COMMENTARY | Some people like to think of the Minnesota Twins as Major League Baseball's little engine that could. Since 2002, the Twins have fought off contraction and become one of the most respected franchises in baseball for battling their tails off and becoming American League Central champions of the world.
The 2000s provided a lot of that as the Twins completed improbable comebacks with scrappy, likeable players that play until the final out and complete their goal of winning their division.
Then, the New York Yankees come to town and say, "That's cute."
The relationship between the Twins and Yankees is something like big brother and little brother, hammer and the nail or even this. Every time the two meet, what is supposed to be a friendly baseball game turns into a nine inning train wreck where the Twins look like a deer in headlights on a Minnesota backroad.
The Yankees have dominated the Twins to the tune of a 57-21 regular season record against the team since Ron Gardenhire was hired as Twins manager prior to the 2002 season.
Watching one of these games makes you think that Joe Girardi is going to pat him on the head afterwards and say, "You're such a cute major league manager. Yes you are! Yes you are!" by the way he's out-managed and out-slugged Gardenhire's team for the previous four hours.
The dominance is embarrassing for a Twins team that wants to see them blossom from just another team to perennial October contender, but can't get past the Yankees once they get there and the reason is simple:
The Yankees are in the Twins' head.
The latest example of this is the first two games of a four-game series with the Yankees at Target Field this week. With the Yankees trotting out their Triple-A lineup due to several injuries, you would think that the Twins would have a fighting chance to get a couple games in the win column.
But nobody outside of a college fraternity gets more excited than the Yankees do over the phrase "The Twins are coming over tonight."
Even with Alberto Gonzalez taking over for Derek Jeter, the results were the same as he banged three RBIs in a 7-3 win. While the replacements are beating up the Twins, the regulars are also doing what they do as Robinson Cano has blasted three home runs in his two games in Minneapolis this week.
All of this for a team that was one of baseball's worst lineups during the month of June, but piled up 17 runs in two games against the Twins' pitch-to-contact brigade.
Can the Twins fix the fear that the Yankees have instilled upon them? Not unless they find a pitcher to throw harder than 90 miles per hour or someone who won't grip their bat so hard it turns into sawdust when going up against Mariano Rivera.
For now, the Twins will continue to get pounded by their big brother until something either in the clubhouse or on the roster changes.
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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