View Full Version : Why we should root for the Twins....(no)

03-05-2002, 04:06 PM
This may already have been posted.
ESPN The Magazine: Lost and Found
by Peter Gammons

Their owner tried to disown them. The commissioner tried to bury them. The players didn?t know until a week before spring training who they would be training for. But they?re back. The Minnesota Twins are back. And, in what could be the ultimate in-your-face, they begin the 2002 season with a legitimate chance to be the darlings of October. Root, root, root for your home team, but every baseball fan across the land has a twin allegiance this year. Start spreading the news: The Minnesota Twins are America?s Team.

They are America?s Team because their fans got Enroned last year. They kept plunking down good money to support their team -- while the owner and Major League Baseball secretly planned to fold it. And, oh yeah, the owner was going to get a $160 million settlement out of the caper. The 1.8 million fans who showed up at Twins games were going to get a ?see ya later, suckers.? But after the long winter?s night, the Twins are still there.

They are America?s Team because the forces of greed keep trying to rip the history out of our hometowns. A baseball team stays linked to the soul of a city long after it leaves (ask Brooklyn), and if the Twins go, so go future successors to Kaat and Killebrew, Oliva and Carew, Puckett and Hrbek. It?s not just the glory of those demigods, but also the shared smile at the mention of Bombo Rivera and Disco Dan Ford. It?s Gene Larkin forever punching a World Series-winning fly ball over the drawn-in Braves leftfielder?s head, Mudcat Grant busting a heater inside, Bert Blyleven sending a hardball dancing under Reggie?s bat.

They are America?s Team because, let?s face facts, if it can happen to the Twins, it can happen to your team. Okay, relax, fans of the Red Sox, Cubs, Cardinals, Dodgers, Mets and Yankees. But every other team has been in the Twins boat at one time or another. Franchises go through cycles -- in 1988, Minnesota drew 3 million and the Yankees 2.6 million -- and if contraction had been an option in, say, 1980, it would have been Goodbye, Cleveland.

But most of all, the Minnesota Twins are America?s Team because the manager and players on this team are a collective breath of fresh air. Listen to first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz (see page 122) and his ode to community baseball:

?When they announced we?d be part of a contraction draft, I knew I?d get another job and I?d make good money. But that wasn?t the point. Corey Koskie, Torii Hunter, A.J. Pierzynski and a lot of us came up through the minor leagues together. We used to talk about how we wanted to all go up to the Twins and win. We wanted to be the guys who restored baseball in Minnesota the way it was when Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek were kings.

?We wanted to beat the odds. Now, we?ve got even greater odds. But I think the fans have taken to us because they feel they, and we, are in this together. At the TwinsFest in February the response was unbelievable -- huge crowds, record ticket sales, unbelievable enthusiasm. We were looking at each other and saying, ?Can you believe this? After all baseball put them through?? ?

The players had gone through it too. Faced with extinction, veteran Twins like Denny Hocking promised, ?We?ll be an even closer-knit team than we were before. Now it?s sort of them vs. us.?

Them is Bud Selig and the Palace Guard, who were planning all along to subtract the Twins. And by the way, doesn?t it make you wonder: What would baseball have done if the Twins had finished ahead of the Indians last season? Were the architects of contraction silently rooting against the Twins? When they were in first place through half the season (until shortstop Cristian Guzman?s shoulder injury in July), was owner Carl Pohlad scared he wouldn?t get his $160 million settlement from his fellow owners? That?s $160,000,000 for one of the richest men in Minnesota, who last year sold one of his banking interests for $1 billion.

That?s reason enough for the Twins to be Our Team. But there are other reasons, beginning with the fact that from Mientkiewicz to Hunter to Brad Radke to manager Ron Gardenhire, right up to GM Terry Ryan , these are legitimately good guys. Look what they were saying before last season and it?s no wonder they were the surprise team in baseball.

* Then-manager Tom Kelly opened camp by telling the players they?d be fined for whining to reporters about being a small-market team: ?If they want to know why we?ve had eight straight losing seasons, tell them it?s because we played like s?.?

* Ryan, when asked about the club?s dwindling attendance: ?We haven?t exactly put a winning product on the field.?

* Eric Milton, when asked about pitching on a team picked for the bottom: ?If I pitch as well as I think I can, and everyone is as good as he thinks he is, we?ll be a winning team. Players lose, not fans.?

And then they went on to scare the stuff out of the Indians. These No-Alibis, No-Excuses Twins are a different breed of team. They?re loyal. Throughout baseball?s bull-headed attempt to shut them down this winter, not one Twins employee quit. Not one, down to the ticket salesmen.

They?re accountable, too. Accountable to themselves and their teammates. ?It?s not about having the best talent,? says Mientkiewicz. ?It?s about having the best team and playing the right way. Believe it or not, when Alex Rodriguez and I were in high school together [Westminster Christian High School in Miami], there was another guy who had more talent than Alex and a lot more talent -- obviously -- than I did. But he didn?t work, and he disappeared. That?s what the Patriots proved in the Super Bowl. And that?s what we hope to prove. When the Patriots refused the individual introductions and ran onto the field as a team before the Super Bowl, we were all calling each other. It?s what we believe we?re all about -- team. Can you imagine the Patriots and Twins both winning in the same year??

Can you imagine Selig handing them the World Series Trophy?

?I thought about all the clichés we should say when we opened spring training,? Mientkiewicz said after the Lords of Baseball finally gave up on exterminating the franchise. ?Things like, ?We Shocked the World? and ?No one ever thought we?d be here.? We might as well have some fun with it, because it?s certainly fun to know we still exist.?

They have the kind of optimism that?s as American as Opening Day. ?The Indians and White Sox are very good teams,? says rookie manager Gardenhire. ?But so are we.?

Guess what? These guys could win the pennant. They could blow the roof off the Humpdome again. They could become America?s darlings.

This article appears in the March 18 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

03-05-2002, 05:55 PM
They got Jerry's vote :smile:

03-05-2002, 06:24 PM
Originally posted by Chisox_cali
They got Jerry's vote :smile:

Damn straight!

03-05-2002, 06:26 PM
you need to post links. It prevents West from sending Daver after you with his bow.

03-05-2002, 06:29 PM
Sniff Sniff

They're in our division, so I'm obliged to hate them. This is the only reason I'd root for the Twins (http://www.whitesoxinteractive.com/Columnists/SoundOff/Michel2.htm).

Go Sox! 2002 American League Central Division Champions! And you can stick me on record!

03-05-2002, 06:32 PM
Originally posted by doublem23
And you can stick me on record!

I'm not adding you to my sig. :smile:

03-05-2002, 08:18 PM
Originally posted by czalgosz
you need to post links. It prevents West from sending Daver after you with his bow. Good call, Czal. :smile: