My Minnesota Twins made the postseason again this year. And again, they lost. Not the series. Every game. My Minnesota Twins have lost 18 playoff games in a row, good for the longest in American sports history (the Blackhawks used to hold the record at 16 games, followed by the Red Sox back in the 80s). Worse, the Twins were swept by the team everyone hates – the Houston Astros. I couldn’t help but chuckle…in between cursing my team out and firing off expletive-laden texts.
This iteration of the Twins homered their way to 100+ wins last year, and the all-or-nothing approach at the plate carried them into this year’s expanded playoff. But just as was the case last year, the playoffs revealed the Twins to be frauds when it mattered most. A lineup stacked with hitters that put up big power numbers in the regular season go silent in the playoffs (except for Nelson Cruz). A team built to bludgeon opponents found itself in low-scoring games, and was unable to manufacture a run when they needed it most. Errors, base-running blunders, bullpen letdowns…this team doesn’t know how to gut out a win. The Giants World Series’ teams were everything the Twins are not.
In previous years, the mighty Yankees beat the Twins an incredible 10 straight games in the playoffs, but this year the Twins lost to a sub-.500 team with mediocre pitching at best.
The streak is at a point where I swear the fan cynicism feeds into it, which is the absolute worst. Every text is an expectation for something bad to happen. I’ve always been a fan that hopes and expects a good thing to happen – blame it on the ‘91 Twins – but this year I found myself waiting for the bad to happen.
In other words, us Twins fans have officially willingly entered the lowest rung of fandom – we are feeding off of the failure. It’s become a part of our identity, and – man – that really, really sucks. All the proof you need can be found in the comments section of Twins articles:
Why do we even watch anymore? It’s OUR fault for thinking things could be different this time.
Sep 29, 10:40pm
Sep 29, 10:05pm
Sounds about right.
Sep 29, 10:05pm
Life is pain
Sep 29, 10:05pm
I’m not even sure what to say… no clutch hitting, bad fielding, inconsistent bullpen. I’m just glad that we can at least hang our hat on the longest postseason losing streak!
Sep 29, 10:11pm
Historically good or biblically bad, in that order.
The next time Rosario runs a ball out will be the first time Rosario runs a ball out.
Sep 29, 10:06pm
Explain to me how the team with record HR’s can’t hit when it matters? Also, Romo closing? Cmon man!
Sep 29, 11:00pm
Because they only seem to try to hit home runs. It seems like they have no concept of situational hitting.
Sep 30, 12:02am
Sano can only strike out and smash HRs
Sep 29, 10:07pm
Sep 29, 10:07pm
Sep 29, 11:04pm
Sep 29, 10:07pm
Least surprising and most predictable thing to happen. Guess it’s not the Yankees, huh? Just a crap run by another brutally inept MN sports franchise. Anyone think they won’t make it 18 in a row? This team is punchless & the manager deserves to finally take criticism for awful substitutions and pinch hitting decisions. What an embarrassment.
Sep 29, 11:31pm
@Justin M. Agree with the pinch hitting call. Garver? Are you f’ng kidding me?
Sep 29, 11:34pm
Why call up Kirilloff then? Anyone would have been better than Garver.
And this, from Jim Souhan, longtime MN columnist:
Do not let the oddities of this short, strange season distract you from the fact that this was the most embarrassing loss of this record-breaking streak.
They did not have to play in Yankee Stadium. They did not have to face a superior team. They did not need to solve an ace.
They managed two runs in 18 innings against a mediocre Houston pitching staff and gave up big hits to a group of hitters who have shrunk before our eyes since they were caught cheating.
In 18 innings, no Twin not named Nelson Cruz produced an extra-base hit or an RBI. Their Home Run Robe became a K Cape.
Time to clean house. Trade everyone not named Cruz and Kenta (especially Rosario and Sano). Rocco has to go, and so does the front office. Start fresh. Power numbers might be the most value, best approach over the long haul of a season, but there has to be a balance to a team, and – caution, old guy take alert – there is something to having some grinders on a team. What I don’t need are a bunch of dudes that act like the spoiled kid on the Little League team at the first sign of trouble.
Rosario didn’t like the 3-1 call, which was close enough to be called a strike. What’s more troubling is his complaining about the 3-1 pitch made him even more useless than normal on the 3-2 pitch. Of course he swings through it, because that’s what Eddie Rosario does in any at-bat of any significance, and then gets tossed for arguing a borderline pitch in a elimination game that’s tied going into the late innings. I don’t want that dude on my team. Don’t care how many meaningless homers he hits in a regular season.
It was terrible, again, but the Twins – the players and fans – all felt it coming. They braced for the streak to continue instead of saying, ‘the hell with that,” and making something happen, starting with some optimism. The real loss is if we allow ourselves to become one of those self-loathing fanbases. They are the worst. Worse than losing 18-straight playoff games. – PAL
Sources: “Twins implode in ninth as playoff losing streak hits 17 games: Discuss”, Zack Pierce, The Athletic (09/30/20); “Rocco Baldelli’s quick hook for starters leads to Twins’ quick exit from playoffs“, Jim Souhan, Star Tribune (10/1/20)
TOB: Eighteen straight playoff losses is unfathomable – it’s more games than the Giants played in any of their three World Series runs – 2014 (17), 2012 (16), and 2010 (15).
A Gluttonous and Historical Day of Playoff Baseball
Adding insult to the Twins’ 18-game postseason losing streak is that they were relegated to the morning games on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Why does that add insult? Well, this season saw the introduction of best-of-3 series in the first round. With 8 series to play, MLB scheduled the 4 AL series to open Tuesday, and then all 8 games played Wednesday. The Twins playing the early games meant their postseason ended before many teams’ postseasons began. Hell, it was over before October began.
But Phil’s pain aside (and god it was a painful 18 innings to watch, even as someone who adopted the Twins for the postseason), Wednesday was cool as hell. A record EIGHT playoff games in one day. On Tuesday night I checked the start times and it was staggering. It began at 9am PDT with the Reds/Braves, with subsequent games starting at 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 7pm.
I was working so I was trying to follow along by checking scores periodically and it was insane. It was so much fun! That Reds/Braves game went scoreless into the 13th (the Braves won 1-0)! The Yankees/Indians game was BANANAS, with so many swings of momentum I had to finally put it on in the background to keep up (the Yankees eventually won, 10-9 to eliminate Cleveland).
As an aside: the Reds set a record by opening (and closing) their postseason with TWENTY TWO scoreless innings. Wild.
Sports Illustrated’s Emma Baccellieri did an excellent job capturing the madness with a running diary. This entry, in the early morning hours, sums it all up well:
12:43 a.m.: The Yankees have loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth, I am bordering on delirium, the world does not exist outside of my television, I love baseball, I want to die.
So of course I had to ask myself: is the expanded playoffs good or bad? Do we want this in the future? And I gotta tell you I am torn. Keeping more teams in “it” until the end of the season is good. But teams with losing records making the playoffs? NOT GREAT! Especially with a best-of-three series. A 60-game season coming down to a best of three seems fine. A 162 game season coming down to a best of three, though? That seems unfair?
The more we expand the playoffs, the funkier results we will see. Houston could end up in the World Series and finish the year, as in after the World Series, with a losing record! Their two-game “sweep” put them at .500. All it would take is a 3-2 ALDS win, a 4-3 ALCS, win, and then a 4 or 5-game loss in the World Series, and your AL Pennant winner would finish with a losing record. That’s wild.
So, while I appreciated the intensity of the Giants’ final weekend (I mean, sorta, it was fun to care again but it also paralyzing and stressful), and while I loved Wednesday’s baseball bonanza, I think this is *too* much. -TOB
Source: “A Diary of MLB’s Never-Ending Day of Playoffs,” Emma Baccellieri, Sports Illustrated (10/2/2020)
Landon Donovan Stands Up to Rid Soccer of Bigotry
Former U.S. Soccer star Landon Donovan is now the coach of the San Diego Loyal of the USL. Donovan’s team was winning 3-1 this week when a player on another team used a gay slur to refer to a player on Donovan’s team. That player happens to be openly gay. The player’s teammates stood up for him, and the referee initially sent the player off. But the ref changed his mind, apparently deciding that he was not sure the slur (“bitch boy”) was actually a gay slur. Donovan told the ref if he did not stand by his initial decision, he’d pull his team off the field.
First, that ref is in way over his head. Second, the other coach sucks. But most importantly, I have a lot of respect for Donovan standing up for what’s right, and standing up for his player, in the way he did. We need more of this in sports, and life. Here’s what Donovan said:
“Our guys said we will not stand for this and they were very clear in that moment that we are giving up all hopes of making the play-offs. They are beating one of the best teams in the league but they said it doesn’t matter and there are more things important in life and we have to stick up for what we believe in.
“They made the decision to walk off and I have tremendous pride in this group and I am really proud of this organisation and that I get to be a part of it.”
Good for them. -TOB
Source: “San Diego Loyal Manager ‘Proud’ of Walk-off Over Alleged Homophobic Abuse,” the Guardian (10/1/2020)
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Song the Week: Patsy Cline – “I Fall To Pieces”
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