Twins 2016: Will it get any worse?

When, a few years ago, the English national rugby team went through a lean period it was said that “the situation was serious but not disastrous” and when the Irish team went through a similar period of disappointment “the situation was disastrous but not serious.” There are only two ways for the Irish to deal with such problems: give it the full “sack all the players, coaches, management and staff – including the bus-driver” treatment, or go down, as we often do in times of distress, the path of satire, sarcasm, tongue- in- check statements, and dark humour. When this writer was thinking about the Twins 2016 season he went for the latter of the two Irish philosophies thus giving due diligence to the quality of the players and staff of the Twins and urging all Twins supporters not to worry too much, as there are only three real areas in the Twins game that require attention: batting, pitching and fielding. This article’s main purpose to to provide a humerous, satirical and sarcastic look back at last season’s Twins performance.

The Minnesota Twins performances in the 2016 season suggested that while they might be able to give a half-decent game to the Boy Scouts of America, anything stronger in the way of opposition would wipe the floor with them. That esteemed group, the Boy Scouts of America, would surly approach the game with confidence. It was not easy being a Twins fan last season; visiting a dentist with innate sadistic tendencies offered more pleasurable experiences than frequenting Target Field. During one of the final games of the season, and such was the disappointment in the stands; the fans started to sing “take us out of the ball Game.” Then again, why should it be the fans alone sharing the misery? During the last military appreciation day members of the U.S armed forces could be observed shaking hands with employees in the ticket offices and saying “thank you for your commitment.”

Whilst Minneapolis is twinned with St. Paul, it’s disconcerting to find out that the Twins are in partnership with the Samaritans. A pre-game and post-game pint in Kieran’s Irish Pub usually involves a meeting of a Twins support group. You know the one? “Hello my name is Rick and I’m a Twins supporter” followed by a collective “hello Rick” and then progresses to the obligatory group hug. Fellow patrons in the pub, not necessarily fans of baseball, look on in bewilderment at these lost souls. Twins fans confine themselves to wondering the cities like nomads, in a constant state of hopefulness. How do we fix it? Should we start with the batting?

Occasionally, hitting a ball with a lump of wood seems easy and when correctly achieved should reward us with a certain level of success. That small tiny detail in the process would appear to be beyond the Twins capabilities. One of the most often repeated phases heard during broadcasts featuring the Twins is “a swing and a miss.” The Twins batting line-up believes that repeated often enough, it will gain the unenviable status of admittance into the Oxford English Dictionary and thereby achieve certain notoriety. The general approach seems to be similar to the captain on the Titanic yelling out to the crew “no worries lads, its’ just a lump of ice.” It’s also been touted that Robert Redford will reappraise his role has the character Roy Hobbs from the movie The Natural and bring his famous bat “wonder boy” to Target field; however, a source was allegedly quoted as saying “it’s not wonder boy this team needs, it’s wonder woman.”

The players tasked with throwing the ball in the general direction of a batter seem to approach the pitching mound (or we could give it the unofficial title, “the mound of trepidation”) with a look akin to mortal terror. People on the receiving end of firing squads have a more optimistic look in their eyes. Fast balls seem to arrive with the same speed as a tax rebate check. The curve ball looks wonderful; however, it doesn’t appear to curve. The change-up doesn’t seem to change and the slider would appear to slide in to oblivion. There are many great sights and sounds during baseball games in the summer months: the pitchers wind up, the ball screaming past the batter, a quizzical, and often surprised, expression on the batter’s face, the “thunk” when the ball hits the catcher’s glove and the umpire gloriously yelling STRIIIIKE in a loud and commanding voice. All these are tremendous sights and sounds and they thrill baseball fans all over the country. Unfortunately, with the exception of the batter, there are no Twins involved in the above scenario. Even people working in the stadium are under coaching scrutiny. The peanut seller in section 120 has ceased throwing peanuts lest his accuracy lands him a call to the bull-pen.

During spring training all the fielders received new gloves from a local sports store; however, all was lost when the supplier committed the cardinal sin of failing to insert the instructions in the box. The fielding positions for next year have already been filled by new recruits and while we should not denigrate the current incumbents, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Captain America and rest of the Avengers team will add much needed mobility in the outfield. During one of the final home games of the season, a fielder was chasing down a ball in the outfield; a well-known and vocal season ticket holder, with a reputation for having a preponderance of acerbic witticisms in his armory, thought progress was a wee bit slow. The spectator’s reputation for quick witted comments is well known around town and the crowd waited with anticipation and, it must be said, with baited breath. They were not disappointed when the fan bellowed in the general direction of the fielder “get a move on, it looks like you’re towing a grand piano.”

What is it people say about pictures, paintings and a thousand words?

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We hope that you enjoyed this tongue-in-cheek article. It was meant to bring a smile to even the staunchest of Twins fans and not to be taken seriously. If a member of the Twins staff reads this, no offence was intended and we hope none taken.

On a serious note, nobody in the Twins organization will be more disappointed in 2016 season than the players and coaching staff. No team boasting such quality players as Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier and others becomes indifferent and mediocre overnight. There is nothing basically wrong with the squad that a run of consistent performances and a wee bit of luck would not fix. Paul Molitor and his coaching team will be aware that work needs to be done; however, the players and coaches can look towards next season with a great sense of optimism.

During the 2000-01 NBA season the New Jersey Nets suffered a thoroughly abject and dismal year. The team finished the season with a record of 26-56 and came 12th in the Eastern conference. The following year seemed to promise more of the same and players, coaches and staff members were casting nervous glances over their shoulders. They entered the following season with, relatively speaking, the same squad of players. An inspirational trade came when the team added Jason Kidd to the roster and a potential change in fortune loomed on the horizon. Young players blossomed and learned from the previous season’s disappointment. The following season the team improved by 26 wins to end 52-30. Such was the improvement that the team made the NBA finals in 2001-02—where they lost to the excellent Los Angeles Lakers. The Nets grew in confidence, and possibly had a wee bit of luck along the way, and team spirit was high. These are often the imponderables that happen in sport.

This writer, in a past life, was a highly successful rugby coach and is well aware that sports can throw up both good and bad seasons in equal measure, and can invariably involve the same players. Confidence is a huge word within any sporting organization and when confidence is low and the world seems to be against you; the uphill periods can appear even more daunting.

After losing 103 games to finish with the worst record in the Majors in 2016, the Twins are looking to build a better foundation in 2017.With a young core already in place and several veterans still on the roster; the upcoming spring training program has a more optimistic look about it. The Twins cannot claim to have rebuilt a team from the embers of last year’s debacle; however, it cannot be any worse. Experienced people within the organization will be fully aware how difficult it can be to turn around a losing 103 games season. Ticking all the right boxes will be easier said than done. Posting the worst record in the Major League Baseball last year may prove a tremendous motivating factor at the club and this writer will stick his neck out and say that the Twins will surprise a few people this year. We can look towards a very good 2017 season.

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