I overheard a Twins fan talking to his friend the other day. They looked as though they were discussing a serious family matter, or maybe even a death. As I approached them, I heard the older guy say, “I’ve attended Twins games since their arrival in 1961. I’ve lived and died with them. Buy I have to say: this is the most frustrated I’ve ever been. This year was a total disappointment.”
That’s how everyone has felt this year, from Gardy and his staff, to all of the players, even down to the minors; coaches, fans, and players were frustrated with the changes in their roster from day to day because of injuries.
Michael Cuddyer has one of the most positive outlooks on life. Even he had this to say: “My frustration level is at an all-time high. With losing, and seeing guys get hurt, it’s tough – it’s tough to go out there. But you know; you have no choice. You have to go out there. The staff deserves our effort; the fans deserve our effort, regardless of what our record is.”
Manager Ron Gardenhire has already said that in spring training 2012, he’ll add three days of workouts to the pre-games portion of training camp. These three days will be used primarily to practice the basic fundamentals of baseball. Until this year, the Twins have always prided themselves on excelling in good fundamental baseball, even in some of their weak years. In the past, losses would come from poor pitching or not enough power. This year, the Twins have experienced both of those disasters, and they’ve also committed errors, thrown to the wrong base, not covered the right base, missed the cut-off man, screwed up on the base paths, and committed many other mental blunders that have contributed to many of their losses.
Really, Gardy should begin the workouts now. It would help prepare everyone for next year, whether he’s going to be a Twin or not. They all need work. The problem is, many of them are too battered to begin now, and the players who aren’t battered, would probably get injured during the additional training.
Even Joe Mauer had a disappointing year because of injuries, and he has taken a lot of heat from the media and fans. I sometimes take this personally because he and his family are great friends of mine. I understand that he makes a ton of dough, but it doesn’t affect him; he’s not arrogant, and he’s not soft. He’s just been unfortunate this year. If you’re hurt, you’re hurt. Everyone’s had a stiff neck at one time or another. His just happened to come after a series of many other unfortunate and unusual injuries. You don’t want to be face a 95 MPH fastball when your head only turns a third of the way. I know that Joe wants to play as much as anyone, and when he plays, he plays hard.
In the upcoming offseason, Joe will begin a new workout regiment. Although he has always worked out throughout the off season, his new routine will be better suited for baseball, and not just for his overall health. The last few years, his workout was mostly rehab work after surgery or injuries.
I believe that many baseball fans are fair-weather fans. They love you when you’re on top, but if you have a bad year, then… OUCH! A good example of this is what Kirby Puckett went through. He was a great player and personality and was cherished by Twins fans everywhere. Then, a few years later, he had some personal problems, and fans taunted and abandoned him, as did many of his so-called-friends. A few years later he was gone. Fans forgot the bad. Some were ashamed, but all were forgiving after his death.
I believe that in 2012 and 2013, Joe and the Twins will have a couple of great years, and fans will forget this lost year completely.
There is still a lot of baseball left in 2011. This is a great time for fans who have never been to Target Field to go. Since the Twins are out of contention, many season tickets have been freed up and are available second-hand and at reasonable prices — often under face value. Go and enjoy the food and drink, and take in some outdoor baseball. Who knows, they might win!
(Story and photos by Gordy Jones)