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Guest Post: The “Curse of Knoblauch”

by Richard Cuicchi

September 13, 2022

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Yankees vs. Twins: The “Curse of Knoblauch”

For the last 22 seasons, when the New York Yankees needed a boost to their record to remain in contention for a playoff berth, they could always count on the Minnesota Twins to contribute to the cause.


The Twins haven’t had a winning record in a season against the Yankees since 2001, when the Twins captured four of six regular-season games. An even more mind-rattling situation between the Yankees and Twins is the fact that the Yankees have eliminated the Twins in the first round of the American League playoffs in six of those seasons, including 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2017 (wild card), and 2019. The Yankees’ cumulative post-season record against the Twins during those seasons is an astonishing 16-2.


What is it about the Yankees that they have easily dominated the Twins for over 20 years?

Recall the “Curse of the Bambino” that supposedly plagued the Boston Red Sox until they won the 2004 World Series, their first since Babe Ruth played with the Red Sox in 1918. Two years later, Ruth was sold to the Yankees, where he was the main cog in building a Yankee dynasty.


Well, it got me to thinking the Yankees may hold a modern-day “curse” over the Twins.

Looking at the history of the Twins, they last won a World Series in 1991. On their roster that season was second baseman Chuck Knoblauch, who won the Rookie of the Year award. He was a four-time All-Star for the Twins, but they traded him to the Yankees in 1998 for four prospects.


Knoblauch proceeded to play on four World Series teams with the Yankees from 1998 to 2001, collecting three World Championship rings, while the Twins haven’t won a pennant since 1991.


Aha! I discovered the source for the Yankees’ domination of the Twins—the “Curse of Knoblauch.”


Knoblauch was certainly no Babe Ruth, but he became an integral part of the Yankee lineup during those four seasons, three as their second baseman and one as the leftfielder. The “Curse of Knoblauch” also doesn’t have the same ring as the “Curse of the Bambino,” but Twins fans can nonetheless blame Knoblauch for inflicting the jinx on their team.


Knoblauch had left the Yankees by the time the two teams played against each other in the ALDS in 2003 and 2004, so there was no opportunity for him to gloat over the Twins in playoff competition.


Now, in the final month of this season’s race to the playoffs, the Twins suffered the latest effect of the “Curse of Knoblauch,” as the Yankees took three games in their four-game series last week. The Twins are only 2-6 against the Yankees this year. As of the fourth game in the series on Thursday, the victories allowed the Yankees to stay ahead of the Rays by 4 ½ games. On the other hand, the Twins were no longer tied with Cleveland for first place in the AL Central and were tied with Chicago for second place, 1 ½ games behind the Guardians.


Of course, Knoblauch has had nothing to do with the Twins’ bad luck against the Yankees or any other team all these years. My postulation of the “Curse of Knoblauch” is strictly an attempt at tongue-in-cheek humor.


The Twins are still in the running for a playoff berth. But heaven forbid if they run up against the Yankees in the playoffs again.


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Contributed by Richard Cuicchi, richard@thetenthinning.com

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