Why the Twins Will Beat the Yankees…
My college roommate hailed from Edina, Minnesota. Eric was a catcher with an arm-shaped cannon (he’s unavailable to suit up for the Yankees Wednesday night) and remains a die-hard Twins fan. When we played stickball in the park in the sweltering June heat, he wore a turtleneck. When he went out to retrieve the Washington Post from a snow pile in February, he wore shorts and sandals. These Minnesotans are built differently than us New Yorkers. We save our shorts for the summer and bundle up in righteous indignation when it snows.
When the Yankees fell into their September funk, I began envisioning a brief, chilly, miserable series in Minnesota, with their ecstatic fans stomping their flip-flops and Robinson Cano inappropriately smirking from within the latest Gore-Tex innovation in hood-masks as he went oh-fer eight. Weather reports from Minnesota predict sun and warmth, so the Yankees will luck out in the first two games of the ALDS weather-wise. Hopefully it’s the first of many breaks that will go their way, because if they don’t catch some futher good fortune, this is the year the Twins get over the hump and beat the Yankees in the ALDS.
Minnesota set the tone for their 2010 season on March 21st. That’s the day they signed their franchise-player and reigning American League MVP to an eight-year, $184 million contract. The contract was almost Yankee-like in terms of length and amount. It was a commitment to the player, sure, but it was also a commitment to the team and the fan base. In concert with opening a new stadium, the organization was assuring any doubters that the Twins intended to compete with the big spenders.
It was only a few years ago that the Twins desperately peddled Johan Santana to the Yankees and Red Sox. After realizing they were being used as the target in an organizational pissing contest, they turned, dazed and confused, and accepted whatever crappy deal was still left on the table from the Mets. Santana has been good for the Mets, but the Twins are probably thrilled that they’re not the ones paying him right now, with or without shoulder surgery. But I can’t believe that either the fans, players or the management was happy about being the shuttlecock in a game of badminton between Brian Cashman and Theo Epstein.
Now the Twins have a new outlook, beginning with their new ballpark and continuing with a payroll that added 50% from 2009. The payroll still doesn’t come within half of the Yankees’, but for the players and fans in Minnesota, it must feel liberating. It must feel like they have finally joined the big time. And I think this optimism and confidence will fuel the upcoming ALDS. It’s their house; it’s their time. (more…)