Monday, October 18, 2004

Cabin Fever Strikes in Late October

I think I might have a problem. Recently, I have been acting a bit abnormally. This past weekend, upon discovering that the Twins would be bringing back Henry Blanco, I did the only thing I could do: I tailgated in my driveway to celebrate. It was kind of cold outside but the grill kept me warm as I laid back in my lawn chair and waxed poetically about the season that had just ended and what 2005 would bring. The people walking by didn’t seem to understand the significance of my catcher’s gear garb and my funky mullet hairdo. They gave me weird looks; my neighbor even asked me why I was having a "pow wow".

Can you believe I even received a noise complaint? They said I was playing “We’re Gonna Win Twins” too loud. Is that even possible? As far as I’m concerned that song could never constitute a civil disturbance.

What am I going to do all winter? At least I still have the $6 I won from a bet with Ryan during Game 4. While the going was still good I told Ryan that Blanco would hit a home run in an upcoming at-bat. Of course he didn’t believe me; lets be honest: no one in the whole place would have believed me. I could have easily made a cool million had I pursued it further. Then the mighty Henry "Babe" Blanco stepped to the plate and fulfilled my prophecy by slamming a go-ahead homerun to left about 100 rows lower then where we were sitting.

My sister keeps asking me if the Twins are going to bring back Doug Mientkiewicz this offseason. She says the team just wasn’t the same after his departure. For once, I would have to agree with her. There was a lot less noise eminating from off the field, while at the same time the team began to win more on it. Without controversey, what are would-be journalists like myself supposed to write about?

This also begs the question of what to do with the three Mientkiewicz jerseys/t-shirts in my closet right now. I tried ripping the name off the back of one of them but "Mientkiewicz" does not become "Betzler" as easily as one might think. In fact, all it really becomes is a more tattered-looking version of itself. Cutting the name off the back all together just looks tacky (it also really hurts the durability of the shirt). I ended up using the front of one as decoration in my bedroom because it said "Twins" and I had a large open space where I had taken down my "Free Mientkiewicz" poster. I am thinking about taking it down now though as my room as been radiating some bad karma ever since it went up.

Maybe I’ll just pack them all away and in 20 years or so if they still fit I can wear them and say they are retro.

Cristian Guzman may not be coming back to the Twins next year either. I have to admit I was pretty upset when I heard the news. I can’t help but remember him making that bionic sound as he ran the bases back in 2001, especially in that one game against Cleveland. Then I recall the creaking sounds he has made more recently as his game has significantly slowed down, despite the fact that he is still a very young man. Does anybody know what kind of sound Jason Bartlett or Nick Punto make when they play?

I’ll tell you one thing, the name "Omar Vizquel" sure has a nice ring to it, and "Edgar Renteria" just rolls off the tongue. I can see it now ...Radio guy: “When Edgar Renteria runs it makes that championship sound [cue Queen's 'We Are The Champions” as Renteria rounds the bases]". Too bad it will take another sound to sign either: "Cha-Ching!"

I have so much time on my hands that I actually do my homework these days! Unfortunately, it isn’t going as well as you might expect. Seems my teachers liked me more back when I was the quiet guy, riding the pine, waiting to get home for my next Twins baseball fix. Now they have to put up with questions about where Brad Radke fit in with the founding fathers and how the physical geography of Venezuela helped to produce great pitchers like Johan Santana and Juan Rincon. (I also asked what role continentality played in Rincon’s Game 4 implosion; still waiting on an answer for that one).

I was at the casino the other day and I could have sworn I saw Terry Ryan playing the slots. Maybe he was holding out hope that he could win enough to make up the difference between what old man Pohlad would be giving him for a budget and what it would take to resign Brad Radke and Corey Koskie with a little on the side to fill other needs. It didn’t look like he was doing too good. Joe Mauer may have to wait another year for that knee transplant we’ve all been waiting for.

Now that the season is over I have been trying to experience the rest of life. Did you know that college students actually go out and socialize on the weekends? It has been a little hard though. Every time I meet a girl and she wants to dance I ruin it by trying to show her my Torii Hunter-inspired "leap against the walls" move or my Johan Santana windup. These dance moves don’t mix well with the latest Jay-Z song. When I get the chance to talk to a girl I drive her away by describing why Michael Cuddyer is a better second baseman then Louis Rivas. Someday I will find a girl that understands.

I did have some luck one night though when I accidentally put on one of the aforementioned Mientkiewicz jerseys. I don’t know what it is, but girls love that jersey. I did not have as much luck the next night when I wore a Ron Gardenhire one for some reason.

It is only October, the playoffs are still going on and I’m already struggling with withdrawal. Every time David Ortiz has another big hit I go cold, then hot and then back to cold again. I got the shakes, which probably explain any punctuation problems inherent in this piece. I just can’t bring myself to let go and put away my 2004 Twins schedule for the winter. It hurts too much. I tried watching football instead, but unlike baseball you only get one game a week. I get all excited when Daunte throws 5 touchdowns and then I have to wait so long to see it again. There just isn’t enough to keep my interests in that game. So here I am, growing my hair long like Blanco waiting for Brad Radke to sign so I can throw another tailgating party. Anything to make the winter go by a little quicker.

Here is an excerpt of the conversation I had with my sister regarding Dougie "Baseball" Mientkiewicz:

My Sister: Do you think the Twins will resign Doug? I mean, he’s kind of cute and I miss him.
Me: *shudder* As far as I remember he is not a free agent…
Sis: Well I just bought a bunch of Mientkiewicz jerseys on sale; they are so cheap right now.
Me: You did what?
Sis: You know Justin Morneau is great but I think Doug got a real bad deal. He just wanted to play and let’s face it, he is a winner. I heard the guys on TV last night talk about how he is really a number three hitter for a playoff team! I’m pretty sure those guys know what they are talking about. Can’t we just trade Morneau for Doug? Do you think the Red Sox would do it? Maybe we could throw in Kubel or that one minor league pitcher guy whose kind of cocky.
Me: Well, you see the Fox announcers aren’t exactly right…
Sis: You can say a lot about Doug but at least he was never cocky, just confident. No team can have enough confidence. Maybe that was what we were missing against the Yankees.
Me: (Staring in disbelief)
Sis: Didn’t you see Doug get that big hit last night? Where was that last week when the Twins needed it? I’ll tell you where it was: in Boston!
Me: You mean the one in extra innings that nothing came of? He was in the on-deck circle when Ortiz won the game!
Sis: No I think Dougie was the guy and that, John, is why you will be receiving another Doug Mientkiewicz jersey for Christmas. You are going to look so cute!

(Note: There is absolutely no chance the Twins will sign Edgar Renteria this winter and Joe Mauer does not need a new knee just yet. Also, I need to admit that my sister is a very knowledgable Twins fan and in no way should this post take away from that.)

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