I've been thinking lately about our team nickname (because with so many rainouts and days off I get stir crazy...so bear with me on this post). I think I first noticed a problem when, while standing at the Metrodome, in middle of the seventh, singing "Take Me Out To the Ballgame" like everyone else I came across that one clunker of a lyric:
Let us root, root, root for the...HOME TEAM
Now, if you got to games anywhere else you can actually use your own team's nickname to fill up those two little syllables "Red-Sox", "Cub-bies", etc. Other teams squeeze their name into the metric requirements ("Mar'ners", "A-A's"), but in Minnesota we're stuck with "Home Team" because "Twi-ins" creates a nasty nasal sounds like the very worst in Minnesota accents, and "Twink-ies" contradicts all the progress we've made toward serious stature in baseball.
Let's face it...we've got an odd team nickname. It's nothing that's going to inspire fear in the hearts of our enemies--truth be told, I've gotten a little ribbing from friends for my allegiance. ("You root for a genetic anomaly?" "Are these conjoined twins? Identical? Fraternal?" etc.) But this is mostly confined to non-baseball fans, as true fans wouldn't want me to fire back about their fondness for hosiery of various colors, or Spanish missionaries, or beams of light. Non-baseball fans prefer their nicknames either ferocious (see the NFL's collection of warriors and jungle cats). After all, cheering a team with a more badass nickname gives you a similar sense of coolness, of danger...you become a tribe, bound together by your colors and your dynamic, awe-inspiring symbol. So I can see how some might find it odd to affix so much time and energy rooting for a team that might as well be called: The Minnesota "Quaint-Observations-on-the-Proximity-of-our-Two-Largest-Metropoles".
I can see how some might find it odd...I can also see how those people are stupid.
Baseball is not a game for ferocity. Yes it started in a bustling city, with immigrants scratching and clawing for hits, runs and respectability. But at its core baseball is a game of simple pleasures: throw a ball, hit a ball, catch a ball. There's not supposed to be any physical contact: no bone-jarring hits or fearsome crashes. Because the rules have changed so little over the past 150 years, it still seems very much like a gentile "national pastime" rather than a flashing neon SPORT! So a collection of fans seems less like an army and more like a little village supporting a group of hometown friends and family.
Cheering for that team without bloodlust, without fury or vitriol is actually one of my favorite parts of the game. Feeling connected with other fans, with a community, with the history of the game and the country--I like that. So yes, I will root for the Twins, just like other people root for the "Ambiguous Northerners", "Beer-Makers" and "People-who-Avoid-Outmoded-Transportation".
I just wish we could figure out a better lyric for Take me Out to the Ballgame.