Compared to fans of many other baseball organizations, I could consider myself spoiled. Other than the doldrums of the late-1990s and the early 2010s, the Minnesota Twins have largely been a very competitive team since I began avidly following them. More often than not, the club has put an entertaining product on the field and produced solid results. The number of AL Central title banners flying atop Target Field is a tribute to such success. No decade-long struggles like the Kansas City Royals or Pittsburgh Pirates, and no scorched-earth rebuilds like the Miami Marlins or even Houston Astros (remember, they were bad for quite awhile before they were really good).
Yet, there’s one experience that has eluded me through all my years of fandom—my baseball “white whale”, if you will: an extended postseason run. As I watched the Los Angeles Dodgers close the door on the 2020 season by defeating the Tampa Bay Rays, I couldn’t help but think “what would it be like to still be rooting for the home team right now?!” The closest I’ve come to following a Twins squad deep into the fall months was 2002. Even in the relatively small-potatoes stakes of the ‘02 ALDS against Oakland, I’ll never forget watching the final innings of Game 5 with white knuckles and palpitating heart.
Unfortunately, the subsequent ALCS was over so quickly—5 games, some Ralley Monkeys & Thunder Sticks, and one Adam (bleeping) Kennedy—that it never felt like much of a contest.
As has now been all-too-well documented, the Twins have not advanced past the first round of any subsequent playoff series since ‘02. There have been a lot of great regular-season moments:
- Back-to-Back-to-Back division titles (‘02-’04)
- Epic Game 163 in ‘09
- Magical Target Field inaugural campaign
- Out-of-nowhere ‘15 and ‘17 competitiveness
- Bomba Squad dominance of ‘19
I’ve even experienced some historic postseasons in general:
- Red Sox breaking the Bambino’s Curse in ‘04
- Kansas City rising from the ashes in ‘15
- Cubbies banishing their own hex in ‘16
- Three of the last four World Series going at least six games
But, again, no late October performances from the Twins.
Instead of wallowing in self-pity, however, I’d like to pose a question to those who remember the ‘87 and ‘91 championship seasons, or perhaps even the ‘65 WS run: What is it like? How does it feel to have every pitch—every movement—matter on the biggest of stages? How does one handle such tension and live to tell about it?
Someday, I hope to experience such a phenomenon for myself. Until that point? I’m relying on your second-hand experiences to fill me in.