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My résumé may not look like much otherwise, but I like to think I have some pretty solid credentials as a Minnesota Twins fan. I love the Twins. I really love the Twins. I cursed the Metrodome from its first opening day, but that hasn't stopped me from seeing hundreds of games from its miserable blue seats. I keep score, save ticket stubs, and pore over box scores. I own more than 100 baseball mitts. Bunting from the 1987 World Series hangs in my basement, above a case full of baseball memorabilia, including my father's old spikes. There are bookcases in my basement as well, crammed with more than 2,000 books devoted to baseball, from old annuals to biographies of obscure players like long-dead Twins shortstop Danny Thompson. I have ridden a Greyhound bus to Florida to watch spring-training games. In the spring of the Twins 1987 World Series championship season, in fact, I went to Orlando, found a cheap, cinderblock apartment downtown, and got a job at Tinker Field, where I was able to see every spring-training game. I learned to juggle using batting-practice baseballs that had been hit over the fence into the concourses of the adjacent Citrus Bowl.
I was there in the Dome--wearing my ridiculous "I believe in R.D." T-shirt--when reliever Ron Davis imploded night after night after night in 1984 and 1985 (I still have the shirt, of course). I was there again in the blue seats for 1991's game six, and if you require more explanation than that, I pity you your meager memories. I've made a handful of pilgrimages to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, and was there again this past summer to see Kirby Puckett inducted.
I can't help myself; I continue to be fascinated, infuriated, and entranced by a game that has abused me as often as it has provided glorious escape and comforting diversion. I recognize that I am apparently in the minority, but I would be truly bereft without Major League Baseball, and it galls me that I am exactly the sort of sad sack that commissioner Bud Selig and his syndicate of extortionists are counting on to save baseball in Minnesota.
But I'm just one man, one sad baseball fan, and I'll admit that I'm grasping at straws. As is Julian Loscalzo, the old "Save the Met" warrior who valiantly opposed the construction of the Dome and has been a loud and longtime proponent of community ownership of the Twins. Julian thinks Bud Selig's November 6 announcement that two franchises will be eliminated from the game represents a terrorist act in a time of war and has suggested that Jesse Ventura dispatch the National Guard to New York to occupy Major League Baseball's offices and place the game in receivership.
Like Julian, I have spent too much of my life tilting at windmills, and this endless monkey business has worn me out. I am grasping at straws, but I will continue to grasp at straws until there truly is nothing left to grab. If I am not yet inconsolable, it is because I have been watching this saga unfold for so long now that I can recognize that a fan's last, best hope--at least in this instance--might in fact be the bumbling bunch of incompetents and nitwits who seem so intent on destroying the game.
The billionaire boys have been crying wolf for so many years now that it was hard to summon anything but further incredulity when the 118-pound Milwaukee automobile peddler masquerading as baseball's commissioner stepped to the microphones in Rosemont, Illinois, two days after the World Series ended and announced that his industry intended to shut down two franchises. Forget for a moment, if you can, that one of those teams is generally assumed to be the Minnesota Twins. Forget that the man at the podium is the shadow owner of one of the worst franchises in baseball, a man who--Wisconsin folklore has it--drives his Lexus nearly every day to a Milwaukee custard stand, where his lunch consists of "a hot dog smothered in ketchup, and a diet Coke." Forget that this is a man who has publicly admitted that he cried at the end of Kevin Costner's For Love of the Game.
Forget all that and try to get serious for a moment: Could this man actually and finally be the long-prophesied wolf at the door, a wolf in the ill-fitting suit of a boneless B-squad Rotary Club toastmaster, but still wolf enough to do a wolf's dirty work? And if so, shouldn't a wolf be somehow more, um, menacing, and not merely pathetic? I mean, seriously, could this odd little man, could Allan "Bud" Selig, actually put a fork in 40 years of baseball tradition in Minnesota?
I have to admit that I have a hard time believing he could, but there are a lot of things I have a hard time believing that nonetheless kick me in the teeth every day with their brutal truth. I've tried hard not to believe in Bud Selig, period, for years; I don't want to believe in him, I don't even want to acknowledge that he's real, let alone that he's the commissioner of Major League Baseball, but it's hard not to believe in a man when he shambles into your life with dreadful regularity and makes ridiculous pronouncements and disastrous decisions. It's hard not to believe in a man who keeps putting a gun to your head and threatening you. (I can't figure out how a man who seems composed entirely of cartilage even holds a gun, but he does it somehow.) Bud does that, and he has been doing it for years. He held that gun to the heads of the good people of Wisconsin for nine years, until they were finally benevolent enough to build him a big shiny new ballpark; 2,811,040 people paid grossly inflated ticket prices to visit Bud's new monument in 2001--and were rewarded with a 68-94 season from the reliably pathetic Brewers.
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