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Openers are made for yelling — and ripping on everybody

April 4, 2008
By Andy Rennecke
Monday couldn’t have been a more beautiful day in the Metrodome neighborhood.

It was snowing, Twins fans were complaining about it snowing and I couldn’t have been happier.

It was opening day after all. But this opening day had a different feel to it. Everything about it was new. Never had I waited in line for an hour just to get a good seat in general admission for an opener. Since I’ve been going to Twins openers since 2001 with my college buddies, it always seemed like you could waltz into the Humpty Dome whenever you pleased and would get a good seat.

But these fans wanted to see Torii Hunter and cheer for him making his quick return to Minneapolis. They also wanted to see the new-look Twins without Hunter and Johan Santana.

I could’ve cared less about both of those things. I just love the opener — love everything about it. For one, it’s the only time of the year when I can go to a baseball game and yell whatever I want and not get looked at funny.

I call out anybody I see that needs to be called out during a game. As ESPN would say, I question their fandom.

Some college kid about five rows in front of me tried to start “The Wave” in the third inning Monday. Since I hate “The Wave” with a passion, I called him out.

In no uncertain terms, I told him to direct his attention to the field because there was a game being played. I also told him that “The Wave” is the most LAME thing that the American sports public has ever conceived. It’s cool when you’re five, but by the time I hit 10 I started to hate the thing every time I went to the dome.

But, for some reason, Twins fans always have tried to keep the 1980s fad going. This also goes to show you that most Twins fans aren’t really good fans. They’d rather watch the other people in the stands jump up and put their hands in the air than watch what they paid to view. Oh look, that guy has an outtie!

Since I’d rather watch a good baseball game, I’d rather not be interrupted by the idiot in front of me who’d rather be at a NASCAR race than a Twins game.

So next time you go to a game, don’t do “The Wave.” 1985 called and wants your crimped hair back.

In the end, the guy got kicked out of the game. Finally, some justice. Luckily, the red-coated ushers didn’t hear what I was yelling and I got to stay.

A true fan rips on his favorite team in the good and bad times. That’s the way I’ve always been. I especially get into this practice during the opener.

When Hunter stepped out for the pregame introductions, I booed. The fans who do “The Wave” will probably say, ‘how dare you?’

I respected Hunter, but never really liked him as a player. He grounded into way too many double plays, was never clutch and got too angsty about the little things. There’s no way he’s worth $90 million over five years. I’m glad the Twins offered him what they did. If he would’ve taken it, I would’ve been OK with it. But I booed him for being overrated and for taking the cash. “Gold digger” came out of my mouth more than a few times.

The Twins had to take the approach that they did. But when they put “Thanks for the Memoriies” on the video tribute, I about barfed. Whoever did that should be fired. I’m not a fan of cheesy.

I also had a problem with “The Wave” fans cheering Nick Punto. Unbelievable. Last time I checked, the guy is the worst hitter in the big leagues since Junior Ortiz. I don’t care if he makes great plays in the field, I respect a guy who can hit. Punto belongs with the Devil Rays, not the Twins.

We true Twins fans were counting on Punto last year and he let us down in the worst way possible. He played so well in 2006 that expectations were laid out for him to be the everyday third baseman. He turned out to be the everyday utility infielder. What’s up, Denny Hocking Jr.?

Now, it all comes back to Puckett. In the past, people sitting around me have heard every joke I can think of about Puckett and his legal troubles in the last few years of his life.

I won’t bore you with the story, but Puckett was a horrible, horrible man. What you do on the field means nothing if you’re a malcontent off it. Puckett beat his wife, slept around with other women and hated just about everything around him. Read the March 2003 Sports Illustrated article by Frank Deford for the real Puckett. It will open your eyes.

When he was caught dragging a woman into a Twin Cities bar and grill men’s restroom, the truth finally came out.

Growing up, I was a huge Puckett fan. But when I heard the news of the real person, I lost all respect for him. That’s why I rip on people who still wear Puckett jerseys to games. If you wear a Puckett jersey, you support domestic abuse. It’s as simple as that.

So this year, it was refreshing to hear people laugh when I said that the only reason Puckett caught Ron Gant’s fly ball in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series was because he thought he was reaching for a Twinkie. Or, when I said the only reason Puckett went deep off Charlie Liebrandt to win the game was because he thought he was reaching for a chocolate cake. Maybe fans are coming around.

However, I won’t believe that until they boo Punto and stop doing “The Wave.”



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