The Catholic Minnesota Twins and Ryan, a Brief History

Originally posted on “Is It Sports?” by Ryan. Ryan discusses how the Twins are a symbol of his personal being to the non-Catholic, non-Minnesotan world. Pretty deep.

Recently, Steve and I were talking about baseball in Chicago. I didn’t understand how anyone from a certain town could hate a team from their own town with as much venom as Steve hates the Cubs. I mean, He’s from Chicago. The Cubs are from Chicago. Why can’t you like both the White Sox and the Cubs?

He tried to explain the whole history of there being two leagues and what not. But why would that matter? There were two pennants to shoot for, why couldn’t you root for each team to gain there individual prizes? With two teams, I would have thought, you have two chances to achieve a world series title. Turns out, the baseball really wasn’t the issue. By Steve’s own admission, the difference was in the fan bases. The North Siders fell into a certain stereotype while the South Siders did likewise and both were at odds with each other. Basically, they relied on their teams to represent them and took their resentment of the other stereotypical fan base out on the team.

Now that I had that explanation, it made me think. You know, that isn’t unlike why I love the Twins. I don’t have the bitter animosity towards any group of people that Steve does, but I do expect my teams to represent me. That was my biggest problem with Randy Moss. He gave up on us. He was disrespectful, not only to opponents, but to his own teammates. That’s just not the Minnesota Way. And none of my friends, neighbors or family have EVER run over an officer of the law.

The Twins, on the other hand, were the first team that really caught my eye. I was 4 when they beat the Cardinals to win their first World Series in 1987, and I was just coming into the years where I had conscious memory. This was how baseball was. The Twins were the best. They won World Series.

Then, there were a few years where the Twins audaciously didn’t get to the World Series. The nerve! That’s when the World Series was built up as a crowning achievement and a spectacle. I saw Chris Sabo and his ridiculous glasses. There was the earthquake game between the A’s and Giants. Not to mention, I had just started little league, so I was beginning to actually understand the game and its complexities.

Meanwhile, I was getting into football too. The Vikings weren’t nearly the local connection that the Twins were. It was national television, so I didn’t get the familiarity with the announcers, and there were too many people on the team to identify. But football was cool. Cool uniforms, guys hitting each other. I loved it, but I loved a lot of different football teams.

Then 1991 rolled around and that changed everything. First, the Vikings traded for Herschel Walker, and Darrin Nelson, my favorite Viking at the time, was sent to Dallas. In the summer, people were noticing the Twins, who were making another strong push at a title. The Twins were winners again.

Now, I had gone to Catholic grade school all my life, a Catholic church every Sunday. Everyone I knew was Catholic, and that’s just the way it was to me. It helped that every time he came to bat, Kirby Puckett would execute the Sign of the Cross. My hero was Catholic too! I was Catholic. My friends were Catholic. My TEAM was Catholic. (Turns out my mother is Lutheran). The fact remained, this was a Minnesota team, playing
baseball, which I played, showing outward Catholicism. Definitely the good guys.

Well, the Twins won the 1991 World Series against the Braves in the Series where I learned that baseball is exciting and that when the Twins go to the playoffs, they win the World Series. 1991 solidified the fact that the Twins were my team, through thick and thin.

That’s when things became very, very thin. The Twins started stumbling downhill up until the strike year in 1994. Kent Hrbek retired that year. Then Puckett got glaucoma and retired, then Chuck Knoblauch turned Jim Rice on us and got traded to the Yankees. Life was tough in Minnesota and Twins town. The Vikings flailed in the ’98 playoffs, cementing the fact that the Twins were the top game in town.

Bud Selig and Carl Pohlad, the owner of the team, conspired to shut the team down at the turn of the millennium, however. Sneaky and swift-witted lawmakers made sure that didn’t happen, though, as they pointed out that the Twins had another 5 years left on a lease at the state owned Metrodome. So the government made sure the team didn’t die. Clearly, this was Minnesota’s team, my team.

Then I went off to school and had to deal with people that were A) not Catholic and B) not Minnesotan. They didn’t see the Twins as the good guys anymore. I didn’t see it as an affront to my personal being, but it was new. I did see the Twins in a new light, however. They were my representatives to the world. Wherever I go, baseball fans will associate me with the Twins. They are letting me down this season, and that hurts, deeply and personally.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way. – Ryan