I've already talked about Cleveland. A team which was one win away from the World Series 3 years ago...2007! And now they've lost their two Cy Young winners and taken a shot to the gut from a home town boy who prefers bikinis to...uhh...whatever they have in Cleveland I guess. It's hard to beat up on a team that despondent...but we tried doing it before...and we're going to have to try and do it again in about a week.
Then there's Baltimore. A place where about 15 years ago they had a team as feared as the Yankees. A place where the beautiful ball park begat a resurgence of building (culminating in Target Field) an oodles of fans. But the vast seas of empty seats just looked woefully depressing--sure every one who came seemed to take home a souvenir foul ball/home run blast from Delmon Young...but that's small solace when your team plays like a three-day old crab cake.
Now we're off to Kansas City, where Stinky and I have been, where there's a long proud history of baseball and barbeque and blues and water hazards inside the stadium. The Royals haven't been competitive since the 1980's but they were tremendously competitive at that tme and really wrote the book for how to compete outside of the biggest metropoli in America. But now...the announcers sound bored, local fans are frequently outnumbered by tourists and the team ownership (WalMart) is reportedly interested in trading everybodyy...their Abe Lincoln "Vampire Hunter" closer, their Cy Young winning pitcher, Dah Jesus. EVERYBODY. (Always Low Prices: Always the Royals)
I guess part of what makes this whole road trip so sad is that, we all have to accept the fact that, as a cyclical business--there's every chance the Twins will be in a funk like this. Heck, we WERE in a funk like this from approximately 1993-2001...8 long years worth of trading anybody with a modicum of talent, 8 years of countless blue seats and Herb Carneal's voice echoing through the silence of the stadium, 8 years of wondering when our luck would turn.
Of course our luck has changed, and we're happy, and we genuinely do hope that some day soon there's a playoffs populated by Us and Baltimore and Kansas City and Pittsburgh and Washington and Seattle and all the little scrappy guys out there in the world. But until that happy day we encourage all the struggling teams out there to hitch their wagon to us--your benevolent mascot for small-market fortitude. (And please don't send us back to the purgatory of loserdom: please oh please oh PLEASE?!?!?)
So that's why this road trip is hard...it's a glimpse into the sad side of baseball...a side that every team confronts at some point (even the Yankees, hard as that is to believe). Now is a time to hope for the best, prepare for the worst and count our blessings. Come home soon Twins...and make the pain stop.
P.s. I realize that this whole blog was a bit of a debbie downer so in order to make up for that please note the fancy shmancy new blog design!! (We've been fiddling with this for a little while, and may make further changes once the blogger with actual taste and design acumen (Stinky) has more free time)