If you listen to sports talk radio, you hear the same commentators hold on to the same old story that irks them for years. I always used to think that it was so futile not to let some of these things go, but it must come with old age. As I get older, I have one story that always just frustrates the hell out of me.
The 2010-2011 University of Minnesota Golden Gophers basketball team will always bug me. It was the fourth season under the direction of Tubby Smith, so we were starting to realize why Kentucky probably wanted to get rid of Tubby. It can also be remembered as the year where the Gophers had no point guard, Devoe Joseph transferred to Oregon midway thru the season and Al Nolen got hurt.
These injuries lead to Hopkins High School star Blake Hoffarber bringing the ball up the court for the Gophers and playing point guard, something he had rarely done. Hoffarber was a two-guard, also known as a shooting guard, and was the exact mold of what a two-guard should be. He could shoot and he could shoot well. He simply shouldn’t have been bringing the ball up which brings me to my gripe.
The University of Minnesota is one of the biggest colleges in the nation in terms of enrollment. This is not including the arms of Duluth, Crookston and such, but just the Twin Cities campus. It appears enrollment in 2011 was over 68,000 students. You cannot tell me that Tubby Smith couldn’t find an eligible male who played high school basketball that can bring the ball up the court. Seriously, someone on that massive campus had to be able to do that even against D1 competition.
The lack of a point guard lead to a team that was once ranked 14th in the nation to being a one and done in the Big Ten Tournament, missing postseason play all together and finishing ninth in the Big Ten.
The Twins gave me another one of these stories on Thursday when it became evident that Jason Bartlett would be making the Opening Day roster. Will the 25th man on a team that will finish in the bottom half of the American League Central really matter? Probably not, but it’s just frustrating and mind boggling.
First of all, Jason Bartlett has three hits all of spring training, which should be alarming but knowing that he also hasn’t played in a regular season game in a year and a half should make those alarms ring even louder. Bartlett didn’t play baseball last year at the major or minor league level.
In the process of keeping Bartlett, the Twins needed to put multiple players through waivers. Alex Presley was put on waivers, claimed by the Houston Astros and now is gone. Alex Presley is almost certainly never going to result in an All-Star player, but he is six years younger than Bartlett. Presley is not having that great of spring either, he only has seven hits, but doesn’t it make more sense to keep a young guy that could help a team for a couple years than a guy that has little to nothing left in the tank? Does that not make sense?
The departure of Presley leaves the backup centerfield job wide open with no replacement seen on the Opening Day roster. Jason Bartlett and Eduardo Escobar look now to be the emergency backup centerfielders and only Escobar has some regular season experience in the outfield with only 11 innings. Again, Presley is not a god, but someone with some centerfield experience and a legitimate fourth outfielder would be nice.
It’s been brought up that Ron Gardenhire wants Jason Bartlett to be on the team for his leadership. Isn’t that what a manager is for? Even if the manager is not, wouldn’t someone step up to be vocal and lead this Twins team. Shouldn’t the leader of the team be a guy that can put the team on his back and bring them to the Promised Land instead of hitting .083 in spring training?
This all comes off as a big indictment on Jason Bartlett and it really shouldn’t be. He was given a chance to get back to the majors and he accomplished that goal which is all that is asked of a baseball player. This is an indictment on Twins management.
The Twins need to be selling hope and a brighter future after three years of pure filth. A Jason Bartlett gives me no hope. Absolutely none. If Jason Bartlett had a really productive spring and made the roster, that would have given me hope. This just makes me sad.
This blog talked about enabling Ron Gardenhire a week ago and this just enables him more. Maybe upper management is letting him have this one because Gardy is still sad that they forced Paul Molitor onto his staff. If Paul Molitor was manager, Jason Bartlett would not be on this team.
I know this is making a whole lot out of something that is very small, but it just seems like another red mark on a team that has accumulated a lot of red marks over the past three seasons. I could rant, I could rave and I already have, but Jason Bartlett being on this team shouldn’t be a thing that anybody should be mad about because he shouldn’t even be on the roster.
Maybe I’ve still been heavily love drunk on the Minnesota Twins even after the past three seasons, but this roster and this bench has sobered me up. I’ve grown up.