Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Little Team That Could

UPDATE: Since the original publishing of this post, the Chicago White Sox did indeed beat the Detroit Tigers, thereby throwing themselves into a sudden death game with the Twins for the Division Championship. The game is set for tomorrow! Stay tuned...

I almost didn't do this post. This is a post about baseball, and since I already did a post about baseball in August, I thought it might be overkill. But then I realized that I've done over 100 posts about France, which made two posts about baseball seem entirely within the realm of reason. What has so compelled me to once again start a discussion about a sport that few people around the world even understand? Well, for starters, I've caught September baseball fever. This is the time of year when a season of 150+ games comes down to the last couple of match-ups. What's more, my hometown team is right in the thick of things, hoping to win the pennant and survive to see the playoffs. It could all be decided today.

Being a Minnesota Twins fan isn't fun simply because you live in Minnesota, it's fun because of the nature of this team. The Twins play in a relatively small market (we're not New York, LA, or Chicago), have a relatively small payroll, and in general are not considered a big, important team in Major League Baseball. We're the team people forget about, as was so cleverly spoofed in this ESPN commercial. To give you an example, at $62,182,767, the Twins' 2008 payroll ranks 24th out of 30 teams. The New York Yankees take the top spot with $209,081,579 dedicated to paying players. But what they lack in money or name recognition, they more than make up for in skill. Despite not being able to pay mega salaries, the Twins have won the division championship in four out of the last six years. In 2006, we took the Most Valuable Player, Cy Young (pitching), and batting average awards. The World Series hasn't been won since 1991, but we've stayed in contention of late and the team continues to bring out big crowds to its home games. Our players don't seem full of arrogance like some of those other guys; they play as a team and appreciate the fans. I mean, how can you not fall in love with the underdog? Our team is just plain fun to watch.

In 2010, the Twins will finally set foot in their brand new stadium, which is currently under construction in downtown Minneapolis. Citizens usually aren't keen on using taxpayer money to fund ballparks, myself included. But somehow, I don't mind the sales tax increase for this one. Our tough little team deserves it. Why? Because I can honestly say that the Twins bring something special to this community. These guys have heart. Going to a game is a family-friendly event, and when September baseball rolls around, the entire city is abuzz with the excitement. Everyone's on pins and needles today, hoping that the Chicago White Sox lose and allow us to clinch yet another division title. If they don't, we'll have a sudden-death match against them later this week. But considering how much we enjoy the game, and watching our Twins show their stuff, would that really be so bad?

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