One thing I’ve discovered in the middle of my fifth decade as a Twin Cities sportswriter: The need to pull punches basically has disappeared.
What’s the worst thing that can happen if you are deemed to have become too candid, too crotchety? Your media outlets say adios and you start collecting Social Security.
If it happens now, or if it's two or three years from now, so be it. I’d like to stick around to help with the Star Tribune’s coverage of the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, but that’s down the road a fair piece and who knows.
Perhaps in the spirit of this “What, me worry?’’ approach, I started offering up this blog at startribune.com in February 2013. The slant is generally more personal than for columns that will appear in the print edition.
There was an example of this last September. The Twins not only were providing a team charging toward 96 losses, but competing with a roster that indicated no serious attempt to get at-bats and innings for players that could be helpful in the future.
I was at home one night, trying to watch a few innings, and the nothingness of it all got to me. I started bellowing, “I hate these guys.’’
Pre-blog, I would’ve left it there. Not this time. On Sept. 18, in a Patrick + posted at 6:18 a.m., I offered an opinion piece that carried the succinct headline: “I hate this Twins team.’’
The second-to-last paragraph made the position clear: “I hate this team. I hate the pitching. I hate the hitting. I hate the nucleus as it looks ahead to 2014.’’
It also was at this time the decision was made that the Twins would have the winner of the Turkey of the Year on Thanksgiving morning, and there was nothing that the Turkey Committee could do to change my opinion.
Admittedly, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf made a push in the fall – with his cheesy behavior in final stadium negotiations and revelations of his conduct toward a pair of real estate partners in New Jersey – but it wasn never going to be enough for the Zygmeister to take the prize away from the Twins.
Ron Gardenhire was a possibility, but then General Manager Terry Ryan made it clear that he placed no responsibility on the manager by giving Gardy a new two-year contract. So, if this mess had nothing to do with the manager, and it wasn’t a lack of financial commitment from ownership (as Ryan also said), then it wasn’t a complicated decision:
Terry Ryan was the 2013 Turkey of the Year.
Among the people disapproving of this was my bride.
“Who is your Turkey of the Year?’’ Mrs. Reusse asked on Thanksgiving Eve.
Knowing the delight that she took in having previous conversations with Terry on visits to the spring training, I whispered, "Mmmm ... errr .... uh, Terry Ryan.''
“TERRY RYAN!’’ she exclaimed. “What’s wrong with you? I love Terry Ryan.’’
“The Twins were gawd-awful again,’’ I said, sheepishly. “Terry said it was his fault, and we all know Terry’s honest, so I had to it.’’
Slam! That was the door, as the bride left the conversation.
On Monday, I gave Mrs. Reusse much more important news on Terry Ryan. I told her the Twins had released a statement from Terry in which he revealed he was undergoing treatment for cancer in a lump that had been found on his neck.
We talked for a minute about the situation: that this wasn’t a layup because cancer had been found in a lymph node, but that a Twins doctor said it was contained there and that everyone was expressing optimism.
“I’m going to say a pray for Terry,’’ she said.
I’d guess this was a popular response on Monday among the people who know or are familiar with Terry Ryan.
He’s “good people,’’ as we used to say in Murray County.