Ryan Doumit likely didn’t realize he was creating the next great Twins nickname when he conjured that adorable image before Charlie Walters following the team’s fourth straight loss, the first time they’d opened a season so miserably since 1969. Nor did he likely expect his words to be quite so prescient, despite the fact that rest of the quote makes him look like Nostra-Doumit: “History suggests that we’re going to wake up. We’ve got some thump in this lineup … You look at some of the track records of the guys here, it doesn’t matter (which pitcher) you throw out there, we’re going to get our hits.”
Doumit still hasn’t gotten his hits, he wasn’t around last year so his handle on history is iffy at best, and he’s played his entire career with the Pirates, lending even less credence to his theory that sleeping dragons eventually wake up. And yet he was right.
The Angels didn’t throw just any two pitchers at the Twins during the next two games; they threw two fringe Cy Young candidates in Jered Weaver and Dan Haren. And, remarkably, the Twins woke up and got their hits. Twenty-six in 48 hours to along with 16 runs, two wins, and enough power to make Target Field look like positively band-boxy. I know, it’s just two victories, the Twins still aren’t likely to be a .500 team, and yesterday’s come-from-behind thriller was really just the silver lining on a day already marred with the news that Scott Baker’s season—and his Twins career, probably—are kaput. Still. After muddling through last season’s misery, the restorative effects of visions like this:
… and this:
… are incalculable. Look at that first gif for a while: The sight of Joe Mauer turning on an inside fastball is such a rare and beautiful thing that I could watch it all day. “Smooth” and “sweet” don’t begin to describe it. It’s a glimpse of the absolute, a motion to be preserved and revered, like Da Vinci sketches and saintly relics. Morneau’s swing is the polar opposite: violent and angry, an ungraceful expression of sheer power that’s every bit as fun to watch as Mauer’s if only for the fact that every mammoth Morneau swing might be his last. That’s the sad truth that every Twins fan has to live with this season, and it makes moments like this one even more savory. These early home runs from the middle of the order are all the more cathartic given last year’s power outage and injury problems, which so enveloped the Twins fanbase that we’d all but forgotten what it was like to watch our team hit go-ahead homeruns against good teams. I’d not only lost hope that the Twins could do such a thing, I’d forgotten it was even possible. And then Morneau drove in Mauer. What was once such a natural occurrence, which had become an impossibility, was suddenly possible again. It felt like waking up indeed. Like our long, statewide nightmare was finally over.
Funny how things can turn around. And, of course, they can turn around again just as quickly. I’m not delusional: I still don’t think this is a .500 team. Prior to the season I would’ve told you that in order for the Twins to compete, they would at the very least need Liriano and Baker to be healthy and productive all season long, and it’s looking like neither will be. (There’s still hope for Liriano, but how many times can you say that before it isn’t true anymore?)
But that’s the great thing about a nickname like “the sleeping dragon.” It works even when the Twins slump again, which they will. All teams do. It’s just nice to know that waking up is an option again.