The Twins have done such a fine job of padding crowd numbers in this final week of the 2018 season that the official total will surpass 1.9 million and they won't have to admit to the lowest attendance since 2001 in the Metrodome.
The Twins are in the poorest shape with Minnesota's sporting public entering this winter of gloom than at any time since 2000, the last of eight consecutive losing seasons.
They have had worse teams in this decade, and in 58 years as a franchise, but the Twins never have put a less interesting collection on the field over the final one-third of the schedule than what has been foisted on ticket owners since Aug. 1.
This disastrous decade all started in 2011, with a 19-50 collapse to finish a season when Joe Mauer played in 82 games and Justin Morneau in 69. The zenith of ineptitude was the Twins' all-time worst of 59-103 in 2016, but even that team had Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, Mauer (part-time) and future hopes Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco in the September lineup.
There was something that appeared to be a foundation. That's the contrast to the current Twins, slapped together with a bleak level of importance to the franchise's future.
The Twins and the Chicago White Sox made up the last of three mid-April snow-outs with the first game of a doubleheader Friday afternoon. As has been the case in recent weeks, manager Paul Molitor offered a lineup with perhaps one player — shortstop Polanco — who should be projected in the Opening Day lineup for next March 28.
Yeah, that's right. March 28. When the season ends Sunday, Aristotle (Derek Falvey) and Plato (Thad Levine) will have a mere 179 days to use their enlightened philosophies and fix this mess.
Jose Berrios' seven outstanding innings gave the Twins a 2-1 victory in the afternoon game. The Twins then rocked Lucas Giolito and Hector Santiago for a 12-4 victory in the night game.
The Twins were 49-57 (.462) through July 31 and the completion of the significant roster dismantling by the baseball philosophers. The doubleheader sweep put the Twins at .500 — 27-27 — since the trading deadline.
You can read zero into that, for a couple of reasons:
• Come Sunday, the Twins will have played 30 of their post-purge games against three dregs of the AL Central in Detroit, Kansas City and the Mighty Whiteys.
The slapped-together Twins are 5-15 against playoff teams (Cleveland, Oakland, Houston and the Yankees) since the purge.
• The 1980 Twins were the dullest team in Minnesota history. John Castino won the team Triple Crown with a .302 average, 13 home runs and 64 RBI. It was so bad manager Gene Mauch abruptly packed up and left in August. And with interim John Goryl on the job, those Twins had a 12-game winning streak in September and finished 77-84.
The moral there is end-of-schedule baseball against noncontenders is almost as meaningless as exhibition games in March.
Meaning, Molitor's club over the final weeks of 2018 might rank as plucky (particularly in Target Field), but as far as impact for the future … this is as low as it goes.
The main drama for this final weekend is whether we are seeing the last of Mauer's 8,000 plate appearances, all dedicated to the theory "This is the way I hit,'' a theory worth the only three batting titles ever won by an American League catcher.
Anyone looking for a sign of Joe's intentions received one Friday, when Mauer was in the lineup as the designated hitter for both games. Molitor would not have played his fellow Cretin-ite both games, if there wasn't a strong feeling the Twins' Walking Man plans to walk away.
Here's one consideration that would favor a return: Mauer is 35, far from what he used to be, and not treated kindly by a stat such as WAR, but guess what?
He was the best player in the Twins lineup Friday, and post-purge, he was the second best when Eddie Rosario was healthy. Combine his fielding and getting on base, there's not a winner above replacement in sight at first base.
To be fair, it's not all bad for the 2018 Twins. They will finish second in the AL Central, guaranteeing this divisional distinction: Best Dreg.