The good ole days.
by, 04-09-2012 at 11:12 AM (644 Views)
I'm not from Minnesota, I've never been there either. I'm a twins fan because my father is a twins fan, he grew up watching Rod Carew smack baseballs all over the field. His fandom of the twins carried over to myself and my brother.
Living in South Central Pennsylvania I could transfer to a more local team. The Phillies are a mere hour and a half from my home, in fact we go there a few times a year to catch a game as most of our friends or Philly fans. The Pirates are a few hours West of us and their park is just beautiful, but they haven't been relevant for years.
The Orioles are the closest Major League team to us here in Central PA. If you catch traffic right you can be in Baltimore in about an hour, but the Orioles also haven't been relevant since the 80's.
The mid 2000's presented us with some unique opportunities, the Phillies were becoming a great team, winning the world series once and playing in another, it's nice to watch a winning baseball team. And the Twins were also winning, so we were travelling to Philly and Baltimore whenever they visited to catch as many games as possible. It was always nice to go to Baltimore and watch the twins beat the snot out of the local team. At most Orioles games there were more fans of opposing teams than there were of the Orioles.
In 2010 we were provided with a unique opportunity of seeing the Phillies and the Twins both when they were at their best. Joe Mauer was the reigning AL MVP, Justin Morneau was on his way to another MVP before concussions wrecked his career.
The twins were in Philly for a weekend series, it was father's day weekend and happened to be my mother's birthday as well. On Friday the twins lost to the Phillies 9-5. The Phillies went up 8-0 in the second inning chasing starter Nick Blackburn. I can remember receiving texts from my Philly fan friends, "Welcome to Philly Bitch! Title town!" The Phils added another run in the 5th before the twins scored 5 runs in the last four innings to make it closer than it really was.
On Saturday we got into Philly, enjoyed some Cheesesteaks, did some site seeing before we went to our hotel to get ready for dinner. We watched that game from the hotel, again the twins were down big after the early innings it was 8-3. The twins got one in the 6th only to give it back in the 7th. I was getting texts again from the Philly fans, it was 9-4 going into the 9th inning. I can remember standing there in my jeans an a white tshirt watching the game and drinking a beer as we tried to hold off going to dinner.
Delmon Young hit a nice single to center before Thome (a former Philly) pinch hit for Danny Valencia. Young moved to second on fielder indifference, I remember saying to my brother, "Crap they are walking Thome to get to Punto." They didn't walk Thome, but he did a nice slow trot around the bases after a 466 foot shot. It's 9-6 and Punto(also a former Philly having a great weekend) is up, he gets walked by Contreras.
In comes the closer Brad Lidge, he was a gas can in 2010, always stoking that fire. Punto moved to second on another fielder indifference, I can remember cheering again jumping up and down. "I have time for another beer, I'm not leaving this room till the game is over."
Kubel popped out to first and then Punto moved to third on a wild pitch by Lidge. Span was up, and he smacked another single to center and Punto scores. It's now 9-7 and Orlando Hudson is up, O-dog was very frustrating this year as proven by his strike out looking in this at bat. But now, it's still 9-7, top of the 9th two outs and the golden boy is up. Joey Mauer, Joey the Gun, The franchise, the best all around player in the game.
Span stole second during Hudson's at bat, I'm thinking do they walk Mauer to face Morneau? Both were equally hot at this time. Joe does his usual routine, takes a pitch or two. I think it ended up a full count before Joe Poked one 419 feet to center, tie ballgame. Morneau ends up flying out to left to end the top of the 9th. We are still in our room, I'm completely dressed at this time, but I refuse to leave for our dinner which is in like 15 minutes.
Matt Guerrier comes in to pitch the bottom of the 9th. He K's Victorino before allowing back-to-back singles to Polanco and Utley. I hadn't said anything to my Philly friends about the game and the awesome come back, but I'm still getting texts from them, "Game over" after they get 2 men on. Guerrier K's both Howard and Werth to end the inning... Not so fast my friend.
In the 10th Drew Butera hits a solo shot as a pinch hitter before back to back ground outs. Punto and Kubel both single, then Span is up. A chance to add to the lead when Span reaches on an infield single. And I don't know whether to be happy about Punto's aggressiveness or angry but he ended the inning getting tug out trying to sneak home.
Rauch predictably lets Russ Gload tie the game with two outs, this was about the point we realized that Rauch was not the answer at closer.
In the 11th, Hudson K'd again before Mauer walked and the Morneau was intentionally walked. Rauch sacrificed to first moved Mauer and Morneau over before Delmon Young singled to short scoring Mauer. Tolbert then slams one to left for a double, Young and Morneau scored before Tolbert gets gunned down trying to stretch it to a triple.
The bottom of the 11th isn't too eventful, Rauch gets two quick outs before an Utley double. Then Howard K's to end the game. 13-10 the twins win, and we head off to dinner.
Sunday's game was a matinee, and it was hot. I can remember it was like 95 degrees out, and 101 on the field. We had tickets down the first base line about 3 rows back, we also had some in right field as there were eight of us. Sunday's game was never really in doubt. Pavano was his dominate self much like most of 2010. He out dueled Roy Halladay in the heat, throwing a complete game, 4 hitter. His only mistake a solo home run to Wilson Valdez. We stayed for the whole game, celebrating fathers day by beating the Phillies who were favorites to win it all 2-1 in the series at their home park.
The Philly fans in our section were mostly cordial, they asked if we were from Minnesota, said how much they liked Mauer and that the twins are a "Model Franchise." As we were leaving the stadium and walking towards the gates a stadium employee walked up to us and said, "Great weekend of baseball, see you in the world series."
That's where we were at, favorites to represent the American League in the world series. That was before a Morneau concussion ended his season, before a stupid trade for Matt Capps got rid of our best backup catching prospect to save Joe's knees and before Bill Smith ran the franchise into the ground. Less than two short seasons ago, WE were the favorites. We didn't get to the world series that year, and I'm not sure when we will get there again. Mauer and Morneau's primes were ruined by terrible moves by the franchise and a lack of planning for the future. With the twins best prospects 3-4 years away, Mauer will be an average first baseman who is station to station and Morneau will probably be a vegetable.
I was at the Twins and Orioles game this past Saturday, and instead of watching the putrid showing in the field by the twins, I thought back to that series. We aren't that team anymore, we are a shell of that team. Instead we are a team that get's heckled by the damn Oriole fans. Some guy in a tie-dyed shirt and his drunk friend 10 seats away were leading chants of "Willlinnggggggggg HAM!" I thought to myself, yeah that's his name who cares? Apparently Josh cared as he had two errors. In the 7th inning as they got louder I saw Josh peer back towards the wall, he probably wanted to be back in Oakland.
I want to go back to the good ole days, only 2 years ago.