Some days you're the bat...some days you're the ball. Last night we were the ball...and the ball was bitch-smacked.
I'm of the opinion that you can tell a lot more about the character of your team from close games than blow-outs. Which, basically, is my way of saying I'm not taking anything too promising or disconcerting from Monday's thumping and Tuesday's shutout. This all changes, of course, once you start getting blown out of the water game in and game out...but luckily, that's not us.
At the game, sitting between home and first base (in the seats not on the field)...these were the best seats I've had at a Twins game in years. Around 1993, when I was taken to my first Twins game, we had seats just above first base. Anyway, these seats were pretty darned good. They enabled me to see Scott Baker's frustration, Gary Matthews Jr.'s mammoth grand slam up close, and they also enabled me to sit in the most quiet section of the Metrodome. This is surprising, considering how much these seats cost. If you're going to pay $40+ for a seat, I'd think you were a fan of the team (or at least of baseball), and wouldn't mind clapping from time to time. Nope. Silence.
I can't sit with you people.
You all know where this is going, right? I must share with you snippets of conversation throughout the game, because I know you, dear friends, will understand. At the game with me were Mike, Erika and Lauren. My review goes something like this...
Nobody claps for Scott Baker's first strike. I look around, confused, wondering if everyone has fallen asleep. You have to cheer for his first strike you assclowns! Scott Baker needs our love!
Leading the no-clapping, no-cheering charge is a couple in their mid-twenties in front of me. They're my age. The girl is happy to be there with the guy, she keeps smiling at him. The guy looks like he would rather be anywhere else, even though he's wearing one of those white with blue pinstripes Puckett jerseys.
Ian Kinsler strikes out. The four of us clap. Nobody else does. Well, everybody else does except those sitting along the first base line. Did I make a mistake? Am I sitting in the "Visitors" section? No, wait, this isn't a high school football game...
In front of me the too-cool-to-smile guy and his girlfriend watch the game like they're watching a movie. A Pauly Shore movie. Listen, guys, I know it's slow going...but it's not...um...what was Pauly Shore in again...the good one? No, that's not right either...
Next to this couple are two guys who had to have been high school seniors. This is a snippet of their conversation:
Boy #1: Yeah, dude, she'll still go out with you.
Boy #2: I dunno man, I might not be on varsity.
Boy #3: So what, you'll still be playing. Besides, if she doesn't wanna go out with you because of that she's just a [insert derogatory term for female with loose morals here].
I'm among my intellectual equals.
Jason Kubel noticably limps his way to the plate for his first at-bat. The Twins are walking a tight-rope of healthy players, and while losing Kubel wouldn't be the biggest blow the team could suffer, it still would be a big one. The problem is, Shannon Stewart may not be back this year. Rondell White, Jason Tyner, Josh Rabe and Lew Ford, four other guys who could spell Kubel if he needs a series or two off to rest that knee, don't provide the presence that Kubel does offensively. Tyner's been solid and White had his hot streak, but I don't trust either one of them like I do Jason K.
A group of four men in their late 50's have to slide by us to get to their seats, then proceed to flag down the beer man and ask for four Heinekens. Guys, really? Heineken? At a baseball game? What possesses you to not only overpay for THE SKUNKIEST BEER KNOWN TO MANKIND, but to also do so at a baseball game?!?
Meanwhile, Scott Baker is cruising. We're in face-break foul territory, so I have a glove. Gary Matthews Jr. fouls a pitch off. I put my glove in front of Lauren's face.
Lauren: Jesse the ball went the other way!
Me: I know.
It's 1 to nothing, Rangers, when American Legion Softball All Star first baseman Matt Stairs reaches on what is dubbed a throwing error by Nick Punto. To be fair, Nick Punto's throw wasn't the greatest, but he did double clutch because Luis Castillo was nowhere near second base. Punto released, hoping to still get the ball to second base when Castillo eventually got there...but he didn't get there, and the throw went errant anyway. This made it 2-0, and really it only got worse from there.
A check swing third strike called ball, and one HUGE shot to the left field upper deck later, it was suddenly 7-0, I'm not sure how. Michael Young then went back-to-back following Matthews' shot, and that was the end for Scott Baker. My glove is over my mouth as I'm seriously feeling bad for Scott Baker. He wasn't locating his pitches, but you could tell he was frustrated. Poor, poor, poor Baker...
My phone buzzes and a I have a text from someone I haven't seen in months. He saw me on television looking unhappy about a game that quickly got out of hand. I think 'That's cool', at which point I put my phone back in my pocket.
The game resumes and my phone starts ringing. It's my parents, but I don't answer my phone during a baseball game. I just don't. My parents leave a messege. During the half-inning break they call again, and I allow myself to pick up. It's my mom.
Mom: JESSE ARE YOU AT THE BASEBALL GAME?!?!
Mom: WE SAW YOU ON T.V.!! WE GOT A CALL...(from a friend who saw me, something about recognizing that boy from something or other and the friends wife knowing me and then they got a call and it was all so exciting and so now they have to watch and then she saw me on a replay and are you wearing a blue shirt...
Me: Yeah, my Hunter jersey. Pretty cool, huh?
Mom: I KNOW! I HAVE TO WATCH THE GAME NOW...
I had to cut her off, because she would have talked forever. Bless her, I love her to death, she misses me and it was really very cute...but the game was starting again. It was time to go. Sorry, mom.
Another foul ball. My glove goes in front of Lauren's face.
Lauren: Jesse I can't see! The ball wasn't anywhere near us!
I'm laughing. I have maturity issues, sometimes. Marriage, here I come.
In front of me, neither the guy nor the girl has smiled in nearly two hours. If they weren't enjoying the game before we were getting our asses kicked, they certainly weren't going to be enjoying themselves now. I wish they'd leave. The girl's hair is shedding into my beverage.
Four ladies show up out of nowhere. They're in their mid-sixties and at least two of them are plastered out of their minds. They want to sit in their assigned seats, so a few people have to move. I glance to my left to see if they're with the four older men, but the men are too busy talking about gettig more beer and mentioning something about a catheter not working. Gross gross gross.
Mike predicts the Twins will get shut out. I tell him he's a pessimist and I don't want to hear it.
Me: You know, Mike, if this were Star Trek, we could transfer runs from yesterday to today's game.
Mike: Yeah this isn't Star Trek, Jesse.
Me: You could say 'Mr. Worf, transfer auxiliary runs to tonight's game'.
Mike: I'll have to ask my dad about that.
Meanwhile, in front of us, the couple still aren't smiling, clapping or enjoying their night in any way, shape or form. Next to them the two high school boys discuss the finer points of not acquiring Carlos Lee after he flies out:
Boy #2: I'm glad Lee's not on our team.
Boy #1: Yeah, he's just not very good.
Even without looking up the numbers, I want to go Three Stooges on their asses and knock their heads together. Explain to me how the .286/.347/.549 line with 28 homers and 81 RBI and 27.4 VORP he had BEFORE the move to Texas ISN'T GOOD. There's definitely a route to take if you wanted to argue it's better for us that we didn't pick him up, but that just wasn't the way to do it.
Lauren: I take it back, Jesse Crain! I take it all back!
Lauren: That was a good inning! I don't hate him!
The inning comes and goes, and as such the four older ladies all get up and leave. My question is: why even show up? Two innings???
I'm reading GameDay most of this inning, specifically the article by Twins Geek about whether or not Justin Morneau is for real. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out. Informed reading at it's best, my friends.
Juan Rincon manages to give up another run, but in the end it's Mike's prediction of a shutout that takes the day. He wasn't too pessimistic, I was just a bit too optimistic...as usual.
Even at games like last night's, I can have a good time. Nobody got hurt, and it's baseball...how can you not enjoy yourself? Like I mentioned earlier, it's more important how your team responds when the game is close and on the line than what happens during a blow out. Blow outs happen, and it's nothing to gnash your teeth or tear your clothes over. By this afternoon, the Twins will be over it, and hopefully will have rebounded with a win. Just cross your fingers in regards to Francisco Liriano, and hopefully Kubel can stay healthy enough to play without damaging his knee.
Everyone else can stay healthy, too.