There's A Cancer In Twins Territory, And Its Name Is Brad Zellar

Back in the day –this was in 1987– I used to have this Nancy and Sluggo tee-shirt that I believed was some sort of magic talisman for the Twins. Whenever I wore it to a game the Twins won, and somehow I figured out, or thought I figured out, that when I didn’t wear it they would inevitably lose. I know all sorts of fans have these crazy superstitions, but the thing was, mine was real. It actually worked. I started making notations in my scorebook (an ‘N/S’ next to the date of the game) on the days I wore the tee-shirt, and the Twins were something like 18-0 from the time I started wearing it religiously. This included the four straight World Series wins at home against the Cardinals.

The next year the spell seemed to be broken. The Twins lost three straight when I donned the Nancy and Sluggo shirt, and the thing was starting to get pretty ratty so I tucked it away in a drawer and sort of forgot about it.

I got wigged out during the 1991 Series when Atlanta came back to take a three games to two lead, and in an act of manic desperation I remembered the talismanic tee, and dug it out for the final games at the Dome.

And: Abracadabra, of course. Just what the doctor ordered.

I didn’t really retire Nancy and Sluggo so much as the damn thing eventually fell apart. In 2002 I scoured the Twin Cities for a replacement to no avail, and seriously considered having Nancy and Sluggo tattooed on my arm. In hindsight I probably should have gotten the tattoo. I might yet have to.

You may have noticed that earlier this season I wrote a tepidly hopeful appraisal of Luis Rivas, in which I pointed out that he was still relatively young and had once been regarded as a promising and fundamentally sound player. It wasn’t too late, I said, for Luis to turn things around.

I was guilty of wishful thinking. I can see that now. No dice for poor Luis.

A couple weeks ago I took a pull at the wishbone again, this time in defense of Kyle Lohse. I parroted all the things people in the Twins organization have been saying to me about Lohse for several years. The guy had great stuff, a terrific arm; he just needed to learn how to pitch. I might have predicted that he would lead the team in innings pitched and win sixteen games. I might have. I don’t care to look back, actually, and see what sort of nonsense I might have written about Lohse. Because I was apparently wrong, and I’m man enough to admit that.

Either that, or maybe I’m to blame. Perhaps these poor bastards just can’t bear up under the weight of my expectations.

Exhibit –what is it? C? Yes, I think it’s C: Yesterday I wrote an appreciation of Jacque Jones that was probably unwise. Granted, it’s only been twenty-four hours, but Jones was 0-4 today with two strikeouts. He also stranded three runners. Granted, he did draw another walk, but I sense I’ve done him a terrible disservice.

As I pointed out yesterday, Jones burned me bad last year, and I have no idea when I’m going to learn from my mistakes. I won’t be at all surprised if his average dips below .250 by Memorial Day, and I’ll have no one to blame but myself.

My sincere apologies to anyone who might read this and might conceivably care. I think I’m going to start paying more attention to the National League.

Speaking of which, have you noticed that the Arizona Diamondbacks are now 14-8 and in first place in the NL West, this despite the fact that they’ve scored 100 runs and given up 105? That’s sort of interesting, don’t you think?