Proud to be a Minnesotan, Again

POUNDING THE PAVEMENT

This is a good week to be a proud Minnesotan.

Not that it's not good every week. Only this week the entire state is showing solidarity. And this week the rest of America, outside of St. Louis, is supposed to care.

We've finally got a winner. After two decades of losses, the Twins have finally won a place in the World Series. I tell the news straight, because every time I proudly share the news with my college friends, "We're up, two to zip," they remind me that the Celtics haven't started their season yet.

No one around here much cares either way about the series. It's kind of like the last time Minnesotans took a stand, and we were left out in the cold by the rest of the country.

That was back in 1984. Because we had the guts to run a favorite son for president, we are now the only ones entitled to wear t-shirts that say "Don't Blame Me, I'm from Minnesota." And every time Reagan sells arms to fanatics or falls asleep during negotiations, we feel a smug satisfaction. Everyone else is to blame.

But as in 1984, no one seems to be paying much attention to Minnesota. A visitor in my room the other day spent ten minutes insisting that the Mets were headed for the series. Classmates can't identify the Twins. And The Crimson sports page hasn't given the series any coverage. I've had to get my second-hand tales of baseball revellers from a grandmother who has never been to a game.

It's not so much a case of my hopping on the bandwagon to support the Twins in the series. In elementary school, I sat through rainy games in the old Met stadium. In high school I took home a red, white and blue Twins jacket, the weight of a plastic bag, after watching a losing game in the Dome. And I would keep on the monotone of losing games on t.v. while doing my homework.

Watching the Twins was as much a part of growing up in Minnesota as is throwing snowballs, calling soft drinks "pop," and following the little red spoons to tour the Betty Crocker Kitchens at General Mills.

But ever since they made it to the series (and lost) in 1965, they weren't much to be proud of. The state only got its name in the entertainment news from the Vikings, Prince and the Mary Tyler Moore Show. I was indifferent to League standings, because my team was always sitting.

So this season, when Twins wins snowballed, my attitude problem about baseball turned around. Unfortunately, for someone whiling away the school year in Cambridge, that realization came a year late.

Last year at this time, I stuck by friends who sported baseball hats wherever they went and suffered through tedious dining hall debates about the airport's shuttle service and its relation to the Green Monster. Now there's nobody else blowing off their papers for sitting by the black and white t.v.

And thats a pity. People here could learn a lot from Minnesota in the series.

The state is coming out in more numbers than when Garrison Keeler performed the last live Lake Wobegon Show. Fifty thousand fans packed the Twins' welcome home party, with thousands waiting outside. This Saturday Twin City phone lines went dead when thousands of calls flooded in for a sale on tickets to the sixth and seventh games.

And the nation should take note of the Homer Hanky craze. Every day, hundreds of loyal citizens line up outside the local newspaper to get 50 cent hankies. Homer Hankies are being tied around baby bottoms, flying from flagpoles and, most importantly, waving in the Dome.

Everyone should empathize with our problematic Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. I remember the arguments against building the dome years ago--mainly that spectating in the dome would be like sitting in an inflated hefty bag, that could pop any time. (They were right, and under the weight of a heavy snow cover, the roof has caved in.)

Games in the dome are as loud as a jet taking off. Spotting a ball against the dome is like finding a grain of sugar lying in a marsh-mallow. And while the Twins may be able to spot the baseball indoors, ever since Vikings hit the Dome they havent had much luck finding the pigskin.

There's nothing like rooting for a hometown winner. Too bad there aren't many others around here hankering after homers this week.