I never really got into the television show "Welcome Back, Kotter." It was a little before my time, and I frankly never found it remotely funny, probably because John Travolta was in it. But tonight in Minnesota, the Twins and their fans will "welcome back" Joe Mauer after a prolonged and perplexing two-month absence. Just as Mr. Kotter found his way back to fictional James Buchanan High School in Brooklyn, so, too, has Joe Mauer found his way back to the generous confines of Target Field (I know I'm reaching here, but go with me. It will be worth your while. OK, I can't promise that, but you're already here, so just keep reading.)
Welcome Back, Joe Mauer. Sure, Joe, you have not returned to Cretin-Derham Hall High School to teach social studies to a group of disorderly, hairy teenagers, but I think there are some parallels between the lyrics to the "Welcome Back, Kotter" theme song, and your own journey back to Target Field. I have bracketed in a few slight changes to the Kotter theme song to underscore my point.
"Welcome back, your dreams [mysterious bilateral leg weakness and unnamed viral infection] were your ticket out.
"Welcome back to that same old place [actually, a new, luxurious baseball-only facility] that you laughed about [quietly demanded as a condition to stay a Minnesota Twin].
"Well the names have all changed since you hung around [because the Twins had to call up half of AAA Rochester],
"But those dreams have remained and they're turned around [well, they haven't quite turned around yet, because the Twins are still in last place in the awful AL Central - - we're still worse than the Royals].
"Who'd have thought they'd lead ya (Who'd have thought they'd lead ya)
"Back here where we need ya (Back here where we need ya) [I, for one, completely thought that your dreams would lead "ya" right back here, where we need "ya," especially because we are paying "ya" $23 million].
"Yea we tease him [Joe] a lot cause we've got him on the spot [and also because he lacks a dynamic personality, his power numbers went down the tube last year, and he does commercials for dandruff shampoo],
"Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back. [Welcome back, but only if you plan on catching at least 80 percent of the remaining games, batting .320, and making my wife be re-interested in baseball again with your sideburns and what not]."