Maybe it’s just because of what a long, strange trip this year has been, but I find myself even less interested in pre-season baseball than I am usually. While I consider myself a huge baseball fan, of course, and a Twins fan, first and foremost, the combination of games that don’t matter played in large parts by players who we’ll never see at the major league level…well…I just can’t get into it. That said, I have nothing but respect for those that are.
For those that can see the games in Florida (I did that once) it’s great, and I’d recommend it, but for those of us up north…it’s all about opening day. Real, opening day, and just as the records in spring training are completely meaningless, so is the whole experience. For me, and I speak only for me, it speaks to a level of desperation to see baseball, that borders on watching players stretch and practice and talk to each other and accept that as entertainment.
But, again, that’s just me. It just means that opening day can’t come soon enough. Have the games matter (at least until the playoffs when, based on Twenty-first century Twins history, playoff games should perhaps just be exhibitions). Anyway, I suspect we’re all more than ready for Thursday.
Who will be in the outfield? Any team subterfuge (every team does it) about who is injured, sort of injured, really badly injured, will all be completely in the open. Going 0 for 23 or 0 for anything will immediately become a matter of concern, not just a comforting rationalization that “it’s just spring training, let’s not worry about it.”
In other words, as if we haven’t spent a year worrying to various degrees about various degrees of things, we can start worrying about baseball games again. Those who bite their nails or have other unfortunate nervous habits surrounding the late innings following their favorite teams, can dust off those bad habits. I mean, I get terrified myself, when we have a one-run lead in the ninth inning (I lived through Ron Davis, and that leaves an enduring mark).
But things are not the same in spring training, I wasn’t terrified when we were nursing a one run lead late in a spring training game…because, I really didn’t care if we won or lost. I also knew that neither did Rocco, so I couldn’t be concerned with any “strategy” other than to see somebody in a game situation, and/or to give someone who wasn’t going to make the roster, some work. If Rocco didn’t care about whether a given game was won or lost, I certainly couldn’t get myself to care.
So, bring it on, get out the Tums, drink the Pepto-Bismal, return to biting your finger-nails….it’s almost OPENING DAY! We are so ready. We so deserve this, and having several thousand fans in the stands, and then later in the summer, likely several thousand more, will help us all. This time, I think I can speak for everyone, when I say we are so ready for this, it seems like it’s been years for a “real” opening day.
I will close with an unfortunate and really lame joke that I’m sure most of you have heard, and that I heard as a youth many years ago. I wish I could forget it, but I can’t, and I hope it doesn’t apply this year (as it usually did in my youth). Here goes: “Did you hear that the Twins aren’t selling beer at games this year?” Pause, for effect. “It seems they lost their opener.”
I’m sorry, but there it is, and perhaps by putting it on paper, I can purge it from my mind. It’s been in there for decades, and it’s time for it to go. Hope, of course, springs eternal, and let’s hope that it stays very much alive all summer long and well into the fall for this year’s offering of our Minnesota Twins.