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Worst All-Time Twins Tournament, Review: I’m a loser, baby

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The worst of the worst of the worst of the worst.

Minnesota Twins v Baltimore Orioles
Fitting they’re in the field, because ‘81 was the only one not out.
Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

It’s unsurprising that this bracket ended with a series that showed minimal offense through all seven games.

But in the end, it was the 1981 Twins who failed to win a single series, losing their way through the tournament to “earn” the title of Worst Twins Team of All Time.

Of course, all 15 series (16, if you include the play-in game) had their own stories. Here’s a quick rundown.

Play-In Game

(16) 1919 vs. (17) 2012

Game 1: ‘19 wins 5-3
‘12 loses 1-0

After allowing three in the first, Walter Johnson pitched a complete game, while ‘19 put up four in the third to take a lead they would not give up.

Logan Morrison Round

(1) 1909 vs. (17) 2012

Game 1: ‘12 wins 11-1
Game 2: ‘12 wins 4-3
Game 3: ‘12 wins 13-7
‘09 loses 3-0

Two blowouts sandwiching a close win sent ‘09 to the Park Round. Seven members of ‘12’s starting lineup batted at least .333, an average matched by only two ‘09 starters.

(8) 2011 vs. (9) 1956

Game 1: ‘11 wins 3-2
Game 2: ‘11 wins 5-3
Game 3: ‘56 wins 8-7
Game 4: ‘56 wins 10-4
Game 5: ‘11 wins 12-1
‘56 loses 3-2

Despite going ahead 2-0, ‘11 dropped the next two games before finally escaping the bracket. Jason Kubel led the ‘11 offense with a .450/.500/.950 slash line and two home runs, while six ‘56 pitchers sported ERAs over 10.00.

(5) 1981 vs. (12) 1999

Game 1: ‘81 wins 6-5 (10 inn.)
Game 2: ‘81 wins 4-2
Game 3: ‘99 wins 8-1
Game 4: ‘99 wins 2-1
Game 5: ‘99 wins 11-3
‘81 loses 3-2

Unlike ‘11, ‘81 dropped all three games after going up 2-1 and thus moved on in the tournament. ‘81’s best chance to force ‘99 to advance came in Game 4, but after scoring the tying run, ‘81 stranded the tying run on second in both the eighth and ninth innings.

(4) 1957 vs. (13) 1958

Game 1: ‘58 wins 6-4
Game 2: ‘57 wins 11-5
Game 3: ‘57 wins 9-0
Game 4: ‘58 wins 6-3
Game 5: ‘57 wins 3-2 (11 inn.)
‘58 loses 3-2

This series ended on a walkoff walk. I’ve had several games, both in this tournament and the previous one, ended on a walkoff walk. I suppose it fits the theme of anticlimax.

(3) 1955 vs. (14) 1951

Game 1: ‘55 wins 11-6
Game 2: ‘55 wins 1-0
Game 3: ‘51 wins 11-1
Game 4: ‘55 wins 6-3 (11 inn.)
‘51 loses 3-1

The sole run in Game 2 also scored on a walk. Seriously?

(6) 1948 vs. (11) 1995

Game 1: ‘95 wins 4-1
Game 2: ‘48 wins 8-5
Game 3: ‘95 wins 12-11
Game 4: ‘95 wins 5-1
‘48 loses 3-1

Just a reminder of how insane Game 3 (one of my played games) was:

  • Bottom 4th: ‘95 scores five runs, leads 9-1
  • Top 5th: ‘48 scores four, trails 9-5
  • Bottom 6th: ‘95 scores three, leads 12-5 (“Were those insurance runs really necessary?”)
  • Top 7th: ‘48 scores four, trails 12-9 (“I guess they were.”)
  • Top 9th: ‘48 scores two, but strands the tying run on second to lose 12-11.

Best game of the tournament, right there.

(7) 2016 vs. (10) 1982

Game 1: ‘16 wins 3-1
Game 2: ‘16 wins 6-4
Game 3: ‘82 wins 6-5
Game 4: ‘82 wins 5-4 (10 inn.)
Game 5: ‘16 wins 6-1
‘82 loses 3-2

At least Game 4 ended on a walkoff single instead of a walk. And Game 3 (which I didn’t play) was another candidate for best game of the tournament, ‘16 scoring four in the fifth to take a 5-3 lead, only for ‘82 to score three in the seventh to provide the final margin.

(2) 1949 vs. (15) 2013

Game 1: ‘49 wins 10-6
Game 2: ‘13 wins 8-7
Game 3: ‘49 wins 6-0
Game 4: ‘13 wins 15-7
Game 5: ‘49 wins 18-3
’13 loses 3-2

Game 2 saw ‘13 score two runs in the eighth (on back-to-back homers) and ninth (on back-to-back sacrifice flies) to win, another top game in the bracket. The blowouts to end the series, not so much.

ByungHo Park Round

Gamble Regional: (1) 1909 vs. (9) 1956

Game 1: ‘09 wins 3-1
Game 2: ‘09 wins 6-2
Game 3: ‘09 wins 11-2
‘56 loses 3-0

‘09 scored 11 runs in the Morrison Round, and nearly doubled that total in the Park Round, pulling off a surprising sweep to kick ‘56 into the semifinals. For a dead ball era team with minimal power, ‘09 showed off some clout, hitting a home run in each of the three games (the first two by Bob Unglaub, the last by Wid Conroy).

Austin Regional: (5) 1981 vs. (13) 1958

Game 1: ‘58 wins 10-3
Game 2: ‘58 wins 6-1
Game 3: ‘58 wins 9-8
‘81 loses 3-0

‘81 went from one game away from leaving the bracket to getting swept in the quarterfinals. Their only two pitchers to put up an ERA below 4.00 were Darrell Jackson (two scoreless innings) and John Verhoeven (3.86 ERA in 2.1 innings).

Hayden Regional: (6) 1948 vs. (14) 1951

Game 1: ‘48 wins 4-3
Game 2: ‘51 wins 4-1
Game 3: ‘51 wins 3-2 (11 inn.)
Game 4: ‘51 wins 6-3
‘48 loses 3-1

Although the series did not go the full five games, this was arguably the best series of the tournament. Game 1 saw ‘48 win on a two-out, two-run, pinch-hit home run by Mark Christman; Game 3 ended on a walkoff double; and Game 4 saw ‘51 score four runs in the seventh to take their final lead of the bracket.

Zach Regional: (10) 1982 vs. (15) 2013

Game 1: ‘13 wins 8-5
Game 2: ‘13 wins 9-3
Game 3: ‘82 wins 7-5
Game 4: ‘13 wins 12-10
‘82 loses 3-1

Game 4 was another wild offensive game. ‘82 scored six in the third then gave up five in the fourth to tie the score, and a five-run seventh for ‘13 proved the difference... though not without a scare. Ron Washington’s two-run triple brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but Glen Perkins struck out Mickey Hatcher to end the Park Round.

Ricky Nolasco Round

Selig Sectional: (5) 1981 vs. (9) 1956

Game 1: ‘56 wins 4-1
Game 2: ‘56 wins 13-0
Game 3: ‘56 wins 16-4
Game 4: ‘81 wins 10-9
Game 5: ‘56 wins 5-0
‘81 loses 4-1

What a rout. At least Game 4 brought drama, as Lou Berberet hit a three-run double to give ‘56 a 9-8 lead in the bottom of the eighth, only for Roy Smalley to swat a two-run dong in the top of the ninth to give ‘81 a semifinal win. The rest of the games... far less dramatic.

Manfred Sectional: (6) 1948 vs. (10) 1982

Game 1: ‘82 wins 3-2
Game 2: ‘48 wins 6-2
Game 3: ‘82 wins 9-3
Game 4: ‘82 wins 7-3
Game 5: ‘82 wins 3-1
‘48 loses 4-1

Christman hit another pinch-hit homer in Game 2. He has 25 power in OOTP 21 (the game uses a 20-80 scale). These things happen. (Even Ben Revere hit a homer at one point, which just should not be a thing so early in a tournament.)

Tsuyoshi Nishioka Round

Chumpionship: (5) 1981 vs. (6) 1948

Game 1: ‘81 wins 2-0
Game 2: ‘48 wins 5-2
Game 3: ‘48 wins 3-2
Game 4: ‘48 wins 6-1
Game 5: ‘81 wins 5-4
Game 6: ‘81 wins 8-1
Game 7: ‘48 wins 6-2
‘81 loses 4-3

Minimal offense (no game featuring more than nine runs), minimal power (six total homers)... this was an appropriate final series for the tournament. But it went down to the wire, and there were several excellent pitching performances, none better than Roger Erickson’s one-hit Maddux in Game 1.

Thus, ‘81 is the loser. But which player gets the lead crown?

Tournament LVP

I had a good idea of who would be LVP regardless of the result of the Nishioka Round, and when ‘81 fell, it did not take a long look to confirm my choice.

Every ‘81 batter had at least one good tournament round, while one pitcher stood out with his regular poor starts. In all three of his starts, this pitcher lasted no more than two innings, twice being removed in the first innings. In the first three rounds of the tournament, his respective ERAs were 27.00, 135.00, and 31.50 — the last of those lowered from 94.50 by a scoreless 1.1-inning relief appearance.

Demoted to the bullpen for the Nishioka Round, this pitcher appeared twice, a one-pitch one-out cameo in Game 4, and a two-inning outing in Game 7 where he gave up a pair of insurance runs to ‘48.

Your Least Valuable Player is:

Fernando Arroyo, ‘81 SP

6 G, 3 GS, 1 GF
6.2 IP, 25 H, 20 R, 20 ER, 4 BB, 2 K
27.00 ERA

Thanks for reading through all this. I hope you enjoyed the chaos, memories, and whatever schadenfreude you may have experienced.

Have a merry Christmas and a happy holiday season, wherever you are.

Especially if you remember the 1981 Twins.

...it’s Christmas. I can’t end on a cynical note.

The Waitresses, play us out.

Nishioka Round, Final Game | Review |