Eight-year-old's softball game last night was played in drizzle that intermittently qualified as a shower. On our way home, I turned on the car radio, partly to see how the Twins were doing and partly to hear something other than "I'm cold" and "Why did we have to play in the rain," in time to catch the summary of the visitors' half of the second inning: "For Texas, seven runs on six hits, there were two errors by the Twins and one runner left on base: after an inning and a half, Texas leads, 7-0."
Nice! Two and a half soggy hours later, a 9-3 loss was in the books, and the Twins, winners of seven of their last nine games, nevertheless have a season record of 24 wins and 39 losses. Those with arithmetical inclinations might note that the team has played 63 games, which means there are 99 to go, and that to finish 90-72 the Twins therefore would have to win exactly two-thirds of their remaining games. Ninety wins is probably not enough to make the playoffs. The Twins' best-ever winning percentage for an entire season is less than 0.66 (it's 0.63).
With the possibility of a pennant race and its pleasures vanished, we fans will have to find other ways to enjoy the long season. Having arrived at home, I turned on the kitchen radio and advanced on the supper dishes. Michael Cuddyer led off the Twins' third with a double, then was thrown out trying to tag and advance to third on a fly to right. The announcers started swapping stories. For years the Twins' play-by-play guy was Herb Carneal, who never criticized a player and rarely noted anything unpleasant. Once, when Dan Gladden, having exchanged words with a teammate on a plane ride, next day drove to the teammate's house to "settle the disagreement like men" (as manager Tom Kelly put it), Herb referred to the fistfight as "a family squabble." Now Gladden is one of the announcers. While I was drying dishes he told of the time when he went on a winter PR tour of some rural Minnesota towns for the Twins. Besides Gladden, there were a couple of other players or former players, and also Herb, who emceed the events. "Interesting group," noted Gladden. They got back to the Twin Cities late at night and dropped Herb off at his home. His wife came outside to greet them and noticed when a few empty cans tumbled out as Herb exited the vehicle.
"How many of those empties belonged to Herb?" asked Gladden's partner. After a few seconds of no sound but the low murmur of the baseball crowd, Gladden said, "Well, I don't think we had Herb's flavor."