Thanksgiving morning, 2007 was when I heard the news. I was at my grandmother's house, helping get ready for Thanksgiving dinner. My cousin came over around 11am. I was sitting on my grandma's couch. My cousin sat down on a sofa chair and said, "So, did you hear that your boy signed with the Angels?" Torii. He was talking about my secret-husband.
"Excuse me," I said, and walked into the bathroom. My eyes welled up with tears, but I don't think I actually started crying. While there had been speculation about Torii signing with other teams, and even though I had a feeling he wasn't coming back to Minnesota, the sting still stung. My sweet, sweet #48 was going to be playing in Anaheim.
Naturally, the 2008 season started at home, with the Twins playing the Angels. I scored tickets for the first 2 games of the series, and during Game 2, I got to watch Torii receive his 4,942nd* Gold Glove Award. I have to be honest - I cried.
Torii was there, just as I remembered, but he was wearing the wrong uniform. I don't think a single fan booed him during that game. The memory I want to share, however, is not about Torii receiving his Gold Glove, but about what happened the day before, during the *Official* home opener. It was March 31st, 2008. At the top of the 9th inning, the Twins were winning 2-0. Joe Nathan takes the mound, and gets Garret Anderson to fly out to center field.
The next player up to bat was Torii Hunter. I cannot remember a moment in my life where I was so torn. In fact, I remember thinking, "It's okay if he gets a base hit. The next guy can ground into a double play." I also remember thinking, "I wonder what Torii is thinking. For all those years, he backed Joe Nathan up in this very ballpark/football stadium."
Torii ended up striking out. The Twins win the game soon thereafter. Everyone went home happy, except Torii. Obviously, all he could think about was how much he preferred to play behind Joe Nathan and how much he hated to face him in an at-bat. How do I know this? Secret wife intuition, of course.
Anyway, one might believe that nearly 3 years later, someone would be over a situation like this, but not I. Why is that? Well, my friends, it's because sometimes you fall so deeply in fake love with a baseball player that it's hard to forget. It's hard to forgive and it's hard to move on.
Why is Torii important? I'll tell you why. What do you think the Twins were missing during the 2010 season? Obviously we know what they were lacking during the post-season - offense. But, I'm talking about throughout the entire season. The pitching? Meh - it was up and down, but it was decent; good even. Our offense was hot and cold, but able to win the division. What we were missing was the guy in the clubhouse who held the team together. The guy with the cutest freaking smile who went out there and played baseball no matter what (unless he caught a spike in the wall at Fenway).
I should be over this. I know. I know! That doesn't mean I ever will be. Don't misunderstand me, because I do love me some Denard Span. The fact of the matter, though, is that Span doesn't have the same presence Torii had. And I think it's important to note how much happier Torii was in Minnesota:
When Torii left, he kept talking about how he'd love to end his career playing in Minnesota. Now at age 35, I suspect Torii will not end his career back in Minnesota - unless he becomes some sort of crazy power hitter and he returns in a Jim Thome, DH kind of role. It's pretty safe to say that Torii's not coming back to play here. There, I said it. Happy?
Is it Spring Training yet?
* = Slight Exaggeration