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I know my writing is about as consistent as the Twins pitching, but that doesn’t mean that I am not watching. Watching and learning and understanding that baseball, as emotional as we get about it, is a business, and in a business you want to be the best that you can with the assets that you have. That’s why when you are hired at a job, if you are not doing the duties hired for, or continue to curtail off of them and get lazy, you will get fired, or in baseball’s instance, traded. The past few weeks we have seen a few changes, more hits, better defense, and a few more wins. Now, some of those wins are coming from other teams that are at our “level” (aka: a bad record), but as my husband says, “a win is a win”. He’s right, “A win is a win”, so let’s take a look at what has changed lately. If you don’t know, I will just tell you: injuries. Yes, you read that right, injuries are what are helping us. The Twins, in typical fashion have had a load of injuries that continue to plague us as we go throughout the season. I know that this is nothing new for any team, it’s the point of the IL, right? But let’s look at what that means for our Twins. Buxton, Donaldson, Simmons, Kepler, and now Jake Cave’s injuries are allowing for minor leaguers to come up to the show and give it a shot and take that shot they have. New guys joining our team on a consistent basis the past three weeks have been making dives on line drives and fly balls and getting homeruns like they were born to be on the Bomba Squad. Larnach has been one of those bright spots in our line up and in the left field. In the past three games, he has hit two homeruns and had four runs. One of those being his major league first HR on May 20th, and the flood gates of awesome opened up. Larnach continues to show us why he continues to stay on the active 26. Refsnyder is the diamond in the rough. The 30 year old has come out swinging, literally. Since May 15th, the former Texas Ranger has seen 33 at bats, which has led to 8 runs, 7 RBI’s and 2 homeruns. Definitely a great acquisition and has given the line up new life. I usually cringe when I see a player being traded and they are creeping into their 30’s, but there are a few, such as Refsnyder who continue to surprise teams and when they find their stride, watch out… Kiriloff, who has been with the 26 man since the middle of April, is great at first base and is a solid hitter. Kiriloff is young and has some room to grow, but he continues to improve each time he comes up, a solid hitter in dire situations, the 23 year old has four homeruns (two coming in one game against the Kansas City Royals) and only two walks in his 63 at bats this season. His RBI’s are what make him a great addition to the line up, he has ushered in fifteen RBI’s since April! If the Twins pitching could quit taking us into extra innings, imagine how 15 RBI’s could make a difference in our overall record. Baseball is a business. Baseball for us fans, means winning records, longevity into the playoffs, and hopefully a World Series win...or at least a chance. Emotionally, we love certain players, we all have our reasons, but at the end of the day, the owners, the fans and the coaches have an investment in these players and deserve a return on their investment. These three men have proven to be a huge improvement in our line up and in our defense, so maybe it’s time to make some permanent changes, ones that all of us would hate to see, but, we may need if we truly want to have a winning team.
I spent my Tuesday night at Target Field because of a coupon and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates are the team I root for in that other league, and the ticket cost next to nothing after I applied the coupon. Since this coupon paid for one single ticket, I went without a spouse or a sidekick. Once I knew my novel Orphans (with Roy C; Booth} would be published on July 21st, this lonesome visit to Target Field took on added importance for me. The book takes three lonely, crumbling men and haunts them past their breaking points. I doubted the Twins would break me, even if they did lose like they had the last time I saw them play (and they did). I just wondered if you could still be a lonely grump in a twenty-first century ballpark, and if you could get lost in your thoughts instead of your smart phone. The first four innings went smoothly, and I spent them in my seat in the 300s. Later, I discovered I sat in front of some old friends from an old job, but I missed them by diving into a mixture of thoughts, texts, and temptations to be hopeful about Pelfrey's outing. He kept the game in line and the offense put two runs on the scoreboard in his support. I might have kept watching from the skies if my stomach had shut up. I left the stands and found myself watching the Target Field organist work. Even though the interior of the pub feels like a place where bartenders where garters on their sleeves, nothing here was lonely. In fact, the organist herself smiled as she glanced over the room, somehow finding time to chat with fans, watch the game, and play her tunes when the right time came. The smiling drinkers around me convinced me I was two minutes away from a friendly conversation, so I escaped to continue my quest to be the lonely wanderer of Target Field. I found more space out by left field, but the standing view wasn't quite to my liking so I moved down to the second level. Just one level down, the wandering was far more social. Small squads of princesses from various hometown contests milled about, taking pictures. You could spot them by their sashes and matching shoes. Adults wandered the same pathways and smaller children darted between princesses and adults, like sand between pebbles and rocks. I couldn't stay disconnected from the blue-and-red mob. The Twins were handing back runs as I watched from railings. I followed the game from the crowd noise, and I smiled at other fans. The wind picked up and blew a hat and rack of chips on the floor, and everyone shared a chuckle. I watched a challenged play at the plate from an awkward third base angle. Another wandering guy watched next to me and together we agreed the runner was out just moments before the umpires concluded the exact opposite. The guy walked away. Actually, I think someone he belonged to came to claim him. I wandered the main level on my stomach, desperate to find the perfect food and settling for some standby nachos. I stood on the concourse by the flags, a place where I always feel comfortable in the shadow of a Jim Thome home run. I found a spot next to a man who cheered like a bad audition for professional wrestling. A flurry of hits drove the Twins down by four runs. Truth be told, I escaped to my car after the inning finally ended. I cheered along on the radio as the Twins brought in the runs to tie the game, and I cringed when they gave up the lead and lost the game. My blood still runs through blue and red veins, but my mind and body felt like enjoying some solitude. A day later, still covered in wreckage from today's Twins loss, it occurs to me this is something of a miracle. Target Field may actually be timeless, and this may be the proof. It survives smart phones, bright lights, instant scoreboard updates, cable, and wifi. With National Night approaching, it seems worth noting going to a baseball game was so friendly I couldn't be a cranky bastard when I tried my best. With a week full of especially crappy news, there must be some value in this discovery. It appears the men of my novel could've done more to save their own souls.