MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The Minnesota Twins are one of the best teams in baseball this season.
It's a surprising turn of events for a team that only won 78 games last year and fired their manager.
It's been a truly magical run, but as it turns out, it isn't magic at all.
When you're trying to start a religion, where could be better than a bar? It's where three Twins faithful -- Tom Johnson, Joel Gillespie and Michael Haas -- decided that after years of bad baseball, it was time to do something.
"We tried to be equal-opportunity offensive and disrespectful to all religions," Joel said. "We need to appeal to a higher power."
And so, in this perfect dark corner of Darby's Pub -- which is just a baseball's throw from Target Field -- the Twins Shrine was created.
"Baseball is such a sport that has so many superstitions, there's so much cosmic spiritual energy, and we figured that fans would really like a place like this, where they could focus it, and bring all their memorabilia, and convene," Tom said.
"We've had fans of other teams come up and tell us that this is an unfair advantage for the Twins. You know, it's like steroids or PEDs, it's not fair," Michael said.
The idea first came to Tom in February.
"They look a lot like nativity figures. They may be nativity figures, but we like to think they're doing a good job here, too," Tom said.
The three worked on it all through spring training, and the early part of April.
"There's a lot of tortugas, a lot of turtles, supporting [Willians] Austudillo," Tom said.
The shrine consists of items from their own collections, and the occasional deal on Craigslist.
The shrine made its debut April 26, the night the Twins played the Orioles -- and there's been no denying its impact.
"The day that we opened this, there were back-to-back-to-back home runs," Tom said.
"Bottom of the first inning, and it was like, 'Oh man, we're on to something here.' And then they were like 25 and 5 for the first 30 games afterward?" Joel said.
"I don't know what else could be making the Twins do so well this season, if not for the shrine," Tom said.
So how much credit should they get for their success?
"I'd say mathematically 85% to 90%. We can't take 100% because it's still baseball, it's still the people that are out there on the field," Michael said
Why do they think the shrine worked?
"Because we are pure of heart [laughs]!" Joel said. "Maybe nobody ever tried this before and just, you know, the gods of baseball were just waiting for someone to show proper respect and, you know, adulation for the whims of outrageous fortune, I don't know."
Over time, other fans have brought their own items. That's kind of the whole point.
"Every time we come back here there's always something new," Tom said. "We started it, but we want other people to … it's nothing if other people don't put their energy into it."
The most common reaction?
"Oh, confusion [laughs]! Pure confusion," Tom said. "It's an encounter with a religious experience sort of thing."
The shrine is best experienced in the flesh, and like a true religion, in fellowship with others.
"Yeah, come, be here, touch Austudillo's hair, give the team good luck, bring your own stuff, take memories. There's something here for everybody and that's the way we like it," Tom said.
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