In the wake of the trade that sent JJ Hardy to Baltimore, a subtle sense of depression has infiltrated the normally peppy Twins blogosphere. Hardy's salary had to be cut to afford a new pitcher, but we can't seem sign one. And while our rivals have wrapped up big names (Victor Martinez in Detroit; Adam Dunn in Chicago; Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford in Boston), the Twins front office seems to be dreaming of sugar plums and hoping that Santa delivers a free-agent miracle into their stockings.
In the eyes of many this is a source of vexation. We seem to have reached a plateau--competing for the title, but never winning it--and while other teams keep coming up with the funds to pay sixth starters, long relievers and reserve infielders multiple millions, we insist on asking obscure, inexpensive youngsters like Duensing, Slama, Burnett, Tolbert & Plouffe to do what higher profile back-ups on big clubs do. Such unproven-no-names and best-case-scenarios "is what differentiates [the Twins] from the big spenders out east, and its the exact kind of thing that will keep them from ever being able to surpass the Yankees in team talent" (according to the wise old dean of Twins Blogdom, Nick Nelson).
Such painfully frank analysis, especially from a blogger of Nelson's calibre, makes the whole game of baseball seems like a foregone conclusion; an equation that will invariably end in pinstriped easterners holding a big gold trophy. Faced with this impending failure, despair has permeated the Twins blogosphere. "We're screwed," they say. "We're dead," they say. "We've got no chance to compete" they say. Without quality free agent acquisitions our team may as well shuffle loose the mortal coil and join the Pittsburghs and Seattles of the world. (Or, to return to the holiday theme of this post: we pout that unless we have that expensive new player all the other teams are getting, the whole year will be ruined and we'll never be happy again.)
Far be it from me to say Nick Nelson is wrong, but I will (politely) disagree with the gloom and doom that has blossomed in the wake of his (and others) concerns. Maybe it's just the season-- the warm feeling inspired by one glass of egg nog too many or too many viewings of A Muppet Christmas Carol--but I can't summon the same despair. This is the time of year to embrace the spirit of the season and the people who surround us. Instead of fixating on the things that we don't have or the material possessions that we desperately want, now is the time to concentrate on how being with other people brings out the very best in ourselves.
Celebrating the holidays is not unlike being a baseball fan. You find reason for hope even in the darkest part of the year. You learn to celebrate and express gratitude for what you do have rather than what you don't. You spend quality time with your nearest and dearest and remember that, though they can drive you crazy, you're tied to each other for a lot longer than one day.
So, if you're convinced that life won't be worth while unless the Twins put a cool dirt bike of a player like Derek Lee or Brandon Webb underneath our tree come the 25th, take a deep breath. Remember, there's hope for every team every season. Remember, others (in say, Cleveland) would love to be at our "plateau". And remember to enjoy this time with your fellow fans no matter who joins the fold. Even if all we get is a pair of socks named Nick Punto, it's the holidays, its not about the getting, it's about the gathering.