If one writes an article and nobody reads it, did it make a difference? Of course not. I already know that, but given that nobody cares, I figured putting forth rhetorical questions, and then rather than accepting that they were rhetorical and instead actually answering them, might increase my own self-worth.
We are in well into the dog days of the baseball season. Our Twins aren’t going anywhere (unless battling for third place in a four-team division is some place). Football has started and those whose attention has waned as the Twins have spiraled into futility, find themselves otherwise engaged. Truthfully, even the most loyal among us, sometimes struggle with watching every pitch of every game when the games no longer matter. It’s like spring training in September, except we recognize all the players.
Since we live in interesting times in which we argue about stuff that we didn’t used to argue about, it seems that taking a stand in favor of the acceptance of our mediocrity might have a place. While I don’t really want to start an argument, and I’m not suggesting you live your life as I do mine, I nevertheless want to advocate for adopting a delusional method of thinking about our beloved Twins as “enjoyable” and “entertaining” if not usually competitive or championship caliber. In sum, I encourage us to focus upon lowering our expectations and finding inner peace and outward happiness as a result.
When pitchers and catchers report in the winter…be happy…expect little. Joe Ryan gives us hope. John Gant gives us hope. Jorge Polanco, Byron Buxton, Luis Arraez, and a handful of others, give us hope. Hope is all we need. Hope is perhaps all we should expect, and we’d all be better for accepting that.
I live in New England, where (at least since 2004) when the Red Sox don’t win the world series, the season is seen as disappointing. This year, for example, while the Red Sox may still make the playoffs, most fans don’t view them as true title contenders, and thus the conversation about them mostly involves trash talk. The manager sucks. The players suck. Ownership really sucks. Changes must be made, this is intolerable, yada yada yada.
As Twins fans, we are in a far different place. When our players suck, our manager possibly sucks, and our ownership almost certainly sucks, we speak of making some tweaks here and there and getting things back on the right course, which, of course, is making the playoffs and then being swept aside unceremoniously.
While not even making the playoffs, or being competitive since about mid-April, is hurtful, it’s really only disappointing, not soul crushing, as most of us don’t really envision another World Series Title in our lifetimes anyway….I mean….we really don’t do we? I’ve been a Twins fan forever. I’m so old, I actually remember 1987 and 1991, and I love the Twins, I really do. That said, if someone asked me if they’d ever win another world series, I’d have to say…not in my lifetime, and probably not for a while after that. That’s not being negative, in my view, just realistic….it’s not what the Twins management is really after, or so it seems to me, as I know it does to many of you.
So we enjoy being fans because we simply love baseball and the Twins are our team. Cubs fans went a hundred years between championships. Red Sox fans went nearly a hundred years between championships. These facts don’t diminish their fan bases, in fact, I’d argue that such hard truths enhance the “quality” of the Twins fan base. We are with them, through thin and thinner.
I’m not suggesting that management doesn’t want to win, I’m just not sure they want to win so badly that they are “all in.” I can relate, as I’d like to be taller and thinner and better looking, but I’m doing remarkably little to achieve any of those goals myself. It’s almost as if I’ve accepted who I am, what I look like, and all I can ask of myself is to do the best I can with what I have. It’s, in a word, “acceptance of one’s place.” It used to be a bit depressing, but then, over time, such acceptance became comforting.
As Twins fans, we might want to strive for that level of comfort in accepting our team’s inevitable mediocrity. Management wants to win, of course, it’s far more enjoyable than losing, but not at too high a cost, it seems, and not if it means altering the way the franchise has historically done business. But I don’t hate them. It would be like hating the size of your nose or your hairline, I mean either you accept your limitations or you spend large amounts of money to change them. It just seems such a waste of energy to complain about those same limitations while knowing that you either don’t have the resources or power to change them or aren’t really doing anything to change them, even if you did.
So, finding one’s zen as a Twins fan, is finding a level of acceptance. Let’s root, root, root for the home team, and someday again they’ll climb over .500. Then soon thereafter, they’ll make the playoffs, and then…someday, they’ll win a playoff game. Then, of course, they’ll have to trade off that core as they will be too expensive, but we will love to see the young guys and we will relish the improvements we see in them until someday, they become genuinely competitive. Rinse. Repeat.
This type of thing really used to bother me. But, in these times, I try not to take watching baseball, even mostly bad baseball for granted. Can we have nice things…like say….Red Sox fans? No, of course we can’t…but we can watch our humble little team play the Red Sox and maybe even win one of three, and we can watch them play the Yankees and maybe even…be competitive in one of the losses….I mean, in the immortal words of the late Denny Green, “they are who we thought they were.” When our expectations are somehow higher….it’s time we start laying the blame where it truly lies….with ourselves. Lower those expectations, take some deep cleansing breaths, enjoy the rest of the summer, and find peace.
Many Twins fans are also Vikings fans, and while being a Twins fan can be difficult at times, being a Vikings fan is truly being a student of adversity. To survive and thrive while backing such teams speaks volumes about the character of us all. We may not be winning big any time soon, but we have character…lots and lots of character, and we have hope, lots and lots of hope. Maybe that should be enough.