Field of nightmares

Remember when baseball was about baseball? The Minnesota Twins and other virtue-signaling elites will eventually reassess their PR rush to embrace Black Lives Matter.

The reason I demanded — and got — a refund for my Minnesota Twins season tickets this year had nothing to do with the team’s epic failure against preseason expectations. That has happened before during the 60 years I’ve enthusiastically followed the team. It’s still baseball. It’s still the Twins.

Like a lot of Minnesotans of a certain age, I still remember how the arrival of the Twins in 1961 transformed our state’s pride, even if the team had to reconstruct itself from the elements of the always woeful Washington Senators. Baseball was America’s elite professional sports league. Cities that earned their own franchises entered the upper echelon in the pecking order of American cities.

I can still hear broadcasters Herb Carneal and Halsey Hall describe the heroics of Harmon Killebrew, Earl Battey and Camilo Pascual over our family’s little AM radio. Their distinctive voices resonate throughout our farm in Elrosa like the familiar sounds of old friends.

Baseball became America’s Pastime for the way it transcended the sometimes-petty political differences that divide its fans. As Thomas Mann says in Field of Dreams, “This field, this game: It’s a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again.”

The Twins, in particular, seemed to unify Minnesotans from the get-go. We all watched, astonished, as they rose from nowhere to compete in the 1965 World Series. And can anyone dispute the soaring heights of civic pride that evolved as the Twins won World Series championships in ’87 and ’91?

I thought my heart would never lose its soft spot for the Minnesota Twinkies. But as I sat down in my seat this spring at Target Field to watch a game, I nearly dropped my $7.50 hot dog when I saw a Black Lives Matter sign affixed to the right field fence and a similar sign in left-center field. I almost can’t describe the depth of my disappointment in the Twins’ management for politicizing America’s Pastime.

I eventually stood up, walked up to the team’s business office, and got a refund on my season tickets.

I confess that the Black Lives Matter sign on the Twins’ outfield wall brought to a boil a number of questions that had been simmering within me through the spring.

Why do we, the sports fans, tolerate these finger-wagging judgments from self-righteous athletes or suddenly-woke sports executives who feel compelled to tell us what to believe or how to think? And why do media give LeBron James the moral or intellectual authority to lecture us? (LeBron James has spent his entire life getting rich by dunking basketballs. Prior to his recent outburst, I’ve never heard him voice concern for any other issues.)

For that matter, how could Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred unilaterally move the All-Star Game from Atlanta to punish the state for proposed election-day reforms? Why would executives at Coca-Cola or Delta Airlines feel compelled to denounce those same reforms? And don’t get me started about the self-righteous heavyweights in Hollywood.

The Black Lives Matter signage on Target Field’s right field fence presented me an opportunity to say, “Enough!” And to do something about it, however modest my “punishment.”

I can only hope that the management of the Twins, led by the Pohlad family, fully understands the mission and the principal beliefs of Black Lives Matter, an organization that is dedicated to uprooting the foundations of American culture.

Although the BLM website presents a moving target of the organization’s aspirations, none seek a cultural unity that will safeguard black communities or promote opportunities for them to live more prosperous or fulfilling lives.