I mean, really, what else would you want to talk about?
With Minnesota's win yesterday afternoon and the Yankees loss Wednesday night, the Twins are tied with the Bombers for the best record in the American League/Major League Baseball at 92-60. While this means that home field advantage is still in the cards, what's just as important is how the rest of the leage (see: AL East) shakes out over the last ten days.
No disrespect to Texas, but they're 6.5 games back of Minnesota's record right now. Our Twins will be the one or two seed come playoffs.
First round opponent: Yankees or Rays
Tampa is just a game and a half down on the Yanks thanks to a win last night, and with one more on the books for this evening that's a race that's going down to the wire. No matter who we face, it will be the AL Wildcard team, and the Twins will have home field advantage.
Home Field Advantage has been a subject that's had it's run over the last few days, including TwinsGeek's take six days ago, and he's not the only one who's come out and said that home field advantage isn't that big of a deal.
[Edit: Full disclosure, I mis-read TG's statement. I'm the idiot. He's talking about the ALCS, not the ALDS. Parts of the next couple paragraphs may not apply any longer. #ReadingFail]
Even going on TG's numbers, which are pretty damn good for a guy who must run through about 17,000 napkins a year, he concludes that the Twins have a 10-15% better chance of winning at home. Which is fine, that's accurate as far as the Twins are concerned. But then he says it's for one game (game five, because as a whole that's the "extra" that the HFA team is awarded), to which I respond: it's not about game five, it's about games one and two.
Having a 10-15% better chance of winning at home in games one and two is more important than having that chance in games three and four, because it's a race to three in the divisional round. And getting games one and two at Target Field means the Twins have that much better of a chance at heading into St. Pete's or the Bronx with a 2-0 lead.
Game five at home is great, yes, but the real advantage of having the first two games at home is that you're (hopefully) putting yourself in a better position so that you don't have to get to that deciding game. It's easier to win at home. Ask Danny Valencia and Denard Span.
Since 1998 in the ALDS and ALCS, the home team is 45-39. That's just a .536 winning percentage. But you know what? I'll take it. An advantage is an advantage.
But I've been wrong before.
If the Rangers upset the AL East division champs, then the Twins would have home field advantage for the American League Championship Series. If the AL East champs win, then Tamp or New York would host the Twins. This really isn't that complicated, is it?
The Twins playoff schedule will begin on the same day, no matter which series they choose (should they assume the best record in the AL). All five potential games are scheduled for the same day, in both AL brackets:
Game 1: Weds, Oct 6 (Liriano)
Game 2: Thurs, Oct 7 (Pavano)
Game 3: Sat, Oct 9 (Duensing)
Game 4: Sun, Oct 10 (Blackburn, if necessary)
Game 5: Tues, Oct 12 (Liriano, if necessary)
All that would change would be start time. Is there an advantage to an afternoon game at home versus a night game at home?
By the way: on October 10, there is opportunity for FOUR playoff games in one day. That's like the biggest and best possible holiday for me. Move over, family time at Christmas and Thanksgiving, it's Baseball Day.
The ALCS kicks off on Friday, October 15, so depending on how long the series goes (and if the Twins win, obviously) it will be interesting to see how the rotation shakes out. Three or four games, and I imagine the rotation doesn't change. If the ALDS goes to game five, I imagine we might see Pavano-Duensing and then Liriano again in game three for the Championship Series.
One Team, Under Gardy, Indivisible, With Hustle and Mustaches for all
We all know by now that the Twins have now earned six division titles in nine years under Ron Gardenhire. That's fantastic. But when we start talking about playoff baseball, people start gnashing teeth and shredding garments.
Which is probably because the Twins are 6-18 in playoff games in Gardy's tenure. Now, I'm not one to put a whole lot into postseason records as far as Minnesota baseball is concerned. Partially because it's a small sample size, partially because I'd rather lose in the playoffs than not be there at all (this has to be a poor attitude, right?) and partially because in most of those instances the Twins were the inferior team.
(Not that the Twins didn't have their chances. I don't want to talk about having a lead in all three games versus the Yankees last year and how we ended up losing games two and three. DON'T BRING IT UP.)
But at some point, if you keep going to the playoffs, you have to win eventually or else people become disillusioned. Front offices and managers get fired because they win in the regular season and then don't when they get to the brackets. The Twins haven't won a playoff game since 2004. They haven't won a series since they were upstarts in '02.
The time to win is now. We've suffered through upsets and mistakes and getting swept by teams we had a chance to actually beat.
This is the best Minnesota Twins team in a generation, and possibly going back to the great teams of the 60s. I want to see them prove it.