Amid highs and lows, life and baseball go on


For the past month baseball again became the rhythm in my life when things were turning upside down. My mother has been in the hospital three times this past month and faces a long rehab after a pacemaker implant and then a broken hip. My siblings and I have spent lots of time driving to New Ulm, sitting in hospital rooms, talking to medical staff and taking care of Mom’s needs. Sometimes the Twins game is in the background as we pass the time, many times it provides my Mom with something to keep her company, and always it is on in the car when I am driving home after a visit.

I know it is necessary for a team to win games to draw the fans, pay the top players, and be competitive. And it certainly is always more fun to win than lose. But it is not always the most important thing. For me baseball is always a welcome constant in my crazy busy life.

I am always struck by how much baseball is a game of statistics. What is interesting to me is how varied and endless those statistics are. Here are just a few I have made note of this past month.   There are the interesting stats.

  • With the home run against his former team, the Philadelphia Phillies, Jim Thome became the 33rd player to hit a home run against every major league ball team.
  • Johan Santana, on the other hand, needed to beat the his former club, the Twins, to record a win against all 30 teams. The Twins beat Santana instead, scoring four runs in the first inning. Santana may never have this opportunity again, depending on the inter-league play schedule over the next few years.
  • Justin Morneau hit the longest home run to date at Target Field on June 30: 441 feet.

There are the off-the-wall stats. These are the statistics that broadcasters throw out there when there is nothing else to say.

  • The Twins have won more games on June 30  than on any other day of the year.

And then there are the historic stats.

  • On July  3 at Target Field Jim Thome not only tied Harmon Killebrew with 573 home runs but passed him in the same game with a second home run to become No. 10 on the home run list.

It was a very emotional moment for both Thome and Killebrew as well as the rest of the players and the fans. Both Thome and Killebrew are respected in the game of baseball; Killebrew said that Thome is a credit to the game of baseball and he was delighted that he was able to do this. Interestingly, Thome is now just nine home runs behind Mark McGwire, and there will be many fans happy to see Thome pass McGwire—but for different reasons. The steroid era has caused much consternation for the baseball purists who want asteriks behind the names of certain players because of the performance-enhancing drugs that they have used. My theory is that the pitchers were also using those same drugs, and who knows what types of other things have been done over the years to change the course of baseball history.

So the baseball season is almost half over. But there is still lots of baseball left to be played and lots of records to be broken, big and small.