Anyone hoping that the Minnesota Twins would come out of the All-Star Break with newfound vigor were quickly reminded of how deeply unserious the team appears to be this year.
Rather than use all of the hard talk about correcting a terrible first half of baseball, the Twins promptly resumed their lackadaisical play out in Oakland. Minnesota crawled across glass the barely scrape out a win over the worst team in baseball -- it doesn't get more predictable than that.
The Twins somehow managed to win the game in the ninth inning, but it was so much more of a grind to get there than it should have been. If anything, it's a terrible sign of things to come and how the things that were broken heading into the All-Star Break didn't magically fix themselves.
Once again the Twins offense was sleepwalking through the game, and the frustrations boiled over in more than one way. For as bad as things were naturally going at the plate, the calls from home plate umpire Nick Lentz weren't exactly great. Bad offense and bad calls created a perfect storm that erupted late in the game.
Twins hitting coach gets ejected after screaming at home plate umpire (Video)
After a pretty borderline called strike three on Joey Gallo in the seventh inning, Twins hitting coach David Popkins snapped.
He popped out of the Twins dugout and absolutely laid in the home plate umpire, resulting in an ejection.
If only the Twins offense could show this kind of fire at the plate.
This feels like a sort of culmination. Popkins has been under increasing pressure as Minnesota's offense continues to falter, and it's no secret that his name has been tossed around Twins Territory as someone who is on the hot seat as a potential fall guy.
It's nice to see Popkins showing some fire, but the quesiton is whether it's too little too late. The Twins opted to not make a move at hitting coach over the break, something the struggling New York Yankees did do.
There's also a way of looking at this to see a man backed into a corner. Popkins knows the offense is bad and he knows it's literally his one job to make sure that doesn't happen. Coaches rarely engage with fodder and speculation like the internet trades in -- we are included in that, to be clear -- but he knows as well as anyone how not-so-great things are going.
That's not to say he can't turn it around, but Popkins flying off the handles was alarming in that it feels like he's at the end of his rope and the pressure is clearly something he's aware of. Maybe this tirade is something that sparks the Twins offense to get it together, or maybe it's the final bursts of energy from a dying star.
Popkins is safe, for now, but it feels like the clock is ticking louder and louder the more and more quiet the Twins bats get.