Friday, April 16, 2010

Now THIS is a Good Team

Quick side note: I passed my 100th post the other week and I passed my 10,000th visitor even further back and completely forgot to recognize it... Those were personal milestones I didn't really consider when I started this, and along with being linked to on the Star Tribune once or twice, making the featured article of the MN Gameday website a few times, and appearing on Seth's podcast -- along with meeting several amazing Twins bloggers that I've admired for the past couple years that I've been a reader instead of a blogger -- have made these past 6 months of blogging worth it! For what I still consider to be quite a fledgling blog, your support has made me VERY happy, so thanks to everyone who stops by here even on an intermittent basis!

I have a friend -- a Tiger's friend (shudder, don't ask) -- who doesn't even glance at the standings until we're at least 20 games into the season. He considers the first 3 weeks to be extended spring training, and perhaps he's right. Remember when the 2003 Royals team started off the season winning their first 9 games and 16 out of their first 20 before ultimately cooling off and settling into the middle of the pack where they placed 3rd, ultimately just above .500?

Hot-streaks happen in baseball, and so do cold-streaks. It happens to every team, regardless of if you're the Yankees or the Nationals (well, maybe not the Nationals quite as often). It happens to every player as well, regardless of if you're Joe Mauer or Nick Punto.

The start to this season has been excellent. The Twins are considered one of the top teams in baseball and riding high in the wake of opening their new stadium. Their offense is clicking, their defense is looking sharp, their starting rotation has kept them in games and their bullpen has been better than we could have expected.

It was easy to for the other teams to dismiss our hammering of the Angels on the road. They lost Chone Figgins, Vlad Guerrero and John Lackey and -- despite always being a solid team -- are not the same Angels that won 90+ last year.

It was even easier to ignore our dismantling of the White Sox. Sure, they were preseason darlings for being an AL Central contender, but they are just as likely to be bottom-dwellers if Ozzie Guillen's little washed-up-veteran-rehash-slap-and-run experiment can't take off (as has been the case so far...).

But you cannot so easily glance over our shellacking of the Red Sox. Despite not usually stacking up against them (or winning) in the past, we've consistently played fairly even games against them -- at least more so than against the Yankees. Yet these are the Big Boys of the East. One of the nation's favorite teams to either love or hate. 2nd highest payroll in baseball. A rotation with 3 starters who would be the ace of almost any other team.

If we go by the 20-game benchmark, we are halfway there and 7-3 after facing easily the toughest part of our schedule until our New York-Toronto-Boston road trip in the middle of May. With our upcoming series consisting of a home-and-away against Kansas City, a homestand against Cleveland and a visit to Detroit, we could very conceivably be 17-3 (yes I know, I'm optimistic, but come on -- it's Kansas City and Cleveland...).

You can discount early season games as much as you want, but it certainly behooves any team to get off to a good start. The Twins have done that in resounding fashion, and they've given us no reason to believe that won't continue.

On another note, if you're looking for a fun, informative, interesting read, check this out. An account of the origin of every MLB team's name. Makes for some interesting bar trivia talk...

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