The Twins stink. This is not exactly a state secret. But even bad teams win sometimes and when they win they’re allowed to be happy. Unless, of course, they play in Minnesota, where according to one columnist there is no fun allowed.
The columnist is Patrick Reusse of the Star-Tribune and he is outraged that the Twins celebrated a victory the other night:
It was understandable the Twins celebrated Tuesday’s winning home run by greeting Dozier wildly at home plate, sending a bat boy to dump water over Dozier’s head during a postgame interview, and holding a smoke-filled dance party in the clubhouse.
It was understandable because this team and this organization appear to have lost all shame in the misery of a season that has captured huge momentum to stand as the most-disgusting in the 56 the Twins have played in Minnesota
That’s what Reusse uses as a launching pad into his assessment of a bad Twins team and organization. Which, as far as it goes, is fair to criticize. They have performed poorly and there are serious questions about whether there needs to be an organizational overhaul. That sort of thing is the stuff of sober analysis, though, not the stuff of comical shaming and bile that Reusse offers here.
He demands that everyone in the organization be “embarrassed” at their “pathetic” performance. He says fans are “outraged” and that “anger is not a strong enough description of the fans’ reaction. It is hostility.” He refers to 14-year-old transactions (i.e. letting David Ortiz go) as “wounds.” It’s a drama queen act so overheated I had to check to make sure I wasn’t reading a parody.
He also offers up some pretty questionable crap. Like saying, “there is nothing more damaging to the Twins’ future than the ongoing difficulty in getting extra-talented players from the Caribbean to become fully invested in reaching stardom.” There’s a lot to unpack there. It comes in a familiar suitcase, though, in which Latino players are seen as unmotivated as a basic proposition, which is some pretty ugly stuff in which I had assumed major paper columnists had stopped trafficking. Guess not.
He’s also chapped that minor league pitcher Kohl Stewart, isn’t a star. I can’t say I’m super high on Kohl Stewart either, but what a curious take it is to offer a high school pitcher drafted in 2013 as an example of a broken player development system. Oh, and near the end he complains about the high price of concessions at Target Field, which is about as transparent and cliche a beef as it comes. But rest assured, citizens of Minnesota, Patrick Reusse is your protector.
Or maybe the citizens of Minnesota don’t need a protector. Maybe they aren’t as emotionally invested in a baseball team as Reusse thinks they should be. I’m sure some are, and that they’re the small, loud handful which call in to his radio show, but I’d guess most Twins fans have challenges and concerns that anger and outrage them far more than an underachieving baseball team does. That, contrary to what sports yakkers like Reusse think, they realize that sports are not real life and most people have a better perspective on that than those who are paid to rile people up and spit hot fire a few times a week.
Reusse and his ilk are the tail that wags the dog. They’ve been so for decades, pretending that their anger, real or put-on, is the true voice of sports fandom. There’s a silent majority out there, however, that doesn’t think like this. Men, women and children who enjoy a game and prefer a win but who don’t expect the self-flagellation from athletes Reusse demands and who aren’t as self-entitled as Reusse would have them be. We’ve accepted such fictions as fact from a self-important sports media for far too long. We should stop accepting it.