Hello darkness, my old friend. I've come to talk with you again. - Paul Simon, accompanied by Art Garfunkel
It's September. The days are getting shorter. Yesterday, just after six, the sun started to slip below the horizon here in Wisconsin, where I'm forced to ply my trade. Darkness, my friends, is coming back. To a Twins fan, of course, September has become a very dark time indeed.
On August 11, while speculating about whether Ron Gardenhire was equipped to lead the Twins going forward, I wrote, "In August and September, from 2011-2013, the Twins have combined to go just 56-115 to close out their seasons. That's a .327 winning percentage, only two wins better than the Astros did last year.... Now, with veterans Correia, Morales, and Fuld gone, and Willingham hopefully soon to follow, Gardenhire needs to demonstrate that he can keep this team focused through the finish line, even when the games don't matter." Since that day, almost a full month ago, the Twins have lost 18 of 27 games, a .333 winning percentage. I suppose that counts as an improvement of sorts.
Still, that's obviously not the kind of performance I was talking about when I prayed that the Twins would find some way to keep fans interested in September. The culprit again has been the pitching staff, who have allowed a mind boggling 6.19 runs per game during this stretch, almost two full runs worse than the American League average (4.22) in 2014. Twins pitchers (again) have the second worst ERA in the American League (this would be the fourth consecutive year holding down that spot) and by far the fewest strikeouts (ditto). Watching them has become a chore.
Tommy Milone and Trevor May (who, to be entirely transparent, I was in favor of calling up) have 7.84 and 9.38 ERAs respectively. Since coming off the disabled list, Ricky Nolasco has allowed 20 runs in 29 innings. Kyle Gibson's ERA is 4.85 during this stretch. Aside from the days Phil Hughes goes, this Twins club has become unwatchable and, frankly, our lives will be improved by not watching another three weeks of truly awful baseball.
It is, therefore, in the spirit of helping our communities move forward, together toward a better, happier Twins-less September, that I give you the following better ways to spend your time this month, so that the sounds of silence permeate the grounds at Target Field and we can register our disgust at the sad state of this franchise:
Como Park/Zoo: Everyone loves a free zoo. Kick in a donation so that Sparky the Sea Lion has plenty of fish.
Jen Kirkman at Acme Comedy Club, September 26 and 27: Conveniently timed for the last weekend of the Twins’ 2014 season, Kirkman is one of the best standups working today. And will be at least, if not more, funny than watching the Twins give up line drive after line drive.
Go up to the lake: The leaves are starting to change, and the weather is getting cooler, but you’ve still got time to get up to the lake for one last weekend of fishing and booze cruising on a pontoon (pick a designated boater). Bonus points if your cabin doesn’t have a TV or decent radio reception and you won’t accidentally hear Dick Bremer or Dan Gladden.
Take a class: Cooking, painting, improv, it doesn’t really matter. Find something to do with your evenings that gets you out and meeting similarly minded people who are also trying to escape the ineffectual tyranny of the Minnesota Twins.
Drink like Gleeman: Booze dulls the pain, and makes the time go faster. Hell, you might not even remember parts of some evenings. Preferably, those windows will be from approximately 7:05-10:05. You will probably have had fun, but if not, it’s not like you’ll know it. You can also do this up at the lake as long as you stay out of the boats.
The Book of Mormon, at The Orpheum, until September 14: Obscene and gross, but endlessly funny and sweet and full of heart, The Book of Mormon is about a young man who has faith in something that seems utterly improbable, and that puts him at odds with the reality around him. It’s kind of like believing that the Twins’ leadership team is capable of turning this team into a winner sometime soon. On second thought, this one kind of hits too close to home.
The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices: I forgot, this has been closed since 2002, when owner/operator Bob McCoy donated his collection to the Science Museum of Minnesota (who have, sadly, done a poor job of representing the true scope of how amazing McCoy’s collection was). I used to take girls here on first dates, because you can tell a lot about a woman by how she reacts to seeing a prostate warmer and getting her personality read by the bumps on her skull. RIP Bob.
Just, whatever you do, don’t watch the Vikings. You know they’re just going to go all Temple of Doom and pull your still-beating heart out of your chest at some point and show it to you. Also, the NFL is just awful.