Well, the Major League Baseball season is officially over, and I’m sitting here feeling a little underwhelmed and conflicted by the World Series, the post season, and the teams that were supposed to bring excitement to our October. Sit around the campfire, friends, as we work through some of my issues, shall we?
Why I was left underwhelmed: Of the four teams in the LCSes (is that right? League Championship Series-es? Or is it just LCS? LCS’s?), three had won the World Series within the last five years (Astros in 2017, Red Sox in 2018, Dodgers in 2020). Two had been there multiple times (Astros in 2017, 2019, Dodgers in 2017, 2018, 2020). Two of them were punished in the cheating scandal (Astros, Red Sox), and one was heavily implied to have been part of it but never formally penalized (Dodgers). The odd team out of this repetitive and cheating assed mix thankfully won the whole thing this year (Braves).
But when I say thankfully? Well that’s where the conflict comes in.
Why I was left conflicted: The two teams that made it to the World Series both give me reason to take pause. The Astros have been branded as cheaty mccheatertons, despite not actually breaking rules in 2017 (though their actions have since caused the rules to be changed). I’ve made no secret that I still like the Astros despite the scandal, and I’m still pissed that the Dodgers and Yankees never got the hate that Houston did in the whole thing when it was clear they were up to no good as well. As much as I like guys like Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Carlos Correa (please come to play short in Minnesota in ‘22, Carlos, kthanksbye), I was on team Atlanta by the time Game One of the World Series saw the first pitch. It’s not even because of the cheating scandal stain on their reputation, as was the case with many non-Atlanta based fans cheering for the Braves (though, I do like that Houston’s made it back to the WS twice since 2017 and shown they can be winners without the aid of trash cans.) It’s because I’m bored with the same teams recycling through the post season and the Braves had almost as long of a World Series win dry spell as the Twins have had (their last championship was in 1996).
*FYI, this is where this post becomes appropriate for a website devoted to the Minnesota Twins, in case you were wondering.*
That being said, anyone else feel super conflicted rooting for the Braves this year? As someone who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, the 1991 World Series was a pivotal part of my baseball loving childhood. Not to mention, it was one of the greatest WS in history. Don’t believe a biased Twins fan? Perhaps you should review what other baseball observers around the ol’ US of A have to say here, here, here, here, and here (ps two of the games, 6 & 7, come in on this list of the greatest WS games in history). I could find more proof, but you get the gist.
The ‘91 World Series had so many memorable moments for Twins fans:
Ron Gant being helped off of first by Kent Hrbek (he was clearly out).
Kirby Puckett’s Game 6 gravity defying catch against that plexiglass (poor Ron Gant will forever be the biggest loser of the Series to Minnesota fans).
Or Kirby’s walk off home run, prompting Jack Buck to tell the nation “we’ll see you tomorrow night!”
And let’s never forget Jack Morris’s ten-inning shutout pitching performance in Game Seven (which, btw, could never happen again based on how the game is played today). Honorable mention to a baby John Smoltz for an almost equally impressive performance but not quite good enough.
Twelve-year-old-Marea was jumping up and down in her basement, watching a wood paneled, giant box of a non-hi-def TV, waving her homer hanky like a lunatic for seven games against the very team I would be rooting for this year — the very same year in which we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the greatest World Series of the late boomer/gen x/millenial generations. Twelve-year-old, newly-hormone filled me would be like “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? THE BRAVES?! I HATE YOU! I HATE WHO YOU’VE BECOME! ALSO? WHY DO YOU LOOK SO OLD?! WHAT’S UP WITH THE DORKY ASS GLASSES? YOU’RE NOT A SYNDICATED CARTOONIST? YOU HAD KIDS? YOU HATE KIDS! THIS CAN’T BE ME!” and run off in a huff, crying, slamming my bedroom door and blaring hits taped from the radio on my boom box such as Boyz II Men’s “Motownphilly”, EMF’s “Unbelievable” and Marky Mark’s “Good Vibrations”. Ah, puberty in the early 90’s. Good times.
Forty-two-year-old me would have to calmly explain to twelve-year-old me that since our teenage years, MLB will keep recycling the same goddamn teams into the post season year after year, and that our beloved Twins won’t get beyond winning one ALDS in the post season after 1991, so buckle up and get ready for years of heartache, little one. There’s a strike looming ahead that will keep you from celebrating the retirement year of Kent Hrbek. Kirby’s career will be cut short after he gets beaned in the eye, and also prepare yourself, because he’s gonna die way too young (#RIPKirby). Oh, and that hot shit rookie Chuck Knoblauch? You’re going to chuck a hot dog at his head in a few years. So enjoy these few moments and wrap yourself in the warmth of Game 6, young Marea.
I wish I could tell twelve-year-old me that every time we’ll attend a post season game from that day forward, the Twins will lose (my streak of losing post season games began in the 2002 ALCS vs the Angels). I wish I could warn myself that in 2009 after the exhilaration of game 163, I’ll get so excited and then extremely angry to see Joe Mauer hit an extra-base ball that Phil Cuzzi will call foul, basically propelling the Yankees to the ALCS. We’ll watch a 2019 team earn the all time home run record - with 5 guys alone hitting over 30 bombs in that same year- completely crumble in the post season. Oh, and the guy that famously said “And we’ll see you tomorrow night!”? Yeah, his jackass son will be the voice of every goddamn national sportsball game you watch and make your ears bleed. (To be fair.. when he’s not announcing a game, he’s not that bad and even at times a teensy bit but not quite humorous.)
*The comments on this YouTube video are gold, if you’re looking to kill time at work.
I’d have to explain to twelve-year-old Marea that we’ll become so broken down by this team (that, by the way I still, and will always, love despite the years of disappointment) that we’ll be cheering for the enemy in thirty years because the guy we named our cat after is going to be the NLCS MVP as he plays for the enemy. That’s right. Eddie Rosario, a guy that we didn’t even have anymore, was the sole reason I gave any effs at all about the outcome of this World Series. (Congratulations, Eddie!)
I’d also have to explain that the glasses are cool and help me see at my ultra-awesome graphic design job, my kids are the best, and there’s waaaaay better music about to hit your boombox (though those songs still slam, not gonna lie).
Are any of you feeling the pain of root, root, rooting for the enemy this year? Or am I the only one holding on to the irrational rivalry against a team we ultimately bested?
In any case, happy offseason, friends. Enjoy the lack of disappointment and self loathing for now.