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Thursday, May 3, 2012

To Failure part 2

1991 Minnesota Twins
The 1991 Minnesota Twins began the season as afterthoughts. They entered the year coming off a 74-88 record, which was good enough for 7th and last place in the AL west. The only significant moves in the offseason were the additions of local veteran starting pitcher Jack Morris[1], aging OF/DH Chilli Davis and veteran 3b Mike Pagliarulo.

The team started slowly as expected, before catching fire  as the year went along and were a surprise runaway winner of the AL West winning the division by 8 games over the Chicago White Sox. Led by Kirby Puckett, Chilli Davis, Morris, Scott Erickson and closer Rick Aguilera the Twins  entered The A.L.C.S. against the Toronto Blue Jays as underdogs despite boasting a better record than the Blue Jays in the regular season. The Twins were able to advance to the World Series behind the A.L.C.S. MVP Kirby Puckett.
In the World Series the Twins where matched against the Atlanta Braves who also happened to finish last the previous year in the N.L. West.[2] This was the first time in MLB history that a team, which had finished last in there respective division the year before had made the next years World Series and both teams accomplished this feat.

This World Series is often referred  as the greatest World Series of all time as with 5 games being decided by a final run including the last two games of the series in Minnesota. Four of the games were decided in the last at bat including the final two games and  3 of the 4 home games for the Twins.

Both,  Kirby Puckett and Jack Morris cemented there legacies in this World Series for Minnesotan’s and throughout the United States: Puckett with a game saving catch in game 6, and the game winning homerun in the bottom of the 11th inning off Braves lefty Charlie Liebrandt.  This sent the series to a 7th and deciding game. In game 7,  Jack Morris put on what I believe to be the single greatest pitching performance off all time considering the circumstances and what was at stake. 10 innings of shutout baseball! 10 innings!!! If he did this for the Yankees or Red Sox he would definitely be in the Hall of Fame.  Morris wasn’t perfect that day but he held the Braves scoreless thanks to great pitching, great defense and a little luck.[3]  
This was a great day, as I remember a sense of pride and feeling of accomplishment in the fact that my team won that I haven’t felt sports wise too often since then.

The 1992 Twins were actually better than the 1991 team, despite not re-signing Jack Morris, but so were the 1992 Chicago White Sox leaving the Twins and us fans to watch the playoffs from home. This is something the franchise would get used to as they would not see the playoffs again until 2002
Since 1991 the Twins have won a total of one playoff series,[4] were nearly contracted from baseball and are currently on an embarrassing 9 game playoff losing streak to the New York Yankees. [5] Sweet.  PS the Twins have had a lot of success in the last 10 years, but just like the Vikings they have been just good enough to break your heart. 

After the Twin’s won the 1991 World Series, Minnesota sports fans were treated to the first cold weather Super Bowl in N.F.L. history, in downtown Minneapolis. This game is infamous for Thurman Thomas misplacing his helmet…not exactly a classic Super Bowl moment. The Washington Redskins prevailed over the Buffalo Bills 37-24, marking the Bill’s second of four straight losses in the Super Bowl.

The last of the four major events  Minnesota hosted over this one year span was the 1992 Final Four. The four participants were: Duke, Michigan, Cincinnati, and Indiana. Duke defeated Indiana by 3 points in the first Semifinal while, Michigan defeated Cincinnati in the other Semifinal. In the championship game,  Duke led by Christian Laettner(future Minnesota Timberwolves bust)  defeated Michigan , which was led by the fab five 71-51.

With these four events in the book , the greatest one year span in Minnesota sports was now over.  What has followed since?? Only the two most heartbreaking losses in Viking’s history, the North Stars leaving, The Timberwolves almost leaving and being unable to get past the 1st round of the playoffs for most of the late 90’s early 2000’s, the Twins almost getting contracted from the M.L.B., various threats of the Viking leaving, and more recently, injuries to literally every star player in the local market.

[1] Morris is from St. Paul
[2] The Braves were in the NL West until the beginning of the strike shortened 1994 season
[3] Lonnie Smith oh Lonnie Smith thank you again. Smith’s baserunning gaffe, in which Chuck Knoblach and Greg Gagne fooled him into hesitating between 1st and 2nd base on a sure run scoring double kept the game scoreless.
[4] 2002 A.L.D.S over the Oakland A’s
Part 3 the Vikings coming later this week 

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