MLB.com Twins beat writer Kelly Thesier is moving on to better things, and last week, she took to her blog one last time to let her replacement introduce himself. His name is Rhett Bollinger, and he says the following: "I've actually never been to Minnesota, however, but have heard great things about the state and of course, Target Field. So if you have any advice, send it my way."
We here at Twinkie Town are nothing if not helpful, Rhett....
Welcome! It's good to have you on board here in Minnesota. I see from your intro, however, that you've never been to our fair state, and presumably you haven't been following the Twins very closely. Here's a few things you need to know.
First things first – we need to do something about that name. "Rhett Bollinger" is not a good name for a Minnesotan. It stands out, it calls attention to itself. Rhett Bollinger played lacrosse for Johns Hopkins, or won three events on the Pro Surfers' Tour – it's not a name that you'll want to be saddled with here. Go for something nondescript and Scandinavian. "Ryan Petersen" would be good. Your model here is Joe Christensen, who used to be called "Jackson Mountfriar-Smythson" before he started here.
Second, you're going to see a ninety-year-old man wandering around in the press box, blathering to anyone he can reach. That's Sid Hartman. He's an institution here, and your job as a member of the Twin Cities press corps is to prop up that institution without actually letting it get in the way of your job. Humor him, answer his random questions, but on no account let him sit next to you unless you want to spend all night dealing with him. Also, at some point he may wipe mustard on you. Just let it go.
Next, a word about some of the figures you'll be dealing with. Ron Gardenhire is a good quote, but you'll eventually realize that he falls back on the same cliches over and over again. For example, do not quote him when he says that a pitcher "threw the living fire out of the ball." You'll figure out that he says this every night. Part of your job is to make up other, more colorful statements for him. (He's from Oklahoma, so you can put any words you want in his mouth and people will believe you.)
Don't waste time trying to get a decent quote out of Joe Mauer, as a dozen years in the spotlight and a Minnesota upbringing have turned him into the blandest human being on the planet. I'm sure he might be interesting in private, but getting him to publicly show emotion, candor, or personality is a losing battle. Spend your time watching Alexi Casilla teach Spanish curse words to Tsuyoshi Nishioka instead.
That said, if you ever do get any dirt on Mauer, you take it with you to the grave. Our entire state depends on Joe Mauer being a nice boy from St. Paul that every mom in Minnesota wishes her daughter would marry and her sons would be more like. If you ruin that, the state will collapse and we'll have to move next door and mooch off South Dakota and it will be your fault.
If you need some color, go to Justin Morneau. He's from Canada, and they don't have media there so he has no built-in filter. If you can get to him during the hockey playoffs, when his guard's down even further, you can probably get him to say anything.
Michael Cuddyer can do magic tricks. We know already. That said, if you can get us video of him doing tricks on Nishioka, go for it, because that would be awesome.
Now then, let's review some basics about our state – starting with geography. A quick primer: Minneapolis and St. Paul are the Twin Cities. If you're more than 50 miles from either, they - and anything that can be loosely called a "suburb" - are called "the Cities," and are viewed as dens of sin and iniquity and gunfights. Minneapolis is loud and vibrant but annoying, like a Labrador retriever that won't quit barking. St. Paul closes at 8:30 pm. St. Cloud is for drunks. Rochester has the Mayo Clinic and therefore is focused on death. Duluth is a really nice town, except when it's 25 degrees in June and coated in a layer of ice. Everything else is either farms or fishing, both of which are better here than anywhere else in the world and don't you dare say otherwise.
A few other helpful hints:
- Minnesota Nice is a real thing, but you have to ask. Otherwise we'll assume that you just want to be left alone. (We're not good at confrontation of any kind.)
- Being an outsider, you are not allowed to complain about the weather in any way. Suck it up. Being from here, we are allowed to complain all we like; do not point out the inherent hypocrisy, because we don't like you mentioning it.
- In Minneapolis, the avenues run north and south, the streets run east and west. In St. Paul, the roads run wherever the hell they feel like and either end in a deserted parking garage or with an unexpected 85-foot drop to the river, so be careful.
- You are allowed to say cruel, hurtful things about Wisconsin and Iowa. (We believe those things to be true.) You are allowed to ignore or patronize North and South Dakota. (We believe they're not real states.)
- We love Target Field because it's a great park and it's outside, but deep down, we're all a little bit embarrassed that it's so fancy.
We hope you do well here in Minnesota, Rhett/Ryan. We really do. You'll pick up everything else as you go along. Good luck, and remember: do good here, and you'll be One Of Us forever. There can be no higher achievement.