Thursday, November 25, 2010

Twins Thanks

It’s too damn cold to participate in running the Turkey 5K this morning, which means I find myself with an hour or so to kill before starting the festive holiday gluttoning. So let’s start a new holiday tradition – 10 things I’m thankful for as a Twins fan in 2010.

Honorable Mention:

The Dominican Republic

Without the DR, there wouldn’t be a DR Winter League. And without the DR Winter League, we wouldn’t have been able to watch Francisco Liriano regain his velocity, slider and confidence. When I was raving last March about Liriano’s upcoming year, I was told by a writer I respect that “January is Liriano’s best month.” It wasn’t this year, and I couldn’t be more excited about his future.

Geek Chorus: And so is Brian Cashman. Because unless the Twins get a long-term deal with him done this offseason, he’ll be a free agent after 2012. Hello, pinstripes!

The Bartender at MacKenzie’s

For putting out our beer on ice as we watched the ninth inning of the A’s/White Sox game. The Sox lost, the “Champagne of Beers” was popped, and the Twins won their sixth division title in the last nine years.

Geek Chorus: And he’s thankful to the Twins, for forcing 90% of their fans out of the ballpark before they wised up.

10. Delmon Young’s Stomach Flu

He showed up to spring training in shape and we wondered if we were watching a new Delmon, with newfound discipline. Then he admitted it was mostly the result of being sick. Whatever – he still ended up having a fantastic 2/3 of the year, which is 2/3 more than he had showed previously. So have at that undercooked turkey today Delmon - I’d like to see you in shape again next February.

Geek Chorus: The only way that happens is if you think “round” is “in.”

9. Twins Coverage

Nine years ago, when I started blogging, it was mostly fueled by disappointment in the lack of baseball coverage in this town. I didn’t start writing because I wanted to write about Twins baseball. I started because I wanted to read about Twins baseball, and there weren’t a lot of other options.

Not any more. Now Twins fans are gulping from a firehose of information, even in the offseason. The dailies have really stepped up their game, the national press loves to cover the Twins, and the bloggers – male, female, whimsical and statistical – are creating five times more quality content than I have time to read.

Trust me – I’ve researched who is doing good work blogging for other major league teams. There isn’t any other fan base that has even one-third the number of quality bloggers that Twins fans have.

Geek Chorus: So you’re thankful for – you? Savvy. You may want to revisit what this Thanksgiving thing is all about. Or just give in completely and start talking the third person. You’re practically there.

8. Twitter

For turning every Twins game into the most prolific discussion board ever, while also fitting into my pocket. Twitter is the next frontier for blogs, and Twins fans have a good start on creating the best community of any major league team. Join us, won’t you? You start this weekend by following John, Seth, Parker and Nick.

Geek Chorus: And I’m sure your friends and family who sit, face-to-face, with you at games, are thankful for you being totally engrossed in your fantasy virtual world, too. Instead, you could be telling them about Alexi Casilla’s OPS. Hmm. Maybe they really ARE thankful.

7. Brad Childress and Tim Brewster

To Childress, for distracting the heat away from the ridiculous talk about getting rid of Ron Gardenhire. And to Brewster, for reminding us what can happen when you make a change to get to the next level.

Geek Chorus: Oh, the Gopher switched levels, all right….

6. The Pornstache

For giving us Pavano’s best year since his prime. For it’s cheesy goodness. And for inspiring the Super Mario theme to play before home starts that my kids could listen for.

Geek Chorus: And for the outstanding performance over Roy Halladay to take the series in Philadelphia while you were staying with your in-laws.

Right. That, too.

5. The Third Base Line Fence at Target Field

But mostly for the Twins players that come over to that third base line fence while they’re warming up and sign autographs for the kids. This year, it was mostly rookies or recent Rochester call-ups and that is absolutely fine with me. I cannot tell you what the means to parents. Thank you guys.

Geek Chorus: Even if it means your son becomes a devoted fan of Matt Tolbert? Are you sure that’s worth it?

4. Twins Fans

I’ve lamented for years that Minneapolis is a football town, and not a baseball town. Football still ranks first, but this summer we were a baseball town. I’m sure of it. Look at the comments sections here. Look at the pregame and postgame crowds downtown. Look at the TwinsCentric Offseson GM Handbook sales. Look at the rage and disappointment following this year’s postseason. Ten years ago this would have been unimaginable. Thank you all so much for caring about baseball.

Geek Chorus: Now, if we could just get the football crowd to stop The Wave.

3. Jim Thome

I loved him. He brought electricity to the plate, leadership to the clubhouse, historical gravity to the ballpark, and full-hearted goodwill to the fan base.

Geek Chorus: And a 1 for 10 to the postseason.

2. Target Field

It’s outdoors. I know I’m supposed to gush about little details, etc, but I’ve seen all the other outdoor parks, and honestly, I don’t think it’s a lot better than most of them. But it’s outdoors. And after being trapped in that god-forsaken teflon-coated mausoleum for twenty-five years, that’s enough.

Geek Chorus: Now, if they can just get some decent food that I don’t need to wait three innings for.

1. The Oughts

The decade started with a run by a Tom Kelly coached team that gave us all hope – and then a tremendous collapse and the threat of contraction. But it is hard to imagine that any fan base could hope for more than the Twins provided short of winning a championship. As a low-revenue team, they were competive not just for a couple of years, but for a decade. They provided Gold Gloves, batting titles, Cy Youngs and MVPs. They extended their season for seven of their nine years. The coverage of the team exploded to satisfy even the hungriest fan. They built a fan base that packed their new outdoor park and dominated the media. And they have shown almost no sign of slowing down for the next decade. World Championship or no, we probably just lived through the best decade to be a Twins fan. And I’m thankful for it.

Geek Chorus: So am I. And I really treasure each of the six playoff wins. Bring on the next decade.