As I watched the Phillies mob Brad Lidge on the mound and celebrate their World Series victory, I couldn't help but think of opening day last April at the Metrodome. I was remembering the falling snow and the blowing wind as Twins fans packed into the always fair-weathered Metrodome, ready to embark on a 2008 season with many pending question marks.
Gone were the mainstay stars like Johan Santana and Torii Hunter. In were new unfamiliar names like Carlos Gomez and Kevin Slowey. Expectations were low, but excitement was high.
The 2008 season closes its doors with an unlikely champ in Philadelphia and an even more unlikely runner-up in Tampa Bay. But this 2008 MLB campaign can be summed up as nothing less than unlikely. The Yankees missed the playoffs; the heavily-favored Detroit Tiger and New York Mets struggled. The Milwaukee Brewers made the playoffs for the first time since 1982.
New stars emerged like Evan Longoria, Cliff Lee, and Geovanny Soto, and old stars reached milestones like Griffey Jr's 600th home run. The All-Star break saw a Minnesota Twin win the Home Run Derby...what? And that next night, the same guy scored the game-winning run in 14 innings to steal another American League win from the National League.
A.L. stars jumped leagues like CC Sabathia, Manny Ramirez, and Rich Harden. The list of 2008 surprises goes on and on.
But what made 2008 not only a surprising year, but an exciting year, was the play of the 2008 Minnesota Twins. After a disappointing 2007 season, this year seemed set up for the same result if not worse for this young club.
Yet, Ron Gardenhire rallied the young boys and put together what can truly be called a team. In a complete team effort, these '08 Twins made baseball exciting in Minnesota this summer and had such a thrilling season that it took 163 games to call it quits!
The Twins may have fell just short of the their goal, but it was a great year to be a Twins fan. As the new ballpark begins to take shape and the always exciting offseason begins full of rumors, trades, free agents, and my favorite hobby of talking about baseball, I congratulate the Minnesota Twins on a great season and the Philadelphia Phillies on a well deserved title!
The countdown beings to Monday, Apr. 6 at 7:05 CDT, as the Twins host the Seattle Mariners for Opening Day 2009!