Well, it’s come to this. The hope that Twins fans had of a championship when the season began has fully morphed into hopes of finishing above .500. Obviously, there have been some evolutionary steps along the way. The season started out promising enough, despite often being Paganized and seeing sure victories morph into surprising, depressing, and sometimes downright remarkably demoralizing losses.
At the trade deadline, the front office took some steps to shore up the bullpen that gave us hope. I too believed, and wrote an article entitled “So You’re Saying There’s a Chance,” reflecting my appreciation to Falvey and Levine for trying to address obvious weaknesses.
Then, August happened. Injuries, poor performance, did I mention poor performance? So many players have underachieved that it’s hard to watch a game without thinking of Dean Wormer looking at John Belushi in “Animal House” and uttering “zero point zero.”
With the exception of Arraez, and the outstanding rookie performance of Miranda, has anyone else “overachieved?” Has anyone else even lived up to expectations? Urshela perhaps. Gordon seems to have exceeded expectations, but honestly, he wasn’t in our early season expectations at all. Certainly, Polanco, Kepler, and Correa have underperformed. While we all pretty much accept that Correa likely won’t return, and as much as we’ve appreciated Kepler’s defense and fine moments against Trevor Bauer in the past, the past seems so long ago.
Buxton is on the IL. Well, of course. It’s not his fault (again) he’s a gamer. I’m not against the contract, I’m not against Byron in any way. He makes the team better, but he’s had an off year, and as usual, he’s been battling injuries. As he ages, it’s unlikely that any of that will change.
In sum, the Twins have issues. Who foresaw that the pitching would actually be better than the hitting? Particularly when at the start of the year, so many of us were lauding the everyday line-up and its potential.
To paraphrase the great character of David Rose: We have never seen a team do so many wrong things, one after the other, consecutively, in a row. In fairness, I actually have seen several Twins evolutionary phases. Way back in the 1970s, even with Rod Carew playing every day, all fans really hoped for was for a .500 season. In the early 1980s, all fans really hoped for was encouraging play, hope, and a lack of shame. By the late 1980’s and early 90’s championships actually came into play. Then came the late 90s and early 2000s and all hope seemed lost. By 2003, hope came back, the playoffs came back, and a different sort of humiliation was born.
This season started with the most significant free-agent signing ever, a player with playoff success all leading to a logical conclusion that 18 straight playoff losses seemed to be a record that surely had to be broken. But then came August. Now the playoffs are slipping away. Most of us, honestly, have given up hope for the playoffs and have resorted to hoping again for competitive games, a touch of offense here and there, and some hope again for next year.
As September looms a different sort of anticipated heartbreak for Minnesota sports fans is on the horizon. With the Twins, the heartbreak is always so disappointing. With the Vikings, the heartbreak is always so completely expected. I’m not sure which is better. As usual, I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed. Life will go on. October will follow September, but with each day it’s looking like more and more like the Twins won’t have a chance to break their playoff loss streak in 2022.