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  • The Late Summer of My Discontent

    When Target Field opened, I was living in Connecticut (as I do now), but harbored a dream of moving back to Minnesota. I was naive. I thought -- even though I was an attorney licensed to practice in Connecticut only, even though I owned a home in Connecticut, and even though many of my professional ties to Minnesota had dwindled -- that I could somehow easily move across the country and re-establish things back home.

    For many, many reasons (the prolonged economic crisis being one of them), that didn't happen. I'd be lying if I said that a part of me doesn't dream of going back to the Twin Cities, but I am very happy personally and professionally now. But that's not the focus of this post, believe it or not (but for my self-help blog, go here). No, I do aim to write about the Twins tonight. So read on, it's all connected.

    When I thought, or, rather, naively dreamed, that Minnesota was in the cards for me, I filled out a form and paid something like $200 to get in the "On-Deck Circle" for Twins season tickets. I was only interested in a 20-game plan, which was the lowest that was offered. Yes, there was a time when demand for season tickets -- any package, anywhere in the stadium -- was so significant that the Twins simply couldn't supply tickets and seats for everyone that was interested. Long story short, I ended up getting out of the "On-Deck Circle," and of course am still writing this blog from Connecticut (side note: there's no "On-Deck Circle" for my awesome Rock Cats seats, which I very much enjoy).

    The amazing part of this story is that my membership in the on-deck circle, and exit therefrom, took place in 2010. Only 3 years ago. Tonight, I could click on this link and place a deposit for up to 8 tickets for a 2014 20-game, 40-game, or full season plan for the team who will host next season's All-Star festivities, a team only 3 years removed from being one of the best teams in baseball playing in one of baseball's best stadiums.

    What frustrated me in 2010 was that there was a certain hubris in the Twins organization. "We can't offer you any season ticket plan this year, or maybe not even next year or the year after, but we will hold your $200 in trust in the event that something ever becomes available. Then, we'll give you a call and take the rest of your money. OK? Talk to you later."


    Good Seats Still Available

    And now, in September, 2013, here is the Twins' crowd tonight (first image from Brandon Warne's Twitter account) as Pedro Hernandez was taking his warm-up tosses just before the game started. Yes, many of these seats were paid for, so the Twins received that money, but they sure are missing a lot of food, merchandise and beer revenue from that American Legion-esque crowd.

    The part that bothers me, aside from the fact that the Twins are cruising toward their 3rd straight 90+ loss season, is that what I would consider to be the requisite humility from the front office simply isn't present. On the one hand, they are saying the right things, as in: "The losing is unacceptable"; "We're committed to doing better"; "This isn't the `Twins Way.'" But on the other hand, these are the exact sentiments fans heard after 2011. And after 2012. Heck, there was even anger in 2010 after they were swept -- again -- by the Yankees. I swear they recycle the same press releases. On paper -- in the win-loss ledger -- there hasn't been improvement.

    Thank you to @Tappen2Feet for this image

    I'll be the first person to tell you that the organization is in much better shape than it was a couple years ago. To be sure, I watched it all summer with Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, Josmil Pinto and others. But with the exception of Pinto, those guys aren't contributing to the major league team now, and probably won't be on Opening Day 2014.

    I hit a point where I need more. I need more than the promise of prospects (even though I understand that good prospects are the best way to build a sustainable winning franchise). I need actual accountability. I need results. On Twitter, I noted, after the Twins were swept at Target Field by the Yankees in a 4-game series over the 4th of July, that some managers in Ron Gardenhire's tenuous position would have been fired after that series. Not for losing 4 consecutive games, mind you, but for how those 4 games, against the Yankees, at home on a holiday weekend with fans having paid "premium prices," were representative of this organization's deficiencies.


    As @Kayla_86 noted, the upper deck is empty

    The Twins can't sell me, and many fans, on the All-Star Game in 2014. I wouldn't be there anyway, and it's really just a few events. At some point, the Twins have to sell fans on at least a few established players purchased in free agency. I'll just say it: they need to spend probably $30 million in free agency in order to make this team competitive for 2014. They have to make at least some changes at the very top levels of management, if for no other reason than that is the way it works in the business world. The problem with the Twins, though, is that unlike most businesses, even when their "product" is awful, they still turn a significant profit. So understand that the impetus might not be there to make the wholesale changes that some expect.

    There is no grand point to this post, so apologies if you are looking for it. I would, however, sum it up this way: The organization doesn't have the humility I would expect for a team that has been one of the very worst in baseball for the past three seasons, and I am not at all confident that losing records are sufficient -- on their own -- to force the organization into wholesale changes. As fans, I guess we are forced to hope that this solid group of prospects does indeed pan out. I have little faith in the Twins hitting a home run on each one of their Top 10 prospects.

    One final note: 2013 was the first year since Target Field opened that I didn't make it there for a game. In fact, I didn't make it to a Twins game in Boston, Baltimore or New York, either. I -- not intentionally, really -- didn't purchase any memorabilia related to a current Twins player. Heck, I didn't even renew my Twins radio subscription for $21.95 (or so) a season. I guess I'm unwilling to pay for this product. In the end, while I'll pay to watch the minor leaguers any day of the week, I'm unwilling to pay to watch the Twins waste the rest of Joe Mauer's prime years.
    This article was originally published in blog: The Late Summer of My Discontent started by Twins Fan From Afar
    Comments 39 Comments
    1. BabyJesusBuxton's Avatar
      BabyJesusBuxton -
      I've been in the Twin cities for 3 years now. The first two years I attended about 20 games a year and then I finally decided to get season tickets for this season... Mostly because I want to attend the allstar game and have good seats. I know for certain if the Twins weren't hosting the allstar game I wouldn't have bought a full season this year and I for sure wouldn't do it next year mostly because you can get tickets cheaper through scalpers/stubhub/craigslist than you can by being a season ticket holder. Not to mention the hassle of trying to get rid of any tickets for games you can't make it to. Hopefully by the time I have to decide for 2015 the Twins have turned the corner and it's a tougher decision for me.

      The product definitely needs to get better in all aspects. The Twins can't rely solely on the prospects coming up and expect to put a good product out there by 2015.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by BabyJesusBuxton View Post
      I've been in the Twin cities for 3 years now. The first two years I attended about 20 games a year and then I finally decided to get season tickets for this season... Mostly because I want to attend the allstar game and have good seats. I know for certain if the Twins weren't hosting the allstar game I wouldn't have bought a full season this year and I for sure wouldn't do it next year mostly because you can get tickets cheaper through scalpers/stubhub/craigslist than you can by being a season ticket holder. Not to mention the hassle of trying to get rid of any tickets for games you can't make it to. Hopefully by the time I have to decide for 2015 the Twins have turned the corner and it's a tougher decision for me.

      The product definitely needs to get better in all aspects. The Twins can't rely solely on the prospects coming up and expect to put a good product out there by 2015.
      Expect more Butera and Morneau type trades. They will be active in the FA market but will not thrill the board with a 6 year, 147M signing.
    1. DreInWA's Avatar
      DreInWA -
      I don't think you are necessarily part of the problem if you are attending games right now, but we all are part of the problem is we continue to believe the narrative that the Twins try to put out there: "That the Morneau trade was to gain young talent, rather than dump salary, that any team can win their division, much less make a deep playoff run with only the assistance of young prospects."

      I was always afraid when we gave Mauer that contract, that the Twins were going to turn into Baltimore with Cal Ripken Jr. and 8 other guys, and sadly in many ways this is occurring. To be clear, it isn't Mauer's fault, it is the fault of the Twins management for not being willing to spend (and in many cases) overpay for established talent. If we completely ignore pitching for a moment (which is ridiculous because the Twins staff is a mess), think about the hitters for the Twins in 2010.


      Now think about the current lineup. This, to me, displays the stark reality we are now facing. Was the lineup in 2010 going to set the world on fire and strike fear into the hearts of the AL East, certainly not, but everyone on this list save for Danny Valencia (who had a breakout debut in 2010), was at least an established big league player, and we could draw reasonable predictions about how they would produce.

      I understand this is what rebuilding looks like, and you don't necessarily need to spend Dodger-money to win games, but at the end of another 90 loss season, it is simply baffling to me that:

      1. The Twins continue to hold the party line that the cavalry is on the way, we just need to keep doing things the same way, and everything is going to be fine. Oh did we mention the 2014 All Star Game?

      2. Fans continue to believe it.

      We are all guilty of it. I for one would be thrilled if the Twins could at least return to being competitive, but this is still part of the problem. The Central is much more competitive than it was when the Twins were dominating it 5 years ago, and the Twins will have to change their strategies with the times. Unfortunately, as the author of this post points out, the level of arrogance still coming out of the organization at this point is frankly, unbelievable.

      The Twins do have talent in their system, and the situation may not be as dire as we make it out to be. Guys like Arcia, Sano, Buxton, Pinto, Hicks and company look like they could do very well at the big league level. However, we can't just throw these guys in the deep end on their own and see if they sink or swim. If we spend the money to put established talent around these guys, we could be a scary team in the coming years.

      Unfortunately, we aren't really hearing that from the organization, nor are we seeing it with their moves (and lack of moves) to this point. I am afraid we will just be a team with a couple of really great players, that is mildly competitive.

      Which, when you think about it, is an apt description of the Twins during the Gardenhire era (not that I am blaming Gardenhire). The teams that are committed to winning don't always win, but they certainly win more often, and the Twins seem like they are only committed to winning enough games to sell tickets at this point.

      I hope they do something in the offseason to disprove this notion.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      Joe Sheehan of SI wrote an article saying we will be the next Pirates. The parade starts on 2015.
      Joe Sheehan also predicted a playoff berth for the Padres this year. Hopefully they can reschedule their parade.

      Whichonly speaks to the uncertainty of the future.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      Joe Sheehan also predicted a playoff berth for the Padres this year. Hopefully they can reschedule their parade.

      Whichonly speaks to the uncertainty of the future.
      yeah, he also didn't actually predict playoff for the Twins in 2015, he thinks May and Meyer will both likely be in the rotation next year, he thinks the Astros will make the playoffs in 2016, and he has the Royals as unknown as to when they'll make the playoffs. Doesn't even guess. It reads as if he believes the Astros have a shot of making the playoffs sooner than the Royals. How anyone can look at the Astros and Royals and say that? The Royals are in the playoff race right now.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      Joe Sheehan also predicted a playoff berth for the Padres this year. Hopefully they can reschedule their parade.

      Whichonly speaks to the uncertainty of the future.
      I agree, it's only one man's opinion. Off the top of my head, I believe it's the 4th like article I've read. I'm glad you had a chance to read it. I'm sure you enjoy reading positive articles about our favorite team as much as I do.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      I agree, it's only one man's opinion. Off the top of my head, I believe it's the 4th like article I've read. I'm glad you had a chance to read it. I'm sure you enjoy reading positive articles about our favorite team as much as I do.
      I do. I also enjoy critical ones. My fan hood doesn't rest upon maintaining a perky cheerleaders mentality or bitter negativity. Sometimes praise is warranted and sometimes harsh criticism is too. A season like this certainly deserves plenty.
    1. jdotmcmahon's Avatar
      jdotmcmahon -
      Really enjoyed this article my dude...well said.
    1. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
      Twins Fan From Afar -
      Quote Originally Posted by jdotmcmahon View Post
      Really enjoyed this article my dude...well said.
      Thank you!
    1. Old Twins Cap's Avatar
      Old Twins Cap -
      Truth is, attendance is where the rubber meets the road. Twins FO can say anything they want in 2011 and 2012, because they are still averaging over 30K fans a game. It's when people start getting layed off, and the numbers go down and down some more -- that's when the FO starts to panic and think hard about their direction. Up till now, it's been lip-service.

      I hope season tickets dry up and Target Field is a ghost-town for the simple reason that the Twins FO has absolutely no reason to change their abysmal product until they have no choice, nothing left to lose. They call that hitting bottom in 12-step groups. Problem is: The Twins are still denying they have a problem. When the fans don't show up, that's when you can't deny it any longer.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      Moderator note -- there is a lot of negativity on this thread, and such negativity relates logically to the original post. Also, everyone has been respectful so far.

      What would be bad would be for someone to come in now and ridicule any of these heartfelt expressions of frustration. That would constitute inflammatory trolling. This post is a warning to those who might be tempted to engage in such a violation of TD policy.

      This thread is interesting and meaningful. Let's keep it on a good path.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      I too live "afar" and get back to MN about once a year.

      I live in an area where there is no Pro-Baseball so I make damn sure to see at least 2 or 3 twins game because I love baseball. Even if the team stinks Target Field is a beautiful place to sit, drink good beer, eat hot dogs and watch the best sport on the planet.

      That being said, I understand the posters point quite well. The lack of accountability, the lack of respect for the fanbase and the lies the Twins told us when they begged for Tax Payer Dollars make the organization look bad.

      I would love if some state rep looking for publicity would call for hearings on the Twins, their lack of investment in the MLB team and subpoena their books and shed some sunlight on how much the Pohlads have pillaged the tax payers of Hen County. Since they took public money to play, they need to accept public scrutiny on their finances
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      Quote Originally Posted by clutterheart View Post
      That being said, I understand the posters point quite well. The lack of accountability, the lack of respect for the fanbase and the lies the Twins told us when they begged for Tax Payer Dollars make the organization look bad.
      I don't think it's a lack of respect for the fan base. I think the front office is still stuck in the old ways of doing business and has become the caracature of the old way portrayed in Moneyball. (I'm not sure how that explains Clete Thomas - the numbers don't like him and any scout that says he looks like a ballplayer needs a new line of work. Maybe he has a hot girlfriend.)

      The lack of accountability is a problem at all levels. This team has been playing like a poorly-coached AAA team for most of the year, and while help is on the way, the pitching help looks like it will fall short of the needs.


      Quote Originally Posted by clutterheart View Post
      I would love if some state rep looking for publicity would call for hearings on the Twins, their lack of investment in the MLB team and subpoena their books and shed some sunlight on how much the Pohlads have pillaged the tax payers of Hen County. Since they took public money to play, they need to accept public scrutiny on their finances
      If that public scrutiny isn't in the deal already (and I'm sure it's not) you're not going to get it added now. There are plenty of other ongoing expenses for the state reps to look at without wasting time "investigating" the Twins. That would just be a photo op that would accomplish nothing.
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      Good write-up TFFA.

      I'd like to see the Twins get aggressive at promoting their own talent - Bring up Mays and Meyer next season, and Sano at some point as well. If your going to trot out a low budget line-up, at least do it with prospects that one can get excited about when they have a good game.

      Pinto, Arcia, Dozier, those guys have been fun to watch because they are on the upswing of their careers.

      I remain optimistic that they will return to relevancy someday.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      I agree, it's only one man's opinion. Off the top of my head, I believe it's the 4th like article I've read. I'm glad you had a chance to read it. I'm sure you enjoy reading positive articles about our favorite team as much as I do.
      Could you link the other 3 articles?
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by DreInWA View Post
      I don't think you are necessarily part of the problem if you are attending games right now, but we all are part of the problem is we continue to believe the narrative that the Twins try to put out there: "That the Morneau trade was to gain young talent, rather than dump salary, that any team can win their division, much less make a deep playoff run with only the assistance of young prospects."

      I was always afraid when we gave Mauer that contract, that the Twins were going to turn into Baltimore with Cal Ripken Jr. and 8 other guys, and sadly in many ways this is occurring. To be clear, it isn't Mauer's fault, it is the fault of the Twins management for not being willing to spend (and in many cases) overpay for established talent. If we completely ignore pitching for a moment (which is ridiculous because the Twins staff is a mess), think about the hitters for the Twins in 2010.


      Now think about the current lineup. This, to me, displays the stark reality we are now facing. Was the lineup in 2010 going to set the world on fire and strike fear into the hearts of the AL East, certainly not, but everyone on this list save for Danny Valencia (who had a breakout debut in 2010), was at least an established big league player, and we could draw reasonable predictions about how they would produce.

      I understand this is what rebuilding looks like, and you don't necessarily need to spend Dodger-money to win games, but at the end of another 90 loss season, it is simply baffling to me that:

      1. The Twins continue to hold the party line that the cavalry is on the way, we just need to keep doing things the same way, and everything is going to be fine. Oh did we mention the 2014 All Star Game?

      2. Fans continue to believe it.

      We are all guilty of it. I for one would be thrilled if the Twins could at least return to being competitive, but this is still part of the problem. The Central is much more competitive than it was when the Twins were dominating it 5 years ago, and the Twins will have to change their strategies with the times. Unfortunately, as the author of this post points out, the level of arrogance still coming out of the organization at this point is frankly, unbelievable.

      The Twins do have talent in their system, and the situation may not be as dire as we make it out to be. Guys like Arcia, Sano, Buxton, Pinto, Hicks and company look like they could do very well at the big league level. However, we can't just throw these guys in the deep end on their own and see if they sink or swim. If we spend the money to put established talent around these guys, we could be a scary team in the coming years.

      Unfortunately, we aren't really hearing that from the organization, nor are we seeing it with their moves (and lack of moves) to this point. I am afraid we will just be a team with a couple of really great players, that is mildly competitive.

      Which, when you think about it, is an apt description of the Twins during the Gardenhire era (not that I am blaming Gardenhire). The teams that are committed to winning don't always win, but they certainly win more often, and the Twins seem like they are only committed to winning enough games to sell tickets at this point.

      I hope they do something in the offseason to disprove this notion.
      Outstanding first post.

      Although, Joe Mauer and his agent had to know that signing that deal would result in bringing on financial consequences down the road for a club just a few years removed from trying to contract itself out of business, just as it did with the Orioles when all they had was Ripken and then the sheen of the new ball park begin to darken. Only in this case, the Twins management panicked more immediately, even before the 2011 debacle. JJ Hardy, with a pending big $$$ number contract for a SS that would have been unheard-of in Twinsland, was cast aside for nothing, from ironically, the Orioles, who had already learned their lesson. And everyone else from that 2010 roster is also gone, save Perkins, with very little to show in return, except, dollars saved, which were used instead to pay off short-term debt and acquire some supplemental picks that at this point, may, or may not, come to fruition. And Alex Meyer (keeping out fingers crossed on his shoulder).
    1. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
      Twins Fan From Afar -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Outstanding first post.
      I'll say. DreInWA should start writing his own pieces.
      Or at least cut-and-paste this one as his first
    1. DreInWA's Avatar
      DreInWA -
      Thanks,

      This started out as a short reply to your excellent post, but got out of hand. I am a writer for puckettspond.com, and I appreciate the feedback. Lately, it has been hard lately to find a lot of positive things (other than Pinto) to write about when it comes to the Twins. There is criticism that is valid, and some that begins to just pile on.

      Basically, I have been watching "Silver Linings Playbook" at least once a day to cope. I am still waiting for the Twins' equivalent of Jennifer Lawrence to swoop in. Regular Jennifer Lawrence would also be OK.

      Thanks again,

      Dre
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Outstanding first post.

      Although, Joe Mauer and his agent had to know that signing that deal would result in bringing on financial consequences down the road for a club just a few years removed from trying to contract itself out of business, just as it did with the Orioles when all they had was Ripken and then the sheen of the new ball park begin to darken. Only in this case, the Twins management panicked more immediately, even before the 2011 debacle. JJ Hardy, with a pending big $$$ number contract for a SS that would have been unheard-of in Twinsland, was cast aside for nothing, from ironically, the Orioles, who had already learned their lesson. And everyone else from that 2010 roster is also gone, save Perkins, with very little to show in return, except, dollars saved, which were used instead to pay off short-term debt and acquire some supplemental picks that at this point, may, or may not, come to fruition. And Alex Meyer (keeping out fingers crossed on his shoulder).
      I believe Mauer figured with the new stadium that the payroll would run around 100M. That should leave plenty of money to build a team around him. On top of that, without signing him, I believe revenue would have taken a good size hit anyway. Point is, his salary isn't stopping them from doing anything. Certainly isn't making them continue to drop payroll.
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