Monday, April 4, 2011

Ultimate Twins Team Bracket: 1991 vs. 1965

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The Championship Game for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament will be played tonight and that means that it is also time for the Ultimate Twins Team Bracket. It has been an exciting tournament so far and each of the teams that have advanced to this point have World Series experience.

Two different eras in Twins' baseball will square off for the right to call themselves the Twins Team Champion. Each team has some of the greatest players in the history of the franchise. One team has been crowned champion before and the other came within one game of doing the same.

Who will have their one shining moment to end the Ultimate Twins Team Bracket?

1991 Team Batting/Positions (By Games Played)
C Brian Harper (.311 BA, 10 HR, 69 RBI, .783 OPS)
1B Kent Hrbek (.284 BA, 20 HR, 89 RBI, .834 OPS)
2B Chuck Knoblauch (.281 BA, 1 HR, 50 RBI, .701 OPS)
SS Greg Gagne (.265 BA, 8 HR, 42 RBI, .705 OPS)
3B Mike Pagliarulo (.279 BA, 6 HR, 36 RBI, .706 OPS)
LF Dan Gladden (.247 BA, 6 HR, 52 RBI, .662 OPS)
CF Kirby Puckett (.319 BA, 15 HR, 89 RBI, .812 OPS)
RF Shane Mack (.310 BA, 18 HR, 74 RBI, .893 OPS)
DH Chili Davis (.277 BA, 29 HR, 93 RBI, .892 OPS)

1965 Twins Batting/Positions (By Games Played)
C Earl Battey (.297 BA, 6 HR, 60 RBI, .783 OPS)
1B Don Mincher (.251 BA, 22 HR, 65 RBI, .853 OPS)
2B Jerry Kindall (.196 BA, 6 HR, 36 RBI, .563 OPS)
SS Zoilo Versalles (.273 BA, 19 HR, 77 RBI, .781 OPS)
3B Rich Rollins (.249 BA, 5 HR, 32 RBI, .641 OPS)
LF Bob Allison (.233 BA, 23 HR, 78 RBI, .787 OPS)
CF Jimmie Hall (.285 BA, 20 HR, 86 RBI, .810 OPS)
RF Tony Oliva (.321 BA, 16 HR, 98 RBI, .870 OPS)
DH* Harmon Killebrew (.269 BA, 25 HR, 75 RBI, .885 OPS)
*No DH in 1965

Best of 7 Series
Game 1 Match-Up: Jack Morris vs. Mudcat Grant
Each of the Game 1 starting pitchers have been very good in their previous series. Something had to give in Game 1 of the Championship Series. The '91 Twins are tough to beat in the Dome and that trend held true in this opening game. Grant was good but Morris was better. The middle of the line-up (3-4-5 hitters) for the '91 combined for 11 hits to power the club to the victory.
1991 Twins 7
1965 Twins 3 ('91 Twins Lead Series 1-0)

Game 2 Match-Up: Scott Erickson vs. Jim Kaat
This game turned into a battle between the two closers for each team. Tom Kelly turned to Rick Aguilera with only one out in the 8th inning and a two-run lead. Aguilera would give one run back but the '91 team would escape the 8th with a lead still intact. In the top of the 9th Sam Mele would turn the ball over to Al Worthington and he kept the opposition from adding to their slim lead. Aguilera allowed a couple of runners in the 9th but still got the save.
1991 Twins 6 
1965 Twins 5 ('91 Twins Lead Series 2-0)

Game 3 Match-Up: Kevin Tapani vs. Jim Perry
The '91 Twins continued their road woes in the first game of this series in Bloomington, MN. The '65 Twins gave Perry an early lead and never looked back. Killebrew and Allison lead the way with a pair of 2-run HRs. The only positive for the '91 Twins was a 3-run HR by Hrbek in the 6th to cut into the huge lead. The '65 Twins protected their home field to get their first win of the series. 
1965 Twins 10 
1991 Twins 3 ('91 Twins Lead Series 2-1)

Game 4 Match-Up: Jack Morris vs. Camilo Pascual
Different pitching philosophies for the two managers in Game 4 of the series. Kelly continued with the three-man rotation that he had used throughout the tournament. Mele went with a four-man rotation that had served his team well in the postseason. The decision by Kelly turned out to be a mistake because Morris looked uncomfortable on the pitching on the road. The '65 Twins had pulled even in the series.
1965 Twins 7
1991 Twins 2 (Series Tied 2-2)

Game 5 Match-Up: Scott Erickson vs. Mudcat Grant
The '65 Twins have found their stride since the series came to Metropolitan Stadium. Game 5 turned into a blowout very quickly. Killebrew lead the '65 Twins with five RBI in the game. The '91 Twins limped back across town after three rough games in Bloomington. The '65 Twins need to find one road win to crown themselves champions.
1965 Twins 14
1991 Twins 4 ('65 Twins Lead Series 3-2)

Game 6 Match-Up: Kevin Tapani vs. Jim Kaat
Another Game 6 for the Twins and another magical ending at the Metrodome. Most of the game had been back and forth but the '65 Twins had a one-run lead going into the bottom of the ninth. The '91 Twins had some of their best hitters coming to the plate in the ninth. Knoblach lead-off the inning with a nine pitch at-bat that lead to him getting walked. Puckett stepped up to the plate with the game on the line. Stigman started the plate appearance with two balls to Puckett. The next pitch was a fastball that got left over the plate. Puckett pounded the fastball into the left-field seats. "And we'll see you tomorrow night..."
1991 Twins 9
1965 Twins 8 (Series Tied 3-3)

Game 7 Match-Up: Jack Morris vs. Jim Perry
It seems only fitting that the Ultimate Twins Team Bracket Champion would be decided in a seventh game at the Metrodome. The wonder of a tournament of this caliber is the fact that the champion can be any team and anything can happen when the outcome relies on one single game. The game provided as much drama as the night before. Each pitcher threw an outstanding game but this one would be decided long after they both left the mound. The game entered extra-innings with the score tied at six apiece. The '65 Twins would silence the crowd by scoring three runs in the top of the 12th to take the lead. The '91 Twins would come back to tie the score in the bottom of the 12th to keep their hopes alive. By the 15 inning, both teams had used up most of their bullpen. The '65 Twins would get a pinch-hit double from Joe Nossek to take a 2-run lead. The bottom of the 15th inning was full of surprises as Mele turned to Mudcat Grant to get the final three outs of the game. Grant struck out the first batter Scott Leius on three pitches. Gladden came to the plate and skied a ball to the outfield. Oliva lost the ball in the Metrodome roof and this allowed Gladden to end up at second base. Knoblauch grounded to second base for the second out of the inning but on the play Gladden moved to third. This left the tying run only 90-feet away. Puckett returned to the plate with the chance to play the hero again. The '65 Twins would avoid that fate by walking Puckett. It was now first and third with two out in the bottom of the 15th inning. Hrbek stepped to the plate with the game on the line and the roar of the crowd was almost deafening. Grant got ahead in the count on two straight breaking balls to start the at-bat. Hrbek took two close pitches to even the count at two. Grant came inside with a hard pitch that broke the bat of Hrbek. The ball floated into no-man's land in shallow right field. Oliva and Kindall charged after the ball with the game on the line. Oliva called for the ball and at full speed he dove to make the final out. The 1965 Twins were finally champions.
1965 Twins 10 
1991 Twins 9 ('65 Twins Win Series 4-3)
15 Innings

Final Bracket
So here is how the final bracket turned out. How did you do on your picks?

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