Twins Fans: Who Are the "99 Percent?"
by, 07-16-2012 at 08:41 AM (885 Views)
my Twitter account (where I tweet almost exclusively about the Twins and Rock Cats)? Do you subscribe to my blog and read or peruse most every post? Or are you reading this at TwinsDaily.com, where I double-post a lot of my articles just to reach a different, more diverse fan base? Regardless of how you got here, you're not normal. You probably know the geographic location of at least one of the Twins minor league affiliates. Maybe you even recognize names like Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton. I bet you can match some of the Twins' retired numbers with the correct player names. And you probably watch enough Twins baseball on FSN that you tire of Dick & Bert, and occasionally mute the TV, turn on AM 1500, and follow along that way.
The purpose of this post is to tell you that, if some of these above-referenced descriptions apply to you, you are not a normal Twins fan. In fact, you might be in the "exclusive" 1 percent of Twins fans. I love discussing Twins baseball, reading about it online, and writing about it. If I could go back and re-do life, I'd probably try to be a sports writer. And many of the people -- Twins fans -- that I come into contact with on the internet (or even the die-hard season ticket holders at Rock Cats games) are the same way. A lot of us, myself included, are quick to react to trades, contract extensions, and personnel moves, and we closely track the development of top prospects. Some of the most dedicated do our own research and come up with suggested trades of our own. It's a fun game, really. And being a Twins fan to this extent is a great hobby.
I think, though, that it's important to step back and think about the who the Twins do business for: the masses, the other 99 percent. The 99 percent go to maybe 1 or 2 Twins games a year, and to them Target Field might very well still have a newness factor that, on its own, is enough to get them out to the ballpark. The TV or radio broadcasts are often background, or ancillary, to other activities are going on in the house. The 99 percent often tune in for bits and pieces of the game before bedtime. They'll read some of the Star Tribune or Pioneer Press coverage, but certainly not everything that is written about the Twins. Sure, they love a winner, but a bad Twins season doesn't keep them awake at night (in fact, they probably go to those same 1-2 games a year even if the team stinks). It might not cross their minds that the Twins, after 2 awful seasons, might make a managerial change. These people are the 99 percent.
There's nothing at all wrong with the 99 percent of Twins fans, and this post isn't intended to disparage them in any way. I'm just suggesting that certain moves that bloggers and serious fans might advocate (just say, for example, replacing Ron Gardenhire after this season) likely are viewed through at least 2 different lenses by the Twins' front office: the winning-on-the-field lense, and the business-PR lens. We hope that the winning-on-the-field perspective trumps the PR perspective, but the Twins, as a profit-making entity, are bound to consider every move they make in terms of how it affects the financial bottom line. With the overwhelming majority of Twins fans likely self-describing as "casual," it's clear that we -- those reading this post -- are a vocal minority.
As we think about the Twins at the trading deadline this year, I'm reminded of the Twins' failure to move players such as Michael Cuddyer, Joe Nathan and Jason Kubel last season. Perhaps last season is the perfect example of the dichotomy between the baseball side, and the business side, of Twins baseball. It certainly would have made baseball sense to deal at least one of two of those players, but the Twins were still drawing well at Target Field, despite an awful record. Was there a fear in the organization that having a fire sale would substantially dwindle attendance and hamper 2012 season ticket sales? Perhaps. In the end, of course, the team failed to trade any of these players, and lost all via free agency. So what made sense to me -- dealing Cuddyer for whatever you could get for him since he was aging, expensive and shouldn't have been re-signed -- might not have been as clear-cut a decision for the organization. Still, though, when it comes down to it, you would like the organization to make moves designed to help the team win games, not just fill the ballpark. And that's where the Twins scare me a little bit.