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Are walk-off losses more hopeful or catastrophic to team psyche?

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An early test of mental toughness in 2021

Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

I have long contended that late or extra-inning losses (like the two the Twins have suffered in their first five contests this season) are the toughest for human beings—so all baseball players not named Nelson Cruz—to stomach. There’s something gut-wrenching about being so close to victory before having it snatched away. Perhaps my concurrent Minnesota Vikings fandom has something to do with this, but I think it applies to the diamond as much as the gridiron.

Remember back in 2016 when we voted to blast Twins closer Kevin Jepsen into space? In April of that season alone, the Twins suffered three excruciating walk-off losses, and two other late-inning choke-jobs in which Jepsen was charged with the loss. The worst season in franchise history was the end result.

In 2018, that year's squad watched the other team bounce around with glee an astonishing 15 times. It’s amazing the ‘18 Twins even made it to the 78-84 record they did. This is what postgame interviews look/feel like under such circumstances...

All of that being said, however, there’s also a completely different way to look at a walk-off loss: far from getting curb-stomped into oblivion, the team was competitive until the last, fateful pitch. I suppose it takes a certain kind of mental fortitude to take such an approach. Instead of dwelling on the outcome (which sometimes can’t be controlled), one instead should focus on the process (which can almost always be controlled to a certain extent).

It’s probably a good thing, then, that even-keeled Rocco Baldelli is the manager of the Twins baseball club instead of yours truly. Whereas Rocco can face the press and calmly talk through even the most frustrating of defeats, I’d assuredly take more of the George Knox approach.

Poll

After a late-inning or walk-off loss, are you more...

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    Hopeful that victory was within reach and "we’ll get ‘em tomorrow"
    (38 votes)
  • 58%
    Lamenting the "almost-but-not-quite" victory and endlessly stewing over what went wrong
    (54 votes)
92 votes total Vote Now