My love of Joe Mauer and The Minnesota Twins
Many of you probably know this, but just in case, I’m a diehard Minnesota Twins fan. Honestly, I either watch or stat cast most or all of the 162 games every year. I happen to be a fraternal twin myself, and I live within an hour of the Twin cities, so it seems like a natural pairing. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs together, we’ve laughed, screamed, cried, and celebrated together, even though they might not know it. I’m sure every fan can relate to that though.
I was meant to love the Twins. Growing up at the point where I can actually remember watching baseball, so the early to mid 2000s, the Twins were all fun and games to watch during the regular season as they continuously made the playoffs and won about 85 to 95 games every year. Torri Hunter, Jacque Jones, and AJ Pierzynski led the offensive charge behind the arms of Latroy Hawkins and Johann Santana’s first Cy Young. Lew Ford was always a grinder fan favorite, and I can vividly remember hearing the Lew chants when he made a tough catch when they played the Athletics in my first game at the Dome. Also, I have to give a Jason Tyner shoutout because GOAT. I either wanted to marry or murder Kyle Loshe and Brad Radke every other second of my life. Yeah, the toughest love/hate relationships of my entire life so far, and I was like 8. However, the playoffs were tough…big time. They won one series over that time even though they finished first in their division three times in 5 years from 2001-2005. Absolutely brutal on my young heart year after year of upset.
Next, came the mid to late 2000’s Twins. These are the Twins that come easiest to my mind when someone asks me why I’m a Twins fan. That 2006 season when we won 96 games, had Joe Mauer’s first batting crown, had the Al Cy Young winner in Johann Santana (his second), and the AL MVP winner in Justin Morneau, was the year I thought we were winning our first title since 1991. There was a lot of good teams that year, but I thought we were sweeping the hardware. I was way off. We got swept by the Athletics in the first round, I still hate Nick Swisher more than anything to this day. Even better, the division rival Tigers went on to win it, the biggest Fuck You right to the face that I’d ever received. But I wasn’t too worried, Mauer and Morneau were just beginning and I knew we still had some shots to win the big guy. Those came in 2009 and 2010 when Joe rounded into a perennial MVP contender as he won batting title after batting title, while adding power to his swing. Our pitching staff had a good Fransisco Lariano and excellent closer in Joe Nathan, along with lineup of Justin Moreau who was still an all star power hitter, an all around player in Michael Cuddyer, and a budding Carlos Gomez. I still have my two Twins t-shirt “jerseys” of Mauer and Morneau. I’d argue they are one of the most underrated 3/4 duos of all time, especially in 2009 when they combined for 58 home runs, 196 RBIs, and a .320 batting average. That’s production. However, the playoffs were the same shit, different pile. We were swept by the Yankees both years in the first round. The 2000s Twins playoff woes are comparable to the 2010s Capitols playoff disaster. Roll through the regular season, get a good seed/position, then get busted for an early exit. That 2010 season was the last time I actually enjoyed baseball.
The 2011-2016 Minnesota Twins, with the exception of the 2015 miracle on grass team (still didn’t make the playoffs haha), were (going to do my best Nick Swardson impression here, he’s a huge Twins fan) comparable to a dog shart, diarrheaing all over your pillows, then you having to sleep in it as someone poured gasoline on your head, then lighting it all on fire. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but they were/are the literal Browns of the MLB. Three straight 66 or less win seasons from 2011-2013, and a less worse 70 win season in 2014 allowed them to get last in the division 3 of 4 years and no better than 4th worst in the MLB for 4 straight seasons. Any team with Alexi Casilla and Josh Willingham as starters is…what’s worse than the worst? We got a glimmer of hope in Sano’s rookie season in 2015 as we got 2nd in the division with an 83-79 record to just barely miss the playoffs. Then 2016 happened. You would expect an improvement after a comeback season. NOPE. Franchise worst 59 wins to be in the cellar of the entire MLB. I couldn’t even watch last season, it was a cruel, dark joke. They lost 103 games, that’s how many games the league leading Cubs one, how the fuck can that happen. We lost 9 straight to start the season and our team’s ERA was probably like 16.45 by the end. Not to mention that Joe Mauer was terrible, but still in the middle of an 8 year, 23 million a year deal which he signed in..oh yeah 2011. Grandma knees aren’t too great for the MLB. Anyway I know was not the Twins that I remember deep in my brain.
The 2017 Twins are the Twins I know. The Division Leading 15-12 Twins behind Miguel Sano’s .312 batting average, 8 homers, 28 RBIs, 22 walks, .677 slugging, and 1.121 OPS good for 26th, 12th, 2nd, 5th, 7th and 7th in the MLB, and Ervin Santana’s 5-0 record, .66 ERA, and .71 whip good for 1st, 1st (under half the second place guy), and 1st in the MLB, the Minnesota Twins are off to a better start than anyone thought. People don’t think they can sustain it, they don’t believe, and they hate. Fuck em. The Twins are here to stay. They’ll play their asses off all year and make some noise in September and October. They’re getting production from all over the place including Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario, Robbie Grossman, and even, yeah that’s right, Joe mothafuckin Mauer. Last night he hit his first walk off bomb in his 14 year, MVP career to beat the Red Sox 4-3. Clutch as hell, Joe’s back baby. As long as the Twins’ rotation holds decently and their bullpen continues to play okay, the long balls keep flying, and Dozier and Buxton round into hitting form, the Twins will be a force this year. I’m just saying watch out. They’re coming. I wouldn’t want to be a fan of any other team.