1) Joe Mauer signed an 8 year contract for $184 million dollars, the Naniboujou Lodge and as many cows as we can all steal from Wisconsin.
1a) Joe Nathan's elbow managed to resist our cuteness/magic barrage and remain injured, meaning that our beloved dread pirate will be stranded on an island with rum and sunshine for the rest of the season.
These stories were all over the interwebs: ESPN.com, CNNSi, even the New York times covered it. All this, for little ol' us. And it begs the question--if the Twins are the subject of media scrutiny, if the Twins shell out the 3rd largest contract in Major League history, if the Twins are a topic of conversation across the nation...are we really a scrappy little bunch of underdogs any more?
Yes. Yes we are. But we're a special kind of underdog--and to prove my point, look no further than the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament--better known as Smarch Smadness*
*Note: If I remove the "S"s I have to pay CBS royalties...that ain't gonna happen
The only thing that can distract us from the lazy bliss of spring training is the frenetic glee of buzzer-beating college basketball, especially when those buzzer-beaters lift up nerdy kids like us over the athletically gifted individuals like...everybody else. And while college basketball, with its unpaid athletes, and high scores and orange ball is not EXACTLY like baseball, this recent trend of opportunity seems familiar.
The increased parity makes the tournament exciting--just like the fact that the Yankees have only 1 World Series in the last 10 years. The scrappy underdogs inspire pride in even casual fans--just like the Rays did two years ago, and the Rockies did three years ago. And what's more sometimes--just sometimes--a team gets so big for its britches that it almost becomes A CONTENDER!
Like the Twins the Gonzaga Bulldogs should not be able to compete on a level with the big name programs--they have neither the prestige, nor the name recognition, nor the hazy moral compass necessary to compete in the big time. (Seriously, if there were recruiting violations at Gonzaga a nun would come by and whack the coach on the knuckles, just like Ron Gardenhire's mom would shake her finger at the Twins should they start cheating.) They even have an adorable mascot which tries to look menacing and just can't do it--like our own Cuddly little piranhas.
Yet both teams compete. Year after year after year, Gonzaga rankd as one of the best teams in the country, they keep up against all odds and make the postseason as often as the prestige squads. (Also like the Twins, they don't usually win many games in the postseason.) And yet, for all that success the Bulldogs and others like them (the Butler Bulldogs, the St. Mary's Gaels, the Xavier Musketeers, etc.) don't get the same respect that the not very good teams with great name recognition receive (looking in your direction Indiana Hoosiers/Chicago Cubs).
So for anyone who wonders whether or not we are now a "Marquis Franchise" just because we're all over the news and are officially spending enough to buy more than 100 Diamond Fruitcakes (pictured Left, retail price 1.65 Million--and no, I still wouldn't eat it), just remember the Gonzaga Bulldogs, we might look like a big team, and get talked about like a big team, but just wait 'till June, the media coverage will be gone, the fuss over the dollars will be dissipated and all that will be left is our scrappy squad of players and Gnome-esque manager. We might not be a "Marquis Franchise" yet, but we're also not the baseball equivalent of Northeast Louisiana School of Farming Equipment and Hair Design (The Fighting Perms!). We're a mid-major, we're baseball's Gonzaga, and we'll take that.