Wednesday, March 08, 2006

No Small Market Feat

It's been a couple of days since we lost Kirby Puckett. In that time, there have been many things written and eulogized about Minnesota's fire hydrant that there really is no need for me to weigh in. But I didn't want to let it pass without saying at least a few words.

Kirby Puckett's legacy has reverberated throughout the Twins organization up until this very minute, and will continue to do so. And I'm not talking about the impressive feats performed during the 1991 World Series (feats so impressive that "Game Six" means something totally different in Minneapolis than it does in New York City.)

No, I'm talking more about the hold that the Minnesota Twins have on baseball players. Players like Paul Molitor and Dave Winfield, who spent many more seasons with other clubs...and more successful seasons elsewhere, talk about their time in Minnesota as if they had spent their whole career there. Guys who came up in the Twins system such as Doug Mientkiewicz (remember him?) Jacque Jones, and Torii Hunter stayed with the Twins much longer than anybody would have thought a player of their calibre would have stayed in a market like Minnesota, and a ballpark like the Homerdome.

The same could be said about guys like Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek. Certainly, Puckett could have gotten bigger bucks after his contract was up in 1992. Instead, he stayed with the Twins, setting a precedent for hometown loyalty that while not applicable to everyone who wears a Twins uniform, certainly seems more prevalent there than it should be. Guys like Torii Hunter don't stay Twins had it not been for Kirby Puckett, and his understanding that the astroturf isn't always greener on the other side. Think about it: Puckett's raise from close to three million to $5.3 million to re-sign with Minnesota would be considered modest by today's standards...although 1992 isn't that far removed from today.

And that's why Puckett's death is so sad. This isn't someone from my childhood. This is someone I watched play baseball after I was already in the work force. The video of Puckett using the bag that passes for a wall in center field to rob many an unsuspecting hitter of a home run is still fresh in my mind...not black and white, not at all grainy. It's still there. Still fresh in my mind. Still clear.

I remember Wally Backman sometime after the Mets won in 1986 said: "I can't wait until 2006 when we can all come back and celebrate the twentieth anniversary of this victory." Sure enough (and way too fast), 2006 is here, and the Mets have planned that celebration, August 19th. There are other things, other celebrations planned for that very special team. I hope after Puckett's untimely passing that we realize how lucky we are to have everybody come back for that 20th anniversary. Because the following season, Minnesota will have a 20th anniversary of their own. And the biggest and brightest star from the 1987 World Champions will be out. He isn't going to be there in 2011 either...the 20th anniversary of the '91 champs, and of that Game Six. And those celebrations will never be what they should be.

11 comments:

Liberals Hate GOD said...

Liberals want freedom declared unconstitutional!

Liberals want to deny the HOMELAND the right to read emails and monitor all financial transactions of citizens!

If it was up to Liberals the HOMELAND would have to abide by their Traitorus 4th amendment!

Luckily LIBERALS are too busy having sodomy and using dope in California. Hahaha.

Anonymous said...

to the above poster, go to hell

Tommy_Calzone said...

Once again a different take on the issue Metstra. Well put as always!

cool breez said...

OK First let me say this to "Liberals Hate God"
You seem to be enjoy imposing your ideas and thoughts on this site with no room for compromise. Have you ever noticed you sound a lot like Stalin or other communist leaders like him? I am a liberal and IM not gay, in fact I have a wife, and I don't use dope. Talk about stereo typing people. I bet your also racist and prejudice as well. As your comments certainly lead me and others to believe. Stay on topic or please don't post again so I don't have to read your garbage that you think I and others want to read. Go join a republican blog to go spread your beliefs amongst other dumb ass republicans. Now go ahead and tell me how great of a job bush is doing, or how about his VP who just shot a man in the face because he thought he was a bird,

Sorry Metstradamus for the long off topic post, Ill try to ignore this garbage in the future.

2006 mets- damn we got a good team this year

Joe said...

as long as the liberals also hate the Yankees and Braves, I don't mind them

by the way, I'm sure the poster is just tyring to be funny, but it just doesn't fit with the post that was written.

His death coinciding with more evidence against Bonds really shows the contrast of how the game should be played and how the game is being played. Somewhat sad, but you look at the Mets young guys liek Reyes and Wright and recently Milledge and you have hope for the future.

Charles Buono said...

Metstradamus,

This is complete out of the blue, but can you put up a Rick Peterson quote section on your page?? On a daily basis I read quotes like this...

Said the pitching coach (referring to Pedro), "He used a statement last year when he was doing really well, he said, 'I feel married to the mound.' And I think today we're almost getting close to an engagement."

The guy is completely obnoxious.

Thanks. Keep up the great work.

Metstradamus said...

Charles, interesting idea. I will get my crack staff to research that and see how many we can find. Thank you for stopping by!

Charles Buono said...

No problem... I will send them along as I come across them. For instance, Rick on Mike Pelfrey...

“He's got the ingredients that a gourmet cook would use in making a recipe…Now he just has to make his own recipe and that comes through experience.”

iamSINATRA said...

RIP Kirby Puckett.

Great post.

The '91 World Series was one that I truly appreciated. The series was so good that I became glued to watching games between two teams that I really had no opinion on. (remember that the Braves were still playing in the NL West at the time. I didn't learn to TRULY hate them until 1995.)

I watched his Game Six winning HR live and then again the next night right before Game Seven. CBS broadcast the games. They had an unbelievable opening sequence for the big Game Seven with the recap of the Puckett HR. I saw it over and over again, because I taped it.

I will never forget his face when he looked at Tom Kelly after that 11th inning shot. I taped that game because I was forced to go to someone else's house to watch the Giants/Redskins game. (drove me nuts...but I was fortunate enough to get the Buck call on tape...to this day....along with Game 6 of the 86 NLCS and Game 7 of the 86 WS...commercials and all...that's about as far as my collection goes)

WHEW...I will stop rambling.

Anyway...Puckett was awesome. I will miss him.

omar said...

peterson on brian bannister:

q: is there anything you don't like about BB?

a: I haven't seen his photography yet.

JeterBoy said...

I wonder if Backman would have bet back in 1986 that the Mets would win the World Series in the next 20 years? He may have had a "Metstra moment" and thought that 20 years later the 1986 championship would be all that's worth remembering. But hey, we all have to hang onto our special childhood memories right?