Jim Pohlad tosses and turns in bed and finally awakens with a start. He gasps and feels his pajamas, which are soaked in sweat. He reaches for his end table and takes a big drink of water. He isn’t sure why, but he is absolutely parched.

“Oh, my, what a terrible dream,” Pohlad says. “And stupid because that story has a happy ending, we got our stadium.”

He pulled his sleep mask over his eyes and fell back into a deep slumber, but it didn’t last long. He was awakened again by the sound of cleats on the floor. Pohlad awoke and asked “Kirby? Is that you again?”

But this time it wasn’t Puckett at all. It was a tall, quiet, sideburned figure wearing a Twins jersey outlined in beautiful Kasota gold. His name, he explained, was Joe Mauer. The Ghost of Christmas Present.

Without a word, Pohlad is taken to a big convention center full of happy people. There are hands shaking everywhere they looked and happy agents calling their clients.

They were at the MLB Winter Meetings. There was Max Scherzer shaking hands with Mets GM Billy Eppler. On the other side of the room Robbie Ray shook hands with Mariners GM Jerry DiPoto. Free agents were signing at a record pace and everyone seemed to be very happy.

Suddenly, Mauer led Pohlad to an alleyway behind the convention center. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine were looking tired while picking through the offerings near the dumpster. A Dylan Bundy here, a Michael Wacha there… there simply wasn’t much for the duo to choose from.

“Thad, I don’t know what we are going to tell Mr. Pohlad if we come up empty here,” Falvey said. “I’m afraid we won’t have enough pitching for the upcoming season and if we don’t start winning some games, we might not have a job soon.”

“Don’t worry Derek, everything will work out for us in the end,” Levine said, with more than a little hint of doubt in his voice.

Suddenly, Mauer and Pohlad were standing outside of a house in Burnsville. Inside was a family of meager means and a child was opening a present. Inside was a pair of tickets for a Twins game and a Jose Berrios jersey.

“I know Berrios isn’t on the team any more son, and I know he was your favorite player. But the Twins simply couldn’t afford to pay him anymore,” the dad said. “Jerseys nowadays are so expensive but this one was on clearance so we could finally afford one.

“You see, the Twins are just a small-market team that cannot afford to pay any players. Sure, there is no salary cap and the owners have money they could never spend in seven lifetimes, but something something TV contracts.

“I worked overtime to get us two tickets to see the Twins play against the Tigers this April,” the dad said. “It was outside of our normal budget, but you have been so good and loyal that I wanted to reward you this year.”

The child thanked the dad and gave him a big hug.

“That dad works 50 hours a week to put food on the table,” Mauer explained. “He had to work overtime to be able to afford two tickets to take his baseball-loving kid to a Twins game, even though they won’t be very good this year, especially without Jose Berrios.”

He explained that sometimes people spend more money than they maybe want to in order to show someone that they appreciate them. He called this phenomenon ‘reciprocation.’

Mauer then shows Pohlad the 2022 MLB Standings. The Twins have finished with a record of 54-108.

“If you don’t change your ways, Jim, this is what you have to look forward to,” Mauer warned.

Suddenly, Jim Pohlad was back in bed and again soaked in sweat.  He began to think he was losing his mind but he was so, so tired. He went back to sleep.

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