After beating Ron Gardenhire’s hapless Tigers squad last night 5-1, the Minnesota Twins had to wait in the locker room to know their fate. They waited and watched as they cheered on the Chicago White Sox. When Francisco Lindor of the Cleveland Indians struck out swinging to end the game, sealing a 8-3 victory for the White Sox, Minnesota began it’s celebration.
For the first time since 2010, the Minnesota Twins are the American League Central Champions.
It was a long journey to get here. We witnessed the end of the Ron Gardenhire era in Minnesota in 2014 after 12 years of service. Paul Molitor got a crack at manager and did a pretty good job. He led the Twins to the playoffs after losing 103 games the season prior, the first team in history to do this. That earned him an AL Manager of the Year award.
The Twins brought on new management in 2016. It was out with the old in Terry Ryan and in with the new in Thad LeVine. Ryan represented the old way of thinking – bunts, slap hits, sac flies. LeVine represents the new wave – data, analytics and home runs.
This change ushered Molitor out as manager and brought in a young fresh face. 37 year old Rocco Baldelli took the helm and the team hasn’t looked back.
We as Twins fans suffered through some dark days the past eight seasons. Tallying win totals of 63, 66, 66, 70, 83, 59, 85 and 78, good for a winning percentage of 44%, doesn’t exactly do a lot to drive interest and excitement.
We also witnessed the retirement of a Minnesota legend last season in Joe Mauer. After suffering through all of those losing seasons (to be fair, I absolutely cannot say that anyone making $184 million over eight years playing a game is “suffering”, but in the team sports sense of the world, those were some unenjoyable seasons), it is kind of a shame that Mauer couldn’t have held on one more year to enjoy this ride.
Personally, I was curious about the lineup that the Twins trotted out in 2010 against the Yankees in the ALDS. That lineup was: Denard Span in center, Orland Hudson at second (who???), Joe Mauer at catcher, Delmon Young in left, Jim Thome as the DH, Michael Cuddyer at first, Jason Kubel at right, Danny Valencia at third and JJ Hardy at shortstop. On the mound? None other than Francisco Liriano.
In October of 2010, I was a sophomore in high school. Ke$ha had two number one singles that year (if you don’t know who Ke$ha is, that is probably for the best… although she did have a couple of shredders).
In October of 2010, people still couldn’t believe that their mind was blown during Inception and people were camping out just to see Twilight. We were fools back then. Heck, Avatar had just become a worldwide phenomenon and there were still new Harry Potter movies coming out!
Does 2010 feel like a while ago yet? Just think…. October 6th 2010… A bye week for your Minnesota Vikings. Coming off an emotional and dramatic NFC Championship loss, the Vikings were 1-2 and on their bye week with Brett Favre still at quarterback. The Metrodome collapsing under the snow wasn’t even a thought in our minds yet.
All this is to say, it’s about dang time. The Minnesota Twins are the AL Central Division champions and are heading to a playoff series, likely against the Yankees.
This season will be a memorable one. The 2019 season is 2nd in franchise history in total wins with 99, and there are still three games remaining. The record is 102 wins completed in 1965.
The Twins lead the MLB record in home runs for a season with 301 with the Yankees close behind with 299. With only three games remaining, the Twins are favored to keep that MLB record.
Most importantly, there will finally be playoff baseball in October at Target Field. Rejoice Twins fans, it’s been a long time coming.