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Scenes From An Offseason, Volume 7

The Twins Winter Caravan begins its 53rd season today. Here's a look at how this might be going down.

Harry How

SCENE: A van, somewhere near the Iowa-South Dakota border. DICK BREMER, TERRY STEINBACH, RON GARDENHIRE, and BRIAN DOZIER ride along in silence. The earth outside the window is flat and tree-less; if you stare hard enough, you can see the curvature of the earth.

STEINBACH: We should play a car game.

DOZIER: No! Not again! We've played like a hundred rounds of this!

GARDENHIRE: No, I think it's a great idea! I'll go first. I spy, with my little eye, something that starts with 'S'!

DOZIER (slumping down in his seat) Oh God.

BREMER (playing along): Is it... a stop sign?


STEINBACH (also playing along): Is it... a four-door sedan?

GARDENHIRE: Nope! Brian, do you want to guess?

DOZIER (sullenly) No, I don't want to guess.

GARDENHIRE: Brian, do you want to spend the year rotting on the bench at Elizabethton?

DOZIER: Fine! Geez! Let me guess: is it "A shortstop that needs to take five thousand ground balls every day after practice until he's not an embarrassment to every coach and manager he's ever had at any level"?

GARDENHIRE: You know what, that's correct, Brian. That's EXACTLY what I spy.

DOZIER: Okay, okay.

There is silence.

GARDENHIRE: Who wants to sing "99 Booted Ground Balls On The Field" again? Come on, you all know the tune!

DOZIER: Somebody please kill me.

SCENE: A van, somewhere west of Bemidji. BRIAN DUENSING and CHRIS PARMELEE sit in the front passenver seats, but they are swiveled all the way around, chins perched upon the seats like kids on a school bus, cajoling TOM BRUNANSKY and DAN GLADDEN, who sit in the rear seats.


PARMELEE: You guys have to tell us, seriously. We're not going to stop asking.

BRUNANSKY: No. We're not going to talk about it.

GLADDEN: We can't talk about it, hardly, any more. It was so long ago.

DUENSING (laughing in frustration): No! Come on! You don't forget something like that!

PARMELEE: It won't leave the van, I swear!

DUENSING: If you tell us, we promise that we'll stop asking you to bring back your mustache, Bruno, and your Tennessee mudflap, Dan.

Brunansky and Gladden look at each other, half-smiling. An unspoken understanding is reached.

BRUNANSKY: All right, fine.

GLADDEN: But you can't tell anybody.

BRUNANSKY: Especially not Gaetti. He's still mad he missed it.

DUENSING AND PARMELEE (in a chorus): Of course!


BRUNANSKY: So it was the week after the '87 Series, and we were just about the biggest thing in town. Me and Dan here, and a few of the other fellas, were out on the town in the western suburbs, you know, feeling no pain, and all of a sudden Prince walks in with about fifty other people in tow....

The music rises. We see long, lingering shots of various population signs - Bagley, Fosston, etc. - interspersed with extra details in the story...

GLADDEN: Now, I have no idea how you even get a donkey into a minivan...

... McIntosh ...

BRUNANSKY: You can't get that flavor of whipped cream any more, they banned it, but somehow she had about three gallons...

... Erskine ...

GLADDEN: When I woke up, he was pinned to the ceiling, literally pinned up there, but I'll be darned if he wasn't fast asleep...

... Plummer ...

BRUNANSKY: And Hrbek says, I swear to you, "Officer, you can't kick us out of here, because I'm buying this bar, and now I'm your boss." And would you believe he let us be? Didn't even take the saddle...

... and finally Thief River Falls...

GLADDEN: And so that's why nobody in the Twins organization is allowed to bring his dog to work. Well, looks like we're here!

Gladden and Brunansky disembark, apparently unconcerned. Duensing and Parmelee, however, leave the van rather more slowly. They are both trembling, and clutching at the van and each other for support. Parmelee's eyes are bloodshot. Duensing is dry heaving.

PARMELEE: We shouldn't have asked.

DUENSING: Man, I'm glad I didn't play baseball in the eighties.

SCENE: A van, southeast of the Twin Cities. COLE DE VRIES, LIAM HENDRIKS, and TERRY RYAN all have their heads out the window.

DE VRIES: My eyes are tearing up! It's still awful even out here! It's like mustard gas!

HENDRIKS: I never thought I'd smell anything worse than that wildfire that swept through at home, but this smells like three wildfires that went through a sewage plant!

RYAN: My skin is crawling! It's like napalm!

We cut to the interior of the van, where BERT BLYLEVEN is giggling uncontrollably.

BLYLEVEN: Man, I DO belong in the Hall of Fame.