As most of you know, I have now been blogging about the Minnesota Twins for past 11 years (in May). Until we started TwinsDaily.com just over two years ago, I was at SethSpeaks.net. Tonight, I was looking through the Archives
of SethSpeaks.net and back in late 2005, I had a series I called Why Baseball? Several readers of the site submitted essays on what it is about baseball that captures them. In fact, I know that a couple of Twins Daily readers sent in their submissions.
As I read some of the articles and the forums here at Twins Daily and see so much negativity, I thought it was time to go back and ask Twins Daily readers to submit their thoughts on what it is about baseball that draws you in. Did you play baseball? To what level? Is it the stats? The history?
The follow-up question on this Twins-related site is what is it that keeps you being a Twins fan despite the struggles? What are your early memories?
Like I said, I tire of the same old discussions about the same negative topics day after day. And yes, I’m not naïve. I understand that things haven’t been good and one of the beauties of watching baseball is that it looks so easy. Most everyone has played Little League baseball, and many get the opportunity to play in high school. So, it’s easy to second-guess every move on the field and in the front office. It’s fun to play Monday Morning Quarterback 162 games each season.
So, what was it for me? My dad played amateur baseball when I was very young. We have pictures of myself wearing a diaper and a glove at my dad’s games. (No, I will not post them here.) But, my dad – and my mom – played catch in the front yard almost every day from the day the snow was (almost) gone until the snow started again. We watched baseball games on TBS (hence my Claudell Washington fandom). We saw Cubs games on WGN. I loved when they had double-headers.
I played games that I wonder if I would let my kid play. 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.
I played a game against myself. I would pretend to be the Atlanta Braves. I knew the lineup. Brett Butler. Bruce Benedict. Dale Murphy. Biff Pocaroba. Basically, I would throw popups to myself, as high as I could. For most players, I would catch the popup and it would be an out. Of course, when Claudell Washington “came to bat,” popups were often dropped, or I would try to make the catch behind my back.
My brother and I played catch in the back yard. One would be the pitcher, and the other would be the catcher. The catcher would stand up, and if the pitch was caught within an inch or so of our body, from the knees to the letters, it was a strike. We would play six or seven inning games, throwing fastballs, changeups, and curve balls, taking turns pitching and catching.
I remember when Kirby Puckett got called up. I was eight years old, and truth be told I can’t imagine I liked him for any reason other than his cool name. I remember waking up the next year and my mom excitedly telling me that Puckett had hit his first major league home run.
I was in 7th
grade during the 1987 playoffs. For Game 7, I watched the game all by myself in the basement on a snowy, black-and-white TV, because I couldn’t handle the pressure of watching with anyone else. In 1991, I was a junior and it was just as exciting. I remember “And we’ll see you tomorrow night.”
I went to college and played a couple of years of baseball. For the first time in my life, I was on the bench. That was hard, but it allowed me to watch the game from an entirely different perspective. I learned a new way to keep the scorebook. I learned to look at each situation and scenario in a game from a different angle. I could see it from a player perspective, but gained a respect and understanding for the work that coaches and a managers do.
But, for a while, I stepped back from the game. But once college was done, and I had an 8-5 job and didn’t have college homework anymore, I dove back into baseball and the Twins headfirst and haven’t looked back.
Through writing at SethSpeaks.net and now at Twins Daily, it’s been an incredible perspective. To get the feedback, positive and negative, from readers is what it’s all about for me. Trust me when I say I learn more from the readers and commenters than I can give to them. It has also provided me with the opportunity to meet so many players, coaches, front office types that I normally wouldn’t have.
I enjoy following the Twins organization for so many reasons and getting to know so many of the people gives me a better perspective yet. To watch a player go from being drafted, through the levels of the minor leagues and reach that dream is really quite something. When I hear or read people say something like “Player is is a terrible baseball player,” I shake my head. Even the guys that get a cup of coffee in the big leagues are amazing baseball players.
As I’ve written in past Prospect Handbooks, I was your typical high school player who hit .420 for four years and played shortstop and pitched. Blah, Blah, Blah. I went to a Division III school and couldn’t hack it. Those players are very good. So, how good are the guys who get to play on Division I teams. Now consider that most Division I players don’t get drafted. How good are the players in Low A, or High A? You have to be remarkable, elite, to just get to AA.
The respect I have for all of the guys I write about is immense, and I love to tell their stories. Sure, it’s fun to see a guy like Byron Buxton who has a chance to debut in 2014 as a 20 year old after being a top first round pick and getting a huge signing bonus. However, what makes me want to do this from day to day are the stories like Tommy Watkins', who spent 10 or 11 years in the minor leagues before getting his cup of coffee. I enjoy telling the stories of Eric Fryer and James Beresford as much as I enjoy writing about Kohl Stewart. Getting to know a guy like Chris Colabello and the perspective he has on the game of baseball is really something that makes you want to see him succeed. Talk to Andrew Albers about the opportunity that the Twins gave him and learn what it is to love the game of baseball and have a strong passion for the game.
So there you have it… a small piece of what I love about baseball, the Minnesota Twins and now writing about the organization.
Before I turn it over to you, I asked three guys what it is about baseball and a career playing the game.
First, I talked to Trevor Plouffe. He is one of the more charismatic personalities that I’ve had the opportunity to meet. His response may surprise you some.
Next, I talked to Jermaine Mitchell who had a strong showing in big league camp. Of course, earlier this week, the Twins released him and he will get another opportunity elsewhere.
Finally, I had a chance to ask Tommy Watkins about what it is about baseball for him. He is one of the best ambassadors of the Minnesota Twins and especially the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
Yes, the Twins have had some rough seasons of late, but you’re all still coming to Twins Daily. Yet you’re still here, frequenting this Twins-related site, and we appreciate that.
But now it’s your turn. I’d love to hear and ready YOUR stories. So, what is it about baseball? What is it about the Minnesota Twins?