As I write this, I'm feeling pretty giddy. I just got done watching Glen Perkins pitch to Kurt Suzuki in the ninth inning of the All-Star Game, closing out a victory for the American League in Derek Jeter's final hurrah.
Admittedly I don't usually get too worked up about the pageantry of the so-called Midsummer Classic, but with my lifelong city being showcased -- and with our site holding an event downtown -- I couldn't help but get drawn in this year.
Boy, was I impressed.
With the exception of some sourpusses who actually forced MLB to publicly apologize for having the gall to set off fireworks during an event that takes place here once every three decades, the city of Minneapolis had a good showing under the national spotlight.
And so too, did the Minnesota Twins.
The organization doesn't get credit for much these days -- the nature of three straight losing seasons and counting -- but these last few days have been a reminder that they've got some good people in place. Running a baseball club is about a lot more than trades and free agents, and the Twins excel in many of those less-publicized areas. Their world class ballpark, which was universally acclaimed by out-of-towners during the All-Star activities, is a shining example of that.
There have been some pretty incendiary and harsh things written about the Twins in recent weeks -- what with the team in last place, Joe Mauer on the shelf during a miserable season and Ricky Nolasco thus far shaping up as an epic free agent bust.
It reached a point here where a moderator at Twins Daily had to preemptively warn people not to launch into negative tirades in the comments section of last week's post entitled "Happy Notes."
Believe it or not, people in the front office do pay attention and notice this stuff. It's not lost on them that people are frustrated. They are frustrated too, trust me.
I'm no evangelist for the group that's currently in place -- in fact, according to Twin Cities Business Magazine's Adam Platt, I'm "one of the team's sharper critics in the blogosphere" (really?) -- yet they've still been pretty nice to me, along with my colleagues at TD.
The Twins are ahead of the national curve in terms of granting access to and accommodating independent digital media, recognizing the dedicated and adamant readership. Jack Goin, a prominent member of the baseball operations team and a guy with a voice in Terry Ryan's ear, has shown up at Twins Daily and engaged with readers on multiple occasions, most recently last week.
They know that the readers there, and at other fan sites, are invested in the product. They do care what you think. I believe that's commendable.
I'm all about accountability. I have no problem criticizing the team; I've done so plenty this year and you can believe it'll continue if things don't head in a positive direction in these final months.
But I'm also about balance, and with all the vitriol that sometimes fills the comments section here and elsewhere, it seemed appropriate to dole out some healthy praise for the organization after doing a bang-up job hosting baseball's signature summer event.
From the strong showings of three top Twins prospects in the Futures Game, to the majestic rainbow that made for an unbelievable view during Monday night's Home Run Derby, to Perkins and Suzuki closing out one of the chillier All-Star Games in memory (of course), the three-day gala could have hardly gone better if it were scripted.
And although the game on Tuesday night was almost meaningless, it was pretty cool to see Target Field packed with riveted fans as Perk pulled off the flawless finish. When talking to FOX's Ken Rosenthal after the game, he compared it to a playoff atmosphere.
Unfortunately, since his rise has coincided almost exactly with the team's fall, Perkins hasn't had a chance to pitch in a playoff game at Target Field. But with the team showing unprecedented aggressiveness on the market, and with the heralded wave of prospects finally reaching the high levels of the minors, perhaps that day isn't too far off.
I just hope that, when Perkins slams the door shut on his first postseason game, folks around downtown don't complain about the celebratory fireworks.