There’s a cold north wind blowing through Target Field this morning, a harbinger of the days to come. They won’t be playing October baseball there this year.
Last night the Twins finished their season with a win, their second in a row, an unusual occurrence this year. By winning against the Kansas City Royals in the final two games of the regular season they avoided losing 100 games in a season for the second time in Twins history. It doesn’t sound like much of an accomplishment, but the way this season has gone, it’s a whole lot better to lose 99 than to lose 100. And it was a good win. It was really good to see Denard Span, who has been dealing with concussion symptoms for much of the year, come in as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the ninth inning and lace a double down the right field foul line, and then watch as Trevor Plouffe drove him home with the winning run. It was a good feeling, even though it ended the season; it was a good feeling to see them win.
It was a terrible season. It was a painful season, for the fans as well as for the players, and it ended mercifully with two wins in a row.
And now is an in between time, a single day between the end of the season and the start of the playoffs; a playoff season without the Twins. That’s not too unusual, although the Twins have been in the playoffs six times over the past decade. What is unusual is this is the first time in quite a while that I didn’t feel like the Twins deserved to be in the playoffs. They’ve fielded competitive teams for a long time now, and have usually been right up there battling for the top. No, this year they couldn’t help but slip to the bottom.
And so we look back on a bad season; what it could have been; what we thought it would be. Other writers today are writing about who, and what, is to blame for the Twins big crash. I’ll leave the blame game to them. The season is over, and as a fan I’d rather watch the playoffs and try to build up my hope for next year.
This year had its good parts, and its memorable parts. We saw the shakiest no-hitter I’ve ever witnessed, thrown by Francisco Liriano back in the first half of the season. We were thrilled to watch slugger Jim Thome hit back-to-back home runs in one game — career homers #599 and #600. That was special. We saw just a couple days ago the very first grand slam by a Twins player in the 2-year history of Target Field.
We were saddened by the loss of the greatest Twin and even-greater human being, my boyhood hero, Harmon Killebrew. His signature now appears out on the center field wall, and I hope it remains there for many years to come. I also think they should continue to hang his #3 jersey in the dugout every game.
We got to see our great Twins pitcher Bert Blyleven be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer. We watched the ceremony as the Twins retired his number and put it up on the wall next to Killebrew, Oliva, Carew, Hrbek, and Puckett.
Last night we got to hear long-time Twins radio broadcaster John Gordon make his final play-by-play call on that walk-off hit that won the game. Bye, Gordo.
It was a season. Things will probably be quite a bit different next year. And hopefully the Twins will not be flirting with 100 losses again.
Time for the playoffs!