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The Audacity of Hope

I'm not talking national pride here.  Just fan pride.

Something strange happens when you get emotionally tied to someone or something.  Basically, you start to care what happens to them.  Or it.  Somewhere along the line you pick up a vested interest, and now this person, this object, this team has you wrapped around its little finger.

Don't be ashamed.  We're not the first.  We won't be the last.

There can be a dark twist to caring very deeply.  This emotional investment can take hold of you and cause you to respond in ways that, logically, don't always make sense.  You can second guess decisions and, at times, feel like you know better than they do the repurcussions of their choices.

With the Twins over the last eight seasons, there has been a lot of hope.  It's paid off in ways, with division crowns and playoff appearances.  But there's something that's dreadful and sickening about being a runner-up, coming in second place.  Right now, as it has been for the last couple of seasons, the Twins are runners-up.  They're close.  They're competetive.  You know what that does?

It turns us into obsessive, controlling, power-hungry parents.  The kind that rush onto our 9-year old's basketball court and punch the volunteer high-school referee in the nose for letting our kid get fouled and not blowing the whistle.  Our kid is the team.  That referee is the front office.

What happened?  Sure, it might feel good to punch a high-school chump in the nose, but he didn't deserve it.  It's his show to run and he's using his best judgment, which we clearly weren't when we decided it was worth cold cocking the poor kid.  In our belief that we knew what was best for the game, best for our kid on the court, we rushed to judgment.  We wanted justice and vindication and validation, and we thought we deserved every bit of it.

Right now, what is it that we're expecting our front office to do exactly?  We're not sure how long Joe Crede will be out for, which means there's suddenly another gaping hole in the lineup.  It can be plugged with a Brian Buscher/Brendan Harris platoon, but for a team headed for October that's not an ideal solution.  Add that to the lack of a quality bullpen arm, the lack of a stopper in the rotation and the obvious lack of depth at short and second, and suddenly I, at least, feel like we're trying to plug holes in a dike without enough Dutch kids.

The big situation here is that the Twins are competetive, but right now there are just a lot of problems with this team if we're talking about making a serious run at October this year.  So what do we do?  We expect that poor high school kid front office to go out and execute trades with other teams to bring in the kind of talent that makes us a legitimate contender not just for the division, but for the crowning achievement of the World Series itself.

It's the hope that's killing us right now, as fans.  The organization has done a superb job of keeping the team just good enough to be competetive every season.  Hope.  Every year for the last eight years, when we get to this point of the season there's been at least a shred of light at the end of the tunnel, pulling us forward with the promise of maybe.  That promise is still there this year, and it's calling out to us.

It makes us want to do something about it.  It makes us want to jump into action.  It's all so tantalizingly close that we can taste it, and yet that damn high school kid can't see the call?

Of course it's not about seeing a call.  It's about being smart, all the time, and about taking advantage of certain opportunities when and if you can.  There are no pipe dreams or obvious paths to follow, just the opportunity to, year after year, make the best decisions you can to put your team in the best possible position going forward.  There's a lot that goes into that.

If Minnesota had Cleveland's record there wouldn't be calls for a major deal, because it'd be absurd.  But the Twins are better than the Indians, and indeed the Twins are still in the running.  That's the hope that blinds us, asks us to entertain notions and implores us to accept delusions of grandeur as the obvious.

So here's the reality check:  the Twins won't be pulling off any major deals in the next week, or even in August, because at this point the costs would outweigh the realistic benefits.  Minnesota would need to bring in four or five players to plug all the holes this team has right now, and that's unrealistic even when your farm system is stacked with top tier talent.

The problem is that a lot of fans would see this as throwing in the towel, when it's anything but.  I've cried myself that this orgnanization needs to step up and make a play, but right now that isn't the best plan for this club.  I can't let the fact that I've been unhappy with the lack of mid-season moves in recent history cloud my judgment for what's best for this team right now and for the future, which is for the moment to simply to let things lie.

Staying the course is a really hard decision to make, because as a general rule I happen to personally believe that standing still is as good doing harm.  But sometimes standing still and weathering the storm is the best thing to do, and for this team in this situation, right now I believe that is the best course of action.  I don't want this team tying up money in trades that could be used in next year's free agent market, or on our own guys who are due to receive contract extensions.  And I don't want to trade for a Crede replacement when Danny Valencia is making strides in Rochester and could step into third base next summer.

Baseball, just like life, is all about balance and knowing when to make your big decisions.  Maybe the Twins haven't always made the best choices on their big decisions in the past, but right now I believe that making no choice is still a choice, and right now that is in the best interest of the organization.