It's been even less easy to be a positive Twins blogger, to dedicate time and energy to finding the silver linings in a team that often looks over-matched in almost every facet of the game. My writing life would be easier, and probably more pleasant, if I could just sign off from the blog, let it wither and dry up like the husk of so many other abandoned websites in internet ghost towns, and find something else to occupy my time.
But I keep coming back. I can't seem to stop. No matter how long I go between posts, I keep turning up to write something. Just like I keep turning up at Target Field to see something, anything that resembles baseball.
My father-in-law, the Gouger, had tickets for Friday night, and I was, as ever, excited to go. But with Mrs. Peanut off in Los Angeles studying to become a yoga teacher, my Parental Units (Mr. No-Ass and The Knitting Queen) in a jet lag stupor after a 40th anniversary trip to Barcelona, my little brother exploiting his fraternity, and my best dude friend on a date, it was just the pair of us. Weaving our way through a packed downtown, we were both grimly aware that the Twins, these Twins, were as likely to provide an evening's entertainment as the stand-up comedy stylings of Joe Mauer. ("Hey, have you ever noticed how things are...you know...things?")
Heading down to Target Field plaza, we saw a mother shepherding a pair of logo-bedecked boys into an elevator. The boys were glowing with excitement, all smiles and bouncing knees. Gouger asked "are the Twins going to win tonight?" The littlest boy replied "YEAH!!" with the kind of absolute certainty that you only hear in children and religious fundamentalists. We could have shaken our heads, or muttered something, but instead we high-fived, cheered and headed on to the gates.
Since we arrived an hour early (pre-emptive parking before the Wolves and Twins fans descended en masse), I actually had time to peruse the clubhouse store, and all the food offerings I wanted. Part of me always thinks that, as fun as baseball can be, working in baseball (or at least in a baseball stadium) could leave you tired and dismissive. And yet I found myself hearing cheery recommendations from the beer vendor (Day Tripper APA: solid and satisfying after a long week), getting sincere service from the food vendors and sharing jokes and memories with clubhouse store cashiers. Everyone had a smile on his face, everyone seemed excited to see you, and more than willing to pause their work to appreciate a little sunshine and the promise of baseball ahead.
And while the top of the first put me in mind of a long, bumpy road ahead (Pedro Florimon's sudden apathy had something do with that), it was easy to push that aside and appreciate the little things: Jason Kubel chugging as only Jason Kubel can on a triple, Josmil Pinto's big screen photo looking like nothing so much as a forlorn Teddy Bear, Joe Mauer's robotic RBI delivery system and awkward 1st base chatter, Kyle Gibson finishing a fine performance with a strike out and a standing O, Brian Duensing dropping the hammer, Kurt Suzuki joining a long list of players whose early performance pauses any cranky critique I could make.
It was a beautiful night, and I was feeling warm and welcomed, watching a solid game of baseball and finding, five seats down, a likeminded fan in our old pal Betsy Bissen. Seeing her and talking (in person) for the first time in years, I got to hear all about her life as a Twins Daily photographer in the well, her stories about cupcakes and curveballs, pranks and--above all--positivity: why she always stays optimistic about the players, why the only people who drive her nuts are the people who can't stop complaining (and occasionally those who use ipads to take pictures), and why I should keep on keeping on with quirky little photoshops and random observations.
The whole night was a long, joyful reminder of why I come back to baseball and blogging again and again. It's easy to get sucked into my own private world: my house, my Netflix queue, my Scotch bottles. But baseball makes sure I remember everyone around me: the little kids abuzz with excitement, the random strangers who have a smile, handshake and piece of advice, the players who become constants in your life, the other writers, photographers and talkers who share in the silliness with me, and the family which is always there.
Gouger said it at the start of the night. There's no where else in sports where you can feel as tied into the community as you do you do at a baseball game. There's nowhere else I feel like my writing has as much chance to connect with like-minded readers and thinkers as in this baseball blog.
It's not easy to be a Twins fan right now. It's not easy to be a Twins writer right now. But no matter how hard it gets, it's worth it, to be tied in to a community of the excited, the kind, the constant, the silly and the family that makes baseball great.
Thanks to the Twins win over the Royals on Sunday, it means that on Monday you can get 50% off a Large or Extra Large pizza when you use the “TWINSWIN” promotion code at PapaJohns.com.