A.J. Pierzynski, one of the strangest villains in Twin Cities sports history, is in the midst of his 19th MLB season and is back in Minneapolis with the Braves for their two-game series with the Twins.
I say strangest villains because Twins fans have often booed Pierzynski when he came here as a visiting player even though:
1) Pierzynski was a very good player on the 2001-2003 Twins, at the outset of a era in which the team won six division titles in nine seasons. His home run in Game 5 of the 2002 ALDS proved to be critical in helping the Twins triumph in the only playoff series they have won since the 1991 World Series.
2) He was TRADED before the 2004 season to make way for Joe Mauer, and the Twins received a mighty haul (Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser) in return.
Sure, Pierzynski has a reputation for chirping. And yes, he played many seasons for the rival White Sox. But the boos have always felt strange given his success here and that his departure wasn’t via free agency.
Alas, it sounds as though Twins fans are coming to their senses. There was maybe a small smattering of boos for A.J. during Tuesday’s Braves victory, but it was hardly the full-throated venom of years past.
Maybe the crowd is older and wiser. Or … as Pierzynski said after the game, maybe nobody cares anymore?
Per a tweet from David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, here’s what Pierzynksi said after last night’s game: “It was kind of weird they didn’t boo me, then again I think no one in the stands remembered I played here it was so long ago.”
Ah, that could be it. Regardless, maybe we’re finally at the end of a weird era. If so, it’s for the best.