Before you accuse me of missing the date on making my 2018 Minnesota Twins season record, let me explain why I waited until the week after the season started to make my "never-miss" forecast.
Yes, I know the Twins began their 2018 season last week in Baltimore. The team was greeted by above zero temperatures unlike what they may experience at Target Field this Thursday when temps aren't expected to get above freezing. If you bought an ice cream cone on opening day, chances are it didn't melt until the ninth inning. Cold beer sales probably took a nosedive and no one was purchasing sleeveless Twins T-shirts.
Stocking hats, yes; but T-shirts, no.
I looked back at my 2017 forecast and I must admit that I wrote in somewhat a negative tone. I picked the club to post a 72-90 win/loss record. Yes, they did surprise me by going 85-77. That was a pleasant surprise and better than previous seasons when pop flies were dropped, runners were tagged out trying to steal first and Coach Molitor left teeth marks on the dugout's metal railing.
Yes, last season saw the Twins once again enter the playoffs, only to be blown off the field by those _______ Yankees.
So, I took my time this year just to actually figure out who was on the roster. With the exception of a few players, last year's team is pretty much intact. We have our stars. Mauer, Sano, Dozier and Buxton are in place. The pitching staff should be improved, especially in the bullpen where no lead was safe last year. We already have an injury to the staff with Ervin Santana out for a month with a bad finger.
I'm still on the look-out for a true "closer." Maybe Fernando Rodney can perplex hitters with one of his slow-moving knuckleballs to get the final out? We'll see. Where is another Jack Morris when you need him?
The club saw a decent pre-season, which really means not much when the real season starts. Those who experienced sunburn while sitting on the green grass in Fort Myers enjoyed seeing a ball go over the fence once in awhile. Some potential power has been added to the line-up with Logan Morrison, and I was happy to see that Kennys Vargas is still on the roster.
The infield is probably as solid as I've seen in several years and there is true speed in the outfield. Twins catchers should be able to throw out base stealers, and I doubt if you'll find a better head coaching team than Mr. Molitor and his staff.
I'm beginning to feel a positive vibe for this team this year. Cleveland is still the team to beat, all things and injuries being equal. I can't figure Kansas City out, the White Sox just seem to melt into the background over the season and Detroit seems to come in third no matter what.
So, the Twins could challenge for the division title as I see it, barring bad injuries and an early snowfall.
I've factored all that stuff in, counted the number of fish I'll take to the boat this summer, divided that by the miles on my rusted pickup truck and then multiplied that number by how many times my wife has asked me to sample her delicious blueberry pie over the past year.
Then I've taken the square root of that calculation and subtracted the number of chickadees at my feeder this morning and I've come up with my annual Minnesota Twins forecast. The one forecast I know you've all been eagerly awaiting!
My prediction for the 2018 Minnesota Twins record is (here's where the drum roll comes in) 89 wins and 73 losses. After all that effort, I've got to be close. As I wrote this column on this past Sunday, the Twins already had a positive record at 2 and 1!
And, if you take in the first home game of the season on April 5, don't forget to take your hand warmers, earmuffs and your parka. You might just need them, but look at it this way, your ice cream cone won't melt during the game and you won't have to pay big dollars for a beer to stay cool.
See you next time. Okay?