COMMENTARY | In 2010, the Minnesota Twins asserted themselves as king of the small-market franchises. After a series of losing seasons in the 1990s, the Twins began building something in 2000 and turned it into a core that perennially competed and set the framework for Target Field to be built.
The 2010 season was like a big party, but the sting of consecutive 90-loss season soured that relationship with some fans. Despite that, there's still plenty to love about a team that rose from the back page of the sports section to spawn a cult following in the upper Midwest.
The Twins Are 'The Little Engine That Could'
It gets tiresome to hear national media outlets refer to the Twins as the underdog, but it's what they have inherited from building their team from the ground up.
During the 2000s, the Twins became admirable for their unwillingness to give up on a game. As they played in the hard-working Midwest, the fans that began flocking to games midway through the 2001 season appreciated the effort that they put on the field and began coming to more games.
Even though the Twins haven't been able to win a playoff series since 2002, that underdog role often has lit a spark underneath the team and that led to six division championships since their renaissance.
The Twins' Alumni Are Excellent Ambassadors for Baseball
In Minnesota and the surrounding area, the Twins have an annual winter caravan where they stop from town to town to spread excitement for the upcoming season. While recent results on the field have made that task difficult, people still flock to it to see some of the past greats who have worn a Twins uniform.
A five-minute meeting with former outfielder Tony Oliva was one of the highlights I experienced as a kid growing up in the Southeastern part of Minnesota, and his friendliness and overall joy for the game of baseball is echoed through the organization's past.
Whether it's Kent Hrbek hosting an outdoors television program or the late Harmon Killebrew making sure that every letter in his autograph was written legibly for every fan that requested it, the team's past makes a positive impact that shapes the future of the franchise.
Other Franchises Have Copied The Twins' Model for Success
As the price of acquiring a top free-agent went through the roof, the Twins made the decision to build from within their own organization. The move had a lot to do with the small revenue stream the Metrodome produced, but it payed off by getting the team to the 2002 American League Championship Series.
The approach has been followed by several other small-market teams as they try to build contenders since then. Even the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox realized they can't win championships on free agency alone, so they started developing some of their own players to create a true juggernaut.
There are organizations that are run better than the Twins, but the Twins' has been a model of consistency that has kept the team relevant for over a decade.
For those who haven't taken a trip to the new home of the Twins, they won't know how awesome Target Field truly is. For those who have attended a game there, they know it's one of the most beautiful stadiums in Major League Baseball.
The stadium, which seats about 40,000, opened in 2010 and has given Twins fans a reason to watch the team after 27 years in the dark, dingy Metrodome.
The results at the new ballpark haven't been as friendly as they were in The Dome, but a lot of that has to do with the team that's been thrown on the field. With a new wave of talent, including Byron Buxton, on the way, the Twins will be cozy in their new home for many years to come.
The Players Are Likeable
This is the most basic of arguments, but how can you be a fan of a team if you hate the players that represent it? Fans of the Twins do not have that problem.
There may be a grumble here or there about how the Twins aren't tough enough to take down the New York Yankees or too quiet to show some fire. However, the team has players that don't get into trouble and are beloved by the fans.
There's been a odd case or two, but for the most part, the Twins are acceptable role models in the community and the fans flock to them because of it. "Twins Way" or not, the team has to be considered one of the best franchises in baseball.
Chris Schad is a lifelong Twins follower that has spent a majority of his life cheering the Twins on through the dark '90s and success of five American League Central championships in the 2000s. His work has also been published on Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @crishad.
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