My favorite things I read in high school had a sad ending. Or at the very least, a bittersweet one. I liked Edgar Allen Poe more than happier poets. My favorite Shakespeare work, not that I've read anything resembling a ton of them, is Hamlet. A Farewell to Arms, No Country for Old Men, and The Great Gatsby are at or near the top of my list of favorites.
I don't know why this is. I don't think of myself as being especially angst-ridden or depressed during high school. I knew people who were feeling far worse than I was, and I didn't think I could compare my problems with theirs. Maybe a less happy ending feels more honest. I love the original Star Wars movies and The Lord of the Rings dearly, and it creates great warmth in my heart when I watch them again. But the "good guy overcomes adversity with his friends to beat bad guy" story has been told for centuries. I guess that by the time a person reaches high school, the harshness of the world has begun to set in, and that's why the dark, reflective, and personal stuff is appealing.
But you know what? I don't want misery when I watch baseball. And right when I entered high school, that's all I got from the sport. Fortunately, there was little beyond the surface-level pain of losing in sports that came with it, but I haven't witnessed a lot of good Twins baseball in my life since the game took over as my greatest obsession. It's been pretty terrible.
Having attended the late-season game against the Mariners where Robbie Grossman committed at least two errors on one play, I don't know how things can get too much lower. The fact that I have multiple moments from last season that could qualify as rock bottom ahead of that E7 tells me that it'll be tough. But let's try to imagine a worse season.
(Note: This is a post about strictly baseball-bad stuff. The real world could intrude upon the season and make things actually bad, but for the sake of fun, let's imagine that isn't the case.)
Bad Thing I: Hope is a Farce
Look, guys, if the young guys don't develop, we're seriously screwed. I'm already on the precipice of giving up on Eddie Rosario as being anything other than a toolsy player without the skills to use those tools, but he's not the only one with some serious warts. I don't know if we can say with any confidence that Miguel Sano can field, and we also don't know if he can make consistent enough contact to strike out less than a third of the time. Byron Buxton also has a serious problem with missing pitches, and he might just turn into a fourth outfielder and pinch runner with a bit of occasional pop – still a useful player, but well below the minimum of what I think most of us would be happy with, which is a competent regular player. Max Kepler might also get figured out by opposing teams, and it might be that his underwhelming defensive metrics are because of a lack of ability rather than a lack of experience or a lack of data. Kennys Vargas might be another Oswaldo Arcia, just a three-true-outcome hitter that can't provide enough to be playable. Jose Berrios needs to improve his control if he wants to have a good major league career. Mitch Garver... well, I can't really come up with a bad thing to say about Mitch Garver. We don't really know enough about him yet. But he could be bad – trust me on this.
So for final lines and results, we have for our important young players:
Byron Buxton: 95 games, .210/.290/.340, 7 HR, 20 SB, 0.6 WAR; benched in July for J.B Shuck
Miguel Sano: 130 games, .220/.320/.435, 22 HR, 0.7 WAR; moved to full-time DH after season
Max Kepler: 100 games, .225/.305/.350, 8 HR, 0.5 WAR; optioned to AAA in August
Eddie Rosario: 45 games, .245/.270/.370, 3 HR, -0.2 WAR; designated for assignment in June
Kennys Vargas: 110 games, .210/.315/.400, 18 HR, 0.4 WAR, traded for spare parts after season
Jose Berrios: 15 games, 10 starts, 60 IP, 6.80 ERA, 7.5 K/9, 5.5 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9; constantly optioned to and recalled from AAA before being moved to bullpen permanently in August
Mitch Garver: is literally Juan Centeno
Bad Thing II: Injuries, Injuries, Everywhere
In 2014, Rangers players lost 2,116 days to injury. That is insanity.
This is supposed to be worst-case scenario, so let's say that the 2017 Twins beat that. How might that happen?
- Jason Castro: broke arm falling off ladder while adjusting framed painting; 75 days
- John Ryan Murphy: locked in the clubhouse bathroom during road trip; 15 days
- Joe Mauer: old, cursed by dead albatross; 50 days
- Brian Dozier: dislocated shoulder by being tackled trying to hunt Minnesota United's mascot; 75 days
- Ehire Adrianza: tied tongue trying to teach Americans how to pronounce his name; 45 days
- Eduardo Escobar: mauled by a rabies-infested TC Bear; 145 days
- Jorge Polanco: ate fish on the plane; 10 days
- Miguel Sano: threw out back hitting home run over Minnie & Paul sign; 15 days
- Eddie Grossman: broke toe with dropped ball; 60 days
- Danny Santana: body tied in knots trying to play positions he cannot; 90 days
- Byung Ho Park: beaned for a one-time bat-flipping relapse; 10 days
- Matt Belisle: caught fingers in drawer; 8 days
- Buddy Boshers: broke arm tripping down clubhouse steps; 60 days
- Craig Breslow: broke leg from textbooks spilling out of locker; 140 days
- J.T. Chargois: ate too much Cajun food; 15 days
- Tyler Duffey: whiplash from turning to watch home runs go over the fence; 30 days
- Phil Hughes: hit by line drive due to poor reaction; 30 days
- Trevor May: clawed by cat, blistered thumbs; 40 days
- Adalberto Mejia: kept losing cap, as if haunted by a lingering spirit that was thought to have left Minnesota; 15 days
- Ryan O'Rourke: blew out elbow throwing paper airplanes; 140
- Glen Perkins: required surgery after collection of nick nacks was found in shoulder; 180 days
- Taylor Rogers: broke finger on purpose to get away from the newest DJ Hey Beef mixtape; 60 days
- Ervin Santana: baseball caught in nose; 80 days
- Michael Tonkin: wrist soreness; 10 days
If my math is right, that puts us at 1,398 days spent on the DL. Well, I tried. I honestly don't know how the Rangers did it. But rest assured: this would be bad too.
Bad Thing III: Abandonment
By early June, most of us would want out of this terrible, terrible season. So would Paul Molitor. Tired of everything involving this team, he and most of the coaching staff resigns. Eddie Guardado becomes the de facto manager. (Not every part of this has to be bad, you know.)
Realizing this is far too great a task for his first top job, Derek Falvey stops showing up to the office one day. He reappears a month later to announce his resignation. Thad Levine quickly follows suit.
Brian Dozier, having recovered from his shoulder injury in July, somehow is still the only Twin elected to the All-Star Game. He does not return after the break. Several years later, he is found in a Mississippi wood with a massive beard, shooting deer. His identity is revealed to the family that finds him by his flowing head of hair and the fact that his shots keep pulling to the left.
In August, Byron Buxton chases after a fly ball to the wall, catches it, and then keeps running. He goes through the wall. He reaches the shores of Lake Michigan by sundown.
Joe Mauer announces soon after Buxton's departure that this season will be his last. He takes his family to a cabin not too far from Bemidji and becomes a farmer and avid stamp collector.
In the middle of a game in early September, Minnie dislodges himself from the sign in center field and walks out Gate 34. Paul cries for help freeing himself. His friend leaves him behind without a word.
Dick Bremer becomes a squash announcer.
Bad Stuff IV: Madness
While the team is away, the earth opens up from under Target Field, swallowing right field. The temporary fence put up 10 feet beyond the infield dirt results in record home run totals.
Alien Ed from the cover of Iron Maiden's The Final Frontier does battle with Miguel Sano at home plate. Sano is fought hard by the otherworldly metal band mascot, and all seems lost before he patiently works a walk.
Due to a scheduling and communication error, Tommie-Johnnie is played the same day the Twins play the Blue Jays. Both sets of teams decide to play anyway, resulting in a chaotic mess on the field. A man in the stands named John Coctostan is inspired by the show to create a game combining baseball and football, and he names it Targetball, after the venue's sponsor. It becomes the country's most popular sport by 2150.
Trevor May's cat becomes sentient and emerges as the staff ace.
Jim Delany admits that Big Ten hockey was a huge mistake and holds an election among member schools to abandon sponsoring the sport, a measure that passes unanimously.
A front office coup occurs, with the new President of Baseball Operations, a shrouded fellow going by "J.L.," immediately signs Peter Bourjos and Craig Gentry.
The season becomes so macabre and strange that the Coen brothers decide to write a film about it. George Clooney stars as Joe Mauer, winning Best Actor in the following Academy Awards.
Prince rises from the dead and plays shortstop for a day. His defense doesn't impress scouts, but he goes 2-4 with a double and a sac fly.
Excluding the days he is injured, Danny Santana shows up every day and plays wherever asked. He is a constant in a sea of chaos.