Tuesday, May 18, 2004

How Do They Do It?

Monday’s 9-5 victory over the Blue Jays at Skydome really got me thinking about the Minnesota Twins franchise. Now, the game in itself doesn’t appear to have been that extraordinary. Radke pitched well but not spectacularly; J.C. did not pitch that well but was hurt by a couple of unfortunate defensive plays (Hunter’s near-catch on Cash’s double and Rivas’ poor relay to Guzie on Delgado’s grounder); and the bullpen blew a three-run lead.

But lately, I think that the rest of the country is finally figuring out what Twins fans have known since 2001: this is a franchise that has it figured out! Now I don’t mean to say that Terry Ryan can predict the future or anything, but things seem to work out for the Twins more often than not. I honestly believe that most people around the country thought that the 2002-03 Twins were a fluke: the team had gotten lucky when a bunch of talented players hit the big leagues at the same time, nicely complementing the pieces already in place. Many thought that once that little “bubble” was broken this past winter the team would spiral downward and join the rest of its small-market brethren at the bottom of the standings.

Obviously, this has not been the case. Monday’s game perfectly exemplifies the spirit of these Minnesota Twins. It doesn’t matter if things look like they are spinning out of control- someone will inevitably step up and right the ship. Monday that someone was Jacque Jones. Strangely enough, even though J.C. had blown that lead in the 7th there was no doubt in my mind that the Twins would win that game. Even when Nakamura looked so tough in the 8th my faith was not shaken. Even though the Twins were playing on the road, I did not falter. In my mind, it was just Jacque’s turn to step up. I’ll bet JJ will say the same thing.

What is it that separates the Twins from all those other teams that languish in futility? Is it the front office? Is it Terry Ryan? Is it Ron Gardenhire? Even TK perhaps? Or is it simply luck?

And yet another question: Why have the Royals been so unsuccessful in trying to emulate the follow-up success of the 2002 Twins (coming off their nice 2003 season)? I don’t think there is a simple answer to that question (although Rob Neyer tried recently), but it is an interesting topic to explore at another time. In the meantime, fellow Twins fans, we need to realize just how fortunate we are to have a franchise that defies conventional “logic” and just keeps on winning. Monday was just one more drop in the bucket.

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