Donaldson’s Pregame Speech Works in Movies But Can Twins Still Win AL Central in Reality?
Did you know that optimism still existed in this world for the 2021 Minnesota Twins. Mine died about a month ago and most lost their enthusiasm for this season long before that. But, little did I know that the Twins have been on a bit of a run over the last week+. That’s right, they’ve actually won seven of their last nine games while the division-leading Sox have lost eight of their last nine.
Then on Monday morning (via the Star Tribune), I read about a pregame “this is our time” speech that Josh Donaldson gave to the team yesterday before they went out and stomped Cleveland 8-2, to take the series on getaway day. Donaldson did his part by hitting a moon shot blast into the left field upper deck in the 3rd inning.
Josh Donaldson goes Herb Brooks on Twins locker room pregame
But to hear Rocco Baldelli tell it, Donaldson’s biggest contribution to the Twins’ 8-2 victory, and perhaps even to their 2021 season, came 90 minutes before first pitch.
That’s when Donaldson gathered teammates in the clubhouse and delivered an urgent message he believes they needed to hear:
Now is our time.
“This is an important part of our season right now,” the 10-year veteran said, pointing out that the last-place Twins play nothing but AL Central opponents for the next 3½ weeks, including 10 games with the first-place White Sox. “I just wanted people to understand the opportunity that’s at hand right now, and get our mentality focused on winning ballgames.”
“The last couple weeks, we’ve been putting some games together and playing better baseball, and I just wanted to emphasize, hey, this is the moment, right now,” Donaldson said. “Everybody else is starting to get tired. We need to go out there and pick it up a notch.”Josh Donaldson – via Phil Miller: Star Tribune (6/28)
I had to pull up the AL Central standings just to see what I was missing. The answer: nothing.
Everything mentioned in the clip above is true. The White Sox are sliding and the Twins have been playing better. Not only that, but Baldelli and Co will play a BUNCH of games vs division opponents in the coming month, including two handfuls vs the division leading White Sox. So sure, a small opportunity is there. But don’t get your hopes up yet.
A Look at Reality
If they’re going to sniff a playoff race, the Minnesota Twins have to finish this season with the greatest comeback in team history, as Nick Nelson (Twins Daily) points out below. But this isn’t just about the history. The Twins 2021 bullpen is terrible and their starting rotation isn’t any better.
Sure, the offense has been good and sits top-5 in most 2021 statistical categories that matter, including OPS (5th), OPS+ (3rd) and HR’s (3rd). But they somehow struggle to drive runs in, landing at league average in RBI (13th). Oh, and their best player, Byron Buxton, can’t stay on the field. After his most recent injury, Buxton isn’t expected back for a month or more.
Twins need to go 57-29 from here on out to reach 90 wins. In other words, they need to win 2 for every 1 loss.
In 2006 the Twins went 55-31 after June 28th.— Nick Nelson (@NickNelsonMN) June 28, 2021
Look, I want to believe too. Nothing could make this summer like a historic Minnesota Twins run at an impossible playoff appearance. But, now is not the time to get your hopes up. There’s just too much left for them to accomplish and they don’t appear to have the makeup of a team that can pull off such a feat.
But hell, if they sweep the White Sox over the next three days, let’s meet back here and re-evaluate.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan