I am no Twins apologist. In fact, you could call me Mr. Negative at times when it comes to the hometown 9. There's been plenty not to like about recent Twins teams, although hardcore fans who never went away during the mid- and late-nineties will disagree with me I am sure. Yes, the Twins have not been awful. Yes, they have done it mostly with homegrown talent. But have they really contended for a title in any meaningful way? Ron Gardenhire is a great manager, but his lifetime playoff record is 6-18. They have been close a couple of times against the Yankees, but I think we would all agree that winning any of those series would have been shocking. Since they lost in the ALCS to the Angels in 2002, I don't think that any of us could be honest with ourselves and say that we really thought the Twins could win it all.
But this year is different. On April 5th, 2010, I really think that the Twins have an honest chance to win the World Series this season.
Is it some kind of new stadium euphoria that has gone to my head? Is it a man crush on Joe Mauer (unlike Joe Smith, Mauer really is no ordinary Joe)? Is it the face that our off season acquisitions were more than just other teams retreads who we knew would be cut by the end of May? (I wouldn't recognize JJ Hardy or Orlando Hudson if they walked up to me in uniform, but I love them already.) It's some of all of that. I am more excited for this baseball season than I have been in a very long time.
Maybe it's the thought that I am going to get to take my daughter to her first baseball game this summer, and we won't have to sit inside and talk about what a beautiful night for baseball it is outside the Dome. She has not one but TWO Twins shirts now (Morneau and Liriano), and I almost cried when Nadia got her Joe Mauer #7 for Easter. First pitch tonight is at 9:05 local time, and I will probably turn off the NCAA title game to watch baseball, even though it's just 1 out of 162.
For once, I am not going to be negative the first time Baker the Bomb-maker gets shelled, or the first time I have to watch little Nicky Punto come to the plate when need a hit late in a game, or when Jon Rausch blows his first save, or when Denard Span hits his own mother with a foul ball. This year is going to be filled with POSITIVITY, excitement, and hopefully October baseball under the stars. The biggest question mark facing the Twins this year is going to be whether or not we still wave Homer Hankies during the playoffs.
Twins fever? I've been infected, and I don't think there is a cure.