And Then There Were Seven
All four of the LDS games played yesterday were win-or-go-home. The Rays played for their lives and absolutely smoked the Astros. The Cardinals edged out the Braves in ten nail-biting innings. The Nationals managed another win against the ever-favored Dodgers. Every one of these underdog teams played like they meant it.
And then you have the Minnesota Twins.
This is the team that shattered records all season. The team that had 101 wins. The team that could finally stand up to the Yankees and break this ‘curse’ that’s been looming over them since 2004. For fifteen agonizing years, Twins players and fans alike have waited for just one effing post-season win. Sure, let’s not forget Phil Cuzzi completely screwing the Twins out of their chance to win against the Yankees in 2009, but even if the Twins had won that game, they probably wouldn’t have made it to the ALCS. The national media joked about them. Yankees fans mocked them. This was going to be the year that the Twins got that proverbial monkey off of their backs and made it all the way. This is the Bomba Squad, after all!
But no. The bats of some of the scariest hitters in the majors went completely dead this series. Last night they had bases loaded with nobody out and managed to leave every single one of those guys on base. There were no big moments. A few solo home runs over this series were all they could eek out against a struggling Yankees pitching staff.
There were blown strike/ball calls by the umps. There were the ill-timed dives- Jake Cave in the outfield and Eddie Rosario unsuccessfully diving to reach first. (Nick Punto you’re not, dear Eddie.) There were plays that could have gone either way if, say, Miguel Sano hadn’t shifted a couple of feet to the right just before a single snuck past him, or if Gleyber Torres’s home run that narrowly made it over the fence was hit just two inches lower. Things might have gone differently Aaron-freaking-Judge was an inch or two shorter and wasn’t making unbelievable catches out in right field to rob the Twins of a few extra-base hits over the three games.
But those close calls, bone-headed blunders, or stellar defensive Yankees plays wouldn’t have mattered if the Twins were hitting even close to what they’d done all season long. Max Kepler, fresh off of the IL, went 0-10. Miguel Sano went 1-12 (that one hit being a home run in game one). Mitch Garver, who hit 30 home runs in just 311 at-bats over the regular season, went 2-12 in this ALDS. Nelson Cruz, the Boomstick himself, the veteran that really made the difference all season long, went 2-10 with one home run and one single over the three games.
This season was lightning in a bottle. Much of the heart of this team will be returning next season. They can do it again.. but I don’t know if my heart can handle another season like this, where they do everything right only to face the Yankees again. At least in 2002, they faced (and won against) the A’s in the ALDS, and lost to the Angels in the ALCS. The A’s had their revenge, sweeping them out of the ALDS in 2006. And now, after having one of their best seasons in team history, they’re the running joke of the post season, tied with the god-awful 1970’s Chicago Blackhawks for the longest losing streak in all sports playoff runs.
My attention now turns to the Nationals, Rays, Cardinals, Braves, Dodgers and Astros. I, along with 80% of baseball fans outside of the New York area, have zero interest in seeing a 28th Yankees World Series championship. Any of the other 6 remaining teams would be so much more fun to watch. And don’t @ me with your ‘you’re just a hater, your team just sucks’ nonsense. After a while of watching the same teams win over and over, even if you like them, (New England Patriots and the GOAT Tom Brady, for example) it just gets old.
So, thank you Minnesota Twins for the amazing moments and all of the fun and all of the excitement this season. Also fuck you, Minnesota Twins for breaking my heart, again and again. I love you. I’m angry with you. You know I’ll never quit you. You’re the bad boyfriend that I’ll never give up on. Know that I’ll be cheating on you with the Astros now as my AL team for a couple more weeks, but I’ll always come back to you. Always.