Welcome back, Geek fans! John’s had a week to soak in the Disneyfied goodness of Orlando with his brood, and the rest of us… well, the rest of us have had yet another seven days to contemplate what it is like to suddenly find ourselves the devoted fans of a mediocre baseball team. Not a bad team, you understand, and certainly not a good one. The 2006 Twins are just kind of… there. They win some, they lose some, they thrill on occasion, and frustrate more often than not.
This is an unfamiliar position for Twins fans, since over the past couple of decades, our club has tended to be either horrific or playoff-worthy, and has spent little time wallowing in the marsh of in-between. It’s easy to know how to react to a horrendous team, and rooting for one over a long period of time can even be cathartic. (Right, Cubs fans?) But following a team loaded down with talent that still always manages to be three or four moves from serious contention is hard work.
And baseball isn’t supposed to be hard work. It’s supposed to be fun. It’s fun to root for winners, and it’s even fun to be a part of a large group of people dedicated to rooting for a hopeless franchise. But rooting for mediocrity? That’s the definition of drudgery, and if you don’t believe me, go ask an Orioles fan. Or a Blue Jays fan. Or a Dodgers fan, or a Rangers fan, or (until quite recently) a White Sox fan.
Still, if there’s a bright side to this already-lost season, it’s that the hot stove never quits jumping. Since the Twins have zero chance of elevating themselves to a division title or wild card this year, we can just start all the offseason speculation right this very minute…
- Apparently, we’re still talking about moving Joe Mauer to third base. Which makes perfect sense, because after all, his 2006 campaign has been a complete disappointment, and we really all need to pitch in and find a way to lift him out of this horrible rut he’s been in. (For those readers already firing off protest comments – yes, Intern Sam realizes that Reusse’s column is technically about not moving Mauer to third. This is an old writers’ trick. If you can’t justify bringing up a controversial move, bring it up by writing about how everyone’s denying it. One actually wonders whether Reusse has been deluged lately with mail from semi-retarded Twins fans terrified that Super Joe is on the verge of another crippling injury. Because if he hasn’t been, there’s really no reason for this column to have been written.)
- In what may (or may not) be the first public sign of a fraying of the relationship between Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire, the former overruled the latter’s request as to who should replace Scott Baker on the major league roster this week, even though Gardenhire had already told the press that Shawn Wooten would be getting the call. Gardenhire has been griping for weeks about not having a third catcher, because he claims to be terrified of what would happen if he were to DH Mauer, and then have Mike Redmond suffer an injury behind the plate.
(What would happen, of course, is that Mauer would move to catcher, and the Twins would be forced to allow the pitchers to bat for the remainder of that one game. Somehow, this doesn’t seem an apocalyptic enough scenario as to demand the addition of a sub-replacement-level utility man batting .218 with 4 HR and 17 RBI in the minors.) Ignoring Gardy’s pleas, Ryan instead promoted Terry Tiffee. Again. Because clearly, there wasn’t anyone else at Rochester whose performance was crying out for promotion to the big club…
- Anyway, the whole Wooten debacle apparently sent Gardy right round the bend, the result of which may well be: Justin Morneau, catcher. Yes, the big Canuck was originally drafted as a catcher, but seriously, we are talking about the most mentally and physically taxing position on the diamond here, and when managers start thinking that just anyone can throw on some extra padding and hit the squats, well… that’s when stuff like this happens.
- The Twins blogosphere is always quick to blame Gardenhire for the team’s shortcomings, and to be fair, the cuddly old fella does frequently seem to be managing with The Force rather than his head. But the cries to dump Gardy have gotten exponentially louder in recent weeks, and last Thursday, Aaron decided it was time to start laying out the official indictment.
- In yet another feel-good story involving the Grand Dark Imperial Ruler Of The Pasttime, Bud Selig, contraction is now apparently off the table for 2007! (fourth item in the column) By a shocking coincidence, the announcement comes mere days after the Twins and Royals got new ballparks (or, in the case of Kansas City, major renovations to an existing park) approved. See how everything just works out when you do as you’re told? A copy of the story was immediately sent from Selig’s office to the mayor of Miami, along with a friendly handwritten note and a Polaroid of a large string of gutted fish.
- In happier news, someone is apparently stalking Bob Uecker. Sadly, it does not appear that Mr. Belvedere is even peripherally involved.