Friday, February 12, 2010

Nicholas Paul Punto

Don't forget to check out all the other Nick Punto posts around the blogosphere for Nick Punto Day. If you are on Twitter check out the #nickpuntoday feed, or click on pretty much any of the Twins blog links in my side bar. Many of them have excellent additions to this magical day. And a special shoutout to Andrew Kneeland of Twins Target for coming up with the idea.

How does one properly quantify one Nicholas Paul Punto?

As a man who so many people love, and so many others love to hate, he stirs up the strongest emotional feelings for Twins fans this side of Joe Mauer. And Punto isn't even a strapping, sideburned dreamboat -- quite the opposite, in fact.

So why, then, does this little squirrely man stir up such large emotions in Twins fans?

To answer that question, let's flashback to the final game of the 2009 ALDS against the Yankees. A game that, quite simply, summed up Punto's existence quite nicely.

Come about the fifth inning or so, with the game still tied at zero, my friend and I decided it was about time to bust out a chant from the tenth row of the left field home run porch. And who better to cheer on than Little Nicky Paul Punto himself?

We dusted off an old favorite chant from our trip to Kansas City a few summers ago that went a little something like this:

My friend: POON!
Me: TOE!


We continued to chant all through Punto's at bat to both the chagrin and delight of the people sitting around us -- anytime you use the word "poon" in public it tends to stir up strong emotions in people. Some people laughed, some people gave us knucks, some people looked at us like we were slightly retarded. But, hey, it's little Nicky Punto. He deserves a chant. Right?

Well, we continued this for each of Punto's at-bats for the rest of the game (even adding some fellow chanters along the way). It was a magical Puntonian adventure in the Home Run porch that day.

As you can probably imagine, when Punto hit his double to lead off the bottom of the eight, we went nuts. Our "poon" magic had worked. We had inspired the little fella so much, that he slapped a double into the left center field gap. Things were looking pretty damn good for the Twins thanks to Mr. Punto himself.

Of course, we all know what happened from there. Denard Span slapped his infield single up the middle, and Derek Jeter caught Nicky P. wandering off third base because he heard the crowd and thought the ball got through. Great. Thanks Punto. Way to be big guy. Way to be.

So what does all of this say about one Nicholas Paul Punto? Well, that story had a little bit of everything. The highs for the Punto pimpers, and the lows for the Punto punters. It was a win-win or win-lose or lose-lose, or some sort of situation.

Really though, as I look back, that story summarizes Punto's entire Twins existence.

He is a scrappy player, who runs around, occasionally does things that are exciting, and almost inevitably ends up screwing up for being too into the moment. I mean, he ran past a fucking stop sign because there were too many noises. Really Punto? You can't function in loud places? What the hell would he do if he worked in a steel mill or something? Those places are loud right?

But I digress.

The point is, Punto stirs up so many emotions in fans because he is such a kamikaze force to be reckoned with. Sometimes his ridiculous leaping and sliding around is good, and sometimes its bad.

You pretty much just have to decide if the crazy head first shenanigans and unnecessary diving stops are worth it in the end.

Or as I now say: "sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes Nick Punto rains on your parade."

Then again, we probably wouldn't have this problem if he just didn't play everyday...

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