I woke up Thursday morning and wasn’t ready to start my day. So I picked up the ol’ phone and started scrolling the usual: Insta, Twitter, and Facebook, just as an elder <millennial/late Gen Xer/Xennial/whatever you want to call me> does. As I opened the time and soul sucking cesspool that is Facebook, I was blasted in the face with this adorable photo of my kids on this day, just three incredibly short, yet incredibly long years ago:
So I clicked on the rest of my memories, because I wanted to
watch videos of my beloved Joe Mauer coming out of the dugout in his catcher’s gear one last time, set to the music of The Natural, see more pictures of my little cherubs.
I was scrolling past more Twins-related posts like this one because apparently I care about baseball as much as I care about my husband and children:
And then? Well then, I was hit with two posts that made me realize why I am the way I am when it comes to the Twins and my simultaneous optimism and soul crushing defeatism:
What’s that? You don’t remember 2008 and 2009? Sit back and let Auntie Mar Mar tell you a tale.
Picture it, Chicago, 2008. Life was so good for young Marea. I was about to get married, we had a new house, and we had adopted two adorable kitties (Meowser Hrbek, aka Herbie, and Randy Carter, aka Carter, named for Randy Moss and Chris Carter. And no, their names aren’t my passwords for anything so don’t bother trying to steal my identity kthanksbye.) The Twins and the White Sox were in a head to head battle for first place in the AL Central. The standard 162-game season just wasn’t enough, and the Twins headed to Chicago for a tiebreaker. The season ended in heartbreak all across Twins Territory, as Nick Blackburn gave up the one and only run of the game to Chicago in the seventh inning, thus effectively ending the Twins’ season.
So when we reached the end of the 2009 season with just three games to go, I was fairly certain the Twins wouldn’t be heading into October. After all, I was still stinging from the 1-0 loss of the previous year’s game 163 against the White Sox, plus there were only three games left. The Tigers were just as good as the Twins, and it was next to impossible to think that they’d tank so hard to make this happen.
Three. Whole. Games. Left. All the Twins had to do was win them all, and the Tigers just had to lose them all. It was a tall order, for sure, but I also had 2006 still fresh in my mind, and remember watching the score of the Tigers game to see if we were the division winners or taking the Wild Card spot. (Spoiler alert, the Twins won the F out of the AL Central in 2006.. and lost the F out of the ALDS.) But I digress.
My husband and I had tickets to what was supposed to be the final game of the Metrodome, complete with a certificate they handed out and everything. Those certificates? The fanfare as the best players to grace the Metrodome walked onto the field for one last game? Turned out to be crap. The 2009 Twins (and the Tigers) did exactly what I had hoped for: Twins won three, Tigers lost three. And now there’d be an extra game at the concrete based garbage bag that we were so excited to be rid of, thus making all of the pomp and frills of the no-longer-last-game-at-the-Metrodome a premature celebration.
Now, life was still so good for young Marea. I had just celebrated my first wedding anniversary, I was about 6 or 7 months pregnant with my baby boy, who at the time was scheduled to be named Joey* (after Mauer, duh). My new husband and my cats and my ginormous baby bump settled in on the couch to watch game 163 (2.0). And holy mother forking shirtballs, I am surprised my son didn’t come early that night.
*He was ultimately named after his grandfather, with Joseph being his middle name, as Eight Pound, Six Ounce, Newborn Infant Jesus, don’t even know a word yet, just a little infant, so cuddly, but still omnipotent Mauer was a couple of weeks away from signing his monster deal keeping him in Minnesota for all eternity. I wasn’t about to name my kid after someone who could have still ended up as a Yankee. PS. I don’t know if you remember when people used to refer to Mauer as Baby Jesus, but they did. PPS. If you’ve never seen Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, just go watch it. I feel the need here to remind you all I have ADHD in case it wasn’t completely obvious.
Why might I have gone into labor over a game, you ask? Because that game was one of the greatest in Twins history, that’s why. In my opinion, it’s only second only to Game 6 of the 1991 World Series. It was that good. For those that are too young to remember, or just didn’t care, Twinkie Town’s very own Zach recounted the game a couple of years ago but here’s the TL;DR version: The game went 12 excruciating, exciting, expletive-filled innings and the Twins ultimately won not only the game, but the division. (And once again shat the bed in the ALDS but whatevs).
So when you see me posting here, week in and week out, perpetually optimistic yet guarding my cold, dead heart, you now know why. I’ve seen them come back. I’ve seen them be the underdogs. The underrated. The unexpected. I’ve seen them defy the odds and win it all. I’ve felt the joy and the excitement that came with division titles and world championships. I’ve also felt the crotch kicking despair of losing every damn postseason game in the last 19 years. The basement dwelling, injury laden teams that could have been great if not for concussions, broken bones, or now even covid affecting key players. I will always hope for the best, but will expect the worst so that when the worst happens, I am not as disappointed as I would have been if I’d been expecting the best. And when they surprise us all and pull a 2009-game-163-12th inning-walkoff-win out of their collective asses, well, there’s no sweeter joy than that as a lifelong follower of your hometown team.
I am, and always will be, (a hopeful and skeptical... but mostly hopeful) Twins fan.