The best-run MLB team with one of the jerkiest owners made easy work of a averagely-run team with some of the least offensive owners (after their Jerk Dad died), on probably the loveliest night of what’s been a too hot, too dry, too smoky Minnesota summer.
This is going to be a little unusual as a recap, so I’ll do the baseball stuff first, then some radio observations, then A Digression. Baseball stuff:
As Do-Hyoung Park noted earlier today, much of what passes for intrigue in the last weeks of this miserable Twins season has to do with players and their possible roles in 2022. One of those is Brent Rooker, currently around #4 or lower on the Future Outfield depth chart; he had himself one heckuva game. 4-4 with a solo dong. With his former mentor Nelson Cruz around, Miguel Sano played quite nicely as well; even his outs were products of smart at-bats in a night where it seemed most Twins hitters were just guessing against high-90s/superslow curve hurler Shane McClanahan.
Trevor Larnach went 0-4 with three Ks, one involving the bases loaded and no outs. Mike Pineda, kept around at the deadline to eat innings, left early with "side tightness" (it's an oblique muscle, he's probably ILing), and new relievers who don’t bear mentioning got whomped. Oh, and the Rays got an inside-the-parker from their speedy centerfielder Kevin Kiermayer on this rather stoned-looking relay throw from Jorge Polanco (0-5, two Ks):
KKeep on running until they make you stop pic.twitter.com/lFhZ5WXAjV— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 14, 2021
On to my real interest in this game, the radio. Dan Gladden is participating in a celebration of the 1991 championship, and the brilliant Cory Provus is on a mini-vacation. So ex-Twins manager Paul Molitor joined Kris Atteberry in the booth. I wondered how they’d handle this, as radio broadcasts usually take a 3/3/3 format, with Provus calling plays for the first/last three innings and Gladden in the middle (or Gladden as primary, Atteberry as middle guy, or Cory/Kris, etc.) Was Molitor going to call the game?
No. Atteberry did all the game stuff, Molitor just added some of his considerable baseball know-how (he’s apparently been doing some work with Twins players in St. Paul). Most of the mid-inning vocal variance was provided by members of that 1991 team visiting the booth, and a real standout was Chili Davis; I’d very much like the Twins to bring him back as a broadcaster! He switched effotlessly between sharing 30-year-old stories/memories and making some very perceptive observations about Rays players.
Molitor was fine, although one “ya know” away from a “ya betcha,” which is just too Fargo for a guy born and raised in St. Paul. He was clearly more comfortable, though, reminiscing about the old days of baseball where he followed those 1991 Twins as their Milwaukee rival.
And now, digression time....
In, I dunno, 1995 or so, I was visiting some friends who had just graduated college in Eugene, OR. (Less "friends," really, than people who sometimes invited me to come down from Portland, because I was good at conversation.)
They were lamenting that college, such a fabulous part of their lives (the parties and dating, nothing about what they'd learned), was Over. Now they had boring, lucrative job offers looming. Was that it? Were their best years officially ending?
I'd already dropped out of two colleges (silly me, I wanted interesting coursework, and wouldn't find it until years later at Metro State, here in Minnesota). I'd pursued a dream artistic project, failed terribly at it, and was then figuring out what to do next with some crummy graveyard jobs for income. I didn't go to parties or date, and I was hard-up for money. (My lack of social interaction was what made these invitations to be the conversational talking dog seem better than anything I had going on.)
So, I found their “is that all there is” discussion extremely irritating. I grabbed a beer, went out the window onto the side roof of their two-story rental house and began singing Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days.” Oh, they just pass you by, in the wink of a young man’s eye...
This annoyed someone so much that they came out and pushed me off that roof. (It was one floor up, and I fell into some bushes, no harm done.) I had some sporadic contact with these people for a few years afterwards; I haven’t heard from any in decades and have no interest in doing so now.
The point being, that at the time they were lamenting how their "best years" were over and I was jealous enough to be their hanger-on (or pushed-off), my best years were yet to come. I never landed that lucrative job, alas, but I found more interesting college courses, made better friends, read more, did more, moved to a completely different part of the country, established a life I'm damned happy with.
I've had some real rocks thrown my way in the last year, but even as I'm pushing 50, I like to think that things I want to learn and feel and see that are new, and wonderful, still are out there.
The great danger of MLB's lauded Field Of Dreams game is it's nostalgia for a thing that never was; actual Midwest baseball in the early 20th century was much more interesting than some idyllic cornfields. In Color Blind, Tom Dunkel describes corn country townnball teams that basically accepted Negro League ringers (but Satchel Paige still had to do some down-low when getting white groupies back to his room); it’s one of the most fascinating baseball history books I’ve ever read, because I knew nothing about the subject.
I drive around old people for my current money-money job, and the most amazing ones, to me, are those who still have plans and ideas for things they want to do/accomplish in the future; the saddest, those lamenting their best moments and how those will never come again. The ones who can’t stop talking about the past are also the ones most likely to have distorted views of the present; that the greatest danger is drive-by-criminals shooting us on the road, or whatever goes on in this Crazy Lawless Age! (Really, folks, a regular traffic wreck is statistically much more likely.)
Those wanting a trip down memory lane with guys remembering that 1991 season, could, and should, tune into tomorrow’s game at 6:10 for what will, no doubt, be more stories of 30 years ago. (COTG goes to Atteberry for his description of the pitching matchup as "'Kenta Maeda vs. venerable Rays starter "To Be Announced.'") I’ll be sorta-following the game, but mostly hanging out with friends my age talking about what’s new in our lives, the world we know now, and how to make these things better so much as we can.
Also, they have a “cabin” (read: 50-year-old shack improved via love & hard work) on a lake, so there’s so way they can throw me off the roof. Far. Robot Roll Call:
(And yes, I liked Field Of Dreams, too, but I’m more of a Bull Durham guy.)