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ISSUE 116 VOL 3 PUBLISHED 9/27/2002

Inside the Lines

By Molly Bayrd
Copy Editor

Friday, September 27, 2002

Inside the Lines

It has been 11 years since the Minnesota Twins last made the playoffs and 15 years since Steve Lombardozzi uttered the famous words, “We are no longer the Twinkies. We’re the world champion Minnesota Twins.” Much time has passed since the Twins last tasted any of the homer-hanky waving glory of their golden World Series victories in 1987 and 1991, and yet 2002 holds the promise of an unexpected comeback for Minnesota’s most beloved underdogs. On Sunday, Sept. 15, the Twins became the second official entry in the eight-team playoff field by clinching the American League Central Division Title. According to the “World’s Sportsbook”, however, the Twins are rated as only the sixth favorite team that is likely to win it all this year, and critics suspect that the crew faces long odds against the other teams currently in contention for the pennant. Despite an absence of powerhouse players like past greats Kirby Puckett, Jack Morris, Shane Mack, Chili Davis, and Dan Gladden, it is still possible for the Twins to surprise the world--just as they did in 1987--and steal the championship title this year. No one expects them to win; nonetheless, the ever-evolving Twins do not seem daunted. Statistically, the 2002 Twins fall somewhere in between the famed teams of the ‘87 and ‘91 seasons. With a team batting average of .273 (team average was .261 in ‘87 and .280 in ‘91) and a record of 89-63 (compared to 85-77 in ‘87 and 95-67 in ‘91), the Twins seem to have their sights focused on the potential revival of their old-school sparkle. Players like Doug Mienkiewicz, Torii Hunter, Jacque Jones, Brad Radke, and Eddie Guardado may have just enough vitality left this season to write one more chapter in this year’s improbable story. To win the World Series this year would certainly carry special significance for the Twins. Bud Selig’s threat of contraction, the bogus results of the stadium vote, and the recent threat of an MLB strike (that surely would have impeded their road to the championship) are still fresh in the players’ minds. The 2002 Twins have an opportunity to topple the adversity that stands in their way and become something reminiscent of heroes past. So let’s break out our homer hankies and keep our fingers crossed. With new talent continuously pouring out of the Twins’ solid roster (Mike Restovich, who attended my high school, Mayo High School, is only one of several notable new players) and high spirits already visible in the team’s champagne-spraying celebrations (like the one televised after the Twins’ AL Central victory on the 15th), the Twins are looking to jump right back on that Wheaties box for the first time since ’91.

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