I can’t really dissuade anyone from breaking the glass and hitting that proverbial panic button. I know a 162-game season provides many opportunities for bounce-backs, but the general vibe of this club is not pointing in the right direction.
I won’t waste anyone’s time here with a blow-by-blow analysis of this team’s shortcomings. We’ve all seen it. When the offense produces, the pitching falters. When the hurlers are solid, the bats turtle (pardon me, La Tortuga). The defense has been bad all the way through (or at least since Simmons’ unceremonious departure).
Apart from the L’s piling up in the standings, though, to me there are three more specific reasons why the 2021 Twins feel so disappointing...
First, the burden of expectations. This franchise hasn’t won a playoff game since I resided in a dorm room. It hasn’t won a championship since I was venturing off to kindergarten. I’m currently 35. Coming off two solid division titles, ‘21 had the optimism of a “make a run” type of season. The unexpected heartbreak is always the worst, hence the extreme head-scratching over the current listless play.
Secondly, the only thing worse than seeing our favorite squad lose is not seeing them lose, so to speak. Social unrest cancellations and COVID-19 postponements have made it difficult for fans to not overreact at the worst possible time (the very beginning of a long campaign). Combine that with an overwhelming propensity towards day baseball, taking place during the normal work-week hours. Strictly from a die-hard fan perspective, my preferred game start time is 7:00 PM, giving me time to punch the clock for eight hours, get some exercise in, and have the game on the tube for supper or as the day winds down. We’re almost a month into the season, and that scenario has transpired a handful of times (at most). Even this coming week, the three tilts in Cleveland commence at 5:10, 5:10, and 12:10 PM CST. Not exactly conducive to leisure viewing.
A final reason for some of the simmering frustration? It is very possible this could be specific to me, but I suspect that as a community of baseball/Twins die-hards and lifers, others might be able to relate. I allowed the return of Twins baseball this year to represent or equate to a “return to normalcy” in everyday life. While that hope may indeed have been helpful in getting me through the long MN winter, it simply has not been a 1:1 ratio in actuality. Despite continued progress in vaccinations, the pandemic lingers on. Baseball has certainly been a salve, but by no means a cure. I’ve recently had to undertake a bit of a reckoning with myself to manage such expectations.
I still love the Minnesota Twins—and baseball in general—as much as ever. But with the Artists Formerly Known as the Bomba Squad really struggling, I keep trying to remind myself how much worse it could be. Last year at this time, diamonds were empty (and would remain that way until late July). If the Twins were 0-20, it would still represent progress in that regard.
Starting next week, I’m very much looking forward to seeing more of the Twins on a daily (or nightly, as it were) basis. I’m just a little scared that by such a point, the obstacle to viewing might be the performance on the field, not the time in which it commences.