Impossibly Rare

I was watching, via MLB Extra Innings, the Twins' 8-1 win over the Royals, that clinched a playoff spot for them, and when I saw the players jumping all over each other (Phil Nevin prominently visible, incidentally), I thought, "Just once, just once, I want that to be our team."

Now, of course, I have personally witnessed the Cubs clinch playoff spots three times -- in Pittsburgh in 1984 and at Wrigley Field in 1998 and 2003 -- so I, and some of you too, do know how that sort of thing feels -- but I'm talking about the ultimate goal that the Twins are still shooting for, the World Championship, and in fact, I think the Twins have a pretty good shot this year.

One game behind the Tigers in the AL Central at this writing, and tied for the 2nd-best record in the AL with the Yankees, they still have a chance to not only win the division, but wind up with dome-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs -- and if you recall, the Humpdome provided the Twins with a huge home-field advantage in both the 1987 and 1991 World Series.

Further, the Twins still have a chance to win more games than they've won since 1970, when they won 98 -- since then their best marks are the 95 wins the 1991 World Champions recorded, and the 94 they won in 2002, and if they win all their remaining games that'll be the second-best total in franchise history (even including their incarnation as the original Washington Senators); the best is the 102 wins registered by the 1965 AL Champions. This is even more remarkable when you look back and note that on June 7, the Twins were 25-33, eight games under .500 and eleven and a half games out of first place.

They had scored 261 runs -- third-to-last in the AL -- and allowed 303 (third most).

They then went on a 21-2 tear which included a sweep of the Cubs in Minneapolis, and since June 7 have gone 68-30 and their current total of 663 runs allowed is the 2nd lowest in the American League.

The Twins thus become the fourth team in the last two years to come from under .500 (and in some cases, FAR under .500) early in the season and roar back and make the postseason, and the second this season, presuming the A's do eventually clinch the AL West (they were 23-29 on May 30, and currently stand 90-66, a 67-37 mark since that date) -- the 2005 Yankees were 30-32 on June 12, and from there went 65-35 and won their division; and of course there's the well-documented rise of the 2005 Astros, who started 15-30 and went 74-44 after that and not only made the playoffs, but the World Series. Others include a club that's etched in our bad memories forever, the 2003 Marlins, who were TEN games under .500 in late May at 19-29; their 72-42 finish got them the wild card and eventually the World Championship, as well as the 1982 Brewers, who started 23-24, fired manager Buck Rodgers, and went 72-43 under Harvey Kuenn, and the 101-win 1977 Phillies, who in late May that year were 21-19, and the 1992 Braves, overcoming a 23-27 start to win 98 games (75-37 finish) and make the World Series. There are others, but these are just the most prominent examples from the last twenty-five seasons.

Oh, but I forgot. Such things are "impossibly rare".

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