Only black magic can explain the Twins' troubles, but there are ways to break some spells.
There can be little doubt that the 2011 Twins are cursed. Bad baseball cannot fully explain all that has transpired this season -- one in which the Twins now have the worst record in the AL and are 26-67 in months not named June or July. It's time to pinpoint this curse so that it might be eradicated or at least understood. Here are the leading contenders:
Curse of the Spruce Trees: We all remember the spruce trees that were in center field last year, then were removed because some Twins hitters didn't like the background they provided. The Twins this season, without the dreaded trees, have scored 253 runs in 72 home games (3.51 per game). Last year, with the trees, the Twins scored 399 runs in 81 home games (4.93 per game). Does the spirit of those trees haunt Target Field and the wood of the Twins' bats?
How easily it can be reversed: Well, the Twins could re-plant spruce trees. It would be a nice tip of the cap to wiping the slate clean from 2011.
• • •
Curse of Wally the Beer Man: The popular vendor was nabbed for allegedly selling beer to a minor late last September. The Twins were subsequently swept in the playoffs by the Yankees, and even though Wally was acquitted this year, he has not been back to work at Target Field.
How easily it can be reversed: Quite easily. If the Twins would have him and Wally would accept, he could be a symbol of a return to glory. Plus he has beer.
• • •
Curse of Nick Punto: LNP, the scrappiest of the scrappy Twins players, was here from 2004 to 2010. Sometimes he made far too much money. Often he did not hit very well. But he played very strong defense at a lot of different positions. And he battled his tail off. Those latter qualities have been in short supply with the 2011 Twins, and maybe it was Punto's departure to St. Louis that set those wheels in motion.
How easily it can be reversed: Punto only signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals (at $750K/year). You know Ron Gardenhire would love to have his security blanket back. You know Bill Smith must be eager to overpay for the kind of hustle and scrap you just can't put a price on.
• • •
Curse of the Mauer Extension: True, Joe signed the deal before last season. But the eight-year, $184 million contract went into effect this year. It has accelerated the extreme Mauer rage felt by a lot of fans as the now-occasional catcher has stumbled through a physical and public relations nightmare of a season.
How easily it can be reversed: Have you a DeLorean? Does it have a flux capacitor, the system that makes time travel possible? Can you make this machine go 88 mph? If not, we unfortunately cannot go back in time. The only hope is that the next seven years of the deal look a lot better than the first.
• • •
Curse of the RandBall: The Twins are 2-8 in games this writer has attended in our partial-season-ticket seats this year, and 3-0 in the games we've given away.
How easily it can be reversed: Well, we are about to renew our season tickets. If things go poorly again in 2012, though, we might get to test out the theory that we were the problem.
|Kansas City - LP: B. Chen||1||FINAL|
|Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber||5|
|Cincinnati - WP: T. Cingrani||2||FINAL|
|Pittsburgh - LP: B. Cumpton||1|
|Chicago WSox - LP: J. Quintana||4||FINAL|
|Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer||7|
|St. Louis - LP: L. Lynn||1||FINAL|
|NY Mets - WP: B. Colon||4|
|Minnesota - WP: R. Nolasco||9||FINAL|
|Tampa Bay - LP: E. Bedard||7|
|Arizona - WP: M. Bolsinger||5||FINAL|
|Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson||2|
|San Diego - WP: A. Torres||4||FINAL|
|Washington - LP: C. Stammen||3|
|Baltimore - WP: B. Norris||11||FINAL|
|Toronto - LP: B. Cecil||4|
|NY Yankees - WP: C. Sabathia||14||FINAL|
|Boston - LP: F. Doubront||5|
|Oakland - WP: S. Kazmir||10||FINAL|
|Houston - LP: B. Oberholtzer||1|
|Philadelphia - WP: M. Adams||7||FINAL|
|Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson||3|