I had a different post in mind today. I’ve got one of those “Who’s To Blame For This Mess?” posts kind of half-baked in my head. But it can wait… I suspect the candidates for “blame” will only increase between now and whenever I get around to putting up that post.
But I’m going a different direction today… and if you really wanted to read another infamous JimCrikket rant about blaming someone for this mess, you have Maija from over at Kirby’s Left Eye to blame. I was browsing through the last couple of days’ worth of blog postings from our Blogroll and Maija’s post about going to (and returning from) Arizona and watching the Twins take on the D-Backs at Chase Field struck a chord with me. It’s a terrific piece. Go read it. Now. You can come back and finish reading this post when you’re done. It will still be here. I promise.
As I read that post, it struck me that the people on that plane and those Twins fans at Chase Field had a terrific time watching the Twins over the weekend. The results weren’t good, but the games were exciting and some of our guys did some good stuff. And those fans were there watching it all right in front of them.
It’s pretty easy to be a fan when your team is a front runner, like the Twins have been for the past decade or so. It’s made even easier when you’ve got a brand new, award-winning ballpark to watch games at, like Twins fans had a year ago.
I’m not going to try to tell anyone that winning isn’t important to fans. It is… and it should be. But if you’re only a fan when your favorite team is 10+ games over .500, then there’s a word for you and those like you. It’s easy to be a bandwagon fan. You simply look at the standings and decide whether the team is good or not, then let that determine if you’re going to be a fan that year.
I don’t want to say that’s not being a “real fan”, but… well… yes, I’ll say it… in my opinion, that’s not being a real fan. That’s being a “wow, my friends are all talking about the Twins and I want them to think I’m cool so I’m going to buy a jersey and go to the game tonight” fan. Teams need some of those fans to fill their seats, I know. But just don’t expect me to give two hoots about what they have to say, whether in good times or bad.
Being a “real fan” isn’t easy. It means finding the fun in watching (or listening to, if you’re not allowed to watch due to moronic blackout policies) games with friends and family, even when it seems like everyone associated with your team is trying to find a new way to lose a game every day.
Does being a real fan mean you can’t get frustrated, upset, angry, or even totally friggin pissed off at your team? Of course, it doesn’t. Every member of your team is being paid very, very well (the “minimum wage” for MLB players is above $400,000 per year… think about that for a moment on your next payday) and when they play the game in a manner that would make Little Leaguers hide in shame, they should be held accountable. You let them know you don’t approve of their effort. You let the manager know you don’t approve of his decisions. You let the GM know he’s done a lousy job of assembling a roster. You let the president know the blackout policy is moronic (~You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant~). Blow off steam. It’s healthy (so I’m told).
But you don’t stop being a fan.
I’ve been a fan of three sports organizations for most all of my life. The Twins, the Vikings, and the Hawkeyes. I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve been able to witness a great deal of success at various times from all three. I’ve also witnessed ineptitude and embarrassment at near-monumental levels. But that’s true of pretty much every team in every sport.
Being a real fan means you live through those periods of futility and keep your fandom intact. It’s not easy. A lot of people simply can’t do it. When their favorite team du jour hits a rough patch, they shift their focus to a new team that’s playing well. That’s fine, if that’s what you need to do to continue having fun watching baseball.
But for those of us who are really Twins fans, we have a tougher challenge facing us. We have to find a way to enjoy Twins baseball until whenever this organization gets things turned around on the field. It’s not easy, but then I don’t think it’s supposed to be easy. There’s a certain amount of pride you take from being able to do something not everyone can do and that extends to being a real fan of a ballclub that’s not very good (ask Cub fans… they know).
So what about that “Who’s To Blame?” post? Oh, it’s going up… don’t kid yourself. I’m taking aim and naming names… and Bill Smith is smack dab in the middle of the crosshairs.
But for right now, my immediate goal is to drive up to Minneapolis on Tuesday (oops… make that Thursday) and attend the memorial Thursday night that the Twins are holding for my boyhood hero. The details can be found here. I hope some of you will join me there.
Then I’m going to try very, very hard to enjoy watching the Twins take on the Angels on Friday and Saturday (Sunday’s a bit up in the air… I may just do brunch at Hell’s Kitchen and head home). I’ve always said, and still believe today, that the worst day at a ballgame is better than the best day just about anywhere else. I intend to put that philosophy to the test this weekend.
I’ll be staying at a downtown hotel and if anyone would like to get together for a beer or four either before or after the Killebrew memorial or the games, leave a comment or drop me an email.
And let’s try to have some fun!