My wife and I over the weekend watched a Netflix standup comedy special that was recorded, I believe, in 2015.
The comedian was funny enough — a lot of observational humor that ran a little too close to "dad joke" territory for my wife's tastes — but what both of us were struck by was how relatively easy the subject matter seemed.
Not easy in the sense that being a comedian is easy. But easy in the sense that just seven years ago, the things that passed as problems or conflicts — at least as expressed through the thoughts and jokes of one comedian — paled in comparison to the source material one might have in 2022.
Aside from getting as wistful for 2015 as former Vikings coach Mike Zimmer might be, it was also a good reminder: When things change dramatically, it becomes much easier to forget how they used to be.
I thought about that some more in a completely different context over the weekend as well, when some friends were griping about the Twins' 2022 collapse and their general approach to (and sometimes bad luck with) pitching.
The Twins' leader in innings pitched in 2021, when they went 73-89, was Jose Berrios with 121.2. I don't know what's more startling: that the number is so low or that someone who was traded two months before the end of the season wound up as the team leader.
In 2022, it hasn't been much better. Rookie Joe Ryan leads the team with 141 innings pitched, followed by Dylan "five at a time" Bundy with 135.
Lest you think this will descend into some sort of "back in my day" rant, it won't. I just want to appreciate a couple of things about 2019 that probably got lost amid all 307 of those record-setting home runs:
- Five different Twins pitchers in 2019 made at least 26 starts and threw at least 146 innings Berrios topped 200 innings all by himself, while Twins starters as a whole pitched 889.2 innings — the sixth-most in the majors. This year, Twins starters have logged 162 fewer innings than in 2019 with just nine games left to play. They rank 28th in MLB in innings by starting pitchers.
- Jorge Polanco in 2019 appeared in 153 games and accumulated a whopping 704 plate appearances. The most games anyone on this year's Twins could reach is 147 (Luis Arraez has a team-high 138 as of now), and Arraez is the only player likely to reach even 600 plate appearances this year).
The 2019 Twins weren't perfect, even after winning 101 games. They had some injuries and they imploded again in the playoffs. But for much of the regular season, you knew roughly what the lineup and starting rotation was going to be from night to night and week to week.
It's almost hard to remember, and if you're a Twins fan it makes you realize how good you had it.