Column: The Old Foolish Fan makes his triumphant return

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 6, 2006

Jon Laging, Sports Talk

It’s the beginning of baseball season and I again wanted to visit with Old Foolish Fan to get his insights about the upcoming months. The old boy has the ability to cut through fog and dissembling and get right to the truth by saying the magic words. &8220;You mean?&8221; For example, suppose he was interviewing Hillary Clinton.

Old Foolish Fan: Senator Clinton, would you accept the Democratic nomination for president?

Senator Hillary Clinton: I am devoting myself to my Senate campaign at this time. While your question is flattering I will address that issue after the senate campaign. Mostly I want to represent the people of New York in the best manner possible. OFF: You mean? SHC: In a New York minute. While the above and the following are fictitious, It shows the magic of “You Mean?”

After searching most of his watering spots, I finally ran into Old Foolish Fan at the library reading a recent copy of Sports Illustrated. He was reluctant to be interviewed, but after being promised a six-pack of his favorite beverage agreed to talk about his recent celebrity interviews.

I first questioned him about the proposed Twins stadium. He said he had talked to a Minnesota legislator recently and this was the result:

Old Foolish Fan: Tell me, what are the chances of the Twins’ stadium bill being passed this session? Minnesota legislator: We have really done our homework on this bill, considered every aspect of it and the resulting upside and the downside. I personally look forward to the opportunity to at last lay this issue to rest. OFF: You mean? ML: I hope to be out of town when the bill comes up for vote.

He went on to discuss the views of General Manager Terry Ryan and Manager Ron Gardenhire:

Old Foolish Fan: Mr. Ryan, does the addition of White, Castillo, Batista and Sierra give the Twins a realistic shot at winning the American League pennant? Terry Ryan: I feel it does. We have addressed some deficiencies of last year’s team and feel comfortable with the additions. With our pitching and the steady improvement of core players, we are destined for good things. OFF: You mean? TR: I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Old Foolish Fan: Tell me Gardy, why did the Twins option shortstop Jason Bartlett to Triple A Rochester? Ron Gardenhire: We feel the young man has a wondrous amount of potential both as a hitter and a fielder and look forward to the day he becomes our everyday shortstop. We wanted him to become a leader of the infield, much as Kent Hrbek was for Tom Kelly. OFF: You mean? RG: He needs to show &8220;fire in the belly.&8221;

Old Foolish Fan: There has been a lot of speculation that Tony Batista is not the best third baseman in the world. What would you say to that? Ron Gardenhire: Batista is a major league player and will be given every opportunity to accustom himself to the artificial turf at the Metrodome. We look to him to have a fine year at third base. OFF: You mean? RG: He could be a poor man’s Killebrew.

Old Foolish Fan: The Twins finished spring training in fine fashion, winning the last six Grapefruit League games with terrific hitting. Does this mean their hitting ills are behind them? Ron Gardenhire: Due to the hard work Terry Ryan did during the offseason and Sid Hartman’s close personal friend Carl Pohlad’s additional money, the Twins show every sign of fulfilling expectations held by all concerned. OFF: You mean? RG: Lord, I hope so.