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The Curse of the Yankees

by Dan Gunderson

I have been watching the Twins since I can remember. Growing up in Bathgate, North Dakota, it was just natural to follow the closest major league sports team.

My best friend growing up, Tyler Zaharia, became a New York Yankee fan because he is a band wagon jumper and hates cheering for a losing team. At least, that is how I believe he became a follower of the Bronx Bombers.

His devotion to the pinstripes probably came more from the fact they had great teams in the late ‘90s with players like Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Bernie Williams becoming stalwarts for the team. I just liked to believe he became this way to irritate me when the Yankees would dominate the Twins in their yearly series.

You didn’t really notice the Twins and Yankees in the mid ‘90s because the Twins were so bad that every team licked their chops with the upcoming series against the hapless Twinkies. It became much more of a laughable event when the Twins started to become competitive.

Starting in 2002, when the Minnesota Twins went 94-67 and finished first in the American League Central, is when I began to notice the Twins losing to the Yankees. That year, the Twins went 0-6 against the Yankees.

That signaled what has become an interesting experience when the Twins and the Yankees meet. Since 2002, the Twins have gone 26-67 against the Yanks. That includes the 2-12 record against the Yankees in the playoffs.

Last night’s loss was something you could see coming from Fargo. Twins are up 4-3 in the eighth. Enter setup guy Jared Burton and watch the Twins unravel. The Twins could have the best record in baseball and the Yankees could be the worst team in the majors. It wouldn’t matter because the Yankees would still win.

While that might be a bit of an exaggeration, it is the feeling you get as a Twins fan when the Yankees are their opponent. The Yankees, who are playing in probably the toughest division in Major League Baseball, came in after being swept by the Baltimore Orioles in their last series.

They have more money invested in players on the disabled list than most teams have invested in their entire roster. They are going to miss the playoffs and we are probably seeing the end of an era in Yankee baseball with the pending retirement of Rivera and perhaps Jeter.

Still, with all of that going on for the Yankees, the Twins still find a way to lose to this team. They probably will lose three out of four, maybe even get swept. This leads me to believe that it has nothing to do with what team has more talent but more to do with the fact the Twins have some sort of weird mental block when it comes to playing the Yankees.

Another coincidence that comes to mind is the Twins 26-67 record against the Yankees dates back to 2002, the same year Ron Gardenhire started coaching the team. Just a thought.