Sunday, November 22, 2009

Phoning It In: The '69 Twins & Billy Martin

One regret I have about not publishing GameDay this last year was that we had a GREAT series of stories lined up about the 1969 Twins team by Will Young. The '69 Twins were coached by Billy Martin and included oddities like Rod Carew steal home seven times and Martin get into a fistfight with a member of his rotation.

Fortunately, Will shared his research on the team with Chris Jaffe, a talented writer for The Hardball Times, who is including it in his book Evaluating Baseball's Managers. You can find an excerpt here which is all about Martin and that '69 team. It's fantastic:

The ultimate Billyball moment came on May 18 when both [Cesar] Tovar and [Rod] Carew stole home plate in the same inning—in the same a- bat. Carew stole his way around the bases in that plate appearance. At the plate during this maniacal base running was Harmon Killebrew. Harmon Killebrew! It boggles the mind: With one of the greatest home run hitters of that or any other generation up Martin wanted his men running wild.

And later....

The man most comparable to Billy Martin was not Herzog, but Hernan Cortes, the Spanish conquistador who defeated the Aztecs. In 1519, he landed in Mexico to face the hemisphere’s mightiest warrior nation with only 600 men. Upon arrival, he burnt his boats, giving his men no way to leave. That move was pure Billy Martin. Safe to say, that in the military science version of sabermetrics a general would be poorly regarded for intentionally destroying his communication lines, supply routes and exit strategy. It was possibly even worse than having two men steal home with Killebrew batting.

Anyway, it's better than anything I'm going to write tonight, so click over and check it out. It's worth it.