Editor's note: This is an installment in a 10-part series asking "what-if?" certain major events in Twin Cities sports history had turned out differently. This is purely an exercise in amusement. Nobody at the Star Tribune -- least of all the author -- has a DeLorean that goes 88 mph and has the ability to go back to change the past. Send any feedback or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
DEFYING THE CURSE
Recent playoff series (2009, 2010) might convince you the Yankees have always had the Twins' number when it comes to the postseason, but there was a time when the now one-sided rivalry could have gone in a much different direction. The Twins won Game 1 of the ALDS in New York, and they twice had the Yankees on the ropes in Game 2. If Corey Koskie's ground-rule double stays in the park, the Twins likely take the lead in the eighth inning of Game 2 instead of merely tying the score. And if, after Torii Hunter's go-ahead home run in the 12th inning, Joe Nathan had mustered a third inning of scoreless relief, the Twins would have gone back to the Dome with a 2-0 series lead, needing just one more victory to advance.
SOLID CLEAN THROUGH
At that point, the Twins would have had a very good chance of getting to the ALCS. They had a solid lineup feature an emerging Justin Morneau, Koskie and Hunter, among others. And they had 20-game winner/first-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana at the front of the rotation. The Yankees largely floundered in the postseason from 2002 to '07, except when they played the Twins.
So the Twins possibly would have avoided what now has to be considered the Yankees Curse, whereby they just can't seem to beat the Bronx Bombers when it matters most. Maybe the Twins, built for postseason success, go on and defeat the Red Sox in the ALCS (particularly if the Twins could have swept the Yankees and had Santana ready for Game 1 vs. Boston). Along the same lines, the world would have been deprived of the Red Sox's amazing comeback from a 3-0 series deficit vs. the Yankees. Maybe the Red Sox are still cursed and looking for their World Series breakthrough. Maybe millions of New Englanders are still miserable instead of smugly awaiting future championships.
THE ONLY NEGATIVE
The world is likely deprived of one of the funniest quotes in sports history. Game 4 of the ALDS, when the Twins blew a 5-1 lead largely because of a three-run Ruben Sierra homer surrendered by Juan Rincon, yielded this gem from Rincon afterward: "Nobody would want to be in my pants right now." Not saying a series loss was worth that quote, but it does bring a smile to our face.