Happy off-day, my friends!
Last week, I broke down the letter from Dave St. Peter that essentially told us that our beloved Twins are pretty much raising the white flag on the 2021 season. And in the short seven days since that post, the Twins have found themselves on a 5-2 tear. They’ve managed to come up with series wins against the first-in-the-AL-West Astros and the first-in-the-AL-Central White Sox. Say whaaaaaaaaaaaat?
And these (T)wins were legit, you guys. Polanco has channeled his inner 1991 Kirby Puckett by having the team jump on his back so he can carry them. Fledgeling pitchers like Griffin Jax and Bailey Ober are asserting their dominance and proving they have what it takes to quiet the bats of some of the best hitters in the game. Tortuga hit a magical, from the knee, go-ahead bomb. There were even multiple saves - yes you read that right: mul.ti.ple. saves. - from Alexander Colome.
Granted, we had that embarrassing blowout loss courtesy of a horrible mismatch of Sox ace Lucas Giolito and Beau Burrows as an opener on Monday. Wait. Who? Beau Burrows <checks notes> was selected off waivers in June from Detroit, had 10 total games in the majors and an era in the double digits leading up to Monday’s matchup. So naturally Rocco would select him to start against a team that had Eloy Jimenez returning to the lineup... right?
If you take out that shameful display of mismanagement and Bad News Bears-esque play, the Twins have looked really good over the last week. Coupled with the article I read on The Athletic yesterday in which Dan Hayes laid out the optimism of Buxton’s (hopefully any day now) return, I found myself, once again, somewhat enthusiastic toward my perpetually disappointing team.
Sure, they’re 17 games out of first place, and sure, they’re about to play against the infinitely better Rays, Yankees, Red Sox, and Brewers. But my rose colored glasses look at the last week and think “hey.. they could maybe make up some ground! Never mind that Nelson Cruz is about to come home and hit bombas all over Target Field this weekend. Never mind that the Yankees own the Twins. Never mind that the Red Sox are trying to keep that #2 Wild Card spot. Never mind that the Brewers are sitting way on top of the NL Central and 4th in the all of Major League Baseball.” If the last week has taught us anything, it’s that the Twins are underestimated by these dominant teams and they (at the moment) have what it takes to compete. And if Buxton comes back somewhere in that stretch? Boom! Magic!
The White Sox will be distracted by the Field of Dreams weekend and then have a tough series against the A’s, followed by a visit to Canada to face our old friend Jose Berrios and his team, fiercely trying to snag a Wild Card spot. Then the Sox go on to face our other old friend Nelson Cruz, who is sitting in first place in Tampa. The Clevelandian Guardians Baseball Club and the Tigers will be beating each other up and likely not moving anywhere in the standings, giving the Twins an opportunity to creep up on them, worming their way into the sad mix of losing records in second and third place.
Magic number: 65. Tragic number: 31
Twins take 2 out of 3 from the White Sox.— Twins Magic Number (@MNTwinsMagic) August 12, 2021
Games Remaining: 47#MagicNumber: 65
There are 47 games left in this season. Of those games, the Twins face Cleveland, Kansas City, and Detroit for a combined 16 games. What if starting tomorrow, the Twins go on an Oakland A’s circa 2002 run and win 20 in a row? If they play well enough, they can gain some ground in the division while the White Sox hopefully drop some games against those tougher division teams before coasting their way through their easy-ish end of season schedule. This is the tragedy of the 2021 season: Terrible baseball peppered with bright spots here and there, making me feel some sort of hope every few weeks.
I am Charlie Brown, and the Twins are Lucy holding that damn football. I know this.
Why am I this way? I’d like to think it’s because of my age: At 42, I’m that perfect blend of jaded-sarcastic-apathetic-Gen Xer and optimistic you’re-doing-great-so-here’s-your-participation-trophy Millenial. I’m old enough to remember both World Series wins. I remember watching the 2006 season go all the way to the final pitch of not only their own game 162, but also that of the Tigers, before the Twins clinched the AL Central. I remember bonus baseball in the form of game 163 of the 2009 season, and Gomez crossing the plate to get the Twins that division win. (I choose not to think about game 163 of the 2008 season. Dammit Nick Blackburn.) I’ve seen the Twins pull miracles out of their collective backsides time and time again.
My brain *knows* that the Twins won’t finish 2021 in the post season (in which they’d inevitably collapse). My brain knows that they’ll be ending their season in Kansas City on October 3rd (Mean Girls day!). And if we are really lucky, they’ll be finishing as high as third place in a really crappy division. But my heart? Well my stupid heart is still hoping for the most epic collapse in MLB history by the White Sox and the most spectacular worst-to-first story we’ll ever see.
^^^ Remember waiting and watching the 100-loss Royals beat the Tigers to clinch the AL for the Twins? Never mind that the Tigers went on to the World Series after the Twins choked and were swept out of post season by the A’s in the ALDS.
Those Twins: Perpetually keeping it just interesting enough to keep us coming back to try to kick that football. Am I the only one who still has an iota of hope.. or at least an iota of interest?