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Thursday, April 26, 2012

3 Twins Complaints I'm Sick and Tired Of

I get it: Joe Mauer is getting paid
$184 million and doesn't hit
many home runs
When a team is losing, like the Twins are so far this season and did all of last season, it's easy to complain. In fact, it feels really, really good to complain. I sincerely think that us fans deserve better than the product that the Twins have been putting on the field, and that we deserve better than some of the excuses we have heard from the front office and management. Still, though, there is only so much complaining one can do. I read almost every Twins blog, as well as the Star Tribune Twins content, and I peruse TwinsDaily -- and post and comment there -- very often. For the most part -- not counting the Star Trib -- the comments sections of the blogs and of TwinsDaily are great places for discussion. Sure, people often disagree, but it's mostly respectful disagreement. When I write something, I could care less if people disagree with me. In fact, that's one of the fun things about blogging -- going back in forth, in a good-natured way, about our shared interest -- the Twins. There are, however, a few things that just keep popping up in the comments sections that drive me crazy. It seems that, no matter what the topic, people keep drifting back to these issues. Not that they are not important or do not warrant discussion, but they are simply played out. Without further ado, here are three of those complaints.

1. Joe Mauer's contract. It doesn't seem to matter if the topic of conversation is Ben Revere as a fourth outfielder, pitching to contact, or the 2012 amateur draft. People always manage to drift back to Mauer's $184 million contract. For the record, I still support it and am not going to change my mind on that. I certainly, however, understand and respect the arguments to the contrary. But I think it's time to get past it. It was entered into 2 years ago, and it covers the next 6 seasons after this one. Yes, it absolutely impacts the ability of this team to sign other players. Yes, it's possible -- and even likely -- that Mauer won't be "worth" the money in the end (but see Fangraphs "value" indicator for Mauer for 2012, suggesting that he's already been worth $3.2 million this season -- close to $20 million over the course of the season if he maintains this moderate, but successful pace). And yes, it was a great topic for debate in 2010, and even last year when he wasn't playing much. But I think we should move on. It is what it is. Maybe, as fans, we should have been a little smarter and realized that the 2009 Mauer was the aberration, and not the rule? To me, the Mauer contract is sort of like purchasing your first house: it's a significant financial investment; it may or may not prove to be a wise choice; and it hampers your ability to do other things with your money. But after you sign the mortgage and note, it's a done deal. Start to focus on other things. I hope that Twins fans can start to focus on other things. There's a lot of good -- and bad -- things happening with this organization that have nothing to do with Mauer that are worthy of discussion, debate and attention.

2. The Public Financing of Target Field. Minnesotans, primarily residents of Hennepin County or people that do their shopping there, are footing the bill for a large portion of Target Field, and will continue to do so until the stadium has been paid for -- 30 years in total. The Target Field sales tax adds an extra .15 percent to Hennepin County's existing sales tax. Not much money on the purchase of a sandwich, but it's the principle, not the pennies, that angers this contingent. And rightfully so. I disagree with the way that stadiums are often funded. Why should the Twins -- the profit-making entity -- only foot 1/3 of the bill for the stadium, leaving county residents, regardless of whether the have any interest in the Twins, to pay the rest? It is fundamentally unfair. But that's life. It's no different than when my town decided that the annual bill I receive to connect to the town water and sewer was going to go up 10 percent, or when my property taxes were raised. This tax stinks for Hennepin County residents. They got the short end of the stick, no doubt. But it's a tired argument. Nothing is going to change until 2037, when Target Field has been paid for. Finally, it's worth noting that not all the revenue generated from the Target Field tax goes toward paying for the stadium: some is placed in a capital reserve fund, some is allocated to improve library hours, and some helps to construct amateur sporting facilities. I side with the complainers on this one, but it's time to move on.

3. Justin Morneau as a "Soft" Player. Admittedly, this one has started to dwindle, as Morneau has been healthy and fairly productive (great double last night) in 2012. Honestly, though, I was often astounded at what I read about Morneau, his concussions, and his recurring post-concussion symptoms on the Star Tribune message boards last season. It actually made me glad that I wasn't at Target Field last season -- I didn't want to hear that kind of stuff in person, because I would be tempted to respond. I suspect that the Morneau detractors were a minority, but they certainly were a vocal minority. All I can say is this: the medical profession, and all of the different professional sports, have begun to recognize (just in the past couple years) the serious and debilitating long-term effects that concussions -- especially multiple concussions -- have on athletes. There's a reason why retired athletes, including 40 retired NFL players, pledged in 2009 to donate their brains to science. There's a reason why Sidney Crosby has hardly played hockey in the past year. And there's a reason why the Twins have been extremely cautious with Morneau. Science has advanced significantly just in the past 10 years with respect to the study of concussions. I don't know how players played with concussion symptoms in the previous decades, but they did it. It was probably a result of several things: the medical profession not really knowing the danger to player health; organizations not looking out for player safety; players wanting to be perceived as "tough"; and athletes concerned with keeping their roster spot. Maybe, for some, it makes these old guys seem "tougher." And maybe they are. But that's an outdated, ill-informed view, in my opinion. No one wants to see a 45 year old retired player, perhaps coming back for a special event at the stadium, looking like a shell of the man he once was because his brain is severely and permanently damaged. Someday, the Twins will retire Morneau's #33. When that day comes, I hope we see a somewhat older, probably heftier Morneau, with his wife and kids by his side, looking and sounding 100 percent healthy.

Ironically, this post is basically just me complaining about complainers. I hope I don't sound like (or look like) Andy Rooney. But that's the great thing about America. We can praise or complain about just about anything, without fear of getting dragged out of our houses in the middle of the night. So, have I missed anything? Are there other "played out" complaints? And another great thing -- if you think I'm way off base, you can complain to me, about me, right in the comments section. What a country!


  1. Agree with most of this. Though I think complaints about the Mauer contract are sometimes a proxy for legitimate frustration with how he and the Twins have communicated about his injury issues. Thankfully there appears to be recognition of the problem - time will tell if that recognition leads to real changes in PR strategies.

    1. That's a good point, Nick. And the fan frustration was definitely warranted.

      Mauer is bound to get banged up this season, so the Twins' PR handling of the issue, and the corresponding fan reaction, will be interesting to watch.

  2. How come the Tigers can come up with pitchers like Porcello and Scherzer who are pitching as well as Verlander. Cleveland has Bostons manager and pitching coach and we stick with Gardenparty and Rick Anderson. Twins need a change very bad. Cleveland goes from last to the top in our division. Take a hint Ryan and Pohlad, the gig is up.