If you look over at the right hand side of this screen, of the front page, there is a link to Yahoo Sports baseball blog, entitled Big League Stew. Currently, they are having a guest writer every day write the 10 best things about being a fan of such and such a team. I have decided to not wait to talk about the 10 best things about being a Twins fan. They are after the jump.
10. Tony, the Killer, and Carew. For 8 years, the Twins had Tony Oliva, Harmon Killebrew and Rod Carew on the same team. I wasn’t born until 1986, so they had all retired by that point. But, I’ll be damned if everyone who was able to follow those teams doesn’t consider themselves lucky as all hell for being able to do so.
9. Hometown Heroes. Tom Kelly was born in Graceville, MN. Kent Hrbek was born in Minneapolis and raised in Bloomington. Dave Winfield was born and raised in St. Paul as were Paul Molitor and Joe Mauer. Terry Steinbach is from New Ulm. Sure, between them there is only one MVP, one Manager of the Year, and 8 World Series rings. Sure, Molitor and Winfield won them with the Yankees and Blue Jays and Steinbach has one with Oakland, but they all spent time in front of their hometown teams. The Minnesota Twins have never given us a lack of “local boy does good” stories. And aren’t those all kinds of fun?
8. The Metrodome. It was big. Bad for watching baseball, and ugly. But I was practically raised at the Metrodome. I saw hundreds of games there. It may have been ugly, big, and bad for watching baseball, but for a boy with a single mother who worked at Vision World to support me, and a cavalcade of men coming in trying to be fathers, there was no place on Earth I loved more than the Metrodome. I still, on occasion call Target Field the Metrodome. Probably always will.
7. A Year and a Half With Jim Thome. I look forward to a day when I have children, and I set them on my lap, and I get to tell them about Jim Thome and his 37 home runs with the Twins. The one off the flagpole. The walk off home run against Scott Thornton. The one that broke Delmon Young’s brain. When he passed Harmon Killebrew, and the video tribute that followed. How he showed up to TwinsFest which was held 4 days after he signed. Those two triples he hit. And how I still have no idea how he did that. It’s going to be weird going to games next season without Michael Cuddyer, but it is going to be just as weird going to games knowing that Jim Jam won’t be bringing mashed taters for everyone in the twinned cities.
6. Herb Carneal and Bob Casey. I don’t have a lot to say about Carneal and Casey. Other than the facts that Carneal made me almost prefer listening to Twins baseball on the radio, and Bob Casey would make me jump with glee whenever he would announce Kirby Puckett.
5. The history and tributes at Target Field. Last August, I took my girlfriend to her very first Twins game. She’s from Los Angeles. And we walked around for awhile, and she asked questions about everything. From the statues to the golden glove. She asked me about the Twins Hall of Fame and about the weird gate numbers. When we finally got into the park, I told her why Senor Smoke’s was called Senor Smoke, who Frankie V of Frankie V’s Italian was, and all about Tony O’s Cuban Sandwiches. Tony O was there so, that made it extra awesome.
4. The Twins Way. Throwing strikes, sacrifice bunts, hit and runs, making routine plays all that. Is now associated with the Minnesota Twins. Playing baseball and not making a big deal about it. We made the playoffs 6 of the last 10 years. That is pretty impressive. And we did it all quietly. We came under the radar. That’s the front office likes it. That’s how I like it. It’s what we expect from our players. Remember the 2008 home run derby that Justin Morneau won? He was in the background holding the trophy over his head while the loser, Josh Hamilton is being interviewed. Personally, I can’t think of a better visualization of the Minnesota Twins way than that.
3. The M&M Boys. As Mauer and Morneau go, as go the Twins. And usually they have gone good. It’s possible that Morneau is done (though I don’t think he is), and if he is, what a run they had. Eight years, 2 MVPs. 3 batting titles, and eight All-Star games. I heard many analysts say that Mauer and Morneau were the top 3-4 batting combo during their heyday, and I hope to hear them say it again this year.
2. Kirby Puckett. He may have been flawed. But, when I was up at the plate in Little League, I was pretending to be Kirby Puckett. My cousins and I used to play home run derby in this empty lot that was sort of diamond shaped in a trailer park in Blaine, MN. We used metal bats and tennis balls to really make the balls fly, and across the street, there was a high chain link fence (high for kids at the time), with heavy machinery behind it. If we hit a tennis ball over that fence that was a home run. I would walk up to the plate, and squat like Kirby, and swing with everything in my tiny body. Kirby was my childhood hero. His name is synonymous with baseball for me, and for a lot of you, I suspect. Just the mere mention of his name, is enough to almost bring me to tears. Not a day goes by where I wonder “what could’ve been.” His last at bat against Dennis Martinez is my most clear baseball memory. I miss him.
1. The 1991 World Series. Greatest World Series ever played. I don’t care what anyone says. Kent Hrbek’s tag of Ron Gant. You should watch it in slow motion, Ron Gant was clearly out. Chuck Knoblauch’s fake out of Lonnie Smith. Kirby Puckett’s catch, and later on, Kirby Puckett’s home run. And of course, Jack Morris. 2011 was a good Series, but 1991 is undoubtedly, the greatest World Series of all time. I was 5 at the time, and I was living in Texas. But, I had a small television set in my bedroom and I watched every one of those games in my bedroom in my tiny bed holding onto my Teddy Ruxpin with every pitch. The volume would be way down, and I’d make a sort of blanket fort that covered me and the TV. That way my mom would never know I was up watching all seven games.