Thursday, June 24, 2010

The land of 10,000 insults and one defensive Brewers’ fan

By now, it’s probably become obvious that I live in Minnesota but don’t like any Minnesota sports teams. I’m a Wisconsinite through and through, no matter where I presently reside. I still drink Leinies with my over easy eggs. The day I had to turn in my Wisconsin plates and get a Minnesota driver’s license was a sad day. Don’t get me wrong, I love St. Paul and I love living in the Twin Cities but I will never think of myself as a Minnesotan. I still refer to Wisconsin as my “home” and my residence in St. Paul as my “house."

I grew up in Bloomer, Wisconsin—population 3,500. My Mom is a huge sports fan. I don’t remember my Dad being very into sports in my youth but because all of his children played sports and my Mom dominates the remote, he became a fan.  With the exception of Duke basketball, which I inflicted on my family, all of my rooting interests were introduced to me by my Mom. And all of those interests involve Wisconsin sports teams. When the Brewers made the playoffs in 1982, my Mom watched the games. This is my earliest memory of baseball. I was eight or nine. I sat and watched with her and she explained the fundamentals of the game to me. Thanks to my Mom, I know that batting below .250 is not so good. I’m not sure what it was about baseball but I was instantly hooked. Paul Molitor became my favorite immediately.  (My Mom grew up before Title IV so she never got to play sports. She only got to watch her Dad and brothers. Just thinking about that pisses me off because she would have kicked ass.)

We didn’t have cable television because we lived out in the country (yep, I grew up on a dairy farm --can’t get much more Wisconsin than that) so I would listen to the Brewers on the radio, with Bob Uecker calling the games. I developed my own system of scoring because I didn’t have an actual scorebook. I just used a spiral notepad. I remember listening to the game that snapped Molitor’s 39-game hitting streak in bed on my clock radio. He was on-deck when the game ended.

Now, imagine being that big of a fan and living five hours from County Stadium but a mere 90 minutes from the Metrodome. We did take a few family trips to County Stadium but largely, if I wanted to see the Brewers (or any other team), I had to go to Minnesota. So cheering against the Twins comes naturally to me because they were always playing the Brewers when I saw them play. The other thing you have to realize about me is that I am the world’s worst loser. Over the years I’ve tried to be a more graceful loser but it doesn’t always work. I hate losing. You’d think having attended Macalester and playing basketball and softball there would have cured me of this, but it hasn’t. One of my college teammates used to compliment me if I scored on her and then she would just try harder on the next play. I was impressed by this and tried it, but it wasn’t me. I once punched my sister at basketball practice because I couldn’t score on her. When some dude made one of the nicest catches you’ll ever see to rob me of a hit in slow pitch softball, I didn’t compliment him like the other people on my team. I said something along the lines of “he can go f@*k himself.” Losing makes me feel downright shameful so I get really defensive. I am working on this. I really, really am. I promise I am, Seth.

Always going to games where the majority of people are cheering against your team does not help with this, though. I had one of my biggest meltdowns ever at the Dome. I was doing the Aitkins diet and not eating carbs. I decided that I could cheat and have a pretzel and cheese cup. I love pretzels with cheese cup. LOVE  THEM!  I waited until the sixth inning to get the pretzel, and by this point, the Brewers were losing. I waited patiently in line. The vendor insulted my Brewers hat. I ordered. There was one pretzel left in the little box. Instead of getting the pretzel (which I told him he should do because there was only one left), he took my money and poured my beer. Some other vendor swooped in at the last second and took my pretzel. The vendor told me he was sorry but they didn’t have any more. He didn’t seem sorry at all.

When I got back to my section, I yelled the following: “I hate the Twins. I hate the Metrodome. And I hate their food service.” And then I sat down in a huff. Frustrated did not even begin to describe how I was feeling. My friend Chris nearly fell over laughing. To this day, I get reminded of my most awesome Dome meltdown all the time. Misery loves company and when everyone around you is happy, it makes losing seem way worse. (When I’m in Milwaukee and the Brewers lose, it doesn’t seem as bad—although that could have something to do with beer…)

The majority of Minnesota sports fan seem downright insulted that you would dare cheer for a different team. Sure, there are some that just like to give you crap about your team but more than I can count seem confused that I live in Minnesota but cheer for the Brewers/Packers/Badgers. “But you live here now,” or “but you grew up close to Minnesota” is something I hear about once a week. I finally came up with something that seems to address this and shut people up. “So,” I ask, “If you moved to Hudson next month, you’d start cheering the Packers?”  People should get to cheer for whomever they want. I don’t begrudge people for liking the Twins/Vikings/Gophers. In fact, if they grew up in Minnesota or their Mom liked the Twins/Vikings/Gophers then they should definitely cheer for those teams. We can give each other crap but who you cheer for should be non-negotiable.

To be fair, I had a nice time at Target Field this year. I thought the Twins fans were way nicer than at the Dome, where I was insulted so much for just wearing a Brewers hat that I thought my name was suck. During the Sunday Brewers-Twins game, we had a good section. We gave each other crap, but in a fun way. I might have said something negative about Justin Morneau (but just because he was killing us) and my brother Nick told me to shut up. “These people have been nice to us all day. Don’t be a baby.” And Nick was right. I apologized. Progress. See, Seth, progress.

The Twins have owned the Brewers lately. Minnesota has won the last five series against Milwaukee. That streak came to an end on Wednesday night, much to my amazement. The Twins have looked really good this year and the Brewers are struggling to get close to .500. Manny Parra and four relief pitchers held the Twins to just 3 runs while Rickie Weeks drove in 3 runs to fuel the 5-3 Brewer victory. John Axford pitched the ninth to pick up his sixth save. Of special note, the Brewers had six wild pitches in the game—a new record. 

Number of “I’m sorry” text messages received in previous Twins-Brewers series: 18
Number of “I’m sorry” text messages received in current Twins-Brewers series: 0

Brewers 5, Twins 3
Game played 6-23-10

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