So, perhaps the Marlins will bring us to a halt. Why not the Marlins, what would be a better team to illustrate the weakness of us all?
Maybe it is just the nature of what we’re all living through right now, but I feel like we should’ve been suppressing our high expectations all along. We can have high expectations, of course, but in 2020, why would we think for even a minute that they’d be achieved.
As for our beloved Minnesota Twins, I think we need to keep our expectations mostly to ourselves, and not let the team believe they are anything other than underdogs. Aren’t we all underdogs now? Aren’t we all up against it?
It’s not like I’ve had high expectations about much lately, so the high expectations attached to the Twins season I find both exhilarating and somewhat unnerving. The truth is, I hate being this guy, but because there are such incredibly high expectations for this team, I find myself somewhat concerned. Minnesota teams typically don’t prosper in such environments. As I write this today, we are 2-1, in first place, scoring runs like it’s an easy thing to do….what could possibly go wrong?
Miami? Miami has done in Minnesota before (see 1977 Super Bowl).
Being quite a bit older than most of you reading this, I’ve lived through decades of mostly dismal Minnesota sports seasons. I know that, logically, those past teams have zero impact upon our current team, but, it’s really difficult to be a lifelong Minnesota sports fan and expect that championship expectations will be met. When the Twins won their two world series championships, they were far from expected to do so. In fact, of course, 1991, was famous for both teams (The Braves and Twins) having gone from “worst to first,” and the 1987 team seemingly came out of nowhere to win it all. Some may remember that the 1987 team won 85 games in the regular season. (Granted they clinched with a week or so to go, so they kind of mailed it in at that point…but the larger point is….they entered the playoffs with low expectations, and overcame all the odds against them).
That’s what Minnesotans do…we overcome. We overcome the winter, the mosquitoes, the perceptions of non-Minnesotans that we are “fly-over” country. We overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles, with our teeth clenched, stoic Scandinavians and all of that. What we don’t do, is front-run, we don’t brag, we don’t expect massive success. It’s not in our nature.
Our teams seem to be far better when we don’t expect much of them, and they seem to collapse (see Vikings always) when we expect them to win the big game. I want to believe in our Twins, but I am terrified that we all have such incredibly high expectations based on last year’s regular season success. Unless we win at least one play-off series (and maybe not even then) this season is going to be a disappointment.
So, like the skunk at the party, the ant at the picnic, the epidemiologist at the White House, I understand that this opinion may not be welcome. I understand that I will be (hopefully) be eating these words and that I won’t be invited to the World Series Championship parade, but I genuinely feel like somebody has to say this.
It’s in our DNA, we win when people don’t expect us to win, and we don’t, when people expect us to win…perhaps it’s less “Minnesota Nice” than it is “Minnesota Contrary.” Frankly, I can’t help but be terrified given the high level of expectations. It’s in my nature.
All that said, why not now, why not us? The Twins should be better than last year, with the additions of Donaldson, and Maeda in particular, so there’s no logical reason to fear what I’m fearing. Nevertheless, I’m suggesting we temper our expectations just a bit, and enjoy the strange trip this 60-game season will be. Perhaps given the Marlins situation, soon it will be a 50-game season….or perhaps the playoff start tomorrow….who knows? Why not us, why not now....what could stop us? Well....the Marlins, of course, and they weren’t even on the schedule.
Any number of really weird things could happen in such a short season: the Twins hitters could slump, the White Sox or Indians could come out hot, a major injury to somebody key could happen…a 60 game season is far less representative of the best team than a 162 game season would be. Of course, it figures, that when the Twins would have (arguably at least) perhaps their best team ever, that the world would nearly end, and the baseball season would be filled with asterisks. Once again, it’s so very representative of Minnesota sports history.
So, I’ll close with this: what I’m reading makes me nervous, if only because I’ve lived it before. When we almost take for granted that we will win the central, it’s time to focus on how difficult winning these games will actually be. I’m certainly not envisioning 41-donut or anything hideous, I’m not envisioning a losing season, but I’m worried. It’s what I do, apparently. Most odds makers have the Twins winning just a couple of more games through 60 than the Indians and the White Sox. Odds makers tend not to be crazy wrong very often, so if all goes well, it’s going to be close to the end…and that’s if all goes well.
I want the parade to happen, it’s time for another championship banner to be raised, but I won’t be able to watch Friday night’s game without my usual level of apprehension. Lowering our expectations just a bit, has allowed me to function far better when I watch the Vikings in prime-time, or when I watch the Twins take on the Yankees in the play-offs. I mean, really, I simply don’t expect them to play well in prime-time, or on the big stage and in those relatively rare occasions when they do, I’m overjoyed. My expectations of the Twins are so high this year…I find myself talking to myself even more than usual, and what I’m hearing from the voices inside my head is simply “calm down….don’t panic if things don’t start well.”
Remember, we’re in this for the long-haul, even if this season is sort of a short-haul. And, if the Marlins really do signify the beginning of the end, all I can say is….well…my expectations were less than those that many held, and thus my disappointment, while real, isn’t spectacular.