What other crazy stuff has been happening in professional sports while I wasn’t looking?

It’s true: I pay very little attention to professional sports of any kind. It’s not that I don’t like them, I’m just usually not that interested. I used to be; I collected baseball cards in middle school, and my peak of interest in pro sports conveniently coincided with “my” Minnesota Twins winning the World Series for the first time ever, in 1987.

Since then, it’s been all downhill. I was excited about the Vikings in 1998, only to be let down by Gary Anderson’s only missed field goal of the year, in the NFC Championship game. I watched the Twins’ tiebreaker game against the White Sox this year, only to be let down yet again by a team that has an incredible knack for falling ever-so-slightly short, again and again. Perhaps this “always the bridesmaid” trait common amongst the Minnesota pro teams is what makes it hard for me to be a sports fan. But more likely, I’m just not that interested, and that’s all there is to it. These days the only professional sports I actually get excited about watching are Wimbledon and the Olympics, and their relative infrequency probably contributes to my enthusiasm.

Yet, I am still drawn in by unexpected developments, like the Steelers’ 11-10 win this week. I knew that was a weird score, and I thought it was cool when I learned that out of the over 12,000 NFL games played in the league’s history to date, this was the first ever to end with that score.

But this fact still caught me totally off guard. I was reading kottke.org this morning and he just casually mentioned that the Seattle Supersonics had moved to Oklahoma City. To quote Dave McFly, “When the hell did this happen?” This year, apparently, and I had no clue.

Oh well.

So long, Santana; the dream was already gone

Kirby Puckett rookie cardThere was a time in my life (I happened to be 13) when I was a huge baseball fan. I had the giant baseball card collection to prove it. I even chewed the nasty gum a few times.

My enthusiasm was richly rewarded in 1987 when my hometown Minnesota Twins won their first World Series. Life was good.

But eventually I moved on. My brief, albeit intense, interest in baseball (and pro sports in general) faded in high school, and although I still enjoy going to a game once in a while, it’s just too expensive and too corporate, and I’m too cynical, to sustain that kind of passionate enthusiasm. So when it was announced that Johann Santana was traded to the Mets, I barely even raised an eyebrow.

It wasn’t until I read Nick Coleman’s column on the matter that it really hit me what this means, especially in the context of the Twins’ controversial new stadium:

[W]hen you’re a kid, your town’s team manipulates your immature emotions in order to get you to tug on daddy’s sleeve and beg him to buy a pair of $50 tickets and a souvenir jersey so Dad can go to his grave knowing that his boy will remember him through misty eyes and support the next billion-dollar stadium proposal when the stadium opening in 2010 needs to be replaced a few years later.

He’s right. And he goes on to show just how trivial a slice of the pie, given the ludicrous sums of money floating around in the world of professional sports, Santana’s salary really is. It’s the stars like Santana and Torii Hunter that make a team like the Twins worth going to see. Which is where the money comes from in the first place.