It was Opening Day 2011, and the Minnesota Twins were lining up for the national anthem in Toronto. The camera on Fox Sports North panned across the faces of the Twins as they got ready to kick off their 2011 season against the Blue Jays.
It was a time to make a statement, as the Twins had been bounced out of the first round of the playoffs by the New York Yankees in 2010. Justin Morneau was supposed to return to form after suffering a concussion in Toronto on July 7, 2010. Tsuyoshi Nishioka was going to solidify second base.
In other words, 2011 was supposed to be a season of vengeance for the Twins. Instead, the Twins plane never got off the ground, as J.P. Arencibia bashed three home runs en route to a 13-3 Twins loss on April 1, 2011.
Things would get ugly, as the Twins would get off to a 17-37 start en route to one of the worst seasons in franchise history.
In years prior, the Twins had never started hot in April during the Ron Gardenhire era, and didn't seem too bothered by the prolonged slow start. A sense of urgency was never found, and outside of a small hot streak in the middle of June, the Twins played terrible baseball.
One year later, the Twins will open up in Baltimore against the Orioles. The main feeling is what a difference a year makes.
The Twins come into the 2012 season with significantly lower expectations and will be looking to a couple young players and bargain basement free-agent signings to try and right the ship.
While all hope seems lost, there is this: If the Twins can avoid the Opening Day disaster that was in Toronto one season ago, the tables could be turned significantly.
The Twins face a tough schedule that will have them see the Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays before April ends. However, if the Twins can play somewhat well during this stretch, they can set the tempo for the rest of 2012.
For years, the Twins have discounted April and claimed August and September as the true months to hit their stride. While that is somewhat true, the Twins need to get off to a better start if they want to exceed expectations in 2012.