Remember last October when the Yankees swept the Twins in the American League Playoffs? This was after the Twins had clawed their way back to win the Central Division crown while the league-leading Tigers swooned. Impossible to forget.

Remember the final moments of Twins baseball inside the Metrodome? With its artificial landscape contained by a shabby, baseball-colored roof that held and intensified noise to exhausting, bone-jarring levels—the Dome rocked and rolled. On that final Sunday there were 54,735 fans packed inside, all screaming for a win until the last pitch.

Remember being down 4-1 in the bottom of the the ninth as Twins third baseman Brendan Harris stood in the batters box with Michael Cuddyer safe on second base? Within that deafening roar as the count stood 2-0, Harris swung hard, hitting a ground ball to the shortstop who threw him out at first.

The Dome literally imploded sucking in the last gasped hope for glory, finally exhaling a huge release—sending the 2009 season for the Twins into the record book. The final out stopped their remarkable come-from-behind mentality, overridden finally by injury and fatigue—and, of course, the Yankees.

The team from New York was moving on to star in other spectacles of baseball glory. In the end they would win their 27th World Series after putting the Angels and then the Phillies respectively in their places.

The Twins, meanwhile, were just moving.

At long last the Twins were abandoning the antiquated Metrodome—the home of the club since April 3, 1982. In 2010 the team would begin play at Target Field in a new outdoor, state-of-the-art facility. The Twins were growing “green.”

In all of Major League Baseball, especially the ALCD, there was not a manager who shed a tear over the realization that his team would never again return to play in the Dreaded Dome. It was the most detested facility in the AL. Owners and managers did not hesitate to voice their opinions about the inadequacies of the facility. The Dome was, as far as they were concerned, another key player on the Twins roster.

It was, however, home to the Twins, bringing the team a bit of luck and a huge reserve of home field advantage when they needed it most—except against the Yankees.

Despite the moral victory of making the playoffs after defeating the Tigers to clinch the Central Division title, the sweep by the Yankees still stung in the waning moments of the 2009 season. Nobody likes to end with a goose-egg.

In fact, the Twins never defeated the Yankees in 2009. They were 0-7 during the regular season as well as 0-3 in the playoffs.

That doesn’t mean the Twins rolled over and died when they faced the Yankees. They fought hard, losing six of the seven regular season games by two runs or less—two of the seven went into extra innings.

It had to be doubly galling to come so close so often and come away empty-handed time after time. The Twins could never get over the hump when they faced the Bronx Bombers last year.

Like most teams in MLB, the Twins simply lacked the pitching depth required to outlast the powerful Yankee lineup. Also, during the playoffs, the Twins were without Justin Morneau who suffered from a stress fracture in his back and was missing from the lineup at the end of the season. The vaunted first baseman wreaked havoc with the Yankee pitching staff during the regular season—but not enough to give the Twins a victory.

With 2009 in the books—MLB is currently in week six and the Twins stand alone atop the Central Division with a 22-12 record. At this same juncture a year ago, the the team stood 15-17, starting the season with some key players injured.

Things are definitely looking up for the Twins as they settle into Target Field. They sell out almost every game as fans pack the stands, waiting.

The new facility plus the signing of MVP catcher Joe Mauer and the return of Morneau have pundits and fans talking positively about enjoying post-season play again. The return of Francisco Liriano to top form on the mound has added another degree of optimism. So far Liriano has enjoyed stellar results with only one bad outing against Baltimore in his first loss of the season. Liriano is 4-1 with an ERA of 2.36.

But now the true test awaits. The Twins must face the Yankees during a three-game road trip to the Big Apple starting Friday May 14. Having lost 10 in a row, the Twins need to stand up to the 2009 MLB champs and stop letting the Yankees kick sand in their faces. The Twins are no longer second tier to anybody—not even the famed New York Yankees.

At present the Yankees have the same record as the Twins at 22-12. But they stand second in the AL East behind the astounding Tampa Bay Rays at 24-10.

Starting for the Twins in New York on Friday will be their best to date, Francisco Liriano who is 4-1 on the season with an ERA of 2.36. The Yankees will place A. J. Burnett on the mound with a 4-1 record and an ERA of 3.40.

The ultimate challenge of the season will come in New York where the Twins need to find a way to stop the 10-game losing streak to start a new world order in 2010. They must complete the transformation by drawing a line in the sand and taking game one in New York.

So what if the Bronx Bombers have lost only two games at home? That means the odds are in the Twins favor to reverse the trend. All the Twins have to do is remember October 11, 2009—a rainy Sunday afternoon when the Yankees shut the door on the Twins and sent them home for the rest of the season.

Step up to the plate, boys, and remember the Metrodome—win one for 28 years of baseball magic on a diamond where it never rained…

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