Heirloom Memories: The Teams
From 2008 to today, certain moments dictated more than others. Prior to publishing The Heirloom, baseball was dominated by the New York Yankees. That was until the day the Earth Stood Still: The Boston Red Sox’ 2004 World Series Championship.
In these four seasons, there were plenty of teams that made The Heirloom Era what it was: Winds of change, while the dominant continued to perpetuate the landscape.
Without further ado, these are five of the ball clubs that made these past four seasons worth writing about…
2008 TAMPA BAY RAYS: Once part of the last expansion in Major League Baseball, they were headed for the scrap heap by the mid-2000s. A tuned-up front office along with a deep talent pool in the farm system would change the course of history by October, 2008. These Rays did more than change the name, logos and uniforms. They would change the AL East forever. By sending the Red Sox home in the ALCS, they made it to the World Series. It wasn’t the prettiest Fall Classic, but their loss to the Philadelphia Phillies did not end their run. When the AL East needed it, the Rays showed they were for real – just as they did in 2008.
2009 MINNESOTA TWINS: It wasn’t about one game – Game 163. This was about a team that gave the doubters another reason to consider this team amongst the best in the 2000s. You can count the number of pennants Ron Gardenhire won for the Twins, but the improbable comeback to force the extra game could be considered one of the best moments in the team’s history. Even with Justin Morneau out of the lineup, the Twins went on to win Game 163 and a berth in the postseason. Sure, they lost to the Yankees in the ALDS – but everyone I know has not forgotten about Game 163 and the overall accomplishments of the 2009 Twins.
2010 TEXAS RANGERS: Since their arrival from Washington, DC in 1972, the Rangers were the team that almost did something great. A World Series would evade them for most of their history. Then came 2010, when a Ron Washington-led ballclub fulfilled the dreams of baseball fans in North Texas. They clearly did not dominate like most of their rivals. In fact, no one had them as being in the World Series. While fans in the Twin Cities and the Bronx saw their favored ball clubs left behind, the Rangers went on to their maiden World Series to face another improbable team – the San Francisco Giants. In the end, the Jints won the Commissioner’s Trophy. Yet, it would be the Rangers that would lick their wounds and tune up for another run back into the Fall Classic.
2011 OMAHA STORM CHASERS: What? No Major League team listed for this season? Unfortunately, yes. But, if the Farm Systems needed a shot in the arm, the Kansas City Royals had provided it for the past few seasons with deep talent coming through its Texas League club, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. At the start of the 2011 season, the nucleus of this group of prospects arrived at their new ballpark in the suburbs of Omaha with two goals: To make it to the big club and to bring something home for the fans in Omaha. As Eric Hosmer and Matt Moustakas were called up to Kansas City, the talent pool was replenished enough to blaze through the Pacific Coast League this year. The result was the PCL title and their shot at the Triple-A National Championship. Though they lost to the Columbus Clippers last night in Albuquerque, the Storm Chasers run was indeed inspirational for the future of the Royals franchise.
2011 ST. PAUL SAINTS: Since the Northern League merged with the Golden Baseball League, four of the Saints’ old rivals showed up to raise the profile of the American Association. Try, as they may, they never stopped the Saints from landing in the league’s Championship Series. Even a five-game division series with the Winnipeg Goldeyes that went the distance couldn’t stop this team from their goal. However, they did not come home with the title – the third time since the re-establishment of the league. Regardless, if there was a team worth watching in 2011 that did not cause any controversy or other forms of insanity as in the Majors, it was the Saints. For those of you who were stuck on the bigs, you missed a darn good ballclub.