As Major League Baseball and its players association finally work out some financial issues, it appears that the Minnesota Twins will take the field in 2020. The catch? It just won't be as planned.
After the COVID-19 pandemic stopped sports in its tracks and a nasty labor dispute followed, baseball has been put on ice. As a result, the usual 162-game grind will be shortened somewhere between 60 and 70 games, but include an expanded, 16-team postseason.
For a team that was prepared to be a contender in the American League, the Twins will certainly be in the mix for a postseason berth considering over half the league is going to get in. But if the Twins do win the World Series, will it mean as much as any other season?
To me, the answer is a resounding YES.
From a pure baseball standpoint, take a look at what the Twins have seen as a franchise since their last title in 1991. After falling off the map midway through the 1992 season, the Twins endured a decade of darkness that included Kirby Puckett's early retirement and Chuck Knoblauch forcing his way out.
The Twins avoided being contracted by their own owner to rise to prominence in the 2000s, but never got over the top and haven't won a postseason game since 2003.
In addition to being the New York Yankees' chew toy, the Twins have also seen the team dance around being an actual contender until this offseason. Josh Donaldson was given the richest free-agent contract in team history. The Twins traded away a top prospect (Brusdar Graterol) for a piece (Kenta Maeda) that makes them better right now.
In other words, the Twins were ready to hit the field and pick up where they left off in a 102-win season that ended in another postseason sweep.
For a state that has been the microcosm of Charlie Brown trying to kick the football when it comes to men's sports titles (shoutout to the Lynx), finally dispatching the Yankees and taking home the World Series trophy would matter in the hearts of Twins fans no matter how long the season is. But then there's the question of why this is even a debate.
Think about life before the pandemic hit. You've had a rough day at work, you grab a beer, sit down and flip on a game. Any game. Even in the summer months, most of us would be sitting down and watching the Twins try to do what they did last year in what's basically a rite of summer.
Instead, we haven't had anything like that. Baseball ruined its chance to be the only show in town, but that doesn't short-change a season where players will have to leave their families, travel to different cities and try to take down 29 other teams while trying to evade COVID.
Do you think soccer fans are shortchanging their teams efforts because it's not played in front of fans? Or the eventual champion of The Masters will decline the green jacket because it took place in October instead of April? Absolutely not.
If the Twins take the field and win a title (they probably won't), it's still an accomplishment. Fans will still be excited to see their team win and if it's against the Yankees (again...highly unlikely) even better!
When sports come back, people will welcome them back with open arms. Whether their team wins or loses, they'll have a sense of normalcy we haven't had since March and that's good enough to make any effort matter in the hearts of fans.