|We’ve seen this show before. Things were supposed to be so different!
The Minnesota Twins were the first team to clinch a playoff spot, and after losing three straight — 6-4 and 5-2 at Target Field and 6-1 in New York Saturday — the Twins are done and the first team to exit the playoffs stage left. This time for the Twins it was embarrassing.
After clinching the division, the Twins lost eight of their last 10 games. They let the New York Yankees, the defending World Series Champions, do whatever they wanted in the series. The Twins never retaliated; they lacked heart.
Having been swept from the playoffs again, the fact is that the Twins have now lost 12 straight divisional playoff games. It’s the second-worst performance on record in playoff history. Only the Boston Red Sox have been worse, losing 13 straight playoff games back in the mid-’90s.
The Twins had many opportunities in games one and two and simply could not produce in the clutch. To allow any team to come into your ballpark year after year with everything on the line and take you out is troubling.
The Yankees have never lost a playoff game in Minnesota; they are 7-0 here.
It’s almost like the Yankees played a little possum down the stretch going 29-30 to get the right playoff match-up in the first round. They were not worried about home field against the Twins, not at all. Manager Ron Gardenhire is an outstanding regular-season manager with over 800 wins since 2002. However, he is not so good in the playoffs. Six times he has won the American League Central, but not once has he guided the Twins to the World Series. His post-season record is abysmal, 6-21 with one trip to the American League Championship series.
Yes, the American League East is tough with the Yankees, Tampa Bay, Boston and Toronto, but it’s still baseball. Balls and strikes, hit-and-run pitching, and defense — you either do it well or you go home. The last American League Central team to win the World Series was the 2005 Chicago White Sox. The Twins beat the Sox 14 out of 19 to win the division. I remember asking Chicago Manager Ozzie Gullen after the August series at Target Field how good the Twins were. Ozzie said, “If you think I’m going to say Minnesota is the best team in the league, you’re wrong. It’s the Yankees.”
Ozzie apparently was right.
Jets 29-Vikings 20 They had too much time on their hands, apparently, with two weeks to prepare for the New York Jets, a blockbuster mid-week trade bringing Randy Moss back to Minnesota, and a league investigation into quarterback Brett Favre sending inappropriate messages and photos to a former Jet employee in 2008.
Monday’s game reminded Vikings fans why the organization celebrating its 50th season is 0-4 in the Super Bowl. The Vikings and Jets had to wait to start Monday night’s game because lightning in the area delayed the kickoff more than an hour. The Jets did what few teams have been able to do against the Vikings — run the football.
They ran for 155 yards, won the time-of-possession game 34 minutes to 26 minutes, and survived the second-half Vikings rally to win 29-20.
In Moss’s return game to the Vikings, he grabbed four passes for 81 yards that included a 37-yard strike from Favre that was the 500th touchdown pass of his career.
Favre threw three touchdown passes but completed just 14 of 34 passes for 264 yards and three costly turnovers. With the Vikings driving in the final minutes of a 22-20 game, Favre threw his seventh interception of the season, a 26-yard interception by Dwight Lowery, who returned it for a touchdown. The Jets are now 4-1 and are 8-1 all-time versus the Vikings.
The Vikings are now 1-3 and host Dallas Sunday. This team, with another game-changer like Moss, will likely be better in November and December depending on Favre’s availability, which could be affected if this investigation amounts to anything and/or his health declines. He’s been taking quite a beating so far.
So both the Twins and Vikings have failed against New York.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, and on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm; he also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.