As I write this, the weather is changing. The temperature is dropping. A gray cloud rolls through downtown. The wind is positively whipping.
I don’t have an answer for that. I cannot explain why, every year on the day my team gets eliminated from the postseason, the weather changes. I expect you think it’s my imagination. Go ahead and look up the meteorological record for every elimination game in 2004 and 2006 and 2009 and 2010 and 2017 and 2019 and now 2020. I don’t need to. I know what happened. I felt it.
I also don’t have any answers about what happened the last two days at Target Field. Or about 0-18. Or the helplessness I have felt at the end of the postseason each year since 2004.
We will all try. We will identify targets for our pain: the players, the managers, the umpires. But targets are not answers, and the truth is that the struggle was bigger than a couple of plays or players. It surrounded the team. One thing goes wrong and then another and another, and deeper into the quicksand we sink.
This is the reality, and it’s a reality that anyone familiar with believing, investing, trying, risking… learns. Our culture – especially masculine culture - denigrates those who lose, tells you that you should never accept it. But combatants will tell you otherwise: losing is a part of the game. Nobody lasts long if they can’t find their way past it, around it, over it. Above it?
Plus, in truth, while this one hurt, it didn’t hurt as much as 2004 or 2006. The late start and season’s brevity absolutely hurt our team, but it helped the fan base stay less invested. So did the modified playoff format, which sort of ripped the Band-Aid off quickly. Still, it means the Twins wasted one of the best rosters they had ever assembled.
Or was it? It looked like it last March. But the two-game sweep reflected the same strengths and weaknesses we saw over the 60-game season. This team never got its supposed high-powered offense rolling. They ended the season ranked 19th in MLB in runs scored. And now the front office will need to find answers. Players regressed. Players broke down. Perhaps some players just aren’t going to be who we thought they were.
Health was also an issue, and worse, it was last year too. For two years, the organization and especially the manager have emphasized rest and recuperation and been careful about over-extending players. And both years, come the end of September, the team has limped into the postseason with a roster full of underperforming dinged-up players.
Also, now questions will be raised whether being the best overall team for 162 games is really that important. For the second year in a row, a 100-win pace team was not only swept out of the postseason, but didn’t really give a fight. Last year, pitching let the team down. This year, hitting tanked. Maybe the depth that wins games in the summer’s marathon doesn’t mean as much in the postseason. I mean, Dusty Baker ended the Twins season using just six pitchers, and not all of them were particularly good.
Finally, all of those questions must be answered while the really big questions remain unanswered. “Will there be a season?” “How many games?” “Versus whom?” “Will there be minor leagues?”
The Twins faces a daunting task far earlier than they - or we - had hoped. I doubt they believe they have any of those answers right now.
I know I don’t. I can’t even tell you what happened to this season’s promise. Or how to deal with loss. Or why the weather is changing, right on schedule, from summer to fall.
- rukavina, mikelink45, Penthang and 8 others like this