Well hi there, friends!
As I was avoiding starting work on Wednesday morning, I was doing my usual scroll-through of all the social media feeds. I spent time looking at pics of adorable dogs, reading my friends’ witty observations, perused the various MLB teams posting their Tuesday accomplishments (or in the case of the Twins, the Mauer Charity Home Run Derby thing because the current Twins themselves did not a damn thing of note on Tuesday). And then I clicked on the Facebook memories that were available to me. (Yes, I still check Facebook pretty regularly like an elder millennial/baby gen-x lame-ass.)
There were some adorable pics of my babies and nephew when they were actual babies:
And some tough ones, like reminders my dad isn’t around on Fathers Day anymore:
But this particular memory made me pause and take note:
Huh. The 2011 Twins seemed to have a bunch of ‘who the f are these guys’ playing in mid-June, just as the 2021 Twins do. You see, the ‘regular’ lineup should have been:
- Denard Span at center, not Ben Revere.
- Justin Morneau at 1st, not Luke Hughes.
- Joe Mauer (or heck, even Drew Butera!) at catcher, not Rene Rivera
- Jason Kubel or Delmon Young in left field, rather than Jason Repko (to be fair, Young was DH that day, but it SHOULD have been Jim Thome)
Now let’s think of why we had such a random list of guys taking the field that day, and why I was so happy to have Nishioka back in the line up shall we? At the time, the Twins were in the middle of a sucktastic season, just as they are this year. They were 28-39 after this game, which they miraculously won against Mark Buehrle 1-0. There were a slew of injuries plaguing the team back then:
- Obviously, we all remember the great “Joe Mauer bilateral leg weakness” saga of 2011. Sigh. We further remember the anguish of having dealt Wilson Ramos to the Nationals for Matt Capps when it turned out that we would have needed Ramos pretty much that whole season.
- Justin Morneau was still struggling with the concussion he suffered nearly a year prior to this game.
- Also concussed at the time? Centerfielder (and one of my favorites) Denard Span.
- Tsuyoshi Nishioka was just returning to the lineup after breaking his leg trying to turn a double play.
- Our DH, Jim Thome, our Nelson Cruz of 2011, was sitting out with some shoulder injury. (BTW, we let Cleveland have Thome back in August, despite the no trade clause in his contract. Sadface.) Less sad was the trade of other usual DH Delmon Young to Detroit for some relief pitching that didn’t quite pan out. I say less sad because even though we missed his bat (which of course heated up after he took off his Twins uniform), his defense was crap and he was kind of a dick.
- Speaking of trying to bolster the Twins pitching staff: Kevin Slowey and Francisco Liriano struggled with various injuries, and Joe Nathan, our stand-up-and-shout, lights-out closer was still coming off of his Tommy John surgery recovery and Matt Capps was still closing games for the Twins that year.
I wish the 2011 story ended like a fairy tale for the Twins with which I can shine a beam of hope on the 2021 season. But no. The 2011 Twins finished 63-99 - dead last in the AL Central, dead last in the American League.. and only a few games ahead of the really horrible (at-the-time-National-League-dwelling) Astros. In fact, the 2021 Twins are even worse than the 2011 squad, at least record-wise. They’re currently sitting at 26-41, with two more losses on this date than the 2011 team had. Somehow, though, they’re currently 2nd in home runs in the league, so the bombas are still plentiful.. so.. there’s that?
The parallels between the 2011 shit show and the 2021 dumpster fire are giving me the sads. I’d managed to forget the pain of going from the electric 2010 season (what with the opening of Target Field, the division win, the Jim Thome home runs) to the 3-0 playoff sweep by the Yankees that very same year, and then the 2011 (and 2012, 13, and 14) gut punches of seasons. I mean, I kind of remember being disappointed year after year, but until I saw that lineup from this day 10 years ago, I hadn’t really thought about just how bad it really was. In the words of Winston Churchill, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” And to be honest, I don’t know what we can really learn from all the injuries, because accidents happen. Maybe the failure to learn from history doesn’t apply to the front office. Maybe I’m talking to myself, the die hard, lifelong fan, that continually gets my heart broken by the same shit year after year. Maybe I’m talking to both of us.
With the trade deadline coming up and being 16 games out of first, who do we think will be dealt to the contenders? Will the Twins deal Buxton, who will manage to stay healthy from that day forward and win all the titles and awards? Will they trade Kepler for a reliever that turns out to be even worse than Colome or Shoemaker? Will Cruz be sent to a team like Cleveland like Thome, as the Clevelandians try to catch up to the White Sox for the division lead?
Now if you’ll excuse me, I should probably start my actual work day now.