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As the latest round of steroid scandals have swirled around Alex Rodriguez and Miguel Tejada, not to mention the 104 players who allegedly tested positive several years ago as part of the BALCO incident, I have come to realize what a pocket of sanity we live and play in, here in Minnesota.

I can’t think of one significant drug violation with a Minnesota Twin going back to the late 1980s. True, there was a brief incident involving reliever Juan Rincon after MLB adopted its new steroids policy in 2005, and he was suspended for 10 games after testing positive for an undisclosed substance. But Minnesota baseball has never come close to having the same degree of the problem as some other major league cities.

In Minnesota we like our athletes to look and act normal and ordinary, just like we do. No bulked-up, vein popping, muscle flexing steroid types for us. No, we like our baseball players to look like regular folks—just in better shape. They can spend time pumping a little iron in the gym, just don’t even think about popping pills to get a physique.

I remember when the Oakland As (reputed to be “A” for Anabolic) of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s would come to town to play the Twins. The Bash Brothers—Jose Canseco and Mark McGuire—would step up to the plate, biceps bulging, wringing the bat like a toothpick. Pitch after pitch they’d mash deep into the farthest recesses of the Metrodome. Almost from top to bottom, the As of the ‘80s looked more like a football team than a group of buff ballplayers.

The Twins have never gotten caught in the bulked-up, long-ball hitting rage. At times, it has looked like they needed to do some serious work in the weight room to have a chance at being competitive. In the past they seemed almost dwarfed by the likes of not only the As, but the Yankees, Rangers, and Orioles, just to name a few teams.

But time and events have proven that the Twins have the right philosophy for winning and training. As it turns out, the Twins have been baseball purists all along. They play the game way it was always meant to be played—stressing fundamentals, pitching and defense, not just the glamour of the home run. They treat the conditioning of their athletes the same way, stressing that strength and conditioning are the by-products of hard work, not chemicals.

Since I relocated to Minnesota from Chicago several decades ago, I have come to know the meaning of Minnesota Nice. It’s natural people who say hello to you on the street and go out of their way to be pleasant to strangers. There’s a feeling of fair play here. And that translates to Minnesota’s baseball team—where the purity of the game and training the right way seem almost as important as winning.

Just like Minnesota’s lakes, forests and clear, cold climate, we’re home to old-fashioned, natural baseball players. It’s the honest spirit of sports here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Now if we could only export that spirit to the rest of the country, there would be fewer “A-Roid” stories in the news.

Twins Blog Writer: Rick Jourdan
Make sure to catch Rick's column on every Monday!

1 comment:

  1. How much of a roll do you think Tom Kelly and Ron Gardenhire played in keeping drugs off the Twins?