A lot of you know that we rooted hard-core for the Braves starting in the early-to-mid-1980s. Ted Turner and the “Superstation” grabbed us big-time up in North Dakota, seeing as it was about one of 12 channels we got on cable, and being a baseball fan the notion of 100-plus games being on TV every year was too good to be true.
When we latched onto the Braves, they were decent — they won the division in 1982, probably would have again in 1983 if not for an injury to Bob Horner, and hovered around .500 in 1984. We didn’t really get into our major love, though, until 1985. We were 8 years old that summer, and it was prime baseball time.
It also, unfortunately, marked the beginning of a long, sharp decline for Atlanta. Dale Murphy, our favorite player, still had a couple good years left in him, but the rest of the team — particularly the pitching staff — went way south. From 1985 to 1990, the high-water mark was an 89-loss season. There were many, many terrible seasons and non-prospects … and through it all, we didn’t stop watching. If anything, the worse they got, the more we watched the Braves — going so far as to record games on VCR to watch later, even in the midst of a 106-loss season in 1988.
We bring this up as an introduction to our sickness, which now apparently grips us again in our 30s. We started watching the Twins more and more around 1999 or 2000 — they weren’t good, but we had been living in Minneapolis long enough that the hometown team became easy to follow. Eventually, paying attention to the Twins became partly self-interest and partly job-motivated, but the reward was some pretty good baseball from 2001-2010.
Now, of course, things have gone the other way. These 2011-14 Twins remind us very much of those Braves teams — devoid of starting pitching, struggling through various stages of rebuilding … and somehow capturing our attention more than ever.
We can’t turn away. We tried on Saturday night, declaring we were “done” with the game after the bullpen handed over the lead. We went to run some errands. But sure enough, we put the game on the radio. And sure enough, we popped the game back on at home after the Twins rallied.
Again, it’s still at least part of our job to keep abreast of all the local teams. But it is not in our job description to spend great gobs of weekend time watching a team that could lose 90 games for a fourth consecutive season.
So why do we do it? Is it that we have a 4-month-old now, her birth timed perfectly (March 30) for the start of the baseball season, and therefore have a lot more built-in couch time this summer? Is it our insatiable love of an underdog and desperate belief that being there on the ground floor makes the comeback that much more rewarding (the Braves of 1991 and beyond, you’ll recall, were quite good)? Is it just that any baseball is better than no baseball? Is it prospects like Danny Santana, Oswaldo Arcia and Kennys Vargas that keep us engaged?
Whatever the case, the grip is still there. We can’t shake it. We’d ask you for help, but we assume from Twitter that many of you are still watching, too. Why are you watching? That’s a serious question. Tell us in the comments. Together, we will figure this out.