The Twins' annual rookie hazing took place Sunday, as veterans forced rookies to wear Teletubby costumes on the trip to Chicago.

Michael Cuddyer, often the torchbearer for such traditions, took no responsibility for the sartorial choice, and remembered, with a grimace, how he qualified for rookie hazing in three different seasons.

"I was in a bag lady outfit the first time, then I was in a purple sequined prom dress, and then the last year, [Michael] Restovich was in a tuxedo and I was in a wedding gown, and they handcuffed us together,'' Cuddyer said. "I would say the most creative was the wedding outfit, because we couldn't get away from each other.''

The Twins' attempt to cuff the Tigers failed Sunday when Scott Baker and the Twins' hitters flopped. The 6-2 loss didn't kill the Twins' chances, but it reminded us that there should be limits to this team's ambitions.

This team should crave Game 163 -- a playoff with the Tigers to decide the American League Central and bid a dramatic farewell to the Metrodome.

Fans should recoil from the idea of a Game 164 -- a first game of the divisional playoffs in new Yankee Stadium.

The existence of a Game 163 would indicate that the Twins made every regular-season contest this season meaningful, that they surged, or treaded water, long enough to force a one-game playoff for the division title for the second season in a row, which would be both admirable and odd.

Game 164, though, would require packing for a trip to New York.

Does anyone really want to see that?

The Twins lost playoff series to the Yankees in 2003 and '04. Those Twins teams offered Johan Santana in Game 1.

This Twins team would have no chance to set up its playoff rotation, and would hope to luck into having Baker, Carl Pavano or Nick Blackburn pitch in Game 1.

Blackburn, the staff's de facto ace in the first half, has a 6.90 ERA since the All-Star break.

Pavano seems to specialize in beating the Tigers, but he has a 4.82 ERA overall and lacks the kind of bat-missing stuff you need to beat the Yankees.

Baker, given a chance to win the latest biggest game of the season on Sunday against the Tigers at the Metrodome, couldn't make it out of the fifth inning against a team that entered the game tied for 11th out of 14 American League teams in runs scored, a team that had lost three straight.

The Tigers have scored 678 runs this year. The Yankees have scored 856. The Twins' ace-free rotation would face the best team in baseball, a team that has used its experience and muscle to embarrass the Twins in New York ever since Ron Gardenhire took over as manager in 2002.

The Twins are 0-7 against the Yankees this season, and 3-23 at Yankee Stadiums since the beginning of the 2002 season. The first two games of the ALDS would be held at new Yankee Stadium, where the Twins went 0-4 this season.

Any trip to New York promises the city's charms -- garbage on the sidewalks, the Naked Cowboy in Times Square, $20 pastrami sandwiches that can stop your heart from 10 feet away, and umpires who refuse to ring up Derek Jeter in the ninth.

A playoff series at new Yankee Stadium, for a team without an ace or its best slugger or three-fifths of its original starting rotation? A team that has moved or replaced every one of its infielders, that is playing its designated hitter in right field, that has the fourth-worst team ERA in the American League, that would have to face a lineup in which Robinson Cano (.323 with 23 homers) bats seventh?

Let's hope for a Game 163 on Tuesday, Oct. 6, in the Metrodome, and let's hope that would mark the end of baseball for the Twins in 2009.

Facing the Yankees without Justin Morneau or an ace? The only thing worse would be getting handcuffed to a hairy baseball player, or being forced to wear the purple Teletubby outfit.

Jim Souhan can be heard at 10-noon Sunday, and 6:40 a.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday on AM-1500. His twitter name is SouhanStrib. •