Tuesday, June 21, 2005

My Baseball Fandom

So I am going to tonight's game at the dome with C. (Her first MLB game). I'll be there with the blogger's night and admission possible.

I hope to meet a few of you tonight, but first, here's a little bit about me...

I grew up in south-central Minnesota, born in the late 70s in the fall. Early on, I tried several sports: T-ball/baseball, hockey, and swimming. I even did some soccer. I was never really good at anything athletic, maybe except swimming, which I stuck with through 8th grade. I think would have hit an in-the-park homerun in Kindergarten-age T-Ball, but the runner before me won the game. It was probably the only time in my life that I hit the ball well. And really, it was probably a single or fielders choice, but there were errors on the play (I didn't watch, I was running so hard).

Despite not having any ability, I was a baseball fan, and collected cards for a few years. We didn't have cable and only had the small-town newspaper, so I really didn't get a good chance to follow the team, or baseball in general.

The contrarian in me rooted for the Cards in '87, although I only remember Tudor, Pen~a, and Ozzy from that team, while I probably remember most of the Twins.

In 1991, I was strongly on the Twins bandwagon, and rooted through the WS over the Braves. Then, I really started paying attention to baseball, rooting for the Blue Jays in the 1992 World Series, and the Phillies in 1993 (My all-time favorite non-Twins team). Then, in 1994, the Expos were my team. And then the strike.

I lost interest, I went to college and didn't have a TV or read the sports pages, and the Twins were lousy anyways. I got into politics, pretty hard . I graduated and married E and got a job. I guess I knew that the Yankees were winning a lot.

Then in late March 2001, when E was driving me to work, we listened to KDWB*. Dave Ryan was interviewing Twins CF Torii Hunter, who I had never heard of. He was beaming with confidence a couple of days before the season started, despite the fact the he was starting the season on the DL. "I think we've got a pretty good team this year." Or something like that. *I don't listen to KDWB anymore, and I take the bus to work.

I figured I'd give them another chance and leave when they showed that they were still losers. Well, they had the best start in franchise history, with a record like 38-12 50 games in [note: many not be actual record]. And though I didn't watch many games (no cable) and listened only intermittently, I was hooked. I didn't know any of these players with Slavic names, so the whole team was new to me, but in about 2 months, I went from former baseball fan to baseball fan.

They faltered down the stretch, on what seemed to be a lot of blown saves by LaTroy. But I was back and watched almost every game in the playoffs that fall, including every game in the D'Backs over Yanquis WS.

In '02, my committment to my politics drove me to run for State House with my third-party orientation. I was horrible at it and lost handily (less than 5%), while my Twins won their division and beat the A's in exciting fashion before losing to the Angels. I was not good at politics and I had periods of severe pessimism bordering on light depression. I cared too much and was tilting at windmills.

In the summer of '03, my daughter C was born, and I had cable TV. It turns out that late-night feedings aren't so bad if you can watch a replay of a baseball game or Sportscenter re-run. I expanded my horizons

In '04, I saw an upcoming presidential election and feared that my guy ("the lesser of two evils," or "the devil you know") would lose, and that I would care too much and read too many political weblogs and get depressed and unhappy. So I made a decision: replace politics with baseball. I found Batgirl to replace Andrew Sullivan. Seth Strohs replaced Instapundit. And I watched nearly every Twins game and listened to the rest, and avoided cable news altogether.

In August, I realized that I would much rather have the Twins win the WS and have president "greater of two evils" than have the reverse happen. I was happy and content. I still pay some attention to politics, but don't care that much anymore. I care about baseball. Thank you Twins, thank you Batgirl and her commentors, thank you Seth. You are my methadone.

Anyways, this is my fifth year of adult baseball fandom, and I still don't get to many games, so please don't be too mean to me if I just don't get anything, or have lapses of baseball history, especially from 1994-2000. I'm learning a lot, but I still have a lot to learn, and never having played makes me a bit behind the curve as well.

So, I will be there at the dome tonight wearing a bright green Sonic Youth T-Shirt, and a red TC cap. I am a white guy with a beard and a blonde little 2-year old daughter. I will have an army-green backpack/diaper bag on my back. Please say hello.


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