Yo, Maniacal Twins Fans, Relax, We’re Gonna
On the cusp of Minnesota’s American League wild card game tonight, I am experiencing something I’m completely unfamiliar with – calm.
Don’t get me wrong, the Yankees are a worrisome club, particularly for the Twins, who have been bounced from the playoffs four times by the Bombers in as many tries.
Nonetheless, I’m confident that a team with suspect pitching at best will emerge victorious in the Bronx tonight.
And that’s just not normal for me.
In 1991 I had to have my Homer Hanky positioned at just the right angle through seven excruciatingly exquisite games, and Game 163 nearly killed me in 2009. Thank 8-pound, 6-ounce baby Jesus that Ryan Rayburn elected to dive for Michael Cuddyer’s looper rather than play it on a hop.
That said, by this time I’m usually a fidgety mess with my OCD kicked into hyper-drive. Think late stage Joe Nathan closing out a game. Yeah, medication seems the call of the day.
This is a Twins club with many exciting young players, but their stable of arms make hearts flutter for all the wrong reasons. And they’re going into the lion’s den, where they’ve dropped four straight in the playoffs. So confidence isn’t a sensation that I should be feeling as I type.
And yet, I do.
Maybe it’s the fact that Ervin Santana has given Twins fans reason to trust him during his tenure in Minneapolis, or that he’s pitched in the postseason on four different occasions. Or maybe it’s that Minnesota’s line-up features the type of depth that hasn’t been seen in some time, and any number of players could turn a two-run deficit into a tie, or even a lead in the blink of an eye.
Or maybe it’s that this is not the same squad that claimed six division titles in nine years under Ron Gardenhire. Teams that were expected to win.
Nor are they Tom Kelly’s title teams of my childhood which, if I’m honest, even as a grown man, maintain a bit of mysticism.
No, these are Paul Molitor’s Twins a year after the most losses the franchise had suffered since the move from Washington after 1960. A team that could have finished last again and shocked no one. A team that would have left us thrilled with a .500 record.
There wasn’t a single inkling that Minnesota would contend throughout this season. Fans waited for what we thought was an inevitable decline that never materialized. With the exception of a weekend, Miguel Sano was absent for the final five weeks of the season. And yet, the Twins scored more runs than any team in baseball over that month-plus.
This team, this season, has been magical. Truth be told, it’s been a gift, because no one saw it coming. Least of all me.
So Molitor hands the ball to one of the few Twins hurlers who doesn’t have a negative effect on blood pressure, with a solid defense behind him and bats capable of putting up crooked numbers early and often.
I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the ride, because no team had ever qualified for the playoffs a year after losing 100 games until now. Just like no team had ever won a World Series after finishing last until ‘91.
And while Minnesota’s paltry 85 wins may not garner much attention from baseball fans in general, around these parts, no one needs reminding that it’s the exact number of victories they’d mustered in ’87. Before they won eight more.
Twins fans are ecstatic to be a part of October for the first time in seven years. So #WereGonna do the one thing that we can – believe.