Even the most diehard of Twins optimists see writing on the wall

Staff report


Tyann Slepikas grew up on a farm near Huron, S.D. She was 13 months old when the Twins won a second World Series in October 1991, and not yet fully invested in Twins fandom as a 5-year-old when Kirby Puckett retired on July 12, 1996.

“We didn’t have cable on the farm, only an antenna, so we didn’t get to see many Twins games on TV,” she said Saturday, her 32nd birthday. “My mom was a Twins fan, and so were my grandpa and dad. That’s where I picked it up.

“We followed them on the farm as best we could. I started getting into the Twins more as a teenager and that’s when Joe Mauer was winning batting titles and an MVP. Joe was definitely my No. 1 hero with the Twins.”

Tyann graduated from South Dakota State. She is married to Brett Alexander and they live in Brookings, where Tyann is a seed technologist for SGS North America.

Deeply ingrained in the beloved Jackrabbits?

“I have to admit, I’m not that much into college sports,” she said. “We did go to the South Dakota State game last week, and the Jacks won. The sports facilities they have here now are tremendous.”

We were having this conversation on Saturday morning, due to what occurred in both Cleveland and on Twitter on Friday night.

I became aware of her as @Tyann98 in Tweetland. It was inspiring to see Tyann’s consistency of optimism and/or tolerance for the Twins, as all around here were bellowing behind their @ signs over the perceived ineptitude of Rocco, or Falvine, or Emilio Pagan … to name a few.

And then it happened on Friday:

At 9:19 p.m., @Tyann98 posted: “Well. Who’s ready for the hockey season.”

The Twins had figured out a way to lose another game to Cleveland, with the high comedy of the winning run scoring from second base on a wild pitch.

The margin going into Saturday’s day-night doubleheader was back to five games between the first-place Guardians and the third-place Twins in the plucky AL Central.

Reliever Jhoan Duran, clearly running on fumes at the end of his spectacular rookie season, had throw a pitch to the backstop, and catcher Gary Sanchez looked around for a while and Ernie Clement sped home from second.

The first reaction from @Tyann98 was reasonably accurate: “I knew this stupid team would find a stupid way to lose to this stupid team.”

Clearly, you have finally reached wit’s end, Ms. Alexander, as occurred long ago for the naysayers surrounding you on Twitter?

“I have to say that the Guardians are irritating,” she said. “They don’t look like they should be a first-place team, they look very average at best, but they are our kryptonite.

“We lose to some other teams that are really good, but the Guardians … we give them games.”

Tyann gave an old-fashioned, raised-on-a-farm sigh and added: “I want to trust this front office, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, I really do, but we have 17 players on the injured list, and the Guardians have two or three. They have all of their position players and we’re missing most of our regular lineup.

“My first reaction is to say, ‘It’s just bad luck,’ but you see the contrast to the Guardians, you have to wonder, ‘Are we doing something wrong?’ “

A couple of hours later, the injured list number increased by one. Max Kepler went on the IL and was replaced by Forest Lake’s Matt Wallner, a lefthanded hitter with big power.

Wallner was in right field batting eighth and North St. Paul’s Louie Varland was making his second start in Saturday’s first game.

Maybe that’s the Twins’ promotion pitch for the closing homestand that starts Friday: “Come out and see the local guys.”

Meantime, in Brookings, Tyann Alexander is ready to trade in her Twins wardrobe options for the Wild, her other Twin Cities favorites.

Where did the hockey zealotry come from?

“Brett and I started going to watch the Stampede, the junior team in Sioux Falls,” she said. “The Stampede turned us into hockey fans, and that made us Wild fans.”

How is husband Brett feeling about the Twins?

“He’s not really into them,” Tyann said. “He’s into car racing. He owns one of those little race cars, a Hornet, and usually competes in the races at a small track in Morton, Minnesota.

“That means missing some Twins games on TV, because I’m usually in the pit crew.”

Final word on your ballclub? “Beat the Guardians! I can’t stand it.”

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