clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Twinkie Town’s Best of 2021

New, 9 comments

The staff pick their favorite pieces from the year gone by

MLB: AUG 22 Tigers at Twins Photo by Brad Rempel/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Good morning, team! Today is the last day of the year 2021. That means we here at Twinkie Town are obligated by the unwritten rules of producing internet content to create for you a best of the year gone by post! This is that post, published just in time to secure the future of this site for another turn around the sun (or so I assume the new site manager hopes!).

For the Minnesota Twins — the primary reason we all frequent this little spot on the internet — 2021 was a bad year. Preseason aspirations of defending back-to-back AL Central division crowns ended quickly and the competitive implications of the season were over far earlier than anyone would have guessed back in March. That losing led to the trade deadline selling of a popular, homegrown starting pitcher (José Berríos) and seemingly endless rumors of trading a popular homegrown center fielder (Byron Buxton). A Buxton trade would not come to pass, thankfully, but the remainder of the lost season was played out by numerous players who made this season’s Sporcle roster quiz very difficult. Many of them no longer remain on the roster after some early offseason housecleaning.

The offseason got off to a slow start for the Twins, who have been quiet in free agency and on the trade market. They have added around the edges of the roster by making small signings and waiver claims, but the biggest news was a long-term contract extension with that center fielder. That move gave a needed bit of optimism and positivity before the owners locked out the players after the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement in early December. In the weeks that have followed, baseball news and talk have been predictably quiet.

Outside of baseball, the year gone by was... something. For some, that was a good something (I hope), for others a bad something (I’m sorry), and for some (probably most?) a mix of the two. But we made it through.

Despite the losing club, trade deadline selling, site manager step-downs, mostly inactive offseason, and organized labor disputes there were still many interesting storylines for the writers here at Twinkie Town to analyze, satirize, and chronicle (sometimes only from good senses of duty and obligation) all year long. According to the site archives, as of yesterday, 2021 included 871 posts on this blog.

Now, as we all try to enjoy this holiday weekend, the writing staff here has collaborated to compile our favorite Twinkie Town pieces of the past year. Whatever 2021 has been and meant for you, we’re glad you’re here with us. Thanks for reading and commenting. We sincerely wish you all a happy and healthy 2022! Enjoy!

Target Field experiences

Zach got us started before the season began with his thoughts on the State of Minnesota announcement that limited crowds would be allowed at Target Field: What Hope Feels Like

Marea did an act of community service with her early-season primer on safely attending a game at Target Field during a pandemic: Navigating a Covid-Safe Target Field in 2021

Marea was back mid-season to detail her great experience with the Star Wars theme night: Nerds unite! The Twins finally got a 2021 theme night right.

Kamie brought us a great profile of the Twins’ long-time organist, Sue Nelson: The Queen of the Keys doesn’t miss a beat, or game

Baseball rules (written and unwritten)

The early part of the season had many complaints about rules, both written and unwritten. The extra-inning rules implemented in 2020, with a runner starting the 10th and later frames on second base, drew a lot of ire and the disdainful moniker of “Manfredball”. (Thankfully it won’t continue in 2022).

The writing staff Slack channel worked together in April to name a bunch of bad things that were still preferable to Manfredball: A list of 30 terrible things that are better than MLB’s extra-innings rules

Thanks in large part to rival manager Tony La Russa publicly airing out one of his own players for homering off Willians Astudillo in a 3-ball, no strike count late in a blowout, baseball’s unwritten rules got plenty of internet ink this year.

Hayden offered his perspective on the negative implications of old school baseball’s pearl-clutching about unwritten rules: Baseball’s “unwritten rules” are holding the growth of the game back

Frustration & Futility

As the Twins’ season spiraled out of control, there was no shortage of posts about this team causing people stress, anger, and other non-positive emotions. As is typical of this community, though, they were almost always delivered with lots of snark and humor.

Tawny offered an early-season guide to coping with this team’s on-field futility: How to watch the 2021 Minnesota Twins (Updated.)

Zach returned a few weeks later with an obvious question — where is the homegrown pitching pipeline we were promised? — that spurred a spirited comment section about roster-building strategy and timelines. Shoemaker, Happ, and institutional failure

In October, presumably just to rub salt in the wounds of a poor season, Jon Gamble put together a formidable, virtual big league roster of active former Twins: 2021 All Ex-Twins Team

Jorge Polanco

The Twins’ MVP of 2021, Polanco shifted from shortstop to second base before the season and proved to be the team’s most reliable performer, at any position. Naturally, Polanco’s steady, high-level play garnered attention from our writers.

JohnFoley previewed Polanco’s position switch before the season and concluded that the keystone would prove to be a good fit: Jorge Polanco will be an upgrade at second base

Zach was back later in the season with an appreciation for his “favorite Twin”: Hip Hip Jorge! An appreciation of steadiness

Byron Buxton

Along with Polanco, Buxton was another of the few bright spots for the Twins this season*.

(*when he was healthy)

Following Buxton’s hot start to the season, former site manager TJ contrasted the Twins’ lack of patience with former top prospect Aaron Hicks with their willingness to keep giving chances to Byron Buxton: The Twins finally showed patience with a centerfielder, and it is paying off

Mid-season, when the trade rumors about Buxton were at their zenith, TJ was back to argue that paying him top dollar in an extension would be a mistake: Not paying Byron Buxton really isn’t such a bad thing

Of course, in the end, the Twins disagreed with that assessment and found common ground enough to work out a long term deal with Buxton that 94% of the Twinkie Town community graded as an “A” or “B.” Reports: Buxton, Twins agree to long term extension

Zach penned an open letter of thanks to Twins ownership and management for the deal: Dear Falvey, Levine, and the Pohlad's

Analysis

A few of my favorite analysis pieces this past year included this look at two of the softest base hits of Josh Donaldson’s career, this breakdown of how Griffin Jax and Bailey Ober used their release points to their advantage, and this satirical analysis of utility player Willians Astudillo pitching.

Game Threads & Recaps

The lifeblood of this site remains the near-daily game threads and game recaps. While some of those lost some of their energy and participation as the season dragged on, our writers took advantage of the lack of pennant chase pressure to deliver some truly memorable, if sometimes wacky, pieces.

Our first entry in this category comes from self-declared handsomecharmingcommenter Joel Hernandez, who nobly took on a game recap in early June in James Fillmore’s stead. It happened to be a recap of a game started by Matt Shoemaker that had the Royals up by 9 runs on the Twins after the 1st inning: A Joel Recap

Later in June, Jon Gamble took his turn recapping a long Monday night affair with Cincinnati that was, at that point, the longest game in MLB this season: Twins 7, Reds 5 (F/12): Marathon

James kept a season-long game thread theme going, sharing the stories behind the Twins memorabilia owned by himself and other Twinkie Towners. Here is one of our favorites, which introduces James’ fishing in Minnesota story: Game 87 Tigers at Twins

In the staff responses about the best posts of the past year, there were numerous votes for any and all things written by Tawny. One of her best was this recap turned fan-fiction of a dog days loss to the White Sox: Twins 5, White Sox 8: I have no talent and I must baseball

James was also wont to wander off in game recaps to share personal stories, lessons, and musings. Perhaps none was better than this advice to stop living in the past: Tampa Bay Rays 10, Minnesota Twins 4: Livin’ in the past

Another standout Tawny recap was this one after the Twins’ shocking 4 run, 9th-inning walk-off comeback win against the Yankees, and Aroldis Chapman: Twins 7, Yankees 5: holy crap what twins win holy balls...

Miscellaneous

Amid the in-season crackdown on pitchers using sticky stuff for grip on the ball, former Twin Sergio Romo made a mockery of the new on-field inspection procedures. Just watch the video included: Sergio Romo is still the best; takes off pants

Kamie covered Joe Mauer’s charity softball home run derby, which included numerous former Twins players. The derby was won by Trevor Plouffe and raised nearly $350K for Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare: Joe Mauer is a really nice guy and Plouffe should’ve been in an MLB home run derby

During the World Series, Kamie looked back at the last time the Twins won it all, in 1991: A look back, 30 years ago today

Just a few weeks ago, James provided us with the definitive ranking of live sports experiences

And finally, after giving a few small tastes of the story in previous posts, James told the whole story of his Minnesota fishing (among other things) weekend. And... well, you just have to read it: How we got Danes drunk and pregnant at a Minnesota fishing resort

(If there are any pieces not listed here that you particularly enjoyed this year, please share and link them in the comments!)