Sunday, October 04, 2009

Gulping Sports from a Firehose

The taste was familiar, but I couldn't quite place it.

Does anyone else feel their life spinning out of control during a pennant race? I stood looking in the mirror this morning and wondered how much longer I could hang on.

I'm up late writing or unwinding. I have a dining room table with two weeks of unopened mail and a planner full of procrastination. I'm eating like Prince Fielder and spending money like George Steinbrenner. All while I wear the same lucky shirt day after day. Things may not be falling apart yet, but some bolts sure need tightening.

It's affecting my relationships. I don't have anything else to talk about with friends. My own kids are amused by me. My marriage would likely be tested if my wife wasn't a huge Phillies fan. Being from Philly, she gets it. Most of that city is like this a half dozen times a year.

Thinking of Philly - that's when I recognized the taste. Youth. This week tastes like youth. Balancing on a wave that is close to out of control. Not sleeping, combined with too much emotion. Periods of waiting punctuated by hours of excess. Connecting with strangers, hanging with friends, accepting opportunities, stretching oneself thin - this bittersweet taste is youth.

We middle-aged guys tend to romanticize youth. We remember the highlights, the bonding, the freedom, the sense of purpose. We forget how many of our actions were driven by boredom or ignorance or insecurity.

But mostly we forget just how uncomfortable youth really is. Too often it feels like nothing fits. Things are too tight or too loose or they chafe. We find a way to handle it because it doesn't last long. We fight through it and forget it because of the highs.

Which is what Seth wanted to talk about on Saturday night's podcast. He wanted to hear about the highs of attending The Greinke Game, wanted a sense of the exhilaration. What did Mauer's single feel like? Delmon's double? The last out?

They felt like they're supposed to feel. They were loud, communal and chaotic. They were a layer of joy fueled by a mound of rage. They were a tomorrow and sea of yesterdays joined by a moment. They felt like youth.

And I hope it continues, because the highs are great. But thank gawd it doesn't last long.


But you don't come here to hear about my life falling apart, or at least I hope not. That would be a little morbid. You come here to read about the Twins, so let's review a handful of my Tweets from the weekend and expand on them a bit.

Keppel?!? What kind of Rasputin-type hold does he have on Gardy. And where are the Nobles when you need them?

You know who would be nice to have available right now? Perkins. #Twins are really showing him who is boss.

Right now, no lead feels safe. It feels a lot like the 2002 playoffs, when the bullpen got to the point where they were wilting en masse. That's forgivable most of the season - but not between September 1st and the postseason. The Twins could have another 15 relievers on the roster right now, but Bill Smith promoted just one - Armando Gabino. Who is a pitcher that Gardenhire trusted to throw all of 3.2 innings since being recalled at the end of August. Meanwhile, Glen Perkins is sitting at home, either as a punitive act, a fiscal act, or both.

It feels like there is some dysfunction going on that I can't entirely put my finger on. It doesn't feel like it's just Gardenhire or just Smith. Gardenhire stumbled upon a possible solution late in the game yesterday, when he turned to Brian Duensing and Francisco Liriano to pitch late innings. Let's hope that depth and some extra rest gets the bullpen back to a respectable level before they really need them.

OK, that's it for now. I got a date with The Voice of Reason. We'll talk tomorrow before The Big Game.


David Wintheiser said...

My own experience is that you have to be willing to let yourself get lost in the tumult, to let the tempest of emotions buffet you hither and yon.

I was at the game, and it was pretty damned amazing, but real life kept dragging me back. Whether it was the young woman with the HUGE crush on Michael Cuddyer (and the ability to express that crush in volume levels that were painful even within full-throated Metrodome crowd hollering) or the guy I'd gone to the game with who kept yelling at the vendors to get out of his sight line to the plate. Or the four drunken frat boys who thought it would be entertaining to heckle some of the Royals players from 250 feet away, and had the staying power to keep it up for all of two hitters before getting distracted by something else.

Part of me was definitely reminded of why, the older I get, the more misanthropic I become.

On the other hand, there was the pregnant woman headed to the game with her husband, talking on the light rail with that glow in her eyes that only pregnant women seem to get. Or the Metrodome usher who, after tracking down a rare upper deck foul ball into the entry tunnel to section 229, flipped it to a kid seated nearby without hesitation.

Or even on the field: after being inserted to pinch-run for Jason Kubel, Carlos Gomez took a shockingly short lead from first with Young at the plate, almost as if to say, "If I try to steal this base, Delmon is going to stick that bat in my ear." Then, after Delmon struck out and Morales came to the plate, Gomez realized he could take a base without fear of reprisals from the September call-up, so off he went.

The 'little moments' that we enjoy so much in May and June still exist in October, but if we spend all our attention focused on the fire hose, we're going to forget they're there, and why they're so important.

TT said...

John -

Remind yourself, its just a game. If it is taking over your life, you need to join a 12 step program.

Its hard to know what is going on with the bullpen, but its not a lack of arms. As you point out, Gardy is not using everyone now. I think Gardy was riding the guys he trusts very hard to try to win. It worked, but it was a bit ugly.

Keppel is the mopup guy. He sometimes makes a mess. That is the usual case with mopup guys.

As you remember, Perkins was hurt. Or at least thought he was. I think the Twins were less than thrilled that he seemed to be more interested in finding an injury to explain his failures than trying to get back to help the team win the pennant. Once he went to another doctor, instead of taking his last opportunity to pitch at Rochester, his season was over. His Twins career may be over as well.

"It feels like there is some dysfunction going on "

I agree. I think Gardy is the source of that. He is the senior partner in the GM-Field Manager relationship now. I am not sure he is comfortable with that role, or well-suited to it.

Dave -

I think Gomez showed he understands the game. You don't usually risk a steal with no one out in that situation. Particularly with Delmon Young's hot bat at the plate.

Army of Dad said...

Gomez was just afraid of Delmon. Dude is a walking time bomb and Gomez doesn't fancy dodging a bat chucked at him.

Michael Fishman said...

"Youth. This week tastes like youth. Balancing on a wave that is close to out of control. Not sleeping, combined with too much emotion. Periods of waiting punctuated by hours of excess... this bittersweet taste is youth."

This is beautiful. Great entry today, John.

sleepydew said...

It's nice to have a strong rooting interest in tomorrow's game. Thanks for reminding me to unclench and enjoy this postseason for all its worth!

Krissy said...

David - You had those four drunks sitting in front of you also??!!?? I thought they WERE funny , but thats just me....