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Early season slump all part of the plan, says Rocco Baldelli

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The Twins manager says that the team has been losing to help them create an “underdog” narrative

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Indians David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Twins are currently vastly underperforming, with the team seemingly finding a new way to lose almost every day. They have played 5 extra innings games in the first month of the season, dropping all of them in baffling fashion. Some fans have joked that they must be losing on purpose, because there aren’t any other explanations for why this ball club with high expectations is playing so badly.

According to Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, who is in his third season at the helm in Minnesota, that is exactly what is happening. “I wanted to help the guys go into games with an underdog mentality, so I told them to lose a bunch of games in ridiculous manners at the start of the season,” Baldelli said in an interview Monday night. “I figured that if we played like absolute garbage for the first 25 games or so, the media and other fanbases would start to think we were bad and count us out.” When I asked Rocco how he planned to carry this out, he explained: “We’ll lose a bunch of games in ridiculous fashion, and then when we start to drop in the power rankings because we’re playing so badly, I’ll say ‘SEE, EVERYONE’S DOUBTING US!’” I pointed out that that mindset reminds me a bit of another manager in the Twin Cities pro sports scene. “Yeah, I got the idea from talking to [Minnesota United FC manager] Adrian Heath,” Baldelli explained. “He’s always in press conferences talking about how the analysts are picking against them, even when no one is. It’s genius, and I thought I could use it to my advantage.”

After I asked Rocco how long he plans to continue the slump, he hesitated with his answer. “Initially, I was gonna tell the guys to start playing better at the end of this month,” he said. “But I want to be extra convincing, and have it be a real comeback story, so I might have them extend it till mid-May or early June.” I pointed out that if the losing goes on too long, the team might actually dig themselves a hole they can’t get out of. Rocco reassured me that this would not happen. “We’ll turn it around, just you wait,” he said. “The team will get so fired up by the idea that nobody thinks they can do it, that they’ll start stringing together a bunch of wins.” After this, Baldelli told me that he had to leave, because he was busy with compiling dozens of social media posts about how terrible Alex Colomé was for him to use as bulletin board material.