Cliff Notes Guide to the 2014 Twins: "Rough Winds Will Shake"

We know how it is. Life is busy: with work and family and social engagements, there are a lot of demands on your time. So, if you tune out for a while during the long season, you're perfectly normal. Missing baseball games is not unlike missing reading assignments for school, so we're happy to provide this series of Cliff Notes to summarize, explain and analyze the story that is the 2014 Twins Season.

"Chapter II: May"
Summary: Boosted to a .500 record by the promising performances of a few "youthfully exuberant" protagonists, the Twins are forced to acknowledge the strains and challenges that accompany any growth spurt.

The initial tokens of optimism are cashed in or squandered like an arcade push game. The patience, increased on base percentage, boosted power numbers all dissipated in a flurry of National League fire-ballers from Los Angeles and San Francisco. The seemingly stable squad suddenly slipped and staggered, revealing that those who believed the team had undergone a total shift of character to be holding mere fools' gold.

But those who foresaw wreck and ruin have been similarly debunked, as the team made the most of the opportunities they did have, besting dangerous teams from Detroit, Boston and Baltimore. While offensive improvement and pitching performances might be temporary, gone for good are the days of apathetic and self-defeated baseball. 

At this stage in the story we know the truth about our setting and characters--they are not unstoppable forces for goodness and light, but neither are they morally bankrupt derelicts, squatting in dugouts and pocketing their paychecks regardless of their performance. That complexity encourages the audience to read on, curious to find how this newly complex cast of characters changes (if at all) over the season.

Notable Character Developments:
Kyle Gibson, Chris Colabello--Symbols of both the team's initial success April, and their slow decline in May.
Brian Dozier--After coming into his own in the first chapter of the season, Dozier very much savors the attention that surrounds him in the second. Heads turn when he goes by, channel surfers stop to watch him, and the internet bursts with mutterings of "extension"--an ugly slump near the end of the month shows he must beware overconfidence.
Phil...will you accept our rose?
Phil Hughes--The newest IT pitcher, for a group that falls in love with briefly-successful starters like contestants on "The Bachelorette" fall in love with being on TV. Yet he boasts signs of sincerity, including the fact that he walked no one for the entire month. (As walks are a symbol of ghostly, haunting presences, he seems poised to vanquish the ghosts of previous It pitchers--Scott Diamond, Francisco Liriano and Nick Blackburn)
Joe Mauer--Mauer continues to be a presence in name more than in production, posing the question of whether or not the offense is trapped in an absurdist play: "Waiting for Mauer". Perhaps it's poor luck, perhaps it's great defensive positioning, perhaps it's a sign of the apocalypse--fans and critics debate this matter fiercely.
Aaron Hicks--With Mike Pelfry nursing his groin (and all the Freudian meaning associated with that) the Twins' latest lost man in centerfield has taken on the mantle of ominous chasm where hope goes to die. The lowest Slugging and OPS on the team last month (save for the historically popular Jason Kubel), and questions about his work ethic, defense and engagement have soured his once bright future.

Key Quotes Explained:
Team Walks Percentage: April 12%; May 7%--A lot of the success of the team in the first month rested on their ability to coax walks from opponents, the drop in runs and the drop in walk rates have an impressive correlation...impressively bad that is.
Pitching Staff's Strike out to Walk Ratio: April 1.67; May 2.71--This is a major boost, especially given that we're talking about the Twins starting pitching, and sure a lot of it has to do with Phil Hughes, but Glen Perkins was similarly walk-less, and Kevin Correia, Ricky Nolasco and Jared Burton all improved their rates by 1 run or more. The tide turned because of everyone, not just one.

Twins fan mid-loss
A Literary Device to Impress Your Teacher/attractive English Major Friends:
Pathetic Fallacy--This term summarizes any time an author takes a lazy, cliched route to story telling and setting. Ever notice how when someone's in love there's sunshine and blue skies? Pathetic Fallacy. How it's always raining, when a character is in tears, depressed, isolated or alone? Pathetic Fallacy. Maybe they feel the way they do because of the weather, maybe the weather is blatantly reflecting their mood, but obviously, when the Dodgers crushed the Twins after a week of miserable weather...it was the pathetic fallacy. When we fought off one last frost warning and the team stank in San Francisco--pathetic fallacy. If this keeps up, here's rooting for 72 and sunny every day this summer. (Wait it's Minnesota...we're screwed).

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