Welcome to the Tuesday edition of The Cooler, where both contenders and pretenders are welcome to stay. Let’s get to it:
*The Twins embarked on what proved to be a disastrous road trip to Chicago and Milwaukee with a 34-40 record, in second place by 7.5 games behind Cleveland in the AL Central race.
They proceeded to go 1-8 on the trip, ending at 35-48 and 12 games back on July 4. We all wrote baseball versions of obituaries and grumbled that the Twins hadn’t even remained relevant until Vikings training camp – the bare minimum required of a baseball team during a long, hot summer.
What happened next has, for me, been the cause for maybe half of one arched eyebrow.
The Twins came home after that trip and got to play the two very worst teams in baseball — the Orioles and Royals. They swept four games from Baltimore and just defeated Kansas City in the series opener on Monday. That’s five wins in a row against teams on pace to lose more than 115 games (no joke), but at the very least we have to give the Twins credit for a bit of resiliency.
If they had gone 3-2 in this stretch, for instance, I wouldn’t be writing about them today. And combined with three consecutive Cleveland losses, they’re now back within 8.5 games at 40-48 — worse off than they were before that road trip, with fewer games left to make up ground, but with the benefit of some wind behind their backs.
Whether it’s the recency bias of five wins or the manner in which they’ve been playing even against bad teams — with winning baseball plays such as Eduardo Escobar’s huge snare of a seemingly sure two-run single early last night — the Twins are at least going to make us pay casual attention for a little while longer.
They still have less than a 1 percent chance of winning the division, per MLB.com’s playoff projections. Winning the wild card is even less likely given Seattle’s surprising season. But one is not zero. There are six games left on this home stand before the All-Star break. If they can shave another game or two before that pause, the eyebrow could raise a little more.
*ESPN’s successful 30 for 30 documentary series has a podcast spin off, which is a good idea. An even better idea? They’re soliciting pitches from all comers for podcast ideas. Have a great one? Here’s the link. Get your proposal ready.
*76ers executive Josh Harris said he thinks LeBron James “strongly” considered joining Philadelphia before picking the Lakers. That’s cool because second place in free agency definitely matters.
I have a feeling if a Minnesota GM said such a thing, fans here would be howling and/or have their eyes fly out of their sockets because they rolled them so hard.
*The Rockets have now lost Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in free agency. They are trying to nab Carmelo Anthony instead. All three of those moves sound like disasters. Is it possible for a 65-win team to tank?