Baseball is tough to predict, and that’s why spring’s are always “hopes eternal” for it’s fans. I’d be lying if I said it was a surprise or a shock that the 2010 AL Central Champion would be the Minnesota Twins.
The fact is, you can’t predict that a team who lost it’s closer before the season began, and an MVP candidate after the All-Star break, would win it’s division with such ease. But that’s baseball.
Since the days of kindergarten, when Harmon Killebrew was the American League’s best slugger, I have maintained the “springs hopes eternal” mind set for the Twins. That’s baseball too.
As is the unbridled loyalty of a kindergartener to his parents, who echoes the baseball allegiances they are taught. Yes, the current generation of kindergarten Twins fans have the same “blind hope” in common with their forefathers.
Last Winter, the Twins championship drive started with the signing of Jim Thome. Getting a player like that, a Hall of Famer, a true slugger, a classic icon, a true gamer to join an already established cast of winners was a real indication of the Twins intents for 2010.
With Thome, the Twins had acquired a sure fire late inning pinch hitter who could be dangerous in the clutch. I remember telling my kid at that time,
“I am going to get you a Thome jersey because the Twins got him to make ‘noise’ in the playoffs. He is coming to the Twins to hit homers (long bombs) in the clutch, and you are going to love watching that at Target Field.”
At Spring Training this year, the first thing we did when arriving was go to see Thome in a Twins jersey. I just had to witness the reality that the Twins had acquired this modern day Babe Ruth/Harmon Killebrew type player. Later, that week, we sat in the stands as the PA announcer read the Twins line-up to the crowd.
I told my boy then,
“Man, that sounds like a championship batting order. I can see them reading that off in the World Series come October. We might need a third baseman though?”
At his first t-ball practice this spring, my little man was bragging about how great Thome would be based purely on my scouting report. As part of the “get to know you introductions” his coach asked his newly assembled team,
“So, who is your favorite Major League player?”
While most of the Minnesota born kids answered “Joe Mauer!” my boy responded,
“Jim Thome! He is getting paid to launch bombs and win games late, and I think he is the greatest player ever… he will help win the pennant at the Twins new stadium.”
I got this weird look from the coach, as my little t-baller rattled off his version of my prediction. It was like he was asking, “is this kid for real?” I just chuckled and nodded.
I know, it’s easy to sit here and write an “I told you so” blog post the day AFTER the Twins won the A.L. Central, but as a seasoned Twins fan, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that their is a special feeling about this divisional champion.
I loved the 1987 & 1991 seasons because they both had a special feeling about them before they ever started. The 2010 Twins have elements from both those pennant winning histories.
This year’s team has new baseball home, and record attention from it’s fans. The love affair feeling between fans & players from 1987 is there. The loaded bullpen and champion-proven roster of everyday players from 1991 is also in play. But most significant, this year’s team has that intangible, the difference maker, and it had it the day it signed the big man from Chicago.
I never had a Harmon Killebrew jersey when I was in Kindergarten. It took me 40 years to acquire a jersey for the slugger of his time. I bought my authentic Killer #3 Cooperstown Collectible the same day I bought my kid his Thome #25 last Spring.
My kid loves his Thome jersey so much, that he wore it to his first day of Kindergarten. The fun thing about all this is that we will both we wearing our jerseys this October at Target Field for post-season games. Baseball is definitely an ageless game, but is never easy to predict.