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The Hangover Ends Tonight

Baseball is a long season. You might as well add it to death and taxes and the only sure things in life. It's a long year, and for someone who doesn't really watch a lot of baseball (and for some fans that do) it's a curious thing. Surely 162 games is too much, right? Surely, they don't all count? Losing a game is no big deal.

Maybe some of that carries over to the players. In 2010 the Minnesota Twins had the best collection of on-field talent that we've seen in a generation. I don't need to remind you who they were. And when they won the division, again, and were set to open up the ALDS against the Yankees, again, I don't think I was alone in my sense of optimism. Okay, the putrid stench that has been the 2011 season to date may be tinting my memory of last October, but for the first time in years I thought the Twins had a legitimate shot to go all the way.

So when another painful collapse came, it had to hurt. It killed me. I know it killed a lot of us here. And I'm sure it killed the players.

As much as it's possible to assign individual attributes to a collection of players as a whole, is it possible this team isn't just suffering from injuries, but from a post-October-choke hangover? Hell, over the first week or two (and at times since) it was like this team hadn't even gone through spring training. At times it felt like the guys have just been running through the motions because, like so many seasons over the last decade, they've generally been able to pull something out in the second half and put the division away. At times it has felt as though these games don't matter, because it's still early.

Well, tonight the game matters. Tonight, for the first time in 2011, the Twins get to square off against our fiercest rivals over the last few years, the White Sox. And if you can't get up for this series then you might as well be dead.

Tonight, I would love to see the Twins play with some passion. I want to see the pitcher throwing the ball like his life depends on it. And I want the offense, such as it is, to put more than three damn runs on the board.

I'm ever the eternal optimist (well, sometimes), so I'd like to think that a series against the White Sox can snap the Twins out of the early season haze they've been in. Feeling like they're playing in a game that matters, maybe it allows them to forget about how terrible they've been and it just allows them to play like they're capable of playing.

Hell on wheels, it's time to get this season started. Let's put this hangover behind us.