Saturday night completed the field for the MLB postseason, and then Sunday sorted out some seeding and matchups. And while most of the questions will be can Atlanta cap off one of the more dominating regular seasons we’ve seen, or Houston turn it on once again in October, or which start will Clayton Kershaw meltdown in (not really but that’s what people will say), the real question is can the Minnesota Twins finally justify their existence?
You know the sordid tale by now. The Twins have been swept in every postseason appearance they’ve made since 2004. That’s 19 years. Even the Pirates have managed to win a playoff game in that time. The Cubs have won a whole bunch of ‘em. The Rockies, who aren’t even sure what sport they play, have won a collection in the interim.
But not the Twins.
There’s a perception, held in the Bronx mostly, that nothing between the coasts matters. Or at least nothing that happens in the middle matters. And the Twins have been Exhibit A. They roll up to Yankee Stadium, it’s usually been Yankee Stadium, and the bleacher creatures have never heard of anyone on their roster, which they’ll gladly boast about, and then the Twins prove them right by getting rolled for a couple nights and exiting out the back while holding most of their guts in their hand. Back to the land or irrelevancy that is the central timezone, as most East coasters think.
We have called for the Twins to be banned from the postseason, mostly because they’re a waste of everyone’s time. Sure, they’ve “earned” their spot by winning the AL Central because someone had to. It’s the extended version of every team getting an All-Star representative, or making sure every kid gets a Valentine’s Day card. It’s not so much an accomplishment as filling out a form.
So here are the Twins, filling out a slot once again, ready to hurl themselves into the wall of postseason baseball. So, can they do it? Can they have a lead after nine innings in October for once? Can they justify their place here?
The good news is they’re not playing the Yankees. That bad news is they’re still playing a team from the AL East, the Toronto Blue Jays. The good news is they’ll get two chances at home to start. The bad news is that if they trail early in Game 1, they’ll be very much aware of the groans and trepidation coming from the Target Field faithful, who will be getting heavy Bill Murray feelings.
First they’ll have to deal with a likely Cy Young Award finalist in Kevin Gausman. But they’ll be throwing their own starter who pitched nearly as well in Pablo Lopez. They’ll get to back that up with Sonny Gray, who will be a down-ballot Cy candidate himself. The Jays probably have the better lineup, but not by a significant margin. The Jays haven’t been terribly good against the better teams this season. Whether the Twins qualify as that, we leave to you (3-3 record on the season).
But it’s playoff baseball, and more importantly it’s the Twins, so why apply any logic to it? If anything, they’re in an advantageous position. World Series? Pennant? These aren’t things their fans are really thinking about. Just one win. To not have a zero next to their name, yet another one on a growing list of them. Get that, end this streak, and most everyone would go home happy knowing they weren’t as wayward and/or incompetent as the other four teams in the remedial class of the AL Central, as well as not carrying that stone of shame for yet another season.
It is perhaps this October’s most epic quest.
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