The gentle voice at the heart of Minnesota Twins radio broadcasts for decades, John Gordon, calls his final game this evening. As a tribute to this truly classy guy, I wanted to share a guest post I penned for Howard Sinker’s excellent blog on the Minneapolis Star Tribune website a while back. I didn’t set out to write about Gordon as much as I wanted to explain how I came to love baseball, but as you’ll see, this good man’s voice was central in kindling that passion. In fact, as I look back with a smile, he had a lot to do with choosing my vocation as well…
The sounds of celebration rang through the brisk night air, unheard by all but any rabbits or rodents camped out nearby. Ensconced in the cab of my Dad’s GMC grain truck, I was heartily cheering a Doug Mientkiewicz line drive that pulled the Twins ahead in the late innings. The game was being played hundreds of miles to the east, under a splendid bag of a roof in Minneapolis. The joy of the contest, though, was as real to me that night as if were downing a Dome Dog – thanks to the musical narrative of John Gordon’s voice travelling across all that prarie via WCCO.
I was designated to man the grain truck, waiting to deliver a full load of golden grain to a bin a short distance away. Waiting for my Dad to make a pass fully around our wheat field in his John Deere combine may not seem like the most enjoyable way to spend the lion’s share of a fall night. But night after night during the harvest seasons of my youth, I looked forward to it. Especially when I knew the Twins would be playing. There was something about being alone under that impossibly bright night sky – glittering with stars – and being transported to nine innings of always unpredictable baseball drama that was just remarkable.
Growing up on an Eastern Montana farm taught you about hewing an existence out of often pesky land with weather conditions that would never be confused with ideal. It made it easy to identify with a Minnesota Twins team facing hopelessly better financed teams in far more luxurious and enviable digs.
The nearest metropolitan area to my family’s home was the teeming settlement of Bloomfield – population 7 and home to only a post office and Cenex gas station. The lack of population built an appreciation for the small town Minnesota squad battling the urban jungle dwellers from New York and Boston. It was just natural to cheer for hardscrabble, relative no-namers like Koskie, Radke, and yes – even Lew Ford – when they went up against the baseball barons of Jeter, Clemens, and A-Rod.
In those grain fields, we were an extended, albeit somewhat unconventional, part of Twins Territory.
Those late harvest nights kindled a love for radio that’s set me on a fledgling career in broadcasting and carried me far from Eastern Montana’s praries. The bond forged with the Twins has remained strong, however. I whooped with glee in the improbable playoff runs in ’04 and ’06, and my stomach turned and my nose curled with angst at our losses to the vile Yankees in the post-season.
But no matter the outcome of the game, hearing John Gordon paint the pictures of summer always takes me back to the truck cab and the wheat field where the magic of baseball captured me for good.
With the entry into the 2012 Republican sweepstakes of US Representative Thaddeus McCotter, is this now officially the strangest list of names of possible Presidents ever? Who is winning the GOP money race & who is disappointing? And has the Upper Midwest been too hard on Joe Mauer as he”s returned to the team from mysterious injuries?
In 2006, we witnessed one of the most dazzling displays of pitching brilliance since that first dude picked up a ball and started hurling it somewhere. Minnesota”s Francisco Liriano came out of nowhere and destroyed American League opponents to the tune of 12 wins and 3 losses with a miniscule 2.16 ERA () — which was actually inflated by pitching injured in his last starts before going on the Disabled List. But ahhhh the injury… that”s the rub…
Since going under the knife late in “06 and spending the full “07 season on the shelf recovering from dreaded Tommy John surgery, Fransisco has become one of the great enigmas in baseball. Churchill could have been talking about him when he spoke of that mystery wrapped inside of an enigma which was wrapped inside of a riddle. He was talking about Russia… but hey… it works.
When Liriano first appeared back with the Twins again in “08 he was shallywacked. Then, after some time in the minors to get in touch with himself, he came back up and was quite fabulous, raising hopes that he was – in fact – back. Well, 2009 showed that not to be the case as Frankie endured an ugly 5 and 13 campaign with a bloated 5.80 ERA. He did have nearly as many strikeouts as innings, but when he didn”t earn a K, it seemed he was giving up loads of runs. People wondered if he”d ever rekindle the glory…
So then came last year, and Francisco – one more year removed from surgery – gave us his best full season of work. He busted out a 14 and 10 with a 3.60 while striking out over 200 batters. He was back! Right??? Well, the plot thickened this year.
He came out out the gate very poorly, and his starting job was very much up in the air. That was, until he pitched a no hitter against Chicago on May 3rd! Wow. So that happened.
Fast forward to today. As we speak together via this text, Frankie has had a couple more rough starts and another near no hitter since his actual no hit gym. He stands today, along with Russia, as great a mystery as he”s ever been. How will we figure this man out?! What can we expect from him each day he toes the rubber? Grandeur or “good gracious this is bad”?
These challenging questions made me ponder… what”s really more stupefying than this pitcher? What out there today rises to and surpasses the perplexing level of a Francisco Liriano? I came up with these five items for you…
#5 – What Was up with Joe Mauer? Really?!
Reports are that Mauer will return to play for the Twins on Friday. This is undoubtedly good news. Always nice to get an MVP and the best player on your team back. Seriously though, where has this guy been?! He went on the disabled list after nine games this year – we heard that his legs were weak, that because of this other items of his self were weak also, and that he had also developed an epic case of viral influenza. This horrifying concoction proceeded to apparently keep the slugger off the field until late this week. Basically, we were told that Mauer was essentially on the disabled list because he was getting in shape. It”s interesting!
See, I think this really has something to do with women. Wasn”t Joe dating Miss America a few years ago? I believe her name was Chelsea something… I suspect that he had some type of epiphany – that just maybe ending that wasn”t a good idea. I see the possibility that this emotional realization weakened his knees, legs at large, shoulder… and also initiated viral influenza. It”s very mysterious.
#4 – How Did John McCain Win the GOP Nomination in “08?
I would like for the sake of rhetorical purity and shock and awe to say… “I never actually met someone who really wanted John McCain to be President in 2008″. I can”t actually do this because I met three and heard tell of one other. Everyone else was pulling for the Huck or my boy Mittens. I believe that last part may have had something to do with why Senator Mac won, but I”m still not really sure how it happened. He was thoroughly unlikeable, had a slate of downright liberal positions, and was barely able to conceal his disdain for religious righties such as my Fowl self. The man almost ran as John Kerry”s VP in “04!
How??? How?!!! Very mysterious.
#3 – How Did Barack Obama Go from Being a Senator for A Couple Years to Being President?
It”s weird to think about the fact that, in “06 & “07, everyone agreed that Hillary Clinton was going to be the Democrat nominee for President in “08. The fact that a lot of people thought this was a grand idea deserves a mystery paragraph of it”s own. But then, along came this dude from Illinois that had given a great speech once at the Democratic National Convention and had been a senator for a year and a half or so. Suddenly he had displaced Hillary and he was President. What?!
All I really remember about the whole thing was John Edwards was there, getting a haircut… Hillary cried in New Hampshire… there was a crazy Pastor talking about chickens roosting in there homes… and then Obama was being proclaimed as our next President by Keith Olbermann. It was a moment of utter stupefication that I imagine was similar to what the British were thinking at Yorktown when their band started playing “The World Turned upside Down”. Wow! This is… unexpected…
#2 – Jim Carey”s Successful Career
I may lose you here, but I”m going to say it anyway. Is Jim Carey funny?! What am I missing here?
Every character he”s ever played has just been a slightly altered version of actual Jim Carey — and that includes the Truman Show by the way. He”s always making crazy faces and being excessive. This is apparently funny to most Americans. It”s mysterious.
#1 – Who”s Advising Obama on Economics?
I”m fairly convinced at this point that it”s one of the Muppets. And Elmo is my guess. That little guy is very energetic, and I know that Democrats really value the zest in a person”s delivery. All the same, you”d think the President would have someone a little bit more… knowledgeable.
Personally I would select either the Count or Sam the Eagle. The Count gives you a certain sense that he understands capitalism, and Sam is just so stinking pragmatic about things that I think he could explain human nature to the Prez. This could be helpful to him.
Let me get this out of the way right now, I like Ron Gardenhire.
But… (You knew that was coming next, right?)
It’s time for the Twins to turn the reins over to someone else. Or at least begin the process of giving the team a new look. I don’t think I am jumping the gun in saying that the 2011 season is a lost cause. In fact, I know I am not because I have read several columns/blogs in the last few days saying exactly the same thing. Most of those same columns/blogs have also said the worst thing the Twins could do is blow the whole team up and start over. I agree with that, to a degree.
The Twins of 2011 are a mess, okay, a big mess, okay, they are a disaster. This is a perfect storm of suckitude that we are witnessing right now. Dropped foul balls, two-strike bunt attempts, and countless errors of both the mental and physical variety are wearing out the fan base. A friend of mine who grew up in Philly was at Friday’s most recent defeat from the jaws of victory installment and said the “boo birds” were so boisterous he thought he was back home. Not exactly living up to that “Minnesota Nice” moniker nowadays, huh? This current run of foul play (pun intended) reminds of a quote from former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach John McKay; when asked what he thought of his team’s execution, he responded, “I’m in favor of it”! Trading off multiple pieces and starting all over seems like an easy solution to the casual fan, but to blow this team up would be shortsighted and just plain wrong. Injuries have cost the Twins an amazing number of games this season. In fact, they have played exactly four games with the starting lineup they used on opening day, FOUR out of 54 games with the lineup they had hoped to play at least 75-80 percent of the time. So to trade off numerous pieces of a lineup that has hardly played together is not only shortsighted, it would be just plain dumb. However, it is also just plain dumb not to recognize that something needs to change if this team is to recover and contend again in 2012. A trade or two may make sense before the end of July if the team can get some good value (read: major league ready talent)in return. But first the change needs to happen at the top.
Quick trivia question, name the only managers in baseball with a longer tenure with their current team than the 10 years Gardy has with the Twins. Did you come up with Tony LaRussa (16 years in St Louis) and Mike Scioscia (12 years in Anaheim)? It’s true. Only two men have stayed En kategori heter actionspel och innehaller bland annat spelautomater pa natet med teman fran actionhjaltar som Batman, Hitman, Super Man och Iron Man. with their current team longer than Gardy. Ten years in one place is very rare these days, actually it’s always been pretty rare. For every Tommy Lasorda (21 years) or Tom Kelly (16 years), there are about 10 Don Wakamatsu’s (less than 2 years). The Twins have been very fortunate to have had just two managers since 1986, and as was the case with Tom Kelly in the late 90s and early 00s, it appears the end may be near for Gardy.
Right or wrong, managers are often the scapegoats for a team’s poor play; and it is probably unfair to hold Gardy in contempt for the level of stink the Twins are putting forth every night. You don’t have Many people are initially drawn to casino gaming with dreams of beating the house and turning a nice profit. to watch the Twins squander leads night after night to realize something has to change. From May 20 to May 31 the Twins lost 9 of 11 games, in 7 of those losses the Twins had the lead, in one other game they were tied in the 8th inning and the ninth loss was a 3-0 shutout. Nearly half of the Twins games this season have We have a growing list of all the latest video and retro slots as well as all the s4gambling.com/fi/ classics you”ve grown to love such as Blackjack and Roulette. been one-run games, they are 10-15 (.400) in those games. Since Gardy took over in 2002, the Twins have played an average of 45 one-run games each year and have won 55 percent of those games. That sharp drop off can be attributed somewhat to the AAA lineup the Twins have been forced to angelscamp.org play for most of the season. But a stat that might be even more telling is the Twins record in blowouts. Baseball-reference.com considers a blowout any game with a margin of 5 runs or more. The Twins have played 15 games that fit that description this season and they have won a mere 3 of those. In nine seasons under Gardy they have averaged 47 “blowouts” per year and have a winning percentage of .554. This season if the Twins continue at their current pace and play 47 blowouts, their record in those games would be 9-38. That stat indicates something larger at play than just inexperience; its leadership and accountability that is seriously lacking with this team. The Twins have not had a vocal leader since Torii Hunter left three seasons ago. Some guys have tried, but no one fits that personality, and frankly if you aren’t wired like a Hunter or Kirby Puckett, you can’t fake it. Since Hunter’s departure after the 2007 season, the two guys who most tried to fill that role were backup players Mike Redmond and Gardy-favorite and fan-whipping boy Nick Punto.
When players don’t want to lead it falls squarely on the manager to take on that additional role. For the veterans on the Twins who are used to his style that has worked quite well, as six division crowns in nine years will attest. But for young players, his often grumpy, no-nonsense demeanor may not be working. At least three times in the last month Gardy has chosen to single out third baseman Danny Valencia in post-game comments. Valencia is not perfect, nor is he always the most focused Twin, but there is this, in a year where the Twins have been decimated by injuries, the second year man has played all 54 games at third, making just 5 errors, he is tied for the team lead with five home runs and is second to Jason Kubel in RBI (25). You have to wonder what this group of AAA call-ups must think when they see Valencia go out and do his job on a nightly basis only to be called out by the manager when other more glaring errors are being made by more experienced players, (cough cough) Delmon (cough) Young. Gardy has nearly crushed the spirit of Trevor Plouffe to the point that the 25 year old shortstop is channeling the New York Yankee version of Chuck Knoblauch on just about every ground ball hit his way. Is Gardy singling out these guys because he sees potential there and thinks they can handle it, or is he doing it because they are young and they have to handle it or else? My hunch is it is more the latter than the former and there is the heart of the problem with this team. If no one can call out the veterans when it is needed then it seems the manager has lost the team. When one-third of your league high 37 losses are by 5 or more runs, the manager has lost the team. When the hallmark of your success, “doing the little things right” is a distant memory, the manager has lost the team. And when the manager has lost the team, the only solution, unfair as it may seem for the AL’s reigning Manager of the Year, is for the team to lose the manager.
I’ve heard it said many times that Andy Pettitte is a swell guy. A good family man they say. And a man of faith to boot! What’s not to like?! That answer in a moment…
Andy retired this week after nearly two decades of hurling. A baseball. The Bronx Bombers appear to be really concerned, as this news comes on the heels of their failure to lure coveted Clifford Lee to New York and their hated rivals stocking up on off-season prizes. It’s really a delight to behold the Yankees’ concern!
While Pettitte’s longevity is impressive, what he did while on the mound caused me and many of my baseball brethren a great deal of pain. His pitching prowess in crucial, close games of October of ’96 and ’99 assured that decade of internet booms would be remembered more for the Evil Empire than my beloved, pitching-rich Braves. And it was his irritatingly clutch performances throughout the 2000s against my other favorite club – the Minnesota Twins – that sealed the deal on three first round defeats at the hand of the evil Yankees.
Andy Pettitte wasn’t nearly the pitcher that Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, or Johan Santana were (Santana is the only name there I anticipate being arguable). But somehow he become a far greater version of himself when he faced their (and my) teams in the playoffs. Although! I made an interesting discovery just now that bolsters a suspicion I’ve always had — Pettitte benefited in the extreme from the stacked Evil Empire offenses with which he was paired. Case in point – Pettittes’ career postseason ERA: 3.83. His career postseason wins? A major league record 19. Compare that with Greg Maddux’s career postseason ERA of 3.27 and 11 wins. Intriguing! It was an emotionally taxing tendency.
Andy’s bosom-buddy-ship with Roger Clemens (I like to calm him Codger Lemmons), one of the great hosers of baseball history, doesn’t help on the likability front. Granted, Pettitte is now the star witness in the government’s case against Clemens’ for “alleged” (hohoho) artificial enhancement. So there’s that. But how could you enjoy fellow-shipping with the dude who pulled stunts like this for years upon years?! Andy!
I’m grateful Andy will no longer be looming in October, and feel a great swell of hope that with his exit the curse of Twins’ playoff failure against the dreaded Yankees will finally be cloven in twain. Farewell, Andy! You were a cow to us, and I wish you’d left sooner… but, I’m sure that your mother loves you very much. And that’s important.
It’s been a tough week for having much interest in the same old political back and forth. Here’s some thoughts a week after Tucson on our country’s leaders – left and right – and a wish that we could have some more who wouldn’t always look for petty advantage when there are much more important things going on.
And Jim Thome signed back with the Minnesota Twins this week! The good news is celebrated.
There was once a King called Ethelred the Unready. He neglected to prepare himself sufficiently for the Vikings numerous interlopings and ended being remembered for it for the next thousand years. Incidentally, it appears he was actually called “Ethelred of the Bad Counsel” instead of “Ethelred the Unready”, but the whole thing was mistranslated. Either way, it”s a good reminder to always be prepared for the worst.
It”s been a week since the worst happened once more. 1 week since the Evil Empire once again exited their banks and laid the smack down upon the Twins once more – sweeping us out of the first round of the playoffs. Last Sunday, I was hanging my head and wanting to weep. How could we make such an appalling effort after all the success and resilience of our 162 games in 2010? How could a hitter like Jason Kubel – who slammed so may clutch hits over the past two regular seasons – be so abominable in October. His in the playoffs: 2 hits in 29 at bats! Bam. And how can a pitcher like Jesse Crain – he of the rediscovered slider and startling regular season efficacy – serve up the heart rending bomb to moneybags Mark Teixeira that set the town for the entire loathsome series?!
It”s continually amazing how the Yankees consistently defeat the Twins. Baseball is notorious for it”s unpredictability. Just yesterday something named Cody Ross defeated the great Roy Halliday. Momentum rules, and whatever you least expect to happen often does. Yet with the Twins and Yanks, as with the old English king Ethelred and the Norsemen, the same dreadful thing continues to come to pass each year. Well, not precisely each year, but it”s taken place in 2003, 2004, 2009, and 2010. That”s pretty bad. What”s more, the method of their victories is just mean. Again this year, they first allowed us a little hope. We leapt out to a 3 – 0 lead in game 1, and Francisco Liriano was pitching dominant fashion. Then the late innings arrived. Suddenly, the empire jumped our best starting pitcher and hit a three run home run off our best middle reliever. They scored off our closer. They made our best hitters look pacific. Emotional times. Obviously the rest of the series was brief and progressively more horrifying.
In the aftermath, we”re left asking why with our visages cradled in our palms. “Other teams beat the Yankees! We”ve seen it on tv! What is going on?!” Indeed. The pain is great. There is no other city, no other spoiled fanbase, no other organization swimming in more dough that deserves to win less than do the Yankees. Yet our hardscrabble warriors are smacked down once more by their tentacles of woe. Here we are once more.
It does help to commiserate with some fellow Twins fans – not all. My dad is one of the helpful ones. The kind of bloke with whom you can share the pain and lessen your own grief through the sharing. However, the Upper Midwest also features folks who glean their insight and angst from the likes of KFAN radio. These guys will only burden you further with unreasonable swipes at Joe Mauer”s contract, the need to fire everyone from Gardy to the ballboys, and baseball”s inherent need for cheerleaders.
Perhaps in the end, the best comfort is found back across all those years in merry old England. For while the huddling English must have thought Ethelred”s foolhardiness would lead to their Viking smack downs going on forever – it wasn”t to be. New kings would come, a navy would be built, and the British Empire would grow to far surpass the Vikings (with the possible exception of those sweet hats). For even in the midst of the greatest trial, hope remains.
And so it is. After 162 grueling games, the fate of baseball’s top 8 teams now faces the test of a best of 5 game series. For Minnesota Twins fans, we are in a familiar place – a melding of hope, loathing, and fear as we face baseball’s Evil Empire once more. (Read why cheering for the Yankees is like cheering for the Soviet Union) So what are we to expect from the turbulent crap-shoot that is baseball’s postseason? And how will our Twins fair against a foe they’ve so often been pulverized by? Who will emerge victorious in the quest for baseball’s most sought-after prize?!
Predictions in a moment… but first – what are the key questions which will shape the 2010 postseason for the Twins?
Can the Yankee Curse Be Broken?
In three of the past four Twins’ trips to October, the cursed denizens of the Bronx have booted the Twins in the first round. So, it is poetic that they would once again stand in our way as we begin our quest for glory. The Yankee offense is once more littered with well paid sluggers from 1 to 9. Can the Twins’ pitching staff quell their fury this time? The Bombers’ bullpen still features the greatest closer in world history, and was further bolstered when the Bronx Bankers added Kerry Wood to the mix late in the year. Coming off the purchase of another World Series victory last year, many believe these Yankees are the best team in the AL once more. And yet….
The fact of the matter is, these Yankees have a very unsettled pitching rotation after their ace, CC Sabathia. High priced AJ Burnett has been a bit of a basket case all year, Phil Hughes has bumbled down the stretch, and ageless Andy Pettite is trying to shake off a significant injury. This may be the weakest Yankee pitching staff the Twins have seen from their foes this decade. What’s more – these Twins themselves are doubtless the best incarnation Minnesota has fielded in a decade. They feature three solid starting pitchers, a lights out bullpen, and a much heartier offense boasting threats up and down the lineup. Even without Morneau – who hopes to return if the twins make the ALCS – this Twins team may just unseat the loathsome New Yorkers.
Can the Large Canadian Return?
The knee to the head that Justin Morneau sustained in July led to the star slugger being sidelined for the last half of the year with post concussion syndrome. For the 2nd straight year, Minnesota magically marched to a 2nd half surge without their top RBI man. There’s no question though, that with a healthy Morneau the Twins’ lineup would be ever more playoff potent. In recent days, the Canadian has reported his first extended string of days without symptoms and has begun workouts in earnest once again. If his good health continues, he believes he can be ready for the ALCS. With the Yankees defeated and Morneau back in the clean up spot, things would be looking sunny indeed.
How Consistent Can the Starters Be?
In the midst of their hottest streaks this year, the Twins were getting fantastic outings from the likes of Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano, and Brian Duensing seemingly every night. However, the slightly horrific way the team ended the season extended to their top three starters. How effective these three can be each evening will go a long way in determining the length of Minnesota’s October hunt.
Nick Blackburn is projected to be starter number four in a situation where one would be necessary. He’s a lad with some success in big games – pitching well in game 163 against Chicago two years ago and against the Yankees in game two last year. Nick did also have a very strong stretch of starts late in the season after returning from some singer therapy in Rochester.
So, with the key questions asked – who will emerge triumphant? We asked some great baseball minds from Twins’ Territory…
Tim Hiatt – Radio Analyst, University of Sioux Falls Cougar Football
AL Champ - It pains me not to pick my team, but the Rays seems like the team this year, plus its their last chance, they are blowing up that team after the season…
NL Champ - It’s the Phillies’ world over there, the other teams are just renting space in it.
World Series Winner - The potential that Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels can pitch in 17 of a possible 19 postseason games makes the Phillies the team to beat, and I don’t think anyone will beat them.
Series MVP - The easy pick is to take one of those pitchers, but if Bucky Dent or Rick Dempsey can be a Series MVP then why can’t a guy like Carlos Ruiz win it. He will have several clutch hits and more importantly he will control the Rays running game. He will never have to buy another Philly Cheesesteak as long as he lives!
Where do the Twins finish? The Twins are as prepared for the postseason as they have ever been (their stretch to end the season notwithstanding), and I think this is the year they can take out “the evil empire”, but the Rays strengths will be exaggerated against the Twins ,(i.e. base stealing, and clutch hitting) so I don’t see them advancing past the ALCS. I am obviously counting on Tampa winning the division and the Twins facing NY in the first round.
Something Epic that Will Happen in the playoffs? Game 7’s are epic by definition. It has been 8 years since we have had a World Series go the distance, I think this is the year it happens again. If it does, I think Jack Morris and John Smoltz should be on hand to throw out the first pitch.
Of course if you want me to pick with my heart instead of my head, it goes like this…
WS- Twins over Braves in 7
MVP- Joe Mauer
Epic moment- Morris and Smoltz actually do throw out the first pitch before Game 7, and the 23 year old girl who sang the national anthem as a 4 year old in 1991 comes back to give an encore performance. If only we could raise Jack Buck to call the game with his son!!!
Where do the Twins finish? Lose in ALCS to Tampa Bay
Something Epic that Will Happen in the playoffs? Twins beat the Yankees in at least one game at Yankee Stadium
Ryan Howard – Goose Radio
AL Champ – Rays
NL Champ – Phillies
World Series Winner – Rays
Series MVP – Longoria
Where do the Twins finish? Lose to Rays in ALCS
Something Epic that Will Happen in the playoffs? – The twins are actually competitive with the Yanks this year.
AL Champ – Twins
NL Champ – Braves
World Series Winner – Braves
Series MVP - Derek Lee
Where do the Twins finish? They lose in 7 games in the World Series.
Something Epic that Will Happen in the playoffs? Bobby Cox steers one of his weakest Braves’ playoff teams to the championship in a seven game redux of 1991. John Smoltz and Jack Morris throw out dual ceremonial first pitches.
With baseball’s postseason rapidly approaching, it is time once again to bemoan the greatest evil in America’s greatest game.
Although squads like the Twins & Rays have had fabulous years, they will enter into the crapshoot quest for a World Series at a distinct disadvantage. That disadvantage takes the form of the number 206 million, 333 thousand, 389. That is the payroll of the New York Yankees. It’s more than twice that of the Minnesota Twins, and nearly three times that of the Tampa Bay Rays. New York isn’t just using those money bags on staplers and stationary – it’s giving them a massive advantage on acquiring big name free agent hurlers and sluggers.
This clear inequity gave rise to the observation that this situation is eerily like another. It was a wise Bostonian who first dubbed these Yankees “The Evil Empire”, and he was precisely correct. If you are a Yankee fan, you are essentially cheering for the Soviet Union to win the Cold War.
“WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?! YOU IGNORAMUS!” Well let’s just go ahead and look at what the Soviet Union & the Yankees have / had in common shall we?…
1. A Ruthless Leader Who Would Stop at Nothing
Joseph Stalin demanded every red cent from his downtrodden peasants to support his misguided military adventures. He attempted to make friends with Adolf Hitler. George Steinbrenner exacted every penny possible from his fans with outlandish ticket prices, and used their hard earned cash to acquire morally bankrupt mercenaries like Roger Clemens, Jason Giambi & Alex Rodriguez.
2. Apparently Limitless Resources
In 1991, before Ronald Reagan and George Bush the Elder finally brought the Marxists down – the Red Soviets had corralled 8,649,538 square miles of the world’s land area and held sway over 293,047,571 people. They were lording it over the Kazakhs, the Ukrainians, the Poles…. Meanwhile, the Evil Empire in New York City has boasted MLB’s largest payroll for 17 of the past 25 years. They occupy the nation’s largest media market by far at over 7 million households, an advantage that feeds into their ravenous over-spending. The blasted pin-stripes have even been known to convert weak-hearted denizens of Omaha and Rochester into their fans.
3. Hordes of Really Unhappy People Left in Their Wake
Communism sounds like a swell idea until you’re told that the socialist utopia is achieved by forcing folks to give the government all their stuff so they bequeath it to the people who need it. And often this often turns into the government big whigs just keeping all the stuff anyway. Add to that situation the fact that the Soviets often invaded other lands wholesale… and had a tendency to kill their own people. There’s a lot of displeasure that ensues.
The Yankees claim that they’re America’s team, and that their success somehow unifies us all into a great circle of Kumbaya chanting joy. But what about the 1996 (and 1999) Braves, huh? What about the the 2009 (and 2003… AND 2004) Twins? AND THEIR FANS? There is no joy in Mudville tonight, my friends.
4. A Sworn Enemy the Rest of the World Cheers for
As point 3 explains, when there’s an Evil Empire out there trouncing on people’s rights and happiness – they become significantly unpopular. This was the case for the Soviet Union in much of the world during it’s reign of terror. And just as evil has good, the Red Empire had the United States and Western Europe. America and the Brits pushed back at the Soviets across the globe. Back in those days, the USA could win popularity polls pretty much everywhere. Except in France. Some things never change.
In perfect symmetry, the Yankees’ vile reign has at its opposite pole a sworn enemy. The Boston Red Sox, having many a time felt the particular sting of New York’s success, rose up in the last decade. They turned the tables on the barons of the Bronx and captured two world series in the 2000s. A glimmer of hope to those who yearn to breathe the free air of a baseball world devoid of the relentless tentacles of its Evil Empire.
5. Celebrity Adherents
Hollywood’s dalliance with the political left is the stuff of legend. There are no quicker brutes to lampoon capitalism, the Right, and all that is good and worthy in our society and history than actors and their kind. This phenomenon is responsible for the shock you feel every time you hear that an actress or director is actually a Republican. The trend continues on the baseball field. The Yankees garner more celebrity lemmings than any other ball club. If Rudy Giuliani can be excused – than surely Jay Z, LeBron, and Christina Aguilera cannot. The Evil Empires collide once more.
So before you make your cheering choice this October, remember, your country needs you. The Western World needs you. Stand against the Evil Empire.
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