Usually when we attend a baseball game at Target Field, we are cheering boldly for the Twins. We agonize over every out; we argue with bad calls from the umpires; we dance and throw our arms in the airs with each base hit or, dare we say, home run. Baseball in Minnesota is more than a pass-time, is more than something to give you a good nap on a Sunday afternoon, and is more than a conversation piece at the water coolers at work. Baseball makes some of us – myself included – very happy.
For several years, baseball has been the most financially accessible sport in Minnesota. When one compares ticket prices of attending a Twins game to those of the Wild (hockey) or the Vikings (football), the difference is daunting. The cost of a ticket to a Twins game used to be half or even an eighth of one to either of the other professional teams in Minnesota. This had made it a sport for the masses.
Baseball is such an insignificant thing overall in life. Players’ stats and all of the information that we can share with each other over the water cooler don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. However, affiliating ourselves with an entity greater than ourselves makes us feel a part of that. I doubt that I will ever have a conversation with Joe Mauer or Michael Cuddyer, yet something in me is drawn to them. I want the best for them; I cheer them on in games, and I am sad for them when they are on the disabled list or have a personal tragedy. Killibrew’s death earlier this summer revealed how this affiliation impacts us as the entire state mourned with his family.
Tonight, the Twins hosted the Boston Red Sox. This made it more difficult for me in terms of cheering. My two favorite teams in one ballpark – playing against each other. I chose to be Switzerland. That is a false analogy, though, as I soon realized. Switzerland in its neutrality cheers for no one.
I wanted to cheer for both teams.
As we neared the final inning, Boston led 4-3. Papelbon took the mound and faced only three hitters. He is a closing beast. Mauer’s final out signaled a win for the Red Sox. While I had rooted for the home team most of the game, inwardly I was happy for Red Sox. They remain competitively in the running for the AL-East leading team; a loss to the Twins tonight would have altered that course.
I was happy.