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Thoughts from a Twins fan on Wild Card Eve

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30 years ago, the Minnesota Twins went from underdogs to World Series champs

I have been a Minnesota Twins fan since 1977. Kids growing up in Des Moines, Iowa, during the 1970s and 80s were usually Cubs fans or Royals fans, with a few scattered Cardinals and White Sox boosters. My best friend Brent Jacobs, who taught me about baseball, was a Dodgers fan for some reason. Me, I was a Twins fan for the simple reason that the local cable TV network carried a Twins Cities station and would play Twins games.

While Brent got to root for Steve Garvey and Davey Lopes and Ron Cey, I was stuck with Hosken Powell, Willie Norwood, and Paul Thormodsgard. At least that was true after Calvin Griffith traded all his high salary players or they left as free agents.

The Twins brought in better young players starting in 1982: Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti, Tom Brunansky, Frank Viola, and then Kirby Puckett to cap it off. They made an abortive pennant run in 1984 but the ‘85 and ‘86 seasons were very disappointing.

Then 1987 came.

The Twins snuck into the playoffs with 85 wins, then proceeded to push past the Detroit Tigers and into the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, winning in seven games. This seemed like a fluke, but the Twins remained competitive in ‘88 but began a rebuilding cycle by trading Viola in ‘89, which led to another World Championship in 1991.

The ‘87 and ‘91 victories are some of my best memories. I still carry the ‘87 World Series keychain every day.

Alas, most of the 1990s were a dark time, the Twins becoming such jokes that the team was threatened with contraction. The 21st century was better, the club reaching the post-season six times between from ‘02 to ‘10, though never managing to advance to the World Series.

Looking back on it, by the time the ‘00s rolled around my fandom had cooled. Part of this was maturity and my place along the life path: passion and energy that went into fandom when I was in high school and college was now going into my family and my career. Part of it was the need to be as objective as possible since baseball was my job now.

I was disappointed that the Twins didn’t get back to the World Series, but I wasn’t heart-broken.

2017 feels different. This year I care again.

Part of it is symmetry. 1987 was 30 years ago. The Twins won 85 games that year. The Twins won 85 this year.

The Twins of the mid-80s had a young and talented core that hadn’t quite jelled yet and suffered through poor ‘85 and ‘86 seasons. The 2016 Twins had a young and talented core that suffered through a miserable ‘16 but rebounded this year.

I want the Twins to win this year. I care again.

Why?

I want the 30-year symmetry. My life is in transition right now, with my oldest son now off to college and my energies going in new and different directions. Or perhaps everything old is new again.

The cycles of life don’t exactly repeat, but sometimes they do rhyme.

Win Twins!