The Twins’ astounding display of futility over the first quarter of the 2016 schedule has done more than put them in desperate straits in the American League. It has put them in desperate straits in Minnesota’s marketplace.
The Twins are now a bad joke in a Twin Cities professional sports market that in August will become more competitive than at any time in our history.
The new dome will open with concerts and a soccer game and then on Aug. 28, the Vikings will play a first home exhibition vs. San Diego. We will be dazzled by the opulence of the gift the state and the city of Minneapolis has bestowed on Vikings owner Zygi Wilf.
There already is runaway optimism for the Vikings, based on last season’s 11-5 record and the fans’ faith that everyman coach Mike Zimmer can deliver greatness.
The Vikings’ madness will increase once the customers have choked down the inflated ticket prices and settled into the new surroundings.
Across town, the Wild has averaged 102 percent of capacity for home games played in the four seasons since signing free agents Ryan Suter and Zach Parise on July 4, 2012.
The images of the pair took a slight hit this season, as rumors spread that their locker-room lawyering was involved in the departure of coach Mike Yeo.
It matters not today.
Those Woodbury families are going to wear their jerseys and continue to embrace the Wild, And the more discerning customers — well, all it took was a thrilling third period in Game 6 vs. Dallas, and the hiring of Bruce Boudreau as coach, and the Wild has those folks back in the fold, too.
Now, the Timberwolves also are having bouquets thrown at them for the first time in a dozen years. Karl-Anthony Towns is more than a unanimous Rookie of the Year; he is a bright, personable, charitable young man … the antithesis of every clichéd grumble you’ve heard directed toward the “modern athlete.’’
Glen Taylor also acted boldly to restore his image as an owner by bringing in the best available coach, Tom Thibodeau, for the kingly sum of $8 million plus.
Put it this way — you know that “Mount Rushmore’’ bit loved by sports websites and talk shows? Here’s the current Rushmore with our four major franchises:
The Vikings are Washington, majestically at the front of the line. The Wild is Jefferson, clearly in view. The Timberwolves are Lincoln, pained, but suddenly noble.
And the Twins? They are Teddy, stuck in the shadows, barely visible from certain angles.
I was at the first Twins game played at Met Stadium in 1961. I’m bringing that up for perspective to this statement: This is the most shocking flop in the Twins’ 56 seasons.
Historians could cite days of yore, when the Twins went from 98 wins and the AL West title in 1970 to 74 wins in 1971. That was the start of the decline that made the ’70s mostly a lost decade.
They could cite recent times, when the 2010 Twins celebrated the opening of Target Field with 94 wins and a sixth AL Central title, and then collapsed to 63 wins in 2011.
There were major injuries in 1971, including the final destruction of Tony Oliva’s right knee that caused him to limp to his third batting title through the final half of the schedule. There were major injuries in 2011, mainly with Joe Mauer (82 games) and Justin Morneau (69).
This is different. There have been injuries, but none that provide a reasonable excuse for this putrid play.
You watch this outfit for an hour … you run for the Visine. They make your eyes hurt.
Michael Tonkin throws 96 miles per hour. His strategy in a game-turning situation Tuesday night at Detroit was to hang a breaking ball. Trevor May throws 95 with a terrific changeup. His preference Tuesday was the hanging curve.
You can’t watch it, and when you do, you can’t believe it.
And here’s the deal: The Twins have fired all their bullets to create any interest during this lost summer.
When they were gagging through the fourth 90-plus-loss season in 2014, the battle cry was: “Wait until Sano, Buxton and Berrios get here.”
Miguel Sano arrived last summer and was voted the team’s MVP for a half-season of production. He’s going to be a tremendous power hitter, but that’s not occurring at a rate to create interest for the misery that remains this summer.
Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios have work to do in the minor leagues to be seen again before September.
The other theme in 2014 was that Ron Gardenhire had to go as manager. He went and Paul Molitor came, and the Twins were 83-79 to reverse the losing seasons and create hope.
False hope — as we optimists have harshly learned.
To use one more tortured Rushmore-ism for Minnesota’s four major pro coaches, Zimmer is Washington, Thibodeau is Lincoln, Boudreau is Jefferson, and Molitor is in the shadows, playing Teddy.
What a mess — one that has left the Pohlads with no choice but to blow up the baseball operation at season’s end.
Either that, or they can sit back and watch their franchise wallow in further irrelevance in a dynamic sports marketplace.