CURTAIN TIME FOR THE TWINS…

…I know, there is still game 3 to be played but, I have seen nothing from this Twins team that shows me anything will be different next game. The post Twins’ post season losing streak has reached league historical records, a dubious feather in the Twins’ caps! What seems to be the problem?

Let’s start with the fact the Twins have a history of taking the gas against ALL American League East teams, except maybe this year with the Orioles, who were awful but still competitive with Twins head to head. The reason why the Twins are dominated every year by the East teams is because AL East teams are simply better. They have to be because their division is so much tougher than the AL Central. Jim Souhan, in today’s Star Tribune raised this point about the Yankees and why they continually pound the stuffing out of our beloved Twinkies. The Yankees build a starting team of home-grown and purchased super stars then go the extra distance of building a super star laden bench! Watching the Yankees play baseball really is a thing of beauty. They hit, they hit in the clutch, they pitch well from starters to situational pitching to Rivera closing, they have a great fielding team, and they have a nice mix of speed and power. They have a roster like this because they can, money generally is no object for them to fill needs. Here is why the Yankees are like this. They play in the best division in Major league Baseball. They must play baseball powers Boston, Toronto, and Tampa Bay 18 times each every year. these are traditionally very strong teams, Tampa is rather new to the club but, they have been very good now for the past four years, even winning the World Series in 2008. All of these teams are built to be competitive in that division, great arms, great power, great speed, and solid defense.

The Twins play in arguably the weakest division in Major League Baseball. The Twins need only to dominate the lowly likes of Kansas City, Cleveland, the sometimes okay Tigers, and the psychotic, usually swooning White Sox. The AL Central teams do not have anywhere near the amount of pressure to prepare quality teams as the AL East teams do. The head to head competition between the divisions pretty much reveals the superiority of the East.

This year, 2010, the Twins actually had a great team. They were so successful with the use of role players to pick them up when front line players either weren’t producing or were out injured. I think the Twins in 2010 were the picture of the “ideal team” on the field every day. This really worked competing in the weak AL Central, and also placed them in the top 10 teams in the major leagues! Pretty good, huh? It was a great season here in Minnesota. The Twins not only played great team baseball but did it in front of a home record 3.3 million fans who showed up at Target Field in its inaugural season. Nobody is complaining about the regular season except…

…for the time after the team clinched the Al Central Division title. Here was the situation, no matter what, the Twins were going to face either the Rays or the Yankees in the first round. They had first round home field advantage already but, needed to fight in those last ten regular season games for home field advantage for the next round as well. The Twins, and Ron Gardenhire were fully aware where the first round opponent was coming from, the AL East. The nice thing for the Twins was the Rays and Yankees seemingly “mailed it in” those last 10 games, something that those clubs were in a better position to do based on the superiority of their clubs over the Twins. The Twins, under Gardenhire chose to “mail it in” as well. A very bad management decision by Gardenhire. Those last 10 games should have been used to focus and hone the team into a victory based mind-set and performance results. Gardenhire lost focus and subsequently, the team under him did. They had an opportunity to tune and hone to meet either AL East squad and win. Again, both New York and Tampa Bay laid down at the end of the season. If the Twins were going to overcome this decade long stigma with the AL East, playing hard to win, fighting for home field advantage, and actually gutting it out would have held them in much better stead than what they have done in the first two games so far. Long time American League manager and game management wizard, Billy Martin, always prepared his teams for the post season by playing his starters until the end and working to win every game to establish winning habits and to enter the post season with positive momentum. He said “you can’t turn winning attitude off and on command”. He was exactly right!

I think it’s time for Gardy and the Twins to rethink how they prepare for the post season. They need to establish winning games as the top priority, not rest and not showcase time for minor leaguers. That is not how you win in the post season. I’m not calling for a turn over of the Twins management and coaching staff at all, other than post season prep, they do a great job! I do think that now that this franchise is considered a successful, and according to Yankees GM Brian Cashman, not a “small market team” anymore the ownership does need to apply a little pressure on the field staff to move to the next level. Remember that was Flip Saunders downfall with the Timberwolves. Flip had really good regular seasons with really good front line NBA talent, but he could never get beyond the first round of the playoffs. That ultimately cost Flip his job here.

I bleed twins red, white, and blue. They are by far my favorite team in Minnesota. I’m a baseball fan and I believe baseball is the best sport and I still believe it’s “America’s game”. I have passion for the Twins like no other team. I cheer when they win, and I die when they lose. They are the best sports entity in the twin Cities. they pride themselves in hiring only quality people who are active in the community and never cause problems. As Sid would say, “they are a class act”. With the thugs, hoodlums, and otherwise problem players the Viqueens and Timberwolves hire, as well as the academic and legal problems created by questionable “students” playing sports at the “U”, the Twins are a shining beacon in Minnesota for what’s right about sports and baseball in our state and in the country.

Thanks for todays read, and remember, comments are always welcome.
Cam Obert

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