Earl Miller, 64, has seen this before.
"I remember back in '79 or '80, they were tearing up spring training. Then they came north and got pasted every goddamn night.
"So I should be skeptical. But by god, did you see (Miguel) Sano's home run?"
Miller, a lifelong Twins fan, knows that March stats don't count, and knows that Sano likely won't see the majors until midseason at the earliest. But he simply can't help himself.
"The last five seasons have been a rain of shit. Literal shit, not figurative. So I know, I KNOW, what I'm getting into," said the increasingly agitiated retiree. "I shouldn't even be WATCHING these games. I'm putting myself out there like a chump. But I can't help it."
Surprising bouts of competence from Tommy Milone and Mike Pelfrey have only fueled Miller's cockeyed optimism.
"Can you even IMAGINE if either one of those two stiffs turns out to be okay? I mean, shit, when's the last time the Twins have had too much pitching? Mudcat Grant was probably still on the team. Shit."
Miller's children say this is not uncommon behavior for their father.
"Every year, with the Twins and the Vikings, he'll say he's done with 'em both," said Jennifer (Miller) Roebke, the oldest of his four kids. Then, the season gets closer, the exhibition games start, and he buys back in. Every time."
"Oh, Jesus, one year he swore that Sydney Ponson was going to be a 20-game winner," said Lyle Miller, Earl's only son. "I said, 'Dad, have you watched any of the games? He's pushing 300 pounds.' Pops was like, 'No, but Gordo and Gladden were talking him up.' Come on, Dad. You gotta know better than that."
Earl says he plans to fight this encroaching optimism, but knows it very well may not matter.
"I went out to get the mail the other day, and the sun was out, and it hit me right in the face. Not five minutes later, Chris Herrmann hit a dinger. Chris bleepin' Herrmann! Everyone is hitting dingers and the weather is nice. What else am I supposed to do?"