They were all but done, so close to being consigned to baseball’s scrap heap that you could hear the fat lady sing. You couldn’t help thinking it was over.That was then. This is now, and now is a rocking Metrodome and the Minnesota Twins with a 1-0 lead after the first game of the ALCS against Anaheim.
Granted a new lease on life when contraction was first blocked by the Minnesota courts and subsequently put on the back burner with the new labor agreement, the Twins took all of baseball by surprise this season.
First they ran away with the AL Central, winning by 13.5 games. Then they had the gall to upset the Oakland A’s in the first round of the playoffs. What is even worse is that in coming back from a 2-1 deficit they handed the A’s young pitching studs Hudson and Mulder consecutive losses.
What gets lost in the from-almost-dead-to-beating-the-A’s fairy tale is the fact that the Twins play fundamentally sound baseball. They aren’t led by a bunch of superstars like the Yankees are, nor do they possess a pitching rotation like Oakland, but they get the job done by playing as a team.
After Cristian Guzman allowed a two-out grounder by Darren Erstad to sneak through his legs, resulting in an A’s run, pitcher Joe Mays went up to him after the inning and told him not to worry because Mays had his back. That’s a perfect example of putting the team first and a perfect example of the close-knit unity of the Twins.
The truth of the matter is the Twins are in the ALCS because of their players, who, to put it quite simply, are very good. The fact that they were almost denied this opportunity makes their achievement that much more special.
Writing for ESPN.com, Peter Gammons had this to say about the Twins’ magical season: “The mind says Anaheim is the favorite, but every time I see Corey Koskie I believe the Twins cannot lose. This is owner Carl Pohlad’s worst nightmare. For what he and MLB put these players through last winter, justice is the World Series in one of the two worst parks in baseball.