Archive for the ‘Minnesota Twins’ Category

1991 was one of the most historically transformational years in recent memory. The USSR collapsed, creating a patchwork of 15 post-Soviet states, some so obscure that we shortcut-seeking Americans refer to them simply as “the Stans.” Operation Desert Storm was launched, precipitating the deterioration of U.S. relations in the Middle East. Stateside, Magic Johnson announced that he had acquired the HIV virus, sending shockwaves through the sports world and destroying his star like a supernova.

1991 also gave us the greatest World Series ever played. Kirby Puckett was immortalized after his epic Game 6 performance against the Atlanta Braves, which included a gravity-defying snare over the plexiglass fence of Ron Gant’s deep fly ball, and of course, the historic 11th-inning shot to left-center that gave the Twins a 4-3 victory and spawned Jack Buck’s iconic, “And we’ll see you tomorrow night!” call. As a sidenote, if you haven’t already seen this, check out the video of Joe Buck, in one of the most eerily serendipitous moments in sports history, honoring his late father by making the same call, in the same game, in the same inning, one day away from exactly 20 years later. Game 7 was just as memorable, with Jack Morris throwing a 10-inning shutout in one of the greatest and most clutch pitching performances ever.

Even though I lived in Minnesota at the time, I was five years old, and to put it simply and tragically, didn’t care. It wasn’t until about 1995 that I really became a Twins fan, which gave me the privilege to grow up in Minnesota during the glory years of Ron Coomer, Pat Meares and the briefly-promising Marty Cordova. Pure legends of the game. From 1993-2000, the Twins averaged 66 wins per year (would have been more if not for the 1994 and 1995 strike-shortened seasons). I distinctly remember attending a game with my grandpa around that time where we bought upper-deck tickets and immediately proceeded to walk to our new seats on the third-base line.

Another time, my dad and I went to an interleague game with the sole purpose of watching Mark McGwire in the midst of the great steroid-fueled home run race of 1998. When he stepped up to the plate, the venerable Bob Tewksbury began throwing what appeared to be fly balls towards the plate (which apparently is known as an Eephus pitch), forcing McGwire to ground out twice. Unfortunately, YouTube has no footage of this game, but here’s an example of how the pitch looked. In the past, Tewksbury has called this pitch “the dominator.” Needless to say, 12-year-old me was horribly disappointed.

Attendance dropped and interest waned so intensely that in 2002, the Twins were nearly contracted by Major League Baseball. Facing almost certain condemnation, stars like Torii Hunter, Jacque Jones and Corey Koskie resurrected the franchise by reaching the ALCS in 2002, a story which still gives goosebumps to dedicated Twins fans. The team went on to win five more division titles from 2003-2010, but each renewed hope brought more despair. All five post-seasons ended in the ALDS, four to appease the insatiable bloodlust of the Yankee gods, amounting to a grand total playoff record during that chimerical span of 2-15.

It could be worse. I could be a Pirates or a Royals fan. But then again, I’m not a believer in the old adage “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” To steal a line from Seinfeld, I would prefer a “barren, sterile existence that ends when you die” to repeatedly falling for the same old ruses of love and lust. The Twins making the playoffs qualifies for the same treatment. It may sound fatalistic, but every year that the Twins took the field in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Evil Empire, the inevitable was being cruelly postponed. Even my apotropaic attempts to change the outcome — mainly turning off the TV or putting on a new shirt — proved to be in vain.

The 2011 season began with Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau both nursing injuries. Morneau was still recovering from a 2010 concussion, and Mauer had “leg fatigue” or something like that. I really don’t remember, probably because I’ve tried so hard to forget. The season never looked promising, and it was punctuated by a torturous “20-year anniversary of the 1991 World Series” celebration. Reminded me of that part in The Hangover where Alan (Zach Galifianakis) says, “We don’t remember anything from last night. Remember?” Yes, I remember how I was five at the time, and I also remember how I don’t remember…but thanks for reminding me. Brutal.

Hopefully the Twins’ current 2-7 start will be a distant memory in a few weeks, but I’m not holding my breath. As the old saying goes, “Things may not be looking so good when Carl Pavano is your Opening Day starter.” Maybe I just made that up, I don’t know. One thing is for sure though, at least Minnesota fans can still count on Ricky Rubio…next year.


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