I think if you picked an average baseball fan randomly from the stands and paired them with any given major league player, the two could talk about the game for hours and agree on most things. I'd imagine there would be a lot of commonality to be found beyond the superficial since most players started playing because they loved the game, and many still are unabashed fans. However, there is one thing those two hypothetical representatives would absolutely disagree on, and that one thing would be off days.
Rare is it that you see a diehard fan of a baseball team make it through an off day without publicly lamenting their hatred of off days at least a few times. Many of us are creatures of habit -- the "nature or nurture" question of whether that's why we were drawn to baseball, or if baseball made us this way, is one for some other day -- plus a lot of us just have no idea what to do with that extra three hours of real life that we rely on baseball to shield us from. More so than that or any other reason, I think it mostly just comes down to the most obvious: simply that we like watching baseball and don't like not watching baseball.
It feels almost insulting to you, the reader, for me to bother typing out the letters spelling the glaringly apparent reasons why each and every scarce day away from the office is a rare gem cherished by the guys who are out there day in and day out doing the work that gets called play. While travel provides its own stresses and hassles, it's still a needed break from the constant grind both physically and mentally.
As important and beneficial off days are to the players themselves, not to mention the team as a whole, there's one thing I think every single player would agree is better than an off day. It's also the one thing that makes an off day slightly more bearable for us impatient fans. Both those who savor off days and those who dread them know that they are exponentially better for everyone involved when they follow a win.
Wins are, from what I've heard, just all-around better than losses, but they're more than just that when the team is guaranteed to be powerless over the standings for an entire day. The game immediately before an off day is the only win available in a two-day span in which most other teams have two chances and with that the chance to pull away in the standings with no possible resistance. Plus, it's a positive note to carry into a day that provides more than enough time to dwell on negatives. Once again, I think the most essential reason is the one that a five-year-old could come to: Wins are good, and I ran the math and was able to confirm that anything plus good thing equals better thing.
For fans, a win before the desolate day of deprivation not only eliminates a potential entire extra day of picking apart a loss, it gives them a full bonus day of basking in victory without the threat of defeat.
There are countless other little things that make a win before an off day a joyous occasion which is greater than the sum of its parts. I could go on for ages about the only thing that makes a flight not just a flight, but a Happy Flight, but I just don't have time for that because the Twins just wrapped up their series finale against the Rangers, and I am happy to inform you that they ensured the best possible off day for themselves and us devotees.
A 2-0 win is a cause for celebration on its own, but this one brings with it a side of relief. The Twins avoided being swept in the three-game set, snapping their three-game losing streak.
If one is going to be stuck waiting over two days until the next chance to watch the Twins play, this is the kind of game that is perfect for carrying like Linus Van Pelt's blanket until then. There is comfort and security to be found in the brilliant performance of Jose Berrios, and ample time to appreciate the two perfect innings his successors contributed.
Berrios allowed merely three hits and two walks in seven full innings of shutout ball, and honestly that with no context is still a pretty beautiful day in the big leagues. It doesn't end there, though, and a glance over at the strikeout column of the box score gives an indication of not just how good, but how dominant Berrios was. A dozen strikeouts in seven innings is just the absolute best kind of vulgar.
Trevor Hildenberger and Fernando Rodney took great care of the 2-0 lead, ensuring that Berrios' performance would not be in vain by each tearing through all three batters they faced, with Rodney going above and beyond by striking all of his out.
Great pitching is a sight to behold, but ultimately for naught without at least some tiny shred of offense to back it up, so credit must be given where credit is due in that regard. If you didn't feel like dividing your credit up and meting it out, you'd do well to just give it all to Robbie Grossman, since he was integral in both of the game's runs. He scored the first in the fifth after leading off with a double, then in the next inning singled home the second, ultimately unnecessary, run.
While all wins are wins, and yes, all wins are good, some wins feel a lot more winsome than others. A 7-6 extra-innings victory featuring blown leads, errors on both sides, and controversial calls is apt to bring up as many concerns as a 3-0 loss would have. A masterful shutout that never felt in doubt is in a more hallowed tier, a win that feels like a true win through and through, the kind you can simply enjoy with no reservations. That's the kind that makes you feel almost glad that you have an extra day to soak it in.