The players can feel it. The angst of the Minnesota sports fan, developed after years of playoff failures and teams that didn’t live up to the hype. The collective blood pressure inside Target Field and around Twins Territory started to rise as the Cleveland Indians closed in on, and eventually drew even with the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central.
Yes, they know you’re worried after the Twins lost four straight.
“It’s natural. I’m pretty new to Minnesota, but I know there’s been some tough years in multiple sports, and it just kind of carries over to this. It’s not our control,” said Jake Odorizzi, who grew up near St. Louis and lives in Tampa, but owns a North Stars shirt and was at Vikings camp recently. “We’re not fans. We’ve got to go out and do our jobs, but it’s easy to find panic, but there’s no panic in here.”
Odorizzi held Cleveland scoreless for 5.2 innings, Luis Arraez got things started with a triple and Max Kepler and Marwin Gonzalez homered in a 4-1 win over the Tribe. While the offense kept the game out of reach, this was the first time that Minnesota scored first in the last five games.
“That’s what I try to always pride myself on, be the guy that stops it. Somebody’s got to apply the tourniquet at some point, might as well be me,” he said, wearing a Mutt Cutts t-shirt from the movie Dumb and Dumber.
“The tourniquet thing is a good analogy, not just for in here where we’re pretty confident, but for the city in general that’s in panic mode right now: Everything is going to be fine.”
Many of the players know about the field goal Gary Anderson missed, or Brett Favre throwing across his body against the New Orleans Saints. They know about how the Chicago Blackhawks routinely beat the Minnesota Wild in the playoffs, just like how the Twins couldn’t get past the New York Yankees during their last good strech. They may even know about the Kahn and Thibodeau eras the Minnesota Timberwolves endured.
Odorizzi is right, though. There isn’t panic in the locker room. They aren’t haunted by the Twins’ past failures. Or Anderson’s missed kick. Or any other Minnesota sports mishaps.
Throughout the four-game losing streak, they kept their cool and insisted that they would win sooner than later. After they won on Sunday, they didn’t seem to be overhyped. The music in the locker room was louder, but otherwise it felt the same as the previous four days.
“People live and die by what their local sports are and they’re diehards. I think that’s what the appreciation is,” said Odorizzi. “It’s also easy to go to on the negative side than be the optimistic side and have people tell you you’re full of it.
“As a player, playing in a city that has a history of up and down, to let people know that’s not how we view things. We’re not Minnesota people that have gone through those. We’re here to win and we’re a pretty darn good team so far this year. Just hang in there.”
Odorizzi, like many of the other players, want fans to cheer unabashedly. They want you to match the faith they have in themselves and this team.
They want you to know that everything is going to be fine.