To the ambivalent and indifferent observers, sports culture can seem down right idiotic, but believe me it’s something special to love a team. It takes you beyond the nationalistic fervor of the Olympics or World Cup and ties you to a more regional, more specific tribe–a feeling often lost in an increasingly isolated, hyper-individualized society. They’re part of your family, on the tv or radio 162 days a year. Blustering cliches and bombast through offseason “special reports”. The longer they last with a team, the more you care about them–absurd as that feeling might be–because they’re one of your own.
That’s where We’re Gonna Win Twins! hits the mark. Author Doug Grow, a local Twin Cities sportswriter, offers no quarter for owners, players or fans–when any one of them behaved poorly he points it out in blunt, direct reporting; but beyond the foibles lie the anecdotes and memories that endear this particular team to this particular region of the country.
This is not a paean to the glory of the powder blue and norse red. Owners seem conspiratorial and miserly. Contract disputes of hall-of-famers (Bert Blyleven & Rod Carew) and all-stars (Torii Hunter & Johan Santana) paint a picture of disingenuous greed. Even supposedly admirable, die-hard fans seem like abusive pinheads when they throw garbage at a returning prima donna (Chuck Knoblauch). But there’s something to admire in all the same people, things that make the Griffiths and Pohlads, Blyleven, and Carew, Hunter and Santana beloved figures when they return home. [Though the jury is still out on Knoblauch.]
Little stories about Cuban-born Tony Oliva navigating America in a state of deep anxiety over the chaos in his home and finding a home among the mallards and mosquitos remind you of how welcoming the midwest can be to those who are different. Conveying the eardrum destroying mania of fans reminds you how fiercely passionate the supposedly “phlegmatic swedes” of our region can get. Even little story-lines about born-agains, bonding bills and bloggers demonstrate how locals enact their reticence to accept change.
You can learn a lot about society through the ways it entertains itself. So, you can learn a lot about Minnesota (and other parts of the upper-midwest) through this comprehensive history of the one local team who has won multiple World Championships. You may not be a baseball fan, you may not care about Minnesota. But if you’re interested in exploring a different culture (either in sports or in our own country), We’re Gonna Win Twins! is a great guide into this little segment of our world. (Oh, and if you’re an actual Twins fan…you’ll be happy)