I don’t have hope. That sounds really horrible on the surface, so I feel like I should explain. You’ve undoubtedly heard of the Ancient Greek myth of Pandora’s box, wherein Zeus gave the first woman, Pandora, a chest that she was instructed never to open. But Pandora’s curiosity got the better of her and she opened it, releasing evil into this world. By the time she could get it closed again, only hope remained in the bottom of the box. Most people think this is a good thing, that hope gives us the strength to move forward in the face of incredible odds. I mean, none of us get out of this life alive, so without hope, life could just be a nihilistic slog.
But there’s a certain interpretation of the myth that holds that hope is actually Zeus’s greatest revenge on Prometheus for his treachery. By making sure that Prometheus’s creation, humanity, retained its hope for the future, Zeus ensured that men and women would continue to be disappointed when tragedy and death befell them, as it eventually does everyone. To live without hope, then, is the ultimate freedom because you can simply enjoy any good that comes your way without creating unreasonable expectations about that good fortune continuing. So with the Twins on pace for a second consecutive 90 loss season, I’m enjoying my lack of hope as much as I possibly can.
I feel like fans of losing teams have a lot in common. This season has likely disappointed our beloved teams, and here we all sit on August 14, many games out of first place, perhaps looking up from the cellars of our divisions. Obviously, we’ve all taken different paths to get here. My beloved Twins simply did not have the pitching talent or depth to compete even in a division as flawed as the AL Central.
As I said before, as much as I love a winning season and being part of a pennant race, I find it almost freeing to give up my dreams for October and embrace also-ran status. Without hope, I can find things to love in the games I’m watching even if they are getting swept by the Rays and
running Samuel Deduno out there on the mound tonight to get ripped to shreds by the Tigers (actually, between the time this was written and the time it was published, Deduno went out and had a surprisingly good start. He still has walked 30 batters in 40 innings though, so don’t get used to it). Maybe it’s because I wasn’t expecting much this year, and didn’t get my hopes up after a horrible 2011 in which everything that could have gone wrong for the Twins did (which probably sounds familiar to you right now), but I’m feeling really zen about the whole experience.
For one thing, my blood pressure is much lower. When you’re caught up in that pennant race, every game, every at bat, every pitch is imbued with so much additional meaning. I get angrier at every swing and miss, every botched play, and every time Tsuyoshi Nishioka graces my television.
But without that pressure, I’m free to enjoy the great things about his season. Joe Mauer is healthy and is hitting .316/.412/.437 (135 OPS+). Ditto for Canadian son Justin Morneau (.277/.339/.480) and Denard Span (.287/.351/.397). Ben Revere and Trevor Plouffe have proven to be a valuable contributor in his second season. And new acquisitions Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit have both hit the cover off the ball. Scott Diamond has come out of nowhere to become a quality number three starter, with the fourth best GB/FB rate in the AL and impeccable control. And I can look to the minors and dream on Aaron Hicks, Miguel Sano, Oswaldo Arcia and Eddie Rosario.
And I find that when the Twins do win, I genuinely enjoy it because I’m not expecting it. It becomes a nice surprise. I also find that I don’t have to watch every game, or all of every game. I can flip over to the Dodgers and listen to Vin Scully without worrying I’m missing anything. I can check out matchups I want to see, the debut of Manny Machado, or sadly watch as Johan Santana struggles to get out of the second inning in his comeback from yet another injury.
So listen, I know it’s a struggle for us. It was for me too. But just sit back and try to enjoy the rest of the season. It’s so much better than the winter that’s coming. And until you learn to travel through time like Jose Canseco, it’s all the baseball you’re going to get.