If you stop by Third Base Line, you're going to notice a couple of things. First, she's a Jason Bartlett fan and like most of us, is a little befuddled about his absence. Second, you'll find her to be more observational rather than analytical, which is a nice change-of-pace if you're used to coming here. Finally, she gets the word out that YES, you CAN do chicken monkey shoes. Just not before Labor Day.
Following a disasterous if unhappy weekend series versus the champion White Sox, we could all use a little "keep yer head up" and a pseudo fist-on-chin moment. Enjoy your final guest column, and I'll see you tomorrow.
Optimism In the Face of A Bad, Bad Weekend
It's so very easy to be frustrated with the Twins right now. Last season was a crushing disappointment, and a championship for our most bitter rivals was only salt in the wound. We hoped for, but did not get, an oh-my-god-how-did-they-pull-THAT-off acquisition in the offseason. Some of the roster decisions made in the last weeks have been frankly bizarre.
It's so very easy to be frustrated, and so very difficult to be hopeful. But a new season should begin with hope. And therefore to remind myself, and perhaps you, of just why we bother, I have compiled the following list. It is by no means definitive. It is merely what my fingers closed around when I reached out for a handful of optimism.
Six Things I Love About the '06 Twins
6. The new guys.
Whatever you might think of a trade or rookie promotion "on paper", you just never know, do you? The guy who has you tearing your hair out in agony when the 25-man roster is set could be the one who carries this team to a championship. Baseball is not predictable. That is why it holds our attention.
5. Watching Joe Mauer swing the bat.
It's a thing of beauty, isn't it? The perfect blend of form and function. Even when he doesn't make contact, the exquisite mechanics of his swing satisfies some aesthetic craving deep in my fan's soul.
4. I've survived worse.
Remember 1998? Anyone? How about 1999? 2000? I do. Vividly. The Twins may or may not return to the playoffs this year, but by no means are they as hopeless as they were a few short years ago. We all expect a winning season this year, don't we? That's nothing to sneeze at, around here. We just have to remember to enjoy it.
3. Oh, Canada!
Justin Morneau is healthy and ready, one hopes, to be the player he's capable of being. He's come a long way as a fielder and has seen enough major-league pitching to settle into a prominent role in getting the Twins offense back on track.
2. The pitching staff.
Was ever a small-market team blessed with such a wealth of fabulous arms? There is no pitcher, not ONE, on our staff right now that half a dozen teams (or more!) wouldn't salivate over like Pavlov's dogs at the merest hint of trade availability. Even the much-maligned Lohse and the oft-ignored Guerrier are far superior to what many teams have in those roles.
1. There is major league baseball in Minnesota.
A few years after the Big Contraction Scare, it's easy to take this for granted. But we shouldn't. We just shouldn't, even if we DO get a new stadium and a bigger payroll and a real third baseman and everything we've ever wanted. Because, out of all the cities in the world, thirty have MLB teams. We are so very lucky to be one of them.