You know you're really in the shithouse when this is the best news you've read in a week. Three days after the baseball gods reached into Fenway Park, into center field, into Torii Hunter's ankle, wrenching tendons and destroying the last of the Twins' feeble playoff hopes, an MRI has shown that Hunter didn't actually tear a tendon as was previously feared. He "just" broke his ankle. Phew.
No surgery necessary, but he's still probably out for the rest of the season, barring some kind of ridiculous reversal of fortune that lands our boys in the postseason (and after a long and bitter bout of stubborn resistance, I'm finally counting myself among the non-believers). So why is this good news? Because Hunter's a centerfielder, that's why, and maybe the best in the game at that. Centerfielders need speed more than anything else, and when one tears a tendon, he almost never fully regains that precious resource. That means that if Hunter had torn his Achilles, when he reappeared next season, it probably wouldn’t be in center field. And that would just suck.
So taking the long view, this really is good news. And the long view is the one you've got to take at this point; Terry Ryan's refusal to make the Big Trade that I wrote about a few days ago is proof of that. Instead of bringing in a big bat to right the ship and stay the course into the postseason, the Twins are now setting their sights on 2006 and working on their dismal offense. That means giving their prospects some valuable big-league playing time, a group that includes Jason Bartlett and Scott Baker, among others. It also means trimming the fat, i.e. Bret Boone, which just happened earlier today, and refocusing on the further development of Morneau and Cuddyer, both of whom were disappointing this year but have lately shown more of that promise folks had always associated with them. If it was those big, noisy Metrodome crowds that were throwing them off, the rest of this season should be gravy.
All of which is fine with me, actually. I was pretty steamed at first when the trade deadline came and went, but I'm over it. Now I can finally sit back, and instead of watching a whole season, enjoy the team one game at a time. It's been a while since I was able to do that, and what with all the extra elbow room in the Dome stands, I imagine it's going to be pretty comfortable.