Twins Talk, Sept 1 01 Sep 16

TWINS TALK

Story and Photos by Gordy Jones

A Few Fans Hang on, as the Twins’ Struggles Continue

 It’s hard to be a Twins fan during these dog days of summer, especially since the team has climbed back into that hole they were in when the season began. It’s no longer just bad luck; it’s a series of blunders and bloopers during games that sometimes actually look comical. The Little League playoffs have had better, purer baseball lately. At a bar recently, fans opted to have the bartender change the TV to the Little League, rather than watch the last few innings of another Twins disaster.  However, the Twins are lucky that they have such a large core of diehard fans who are willing to sink with the ship. Somebody has to buy shirts and caps, and hopefully renew their season tickets.

As I roamed the State Fair the other day, I was surprised how many Twins shirts and caps that I saw in the crowd, especially with the Vikings’ season right around the corner. I went to an event at U.S. Bank Stadium a few days later, and the host requested that folks wear purple. Even then, many people wore Twins garb. By the way, that stadium is remarkable. It’s a new wonder of the world, it is simply an amazing structure. But there are a lot of kinks to be worked out in the system. Service stunk at the food and beer venues; they were understaffed, there was not enough product, and I had to wait in a long line for the restroom. I don’t remember Target Field having as many problems during its inauguration, but that was nearly seven years ago, and we have bigger things to worry about now…like the team.  

I asked some of the people at the State Fair and U.S. Bank Stadium who were wearing Twins clothes, what their thoughts were on the current state of affairs with the Twins. One old-timer named John, who was with his wife, Ruth, told me that he listens or watches the game every day. He continued: “It’s been a way of life for me every summer since 1961. I don’t miss a game. My friends and family tell me I’m a fool (Ruth nodded), and maybe they’re right because I get frustrated every night. I don’t know why I continue to watch them at this point, but I do.”

Other folks just made a sour face and shook their heads as I asked them. A few people ‘fessed up and said that was the only shirt in their wardrobe that was clean.

But the hardcore fans still love their team; they are just looking for something to cheer about. There’s a private Twins fan page on Facebook called Twinnin’ in the Cities. The truest Twins fans anywhere are on this page, and even they have been critical. There is a regular named Megan on the page, and I find her posts quite colorful. She loves the Twins, and although she can be extremely critical, she always finds a bright spot.

Here are a few of her recent posts:  

“2016 silver linings: Welcome to the 30 homerun club Mr. Dozier!”

 

 “Look at who we sent out there today… They ALL belong in AAA. YUCK   I think a monkey could pitch better than any of the trash we trot out there at this point….. (Except Erv of course!)”

“Mr. Chargois has been pitching wonderfully as well. Polanco showing he’s for real. All about looking at the individuals that will help in 2017 at this point. And then we have Duffey and Berrios who were just demoted.”

Speaking of J.T. Chargois (J.T. stands for Jon Thomas), I’m thinking and hoping he’ll be a big part of the Twins’ future. The 25-year old has been a solid, hard-throwing, righthanded pitcher since he threw for Rice University. During high school, he played shortstop, and was named to the All-State Team. The Twins drafted him in the second round in 2012. The only glitch in J.T.’s career is when he was called up to the majors for the first time in June: the nervous rookie gave up five runs in 2/3 of an inning, and was swiftly sent back down. Since coming back in August, he has been battling bravely to get that ERA back down.

I caught up with J.T. last week and asked him where he is from, and what his favorite hobby is. He proudly told me: “I’m from Sulpher, in the southwest corner of Louisiana, and I definitely love fishing. I fish whenever I can get out there. But I’ve played baseball ever since I could walk and could throw something – anything – I even threw things in my house. Baseball is the only sport I ever played.” Then he qualified that remark, “I played basketball when I was 8 years old, but got right back to baseball. Baseball’s my one true love. And I love playing in Minneapolis…it’s a great city. But I miss the Cajun food. No one makes it better than my mom.”

He went on to tell me that he’s a guitarist, as well. He was surprised when I told him that Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe were musicians, too. He said he would be talking to them soon, and ask them if they would like to jam. I’ll keep you updated.  

J.T. is a very likable guy, he has plenty of untapped talent, and has already made it to several Twins charitable events. Now I would like to see him utilize his talents so he can remain at the major league level. He would make a nice addition to the team’s needy pitching staff, and if August is an indicator, he will feel right at home here. He has the talent, now go get ‘em J.T. Good Luck.

The Twins need a general manager, ASAP. Terry Ryan was great…but they fired him, so if that’s what they wanted to do, they should’ve replaced him immediately. Right now they are a ship without a captain, drifting off and lost at sea. Interim Rob Antony is a knowledgeable baseball man, but he’s not the leader that they need. They need a strong personality to give the team direction. I would keep Rob on board, but they must hire a brilliant, creative, and outgoing GM who is an excellent communicator – and they need him now, not next season. I understand that some candidates cannot be interviewed until after the season, so I find this entire situation poor planning on the Twins’ part. I hope that the new GM is organized and knows how to plan.