes small differences over time. I'd like to think someone in a Twins shirt is going to be a person who'd take the time to help you change a tire. Or give you a hug when you're down. Or spend some extra time playing catch with a child. Here's the deal - I don't do any of these things, realistically. I:'d just like to THINK that I would. And today, maybe, I am more likely to. Why? Byron Buxton. That man is playing so well right now that he makes me think superheroes exist. Once you picture him with a bright red cape, it's hard to picture him WITHOUT one. On Sunday's game, he granted the wishes of Twins fans who closed their eyes and wished please please PLEASE hit a home run. He did that TWICE. We would have accepted one time. Twice? Superhero. Now, people say "I love you" in all sorts of different ways. Some people cheer louder at the games, or maybe bring in signs. Some people just can't stop talking about him. Some people's love language is numbers, and they recite a litany of data that attempts to paint a picture of Byron Buxton, the man who could be king. Right now, in some way, ALL of Twins Territory is talking Buxton in their own love language. The hero defeats the villains. And right now, it's cool to be the good guys.
  10. This is what I would've said if I knew more about running. Nicely done!
  11. Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint . . . but I'm willing to bet you can spoil a marathon with a weak start. Mental fortitude cracking with the arrhythmic slapping of your feet against the pavement. Planning and precision giving way to panic. Comparing yourself to the other runners, who seem to be running flawlessly. Baseball is a marathon . . . for the fans, too. It takes commitment to stay abreast of a whole season. The game this afternoon felt like a must-win situation to keep some sense of hope. These were winnable games against a beatable opponent. We won one, by a single run. For the fans to stay in this race, we're going to need to win a lot more. Of course, who am I to talk about marathons and baseball seasons? I've never run a marathon, and my baseball days ended in elementary school with me standing in right field, praying the ball would never come near me. I'd like to run a marathon by the time I turn 50, which gives me a little over 5 1/2 years to get this body into shape. People have been very supportive of my marathon pipe-dream. The way they describe it makes it seem simple. You start running. 26.2 miles later, you stop. Along the way, you keep your feet moving. Everyone says it's a mental battle. Right now, I'm battling to get in the gym and get into 5K shape. Little victories mean a lot. Just going to the gym on a day where I'd rather see how many peanut butter Oreos I could cram in my mouth is a victory. This one run victory is like that. It keeps everybody grinding on, hoping the Twins find their footing, pick up the pace, and we all feel the breeze at our backs. It's hard to write series recaps about three lukewarm baseball games where one lukewarm baseball team faces another lukewarm baseball team. The biggest narrative seems to stem from Aaron Gleeman's revelation that this is the first time the Twins have ever batted under .200 for the first 12 games. Maybe a little chatter about some surprisingly good pitching. I bet I'm not the only one struggling to find something to write about, even at this early stage of the season. Hey, we can't all be Randball's Stu and hit it out of the park every time. So let's pick up those feet and put 'em back down again, Twins! Get into the rhythm. Find your stride before it's late June/early July. Because before long it'll be time to listen to "Dirty Black Summer" by Danzig and pretend sparklers are still fun when you're over fifteen. I'd like to still be in the race then.
  12. There were lots of bad baseball moments this holiday weekend. Yesterday, I would've written a whole blog entry about despair and bullpen blow-ups. Today the Twins split the Red Sox series with a decisive victory and I'm a happy boy. Couple home runs, some late inning score-padding. Dylan Bundy turning in a solid performance - we'll just worry about those hard-hit balls later, shall we? Game-by-game, I'm like Frankenstein, Twins win. Baseball GOOD. Twins lose. Baseball BAD. The big guy's been on my mind because I rewatched The Bride of Frankenstein this weekend. That's the one where the monster learns to speak a few words in addition to his grunting. Friend GOOD. Fire BAD. I think there's a Frankenstein's monster in the heart of every baseball fan. Even with advanced statistics that map the game for us and help cool our emotions, the monster inside of us reacts. It'll get easier to stay positive if the Twins can win more than they lose. It's obvious, but I think there's another level to it. There's this thing called Positive Sentiment Override. It means that things are so overwhelmingly positive that negative experiences don't ruin the positivity. Last year stunk. The Twins have a long way to go before the positive sentiment overrides all the awfulness we suffered through. By way of comparison, think of Yankee fans who believe their team should win the World Series every year. I guess it's easier to build up positive sentimentality with an enormous payroll. Realistically, this could take time. They say you need 5 positives to every negative to get the full affect. For sake of argument, let's bastardize that theory a bit and say the Twins would have to be successful in almost every aspect of the game. I don't know that they're there yet. Until they are, that Frankenstein voice will keep saying, "Twins BAD" every time something doesn't go our way. Bloggers and commentators will growl, hiss, and bristle at every perceived slight and weakness. If we cultivate a culture where winning is the norm, then we might see the "Baseball GOOD" mindset take over the site. Bandwagon fans jump aboard. Losses? We'll get 'em next time. I think it might take a playoff series win to really set Twins fans free from their primal, monstrous negativity. Bride of Frankenstein ends with the monster destroying the castle because the bride, created for him, hates and fears him from the start. He doesn't get the one thing he most desperately wants. Twins fans tear the castles of hope down every time they lose the thing they most desperately desire - post-season victory. But for now, the monster's happy for the night with a W and a few dingers. We've played some tough teams, so there's reason to be hopeful the Twins add more positivity and decrease the negative knee-jerk reactions to every loss, real or perceived. By the way, if you're interested in Positive Sentiment Override and how it affects relationships, check out the work of John Gottman. I've (very) loosely interpreted in a way that benefits my argument. His stuff is great.
  13. In about 24 hours, the Los Angeles Dodgers disassembled the Minnesota Twins and left them in little pieces, out in the rain. On top of that, two of the moving parts don't work anymore. Alcala and Kirilloff need repairs, and they're both key cogs in the Twins machine. They say the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and right now those parts do not add up. I monitored the first game on my cell phone. My ear was too clogged (allergies) to listen to the game. I'd watch the game, but I lack the time and money it takes to actually find a Twins game on television. I live in Iowa, and even though the Twins Caravan used to swing by here, this state does not feel like Twins territory. Iowa is filled with Cubs fans. I've got nothing against the Cubs. I think they created lifelong fans when their games were broadcast on WGN, just like the song says. Seems like there might be something to this idea that actually watching games creates fans who then spend money on the team and travel to see games. It's hard to piece together a blog post about 24 hours of disappointment and despair. I did get former Twin Brusdar Graterol's name stuck in my head. Ever have that happen to you, where you keep hearing a unique sounding name in your head like it was a catchy song? Brusdar Graterol. It has a certain rhythm to it. I've haven't been this hooked on a name since Italian horror director Lamberto Bava got his name stuck in my head. Also, Boof Bonser. As I write this, I still feel hopeful for the Twins. The season has barely begun, and there's a lot about the team to be excited about. Maybe the bats will come back on the road trip. Maybe the bullpen will settle in a little bit. I want to see more Nick Gordon, because I've decided to be unapologetically excited about him regardless of stats and sensibility. I'll be there for all of it, monitoring the GameDay app and wondering what baseball would look like if I could actually watch it.
  14. When I dipped my toe into the new Twins season, I braced myself and winced. Like most people on Twins Daily, I'm excited for our hitting but unsure if we've got the pitching to be competitive. More than that, these old bones are sore from the 2021 season. Things looked swell last year at this time, and then the losses piled on and on. And on and on and on. Admitting you were a Twins fan got you a free bowl of soup and a friendly ear in Depression-era diners last year. "Times are tough," the cook would say. I made time to watch the first game at a chain restaurant that specializes in wings (even though no wings come close to achieving the greatness of Tooties on Lowry, home of the best wings on earth). I took my 5-year-old daughter and bought some quality baseball time by loaning her my cell phone so she could play her little game on it. The Twins tripped and fell right away in the game. They staggered and righted themselves a bit with an Urshela home run, then stumbled on the way to their final out. Game two and Buxton does a little talking with his bat. Twins take a lead and then blow it. I follow along on my phone, sliding back into the groove of ignoring friends and relatives to keep up on the game. The secret is lots of eye contact when you're paying attention to THEM, to make up for all the times you only have eyes for your phone. Game three is much better. Sanchez knocks in a grand slam and there are home runs everywhere, like they were participation trophies. I tried to listen to part of this on the radio, but my 5-year-old daughter caught me tuning in when I was supposed to be babysitting her dolls. I ended up having to sing David Bowie songs to them while the Twins hauled in their first victory. Game four? I'm fully immersed in the Twins season and loving it. There are good things happening for the Twins, and there's every reason to nurture a bit of hope. So why did I feel so blah? General contrariness? Always a possibility. Maybe it's because I read the news today, oh boy, and the real world has become A Bad Place. Baseball usually takes me away from all that - the longer, the better! Maybe it'll just take a little longer this year to fully escape into the game. There's no reason to worry about whether or not this team can warm your heart. This team is so loveable it could sour puppies and kitties by comparison. Buxton plays the game with gusto and he'll take you along for the ride. Polanco and Correa can turn frowns upside down with a swipe of their bats. Kirilloff is going to get there, people, and it'll be delightful. And this Duran guy? You gotta love what you see when he pitches. Also, he appears to be a very good hugger, based on my own observations. This is a team you can cheer for. This is a team that brings "fan favorites" and "baseball crushes" back to the ballpark. I, for one, am ready to let baseball dazzle me into a happy grin yet again. Bring on the summer of 2022, and bring on the next chapter of Twins history!
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