Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 5/7/12
Believe it or not, the 1991 World Series champion Minnesota Twins got off to a slow start, too. Not quite of the magnitude that the 2012 Twins have gotten off to Minnesota is now 7-20 after losing Sunday to the Seattle Mariners. But despite the end result in 1991, those Twins were also slow out of the gates. And similarly to this year's Twins, the '91 squad was coming off a forgettable season. In 1990, Minnesota finished 74-88 and was dead last in the American League West division. Last year, the Twins lost 99 games to finish last in the AL Central and second worst in all of baseball, ahead of just the Houston Astros. "You've got to remember we were the last-place team the year before that, too," Kent Hrbek, a member of the 1991 Twins team, said. "Maybe we thought that's what kind of team we had." Turns out, the team that started slow in 1991 after losing 88 games the year prior, was not the same team that emerged at the end of the season. But for a while, it wasn't pretty in the Twin Cities. Minnesota lost the season opener to Oakland and went on to start the year 4-10. That included a seven-game losing streak in which the Twins were shut out twice and held to one run in another game. It got to the point where then-general manager Andy MacPhail called then-manager Tom Kelly into his office. Kelly could have used the team's early schedule as an excuse they left spring training in Florida and opened the year in Oakland, then flew home for three games and then back to the West Coast. But he knew nothing he said would make up for the team's 4-10 start that had fans and the front office growing impatient. "There was people upset, there's no question about that," Kelly said. "When we got called up there (to MacPhail's office), I was a little surprised. But he's the boss. If he calls you in, he calls you in. That's all there is to it. The boss calls you and puts you on the carpet and gives you the facts of life, well, maybe you need that every once in a while." Just like the current-day Twins, Kelly's 1991 squad had uncertainties at several positions. Scott Leius and Mike Pagliarulo platooned at third base. Kelly noted that the catching situation was "unsettled" early on. And Minnesota had a veteran pitcher in Jack Morris, but the rest of the rotation remained an unknown early. "At that time," Kelly said, "we were still putting things together." He sees the same thing with Ron Gardenhire's squad, which returns home to face the Los Angeles Angels after going just 1-5 on its recent West Coast road trip. "There's been some inconsistencies. We all know that," Kelly said. "Their pitching has been an issue at times. Lately, hitting's been a little bit of an issue this past week. It's a problem of putting it all together, getting everybody on the right page. It seems like right now everybody's on a different page." If the Twins are to get on the same page, they'd better do so quickly. They're now 8 12 games behind division-leading Cleveland and can't afford to dig themselves any deeper at this point in the season. With that said, the old clich that baseball is a marathon, not a sprint, still holds true. Just ask the 1991 Twins, who went on to win 94 games and, of course, the World Series. "It's a long haul," Hrbek said. "There are people that are going to jump off that bandwagon and you see stuff on Facebook and people are talking about what kind of lineup is this, what kind of lineup is that? They're fans. They can say what they want to say. Sure, the Twins don't want to be where they're at right now, but it's not like they're giving baseball games away. "There's no room to panic, but they definitely don't like where they're at, that's for sure. I'm not pushing the panic button yet. I hope they aren't." Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.
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