Later this week, my youngest sister will be attending her first Twins game of the 2019 season with me. We have both lived in the Twin Cities area (or near it) since Target Field opened, so we’ve been pretty frequent companions. It’s sort of an Odd Couple pairing that just seems to work well: I go for the game and (hopefully) the victory, while she primarily looks forward to the mini-donuts, Dippin’ Dots, app games, maybe getting on the scoreboard, and general atmosphere.
Like what may be the case for many Twins fans, this season presents a bit of a problem for her fandom: Brian Dozier & Joe Mauer were always her favorites (like most of the people in the ballpark from 2014-2018, I would imagine). Sure, it’s fun to see the current team bash the opponent into submission night after night, but for fans like my sister it helps to have a bit more of a personal investment (however shallow or perfunctory) in the individual players themselves.
Back in 2001, the Twins unveiled a “Get To Know ‘Em” advertising campaign, introducing a core of new players that the team hoped would revive fan interest after the late-90s doldrums. It did. In that spirit, here is my own “Get To Know ‘Em” campaign for some members of the current roster, to be used by my sister (and all the more casual fans amongst us) for figuring out the quirks of this year’s roster...
Rocco Baldelli: He’s our new manager. Yes, his real first name is Rocco. Not quite as fiery as that one white-haired guy you probably remember, but pretty cool nonetheless.
Eddie Rosario: If you want to see the guy having the most fun out on the field at all times, just keep your eyes on Eddie.
Martin Perez- Remember that one dude back in high school who you were sure was going to flunk out, but then one teacher got ahold of him and turned his whole life around? Yeah, that’s what the Twins did to Perez.
Max Kepler & Mitch Garver: Okay, let’s be honest here...I know you try to play it coy, but you liked Brian Dozier for more than his pull-side power, if you know what I mean. Kep & Garve-sauce are worthy replacements in that department.
Jorge Polanco: My current favorite Twin, meaning he’ll always be a part of my Pick 3 Ballpark App game. Fight me.
Jake Cave: A rare sighting, but every once in awhile he’ll emerge from his cave of Jakes for a brief romp in the sunshine. A return to the cave is always inevitable, so enjoy him if you can.
Jake Odorizzi: Every time he strikes a batter out, the Duck Hunt theme plays. Oh...you don’t know what Duck Hunt is?! Damn millennials.
Jason Castro: As the old song goes, “Every party has a pooper, that’s why we invited you”. The wet blanket on the team. This hasn’t officially been confirmed, but it hasn’t really been denied, either [ed. note, we’re pretty sure it’s not true, but that one guy keeps saying it.]
Willians Astudillo: Nickname is La Tortuga (The Turtle). You’d get it if you saw him. Unfortunately, he’s currently stuck on the back of his shell at the moment, awaiting someone to roll him over and get back on the right track.
Trevor May, C.J. Cron, Kyle Gibson, & Taylor Rogers: Though the overall team has a very Latin vibe this season, it wouldn’t be a Minnesota ball club without a bunch of tall white guys. Cron even plays the same position of the last tall white dude you probably remember—Mauer.
Finally, there’s Byron Buxton: Maybe the best overall player on the team. Think Superman—”faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound”—that kind of stuff. Why is he batting ninth? Well, uh, you see...hey, isn’t that the mini-donut stand?