• Why Do We Care About the Twins?

    I’ve been pretty critical of the Twins front office lately. I’m not alone in that, of course. Quite a number of fans, including many who are far more informed and better able to communicate than I, feel that the Twins have simply not done enough to improve the team this offseason.

    Over this Christmas holiday week, I couldn’t help but reflect on matters so much more important than baseball. Will the ideologues in Washington really lead our country in to a deeper recession simply to try to make those who disagree with them look bad? What can we do to help those whose lives have been devastated by terrible storms? How do we make sure our children and their teachers can go about the educational process without fear of seemingly random acts of unthinkable violence?

    Kind of makes the whole debate over whether Terry Ryan is doing enough to fix the Twins’ rotation seem hardly worth thinking about, much less arguing about over and over, doesn’t it?

    (This article was originally posted at Knuckleballsblog.com.)

    So why do it? If we’re going to feel so passionate about a problem that we’ll write 1,000 words about it… not once but several times a week… shouldn’t the topic be more substantial than baseball? Of course it should.

    But I can’t solve those important problems. Nothing I say or write will help. I’ve led a relatively active political life, yet I’ve never felt less able to influence my government. I give to charities, but it seems like a drop in the bucket of what’s needed for humanity. I pray, yet have never felt less aware of God’s presence in our world.



    So perhaps it’s simply that powerlessness that brings me back here. I can’t do anything about any of the important matters facing the world, so I focus attention… arguably too much attention, at times… on baseball. Granted, I have no more influence with Terry Ryan than I do Congress, but I enjoy writing about baseball more than about politics, so here I am and here I shall remain.

    The give and take with other baseball fans and writers… especially other Twins fans… is enjoyable. It would certainly be more enjoyable if the talent being assembled looked to be more competitive on the field come Opening Day, but we can’t really do any more about that, as fans, than discuss it. So that’s what we do.

    Is it really all that important whether the Twins are being built to win more games in 2013 or not? Does it matter if we have to wait until 2014… or even 2015 or 2016… for the Twins to be good again? Well, for those of us closer to the end of our projected mortality arc than the beginning of it, it may be more important, but no, it’s not all that critical in the grand scheme of things.

    But it is important.

    I don’t believe the Pohlads are evil people out to fleece Twins fans out of our money without any concern for the quality of the product on the field. I don’t believe Terry Ryan is stupid about baseball, nor is he so ego-driven that he is determined to prove he can assemble a winning roster without spending any money at all. I also don’t envision his staff of senior baseball people resembling the group of old-school scouts in the movie version of “Moneyball,” whose player evaluations seemed based solely on “gut feel”.

    Pohlad and Ryan want to win. I believe they want to win in 2013, while also preparing to contend in years beyond. The players Ryan obtained in return for Denard Span and Ben Revere make it clear that Ryan’s primary focus is at least two years in the future. He knows it would be a very good idea not to have the 2013 Twins lose 95+ games again and he’ll try to avoid that, but he’s clearly not going to waste a lot of energy… or the Pohlads’ money… on any attempt to fix the team’s immediate problems.

    I still think that’s bad business, but it’s not my business. The Pohlads have entrusted those decisions to Ryan and, presumably, team president Dave St. Peter, so in a few years we’ll see who was right.

    With the new year almost upon us, it’s probably time to move past the, “what should Terry Ryan do?” phase of the offseason discussion, anyway. Maybe there will be a late bargain available to Ryan over the next couple of months, but for the most part, the roster is set. It will be an $80 million payroll short on established Major League talent. It will be a team projected to finish at the bottom of the AL Central again.

    But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun to watch… and to talk about.

    That’s one of the things that makes baseball the greatest game in the world, to me. When the players… whatever their respective talent levels… take the field, anything can happen. You never know when you might see something you’ve never seen before. I couldn’t begin to count the number of baseball teams I’ve been involved with over the years, from the time I started playing organized ball at the age of 5, through my years as a player, as a coach, and now as merely a fan who enjoys writing about the game and my chosen favorite teams. But I’ve enjoyed literally every summer of baseball for these past 50+ years and I’m sure I’ll enjoy 2013, as well.

    I will also get frustrated in 2013. I will rant here… and elsewhere… about that frustration. I will argue about it. I will cheer what successes may be found in 2013 and I will try to savor the experience of watching a potential Hall of Fame catcher do his thing for the Twins, just as I savored watching Rod Carew’s talent, even during some very difficult years for the Twins and their fans.

    I may not spend much of my money on Twins tickets in 2013 (I spent no money at all on them in 2012) because I do believe the only way any of us can genuinely influence Ryan and his bosses to change their business strategy is by speaking with our pocketbooks. I attended 12-15 games a year when I felt the organization was moving in the right direction. I won’t do so when I feel that’s no longer true.


    Hammond Stadium, Spring Training home of the Twins

    That doesn’t mean I won’t still be a fan. I’ve been a fan through far worse stretches over the past 50 years. For better or worse, being a Twins fan is an important aspect of who I am and I will continue to spend a considerable about of time following them, talking about them, writing about them and, yes, arguing about them. I’m not sure what that says about me, but it probably isn’t good… at least not entirely good. I don’t really care about that.

    I care about the Twins. And I care that Spring Training is less than two months away.

    - JC
    This article was originally published in blog: Why Do We Care About the Twins? started by Jim Crikket
    Comments 23 Comments
    1. edavis0308's Avatar
      edavis0308 -
      Not sure what the deal still is with the commenting, but I will copy and paste what I typed in the comments of the article:

      Good article. I think part of the reason that it is easier to care about a baseball team is because our money is directly related (or should be) to the product we get out of it. If we all buy their gear and go to their games, we (should) be able to reap th benefits from spending our money on their business. We have a say - if their product sucks, we don't spend our money on it. It's too bad the opposite is happening.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I too will not spend any of my money on this inferior product in 2013.
    1. Chance's Avatar
      Chance -
      I personally will enjoy the season... I don't mind watching players develop at the major league level. I like to dwell on the future rather than the present. It keeps me positive. This team might be horrible but we will get to see a CF I have been wanting to see for about 4 years. I want to see players earn a callup and get a shot at the pros. It's exciting to me to see a player who is unknown at the time make a name for himself (David Freese).
    1. TCBurgerGuy's Avatar
      TCBurgerGuy -
      Great article, JC. One of the things that always brings me joy in relation to baseball is the promise of a new season. We can all sit here and pontificate about how the Twins will do in 2013 based on names on paper, but the reality is that the game is played on the field and it is not out of the realm of possibility that this team could do well next (this?) season. No matter how it shakes out, each team starts the season with 0 wins. I am anxious to see how many numbers the Twins can add to that 0 in 2013.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      edavis, when the TD guys honor a blog post by bumping it up to "article" status, the comments from the blog area unfortunately don't follow, so I appreciate you taking the time to repost your comment here, too.

      Anyone who has read my stuff lately knows I'm not optimistic about the Twins in 2013, but there are things I'm looking forward to. Of course, with my home town Kernels now the Twins' Class A affiliate in the Midwest League, I'll certainly be spending more evenings at the ballpark watching them, anyway. Baseball is just too great a game not to find ways to enjoy it.
    1. Top Gun's Avatar
      Top Gun -
      Rich Harden's new minor league contract with the Twins includes an opt-out clause with a date of July 31
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      The Twins are our team and will always be our team... We are powerless to cause the change that we want... but not powerless to get behind it anyway and follow the pied piper... No matter where it leads...

      Every once in awhile... Even the Underdog will bite... We are for the Underdog no matter how much of a dog it is.

      It's just the best way to live your life!

      Good Article Jim!!! I'm with ya... Even when I'm against you slightly.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      It is hard to have hope when your general is a snake oil saleman flinging monkey dung onto the field claiming it is a quality rotation ... oh knucks nice writting , wish i had half your talent always enjoy your stuff , happy new years twins fans
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      There will certainly be things to watch, and I'll welcome the season either way. But I can still be fully frustrated on the offseason and feel that way.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      I am still clinging to faint hope that 2013 will be a turnaround.
    1. wagwan's Avatar
      wagwan -
      I will attend a game this year if I can make it back to Minnesota. I also used to go to the Met and enjoyed watching every Rod Carew at bat, no matter the score. The really nice thing about baseball is that the home team can win at any time, no matter how badly they are playing and how talented the opponent. You can always feel good in the short term. I think the Twins are going to be very good in a few years. Many many good players are on the way. They will need quite a few players to have come back years to be competitive in 2013. But I will be in the stands when they play the Royals in July, and I will be hoping for a win and enjoying the spectacle if they lose. I have never had a bad time at a ballpark.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      I actually feel much the same about the Twins now that I did during Carew's peek years with the Twins in the mid 70s. This is actually the subject of one of many half-finished posts I've got sitting around. The similarities, in my mind and in my memory, are so many that it concerns me a great deal.
    1. ND-Fan's Avatar
      ND-Fan -
      I cann't agree more about what you say in this article it almost mirrors my feelings to a tee. I would like to add something of what i also think is important and its based on my teenage boy perspective of the Twins. This younger gereration of kids and fans don't have patience we longer term fans do in building a team and getting back to being competitive. My sons statement their not fun to watch when they play like they have these two past seasons and he's losing interest in watching baseball. I cann't imagine how business can risk losing younger future customers without putting forth effort to show they are going to compete. Like my son says look at football they can be one of the worst teams in the league and in less than couple years they can be competing to go superbowl. Also he says doesn't matter if you are from small market or large market team it seems they have equal chance of getting to the championship. I know this fundamental structure of baseball problem but i cann't believe that baseball is going to be the king it once was until it starts resovling this issue. But back to the Twins they need show some significant improvement or were going back to early 90's again. I also don't blame Terry Ryan for all this it still goes to ownership to what extent there willing to compete and levels of return there willing to accept short term and long term. It also comes down to philosphy of ownership the NY,La, Texas, and Boston ownership won't accept anything less than winner each year. The smaller market teams seem to work on philosphy of trying to build a winner every 5 to 10 years within a certain budget until they cann't afford to keep that team together and start over. the frustration of being a baseball fan especially from small market team. I just wonder how many fans they are creating with this newer generation for longterm time will tell.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      I'll always hope for the Twins, sometimes that hope takes on different meanings. It can mean hoping they do what I'd like them to do when it comes to free agents, it can mean hoping they make or don't make a particular trade or it can mean hoping that they promote a player I'm really looking forward to seeing, sooner than later, or even signing a player I'd like to see more of to an extension.

      All of those hopes though are inextricably linked to the one great hope, the one hope that I just can't rid myself, no matter how hard I try. That is the simple hope that the Twins will win. No matter how much I disagree with them, no matter how much they may frustrate me, no matter how much they try to make me lose hope, I always find myself hoping they will win.

      I will be down a number of times to watch them play again, the games I attend I will hope that they play well but I'll likely enjoy the games no matter. Maybe it's because I'm not spoiled enough to be able to enjoy the games whenever I choose, that I enjoy them all that much more when I get the chance to go. Target field has certainly increased that enjoyment for me, no matter how the Twins play, the sights, sounds and smells are always the same and at the end of the day, it's baseball.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      To Me... It's all baseball and nothing more and it's deep rooted... I watch my team... And I watch my players... Each member of the Twins are my players... I dont care if Stanton is better than Willingham.... Stanton doesnt play for my team... I may have preferred a different pitcher instead of Correia... But... Regardless... When Correia has the jersey on and the rock in his hands... I'll be hoping he peforms decently... Some double plays turned... Some corners hit... His pitches mixed... I hope the game is within reach to be won so I can watch Florimon hitting .230 drive in a game winning run with a single up the middle.

      66 wins is a bad year but its 66 wins... A terrible team can win a lot of games.

      I appreciate watching Mike Trout play... The guy plays the game the way it should played... Would love to see him in a Twins uniform... But I can still get excited watching Jamey Carroll drop a flare down the RF line... It's Baseball... No matter who I think Terry Ryan should pursue... It doesn't matter... The roster will consist of players wearing my colors and they will have my full throated support.

      Unless you are Delmon Young or Danny Velancia... Half ass effort guys.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Yes, Jim I agree with you almost all the way down the line. In looking at the 2012 Twins, I saw the club meeting expectations in most areas and failing miserably at one--starting pitching. They have since traded away talent (Revere & Span) for one middle rotation guy and quite a bit of potential. They have allowed several players to leave and replaced them with two pitchers who look like more middle rotation fodder. For the Twins to thrive in 2013, someone has to emerge big-time (probably more than one someone). I think the organization knows baseball, but they may still be locked in the 20th century. We shall see if the players they have drafted and acquired since Ryan came back will be difference-makers in the next five years.
    1. Jack Torse's Avatar
      Jack Torse -
      I will always have an active interest in the Twins but the last two summers have been difficult to watch on TV much less making the sizable investment to go to target field. I check into each game several times but after May I bet I didn't watch 10 games start to finish. It's easier and much less of a time commitment to follow blogs and box scores to know what I want to know about them. At least for as long as they are losing 90 games a season.
    1. Don't Feed the Greed Guy's Avatar
      Don't Feed the Greed Guy -
      Jim,

      I suspect we follow baseball because its fun, we've made a personal investment in the game, and the outcome is never quite certain, like life.

      There are mirrors to politics, and business, and even religion that are enmeshed in the Great American Pastime. We mourn for the Killebrew family, or we cheer for Lew Ford's comeback, because we've followed these characters and their charming, heartbreaking and humorous stories.

      By chance, I happened to meet Rich Harden. I saw him take a break from his rehab in order to stand beside a family, when he was asked to be there for them at a solemn occasion. He's one of the good guys. So I will be following his story next season, to see if he can make the team. It intrigues me, and rekindles my admiration for the human spirit.

      The business side of me is intrigued by the multiple relationships and conversations between owners, general managers, former players who coach and manage in the pajama-like uniforms of the players they lead, prospects, superstars, and the rest. This season, a day-trip to Cedar Rapids will add even more texture to the convsersation.

      We get to eavesdrop on that conversation, buy a ticket to the game, and watch a budding prospect at shortstop react to a hard grounder, hit to his right. Our muscle memory from childhood kicks in as he goes deep into the hole, pivots, and launches a bullet throw to the first baseman's glove. That's a thing of beauty, and I wouldn't miss it for the world.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Great article, Jim. Personally, I do run into some of the same concerns regarding my interest in sports and interest in things that are actually vitally important. I do a lot between teaching and being politically active and aware of things going on in the world so as to allow me to be angry about Kevin Correia and more frivolous concerns. I generally have a distaste for people who are sports fanatics and devote almost zero time and energy to other things that actually are relevant.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      I just want to take a moment this morning to thank this group of commenters.The topic is certainly one that could have devolved in to another routine bashing of everyone involved with the Twins, but instead we got a lot of very thoughtful, intelligent stuff in these comments.Just another example of why Twins Daily has become such a great place for these discussions.
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