After suffering through a pair of painful seasons, the Minnesota Twins are in trouble. They used to draw legions of fans to their shiny new ballpark, but in two short years all the excitement has been sucked out. The Twins name used to stand for competent, scrappy baseball, but now it is synonymous with futility. All this damage has been done in two short years, but it could take much longer to restore the Twins back to baseball respectability. And the team may never fully regain the enthusiasm of its fans unless it undergoes a complete top-to-bottom transition.
In short, the Twins need a gritty reboot.
Hey, it worked for Batman. Even if you weren’t born in the 1960s, you’ve probably seen reruns of the original Batman television series. It was goofy and unserious, with cheesy acting, garishly colored costumes, one-dimensional characters, and unbelievably corny fight scenes. This is not to say it wasn’t successful - it was a popular series in its time – but it seems dated and kitschy now. In the 1980s, an updated version of Batman resurfaced on the silver screen and drew in millions of paying customers. But by the late 1990s, that franchise too seemed a little too quirky, and the last installment, was panned by critics. It looked like Batman was no longer a winner until Christopher Nolan and company gave it the gritty reboot. The darkly serious version of Batman has raked in almost $2.5 billion dollars so far.
The current version of the Twins is the baseball equivalent of the original Batman. The franchise was a model of success in the late 1980s, early 1990s, and the 2000s, but their style of play seems quirky and dated now. Other, more successful baseball teams thrive on strikeout pitchers and power hitters. By comparison, the Twins’ constant fixation on groundball pitchers and singles hitters is sillier than an Adam West fight scene. When the Twins were winners, their Nice Guy on-field persona and silly commercials were endearing; now we scoff at them for not having any fighting spirit.
It’s time to change that. This organization needs wholesale change in every facet, on and off the field. Here are a few gritty suggestions:
- Players – Obviously the most important thing the Twins need to do is get some competent baseball players, particularly pitchers. Since the team isn’t likely to compete until at least 2014 or 2015, every veteran who isn’t under contract longer than that needs to be shopped on the trade market. The team needs to concentrate on acquiring power pitchers and power hitters.
- Management and Coaching – I’ve touched on this before. It’s time for the team to bring in a new manager with a little star power. My first choice would be Paul Molitor, but any former superstar player would do. I doubt that a new manager would have any effect on the team’s won-loss record; like most of my proposed changes, this one is mostly cosmetic, in that it will help the Twins project an image of change and progress.
- Medical staff – I don’t know if the Twins medical staff is really as bad as all the team’s injuries make them seem. But a little change in perception might help a little here as well. Hire some superstar doctors, like… I don’t know, Sanjay Gupta or Dr. House or something.
- Uniforms – Redesign them, make them grittier. More modern. This will be the most visible sign of progress. Make sure they don’t look anything like the Marlins’ new unis. The Marlins had a reboot last year, but it was not nearly gritty enough. That’s why they are so terrible in 2012.
- Mascot – TC Bear is a terrible mascot. In fact, whoever created TC Bear might be the worst mascot designer in human history. Not only is there nothing gritty about him, he isn’t even an appropriate mascot for the Twins. Think about it. Why would a team called the Twins only have one mascot? Any five year old could tell you they should have two! Bring in a pair of burly, hairy, possibly drunk dudes who look like Ragnar, give them baseball bats, and station them on both sides of the opposing dugout so they can intimidate Twins’ opponents.
- Logo – The team logo is too bland. The word “Twins” written across a baseball? Meh. At least put an umlaut on it to make it more heavy metal.
Okay, some of those were a little silly, but you get the idea. Everything about this team, not just the players, needs to be updated to show a clean break from the two awful seasons we’ve just endured. If the Twins rely on their players alone to draw fans back to Target Field, we might see thousands of empty seats for years. That’ll cost the team millions, which will only further hinder their rebuilding effort. The Twins need to make major cosmetic changes right away to inflate the interest level long enough to bring the team back to respectability.
Otherwise, this franchise may fall apart faster than the Gotham Rogues.