Saturday, October 07, 2006

is it really over?

6 months of Twins baseball. A 25-33 start, falling as many as 12.5 games back of the division lead, only to comeback and dramatically take the lead on the final day of the season. A batting champ, the probably Cy Young, and MVP candidates.

All erased in 3 games over the span of 3 games.

Did that really just happen? Can it really be over so quickly? What the heck happened?

I could talk at length about why the Twins lost this series, but I'll stick to this quick analysis, and stop with the negatives. Heck, there wasn't a whole lot of positives for the series. I don't understand how a team that won 96 games could look so bad. But I digress.

I'll just focus on what a fun and exciting season this was for the Twins. The aforementioned 96 wins and AL Central title. But that's just a small part of what made this the most fun season following the Twins of my life. What did I love about these Twins? Well, since you asked:

- Joe Mauer. What else needs to be said? The first catcher to lead the MLB in batting while playing Gold Glove caliber defense behind the plate. At age 23. It was a pleasure to watch Joe play baseball day in and day out.

- Another fantastic season for Johan Cytana. He got the pitching triple crown which all but locks up his 2nd Cy Young award. This should be his 3rd straight Cy Young, but voters are stupid.

- The electricity of Francisco Liriano. When he was on the mound, there was no one better in the MLB this year. Great fastball, great changeup, and an absolutely devastating slider. If he was healthy, things might have been a lot different. Come back healthy Francisco.

- Justin Morneau becoming the star everyone thought he'd be. Everyone knew the power was always there, but he became a very complete hitter, hitting to all fields. One of the most fun guys to watch hit the ball.

- The effort of Torii Hunter. Sure, he can make mistakes (see: Game 2). And he's lost a step defensively. And he can take some bad swings at the plate. But he gives it all whenever he's out there, and there's not much better about baseball than watching him play baseball. Friday may have been his last game in a Twins uniform... if that's the case, thanks for the memories Torii.

- Brad Radke. You can't say enough about this guy. Pitching with a torn labrum is bad enough, but he was also gutting it out with a stress fracture in his throwing shoulder. He couldn't do anything without pain, yet he was pitching great start after start, and truly left everything he had. Thank you Brad Radke, for a great season and a great career.

- Covering everything on Thank You Brian Sabean. I wrote about the Minnesota Twins almost every day for the last 4 months... which made me appreciate the good times more. I don't know if I'll be back next year with TYBS, but hopefully time permits it, because it was really a great experience.

So while the last 3 games were not exactly the storybook ending everyone was hoping for, it was an unbelievable and unforgettable season, and one I won't soon forget. From the division title to winning 96 games to getting back to the playoffs, it was just about everything I could ask for. And with a young team, we might be back here again next year.

Thanks for reading, thanks for letting me ramble, and see you in a few days. While it was a great year that I'll look back fondly on, it's still a tough pill to swallow being swept. So I'll mope for a few days, and start looking forward to next year, where I can only hope for half the excitement this year brought.

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