Most people like to spend their vacations in some sunny faraway exotic location like Mexico, the Bahamas, or Florida. As if further proof is needed I'm really not hooked up like most people I prefer to spend my vacation in scenic downtown Minneapolis helping with preparations for the upcoming election. It's the second year in a row I've done this and I've heard an earful from folks who have to deal with a person who tends to get a little crabby because he chooses not to sip mimosas on a beach but rather work another job for the additional income it brings in and as a result has become more than a little burned out.
Let me just begin by making the following observation about working downtown in our state's largest city: parking sucks. I usually park in a lot that charges four bucks a day that is about a five minute walk from the Hennepin County Government Center. The other day as I was pulling in to pay the attendant, the guy was kind enough to inform me that the next day rate was going up to $12 due to the Gopher football game and $10 the next day due to the Twins playoff game. Now when I'm struggling to save every penny I can to ensure that kitty is well fed those rates seem a little more than even I can digest. But I was really grateful the guy warned me in advance.
The next day I parked at a meter and plugged it with eight hours worth of quarters. I ended up saving a whole two bucks (I'm a regular Martha Stewart). The following day, since I was going to attend the Twins' game, I decided to bite the bullet and pay the $10. As I was pulling in the guy recognized me (this ain't exactly a small feat- the lot is very large and he must see hundreds of different people every day). He asked me if I found somewhere cheaper the day before and told me things should get back to normal next week. I've become so accustomed to accepting poor customer service that this guy remembering who I was truly touched me. I made a downtown friend!
And this is the second week in a row I've made a friend with a parking lot attendant. Last week I was looking for a place to park for the McCartney concert and when I found a reasonably priced lot the guy informed me that my car was the same make and model as his car. When I told him I was going to the concert he asked how much I paid for my ticket and shook his head when I confessed.
Friday's playoff game was a bittersweet experience. To echo what has been written elsewhere in this newsletter by Stoo and Pat this has been a rather remarkable season by the local club. As written to death in our local dailies it began with the owner willing to accept a $150 million check from Major League Baseball to eliminate his(!?) team. No matter that there are several other franchises (including the commissioner's) arguably in much worse shape than the Twins; having survived that and having survived a first half of the season where the team stayed in first place despite a series of injuries to key players there was the concern that the owners would force a player strike thus ruining the season.
But none of that came to pass and the Twins found themselves (deservingly so) in their first post-season action since 1991. It has been a long time coming for fans who stuck around. We deserve this having had to sit through seasons of watching the Rich Robertsons and Scott Aldreds and Jerald Clarks and Danny Ardoins of the world try to keep us out of last place. It has been a grueling and often times hopeless effort to continue to follow the team over the years.
But baseball really is a game of cycles. In the 80's the team seemed destined to move to Florida when a wealthy banker saved the day and purchased the team. In the spring of '87 (my senior year at Macalester) I bet my former freshman roommate now dermatologist a case of beer that the team would finish with a .500 record or better. Having lost 102 games just five years before and having been a rather pathetic club for several seasons, the dermatologist with bad skin thought the bet was a lock, just a naive Asian lad dreaming that the team could turn it around. But I knew with the acquisition of Blyleven in '86 and the additions of TK, Gladden, and Reardon that the team added some very valuable pieces to the mix. But even I, the jaded optimist, couldn't have foreseen the forthcoming World Series championship.
'87 was like today and entirely different at the same time. I camped out overnight that year with my friend the car detailing Eric Patterson, when playoff tickets went on sale. I was in the beginning of my notorious "blue period" and was so heavily medicated that I actually slept through the televised broadcast of the only game the Twins lost to Detroit (Pat Sheridan!) in the playoffs. The only memory I have of attending the games at the Dome was high fiving Eric's lovely girlfriend Anna D'Andrea after a Gary Gaetti home run.
Flash forward to watching Torri Hunter misplay the first batter, Ray Durham's first inning liner into an inside the park home run I somehow wasn't too disappointed. The wait has been well worth it. The only constant (literally) between? I thankfully worked for Cheapo then, and I fortunately work for Cheapo now (lack of time off not withstanding).