Can’t See the Forest


With the Twins season an official bust, we can look forward to an offseason of trades and transactions as the front office tries to shore up all the problems. They’ll be working hard to improve the strength and conditioning routines, find some new middle infielders, and assess which September callups deserve a shot next year. But it’s high time for the Twins to take more drastic action. They need to address the problem that’s on everyone’s minds:

The Target Field Trees.

As many of you probably know, 14 black spruce trees used to adorn Target Field just beyond the center field wall. They gave the park more of an earthy, wild look, and they were generally liked by fans, especially those who feel the beauty of a ballpark is as important as the action on-field. But the trees didn’t win any fans among Twins hitters, who complained incessantly that the trees interfered with their sight lines, preventing them from seeing the ball well. As a result, the team removed the trees during the offseason.

Problem solved. Twins’ hitters spent 2011 smacking line drives and pounding towering home runs.

Except, it didn’t quite work out that way. In 2010, the Twins hit .282/.354/.422 at home. They struck out 425 times in 81 games. The .282 average was tied with Detroit for second best in the AL, and the OBP was second in the AL behind the Yankees. This year, Twins’ hitters are a pitiful .248/.308/.355. With nine more home games to go, they’ve already struck out 466 times. Now, obviously a lot of that dropoff comes from the fact that the Twins have battled injuries and stacked their lineup with such sluggers as Rene Tosoni and Drew Butera on a regular basis in 2011. But given that the Twins had one of the best hitting lines of any team at home, one suspects that their hitters saw the ball just fine in 2010.

Not only that, but removing the trees has destroyed Target Field’s wildlife habitat. Since the trees came out, there has been a 100% decrease in the population of falcons and squirrels at the park.

As of press time, there are no reports on whether the trees have impaired hitter visibility at the State Parks where they were relocated.

Let me officially go on record stating that the Twins need to bring back the trees. No, I do not believe that replanting the trees would instantly make the Twins hit better. Instead, I want to see them replanted because I do not want to spend the next 20 years hearing about another sports “curse.” There have already been mutterings about this, and if the Twins have any more losing seasons, the mutterings will grow into a full-fledged legend – just like the Curse of the Bambino or the Curse of the Billy Goat, only a lot less interesting. If the Twins absolutely need to have a curse story, somebody should come up with one to explain why they haven’t had a 40 HR hitter since 1970… but that’s a different story.

Curse or not, it probably would not be such a bad thing to have hitters be a little distracted at Target Field. Twins pitchers could certainly have benefitted from that this year.