In 2004 and 2006, I watched the Twins lose in the playoffs from my college dorm room in Morris, MN.
In 2009, I viewed the playoff loses from the Fergus Falls, MN home I’d lived in since grade school.
In 2010, I witnessed the sweep at my family’s new Forest Lake, MN residence.
In 2017, the Wild Card loss was seen two days after starting a new job and moving into a new apartment in Elk River, MN.
The latest playoff defeats were seen from my current abode of Mankato, MN.
For the past 15 years of my life, all I’ve seen the Twins do in the playoffs is lose. The closest I can come to describing how that makes me feel in this moment is via an analogy to one of my former leisure pursuits. Though I haven’t participated in a deer hunting season for close to a decade, I hunted the woods of Bemidji, MN for about 12 years as a younger man.
There’s a particular experience associated with those hunts that always sticks with me in terms of managing expectations:
Opening-morning of each whitetail season, my hunting party would be up at the ass-crack of dawn to get settled into our stands before sunrise. There would be this palpable energy of anything being possible. We were all convinced we’d have two deer by the lunch break and the tags would be filled before that first day was over.
Two hours go by: no deer. Hmm. Not exactly what was expected, but it’s still early.
Two more hours go by: no deer. Starting to get a little restless here, but at least I’m out enjoying nature, right?
Break for lunch: still no deer. Definitely not going as planned, but some hot soup improves the afternoon outlook considerably.
First hour post-lunch: no deer. Negativity starts creeping in. “I’ll be up this early again tomorrow”; “so much for the Vikings game”; “was this four-hour drive worth it?”
Two more deer-less hours: Panicked delirium has set in. I’m seeing brown fur and white tails everywhere. I’m so desperate to hear something that the twitch of a squirrel’s—the wild, non-rally variety—tail or the fluttering of a bird has me convinced a trophy buck is right around the corner.
Night falls on a deer-free day. I climb down from my stand and trudge back to the car. The drive out of the woods is infinitely worse knowing not only that failure was the theme of the day, but also that the same scenario could happen again in a few scant hours.
The light at the end of the tunnel? When that deer saunters through the brush and into a shooting lane, all those negative thoughts disappear in an instant. All that matters is the moment and that a positive result has occurred. Even if the deer isn’t downed, it produces a surge of adrenaline that can carry a person for hours.
Right now, Twins fans facing a playoff series are metaphorically up in that tree searching for any sight or sound that may lead to hope. Until that deer—a playoff victory—is sighted, this will be the perpetual state of affairs.
Sadly, the end of the 2019 season represents another cold, early morning (i.e. next season). Maybe then there will be a chance to get something productive in the crosshairs. The hunt continues.