Last night I went to a Minnesota Twins baseball game.
It was a perfect night, weather wise, and the seats we had were well above average. And while the Twins are not very good – at all – last night they played technically sound baseball and thanks to a two-hit, complete game shutout from rookie Andrew Albers, they beat the Cleveland Indians 3-0 in a very tidy two hours and 21 minutes.
Albers was just brilliant. He changed speeds at will – one pitch at 67mph with the next at 85mph – and the ball dipped and moved out of his hand and the opposing batters looked completely lost. It was a clinic. A real show. And great fun to watch.
And so despite the fact that the Twins are 10 games below .500, and despite the fact that they are 15 and 1/2 games back in the Central Division, the crowd of about 25,000 at Target Field rose to their feet as Albers took the mound in the 9th inning to try and complete his shutout (a true rarity in baseball these days) and we all cheered every strike and went positively wild when the third out was recorded, and Albers was surrounded by his teammates – hugs and high fives all around.
In that moment, that one moment, no one cared that the Twins are terrible, no one cared about the Twins at all in fact, all they cared about was this 27 year old journeyman left-hander, who was released outright by the Padres in 2010 and who had to wait a year before signing with another team – this soft-throwing lefty from North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada, who had just pitched a complete game shutout, in the Major Leagues, under perfect August summer skies, in the shadow of a great American city. It was a pure moment, the kind we only get in sport. And we all forgot about our jobs and our lives – we all forgot about steroids and tax-payer funded stadiums for millionaires – and we all just basked in the moment. And I, for one, remembered why I like sports in the first place.
I love cricket, but because of how removed I am from it, it doesn’t give me what last night gave me. And it probably never will. And that’s fine, of course, I am not going anywhere, but last night it was nice to remember what brought me here in the first place.
One other moment stands out: from our seats, we had a great view into the Cleveland Indians dugout. The Cleveland Indians are doing better than the Twins, but they are not very good either: a few games above .500, but seven and a half out of first place, and really, for the most, floundering. But despite the fact that this was game number 119 of a 162 game season, and despite the fact that it was a Monday night in front of a sparse crowd against a team also not in the playoff hunt, every single Cleveland Indian player was up off the bench and standing up against the railing, watching every pitch, for the entire game. It was just something you don’t see much anymore.
Athletes can come across as so utterly jaded these days, so completely and terribly disloyal – and so for once it was nice to see players actively showing a vested interest in the outcome of a what is truly a meaningless game in month five of a six month season.
All in all, a great night all around.
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