1, 2, 3, it’s overPublished 8:26am Thursday, October 14, 2010
Jon Laging, Talking Sportsclassical
After you have invested over half a year, gone to spring training, talked with fellow fans and spent many a happy evening watching the Minnesota Twins on TV, it’s hard to see them lose the first round of the playoffs. And if we feel bad, think how the players feel.
After the fact it’s easy to point fingers. Second guessing is always accurate. But although the Twins lost three straight, I thought the first game was the turning point. More specifically, the sixth inning of the first game when the Yankees staged their comeback.
I know a very bright guy who became interested in the Twins this year. Partly because of his grandson, Jack. Prior to this time he had a passing interest, but was not really into the game of baseball. After watching the game, he e-mailed me an interesting observation on Francisco Liriano’s downfall. Where most of us reasoned that Liriano and the rest of Twins were under a great deal of stress and pressure playing the Yankees and it had affected them negatively, Eldon looking at the game with fresh eyes, had this to say in a next day e-mail: After discussing Liriano and the game, “Please know that I’m not critical of Liriano. No, I see him as a very dedicated hero. So dedicated that he put every ounce of energy into hurling the ball so accurately even the Yankees couldn’t hit it. Except, I think it cost him endurance. He just burned out faster than the customary seven inning expectation of first string starters. He was trying so hard he just wore out.”
I think this is an astute observation and those words may very well be true for some of the other Twins. We all know that intense emotions wear us out.
The Yankees have a mystique that is hard to combat. I’m sick to death of broadcasters talking about the Yankees. I’m particularly tired of Ron Coomer going on and on about the Yanks. You would think they are larger than life and above mortal men. They’re not. However, they were able to intimidate the Twins both psychologically and physically. Their first game starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia sent a message to the Twins by hitting Jim Thome and knocking him down twice. The Twins pitchers did not respond and the Yankees were way too comfortable at the plate. I’m not say that the Twins change their style of play, but they should not be pushed around at their home. A pitch close to Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez would take care of the situation and two teams would play on an even basis. The Twins philosophy and culture wouldn’t have to change and should remain exactly as is. They are good guys, and that is one of the reasons we like them.
I think also that we have to remember that the Yankees have a better team and for every dollar the Twins spend the Yankees spend two. One example might be that on the left side of the infield, the Yankees have two future Hall of Famers and the Twins have a Milwaukee Brewer cast off and a rookie. As Ring Lardner said: “The race is not always to the swift and the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet.”
Can the Yankees be beat? Yes they can and if ever a sports team has the challenge before it, the Twins do. To leave you on a positive note, the Twins are a young improving team and it’s possible that in a few years or a decade or two the Twins will be the team to beat. The Yankees of the 2020s. In that case, I want my Twins’ tombstone to read: He Always Believed.