The Twins are a good team. Don’t believe me? Well, they lead the AL Central with a 50-44 record, they rank 4th in runs scored in the American League, 5th in team ERA and 6th in fielding through Sunday.
We also know they can play much better baseball — they certainly showed they can through the first two months of the season — but then they went and dropped 3 of 4 games to the Chicago White Sox before the All-Star break, including Sunday’s lifeless 11-0 beatdown by the Sox.
So if the Twins have the talent and the statistics show they should be playing better ball, one might ask: Who is motivating the team and is it working?
That job falls to Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, who I think is a decent manager, but he also doesn’t strike me as the most fiery of individuals. In light of Sunday’s terrible loss, perhaps it’s time to borrow a page from former Twins manager Billy Martin, who never tolerated losing for long, according to Bill Pennington, author of a biography on Martin titled, “Billy Martin: Baseball’s Flawed Genius.”
Whether it was managing in Minnesota, Detroit or Texas, Martin approached the game the same way, especially after losses, according to the book.
“I remember after one loss, I came into the clubhouse and on the way to my locker, I reached out and grabbed one potato chip from the meal spread,” said former Texas Ranger Tom Grieve. “As fate would have it, Billy was a few steps behind me and he went nuts, screaming, ‘How can you eat? Goddamn it, you losing fuckers!’”
The players from Minnesota and Detroit could have predicted what happened next. Food was soon flying around the room.
“It sounds funny now, you know, all that for one potato chip,” Grieve said. “But the next day, Billy came to me and said, ‘Hey, look, don’t make anything of it because I don’t. You just happened to be the guy who touched the food but that message was for everyone.’
“And let me tell you, the guys didn’t want to lose any game after that.”
Kick over the buffet table, Rocco.
-The sure-handed Jim Kaat, one of the greatest fielding pitchers in major league history (16 Gold Gloves) uncharacteristically committed three errors in one game on July 17, 1969, in an 8-5 Twins win over the White Sox.
The Minneapolis Tribune captured the moment.
In the course of last night’s game Kaat, who had received the Sporting News’ Golden Glove Award for fielding excellence the night before, looked as if he had the glove on this throwing hand, the newspaper reported.
Last year Kaat erred once. His three errors last night came within one of tying an American League record for pitchers. The record has stood since 1925.”
Over a 25-year career, Kaat committed 56 errors, or about two per season.
-And then there was this:
With Wes Johnson as pitching coach, the #MNTwins had a 3.71 team ERA. Since he left, it's 5.04.
— TexasTwinsfan (@TXTwinsfan) July 17, 2022
Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, Newspapers.com