Is This the Year?

By Jerold Wells Jr.
Updated: April 11, 2005

MINNEAPOLIS,MINNESOTA–Spring is in the air and with the delightful aroma of clear sunny days comes the appealing perfume of America’s pastime. Baseball season is upon us and to me that means it is time for the Twins. This year will prove to be an interesting year for the reigning American League Central Champions because both history and the city seem to be fighting against them: not to mention the greatly improved Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians. When battling antagonists such as history and the state in which your team resides, the group in question must show an amazing amount of perseverance and heart to reach greatness. This group of Twins has never lacked heart or perseverance so rest assured greatness is within the grasp of this Twins team. The year 2005 may be the year to take destiny by the hand and bring a championship to the Twin Cities once again.

To win a fourth straight division title this year would signal an era of dominance slightly familiar to Minnesota sports fans. Remember if you will the Minnesota Vikings teams who played in four Super Bowls during the 1970’s. Consider also the Minnesota Timberwolves streak of seven consecutive first round losses in the NBA playoffs that began in the late 1990’s and ended earlier this decade. To some fans the team that is just good enough and cannot seem to get over the hump is more frustrating than the consistently bad team. For the last three years, Twins fans have had to suffer through various Fall shortcomings and disappointments in order to look ahead to next year with hope and optimism. Playoff series ended in defeat and the painful yet poignant question remained, “When will it be our year?” Heroes defeat the mighty foe named History when they are ready and willing to tap their vast potential. Young players such as Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Jason Kubel will have to show that they posses the mettle to play Twins baseball: meaning defense first and your role in the offense second. Each of the aforementioned youngsters will be expected to inject much-needed horsepower into the Twins usually midsize sedan offense. Will they meet the challenge? Veterans such as Luis Rivas, Michael Cuddyer, and Jacque Jones will have to raise their level of play to a consistently high level and avoid the tendency they each has to fold under the weight of high expectations. Each will be expected to produce at a higher level than last year and each has the ability. Will they rise to the occasion? Superstars such as Torrii Hunter and Johan Santana will have to lead the team by example both on the field and off. History suggests that a few extremely gifted and charismatic superstars lend thier charisma and leadership qualities to the team during the drive to win a championship. They symbolize the team’s passion, drive, and resolve. In 1991, it was Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek and Jack Morris. Who will it be for these Twins of 2005?

The Minnesota Twins do not play solely for themselves or love of the game. They play for a state enamored with their toughness, their character, and their spirit. They play for a state who views the hard working, slick fielding, blue collar Twins as an embodiment of themselves. Outsiders who have not experienced harsh winters or humid summers cannot really relate to the feeling of euphoria that fills the Dome during a home game. When Minnesota fans see Torrii Hunter dive in the outfield to make a catch or crash into the wall in straight away centerfield the see a reflection of their own hard work and labor. That special relationship between fans and players in turn forms a bond of unyielding support: the type of support that makes a true and unbeatable home field advantage. In return for this unyielding support, the players take on the weighty burden of high expectations. This city knows the taste of championship champagne and yearns to sip from the cup once more. They will cheer strikeouts and homeruns, turn their caps backwards when it is time to rally, and boo when they feel like the effort is lacking, all in an attempt to spur the team on to another title. When they cheer for you it can take you to another level, when they boo you it can crush your confidence. The greats learn to deal with it and those that do not move on.

I can feel it in the air something is different in Minneapolis. Maybe it is the way that wind is blowing off the Mississippi River, maybe it is the way the sun sets to end beautiful upper Midwestern Spring days, or maybe it is the Minnesota Twins. They have the talent to play with the big boys. Pitching is still a strength (Starting, Middle Relief & Closer), hitting will still be consisten and timely but now a few more home runs will be sprinkled in, and fielding will remain impeccable. Ron Gardenhire is still a very good manager, following the Tom Kelly blueprint to perfection. Encarta Dictionary defines destiny as “something that predetermines events”. Perhaps this is a season of destiny for the Minnesota Twins. Provided they play hard and give 100 % for themselves and their fans, perhaps the events of this season are predetermined. Will there be a rally in October, as our victorious Twins roll through the chilly streets of Minneapolis? Only time will tell. If they can defeat the adversaries known as History and the state of Minnesota, anything is possible.