For her birthday, I took Stinky, aka Mrs. Peanut, aka the co-founder of this blog, aka my wife, to Chicago to see her sister and a whole pile of friends. We had a great time, trying great restaurants, escaping "bro-bars" and celebrating the fact that she has continued to cheat death for another year.
My wife's sister lives about a mile down the road from Wrigley Field, and even an American League man like myself snuck peeks down the side streets to admire the classic stone facade, the old flags flapping in the chilly February breeze and dream of the day (soon) when baseball would be back.
The neighborhood had a whole lot of Cubbie paraphernalia, not to mention bars, souvenir shops, bars, bookstores brimming with Cub memoirs, and bars to cater to the wide flung crowds of fans who--though currently hibernating--love to come out in the summer. And while I looked down the way to dream of spring, all those souls bundled up in their puffy blue and red coats seemed resigned to both the cold and the looming presence of another year and another pack of losses.
I don't know, I feel like all my favorites are gone. What team am I even rooting for anymore?--My wife, December 2012.
The Twins are not the Cubs...well...not yet anyway. Sure it's been 22 years since our last World Series/American League Championship season, but we've got nothing on the Cub's suffering through bad luck or incompetence. Still, for the first time in a while, wearing the interlocked "TC" feels like a sign that I'm committed to a team that's bound for disappointment.
It's been easy to ignore the Twins this winter, and most national news outlets have. After swiftly swapping out center-fielders for pitching prospects, we were relegated to the "other notes" sections of sports pages. The junk drawer of the "Transactions" column where the Mike Pelfry/Rich Harden/Rafael Perez contracts of the world land, next to mutant paperclips and quaint sticky notes.
Most "experts" point to 2016 as our most logical date of contention, and even that date assumes that nothing will go wrong with player development or team finances. It'll be a time when most of the current roster is a distant memory. The current players to be guaranteed money for that year are Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins...everyone else might be there or might be dust in the wind.
Until then, well, we still have some games to play. Some painful, painful games...
Do you really still root for them?--A student on seeing the Twins game on my web browser during study hall September 2012
Do we have a better outfield? No. Do we have a better infield? No. Do we have a better pitching staff? Maybe.
Do we stand a chance against the Tigers? No. Do we stand a chance of getting a wild card? No. Do we stand a chance of even seeming competitive after the all-star break? Probably not.
And yet, here we are, early March and I've got the itch again. I'm perusing Stub Hub for tickets to see the Twins play in Washington DC (as a chance to take my niece to her first big league ball game). I'm hoping that Bert Blyleven is doing some stealth scouting of Korean and Taiwanese players at the World Baseball Classic. I'm cogitating and considering the wisdom of various 40 man roster spots and all of this despite the fact that I know the Twins are bound for another difficult year.
Maybe being a fan means being stupid. Maybe it means being inexplicably loyal to the point that your brother and your wife and even your 15-year-old students question your mental faculties. Maybe it means willfully enlisting for a struggle of a season simply because it seems like the right thing to do.
During the aforementioned trip to Chicago, our birthday celebrations took us to a brunch spot (apparently a vital part of any weekend in Chicago). Unfortunately our chosen restaurant had to close due to sudden pipe damage, and on our way out the hostess stopped me.
"Excuse me," she said, "are you a Twins fan?"
While I normally try to keep a low fan profile in rival towns, the fuzzy hat and embroidered gloves made denying the truth impossible. "Yes," I replied, "yes I am."
"Oh my god! ME TOO!" She said with relish, "I don't usually see other Twins fans. I'm so excited for this year! I mean, I know it's going to be rough, but that's what makes us fans right?"
Yes, my fellow fanatic, it will be rough. So rough that in order to a win a bet with my wife and father-in-law, I'm banking on the Twins to lose between 88 and 92 games....and I'm the optimistic one!
But this is what makes us fans. The ability to find excitement and intrigue even in the most desolate seasons, even when family and friends question your sanity, even when it just does not make sense, that's what makes a fan. So yes, it will be rough, but that is what makes us fans.
Just ask the Cubs.