How to Backtrack: A Guide for Twins Fans

Jonathan Daniel

You, Twins fan, have likely ridiculed the team this offseason, but here we are three weeks into the season, and they're not that bad. Want to backpedal a little? Here's how.

2011 and 2012 were bad years for the Twins, and those bad years started early in April. Two years ago, the Twins were 7-12 by this point, on their way to a 12-27 start. Last year, they were 5-11, and on their way to beginning the year with a 10-26 record.

At the moment, though, the Twins are above .500. The bullpen has been excellent and the hitting has been close to average, and the starting pitching staff has even put together a nonzero number of quality starts, which is more than any of us really expected.

Sure, the team could go on a losing streak any day now. But we're also forced to consider the possibility that perhaps the 2013 Twins aren't the insult to baseball that we all expected.

Unfortunately, you, dear Twins fan, spent the offseason blaspheming the integrity, intelligence, and intestinal fortitude of all and sundry involved with the organization. You lambasted Kevin Correia before he ever put on a jersey. You berated Terry Ryan for signing yet more soft-tossing pitchers. You made fun of Vance Worley's glasses.

You, in short, are caught in a bind. Your friends and loved ones, being dear to you, will take any possible opportunity to make fun of you for your confident predictions of disaster. With every Twins win, you sound less and less like a clear-eyed, realistic baseball expert, and more like the sort of person who calls into postgame shows to accuse the manager of wanting the team to lose.

So here, I present to you a quick guide to backtracking, when someone quotes to you the immortal Harry Doyle from Major League: "Hey, in case you haven't noticed, and judging by the attendance you haven't, the Twins have managed to win a few here and there, and are threatening to climb out of the cellar."

1. Talk about small sample sizes. For one thing, this has the benefit of being true; the Twins have played only 15 games this year, and "almost a tenth of the way through the season" doesn't really prove much. It's also useful because it can be used to dismiss almost any length of time. Anyone can have a good week. A good month. A good couple of months. Even a good year. (Once you get past the year mark, you have to either start accusing players of steroid use, or accept that you sound like a crank.)

2. Refocus on the bigger picture. Mention that the Twins aren't exactly going to the World Series this year. You can position yourself as the discerning fan who will accept nothing less than excellence, and hopefully no one will remember that you didn't just predict mediocrity, you predicted that the Twins would set a modern record by losing 139 games, and in the process blind several young, impressionable spectators.

3. Position yourself as part of a larger, unified group. True, you didn't actually hear anybody else say that the Twins were going to be so bad that they'd make the tough old nuns at St. Paul's break down in tears. But they would have said it, if they'd thought of it. If somebody calls you out, tell them, "Hey, everybody was saying that, I'm not alone here." Strength in (imaginary) numbers is the way to go here.

So good luck, potential backtracker. You can escape criticism. Deflect and obfuscate.

Or, just wait around a couple of weeks, and you'll probably be right on the money.

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