Tuesday, October 6, 2009


A tear slipped from the corner of my right eye and trickled down my cheek.

The Twins are going to the playoffs. Right away, the eastern seaboard reverberated with the notion that they'll never beat the Yankees, but that isn't important right now.

What is important is that no fewer than 17 former New Britain Rock Cats were in that dugout when the Twins completed the improbable accomplishment of winning the division despite trailing by three games with four to play.

This gives you an idea of what kind of ballplayers we've seen go through New Britain Stadium over the years. They come out of Double-A, often unheralded like a Matt Tolbert or a Nick Blackburn, but they have that certain something that enables then to compete with the All-Star contingents that only gobs of cash can put together.

For the last 10 years, I've been with the Twins in spring training, watching what they do from low Class A to the major leagues to make baseball pundits sing the praises of how fundamentally sound they are. "They play baseball the Twins way," is what I hear from the scouts and opposing managers who visit us in New Britain.

And let me say this about the Detroit Tigers. I worked for the Tigers organization from 1986-88 and have nothing but good feelings for the organization. Their pitching coach, Rick Knapp, was the Twins' minor league pitching coordinator for years and we became good friends. They played their hearts out, battling adversity all year, and anybody who suggests they're chokers can only be classified as ignorant casual fans.

Now, let's get back to the Yankees. Everybody's talking about sweeps and easy passage into the ALCS, but let's look at it this way.

If two people go computer shopping, one with $500 and one with $10,000, who's going to get the better equipment?

If one army has senior officers who have been through many campaigns and the other is a ragtag collection of guys who the week before were plowing their fields, who's going to win the war?

Hence, if one team can sort through baseball's most developed talent and get whoever they want while the other is bringing up players who started the season in the Eastern League, who should win?

So the Yankees are going to win? Probably, but aren't they supposed to? On the other hand, they have to play the games, and you know what? The British did not win the Revolutionary War.

Whether the Twins win or lose, they're playing with house money. And for my boys who have passed through New Britain, enjoy the ride.

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