Saturday, May 22, 2010


This week's Jeopardy Tournament of Champions featured a "Yankee Stadium Moments" category. The first though which popped into my head was, "Who is Mike Trombley?" Alas, neither that nor "Who is David Wells?" were correct responses.

The Twins seem to have begun one of their favorite trends. Play generally mediocre baseball with sporadic wins that they try to count as more than one game. They lost two in New York before "conquering their demons" with Kubel's grand slam. That was one of two victories on the road trip. Then they returned to Target Field and scored more runs in one evening- maybe even an inning- than the entire road trip. (Note, I did not fact-check this claim. That I decided not to bother reflects my opinion of the offense on the trip).

It's tempting to use this trip to measure the Twins against the Yankees and the Red Sox. But what about the Blue Jays? The Twins began the road trip with a 9-22 mark against the Blue Jays since 2006. That's half a game worse than their record against the Yankees over the same span (9-21). The Twins struggles with the Blue Jays are perhaps more troubling. At first, it's frustrating because it's easy to group the Blue Jays with such franchises as Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Kansas City. In reality, they certainly belong on a higher tier than those franchises- but certainly not the same tier as the Twins. After all, the Twins have won all those American League Central division titles, right?

In reality, the Toronto Blue Jays are probably the most similar team to the Twins in all of Major League Baseball. Both won a World Series or two in the early 90's. Both struggled in the middle of that decade. Both played in an out-of-date domed stadium during the construction era. Over the last 10 years, both typically had win totals in the 80's. What's the difference between these two teams? Why are the Blue Jays overlooked while the Twins are at least mentioned among baseball's elite? These questions answer themselves. The Blue Jays compete with Tampa, New York, Baltimore, and Boston. The Twins compete with Cleveland, Chicago, Kansas City, and Detroit. Cleveland and Tampa should be a reasonable fair comparison, though Tampa has certainly had the edge recently. Likewise, Kansas City and Baltimore are quite similar. What about the other teams? Sure, Detroit and Chicago have played in the World Series. But the worst years from Boston and New York are normal seasons for the Tigers and White Sox.

That leaves the Twins and the Blue Jays. Over the past two seasons, the Blue Jays have a 47-28 record against the American League Central. Meanwhile, the Twins have nearly the opposite record against the American League East: 23-44. If the Twins swapped places with the Blue Jays, Toronto would routinely need at most 162 games to win a division title. Whereas, Minnesota would barely edge Baltimore for fourth place. Feel free to draw your own conclusions.

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