When the Minnesota Twins won the 2006 American League Central Division title on the final day of the regular season, they did what every major league team does when a playoff spot is clinched — they partied their rears off by dousing each other with, spilling and drinking heavy amounts of alcohol.
That’s great, except for a couple things:
1. The Twins already had locked up a playoff spot earlier in the week. All that was left to determine was whether they’d get the wild card or the division title. Minnesota and Detroit — which ended up with the wild card — went on booze binges when their initial playoff spots were secured days earlier.
2. Minnesota’s first playoff game was less than 48 hours after its final regular-season game, leaving the Twins little time to shake off the after-effects of an all-nighter.
In Game 1 against the Oakland Athletics, the Twins looked and played sluggish and lost 3-2 en route to being swept in three games. Awesome! All that partying for three extra games.
The World Series arguably was the Twins’ for the taking. Oakland bombed out in the next round, getting swept by (who else?) wild card Detroit, which manhandled the dreaded New York Yankees in four games in the first round. Then the Tigers jobbed in five to St. Louis — which finished 83-78 in the regular season — in the World Series.
I hope — if Minnesota clinches the AL Central title — the Twins won’t make that same mistake this week, especially if they have to do it via a one-game playoff Tuesday at the Chicago White Sox. The AL Division Series begins at 1:37 p.m. Thursday in St. Petersburg, Fla., against Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay let’s play.
I know the season’s a grind and this isn’t the NHL or NBA, where half the league makes the playoffs, but use your heads, boys. Keep your eyes on the big picture (a World Series championship) — and your mouths off the bottle(s) — instead of celebrating four fewer days of winter vacation.
Photo of Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder (right) by Morry Gash / Associated Press