Current Twins seek to end Minnesota's years-long playoff misery: 'Just win one'

MINNEAPOLIS — It has been 6,937 days.

It has been 991 weeks.

It has been 18 years, 11 months and 28 days.

It has been 599,356,800 seconds.

But, hey, who’s counting?

This is how long it has been since the Minnesota Twins have won a postseason game back on Oct. 5, 2004.

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It’s so long ago that Taylor Swift was trying to become a country singer, Patrick Mahomes was a 9-year-old baseball player, and the Boston Red Sox were still searching for their first World Series title in 86 years.

The Twins have become the poster boys of postseason failure.

They have been to the postseason seven times since that 2-0 victory over the New York Yankees in Game 1 of the 2004 AL Division Series, playing 18 postseason games.

And they have lost them every single one of them.

The 18-game playoff losing streak is the longest in North American team sports.

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Now, here they are, with another shot to end their dreaded drought, playing the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Wild Card Series on Tuesday (4:38 p.m. ET, ESPN) at Target Field.

Mercifully, they’re not playing the Yankees, who are responsible for 13 of those 18 losses.

“I think for us in the locker room, it’s not weighing on us too much,’’ Twins catcher Ryan Jeffers said. “There’s not many of (us) here for that. Some of us probably weren’t out of diapers yet by the time 2004 was the last win.’’

Current squad can't escape history

You look around the clubhouse, and only three Twins were even around in 2020 during their last playoff defeat: Byron Buxton, Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco.

No matter.

Every single member of the entire Twins’ organization has been asked about it.

“Everyone’s aware of it, it’s a fact, right?’’ Twins president Derek Falvey says. “It’s in print. It’s in the paper. And it’s true.

“Our guys obviously are aware of the history of this organization, but I will tell you the vast majority of the players in that room have not been a part of that.’’

Still, whether they were on the Twins’ playoff team in 2020, in the minor leagues, or were playing T-ball in their backyard in 2004, this Twins teams want to be remembered as the one that finally ends the curse.

“People are going to say what they want to say about the organization and the streak,’’ Twins reliever Emilio Pagan says. “Statistics are what they are. I don’t get offended. I don’t think anybody in here gets upset when people talk about it. That’s what it is.

“But for Minnesota fans, it’s an opportunity for us to go down as the team that broke the streak.’’

Minnesota Twins celebrate after clinching the American League Central Division title at Target Field on Sept. 22, 2023.
Minnesota Twins celebrate after clinching the American League Central Division title at Target Field on Sept. 22, 2023.

Waiting to exhale

The Red Sox had the Curse of the Bambino.

The Twins have the Curse of Big Papi, releasing David Ortiz in 2002, and watching him become a Hall of Famer and win three World Series titles with the Red Sox.

The Twins haven't won the World Series since 1991 and that seems like an eternity to their faithful.

It’s not as if there’s any pressure on the Twins.

No one is saying, “World Series or Bust.’’

But, please, the fans are pleading, just one more victory to end the suffering.

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“It would be nice for all of us to get that monkey off the state’s, Twins Cities’, the territory’s back,’’ Jeffers said. “But I think our goal is a lot bigger than just breaking the streak.’’

Just win one postseason game, the Twins say, and they may hear the entire state exhale in unison, perhaps creating a burst of momentum that could carry them past the first round for the first time since they lost to the eventual World Series champion Los Angeles Angels in 2002.

“I’d sure like to find out,’’ Falvey says.

Minnesota Twins designated hitter Ryan Jeffers (27) celebrates his home run against the Oakland Athletics with teammates Willi Castro (50) and Max Kepler (26) on Sept. 27, 2023.
Minnesota Twins designated hitter Ryan Jeffers (27) celebrates his home run against the Oakland Athletics with teammates Willi Castro (50) and Max Kepler (26) on Sept. 27, 2023.

Are Astros the template?

Minnesota Twins veteran shortstop Carlos Correa, an integral part of the Houston Astros’ recent dynasty, says this team reminds him of the 2015 Astros. They earned their first playoff berth in 10 years that season, won the wild-card round before losing in the division series, and never looked back.

The Astros since have become the postseason monster, winning two World Series championships and four AL pennants with six consecutive ALCS appearances.

“I feel like when we were in the wild card that year and won,’’ Correa says, “it made the team believe that we could beat anyone. I feel like a good win right out of the gate will give everybody confidence to know that we’re a great team and that we can compete against anyone.’’

The Twins, winners of the AL Central, aren’t scheduling any parade routes yet, but they understand the impact just one mere victory can make, finally putting a merciful end to "The Drought."

“I know it’s part of Minnesota Twins’ history, and that it comes more from fans than the actual players,’’ Twins reliever Griffin Jax says, “but I think once that first win happens this series, it’s just going to be a huge sigh of relief. Not necessarily from this clubhouse, but from everybody.

“I think a lot of people will be on their toes the entire game to the last out waiting to explode. And once that first one happens, I think it will be a waterfall. Everyone can breathe. And then it will be business as usual.’’

Reliever Griffin Jax (22) celebrates after the Minnesota Twins beat the Oakland Athletics on Sept. 27, 2023.
Reliever Griffin Jax (22) celebrates after the Minnesota Twins beat the Oakland Athletics on Sept. 27, 2023.

Forget the past, embrace the present

It’s not as if the drought is necessarily a burden, more a nuisance. The Twins insist they don’t talk about it in the clubhouse. There hasn’t been a single meeting to address it. It’s simply acknowledged because everyone outside their clubhouse keeps talking about it.

“I think we embrace it,’’ Twins infielder Royce Lewis says, “because even though we are not part of it, we’re on a team that has gone through that. There are guys in this locker room that say, 'Let’s just break that streak, get the monkey off our backs' because everyone talks about it.

“It’s not us that did that, and our team, but I think this team is special, something really cool going on here, and I think we’re really excited to end that thing.’’

It may not be their streak.

It may belong to their ancestors.

But, they want to be the ones who finally erase anyone ever mentioning it again.

“It’s so negative to think about,’’ Jax said, “and for me, playing in my first postseason, I don’t want to think about the 18 losses. I just want to prepare myself for my job.’’

The Twins, to a man, will tell you the same.

Let everyone talk about the past.

They’re only concerned about the present.

“One of the hallmarks of this club is that even when we had rough stretches,’’ Falvey said, “you go in there postseason, and they’re the same. We’re going to show up the next day, and just play. When you can have that kind of approach, you don’t think about anything that came before them.

“Whether it was last night. Two years ago. Ten years ago. It doesn’t matter to them.’’

Yep, even a torturous 19 years ago.

“I’ve heard about the 0-for-18 thing a lot,’’ Twins Game 1 starter Pablo Lopez says, “but just like anything in life, nothing lasts forever.

“I feel like if there's a group that can lean into this opportunity and embrace it, I feel like this group can. We're going to use it as motivation and fuel to not only do it for ourselves, but give the fans something to root for and celebrate.’’

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Will Minnesota Twins playoff losing streak end in wild-card series?