We fully expect the Rays playoff-clinching win to cause bitterness in other corners of the MLBiverse. But we never expected that bitterness to extend to the frozen lakes of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
We now present “Bitterness”* written by Patrick Reusse…
The bush-league behavior continued in the immediate aftermath of the final out. The players were allowed to celebrate as a group near the mound for several minutes, and then a clownish character named Rich Herrera was screaming into a hand-held microphone, pleading with fans to buy division series tickets and also to purchase hats and T-shirts as playoff souvenirs.
Of all the kookiness in this paragraph, our favorite might be that the players were apparently “allowed” to celebrate. Did they need league permission? Admittedly, celebrations are a rare sight in the Bay Area, but we have heard stories about other teams clinching postseason berths. Then again, maybe it is just sacrilege to do it front of such a hallowed franchise as the Twins.
Mr. Reusse then tries to casually segue into the real reason for the bitterness…
A few Twins stayed in the dugout for the start of the Rays’ celebration. The odds increased they will be watching another playoff celebration by an opponent — the White Sox and old pal A.J. Pierzynski — later this week in the Metrodome…The latest thumping put the Twins at 3-6 for the road trip and 9-18 going back to Aug. 23. Manager Ron Gardenhire answered questions for a small group of reporters, then slumped back in his chair and sat silently…There are seven games left, and the Twins need them all to join — and probably play — Tampa Bay in the playoffs.
Reusse presents this as “A-break-B” as if there is no causal relationship between the two. When in fact, B caused A to somehow matter to the Twins and their fans. That is the epitome of “bitterness”.
Some other bitter-goodiness from Mr. Reusse…
The Devil Rays went to the American League and moved into a fixed-roof stadium that already was as behind-the-times for baseball as the Metrodome.
Mr. Pot, we would like to introduce you to Mr. Kettle. We are not going to sit here and tell you what is great about the Trop (there are plenty of reasons), but if there is one team in baseball that has zero right to ever say anything demeaning about another ballpark, it is the Twins. At least the Trop is an actual, you know, baseball field.
The Diamondbacks defeated the New York Yankees in seven dramatic games and won a World Series in their fourth season. The Devil Rays rapidly became a blight on the grand old game…In a decade of existence, the Devil Rays had finished fifth (or last) nine times and fourth once in the AL East. The club record for victories was 70.
In the first 11 years of the Twins franchise (as the Washington Senators), the team never finished higher than 6th place, losing 110 games twice. Too far back? OK. How about the 8-season span from 1993-2000. The Twins finished 4th four times and last four times. Only once did they win more than 71 games. The Rays were an expansion franchise, starting from scratch. What was the Twins excuse? [Ed. note: See comments for additional breakdown of how much the recent success by the Twins was attributable to their 8-year stretch of suckiness]
Obviously, [changing the name to Rays] was the answer, along with a bevy of prime draft choices garnered with all those last-place finishes.
Yes. This is a well-accepted myth. But it’s just not true. Research is a writer’s friend.
“They haven’t just been picking at the top of the first round,” said Steve Liddle, the Twins bench coach. “They have been picking at the top of every round. That means you’re taking a player in the 30s, not the 50s or 60s, in the second round, and on and on…Eventually, you’re going to have too many good players to keep losing.”
Actually it is not the “30s”. Baseball has this thing called “compensation draft picks” sandwiched between the first and second round. That is how the Red Sox have 4 first-round picks in the 2005 draft that have all contributed to the team this season (Jacoby Ellsbury, Craig Hansen, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie). That year, the Red Sox had five draft picks before the Rays made their second selection at #56.
And of all the players selected by the Rays “at the top” of the 2nd through 9th rounds, only one is on the roster. Carl Crawford was the Rays’ second round pick in 1999. He was pick #52, meaning every team in the league passed on a chance to draft Crawford, and many teams passed twice.
The Twins are choking…And now Patrick Reuse has given them something else to choke on.
*Might not be the actual name of the article.
Tampa team emerges after decade in the dark [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]