• 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. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      2013 is the first year I have not been to a game, and I live 15 minutes from TF.....I refuse to give the Pohlad's more money for the pile. Others disagree, but I have better ways to spend my time and money than to watch AAA and AAAA players at MLB prices.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Rebuilding is indeed a terrible thing. I'll go to my usual 15-20 games this year, because I've never found anything better than going to a MLB game. Gophers come close second.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      The most important sentence in the entirety of this post to me, is the last one:

      "I'm unwilling to pay to watch the Twins waste the rest of Joe Mauer's prime years."

      They've utterly and completely wasted the career of arguably their best player ever because they are unwilling to spend the money required in today's game/market to put a competitive team on the field. Sure, they had a $110+ MIL payroll a few years ago, but that team imploded into a terrible product, at which point they should have began the turnaround they are just putting into motion now. So now they're 2+ years behind in the process than where they should be, and still that much farther away from putting the team Mauer deserves on the field as he ages.

      Yes, it's great that TR can say so-and-so "is overpaid" or "we can't invest that many years." But the fact remains that this is what the market for those players is dictating, and you have to take a chance like that at some point in order to get a guy that is going to make a difference.

      The hope is that they will have a great lineup at some point in the next 2 years with guys like Arcia, Sano, Rosario, and Buxton joining the fold, but if they're counting on that to turn everything around, they, and we as fans, are going to end up supremely disappointed.
    1. Blackjack's Avatar
      Blackjack -
      Last Friday I went to listen to the Twins on the radio and both stations where I can normally catch the Twins were broadcasting high school football games - and I didn't really care. Thank you Pohlads on two counts, broadcasting on a network thats unreliable and putting a product on the field that is very uninspiring.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      (but for my self-help blog, go here)

      lol
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      Monday was the ultimate cheap ticket game to go to. They started it at 6 p.m. The stands were nearly empty (only 9 folks in section 312 where I started the game). Many folks had failed to put the revised rainout tickets on StubHub (only like 1400 tickets were still on sale at game time). It looked pretty dismal at gamestart time, and the concessionaires seemed to be pretty meek. Not sure how many wandering vendors they had, as there were absolutely no lines on dollar dog night. Food was being prepared as ordered. It was hard to find a stand on the upper level after the 7th inning, and most people from that area had moved elsewhere. The outfield bleachers were pretty much empty all game (starting off in the 90+ degree sun and humidity).

      The earlier start-time contributed to the vacant seats. The reschuedled rainout did too. The crowd picked up a bit when 7 p.m. rolled around.

      But, yes, they sell a guaranteed 22,000 per game no matter what. But this was the first example where NO ONE had to but tickets for any of the Twins controlled sections. They were available via StubHub or on-the-street for a song.

      Where it hurts is the concessions. Where it hurts is parking (not that the Twins control) but $5 spaces were available a lot closer than they were when we last went to a Twins game, cutting down our walk time in half.

      We all cheered Josmil Pinto, which is what September should be about for a losing team. You get behind certain players and run with them. The only other to get the fans going on a two strike count was Glen Perkins, otherwise a pretty quiet crowd throughout, with some wanting to leave when the Twins fell to 3-1 and Weaver had thrown 59 pitches in the same amount of time Hernandez had thrown 100.

      I can't get excited about the All-Star game with a pricetag in the area of $400 for the event ticket package.

      It is truly going to be something to see the Twins season ticket push for 2014, what happens with Twinfest, and maybe the selling point will be the new plaza out back, not the extended parking lot that I thought was going to be the Plaza inking the Twins to Washington Avenue, which is also bordered by lots of empty retail spaces, which kind of defeats the purpose of surrounding a stadium with real estate.

      The radio stations are a good point, too. How many stations will pony up the Twins fee next season. What are television ratings for the team. How much advertising revenue are they losing.
    1. Bark's Lounge's Avatar
      Bark's Lounge -
      Nice article TFFA. I feel your pain brother.
    1. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
      Twins Fan From Afar -
      Thanks for the comments.
      Another (kind of) related question: What if the team wasn't hosting next year's All-Star Game?
      Would their offseason moves be different, would they feel more pressure to put a winner on the field in 2014?
    1. zenser's Avatar
      zenser -
      I feel your pain too. I bought a share of season tickets from a guy who spends I would guess in the range of 1 million on season tickets. He turns around and sells shares to his friends and associates. We were just asked if we wanted to sign on for next year. For me, it is tough to get motivated for next year. The All-Star game isn't that big of a sell for me. It would be fun to go to but it is kind of meaningless to me.

      We live 4.5 hours away so when we go to a game we try to hit a weekend and get 2-3 games in. That is our family vacation and it is tough to convince the family to sit through something that is getting very hard to sit through.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by Steve Lein View Post
      The most important sentence in the entirety of this post to me, is the last one:

      "I'm unwilling to pay to watch the Twins waste the rest of Joe Mauer's prime years."

      They've utterly and completely wasted the career of arguably their best player ever because they are unwilling to spend the money required in today's game/market to put a competitive team on the field. Sure, they had a $110+ MIL payroll a few years ago, but that team imploded into a terrible product, at which point they should have began the turnaround they are just putting into motion now. So now they're 2+ years behind in the process than where they should be, and still that much farther away from putting the team Mauer deserves on the field as he ages.

      Yes, it's great that TR can say so-and-so "is overpaid" or "we can't invest that many years." But the fact remains that this is what the market for those players is dictating, and you have to take a chance like that at some point in order to get a guy that is going to make a difference.

      The hope is that they will have a great lineup at some point in the next 2 years with guys like Arcia, Sano, Rosario, and Buxton joining the fold, but if they're counting on that to turn everything around, they, and we as fans, are going to end up supremely disappointed.
      Joe Sheehan of SI wrote an article saying we will be the next Pirates. The parade starts on 2015.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      In 2015 i'll go to a game. But for now I skipped the Twins when they came to Texas to play the Rangers after they traded Morneau. It just didnt seem like now is the time to go to a Twins game. Better to wait till they decide its time to play better baseball.
    1. IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
      IdahoPilgrim -
      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.
      You mean, it'll be 20 years before we have a winning season?

      Sorry, couldn't resist.
    1. scottsilvi's Avatar
      scottsilvi -
      Yeah I had season tickets for the last few years in the dome, and the first in Target field, despite living in Portland, OR. I did it to get opening day @ TF. Thousands of dollars for 1 game. Now I live nearly in sight of TF, and I have gone to 2 games this year. One with my wife, for our first Twins game @ TF, and the other Albers first start at TF. Probably only catch 1 or 2 if any of the kids come up next year.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by IdahoPilgrim View Post
      You mean, it'll be 20 years before we have a winning season?

      Sorry, couldn't resist.
      Don't exaggerate I think it was only 18. I really never liked the senior circuit but I can't help following Morneau. Based on very flimsy information, it looks like Pittsburgh is a well run organization.
    1. IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
      IdahoPilgrim -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      Don't exaggerate I think it was only 18. I really never liked the senior circuit but I can't help following Morneau. Based on very flimsy information, it looks like Pittsburgh is a well run organization.
      I've never been a National League fan either, although I've had to learn to follow it now that I live in a National League TV market. My "other" home team is Colorado - it's been fun watching Cuddyer, but other than that it's been a lackluster season for them too.
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      I have always been a Twins fan from afar, except 1965, when my parents moved from MN to CT just before the Twins' first World Series and not long before my first birthday. I guess I didn't really become a fan until I was six or seven, when the good years were either safely in the rear view mirror or well beyond the horizon.

      Growing up surrounded by Red Sox and Yankees fans during that time period made me pretty resilliant. The long stretch of success the Twins had through 2010 always seemed like an abberation, and it will take more than a few losing years to turn me away. (Maybe I'm part of he problem.) I didn't make it to a game the past two years, but that had more to do with the work and family schedule than with the W-L record. I really wanted to go to the recent series in Texas (now the closest team for me), but we had company coming in to town.

      The only thing that frustrates me is I feel like I could make better personnel decisions just with the limited information I get. I don't like the losing, and I suppose it would be a lot harder to sit through 40-80 games a year if I has season tickets, but I'm still fairly optimistic about 2015, and even 2014.
    1. IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
      IdahoPilgrim -
      Quote Originally Posted by gil4 View Post
      Growing up surrounded by Red Sox and Yankees fans during that time period made me pretty resilliant. The long stretch of success the Twins had through 2010 always seemed like an abberation, and it will take more than a few losing years to turn me away. (Maybe I'm part of he problem.) I didn't make it to a game the past two years, but that had more to do with the work and family schedule than with the W-L record. I really wanted to go to the recent series in Texas (now the closest team for me), but we had company coming in to town.
      Don't let anybody ever make you feel that way. There's nothing wrong with loyalty, even when they're losing.
    1. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
      Twins Fan From Afar -
      Quote Originally Posted by IdahoPilgrim View Post
      Don't let anybody ever make you feel that way. There's nothing wrong with loyalty, even when they're losing.
      For sure. There's nothing wrong with loyalty. I'll be a Twins fan until I die. But right now, the way I'm "expressing" my fandom is by complaining (from time to time) about the frustrating state of affairs, and by turning my attention to the farm system.
    1. IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
      IdahoPilgrim -
      Quote Originally Posted by Twins Fan From Afar View Post
      For sure. There's nothing wrong with loyalty. I'll be a Twins fan until I die. But right now, the way I'm "expressing" my fandom is by complaining (from time to time) about the frustrating state of affairs, and by turning my attention to the farm system.
      And I'm not saying that is wrong either. But there have been some who have suggested in other threads that those who choose to continue to go to games and buy tickets are an indirect part of the problem. I strongly disagree.

      Let's all be fans in the way our individual personalities lead us to be fans. For some that is continuing to go to games and buy tickets. For some that is turning our attention to the minors. For some that is boycotting as a form of financial pressure. I'm not going to argue that any of these are right or wrong. But let's not label any of them as "part of the problem."
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Correct, there is no right or wrong way to be a fan. Give them your money, don't give them your money, it is your money.
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