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home : columns : rahn larson
September 22, 2017

8/30/2017 10:22:00 AM
A breath of fresh air
Many years ago, while coaching youth baseball, one of our teams was on an unexplainable winning streak.
We won games seemingly by accident. Night after night, a different player came through with a key play, or big hit.
I asked the other coaches, Kevin Gotto and Tod Quiring, "How is this happening?"
The answer, we agreed, was team unity. The players were having fun and simply enjoyed being together. As coaches, we didn't do anything to create that perfect balance of looseness and intensity. It was just there.
I bring this up because, on the heels of a 103-loss season, the Minnesota Twins are suddenly playing excellent baseball. As I write this, they are 15-7 in August and hold one of two American League wild card spots.
And, what I see from these Twins is the same thing we saw from that Windom youth team, years ago - a perfect balance of looseness and intensity.
Some give all the credit to Manager Paul Molitor for his even keel and patience with young players. I like Molitor. He's a very good manager, but I don't believe he should get full credit for creating this team chemistry.
If that were the case, he should receive full blame for the 2016 debacle. After all, that team appeared to be pressing and on edge for most of the year.
There were even times during this season that the Twins appeared to be pressing a bit, particularly close to the trade deadline in late-July. I watched most of the action from the awful Twins-Dodgers series, followed by an equally bad Twins-A's series. As a team, the Twins seemed totally out of sorts.
I didn't agree with management's ensuing decision to trade starter Jaime Garcia and All Star closer Brandon Kintzler for prospects. However, the team's play in the Dodgers and A's series made it hard to remain optimistic.
I'm sure it was not planned this way, but it almost seems like those trades took the pressure off the Twins. Suddenly, they played with that looseness and unity that was reminiscent of my all-time favorite team, the 1987 Twins.
Gotto and Quiring used to tease me mercilessly about my superstitious habits, so they would not be surprised that I'm knocking on wood as I write this. But there is something special about this Twins ball club.
As I watch these Twins, I see so much fight and spirit. They are clearly underdogs. Yet there they are, holding on for dear life to that last wild card spot.
In a time when the news is dominated by tough, gut-wrenching stories, this Twins team truly is a breath of fresh air.

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