When the "Franchise Four" fan vote was announced this spring, I figured the results would suffer from what I call "ESPN Syndrome" -- the belief, fostered by the Worldwide Leader, that nothing in sports history counts unless it's on video.
And so it basically proved. The Giants list, for example, was entirely players from the San Francisco era, ignoring the likes of Christy Mathewson and Mel Ott in favor of Buster Posey, a fine player but necessarily lacking the long-term stature of Master Melvin and Big Six. Neither the Athletics nor the White Sox claimed Eddie Collins, but the Sox list included Harold Baines and Paul Konerko.
I've grown to expect such historical ignorance, but I decline to accept it.
The eight-man Twins ballot featured seven players from the Minnesota years. Only Walter Johnson from the long-ago Washington Senators era was on the ballot. Fellow Hall of Famers Goose Goslin, Joe Cronin and Sam Rice were excluded. And when the results were announced, the winning four were Harmon Killebrew, Kirby Puckett, Rod Carew and Tony Oliva.
Nothing against Oliva, but Johnson was by any measure the greater player, with a good case as the greatest pitcher ever.
Of course, the Twins have spent decades pretending that the Washington era never happened. When they talk about the team's career leaders, they talk about the Twins career leaders.
But Johnson deserves to be attached to somebody's history. Four hundred seventeen career wins. One hundred ten shutouts. A career ERA of 2.17 (in 5,917 innings). Twelve times the league leader in strikeouts. On and on.
He didn't pitch in Minnesota, but the Twins should still embrace him as part of their history.