Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.


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How I became a hardcore fan of Swansea City

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: May 4, 2014 - 7:37 PM

I’m not at a loss for theories in my golden years as a sportswriter.

My theory on the Twins’ new reliance on eight-man bullpens (and thus 13-pitcher staffs) is that they would be unnecessary if manager Ron Gardenhire would get out of the habit of using a parade of relievers for one inning.

It goes like this: The Twins get a short start, and later in the game, Gardenhire has this tendency to march out new relievers for the seventh, eighth and ninth innings … even in lost causes.

And then he complains about being forced to use his entire bullpen.

The way I see it, if he gets a reasonably quick seventh out of Casey Fein or Brian Duensing or now Anthony Swarzak, use them again for the eighth.

There’s a long man, a set-up man and a closer, a lefty specialist and three other relievers. And my math says if you have those three available three times a week for two innings, rather than four times a week for one inning, that takes care of any need for eight relievers.

I have another theory, on a completely different topic: The most-charming phonies in Twin Cities sports fandom are those life-long U.S. citizens who claim to have a passion for a specific team in the English Premier soccer league.

There’s a lad named Dana Wessel who used to work with us at AM-1500. He’s moved to the Pohlads’ FM station that broadcasts the Pohlads’ baseball team.

I love Wessel. He’s a character. But he will never convince me that he gives as much of a dang about wins, losses and draws for Chelsea as he claims.

I think it is Chelsea. It’s not either of the Manchesters, I’m sure of that.

Chris Long, the Channel 5 sportscaster, is another one – big fan of the Tottenham Hotspur, that Long.

Sure you are, Chris. Keep using that as the alibi for going to Brit’s for a beverage.

So, here’s what happened Thursday night, when these two theories collided as if they were atoms being split in the New Mexico desert.

I was watching the Twins and the Dodgers drag into the night in the second game of a split doubleheader on the local cable outlet. The utter dreariness of the entertainment was transfixing – like watching a Todd Solondz movie.

Mike Pelfrey’s putrid start in Game 1 eliminated Sam Deduno as a possibility for Game 2, and Jared Burton also was iffy. So now Game 2 is going along as a tie, and here comes Fien for a scoreless, 18-pitch inning … and what’s Gardy do but hook him.

Which means he runs out of relievers, so Duensing has to stay in to get pummeled, and the Twins lose 4-3 in 12 innings and 5 hours, 11 minutes.

That’s right ... 5 hours and 11 minutes of today’s major league baseball at its most-ridiculous.

The next day, it was announced that Aaron Hicks was going on the seven-day concussion DL, and because of the bullpen crisis, the Twins would have 14 pitchers and nine relievers with the addition of lefthander Logan Darnell.

I made this decision: Fourteen pitchers, 56 percent of the roster … that’s it, I’m done with baseball.

And needing something to fill the void, I made another decision: I’m going to use Wessel and Long as role models and became a fake hardcore fan of an English Premier soccer team.

On Saturday, my weekend radio partner Judd Zulgad and I went through the schedule and decided on the side that will carry my hopes and dreams as a fan in the future:

Swansea City.

Research produced several reasons to be devoted to Swansea City. First of all, it is located on the sea in Wales, and the wee Welshman, Ian Woosnam, was one of my favorite golfers to interview because he started every comment with a unique, “ah, ooh’’ combo.

Second, Swansea has a formal nickname of Swans, but my side is also called the Jacks, in honor of a life-saving black retriever that lived with his master near the docks in the 1930s.

Jack responded to cries for help from the sea and was credited with a saving 27 people from the water and river banks. That’s their story in Swansea and their sticking to it, to the point there’s a prominent memorial for Jack in the city.

Sad to say, the Jacks are stuck in 13th place in the 20-team Premier League as this season winds down, but I’ve made the decision:

I’d rather embrace a 13th-place futbol team from a strange land than a hometown ballclub with 13 pitchers.

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