Can the Twins be more "Evil" than the Yankees?
|Photo: Bree McGee|
|Playoff vets like Mauer will be crucial to a Twins role reversal.|
Perhaps that's part our attraction and fascination with sport, whereupon the fielded stage and the players upon it can transcend with each new season.
And so it is that for the fourth time since 2003, the Minnesota Twins meet the New York Yankees in the first round of the playoffs.
Of the 13 American markets sporting a team in each of the four major sports, our Twin Cities owns the longest championship drought, an inauspicious mark now at 20 years since the 1991 Twins felled the Braves in one of the finest World Series in baseball history. Now with home field advantage over the Yanks for the first time, these Twins take on the gravity of rescuing our town from two decades of title absence.
As for the defending champion Yankees, dubbed "The Evil Empire" by foes: with 27 Series titles (17 more than runner-up St. Louis), they claim the most major sport championships in all of North American sport. Only the Montreal Canadians (with 24) and the Boston Celtics (17) come close.
In postseasons of yore, the playbill pitted the Twins as "David" to the Pinstripes' "Goliath." The analogy errs, of course, because while David ultimately felled the Philistine the Twins' chucked hollow stones at the Yanks. Prior to getting swept out of last year's ALDS, our Boys were defeated 3-1 in the consecutive second-seasons of '03 and '04. In both of those series, the Twins took Game 1 at the old Yankee Stadium before losing the three successive contests. Last year, the Twins led the Yanks in all of the three games before relinquishing their lead in each. Dating to Game 2 of that 2004 set, the Twins have lost nine consecutive postseason games.
Yet this 2010 chapter of the Twins has the pen, the paper, the pedigree, and the personnel to construct an alternate script. While the Yankees still own the top payroll in baseball at over $210 million (about $50 mil more than anybody else), the Twins have now cracked MLB's top-10 salary list, cresting the $100 million mark. But this ALDS won't be defined by the green glow of money or inexperience.
This isn't the same plucky, frugal Twins of recent playoff defeats. Rather, this is one of the most dangerous clubs in baseball, playing in a sparkling new park, and sporting an impressively crafted cache of experienced veterans, budding talent, and one of the most celebrated batsmen at his position in the history of the sport.