My 20-year high school class reunion is this weekend, and besides being a good excuse to knock back a few, see some old friends, and whine about the humidity (we're from Renville County, it's what we do), it also provides a convenient hook for my feature this week. I decided to take a look at the 1989 Minnesota Twins, and see how they compared to this year's talented, frustrating ballclub. The similarities are spooky.
- Record: 80-82. .500 ballclub? Check.
- Offense: Some superior talent in Kirby Puckett (led AL in average at .339 and hits with 215), Kent Hrbek (25 HR, 84 RBI) and Gary Gaetti (19 HR, 75 RBI)? Check.
- Starting Pitching: Only two starters with double-digit wins (Allan Anderson and the immortal Roy Smith)? Check.
- Staff Ace: under .500 (Frank Viola: 8-12, 3.79 ERA before the trade)? Check.
- Relief: dependable closer with facial hair (Jeff Reardon, 31 saves)? Check.
- Pitching coach who would be getting creamed by the blogs if there were blogs in 1989: Check. Dick Such is a lucky man.
The more things change, huh? Other items of note after the jump:
- Did anyone else forget that Jim Dwyer played for the Twins? He played 88 games for the Twins in 1989, primarily as a DH.
- The most noteworthy thing that happened that year was the trade of Viola to the Mets for Rick Aguilera, Kevin Tapani, and David West, who I hated with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns. In other words, almost as much as Ron Davis.
- For those looking to win a bar trivia contest, the other two players the Twins acquired in the Viola trade were Jack Savage and Tim Drummond.
- The starters left from the 1987 World Series Champions: Puck, Herbie, The Rat, Dan Gladden, Greg Gagne.
- New starters who would be on the 1991 champs: Brian Harper, Randy Bush,
- Bush was the starting right fielder. Now, I love Randy Bush as much as anyone who remembers The Slide does, but what the hell was he doing in the starting lineup? (The answer: we traded Tom Brunansky for Tommy Bleeping Herr the previous year. Man, that trade sucked.)
- Hrbek tallied the above stats in just 109 games.
- This has nothing to do with 1989, but I found this anecdote from Tim Kurkjian about Hrbek while researching this: "The most human baseball player ever, he went to the postseason galas because the beer was free. He was big, funny and marvelous. Upon first meeting the White Sox's diminutive Craig Grebeck, who wore No. 14 as did Hrbek, Hrbek told him 'you should put a slash between the 1 and 4 and you'd be 1/4th.' In retirement, and while sitting around the fire during a camping trip, Van Slyke said Hrbek played a tape recording of his best farts." Kent Hrbek was awesome. Suck it, Gant.
- Among the more anonymous players on the team that year: Greg Booker, Mike Cook, German Gonzalez, Lenny Webster, Vic Rodriguez and Doug Baker.
- The Twins broadcast team that year was Jim Kaat, Ted Robinson and Dick Bremer. That was a solid crew, although I think Chip Hale got lost in Bremer's pompadour and went on the 15-day DL (shoulder, Brylcreem).
Feel free to share your memories of the '89 Twins in the comments. Due to the aforementioned reunion, you're in the talented hands of Jesse for this evening's game against the Indians. Keep hope alive, enjoy your weekend.