Ominous...and yet...

I feel like I'm beginning a lot of posts this way lately but: "Apologies for the delay in posting...we peanuts have been awfully busy". Work, school, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Yup...pretty dark...
So why break radio silence as the Twins are about to fall even farther behind the Royals for fourth place (yes, fourth place) in the AL Central? Because, for as ominous as the end of this year is becoming there's something else, out there in the distance that we haven't thought about yet.

See, in baseball it's easy to get transfixed by the little things, the moments, the day to day minutiae of the game. They say it again and again for players--"he's overthinking", "he needs to put his bad at-bats behind him", "they've just got to take it one day at a time." Some players just can't help but worry about every single at bat that turned into an easy ground ball, every fielding chance they fumbled, every pitch they failed to execute.

See! No signs of hits or throws!
One bad play begets another, which begets another, which begets another and so and so forth. If you don't believe me ask Trevor Plouffe and his mid-June spurt of throws that missed the broad side of every barn between here and Brainerd. Or ask Tsuyoshi Nishioka who so plainly wants to succeed and seems so utterly shamed every time he walks back to the dugout after failing to beat the throw to first. Or ask Brian Duensing as he sits on the bench, chewing his nails, mentally replaying pitch sequences that turned an inning with two quick outs into a sudden three-run, chase-him-from-the-game, question-his-spot-in-the-rotation-and-career-path nightmare.

One player struggles, then another, and another and the panic grips the team. Even the indomitable Pav-stache and robotic Joe Mauer seem to be waiting for the inevitable defeat at this point. Sure they'll try, but they just accept that when it's a borderline pitch, the call is going to go against them. They haven't given up--but the looming doom is right there over the Twins collective shoulders.

While that makes watching the games (and rehashing them in blog form) a little rough at times, there's something we have to remember.

There. Is. Hope.

Start with the fact that a lousy record now means a solid draft pick next year (and at a fairer price if MLB and the Union agree on a better draft system). Sure the Twins farm system isn't great now...but bear in mind that we've been drafting at the ends of rounds for the last decade--our best players were picked up during our decade of slump-tacular mid-90's horror. A true top-flight prospect who can contribute in a year or two rather than 5 will be much appreciated.

If only it were this easy
Also remember that the Twins did not flip a switch and go from a good ball club to a lousy one. They didn't forget to pack the talent with them as they left Fort Meyers, they simply could never dig themselves out of a considerable hole made in April and May (and dug again through injuries and poor pitching in August). Make good moves for 10 years and you're a model organization--make bad moves for 1 year and you aren't utterly hopeless...you've just run up against a law of averages.

Finally, never forget that through it all Twins fans keep plopping down cash to go to Target Field, keep buying jerseys and bobbleheads and all kinds of gear. That's money we could use to get another good pitcher, or infielder, or whatever. (It's also likely those prices won't rise next year, given the shoddy product on the field this year.)

Ahh, there it is!
I see this all the time when I teach. Kids look up and see the gloomy cloud of an impending test, or project, or class. They struggle once, they expect to struggle again and again, and nothing will ever be good or fun and life is horrible.

But once they see a little gleam of hope: a word they know from their notes, a thumbs up from a truculent teacher, a smile from their crush, then the world is marvelous and beautiful and completely peachy keen!

The Twins (and their fans) have seen the dark clouds all year long. Don't forget--there's always a silver lining.

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