I Cheated on Minnesota with Lenny Dykstra
Post date: Jul 02, 2019 3:10:52 PM
As you read this, please remember, I was born and raised Minnesotan. I am 'one of us'.
I was born in the mid 70's and am a child of the 80's. Like many kids my age I collected baseball cards. My dad and I belonged to a group called the TCSCC (Twin Cities Sports Collectors Club). They would sponsor baseball card shows around the metro area and usually have some local sports personality there to sign autographs. I remember meeting many Minnesota athletes, Puckett, Killebrew, Hrbek, etc. Every once in a while, there were some non-Minnesota athletes there, like Hank Aaron, and Eddie Matthews. I enjoyed learning about baseball history and collecting cards from other teams as well.
At some point in my collecting, I got a hold of some Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry cards. That’s the first I can remember being interested in the New York Mets. Yep…I said it. In addition to being a Twins fan, I was a Mets fan.
Before you revoke my “One of us’ card, hear me out.
The Twins were terrible in the early 80’s. As a matter of fact, one of the worst seasons they ever had was in 1982 when they went 60-102. Therefore, appreciating another team from afar, wasn’t a stretch. Remember too, that back then the American and National Leagues only played each other in the World series. Inter-league games didn’t exist yet. The odds that the Twins would play the Mets in a world series, wasn't very likely. The odds that the Twins would play anyone in a world series back then didn’t seem within the realm of possibility. To me, the Mets were my ‘National League’ team.
And not only was I a Mets fan, I became a huge fan of a brash young outfielder named Lenny Dykstra. I just loved how he played: Diving all over the place, reckless abandon. He was my Pete Rose.
So, in addition to my Twins memorabilia I have stored away, there is another set of stuff. Lenny Dykstra stuff, and there's a lot of it. I was a bit obsessed with him.
Fast forward to last night. A tweet came across my timeline that said, “What number did you wear in sports, and why?”
I replied “ #4, Lenny Dykstra.” Pretty much every jersey for every team I ever played for had that number on it. My softball team jacket that I wear everyday has a #4 on it. Any gear I received while coaching had #4 on it.
Shortly after hitting send, I started to worry about posting it. I was concerned that some of Minnesota followers might be offended that it wasn’t #29 for Carew, or #3 for Killebrew (2 of my other favorite players BTW). I was worried, that at first glance someone may view it as not ‘on brand’ for WHENESOTA. They may also view it as not being a "true" Minnesota sports fan. (Those people do exist).
Why should I feel ashamed and try to hide that I was a fan of more than one team as a kid? On one hand it's very Minnesotan to feel guilty about something like that.
But is being a fan of another (non-Minnesota) team, really so un-Minnesotan?
How many of you know someone who is a Minnesota sports fan, but they're also a closet fan of some other team? Yes, there are many people out there who love ONLY Minnesota sports. Bless their hearts. But, I bet most people reading this either know someone like me, or are like me themselves.
And let me be clear. I’m not talking about your Packer fan neighbor. They're a squatter. They just live here. They ARE NOT ‘one of us’ and don’t care one bit about Minnesota sports. Also, if you are a Minnesotan and root for any Wisconsin team, there’s something wrong with you. Seek help immediately.
Now that we’ve established that we all know somebody like this, lets talk about the reasons why.
1. The Wandering Eye
When your teams disappoint you as much as Minnesota teams have, it’s hard not to notice other teams that do well. Seeking satisfaction elsewhere can be exciting, but remember, its only temporary and you're only avoiding the real issue. You'll need to deal with it at some point. I think that's what happened to me in the early 80s with the Mets. And luckily for me, the Twins won in 87 and 91.
2. Heart Transplant
You weren’t born here, but you're 'one of us' now. You grew up liking another team from back home, but now because of job, family or life you live here. And let’s be honest, once you’re here, it’s hard NOT to become Minnesotan. Enjoying our culture and sports is infectious, because being Minnesotan is just …better. Because of this, your heart now belongs to Minnesota and you root for our teams in addition to the team you grew up with.
3. It's all Relative
Maybe your parent was born elsewhere and therefore grew up a fan of another team. Because they root for that team, so do you. This is the case for one of my coworkers. He was born and raised in Faribault, MN, but his Dad was from Nebraska. In addition to being a Minnesota sports fan, he’s a huge Cornhusker fan.
4. Trade Bait
Did you stop being a Rod Carew fan when he was traded? Did you root against him because he was with another team? First, that’s not very Minnesota Nice. Second, remember that he was traded because the Twins owner was cheap and racist. From everything Ive read, Carew wanted to stay here. Have you noticed him hanging out in the Twins dugout lately? Clearly, he loves Minnesota. Heck, In addition to my Rod Carew Jersey, I have a Danny Valencia Jersey. There, I said it.
5. NBA Deficiency
I teach Biology. Each year I show my students the ESPN 30 for 30 “The Announcement” which chronicles Magic Johnson’s decision to announce he had HIV. I show it during our virus and bacteria unit. It gives them a historical perspective and does it in a way that they can connect with. One of the unintended side effects of showing them that film? They marvel at just how good Magic was on the court. There are ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ every time I show it. I feel like I was really lucky to grow up and watch the NBA during that time and kids today don’t understand just how good it was back then.
Point being? The NBA was in its hey-day, and we grew up not having anybody to cheer for. The Lakers left in 1960. The Wolves didn’t start playing until 1989. If you were a kid during that time period, you had no choice but to be a fan of another team. I still remember the guys on my high school basketball team all were fans of other teams. Matt was a Laker fan. Craig loved the Pistons. Mike liked the Bulls. Brian liked the Celtics. It was almost as if everyone had to choose their own team.
6. College Outreach
I know this is hard to understand, but not every Minnesota kid attends the University of Minnesota. In addition to attending one year at the University of Minnesota, I also attended NDSU-Fargo.
Again…Hear me out on this. Because I grew up in the cities, going to the U of M seemed too close. I wanted to get away (My parents are reading this and nodding their heads vehemently). NDSU was just far enough to not want to drive home every weekend.
My football fandom before that point revolved around my high school, the Gophers and the Vikings…in the 80’s! Those 3 teams experienced very little success during that time (putting it nicely). Attending a school that had a football dynasty is infectious. It was impossible not to jump on board.
For the record I did attend the U of M for one year later on AND was a Gopher football season ticket holder for almost 10 years until my son was born. #MNRUBECRED
Speaking of North Dakota, they don't have ANY professional sports teams. They are all over the map when it comes to fandom. Some like Minnesota teams. Some are Packer fans which makes no sense. I have a friend from Bismarck who is a Cowboys and Braves fan. Weird.
7. Norm Green Sucks
At this point the North Stars have been gone almost as long as they were here. There is a whole generation of fans like my son, who have known nothing but the Wild. The North Stars leaving was really hard on some of us. There was a 3-year period between the team leaving and the announcement that a new franchise would be starting. Not knowing hockey would eventually return, its completely understandable that some North Stars fans became invested in other teams during that time (Unless it’s the Blackhawks #SecordSucks). I know some people that are still Dallas Stars fans. :-/ #NormStillSucks #DallasCanSuckIt
There’s always some weird ones. We all know someone who is a Notre Dame or Duke fan. No connection to them at all. I’ll never understand that one. I’m sure there are other reasons out there.
Maybe you’ve cheated on Minnesota in other avenues?
-Maybe you have a cabin in Wisconsin?
-Maybe you’re an Indoorsman.
-Maybe there are other musicians you would rather listen to than Prince?
-Maybe you hate the crowds at the state fair?
These are just a few examples. Have you ever cheated on Minnesota? If so with who? I’d love to hear your thoughts. This is a safe space and all are welcome.