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Down on the Farm -- Heartbreaker

Baseball is absolutely designed to break your heart!

After thrilling fans with a precarious and improbable victory over the Detroit Tigers in the one-game play-off for the division title, our virtuous and noble Twins fell to the smug and evil Yankees in three quick games.

Does it get more galling? In the end, I couldn't watch.

Without a doubt, the Yankees were the better team.

But how could they not be? When good players become available, the Yankees buy them up! They have spent over $1.5 billion (billion, not million) on payroll in the past six years.

Given such an extravagant payroll, what fun would it be to be a Yankee fan? More to the point, what sort of person does it take to pull for the overdog?

How can people cheer on the team that stacks the deck and still look themselves in the mirror in the morning? It boggles the mind. When I meet somebody wearing a Yankee's hat on the street, I avert my gaze.

Those who jumped on the Twins bandwagon late may not have been familiar with this particular team's weaknesses. To beat the Yanks in the playoffs, the Twins would have had to catch lightning in a bottle.

The Twins' big bopper, Justin Morneau, was out for the year with a bad back. So was their third baseman, Joe Crede. In addition, several of their pitchers went down or didn't perform up to snuff.

Until mid-September, the Twins had lost more games than they had won. Their gallop to catch the Tigers was a lot of fun, but Detroit helped out by collapsing into a heap.

So, a rational baseball fan would hold out no hope for the Twins against the obviously superior Yanks.

But being a fan is not a rational act. It's not sensible to base the quality of your day upon whether a bunch of spoiled millionaires who happen to wear a jersey with your home state's name splashed across the chest can defeat a bunch of spoiled millionaires who wear a jersey with another state's name scrawled across the chest.

Yet, so many people do it. It must have something to do with our tribal past. We want to identify with the winner of a conflict.

So, when the umpire unfairly called Joe Mauer's bloop down the left field line foul when the replay showed that not only was it a fair ball, it was really, really fair, everybody from Minnesota's Sunday school teachers to its barroom brawlers erupted in fury.

It is unfair! The umpire was in the bag for the Yanks!

On the Internet, somebody quickly found the umpire's birthplace. New Jersey. Right next to New York. Wouldn't you know.

Pretty soon, that umpire was to blame for all of the Twins' mistakes in that game and weaknesses as a team, both of which there were plenty.

When the Yanks finally finished off the Twins on Sunday evening, in a game which held out hope until the last inning, hundreds of thousands of people across the region were made gloomy.

But I figure the weather is gloomy enough. The onset of winter is gloomy enough. I am not going to let a baseball game 300 miles away make me even gloomier.

To save my sanity, I have become a fair weather fan. When the going is good, I watch. When the going gets tough--when the Twins lose five in a row, when Joe Nathan loses his touch, when the umpires can't get it right--I turn off the TV and find something else to do.

Sports are within the realm of humor, as far as I am concerned. They exist to make one happy, not to fill one with resentment, grief and anger.

For me, I will remember this season as the summer of Joe Mauer, when the Twins' catcher amazed baseball fans everywhere with his magical bat.

The losses to the Yankees? Already forgotten.

Spring training is just around the corner.