Wait Till This Year

August 17, 2010

Look at that photo and tell me you don’t believe in the Minnesota Twins.

This Twins cynic’s sold.  If you want to be in the city with the biggest party on November 4, 2010, book your flights to Minneapolis now:  this is The Year.  Minnie and Paul are winning it all.  The Twins are winning the World Series this season.

I’m being rational about this: This is the same team that’s down an MVP first baseman, has an unproven starting rotation, hasn’t won a postseason series since 2002, and has two playoff wins since 2003.

But that does not mean I’m writing this to build myself up just to let my heart get broken.  I’m writing it because I believe it, and this year, I’ve never believed it more.

The classic argument is that the team with the best pitchers win, and while they’re not the best, the Twins’ staff can hurl with any advancing to the playoffs.

The Twins have had question marks next to their starting pitching this year at times, but this team hasn’t committed so many playoff false starts for so many years because of starting pitching.  Even last year, in another installment of the Yankees-Sweep-Twins-In-ALDS saga, the Twins weren’t blown out of the water by the high-powered Yankees.  Starters Carl Pavano and Nick Blackburn held their own.

But I don’t think the conventional wisdom that pitching wins championships holds true anymore.  The scale is tilting towards the teams that can pick up timely hits, something the Twins have gotten very good at this year.  Start with Jim Thome, who will be rested and ready for the playoffs.  Span and Hudson offer speed and doubles-pop to lead off.  Any of the hitters up next — Mauer, Kubel, Young, even Cuddyer — are RBI threats.

Hell, our eight-hole hitter, Danny Valencia, is batting .320, good enough for second-best on the team.  You’ve gotta love this lineup.

You’ve gotta love this team.  This team, which has given a sports market famous for the Herschel Walker trade, really high hockey attendance for a subpar hockey team, and less-than-golden Gopher football something to feel proud about; which has taught a group of quiet, compliant Scandanavians to expect something bigger and better from its ballplayers; which has found a way to extend summer into October year after year after year.

It’s always had something missing — but this year, you can tell the Twins have found it.

Just look at that picture.  Look at how these grown mens’ eyes have lit up.

You’ve got your whole life to nay-say.

Just this year, believe.

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