Do you feel it? The buzz? The excitement? IT’S ALMOST HERE! OPENING DAY IS LESS THAN A WEEK AWAY!
I know we had a rough time last season as fans, and it’s ok! It’s a new dawn, a blank slate, a whole 162 games ahead of us where we can root root root for the home team all over again. Many of us were nervous as little as three and a half weeks ago that we might not get a season at all, and as little as two weeks ago that the Twins were going to be in a rebuild rather than in contention... and then BAM! Carlos Correa happened and there was much rejoicing throughout the land.
Despite the fireworks-laden trading/free agent frenzy the Twins went through over the month of March, I was still hesitant to get excited about the upcoming season. That is, until the game on Sunday, March 27 against the Red Sox. What, exactly, was it about that particular game that thawed the ice from my broken-from-2021-baseball-loving heart and got me excited about 2022? For starters, it was Correa’s first day in the lineup and it was also our first glimpse at our likely opening day roster:
- Buxton, CF
- Polanco, 2B
- Correa, SS
- Kepler, RF
- Sano, 1B
- Kirilloff, LF
- Sanchez, DH
- Urshela, 3B
- Jeffers, C
Ok, so that’s a good-ish lineup, right? (I’m still a little hesitant with Urshela and Sanchez because I feel like the Yankees always like to steal our top prospects and our stars and give us old, busted players and some used gum in return.) So we have a decent lineup ready to start swinging, but then I see that Joe Ryan was going to start the game. (And start he did, pitching 3 innings, walking just one and striking out 5, while allowing zero hits.) But before we even saw any swings of the Twins bats, Correa snagged a really sharp liner from Enrique Hernandez to hurl to Sano and make an incredible first out of the game. And then? In Correa’s first at bat, he managed to get a two-out single (that Buxton would have stretched into a double without any hesitation but whatevs).
In that first inning alone, I was reminded of how much I love watching baseball and how good our team can be. The game itself wasn’t SUPER exciting, even as the Twins managed to score 6 (with four of the runs coming from the now-sent-down Larnach and Miranda, one coming from our 3rd-string catcher Godoy, and one run being walked in) to beat the Sox 6-3. Couple that first inning with a really fun interview from Carlos Correa about how much he loves Minneapolis, how he’s really into analytics and knows how well he plays at Target Field, and how excited he is to be here, and how much he loves a good Juicy Lucy.. well... I’m now in a full blown fan frenzy peeing my pants with excitement that Opening Day is just about here.
While we are on the subject of Opening Day, I’ve heard a few grumblings that rookie phenom Joe Ryan, who has pitched just five major league starts, has no business starting on Opening Day. Or how the Twins should have tried harder to snag one of the starters that the A’s had been shopping around (Frankie Montas or Sean Manaea) because our starting 5 (if we even had five!) are questionable at best. But I’d like to remind the grumblers that while Joe Ryan might be just a 25-year-old bebé with a porn ‘stache, he also managed to pitch his way to a silver medal in the 2020 (but really 2021) Olympics. Someone somewhere saw the talent hiding in this man-child and put him on Team USA where he dominated some of the world’s best baseball players. The Twins front office also saw his potential and traded our beloved Nelson Cruz, in a crushing blow to all of Twins Territory in a risky move that could have caused a fan (and team!) mutiny. The only thing disappointing to me about Joe Ryan at this point is the fact that he cut that luscious hair and lost his “Billy from Stranger Things” vibe during the off season.
I’d also like to point out that as I’m writing this, it’s Friday afternoon and the Twins just hit a bunch of bombas (Buxton hit 2, and then one each from Jeffers and Correa) and are currently beating the Braves 8-3 in the 5th. I kept hearing the bomba siren from the other room while I was writing this and had to check it out for myself. I. CANNOT. WAIT. to hear that siren blaring at Target Field all season. And if Buck and crew stay healthy, and Sanó doesn’t have his typical slow start? Well we might just be hearing it so much that it starts to get annoying. Who am I kidding? It’ll never get old.
As for our pitching, well we will just have to wait and see if Ryan lives up to the hype, or if Sonny Gray can get back to his 2019 form, or if Chris Archer can find his pre-2018 stride (or at least pitch in more than more than six games). Plus remember when our pitchers kept sucking or hurting themselves, and we had
more toddlers guys like Bailey Ober and Griffin Jax taking the mound last year? Don’t let their 2021 records/ERAs fool you, they were actually pretty darn good, especially when you consider the fact that they probably didn’t plan on being in the bigs until maybe September call-ups when the season started. As an added bonus, we may just get Maeda back before the season is over. (I heard that somewhere, though I don’t really buy it yet.) PLUS! We have Taylor Rogers back and closing, rather than the massively disappointing Alexander Colomé. (Woof. That Colomé experiment didn’t pan out like we’d hoped, did it?)
Anyway, I’ll talk to you all on Opening Day (or.. the next day because let’s be real, I’ll be at the game and then my kids have activities all evening after the game and I doubt I’ll break out the ol’ laptop until the morning.) Hopefully I’ll be writing about what a fun win it was to start the season. And if not? At least I can write about Joe’s sweet stache and Correa’s official debut.