Sorry comissh Stern, it’s Kevin McHale’s fault

Published 6:56 pm Monday, September 20, 2010

I wonder if Pittsburgh Pirates fans actually like baseball. I mean really like baseball. Do they follow scores from around the league and root for whoever plays the Cubs and Cardinals that day. Or do they share a small glimmer of hope at the start of each season before falling into oblivion once the Pirates fall 10 games behind the NL Central division leader. After 18 consecutive losing seasons, I bet on the latter.

Baseball is my favorite sport, but it wasn’t always. In fact, I only played fast pitch one summer during my entire childhood and didn’t start following the Twins until I was in ninth grade.

Circa 2002 — I couldn’t name name five players on the Twins’ roster — now I follow them like a religion.

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The opposite goes for basketball.

Growing up, basketball defined me. I played competitively from from fourth grade through my sophomore year in college and the sport even brought me to tears when my favorite teams lost. The old NBA slogan “I Love this Game” was spot on for me, now I can hardly pull myself to follow the NBA Finals.

The point is, our dedication to fanhood of a particular sport rests on the success of our favorite teams. The Twins win, the Timberwolves lose — I like baseball.

When the White Sox were relevant in the AL Central race, if they were on WGN, I’d watch the entire game and root for the other team. I’d be checking the Yankees score, and the Rays and the Rangers, and see who’s winning in the National League because if the Twins make it to game seven of the World Series, I sure as heck don’t want to be playing in Philadelphia.

I wasn’t a fan of every team, but I was a fan of Major League Baseball, and I genuinely cared what was happening in every big league stadium around the United States (and Toronto).

Typically I’d be fired up that LeBron left Cleveland for greener pastures in Miami. Actually, there’s less “green,” but an easier route to an NBA title. I’d despond that Kevin Durant signed a five-year extension with the Thunder and will be haunting the Timberwolves through 2015 and I would have hated to see Al Jefferson go to the Jazz for next to nothing and the house that Kevin McHale built (the Boston Celtics) with another shot at a championship.

But I simply don’t care.

The Timberwolves have ruined the NBA for me, just like to Gophers have ruined college football and the Vikings have began to ruin the 2010 NFL season. If I don’t have someone to root for, I don’t want to root at all.

So thank you Span, O-Hud, Mauer and Thome for keeping me interested. I love loving baseball as much as I want to love the NBA, college football and the NFL — but you make it so much easier.

I hope the Twins use their home field advantage in the ALDS against the Yankees. They’re tougher at Yankee Stadium than the Rays are at Tropicana Field. But we’re going to have to play them both eventually (most likely), so does it really matter?

Also — Godspeed Pirates’ fans.

Andrew Dyrdal is the Sports Editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. His column is about local sports and growing up in Albert Lea, and appears every Tuesday.