I remember Kirby Puckett rounding the bases with his arm in the air in game six of the '91 Series. I remember Jack Morris going 10 innings of shutout pitching in game seven. I remember beating the Cardinals in '87.
Sadly, I know that these memories will never come back, and probably never happen again. These days, the Twins have core players. Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, and Fransico Liriano. But, at most positions, the Twins have career journeyman or young players just trying to fill all the holes.
The problem with that is the career journeyman and young players all need career years, or else the Twins are just good enough to be in contention, but not good enough to be great.
Twins fans were given a sense of hope with the building of Target Field. More income, more payroll, right? Well, a few years ago, the Twins payroll was around $70 million. When the stadium was approved, Torii Hunter was allowed to leave, Johan Santana was traded, and the payroll was cut down to around $50 million last season.
But, us Twins fans need not worry, because that new stadium will give the team another $15-$20 million in payroll, allowing us to be more competitive. Yes, that's around the same payroll we had a few years ago.
Now, that team overcame the Tigers and White Sox in the last few months of the season, and were a great team. But, there are, and always will be, teams that didnt have to lean on Jason Bartlett or Nick Punto to have great seasons.
Teams won't have to stick in young pitchers like Boof Bonser and pray that they can handle the duties. The Twins caught a big break that year when Liriano came out of nowhere to be dominant. Brad Radke somehow pitched well with his arm hanging on thanks to duct tape. Johan Santana won the Cy Young, Justin Morneau won the MVP, both deserved, and Joe Mauer won the batting title. That team was probably the best overall team since they won the World Series.
And it still wasn't good enough. Everything went right that year, and we weren't good enough. The Twins are a small-market team that do as much as they can with the resources they have. No, they don't do as much as they can, they do an amazing job. But until Carl Pohlad decides to open his wallet, the Twins will always be good, but never good enough.