For those of you who are my regular readers, and have come to see what I have to say about a Bible translation, my apologies. I’m going to take a short break from that for this post, and talk a bit about another love of my life – baseball!
I’ve been a fan of the Minnesota Twins ever since they moved from Washington D.C. to the Twin Cities back in 1961. I used to joke that my kids first words were ma-ma, da-da, and Harmon Killebrew! I’ve stuck with my Twins through thick and thin (usually more thin than thick!) I’ve been with them through the ’65 World Series, the ’69 and ’70 division series disappointments, the lean years of the ’70s, the exciting young teams of the early Metrodome years that culminated in the 1987 World Champs, the 1991 Champs that defeated the Braves in seven games, and …well, you get the idea.
I remember when Calvin traded Killebrew near the end of his great career. How it hurt to see my boyhood hero in a Royals uniform! I remember the “racism” flap that caused our great second baseman, Rod Carew, to leave the team. I remember when they traded away Frankie “Sweet Music” Viola for players that helped us win in ’91. I remember when Knoblauch was sent to the Yankees for some unknowns who almost took us to yet another world series.
And now the news has come that our two-time Cy Young Award winner, Johan Santana, has been traded to the Mets for four prospects. You can almost hear the cries of anguish echoing across the upper midwest.
But you know, we’ve been there before. We’ve lost Torii Hunter this off-season, and now Johan. But we’re not like Yankees fans, who have to have the very best team every year and cry out for blood when they don’t get it. We have always seen our teams built from within the organization, for the most part, with a few fine players brought in from other organizations to help put them over the top. And we know it doesn’t always give us that result. But it almost always results in an exciting young team and a good, memorable season.
So Johan won the Cy Young Award twice. That’s cool. You should have seen him pitch those games when he struck out 13 or 14 batters. Man, was he good! He was virtually unhittable! And he had three great years in a row, ’04, ’05, and ’06. But then came last year, and he dropped off a bit. He only won 15 games and lost 13. I know, there are lots of guys who would give their right arm to have a year like that! But you know, suddenly it was no longer a sure win when Johan came up to pitch. In fact, we thought he had lost his touch completely some games. Maybe it was just an off year for Johan. I hope for his sake it was, because he has just signed a contract with the New York Mets that will make him the richest pitcher in Major League history. I hope he can live up to the hype.
I’m really quite pleased that he’s going to the National League. That way, if he regains his form, the Twins won’t have to face him hardly at all. After all, he still could be one of the very best pitchers in history.
So who did we get for him? A centerfielder and three pitchers, all young prospects. Carlos Gomez is the outfielder. I don’t know much about him, but from what I’ve read, he has the potential to be another Roberto Clemente. I understand he has a lot of work to do in the batting cage, and he probably needs a season at AAA before he’s really ready to be a major leaguer. But he has the potential to fill that big hole in center that was vacated by Torii Hunter a few weeks ago.
The three young pitchers are guys I have hardly heard of. I guess I have heard of Kevin Mulvey, but that’s about all. But the Twins have a reputation of scouting the other teams in the majors as well as, or maybe better than, any other team. It’s pretty rare when they turn out to be wrong about someone, so I have got to assume that at least two of these three pitchers will end up helping the team in some way.
Maybe we should have gotten more for Johan. When he was on his game, he was the best I’ve ever seen. Then again, if he pitches the rest of his career the way he pitched last year, well, maybe the Twins got the better part of the deal.
So is Johan worth the many millions of dollars that the Mets are going to pay him? Is any player worth that kind of money? But that’s a different discussion. Major League Baseball is a different kind of business than I work in; that kind of money boggles my mind. But I love baseball, and I have no say in what kind of salaries the teams are willing to pay. I just watch them on TV, and try to get to the stadium for a game or two most summers. I’m a fan, you see.
Johan Santana is gone. Thanks, Johan, for the memories. You were the best! We wish you all the best for a long, successful career.
But now, it’s time to move on.