A Minnesota Twins Christmas Carol – Part Two
(Part one of the story CAN BE FOUND HERE)
Jim Pohlad enters one of his many estates, muttering to himself about the nerve of his employees trying to ‘extort’ him for pitching. He hands Rudy his fur coat and takes the elevator up to his bedroom.
“125 million dollars for a pitcher… not in this lifetime,” Pohlad says as Rudy helps him into his silk pajamas. “What do they expect me to do? Sell my Porsche dealership? One of my many houses?,” Pohlad asks while Rudy silently nods in agreement. Pohlad puts on his nightcap and tucks himself into the covers.
Pohlad falls asleep but is quickly awoken by the sound of metal cleats on the marble floor in his bedroom. He grabs his smartphone to turn on the lights, but before he can find the app his room is aglow, with a backlit figure standing in the doorway.
“Rudy…. Is that you,” Pohlad asks.
“No, Jim, I am not Rudy,” the figure replies as Pohlad squints to adjust his eyes to the glowing figure in his cavernous bedroom. “I am the Ghost of Twins’ Christmas Past.”
Then it becomes clear who is standing at the foot of the bed. It is, unbelievably, Kirby Puckett, wearing a bright white and pinstriped Twins jersey.
“Kirby! It can’t be! I thought you were….well….,” Pohlad stutters.
“Dead? Remember Jim, there's heroes and there's legends: Heroes get remembered, but legends never die,” Puckett said. “I am here to show you the error of your ways.”
Puckett and Pohlad suddenly appear on Chicago Avenue during the Twins 1991 World Championship parade. Chili Davis and Jack Morris roll by in floats while the fans celebrate and cheer.
“You see, Jim, this town LOVED the Twins and all it took was a few big free agents to complete the puzzle,” Puckett said. “You could have OWNED this state if you could have kept the momentum. But your family stopped spending.”
Suddenly, a montage plays out in front of Puckett and Pohlad. Disappointing seasons in ’92 and ’93. The 1994 strike and Kent Hrbek’s retirement. Puckett’s glaucoma. The awful, awful seasons from ’95-2000.
Puckett reaches out and takes Pohlad by the hand. Suddenly, the room begins to spin and spin until they find themselves inside the Hubert H Humphrey Metrodome. It is 2001.
On the field, the Twins are playing against the White Sox. It is an exciting young Twins team featuring up-and-coming players like Torii Hunter and Corey Koskie. Although the crowd is sparse, it is far better than even three seasons ago. Fans seem to be getting interested in the team again after a dark decade of losing.
Puckett and Pohlad find themselves in the offices in the bowels of the Dome.
“Is that my dad,” Pohlad nervously asks. “Who is that man he is sitting with?”
Puckett laughs and gives Pohlad a dumbfounded look.
“You know who that is, that’s the Commissioner of Major League Baseball Bud Selig,” Puckett says incredulously.
Selig and Carl Pohlad are looking over some documents while lawyers observe from the background.
Suddenly, Selig smiles and begins to speak.
“There we have it, Carl, your team will officially be contracted before next season. The owners will buy out your stake and there will no longer be Major League Baseball in Minnesota,” Selig said.
A single tear fell from Puckett’s eye as he watched Carl Pohlad sign the contract. Jim Pohlad instantly became defensive.
“You don’t understand, the state wouldn’t buy us a new stadium! Our family simply couldn’t afford to pay for our own ballpark, we needed the charity of the citizens of Minnesota,” Jim Pohlad said.
“Ah, so you admit, you NEED the fans,” Puckett asked. “Is that what you are trying to say?”
“No, we need the fans’ MONEY. We don’t care what the fans actually think about the team as long as they are giving us their MONEY…. can’t you understand that,” Jim Pohlad seethed.
Suddenly, after climbing about 6,000 stairs, Puckett and Pohlad are in the Twins clubhouse. Players are hearing the news of contraction and calling their families confused and scared about what the future may hold. Employees are being encouraged to find employment elsewhere in case there is no team in 2002.
“That’s IT. I’ve seen enough of this and I DEMAND to go back home,” Pohlad yelled.
“As you wish,” Puckett said, and suddenly Jim Pohlad was back in his California king-sized bed.