Welcome, all, to Opening Day, the happiest day on the baseball fan's calendar. Spring training is a harbinger of things to come, but Opening Day is truly the end of the long, dark, cold winter. Today begins the rebirth of our sense of community, as we brush the dust off of our baseball mitts and our sunglasses, and get ready for yet another summer.
With Opening Day comes a thousand questions - how will the bullpen look? Who will be this year's breakout star? How many more times do we have to go to the Dome before we can completely forget how to get there? Lucky for you, I'm here to once again give you the Twins Season Review - before the season even starts.
And so the season gets underway, as it so often does, in...
... when the Boston Red Sox have to forfeit their first three games of the season. Explains Terry Francona, "We just assumed the commissioner would send us someplace stupid to open the season again, so when spring training ended, we got on a plane to Tokyo."
Joe Mauer, still on the disabled list, describes himself as "disappointed" that he can't join the team in full duty. "You can't believe how frustrated I am right now," says Joe, a sheepish smile creasing his features.
Matt Tolbert is sent back to Rochester, after team equipment managers discover that the utility infielder sealed himself in a duffel bag and had himself flown back to Minnesota with the rest of the team's gear. Tolbert and Ron Gardenhire are seen tearfully embracing before the former leaves.
Nick Punto strikes out 43 times in the first two weeks of the season. Coaches are able to trace the problem to the shortstop forgetting to bring a bat to the plate. "We were so used to the swinging and missing," says hitting coach Joe Vavra, "that we just plumb forgot to look."
White Sox team personnel have to delay the start time of one game, as RA Dickey is detained for two hours for "giving security a fake name." After establishing the legitimacy of Dickey's identification, the White Sox are forced to ban all boys ages eight to twenty-eight from the park. Major League Baseball announces that they cannot in good conscience fill authentic jersey orders with the knuckleballer's name on the back.
Jose Morales is found, bound and gagged, in a broom closet. The catcher claims to have been drugged two weeks earlier, despite his name being listed in the lineup four times in the intervening span. Morales claims that he was kidnapped by a man who gave his name only as "Redmondo." In an unrelated story, a #58 jersey is found in Mike Redmond's locker.
Luckily, that's all forgotten as the calendar turns over to...
... when the Detroit Tigers are reprimanded by the commissioner for putting a baseball-tossing elephant on the mound. Says Jim Leyland, "Let's face it - Stampy is the fourth-best pitcher on our staff."
Carlos Gomez creates a brief firestorm in the publishing industry, as he releases a book detailing several brilliant and elegantly simple physics formulas that may help formulate a unified theory. The book is titled, "Earth. Space. Boom. Zoom!"
Jose Mijares finishes the first month of the season owing the Twins organization money. "We pay him over $60,000 a month," says Terry Ryan, "but he spent more than that at the Dunkin' Donuts on Monroe Avenue alone." Mijares is quoted saying that he "does not regret such a delicious mistake."
Ron Gardenhire is seen slipping into a jersey for the first time in years - one that bears #20, not his traditional #35. Asked why he's wearing Matt Tolbert's number, the manager grows flustered and stammers out a random excuse.
Finally back in action, Joe Mauer describes himself as "really excited." "I'm just completely thrilled to be back with the team," says the Twins catcher, a sheepish smile creasing his features.
Mike Redmond and RA Dickey get into a dugout argument over whether the knuckleball is “intense enough.”
The Twins play twenty days in a row, as the season lengthens into...
... when the team finally gets its first day off in three weeks. Ron Gardenhire flies to an un-named East Coast city instead of joining the team's flight home from Tampa Bay. Curiously, Matt Tolbert does not show up for Rochester's regularly scheduled game with Lehigh Valley on June 1.
Scott Baker goes on the disabled list with “puberty-related symptoms.”
A muffler shop somewhat near US Cellular Field in Chicago is perplexed when a worn baseball crashes through the roof in mid-month. After study, officials announce that Jim Thome's home run has finally come down from out of the atmosphere.
Joe Mauer drops an anvil on his foot, cartoon style. Says the Twins catcher, "Boy, I'm really disappointed in that," a sheepish smile crossing his features. Clubhouse watchers begin to get worried.
Twins management finally gets Nick Punto to stop painting a silly mustache on his face and declaring, "I'm-a Italian-o!"
Michael Cuddyer is out two weeks after a car drives over his foot in the parking lot. Police are stumped when multiple witnesses describe the car as being driven by Vincent Price. "That guy died in 1993," says a confused police spokesman.
Kevin Slowey and Craig Breslow are spotted in the clubhouse discussing the impact of Faulkner’s later works on their views on class stratification. On the other side of the clubhouse, Glen Perkins proves he can fit his whole hand in his mouth.
Doctors report that Boof Bonser's rehab is going well, although his weight has fluctuated between 153 and 328 pounds. Bonser is reported to be back on his vegetarian diet, although this was affected when the righty found out that pancakes and Pop-Tarts qualify as vegetarian.
As the weather turns obscenely hot, the calendar turns over yet again, into...
... as Michael Cuddyer, injured when turning the clubhouse calendar, misses two games with an infected paper cut. Jason Kubel is sent to the outfield, but recalled to the dugout when he forgets eye black, pop-up sunglasses, a glove, and his pants.
Justin Morneau is disciplined for drinking in the dugout during the July 1 afternoon game with the Royals. The first baseman pays a $500 fine in loonies and tire dollars before shouting "STAND ON GUARD!" and passing out. Morneau is later seen asleep on the team charter, wearing only a Vancouver Canucks T-shirt and a pair of maple leaf-emblazoned boxer shorts.
To prevent concerns about the lack of a roof on a new park, the Twins announce that ushers in the new park will hold umbrellas over the whinier fans. After concerns about the lack of a roof in the new park continue to arise, the Twins announce that anyone who wants to sit in the Metrodome for games next year is welcome to do so.
Not wanting to hurt Carlos Gomez’ feelings when it’s his turn to sit in the outfield rotation, Gardy lists him on the lineup card at “Designated Boom.”
Joe Nathan is removed from a game when he gets his nervous tics mixed up, combines “blow into the hand” with “really big inhale/exhale”, and swallows three of his own fingers.
After Joe Mauer homers in eight straight at-bats, describing himself as "in the zone, I guess," with a sheepish smile, the catcher finally undergoes an emergency personality implant. "Basically, he was born without any semblance of a personality," say relieved Twins doctors. "We just thought he was the world's blandest human being, but it turns out it was a legitimate problem." Luckily, a donor with personality to spare is immediately found in the Twins clubhouse.
The rest of the coaches finally convince Ron Gardenhire to get rid of a small Matt Tolbert collage hanging on the wall of his office. In a related story, Nick Punto finally goes an entire day without feeling unloved and crying.
And so, the Twins need a month to look forward to, a month like...
... as a 100-degree, dew-point-in-the-80s heat wave prompts several Twins players to file a lawsuit in federal court. The players organize a support group, "For The Love of God, Please Bring Baseball Back Indoors," but it gains little traction.
The Twins announce that Pat Neshek is behind schedule on his return from Tommy John surgery. "He hasn't actually had the surgery yet," says Bill Smith. "We thought we'd wait a little longer, see if that thing won't clear up on its own."
The Twins announce the “Metrodome Experience” will be part of Target Field. A few lucky fans will be enclosed in an echo chamber and then allowed to watch a TV set at a 45-degree angle to their seats.
Joe Mauer begins wandering through the clubhouse naked. Teammates are overheard wondering, "Couldn't we have had somebody other than Red Dog to be the donor for that operation?"
Delmon Young, after three weeks of dying quails and bouncers, hits three 500-foot home runs in a single game, and later confesses that yes, he really is just messing with everyone.
Craig Breslow and Carlos Gomez are seen animatedly discussing Gomez's theories in molecular biochemistry. Asked to describe the conversation, Gomez shakes his head and says, "Wow. Boom!"
For the first time, Phillip Humber is recognized in public. Says Humber, "They actually thought I was John David Booty, but I'll take it."
Despite the distractions, the team is yet in contention in...
... as the Kansas City Royals surprise baseball fans by announcing that they are still mathematically not yet out of contention for the division title. Mathematicians across the country are stumped. Manager Trey Hillman notes that the Royals are "only 20 games out of first."
As rosters expand, Matt Tolbert finally comes back to the big leagues. Delmon Young gets picked off four times and hits into a double play; Ron Gardenhire merely laughs and chucks the left fielder playfully on the chin. "Gardy's in the best mood I've ever seen," say clubhouse sources. Gardenhire also calls up every catcher on the 40-man roster, "just as a little present for myself."
On a trip to Toronto, Kevin Slowey tells a customs officer that he has “nothing to declare but my genius.” Jose Mijares, up from Rochester, tells the officer that he has “nothing to declare but a sack of cheeseburgers.”
Target Field construction is slowed when a miscommunication causes a planned “Monument to Scrappiness” to turn out as a statue of Scrappy-Doo in a Twins hat.
The Twins’ marketing department quits en masse when informed that they will no longer be allowed to drive vehicles on the field in the new park. “We just don’t have any other ideas for promotions,” they say.
In grateful and sometimes tearful appreciation, the American Onomatopoeia Society gives Carlos Gomez its Man of the Year award.
A former acquaintance of Justin Morneau publishes a tell-all book that claims Morneau uses steroids. A brief furor blows over when the Canadian consulate in Minneapolis explains that Canadian “steroids” consist of an 80/20 mix of maple syrup and bacon.
And unfortunately, the Twins season finally comes to an end.
Or does it continue, in...
I guess there's some things that even I don't know.