Get your homer hankies ready for 2010 playoffs
September 16, 2010
The American League Central is accustomed to coming down to the wire. In fact, for the past two years it has taken more than the allotted 162 games to determine the eventual champion.
Our own Minnesota Twins have been no stranger to game 163 either, as they are the only team in Major League history to have played the additional play-off game in back to back seasons, (they lost to the White Sox 1-0 back in 2008 off a Jim Thome home run, and beat the Detroit Tigers 6-5 in 12 innings last season). As the 2010 season is winding down, the Twins and White Sox once again find themselves battling for the top spot in the division.
While the Twins have maintained a comfortable lead over the past few weeks, with this division, expect the unexpected.
For the Twins, the recent success has been nothing short of extraordinary. After losing former Most Valuable Player Justin Morneau on July 7, the Twins have found ways to win from players with little to no major league experience. Players, such as Danny Valencia, have come through with key hits and the former White Sox, Thome, has replaced Morneau’s power with convincing home runs. Remember when he hit the flag pole at Target Field?
Now the question becomes, will this young and inexperienced team be able to continue to find ways to win in close situations?
There are many arguments going against the Twins; the biggest being of course that they don’t have the billion dollar payroll like the New York Yankees to go out and “buy” the proven power hitters and aces. Other indicators that conventional wisdom would lead you to doubt the Twins’ ability to make a deep postseason run is that there is no clear “ace” to the pitching staff. Many fans would dub Carl Pavano as the ace as he leads the team in wins (16), but then again he is in double digits for losses (11). Still others would say that Francisco Liriano has been the ace as he has not lost a game since before the All-Star break. But as any true Twins fan will know, it is this combination of average Joes (well maybe Joe Mauer is above average), and the Twins style of play to never be out hustled or out witted (I hope Ron Gardenhire will get serious consideration for manager of the year), will be precisely the reason why the Twins will make a deep postseason run leading to an eventual World Series banner.
The odds of a World Series at Target Field seem optimistic, as last year the Yankees won the year they opened their new stadium, along with the St. Louis Cardinals when they opened the new Busch stadium back in 2006, for contemporary examples. If the play-offs were to happen today, the Yankees would host the Texas Rangers and the Twins would host the Tampa Bay Rays. The Twins would have home field advantage as the Rays would be the Wild Card team, and even if they had a better record than the Twins, the Twins still would host because Wild Card teams cannot have home field advantage.
After the Rangers’ recent sweep of the Yankees, and the Yankees’ continued inconsistency as of late, I would take the Rangers over the Yankees in five games (this may be a pick out of pure optimism for me as a Twins fans, or out of pure hatred for the Yankees, but at least I was honest). Now I won’t just pick the Twins because I am a tried and true fan, but because the statistics will back me up. The Twins have been absolutely stellar at Target Field. Now if the Rangers were to defeat the Yankees, the Twins would still play host to the American League Championship Series given that they end up with a better record than the Rangers (which they currently do).
Once again, I believe that the magic of Target Field will return and the Twins will be headed to their first World Series since 1991. Call me naive or whatever you please, but as a Twins fan I have come to believe that anything is possible.
Ashley Goettl is an alumna of UW-River Falls. She was editor of the Student Voice from fall semester 2011 to spring semester 2013.