To enjoy the 2022 Minnesota Twins, I must turn my back on them. I’ll start with this: I don’t like this team. The individual players are great, but as a team? Blah! It’s a case of the whole sum being lesser than the sum of its parts.
I’ve come to this conclusion after a week and a half of refusing to torture myself. I didn’t want to watch the Twins get beat down again by the jerks in pinstripes. I’m not doing it anymore. Their lone “win” against them “Damn Yankees!” was lucky to say the least.
Two awful calls by the umpire, two balls called strikes contributed to that. If not for the good fortune, Michael Fulmer walks in the tying run. Who would have wanted to watch that? (Ok maybe I did watch, but I hated myself for it). I’ve just given up hope that the Twins are good. I’ve given up on them making the playoffs. (they’re not). The reasons for this are twofold.
I’m waving the white flag on this Minnesota Twins season and will wait for next year.
The first reason is that they simply don’t have the strength and power of a team like the Houston Astros or the slickness and depth of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Part of it is injury, but even healthy, I don’t think the Twins aren’t real contenders.
With no franchise player (Byron Buxton is a known commodity at this point; his body cannot survive the rigors of a full season of ball), the Twins don’t have single hitter who inspires fear into opposing pitchers. The pitching staff has been good but lacks an ace. Sonny Gray (assuming health), gets the ball in game one of a playoff series. Could he win a pitcher’s duel against a top of the line ace? I don’t gamble but I wouldn’t bet on it.
The second reason is Rocco Baldelli. The Minnesota Twins lose a lot of games on the margins, and Baldelli and his staff are sloppy. Recently, I saw a clip of Buck Showalter discussing the impact of the new rules:
Showalter was already considering the ramifications of the changes. He came across like a BMF. He was talking about the World Baseball classic and how with those guys missing spring training, the WBC better be using the new rules. He had digested the information, synthesized it and was already thinking about the best ways to cope and take advantage of the changes for his guys.
I’m not singling out Showalter as the best manager out there but, his competitiveness is apparent if you listen to him talk for even a moment. Rocco Baldelli, Mr. Phish, himself does not inspire the same sort of confidence for me.
In his recent appearance on the Inside Twins podcast, Baldelli came across as content with the current state of the world. He seemed like a reasonable guy, and a well-adjusted person, someone with proper priorities, but he also seemed comfortable with mediocrity. In the world in which he works, success belongs to unreasonable people.
Baldelli’s vibe reminds me of a story. Well, in actuality, it reminds me of the feeling I had when the events of the story took place. In Pop Warner football (middle school age), my team was playing our rival school. They had the ball in the red zone, fourth quarter, and the score was out of hand, per usually.
They had huddled, lined up, and were ready to snap the ball. Instead their QB and coach started arguing about something. The quarterback walked away from the play towards the sideline and their coach. As little kids, we didn’t know what was going on. When the ball was snapped directly to the running back who strolled in the endzone casually, our defense had no chance. We didn’t even touch the kid. We were hoodwinked by the ruse.
We (my team) had no clue that they could do that, but good golly, miss molly, I was heated. That combination of anger and frustration that makes a little kid cry at his impotence compared to the will of the world. Our coach had been out-prepared and outsmarted. We looked like fools.
It wasn’t the first time we’d been tricked or made mistakes as a team, and it wouldn’t be the last. Our coach, Coach Kent, was a good guy, but he was the kind of coach who got outfoxed. Rocco Baldelli reminds me a lot of Coach Kent.
But instead of being upset at the team for being what they aren’t and can’t be. I’ll appreciate each player as an individual. I’ll enjoy the parts and not the whole sum. I’ll root for Rookie Jose Miranda (DID YOU KNOW HIS COUSIN IS LIN-MANUEL) and his emergence. He could be a Minnesota Twins mainstay for years to come.
I will cheer on Luis Arráez. His pursuit of the batting title makes his every at-bat exciting. I’ll marvel at the superlative defense of the Carlos Correa and Gio Urshela tandem. Jhoan Duran has a chance to be an impact closer in this league and throws 100 mph breaking balls. These individual Minnesota Twins players are plenty lovable. You just have to stand close enough to see the trees and forget the forest.
It’s not even a surrender, really. I’m viewing reality on reality’s terms. It’s a reminder for my life as well. Day to day, you win some, you lose some, so accept where you’re at once the writing is on the wall. I’m going to try to be a little more like Rocco. Go Twins!