First Pitch: 6:10 pm CDT
TV: Bally Sports North
Radio: WCCO 830 / The Wolf 102.9 FM / TIBN / Audacy
I realized I liked baseball pretty late into the Piranha era. It was more or less a random development; I began following the sport just in time to see the twilight years of the Metrodome, when the faces of the franchise began pivoting away from Johan Santana and Torii Hunter, and started settling more squarely onto the shoulders of Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau (how faces settle onto shoulders in the first place is another question, for a different time.)
This means that I only ever knew Justin Morneau as #33 — one of many numbers associated with the Canadian lefty throughout this career. Others include 247 (his career homer total), four (his All-Star selections), and three (one each for his 2006 American League MVP, 2008 Home Run Derby championship, and 2014 National League batting title.)
To the best of my memory, I have yet to meet Justin Morneau. I had a handful of run-ins with a few of the more popular faces of that era; Carlos Gomez and Alexi Casilla signed my balls at a RadioShack (you know how it goes); I acquired a Joe Mauer rookie card and later got it autographed at TwinsFest (luckily, by Joe Mauer); I saw Michael Cuddyer in a neighboring booth at a Sunday brunch in a Maple Grove-area Granite City Food & Brewery (much to my mother’s delight/overwhelming excitement.)
By all accounts, Justin Morneau is a stand-up fella, the kind of guy who Joe Mauer might let move in with him and binge-watch the Travel Channel. Tonight, the Minnesota Twins will corroborate that assessment by inducting Justin into the team Hall of Fame, where he joins 2019 inductees Jerry Bell and Johan Santana as the most recent additions to an exclusive class of beloved franchise legends.
While he may not have a Slurpee hand-crafted by Nick Punto (a famous staple of his superstitious pre-game ritual), Morneau will probably do all right with the inevitable thunderous round of applause from the Target Field faithful this evening.
It’s fitting that he’ll be making this speech while Toronto is in town, what with his Canadianality and dreams of going pro in the National Hockey League. Hopefully, this induction will be a decent consolation prize when getting slammed into the boards just wasn’t an option.
What’s more, the Blue Jays and Twins have set up a commemorative scrimmage, immediately following the ceremony! That was nice of them. Toronto is even sending out their best, starter Robbie Ray, the presumptive frontrunner for the American League Cy Young Award. (Personally, I’m rooting hard for Robbie...enough votes and he would become the mind-boggling fifth member of the 2014 Detroit Tigers to have taken home the award.)
The Twins, in turn, will be sending out John Gant, who was born in Georgia, which is one of the furthest places from Canada in the continential US. Unfortunately, no Canadian arms were available, and they could not convince Derek Falvey and Thad Levine to let Morneau take matters into his own hands and pitch tonight’s game.
So, sit back, relax, and remind yourself of your favorite Morny mem’ries. Enjoy him while you can — after the speech, he will be led away into secluded room at Target Field, where team curator Clyde Doepner will invite him into the dark annals of the organization’s archives. The door will slam decisively shut behind him. “So,” a grizzled voice will say, before stepping out of the shadows to reveal itself as a heavily-bearded, apocalyptically-dressed Kent Hrbek, “they finally got you, too.”
|George Springer - CF||Byron Buxton - CF|
|Marcus Semien - 2B||Jorge Polanco - 2B|
|Vladimir Guerrero - 1B||Josh Donaldson - 3B|
|Bo Bichette - SS||Mitch Garver - DH|
|Teoscar Hernandez - DH||Brent Rooker - RF|
|Corey Dickerson - LF||Miguel Sano - 1B|
|Santiago Espinal - 3B||Nick Gordon - LF|
|Alejandro Kirk - C||Ryan Jeffers - C|
|Randal Grichuk - RF||Andrelton Simmons - SS|
|Robbie Ray - LHP||John Gant - RHP|