by Jean Gabler | 9/17/09 • Since I have been writing this blog, the question I always get is how I came to love baseball as much as I do. I always answer that question by saying that I just always have. I grew up surrounded by baseball in New Ulm, Minnesota. Every Sunday we would be at a Tomahawk League game in some small town around New Ulm. My dad came from a family of five brothers and they all played baseball on some level. So most of the time my parents knew almost everybody on both teams and the games were social events for the entire family. The kids would chase foul balls and home run balls into the corn fields. If we turned them into the concession stand we would get a nickel which was enough to buy a bottle of Orange Crush or a candy bar. And, at home, we always had the radio on for every Twins game. Baseball was just always there and so, grown up and with a family of my own, it continued to be. I asked one of my daughters the same question and she had the same answer. “It has just always been there.”
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Certainly I have come to love baseball on a deeper level. When I attend a Twins game I appreciate the strategic moves that the managers make, I watch how the players move when a ball is put in motion to back up each other’s position and I recognize and applaud good defensive plays. I watch the standings, I watch the scoreboard during the game hoping that Detroit is losing and I am watching Joe Mauer’s quest for a third batting title. A headline in the Star Tribune this morning is “Suddenly Twins Make It Interesting.” It is interesting to me how fickle most sports fans are and how unwilling they are to look at the big picture. This is particularly true in baseball where there are 162 games and 162 opportunities for teams to advance themselves in the standings. I heard someone talking this week about why football is the most popular sport in Minnesota and in the country. Their theory, which I believe is true, is that there are so few games in the season that each game is critical. And football is a violent sport and fans are drawn to that emotion. Look at the way fans cheer when a fight breaks out in hockey. Baseball does not have the level of emotion for the average fan, unless it is a playoff or World Series game.
I love the fact that baseball is not controlled by a clock. The game isn’t over until the last out is recorded. I am sure Joe Nathan would have loved to kneel down on the mound in the September 2 game against the White Sox and let the clock run out. With the Twins winning 2 – 0, Nathan had two outs and two strikes on the batter when he gave up a homerun to Gordon Beckham. He then took Paul Konerko to a full count before allowing his second homerun and tying the game. Nathan walked the next two batters before being pulled from the game. The White Sox went on to win the game 4 – 2. So the White Sox were one pitch away from losing the game and went on to bat six more and score four runs.
So I will continue to be an eternal optimist. I have never given up the thought that the Twins can win the Central Division this year. That is why this upcoming series against Detroit is going to be so hard. If the Twins do not win at least two of the three games this weekend I think they will have an uphill battle to finish on top. Of course, that doesn’t mean that they can’t do it—just do the math and keep the faith.
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