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  • An All-Star Showing from the Twins

    As I write this, I'm feeling pretty giddy. I just got done watching Glen Perkins pitch to Kurt Suzuki in the ninth inning of the All-Star Game, closing out a victory for the American League in Derek Jeter's final hurrah.

    Admittedly I don't usually get too worked up about pageantry of the so-called Midsummer Classic, but with my lifelong city being showcased -- and with our site holding an event downtown -- I couldn't help but get drawn in this year.

    Boy, was I impressed.

    With the exception of some sourpusses who actually forced MLB to publicly apologize for having the gall to set off fireworks during an event that takes place here once every three decades, the city of Minneapolis had a good showing under the national spotlight.

    And so too, did the Minnesota Twins.

    The organization doesn't get credit for much these days -- the nature of three straight losing seasons and counting -- but these last few days have been a reminder that they've got some good people in place. Running a baseball club is about a lot more than trades and free agents, and the Twins excel in many of those less-publicized areas. Their world class ballpark, which was universally acclaimed by out-of-towners during the All-Star activities, is a shining example of that.

    There have been some pretty incendiary and harsh things written about the Twins in recent weeks, here and elsewhere -- what with the team in last place, Joe Mauer on the shelf during a miserable season and Ricky Nolasco thus far shaping up as an epic free agent bust.

    It reached a point here where a moderator had to preemptively warn people not to launch into negative tirades in the comments section of last week's post entitled "Happy Notes."

    Believe it or not, people in the front office do pay attention and notice this stuff. It's not lost on them that people are frustrated. They are frustrated too, trust me.

    I'm no evangelist for the group that's currently in place -- in fact, according to Twin Cities Business Magazine's Adam Platt, I'm "one of the team's sharper critics in the blogosphere" (really?) -- yet they've still been pretty nice to me, along with my colleagues at Twins Daily.

    The Twins are ahead of the national curve in terms of granting access to and accommodating independent digital media, recognizing the dedicated and adamant readership. Jack Goin, a prominent member of the baseball operations team and a guy with a voice in Terry Ryan's ear, has shown up at Twins Daily and engaged with readers on multiple occasions, most recently last week.

    They know that the readers here, and at other fan sites, are invested in the product. They do care what you think. I believe that's commendable.

    I'm all about accountability. I have no problem criticizing the team; I've done so plenty this year and you can believe it'll continue if things don't head in a positive direction in these final months.

    But I'm also about balance, and with all the vitriol that sometimes fills the comments section here and elsewhere, it seemed appropriate to dole out some healthy praise for the organization after doing a bang-up job hosting baseball's signature summer event.

    From the strong showings of three top Twins prospects in the Futures Game, to the majestic rainbow that made for an unbelievable view during Monday night's Home Run Derby, to Perkins and Suzuki closing out one of the chillier All-Star Games in memory (of course), the three-day gala could have hardly gone better if it were scripted.

    And although the game on Tuesday night was almost meaningless, it was pretty cool to see Target Field packed with riveted fans as Perk pulled off the flawless finish. When talking to FOX's Ken Rosenthal after the game, he compared it to a playoff atmosphere.

    Unfortunately, since his rise has coincided almost exactly with the team's fall, Perkins hasn't had a chance to pitch in a playoff game at Target Field. But with the team showing unprecedented aggressiveness on the market, and with the heralded wave of prospects finally reaching the high levels of the minors, perhaps that day isn't too far off.

    I just hope that, when Perkins slams the door shut on his first postseason game, folks around downtown don't complain about the celebratory fireworks.
    Comments 24 Comments
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      The Twins have a long way to go to become competitive. There are plenty of reasons to be negative. On the other hand, there are also some reasons for hope, and in the meantime we are all in this together.
    1. curt1965's Avatar
      curt1965 -
      Great article, Nick. I am a relatively new participant in TD, and it was particularly interesting to me to read accounts of how your group started, your goals, and how the 5 of you interact. I see nothing but good coming to the TD group.
    1. DarrenVahtra's Avatar
      DarrenVahtra -
      Scott diamond is gone. I think thats a huge positive for this season.
    1. FlsPrpht's Avatar
      FlsPrpht -
      The Twins were right to issue that apology. That show was completely out of line with city ordinances.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      There have been some pretty incendiary and harsh things written about the Twins in recent weeks, here and elsewhere -- what with the team in last place, Joe Mauer on the shelf during a miserable season and Ricky Nolasco thus far shaping up as an epic free agent bust.
      Ive been in the NE area for the past 2 months. One listen to the local sports talk radio tells me Twins fans don't understand what "incendiary and harsh" means.
    1. ChiTownTwinsFan's Avatar
      ChiTownTwinsFan -
      Great write up, Nick. I'm not one who usually watches much of the game, but I did last night. Having Perk and Suzuki to come in and finish it off for the win was as good as it gets.
    1. Longdistancetwins's Avatar
      Longdistancetwins -
      Quote Originally Posted by ChiTownTwinsFan View Post
      Great write up, Nick. I'm not one who usually watches much of the game, but I did last night. Having Perk and Suzuki to come in and finish it off for the win was as good as it gets.
      Really, hats off to John Farrell. Let's face it, neither Perk nor Suzuki are superstars, and the fact that he planned that final battery was really moving to me. He also announced it during a game interview, so I knew I actually had to stay up for the whole game! (I'm on Eastern time, if that's an excuse). I'll always think well of Farrell.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by FlsPrpht View Post
      The Twins were right to issue that apology. That show was completely out of line with city ordinances.
      Except the city's lifeblood depends on Target Field, which results in drawing mega-events like this- the city coffers make Million$. I'm sure a variance to the city ordinances was drawn up in the contract with MLB and the Twins. This was on the City of Minneapolis in not getting a heads-up out to all its citizens.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      It looks like it was a great week.

      When TF was set to open, the Twins appeared to focus intensely on the "fan experience" and making TF a destination -- the ASG festivities seem to be a culmination of that.

      But in doing so, it also appeared that they lost focus on what, to baseball fans, is more important -- the product on the field.

      All the marketing in the world can't succeed if the product is a bust (at least for long). I understand your appreciation for the "bells and whistles" but they don't mean much to me. I just hope tha the BASEBALL management of the Twins returns them to respectability soon.
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      Quote Originally Posted by jb_iowa View Post
      it looks like it was a great week.

      When tf was set to open, the twins appeared to focus intensely on the "fan experience" and making tf a destination -- the asg festivities seem to be a culmination of that.

      but in doing so, it also appeared that they lost focus on what, to baseball fans, is more important -- the product on the field.

      All the marketing in the world can't succeed if the product is a bust (at least for long). I understand your appreciation for the "bells and whistles" but they don't mean much to me. I just hope that the baseball management of the twins returns them to respectability soon.
      hear! Hear!
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by clutterheart View Post
      Ive been in the NE area for the past 2 months. One listen to the local sports talk radio tells me Twins fans don't understand what "incendiary and harsh" means.
      No kidding, the Twins get off easy compared to East Coast teams. Phil Hughes would die from hysterical laughing if Joe Mauer ever complained about his recent negative media attention.

      Of course negative attention is better than no attention as the saying goes. If they were in California, any exploits would be met with a shrug of the shoulders and a change of conversation to celebrity fashion or legalizing all drugs, depending on if you're in the southern or northern part of the state.
    1. Menth12's Avatar
      Menth12 -
      Great article! Completely agree with your thoughts, sometimes it feels like we, as fans, lose focus about how great an organization we have here!
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
      It looks like it was a great week.

      When TF was set to open, the Twins appeared to focus intensely on the "fan experience" and making TF a destination -- the ASG festivities seem to be a culmination of that.

      But in doing so, it also appeared that they lost focus on what, to baseball fans, is more important -- the product on the field.

      All the marketing in the world can't succeed if the product is a bust (at least for long). I understand your appreciation for the "bells and whistles" but they don't mean much to me. I just hope tha the BASEBALL management of the Twins returns them to respectability soon.
      The yin and yang for the small market teams has to be the Twins "yin" to the Rays "yang".

      The Rays have generally been very, very good since 2008, (arguably) the best field manager, GM, talent developmental staff and scouting system in terms of return on investment in working from a very small revenue base and payroll. Around half their home games they get to host the behemoth draws in their AL East foes, the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles and Jays as well as in-state rival Marlins. Yet the Tampa Bay marketing department seemingly can't even give away their compelling on-field product, apparently the "experience" in their poorly situated plastic dome and lack of imagination in selling the Rays outweighs the positive results on the field- and in a demographic area where the majority of the people have all kinds of free time and disposable retirement income to spend.

      The Twins marketing group are geniuses by comparison- they put one of their marketing guys, of all people, into the GM chair- and why not?- he helped get 3 million people to watch indoor baseball in an ugly, outmoded park built for football. Then they sold a dream to governmental bodies and the taxpayers to build them their very own outdoor Field of Dreams. Too much time and effort spent on selling the dream, not enough on the light-of-day reality.
    1. Lakeside's Avatar
      Lakeside -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      The yin and yang for the small market teams has to be the Twins "yin" to the Rays "yang".

      The Rays have generally been very, very good since 2008, (arguably) the best field manager, GM, talent developmental staff and scouting system in terms of return on investment in working from a very small revenue base and payroll. Around half their home games they get to host the behemoth draws in their AL East foes, the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles and Jays as well as in-state rival Marlins. Yet the Tampa Bay marketing department seemingly can't even give away their compelling on-field product, apparently the "experience" in their poorly situated plastic dome and lack of imagination in selling the Rays outweighs the positive results on the field- and in a demographic area where the majority of the people have all kinds of free time and disposable retirement income to spend.

      The Twins marketing group are geniuses by comparison- they put one of their marketing guys, of all people, into the GM chair- and why not?- he helped get 3 million people to watch indoor baseball in an ugly, outmoded park built for football. Then they sold a dream to governmental bodies and the taxpayers to build them their very own outdoor Field of Dreams. Too much time and effort spent on selling the dream, not enough on the light-of-day reality.
      Agreed, but don't forget the Twins have an over 50 year tie with Minnesota and the Upper Midwest in branding, history, etc. That leads to tons of loyalty. Tampa Bay is about half of that and many Tampa people are transplants with other team loyalties.

      I think, in general, one of professional sports big challenges is to get the young people to be fans. . . just the fact that they have so much to do begs the question, "Will they continue to spend on pro sports as the generation before them has?"
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      Quote Originally Posted by clutterheart View Post
      Ive been in the NE area for the past 2 months. One listen to the local sports talk radio tells me Twins fans don't understand what "incendiary and harsh" means.
      Yet, so many posters on here appear to be jealous of East
      coast fans as if incendiary and harsh is something to aspire to. Ok, so Yankee fans would boo Mauer and criticize him more on talk shows. To some fans here it means they hold him more accountable as if that will make him try harder or perform better. I haven't liked some of the moves that Twins have made in the last 6 years but I look at the long term and I like to build from within. 2011 could be excused because of all the injuries but it also revealed a rot in the minor league system and to me 2012 was the low point. Everything this year except the injuries to Buxton and Sano point to a brighter future. The current crop of prospects are exciting but if they fail I will look forward to the next batch. We had a great 9 year run just a short time ago. A few years down can be digested if it results in another good run.
    1. blindeke's Avatar
      blindeke -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Except the city's lifeblood depends on Target Field, which results in drawing mega-events like this.
      Minneapolis is waaaay bigger than Target Field. The Warehouse District was thriving before it was built, and the majority of the city's economy and the hundreds of thousands of people of live here could care less about the Twins.
    1. zenser's Avatar
      zenser -
      Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
      It looks like it was a great week.

      When TF was set to open, the Twins appeared to focus intensely on the "fan experience" and making TF a destination -- the ASG festivities seem to be a culmination of that.

      But in doing so, it also appeared that they lost focus on what, to baseball fans, is more important -- the product on the field.

      All the marketing in the world can't succeed if the product is a bust (at least for long). I understand your appreciation for the "bells and whistles" but they don't mean much to me. I just hope tha the BASEBALL management of the Twins returns them to respectability soon.
      I wonder how soon the youth movement will take place now. I would assume that the season ticket sales will be down next year since they pushed the ASG hard. They need something to keep ticket sales up.
    1. nathanaakre's Avatar
      nathanaakre -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dantes929 View Post
      To some fans here it means they hold him more accountable as if that will make him try harder or perform better.
      Nailed it.
    1. jaimedude2's Avatar
      jaimedude2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
      It looks like it was a great week.

      When TF was set to open, the Twins appeared to focus intensely on the "fan experience" and making TF a destination -- the ASG festivities seem to be a culmination of that.

      But in doing so, it also appeared that they lost focus on what, to baseball fans, is more important -- the product on the field.

      All the marketing in the world can't succeed if the product is a bust (at least for long). I understand your appreciation for the "bells and whistles" but they don't mean much to me. I just hope tha the BASEBALL management of the Twins returns them to respectability soon.
      Target Field is a nice place to watch a ball game. That said I would take the drama of the 2008 play in game watchng on TV or the 2009 play in game against the Tigers in the crappy Metrodome and a competitive team over any hot dog or great craft beer in a heart beat.

      The Twins are World Class levels at selling stuff inside the stadium and concessions, now they need to start putting on a more than competitive baseball team that contends for the playoffs. That is after all what most of hte fans pay for the tickets for. Go to any recent game and what do you see people standing around by the bars and looking at stuff and socializing. Some people will always go to games to be seen and to have fun in a crowd, that said the heart of the crowd is there to watch baseball games.

      Twins built up some loyalty and pride the last decade even if they did not advance much in the playoffs, they have been trading on that loyalty from the ticket buyer for four straight years now with a lot of lousy baseball. I think everyone knows that it is about time the ownership, Front office, coaches, and players everyone involved in the baseball operation start stepping it up.
      Find a way to start scoring one more run or give up one less run everygame that is a start, if you look at all of the one run losses this year, that is the difference from being a winning team and a last place team right now.
      A good start would be to bring in one of those young guns or a fireballer for the rotation, instead of the "next guy in line" retread minor leaguer types.
      Santanna coming back will help and they need to get healthy, but they have to find way to squeeze more out of the starting staff if they are going to get back to respectability. It all starts with the starting pitching.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by blindeke View Post
      Minneapolis is waaaay bigger than Target Field. The Warehouse District was thriving before it was built, and the majority of the city's economy and the hundreds of thousands of people of live here could care less about the Twins.
      I'm not sure about any of your conclusions. The city went all out to get the park, and then to get it built where it was, there can be no doubt that it was acquired for the millions of fan and tourist dollars beyond the thousands of Minneapolitans (maybe that's why they oppose having to pay for it) and the prestige it brought to downtown, especially to build up the Warehouse District. If it wasn't such a big deal, why is it at the nexus of the entire metro public rapid transportation system- which will end up being a multi-multi billion dollar enterprise when it ends up with 6 rail lines?
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