Sunday, October 01, 2006

Apparently I'm Cured?

Note to self: attend no more Twins games. Why? I have attended a number of games between 1979 and yesterday, and the Twins have won none of them. Am I to blame? Probably not, but if the pattern hasn’t changed in 27 years, I might as well accept it.

I’m not much of a sports fan anymore anyway. I idly read box scores for Twins and Timberwolves games, but I don’t even watch them on TV anymore. I hate the Vikings, the team I most loved in my adolescence and early adulthood. The Wild never did anything for me, because I was still bitter over the North Stars leaving. I just can’t stand the spectacle, the showboating, the huge salaries, and the watered-down competition after the nth level of expansion in every league. Hockey in Florida? Are you kidding me? Another baseball team in Washington DC? How many times does that endeavor have to fail?

But Michele got an offer in the mail, a promotion for University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire alumni, that got us cheap tickets. I decided it would be a good time, and Michele was willing, so we went.

We took the light rail to the Dome, because we like the light rail. Light rail good. By the third stop the train was full—only nine stops to go hearing, “The train is full. Another will be here in a few minutes.” What they didn’t announce was And it will be full, too, because the game is in an hour, so you should have gotten on at the 28th Ave. Station, like Jason and Michele. We had to stand, but that isn’t difficult when you know most of the next four hours will be spent sitting.

The game followed the pattern: the Twins lost 6-3 to arch-nemesis Chicago. They failed to take sole possession of first place, and disappointed their second-largest crowd this season. And I was fine with that.

I used to be a huge Twins fan. The first seasons I remember had names like Gene Mauch, Mike Cubbage, Roy Smalley, John Castino, and Hosken Powell.

I remember Kent Hrbek’s rookie year in 1982, and the first sightings of Kirby Puckett a year later. In 1987 I made my own Homer Hanky, and sat riveted while the Twins beat the more experienced Tigers in the ALCS and then the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. I hated when they traded Tom Brunansky for Tommy Herr, breaking up “Mount Crushmore.” Cheered again when the Twins won again in 1991.

But time passed, Gary Gaetti shipped out, Hrbek retired, Puckett was forced to retire, and the Twins had a lot of bad seasons marked by a lot of stadium whining. I found other things to do. I read more books. I wrote more. I got more serious about college. I got a life.

Eventually, I got so busy I wasn’t so interested in grown men playing games. I could go weeks without even thinking about sports, where I used to watch hours of ESPN every day. Hours. Every day. Repeats of the shows I had just seen.

So today, when the White Sox went up 4-0 in the third, I was still able to enjoy the game. When they increased their lead to 6-0 I still smiled, because I was watching the game being played at the highest level. I could admire every throw, every swing of the bat, every catch. It was all amazing, because I had no emotional stake in any of it. Even the two Twins throwing errors impressed me. Normal humans can’t fail that well doing what those guys did. When Michael Cuddyer’s throw from right field screamed past the third baseman I thought: I couldn’t throw it that far or that fast. My effort would flutter to a landing at shortstop and roll to the third baseman, eventually. Maybe.

I felt it like a rebirth, though. I realized that I was completely separated from my earlier obsession, that I hadn’t been mouthing platitudes when I distanced myself from sports. I’d somehow achieved a healthy relationship with what, essentially, is a distraction. I could even feel happy for the Detroit Tigers and their fans. So we didn’t take first place from them. We’re both going to the playoffs. The Twins had about seven really bad seasons—1993 to 1999—where they were nearly unwatchable. The Tigers haven’t been to the playoffs since the Twins beat them in the ALCS in 1987, and they’ve had an incredible season. I’m happy to see that team become something for the fans to enjoy again. I always like the underdog. Maybe Kansas City can turn it around next year.

So the game was enjoyable and cathartic. The people around us, though, were another story for another post.


Anskov said...

We must be twins (pun intended). I have never atteneded a Twins game where they won. I'm like an albatross to them.

Jason said...

I wonder what might happen if we both attended the same game. That might destroy all reality.