Much has been said of the Twins’ 17 consecutive losses in the playoffs. It hurts as a fan, but its (probably) not a curse, its not about the attitude of the team, and its not anything more than a lousy coincidence. For fans, its been 17 straight losses. It hasn’t been that many for anyone in the organization though.
Since 2002, the Twins have had three different GMs (Terry Ryan twice!,) three managers, and several generations of players. The longest tenured players on the team broke into the big leagues in 2014. That’s Jorge Polanco and Trevor May, if you’re curious. Unless you want to count Caleb Theilbar, part one. That started in 2013. Either way, those guys weren’t around for any playoff losses prior to 2017. That means for them, this is loss number five. Not 17. Five. And some of those are justifiable.
The 2017 Twins were a “just-glad-to-be-here” upstart bunch that drew a wildcard match up at Yankee stadium against Joe Girardi’s 91-game winners. The Twins jumped on Luis Severino early, and chased him out after one out. Finger-injury Ervin Santana gave the runs back, and only lasted two innings, before being replaced by Jose Berrios, but if Santana had been healthy, that could have easily been a different story. As it was, the Twins put four runs up in the Bronx as a heavy underdog.
[Last season, in 2019, the Twins again drew a juggernaut of a Yankee team. Injuries abounded, and the Yanks still won 103 games before getting healthy just in time for the playoffs. The Twins lost three straight, and the scores look ugly, but a couple of those games were closer than they looked—especially the one [edited so I don’t get any more condescending emails.]
Those are the only playoff losses you can even kind of, sort of, maybe hold against the current players. That’s four. Five with the one to the Astros. Rocco Baldelli was not here for the first one, either. That was Paul Molitor’s manager-of-the-year season. It was the first year of the current front office as well, before they were able to do much to shape the roster.
Before 2017, the last Twins playoff loss came in 2010. Ron Gardenhire was the manager, Bill Smith was the GM, and the roster contained exactly two players who are still active—Drew Butera and Francisco Liriano. The only thing the same was the owner. Lets go ahead and give Jim Pohlad three more losses then, his playoff losing streak is eight. Still not 17. Since Carl was still kicking in 2009, that means the longest tenured person in the Twins organization is STILL not responsible for half of the streak. That streak dates all the way to 2004. Hell, even the home ballpark is different, in case you thought it was built on a native burial ground or something.
The team isn’t the one that is “comfortable” losing, or has a “loser’s” attitude. Its the fans. Yes, it sucks, and it hurts. I hate it too. But don’t blame the team. They’ve got a good fighting chance tomorrow and Thursday against the Astros. Sure, it sucks even more that the Vikings, Wolves, and Wild have also been lousy for the most part (and heartbreaking when not) since the turn of the century. Don’t hold that against the Twins, and don’t hold the Gardy years against the current squad. Drop the negativity, come join me in being positive, and probably getting your heart broken anew.