Minnesota Twins: Nice guys finish last, so it’s time to fight
Settling into my favorite chair, with a drink in hand and a snack at the ready to watch the Minnesota Twins might be my favorite activity in all of creation. It’s a happy place for me. Even last year amid a lackluster season, I enjoyed every game. I love this team. Unfortunately, these days, my love only slightly outpaces my exasperation.
An MLB season is a roller coaster. There will be up and downs. Even the 2019 Bomba Squad, a far more talented team, had stretches of futility. Cough *playoffs* cough. It isn’t the losing or the mediocrity grinding my gears, but the team’s reaction to it.
The Minnesota Twins need some competitive fire to wake the team up and break this slump.
Tuesday night against the Rangers, Byron Buxton was called out looking by home plate umpire Malachi Moore. He was livid and rightfully so. The pitch was two inches outside, clearly a ball and it wasn’t close. It wasn’t the first missed call of the night either. When Buxton began to argue, his words were laden with obscenities and frustration. He had every right.
As Buxton became furious, I got excited. Someone was showing signs of life. A pulse. “Yes,” I said to myself, “the team needs this!” Buxton was having a human reaction to warranted frustration. But right as he got going on a tirade destined for ejection, a voice, clearly audible on the telecast, rang out.
“Stop. Stop it now. HEY STOP IT!” The voice belonged to Rocco Baldelli. Buxton immediately calmed down and listened to his manager. It was the right move. The manager is the captain, and following orders is important even when you disagree. He walked back to the dugout disgruntled. His unsaid words were written all over his face.
It doesn’t mean the order was correct. In my opinion, it was a mistake by Rocco. That outburst, that ejection, needed to happen. It was the flashpoint of emotion I’ve been dying to see. The pot boiling over.
Someone, anyone, on the team deciding “enough is enough” and letting the dog out. The barking, snarling mutt, living inside every competitive person who wants to win but currently isn’t winning. Teams need that.
Over the course of a long year, it makes sense to avoid tantrums. Don’t get too high or low. Don’t take the team out of games with pointless ejections. Generally, I believe that’s a good mindset. But after playing mediocre baseball for two and half months, something has to give.
I want fire and brimstone. It could be a smashed water cooler, an angry tirade in the dugout, or a bat viciously slammed into the dirt. An outward expression of the frustration. I want to see a guy explode because he can’t suffer taking a step forward just to falter and take two back. Instead, we fans get placid faces, aligned in a row along the dugout railing.
The team is simply too even keeled. I wrote recently about Sandy Leon. He is nice, pleasant, and fits right in. The Twins are a team full of nice, low-key guys. They mirror the people of the state. Folks are unfailingly polite, and very considerate.
I grew up on the west coast and have been to forty-seven states. “Minnesota Nice” is a very real. But occasionally being nice is wrong. Ask Michael Jordan. The Minnesota Twins sometimes need to switch it up during the year, like after being knocked out of first place by the Cleveland Guardians, who are playing great baseball.
To catch them, the Twins will need to get vicious. Now the underdogs, the Twinkies will have to forgo their amicable nature and get vicious. The good guy routine hasn’t worked since late May. Open the cages, release the hounds, get mad and brawl. Let’s go Twins!