Twins, Vikings, and Minnesota’s Painful Hope

Oct 3, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Twins short stop Royce Lewis (23) reacts after hitting a two-run home run in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during game one of the Wildcard series for the 2023 MLB playoffs at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports


It all started with a Royce Lewis swing. And ended with a 101-mile-per-hour Jhoan Duran fastball.

The Twins had finally given a region the postseason success they had longed to taste. The Target Field atmosphere was joyous. Elated. Relieved. Euphoric. Confident. Hopeful.

It only took 18 innings to erase 21 years of pain and replace those feelings with hope. The team that has long been scoffed at and received the most eye rolls of any of the professional sports franchises around these parts had given their city and state the most to cheer about in a long time. 

Oct 11, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Twins third baseman Royce Lewis (23) rounds the bases after hitting a solo home-run in the first inning against the Houston Astros during game four of the ALDS for the 2023 MLB playoffs at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

Fortunes felt very different one mile to the southeast in downtown Minneapolis. A 13-win season had been followed up by an 0-3 start and trade rumors surrounding the quarterback and superstar wide receiver were getting louder. A win against the NFL’s worst team and hometown hero helped stem the tides that were sure to rise again when the defending champs came to town.

Nonetheless, there was finally a smidgen of hope that the first three weeks were fluky and that a group that possessed magic fairy dust in barrels just a year prior would conjure some of that to reclaim what was rightfully theirs. 

After Carlos Correa single-handedly dismantled his former employer on primetime national television to give David an actual realistic chance of defeating Goliath, the hope that abounded in L’Étoile du Nord was beginning to turn to expectation.


In baseball, as in life, everything can change quickly. Even when there are more built-in rest days in its October iteration, America’s pastime doesn’t allow for much savoring. Elation can turn to turmoil before you need to go to the grocery store again.

As Max Kepler stared at a painted four-seamer, the hope that had been fixed on the hearts of a community just seven days earlier was immediately extinguished and replaced with a stinging pain. A group that broke the streak, ended the curse, and made our hearts grasp the inscription on the red Homer Hankies as tightly as our hands did, ultimately came up short. 

In some ways it may have even hurt more than Justin Jefferson’s right hamstring did. Those nine days in early fall felt magical, even if none of us actually believed a team buoyed by 24-year-olds could book an early-November parade down Hennepin Ave. So, when it ended just as quickly as it started, hearts were broken, and the feeling of being cursed came right back.

Oct 11, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Jhoan Duran (59) pitches in the in the eighth inning against the Houston Astros during game four of the ALDS for the 2023 MLB playoffs at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Cursed is one way to describe the feeling that came when the Moss to Ant’s Garnett limped to the sideline against KC. Karma is another. Despite all their missteps that afternoon, the team that guarantees a nail-biter no matter the week, opponent, or location, seemed ready to rekindle the magic and beat the champs. But the Jet sputtered and stopped, unable to get off the tarmac.

So that’s it? A hapless, handicapped effort to Defend the North that all but surrendered before the enemy even crested the hill?


After days, if not just hours, of mourning, the sun seemed to begin rising again. Lightbulbs came on. This was finally it. This was the chance to turn it all around. 

Kirk Cousins is 35, in the final year of his contract. The Vikings need a franchise quarterback for the future, preferably a young one. To obtain one, finishing last is preferable. This team is already in last, and their best player could be down till Thanksgiving. 

Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) leaves the field after the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

This is finally the moment. There is light at the end of this god-forsaken tunnel.

Tank for Caleb. 

If it stung outside the clubhouse, it seared inside it. Tears, hugs, and speeches followed. 2023 is over, but it isn’t over.

Correa has compared this Twins team to the 2015 Astros, who also lost in the ALDS that year. Starting in 2017, that franchise began a run of 7 straight ALCS appearances. 

Making a sustained run is no guarantee in baseball. Injuries can derail expectations. Postseason baseball has a random unpredictability to it that is maddening. But for the first time in decades, the Twins have a path to playoff prosperity. 

Two young stars that seem to shine brighter the brighter the lights. A stalwart starting pitching staff with one of the scariest relievers in the sport. And most importantly, it has the knowledge of what it takes to rise to this level and the feeling that comes when it all crashes down.

Minnesota has had more than its fair share of pain. In a week that began with great hope, pain once again crept in. All is not lost. Hope remains.

Will is a husband, father, and earned an undergraduate degree in Economics (just like Kwesi Adofo-Mensah). Will’s favorite pastimes are water skiing, Minnesota sports, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Formerly, he contributed to Vikings Territory. He is the co-host of the Load the Box Vikings Podcast with Jordan Hawthorn. Follow him on Twitter (@willbadlose) and find his other sports content at Twins Daily and his very own Bad Loser Blog.