Column: Looking at the Twins revival and postseason hopesPublished 12:00am Thursday, June 7, 2007
Jon Laging, Talking Sports
What&8217;s really enjoyable about sports is its unpredictability. Of course, that&8217;s why most fans go to a sporting event. To see if their favorite will win. At first glance it seems that it would be great if your team would always win. But if they did, that would take away the reason for attending the game. For if you know your team is going to win, why bother?
A team&8217;s or individual&8217;s success or failure can change in a matter of days or even in a matter of minutes. They have occurred when the underdog was given no chance at all. The Clay-Liston fights when Mohammed Ali was a 10-1 underdog. The Miracle on Ice when a bunch of amateurs beat the NFL equivalent Russian hockey team. The recent demise of the 2007 New York Yankees. All were completely unexpected. Somewhat unexpectedly. it appears the Minnesota Twins have become a winning team.
The above is a long preamble to justify my column of a few weeks ago concerning the unhappy state of the Minnesota Twins. I had written my concerns about this year&8217;s team not living up to last year&8217;s play. However, I did leave a loophole relating how Morneau and Cuddyer would come back to form and Santana would have his usual last half of the season resurgence. In addition, how the team&8217;s outcome would depend a lot on Ryan&8217;s and Gardenhire&8217;s management of their strong minor league pitchers. Well, guess what, the Twins have, at least temporarily turned mediocrity into success. They look like one of the top five teams in the American League. Ozzie Guillen, White Sox manager, certainly thinks so.
The Twins swept the White Sox at the Metrodome recently and are playing good ball, both at the plate and in the field. They look both happy and good. The hitters are doing well and the pitchers from Rochester have shown promise, particularly the new Brad Radke, Kevin Slowey. Can you imagine the future with power pitcher Francisco Liriano from the left side and control artist Slowey from the right with Santana as the ace?
All this has happened with batting champ Joe Mauer not playing. A fan might say: &8220;Just wait &8216;till Joe gets back!&8221;
Sports writers, analysts, and fans have harped at Terry Ryan for years, crying that the Twins need a good right-handed hitter. Ryan has tried, given his limited amount of money. Some of you may remember &8220;Buck&8221; Buchanan, Dustin Mohr, Bret Boone, Juan Batista, Phil Nevin and the latest, Rondell White. At long last I think that right-handed bat has arrived in a player that actually was with the team last year, Mike Redmond. When Mauer comes back, Gardenhire can bat either Mauer or Redmond as DH. How can you leave a .300-plus hitter on the bench? Maybe Gardy knew what he was doing when he kept saying he needed a third catcher. If he wants to play Mauer and Redmond at the same time I&8217;d be for it. Do you think the Twins have a bargain in paying Redmond one million a year? The same as Sidney Ponson, who is now sitting at his home in Florida. It seems the organization could give Redmond a bonus at the end of the season.
Looking into the cloudy future it appears, given the Yankees troubles and the won-lost record of the teams trailing the leader in the West Division, the Twins have only the Detroit Tigers to beat for the fourth playoff spot. That is assuming the Twins continue to play winning ball, but as we all know, that too, can change quickly.
Jon Laging writes about regional sports issues from his home in Preston.