Yeah, you better hide your face after this performance.
Today, the Houston Astros beat the Minnesota Twins, 3-1 at Target Field in Minneapolis. Ordinarily, this would not be especially noteworthy.
Except, in the altered MLB postseason format of 2020, this made for a 2-game sweep of the American League Wild Card Playoff for the Astros. This also made for the 18th consecutive postseason game the Twins played that they lost.
That's 18 consecutive holes in the postseason win column for the Twins. Eighteen holes. Hell of a place for a golf course.
In 2006, they got swept in the AL Division Series by the Oakland Athletics. In the 1970s, '80s or '90s, that wouldn't have been a big deal. But since the 1990 AL Championship Series, the A's have played 13 postseason rounds, and gone 1-12. That's the only one they've won. And yet, they still have a better postseason record than the Twins.
The Twins got swept in the ALDS 3 straight by the Yankees in 2009, and again in 2010, and again in 2019. They also lost the 2017 AL Wild Card Game to the Yankees.
"Gee, Mike," you may be thinking, "maybe they should stop playing the Yankees in the postseason." Well, this time, they played somebody else, and it did no good.
This is how bad the Twins have become in the postseason: They can't even beat a non-cheating Houston Astros!
And it wasn't always like this: From 1987 to 2002, they were 19-10 in postseason games. They were especially tough at home in the World Series: They went 3-1 at Metropolitan Stadium in 1965 (but lost Game 7 to the Los Angeles Dodgers), and 4-0 at the Metrodome in 1987 and 1991.
Oddly, the last postseason game the Twins won was against the Yankees. It was even at the old Yankee Stadium. It was Game 1 of the 2004 American League Division Series. It was a 2-0 win. Since then, they are 0-18.
So, in 5 days, it will have been a full 16 years. October 5, 2004. How long has that been?
The winning pitcher in that game was Johan Santana. He is now 41 years old, hasn't thrown a pitch in a regular-season MLB game since 2012, is now better-remembered as a Met, and, contrary to what was thought after his 1st season as a Met, is never going to be elected to the Hall of Fame. A home run was hit in that game by Jacque Jones. He is now 45, and last played in 2008.
Speaking of the Hall of Fame, the following players who were active in that 2004 season have since been elected to it: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Mike Mussina, Mike Piazza, Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Chipper Jones, Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Barry Larkin, Roberto Alomar, Larry Walker, Frank Thomas, Ivan Rodriguez, Jim Thome, Trevor Hoffman, Vladimir Guerrero and Roy Halladay.
This was the last season for the Montreal Expos. The next Spring, they would become the Washington Nationals. Other major league sports teams that have since moved: The St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers both moved back to Los Angeles, the Oakland Raiders moved to Las Vegas, the New Jersey Nets moved to Brooklyn, the Seattle SuperSonics became the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Atlanta Thrashers became the new Winnipeg Jets, and the San Jose Earthquakes became the Houston Dynamo, to be replaced by an expansion team that took on the Earthquakes name.
The Twins, the Yankees, the Mets, the aforementioned Washington Nationals, the Philadelphia Phillies, the San Diego Padres, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Miami Marlins, the Atlanta Braves and the Texas Rangers have moved into new ballparks. The Twins moved from the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome -- as Billy Martin said, perhaps channeling his pal Yogi Berra, "It's a shame a great guy like HHH had to be named after it" -- to Target Field in 2010.
In addition, 11 NFL teams, 9 NBA teams, 6 NHL teams, and 16 MLS teams have moved to new stadiums; while the NBA's 2nd edition of the Charlotte Hornets; the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights; and 15 MLS teams, including Minnesota United and New York City FC (representing the cities involved in the baseball game in question), have debuted.
For a few days more, the Boston Red Sox had not won the World Series since 1918. The Chicago White Sox had not won one since 1917. The Chicago Cubs had not won one since 1908. The Giants had not won one since moving to San Francisco. The Expos/Nationals franchise and the Houston Astros had never won a World Series. The Expos/Nats, the Colorado Rockies, the Tampa Bay Rays, the Texas Rangers had never won a Pennant. The Rays had never even made the postseason.
All of those facts were true then, but are no longer.
Bob Feller, Bobby Doerr, Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst, Phil Rizzuto, Yogi Berra, Ralph Kiner, Duke Snider, Robin Roberts, Monte Irvin, George Kell, Ernie Banks, Jim Bunning, Al Kaline, Frank Robinson, Al Lopez, Lou Brock, Lee MacPhail, Tom Seaver, Earl Weaver, Sparky Anderson, Gary Carter, and Twins legends Harmon Killebrew and Kirby Puckett were all then living members of the Hall of Fame. All have since died.
Andrew McCutchen, Buster Posey, Clayton Kershaw, Jacob deGrom, DJ LeMahieu, Stephen Strasburg, Madison Bumgarner, Jose Altuve and Gerrit Cole were in high school. Luke Voit and Mike Trout were 13 years old; Christian Yelich, Kris Bryant and Aaron Judge were 12; Mookie Betts, Bryce Harper, Gary Sanchez and Michael Fullmer were 11; Corey Seager, Clint Frazier and Carlos Correa were 10; Gleyber Torres was 7; Juan Soto was 5; and Elvis Luciano was 4.
Ron Gardenhire was the Twins' manager then. He just stepped down as manager in Detroit, for health reasons. The current Twins manager, Rocco Baldelli, had just turned 23, and was in his 2nd major league season, with the Rays.
Current Yankee manager Aaron Boone was sitting out the entire season, due to an injury. Luis Rojas of the Mets was in the Expos/Nationals farm system. Lindy Ruff of the Devils was the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres. Barry Trotz of the Islanders was the head coach of the Nashville Predators. Adam Gase of the Jets was an assistant coach with the Detroit Lions. Tom Thibodeau of the Knicks was an assistant coach with the Houston Rockets. David Quinn of the Rangers was an assistant coach at Boston University.
Steve Nash of the Nets was playing for the Phoenix Suns. Chris Armas of the Red Bulls was playing for the Chicago Fire. Ronny Deila of NYCFC was playing for Viking FK of Stavanger in his native Norway. Joe Judge of the Giants was at Mississippi State University. And Walt Hopkins of the Liberty was at the University of Nevada.
The defending World Champions were the Florida (now Miami) Marlins in baseball, the New England Patriots * in football, the Detroit Pistons in basketball, the Tampa Bay Lightning in hockey (and they are again), and D.C. United in MLS. The Heavyweight Champions of the World were John Ruiz according to the WBA, Vitaly Klitsckho according to the WBC, and Chris Byrd according to the IBF.
The Olympic Games have since been held in Canada, Italy, China, Britain, Russia, Brazil and Korea. The World Cup has since been held in Germany, South Africa, Brazil and Russia.
Massachusetts had just become the 1st State to legalize same-sex marriage. Medical marijuana had been legalized by 10 States: California, Oregon, Alaska, Washington, Maine, Hawaii, Nevada, Colorado, Vermont and Montana. But no State had yet legalized it for recreational use. And the idea that corporations were entitled to the legal rights of people was considered a radical fringe notion. With the recent death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer were the only Justices then on the Supreme Court who are still on it now.
The President of the United States was George W. Bush, then running for re-election. Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, their wives, and the widows of Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan were still alive. Barack Obama was in the Illinois State Senate, and was running for the U.S. Senate. Joe Biden was in it. Kamala Harris had recently been elected the District Attorney for the City and the County of San Francisco.
Donald Trump had recently begun the next step in his career as a con man, hosting The Apprentice on NBC. He was already 58 years old, and the idea of him running for public office had been suggested before, but had been laughed off every time.
The Governor of the State in question, Minnesota, was Tim Pawlenty. The current Governor, Tim Walz, was a high school history teacher and football coach. The Mayor of Minneapolis was R.T. Ryback. The current Mayor, Jacob Frey, was 23, and a law student at Villanova University.
The Governor of the State of New York was George Pataki. The Mayor of the City of New York was Michael Bloomberg. The Governor of New Jersey was Jim McGreevey, which rhymes with skeevy, which describes the reason he would soon have to resign. The current holders of those offices? Andrew Cuomo was practicing law, in between serving in public offices. Bill de Blasio was on the New York City Council, and Phil Murphy was a senior director at Goldman Sachs.
There were still living veterans of World War I, the Mexican Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Irish Civil War and Benito Mussolini's March On Rome. There were still living survivors of the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, and the sinkings of the RMS Titanic and the RMS Lusitania.
Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian human rights activist, was the current holder of the Nobel Peace Prize. The Pope was John Paul II. The current Pope, Francis, was then Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires.
The Prime Minister of Canada was Paul Martin, and of Britain, Tony Blair. The monarch of both nations was Queen Elizabeth II -- that hasn't changed. Arsenal had just gone through an entire Premier League season as unbeaten Champions, but their record 49-game League unbeaten streak was about to be broken -- by cheating -- by the current holders of the FA Cup, Manchester United. There have since been 3 Presidents of the Unite States, 5 Prime Ministers of Britain, and 3 Popes.
Major novels of 2004 included Philip Roth's The Plot Against America, imagining if Nazi Germany had a clandestine plot to place a puppet in the White House in the 1940 election, a fictionalied version of Charles Lindbergh. It was made into an HBO miniseries this past year, and the Trump Administration's actions over the preceding 3 years made it seem plausible.
Five of the Harry Potter novels had been published, and three of the Song of Ice and Fire novels. The 1st Lisbeth Salander novel was 1 years away; the 1st Hunger Games novel, 3 years.
Major films of the Autumn of 2004 included the baseball movie Mr. 3000, the tennis movie Wimbledon, the football movie Friday Night Lights, Team America: World Police, Sideways, the 1st Saw film, the 1st Incredibles film, the 1st National Treasure film, The Polar Express, and Ray, starring Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles, who had died earlier in the year, and lived just long enough to hear (though, of course, not see) the final version.
What turned out to be the last season of Star Trek: Enterprise premiered. George Lucas was putting the finishing touches on what he then thought would be the last Star Wars film, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Daniel Craig was about to be cast as James Bond. Brandon Routh was about to be cast as Superman. Christian Bale had been cast as Batman. Tobey Maguire was playing Spider-Man. Christopher Eccleston was about to be cast as The Doctor.
The TV shows Stargate Atlantis, Entourage, Rescue Me, Jack & Bobby, CSI:NY, Boston Legal and Desperate Housewives had recently premiered. Soon to premiere were Ghost Hunters, The Backyardigans, The Biggest Loser, House, and the reboot of Battlestar Galactica.
Also recently premiering was Listen Up!, a fictionalized version of the life of Tony Kornheiser, played by Jason Alexander. It showed the Long Island native's home life, and also his ESPN talk show with fellow Washington Post columnist Michael Wilbon, a Chicago native, played by Cosby Show veteran Malcolm-Jamal Warner. Despite Warner having long dreadlocks, as opposed to the real guys being famously bald, and playing an ex-football player rather than a fellow columnist, the show got decent ratings, but production costs ran high, and CBS canceled it after 1 season.
Few people had yet heard of the Kardashians. No one had yet heard of Bella Swan, Michael Scott, Don Draper, Walter White, Jax Teller, Richard Castle, Leslie Knope, Sarah Manning, Jane "Eleven" Hopper or Maggie Bell.
The Number 1 song in American was "Goodies" by Ciara, now married to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Britney Spears had just married Kevin Federline. Billy Joel had just married his 3rd wife, food critic and chef Katie Lee. Green Day released American Idiot. Michael Jackson was awaiting trial.
Inflation was such that what $1.00 bought then, $1.38 would buy now. A U.S. postage stamp cost 37 cents, and a New York Subway ride $2.00. The average price of a gallon of gas was $1.92, a cup of coffee $2.22, a McDonald's meal (Big Mac, fries, shake) $5.18, a movie ticket $6.21, a new car $22,068, and a new house $286,300. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed that day at 10,177.68.
The tallest building in the world was Taipei 101 in the capital of Taiwan. Smartphones were available, but hardly widespread. The TV show NCIS was in its 2nd season, and it would be a while before anybody started wondering why at Mark Harmon's character Leroy Jethro Gibbs was still using a flip-phone. The leading home video game system was Xbox. The iPod, Skype, MySpace and Facebook had all debuted. YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Intagram, the iPhone and the iPad were all yet to come.
In the Autumn of 2004, Chechen rebels took over 1,100 children hostage at a school in Beslan, Russia. Russian security forces stormed the building, resulting in over 300 deaths, so, not exactly a success. Suicide bombers killed 34 people at a Red Sea resort in Taba, Egypt. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was sworn in as the 1st directly elected President of Indonesia. The 1st European Constitution was signed in Rome.
George W. Bush was narrowly re-elected President over Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, despite having started both an unpopular war and a recession. The Boston Red Sox beat the Yankees to win the American League Pennant, and then beat the St. Louis Cardinals to win their 1st World Series since 1918.
As depressing as that was for me, I was thrilled that my alma mater, East Brunswick High School, saw its football team make the Central Jersey Group IV Playoffs, advance to the Final at Rutgers Stadium, and beat Jackson Memorial, to win its 1st State Championship since 1972 -- their 1st since the current Playoff system had gone into effect in 1974.
Johnny Ramone, and Rodney Dangerfield, and Christopher Reeve died. So did legendary English soccer managers Brian Clough and Bill Nicholson, and English soccer legend Emlyn Hughes. Few people yet famous had been born that year, but they include Millie Bobby Brown, Teagan Croft, and LeBron Raymone James Jr., a.k.a. Bronny James. Although just 6-foot-2, not exactly tall for a basketball player, he is playing at a private high school in the Los Angeles suburbs, and it has been said that Ohio State, Kentucky and Duke are already recruiting him.
October 5, 2004. The Minnesota Twins beat the New York Yankees in Game 1 of the American League Division Series. Since then, over 16 years, they have played 18 postseason games, and lost them all.
Will they break that streak next year? Stay tuned.