How do you deal with losing baseball?!

I have been a Minnesota Twins fan for my entire life.  In little league I loved Kirby Puckett (but as a catcher I REALLY wanted to be Mike Piazza) and Greg Gagne.  I thought that the Minnesota Twins were about the neatest thing in the whole world.  But I would not say that I was a fan of baseball.  I was a fan of a team, and maybe fan is not even the correct word, the Twins were my favorite but maybe I didn’t know enough, or I did not follow the game close enough, or follow enough games to really know if I was a fan, or just a kid who liked baseball because everyone else liked baseball.  When there was talk of MLB contraction I did not get riled up, when the Twins were linked to those talks I was really only distressed because that would mean I would not be able to go get those neat ice cream sundaes in the mini-Twins helmets and I would not be spending a Saturday afternoon at the ball park with my father.

About that time I went away to college at Southern Illinois and it was suddenly a whole lot more difficult to keep track of the Twins.  Wondering if they won last night’s game turned into wondering if they won last week’s series, turned into wondering if the Minnesota Twins were doing anything, ANYTHING at all.  For a while the lack of information about the Twinkies turned into general apathy.  I would check the standings at the beginning of September, and if the Twins were doing well I would make an effort to stay informed, if for no other reason than to have bragging rights over many of my friends who were White Sox fans.  

Eventually that apathy turned into genuine interest, and because the Twins have pretty much been running out winning baseball teams for the last decade, and I gradually became not just a fan of the Minnesota Twins, but a fan of baseball.  I was checking the box scores during spring training, I was keeping tabs on the Rochester Red Wings, the GCL Twins, and every minor league affiliate in between.  Then I started watching other teams.  What were the White Sox doing?  How did the Tigers do last night, and what does that mean for the Twins in their next series?  Is Kansas City ever going to be a threat to the Twins again?  Pretty soon I was digesting as much baseball as I could and the Twins kept on winning.  Despite their struggles against the New York Yankees, the Twins have provided an era of baseball in which fans can routinely expect to turn into playoff baseball in October and find their home town team.

Welcome to 2011.  The Twins were not just bad when the season started, they were historically bad.  1/3 of the way through the season they were on pace to lose over 100 games, be outscored by nearly 300 runs, and finish as the worst team in the MLB.  The Twins were atrocious to watch.  They were hardly scoring any runs, they were often down early in ball games, and it seemed like once they were down they lost all confidence and just sort of went through the motions for the last four or five innings.

Since that time the Twins are starting to play better, but their early season struggles still surface from time to time and as we prepare for tonight’s Home Run Derby, the Twins are still 7 games under .500 and in 4th place in the AL Central.  In fact, only Kansas City, Baltimore and Oakland are worse than the Twins in the American League.

So I ask you Twins fans, with 73 games left on the schedule after the All-Star Game, how do you deal with losing baseball?  What keeps you hooked after the Twins have conceded any chance at playoff baseball?  What do you watch for?  How do you draw meaning from games that seem meaningless?

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Topics: GCL Twins, Greg Gagne, Kirby Puckett, Mike Piazza, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Rochester Red Wings

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  • twinsfanAP

    My answer is simple really. I love baseball. I don’t kind of like baseball. I don’t sort of enjoy watching only if we are winning. I LOVE BASEBALL. So what meaning do I draw from a “meaningless” game? I guess I can’t answer that without modifying the question. No baseball game is meaningless. Most of the guys out there really love the game. They go out there to put their heart on the field win or lose. I just can’t watch baseball and not enjoy it.

    Remember our 15-3 loss to the Rays? I was there. I witnessed a record being broken…albeit by the Rays. Yes, games like that are painful to watch…but I watch them. Why? I love baseball.

    -all weather twins fan, AP

  • ericpleiss

    @twinsfanAP Thanks for the comment AP. I too have stuck around to watch the bad games, I guess I was looking for something else, maybe some insight about how your watching changes? Are you looking to the future? Getting better acquainted with September call-ups? Trying to catch a final glimpse of an aging vet. Or are you just there, watching the team because it’s baseball, this is your home town 9, and really, it is just what you love?

  • JimCrikket

    Baseball fandom is a continuous 12-month thing. The moment your team is no longer playing for something this season, they start playing for next season. So, as soon as I feel my team has run out the string on this season… whether that’s in October or July or anywhere in between… I watch with an eye toward which players look like they could/should/would be a part of a turnaround the following season.

    In recent years, we’ve been fortunate, as Twins fans, in that we’ve rarely had to focus on “next year” until the current season is over. As long as the team doesn’t enter in to another dark era, there should be no reason for most fans to ever completely tune out just because the current season isn’t going as hoped.

  • ericpleiss

    @JimCrikket Knuckleballs all over Puckett’s Pond today. Thanks for stopping in JC, always love your take on all things baseball.

  • paulpleiss

    I try to live in the pipe-dream that the season is not “lost” for as long as possible, but I begin to look more closely at the young guys in the farm system, and the guys who are still just figuring out MLB, the future of the team. Becoming a blogger for the Twins has changed by baseball eye as well, never before have I been so intersted in the Twins farm system, and even more than that, in all the prospects around baseball.

    Of course if your team is out of it in July you’ve got the trade dead-line and crazy trades to dream up, and so maybe you start watching some prospects on MiLB.TV.

    but at the end of the day, baseball is baseball is baseball, and any baseball is better than no baseball, even when it’s losing baseball. And sometimes you even get to watch some really great stars of the game come whoop the snot out of your team. And at the end of the day, there is still a winner and still a loser, and sometimes that loser has to be your team.

    This is starting to ramble and lose any train of thought. I blame the ASG HR Derby Drinking game I played last night.

  • twinsfanAP

    @ericpleiss wow I have to say I am on pace with both of these other comments (JC & PP). Yes, I will always just be there – watching, because its my home town 9 and its what I love. I also live in that “pipe dream” as long as possible, because I like to keep faith in my boys. I try to watch as though I’m the manager. Do you ever give up on them? No. Do you look ahead to next season? Sure…in some aspects, but mostly you look at the single game ahead. When I get really frustrated is when I see them making poor mistakes, or trying to play gorilla ball instead of small ball. If I see the perfect opportunity for a squeeze bunt and its not executed, I absolutely lose my cool. But watching us lose when we did everything right? I don’t find that nearly as upsetting. That’s just good baseball and the other team winning.I may be rambling because of last night’s HR Derby drinking game as well…so I’ll try to answer a couple more questions. I don’t particularly pay attention to the farm system. I think I probably should, and I think I’d enjoy it…but I haven’t taken the time to get that dedicated. I do read the heck out of some baseball blogs and some MLB/Twins news on a daily basis. However, I think if the younger guys were televised – I’d be watching.

  • twinsfanAP

    @ericpleiss wow I have to say I am on pace with both of these other comments (JC & PP). Yes, I will always just be there – watching, because its my home town 9 and its what I love. I also live in that “pipe dream” as long as possible, because I like to keep faith in my boys. I try to watch as though I’m the manager. Do you ever give up on them? No. Do you look ahead to next season? Sure…in some aspects, but mostly you look at the single game ahead. When I get really frustrated is when I see them making poor mistakes, or trying to play gorilla ball instead of small ball. If I see the perfect opportunity for a squeeze bunt and its not executed, I absolutely lose my cool. But watching us lose when we did everything right? I don’t find that nearly as upsetting. That’s just good baseball and the other team winning. I may be rambling because of last night’s HR Derby drinking game as well…so I’ll try to answer a couple more questions. I don’t particularly pay attention to the farm system. I think I probably should, and I think I’d enjoy it…but I haven’t taken the time to get that dedicated. I do read the heck out of some baseball blogs and some MLB/Twins news on a daily basis. However, I think if the younger guys were televised – I’d be watching.

  • twinsfanAP

    @ericpleiss wow I have to say I am on pace with both of these other comments (JC & PP).

    Yes, I will always just be there – watching, because its my home town 9 and its what I love. I also live in that “pipe dream” as long as possible, because I like to keep faith in my boys. I try to watch as though I’m the manager. Do you ever give up on them? No. Do you look ahead to next season? Sure…in some aspects, but mostly you look at the single game ahead. When I get really frustrated is when I see them making poor mistakes, or trying to play gorilla ball instead of small ball. If I see the perfect opportunity for a squeeze bunt and its not executed, I absolutely lose my cool. But watching us lose when we did everything right? I don’t find that nearly as upsetting. That’s just good baseball and the other team winning.

    I may be rambling because of last night’s HR Derby drinking game as well…so I’ll try to answer a couple more questions. I don’t particularly pay attention to the farm system. I think I probably should, and I think I’d enjoy it…but I haven’t taken the time to get that dedicated. I do read the heck out of some baseball blogs and some MLB/Twins news on a daily basis. However, I think if the younger guys were televised – I’d be watching.

  • ericpleiss

    @paulpleiss I wouldn’t blame the HRDerby drinking game for anything except for being awesome. Next year I hope to be off work and participating to the fullest.

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