Howard Sinker on the Minnesota Twins' 40th season

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Howard Sinker, Sports analyst talks about the Twins begining their 40th season, in the midst of fan apathy and a decreasing interest in baseball, according to a Minnesota Poll.

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(00:00:12) Good morning, and welcome to midday and Minnesota (00:00:14) Public Radio. I'm Gary eichten. Glad you could join us (00:00:17) Minnesota Twins start their 40th season in Minnesota this evening playing Tampa Bay at the Metrodome some 40,000 fans are expected to turn out most other minnesotans apparently will be tuning out new Star Tribune. Minnesota poll is out today that shows minnesotans interest in baseball is dropping Like a Rock Only 18 percent of those surveyed identify themselves as real twins fans. Only ten percent say they have a great deal of interest in baseball of any sort quite a change from the Euphoria of 40 years ago when the twins moved to Minnesota quite a change from the Euphoria of 1988 when the Twins were the first team in baseball history to draw 3 million fans. Heck even quite a change from just three years ago, when two out of three minnesotans paid at least some attention to the twins what's happened to the Twins and baseball. Is it all gloom and doom or is there some reason any reason for that traditional opening day optimism, Minnesota public radio's longtime sports analyst and former twins beat writer Howard Sinker who's now the Star Tribune State News editor has come by today to talk baseball and to take your questions and we do invite you to give us a call here. If you've got a question or comment about the twins specifically or baseball in general call us at 6'5 12276 thousand 6512276 thousand if you're calling from outside the Twin Cities, you can reach us toll free at 1-888-438-6557 and one eight hundred two, four two two eight two eight Howard Sinker is a combined today. Hi Howard (00:01:53) thrilled to be here. Happy opening day a (00:01:55) happy opening day to you. Are you surprised? Word at according to your pole there and your paper how little interest there is in the (00:02:04) twins. Well, I really think that it's where the twins are paying the price not only for the season after season of losing baseball, but the degree of hopelessness that people see there's really not very much reason to get excited about the 2000 twins as there was there is little reason in 99 98 97. It's been a steady decline and you have to give people Reason for Hope before they're going to have some interest in what didn't and what you're (00:02:38) doing. Is it simply a matter that they have? Well, I guess they've lost had what seven straight losing seasons and and not much Prospect for doing any better this year. Is that solely at the their problem (00:02:51) it seven straight losing Seasons. I think that in large part, it's the silliness over over the ATM issue and and the thought that this team was going to leave town if a buyer could be from could be found which many people didn't take seriously and I think they were offended that the the twins went through the vet whole whether it's a charade or whatever there just aren't markets that want major league baseball teams. I just think that that you can find a dozen reasons not to support the Twins and and if enough people buy it each one of those that that there's your dwindling fan base. (00:03:31) How about baseball in general is their best you can tell a lot of interest is baseball still our national (00:03:39) Pastime baseball in general in markets that have winning teams or interesting products on the field does very well. You can't buy a ticket in Cleveland, which is not a large Market. You can't buy a ticket for the summer in San Francisco where they are building a new stadium there with Winning brings people into the stands and I know the pole ads are saying right now that they won't be contenders unless they have a new stadium. I think that what people are waiting to see as a good faith effort for contention before anyone really takes the whole build us a new stadium position very seriously who's going to build a stadium to watch Butch husky play first base or you know, Johan Santana come in out of the bullpen for gosh sakes and Matt Lacroix catch. I mean, it's just doesn't make sense. It really doesn't (00:04:39) now there were a lot of things in the poll that was out today that I found pretty interesting but one was apparently there was not much change in the interest among younger fans 18 to 24 year olds. Now, we've all we've heard repeatedly that really at the root of baseballs broader. Problem is the fact that younger people just don't care about baseball anymore. It's too slow. So on so forth are more interested in football basketball soccer in the rest, but the pole doesn't seem to bear that out or does or is it simply a question that 18 to 24 year olds were never interested in baseball. So it hasn't (00:05:16) changed. They suppose kind of not an old folks game. But an older people's in a kids game. I think there's this phase that I think there's a stage where people do just kind of tune out and then they come back to baseball and the trick is getting getting kids as interested in baseball as they are in the NBA or as they are in gosh even stuff like pro wrestling and then having them, you know building on that interest so that when they're adults and and they're looking for things to take an interest in that baseball is high on the list and it's at the marketplace now is so much more cluttered with sports. I mean, there's so many more choices that you have to have. Better product simply because there's a team doesn't mean people will support it after after a honeymoon period it's going to be interesting to see what happens. For example with the Minnesota Wild with the NHL team. How long can they play like an expansion team before people get frustrated and say why are we paying this kind of money to watch a team that regularly loses the team who's next Who's nicknames? We can't associate with the cities where they play (00:06:26) twins had to have a lot of new promotions this year. Maybe they missed out on a good bet though. They could bring back former twins. Great Kent Hrbek lawyers. Wanted to be a professional wrestler. They could have a cage match, you know during the seventh-inning stretch bring in that wrestling crowd. (00:06:41) They could bring back hand her back to play first base and Gary gaetti to play Third Base and even Ron Davis to make the long walk in from the bullpen and they might not be much worse serve than they might be this (00:06:54) year Howard Sinker is with us, and he's come by today on this opening day. The twin start their season this year. They're 2000 season 40th season here in the state of Minnesota and the twins over the course of time have well, they've been at the Heights and they have dipped to the depths of about 40,000 people according to the twins 40 to 45,000 people are expected to turn out for tonight's game, but in general according to a new poll published today a new Star Tribune, Minnesota poll people around the state of Minnesota are just not very interested in the twins specifically in baseball in general. Love to have you join our conversation here as we pick through the reasons why all of that may be true give us a call here at 6512276 thousand 6512276 thousand if you're calling from outside the Twin Cities, you can reach us toll free at 1-888-438-6557 and one eight hundred two, four two two eight two eight. Are there any for people who do go to the game tonight or any of the games this year? Are there any stars on the twins team this year? Any any real Major League quality players? (00:08:11) Well, Brad Rach, he's a pretty good picture. But who knows how much longer he's going to be here? I mean that's really people are listening to the pole ads who are now saying we want to be here. We want to build a good team. We want to build a product that's worthy of our next push for a new stadium and they're in a contract dispute with their one Marquis picture and I think people see that as frustrating. I don't think people are particularly excited about guys like Jacques Jones who hit nine home runs last year in bed at 255. They don't see him as the future the way they saw Kirby Puckett is the future. This was a team that had a first baseman last year Doug man cave at you hit two count em, two home runs and sure they said, okay. This guy's not playing first base this year. But it's just that they went through the entire season last year pretending that that was okay. I think people found really frustrating. (00:09:07) Hmm. What effect does it have when your manager in this case Tom Kelly repeatedly bad-mouths the (00:09:14) team I think Tom Kelly is figured out that honesty is the best (00:09:18) policy (00:09:20) you can tell that he's not particularly happy with the players that he was given by Terry Ryan the general manager. He was not thrilled apparently at the beginning of training camp that there were nine hundred thirteen people in the Major League Camp. I mean, he got rid of people without giving them much of a look because he had to and I think he got rid of some people who played key roles on the team last year or were expected to play key roles this year Chad Allen and Xavier Valentine because he's got to bring up somebody in a few weeks when some of these guys don't do particularly well and that was his the best way he could think of of sending a wake-up call not only to the players. To the front office that hey I'll do the best I can but you know, you're you're asking me to this is a 1982 Ford Pinto you've got for me (00:10:10) Howard Sinker is with us. We're talking baseball today on this opening day of the baseball season. Love to have you join our conversation. Again. The number would be 6512276 thousand or one eight hundred two, four two two eight two eight the twins specifically baseball in general apparently according to the polls. Not a lot of people very interested Willard's on the line High Willard. (00:10:33) Good morning. My question for both of you is how do you expect people to remain loyal fans when things happen such as the following World Series winners are immediately dismantled the baseball strike of 94 eliminates the World Series for the first time in history and the person behind it becomes commissioner of baseball. Baseball refuses to really mediate the dispute between the rich teams and the poor teams leaving the poor teams to suffer. The game still is wonderful to watch on the field despite domes and despite artificial turf and inflated salaries and in many cases inflated prices, but I think the owners are expecting far too much from the fans not to mention. The political machination is that went on here with a former governor and the owner and all of those things. It makes it very hard to remain an economic supporter of the local team and of baseball in general, but one can still love the game the trouble is you have to do it from afar. (00:11:49) See Willard everybody has their laundry list of things that are wrong with baseball. It can be here in Minnesota with the state of the twins. It can be in the commissioner's office with the things that have happened in baseball in the last 10 years. It's and everybody brings those brings that baggage and as a result they stay away from the Metrodome. I think one of the things that I found surprising in the Minnesota poll survey was the fact that of the 1.2 million people who came out to see the twins last year who bought tickets 30% of them never showed up. I mean, they bought the cheap tickets and they just didn't come to the game. So that really reduces the number of people who actually came through the gates to about eight hundred forty thousand and that's Revenue. That's disappearing. If each of those folks 25 $30 a head that's 10 million dollars. And I mean that's not everything but then think of all the people who didn't even bother to buy tickets, there's a lot of money out there to be brought in. If there's a reason if the front office provides some Hope on the field (00:12:54) now over the winter the baseball Barons voted to give commissioner Bud selig permission power to do to improve make improvements in the best interests of the game and presumably that would extend the things like Revenue sharing in the rest. Is that going to make any difference (00:13:13) whatsoever? We'll see I mean if the owners if the baseball Barrens is you called them don't like with selig is doing those Powers could disappear at a meetings notice and and there are limitations. He tried to do what he thought was right in the John Rocker case and and he was his work was immediately negated by an Arbiter and and that's baseball has set up a system where people can jump up and down and pound and say change this change that change the other thing and yet in many ways. They're really Limited in what they can actually do. (00:13:48) Has baseball ever recovered nationally from the strike that Willard mentioned it seem to hurt the twins a lot (00:13:56) baseball has the labor climate in baseball. It's really more than just the strike. It's really it's an assortment of things. It's the salary disparity. I mean knowing that the Yankees had a 92 million dollar payroll last year to 17 million for the twins. It's just it's the problem is everything. I mean, it sounds a little bit like it sounds a little bit like a Dilbert cartoon, you know played out at the (00:14:27) Metrodome, but the teams that are Fielding good teams aren't affected by this (00:14:32) if you're a good if you're playing well, if you're competing for a division title or for a wild card berth, you have a chance to make it and it isn't necessarily I mean granted the game is tilted toward the the high payroll teams, but a team like the Oakland A's made a run for for a playoff berth last year with a moderate payroll and there's nothing but optimism there this year (00:14:57) Kirk your comment, please. (00:14:59) Yeah. Hi. I have a couple in thanks for letting me on I am a sink or swim twin span and baseball fan. So, you know, it doesn't much matter to me because I've you know, it's need to get get the baseball end. But I have a couple questions about the negativity toward the twins one is is there any what's the difference between this year's team and last year's team and say the 81 and 82. Twins before anybody knew who Kirby Puckett and Tom boonen ski and Kent Hrbek were when when there was a build-up toward something positive. And the other one is what's the difference between the Twins and perennial All-Star Rams like the Phillies and the Cubbies and the angels and you know, and the even the Cleveland Indians before they built the stadium. Well, why is there some sort of fan base for these teams and why not for the twins (00:15:59) apparently? Okay, of course, that's that's a good questions to go back to the difference between this team and the 81 and 82 teams. If you looked at I mean Kent Hrbek came up from class a ball and and immediately made an impact Gary guy Eddie. I mean, these were guys who had significant minor league credentials and quickly re-establish them. You didn't have them for a year or two sitting around hitting 210 or playing lazy in the field. This team. If you go back to last September when fortunately most people had tune them out this team just disintegrated the last month of the Season you had young guys. You have a double whammy young guys who weren't playing hard and the last month of the Season according to the 13 or 14 people including Tom Kelly who saw them play on a daily basis you you just wouldn't have supported them. They these were young guys going through the motions, but by all (00:16:55) accounts as opposed to early twins the early her back years, they played hard even if they were (00:17:03) getting you nutrient cycling happening. I mean they were going to lose 11 to 10 or 10 to 8 you go back to that first game when the Metrodome opened an 82 they you know guy Eddie hit two home runs and had a triple or something was like you just knew if they could only get pitching if they could only get pitching and guys like Frank Viola who took their lumps for a few years eventually became winners and Veterans were brought in. Augment the the young players even in 84 when the twins had kind of that Phantom playoff run when it came time for the stretch Drive. They brought in a couple guys to try to steady the team and and there you have the sense that there was a commitment to building a winner and right now I think there's just a commitment to putting a team on the (00:17:49) field. Now, what about Kirk's other question which has to do with the fact that the Cubs filets and other teams have been pretty regularly pretty awful but still managed to maintain ass pretty solid fan base as opposed to the (00:18:04) twins the Cubs were just in the postseason a couple years ago. They've brought in players people perceive hope and frankly the twins attendance would be up 50% if they were as bad as they are in had Sammy Sosa in the Outfield people would come out to see him Kirby Pucket brought people into the stadium to see him in a way that even a her back or Viola when he was pitching. Didn't and there's just nothing like that right now. They are relying on guys like Christian Guzmán who is in his second year in who had a wonderful spring every single guy who had a wonderful spring has to come through in order for this to be a functional team and that just doesn't happen guys pitch well in Florida and then they see the upper deck when they get into the Big League Stadium and all of a sudden everything's High an outsider low and in the dirt and all of a sudden guys have holes in their swings, you know balls it hit the wall and Bradenton Florida don't even get touched here or wherever hmm (00:19:06) Howard Sinker is with us. He's come by today on this opening day the twins open their ninth are there 2000 season today 40th season in Minnesota and Howard's come by to talk about the Twins and baseball in general. There's a new Star Tribune Minnesota poll out today indicating that or there's pretty pretty big drop in the number of people who are following the twins. Playing baseball in general it's it's dropped substantially over the years and Howard has come by to talk about what that might mean to take your questions as well. So give us a call here six five. One two, two seven six thousand or one eight hundred two four two two eight 286512276 thousand or one eight hundred two, four two two eight two eight brush. Go ahead, please. (00:19:51) Yeah. I was just going to call about the emotion part of the game. I mean these guys get paid big money. Whereas if you go like st. Thomas had a great ballclub last year, you're not paying out the money to see guys show no emotion show less caring and then a high school game college game even even a usually game baby. They briefly, you know, I used to coach a lot of ball and I see the guys now that it's almost it's a business. I understand that but there is no motion even to win a game. No caring I'll hang up and listen, (00:20:26) you know, I'm sure these guys want to win but They're kind of limited in their ability to do so and it's not the outward kind of emotion that you see with a football team or or with the Timberwolves where Kevin Garnett's waving his arms and the fans are all going wild and and the team has a chance because it's not populated with with 3rd string players in a first string starting lineup. And that's I'm sure they care to say they don't care about winning especially on opening day. I mean until the team goes, you know, I mean last year they did try to keep it together until the end of the year and then just I guess the pressures of being the Minnesota Twins got to the youngsters but a lot of it is you don't know how to win. There's nobody on this team really to provide much in the way of Veteran leadership half of these guys probably don't understand the magnitude of Paul molitor's career. I mean, he's a coach now, but there's only so much that you can do as a coach guys have to want to be winners and some Now through losing in the hope of getting better. They the they should you can only hope that they learn from hard times and that they learn and the lessons they learn are carried out as a member of the twins (00:21:42) twins only All-Star last year. Ron Coomer was quoted in a interview here. That was it was either in today's paper. Yesterday's paper seemed pretty interesting. He was taking to task fellow players who complain about wanting they want to be on a winner and don't like playing on a losing team and he suggested. Well, there's an easy way to correct that and that's tough. That's start winning (00:22:08) some games you how are these guys could probably be a pretty competitive team in the Pacific coast League you take the twins, but you take the to the twins as they stand and put them in AAA and these guys can all call themselves winners and people will care even less. Yeah, I'm sure for guy like uber I mean rotten for Ron Coomer. It's like a winning Powerball ticket. This is a guy who's you know, he would be a leader. He would be a key player probably on three or four out of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball and he's making the best of a bad situation and he's surrounded by guys with with even flimsy or credentials who were whining when the source of their whining is their own ineptitude (00:22:47) Matt your question, (00:22:48) please I was just going to comment. I'm 19 and freshman in college. I'm going to help coach a team this summer a baseball team and I'm going to find myself also, but I think one of the big problems that people don't understand the game of baseball, that's why it's losing interest. It's you know, it's a game of failure, you know, a guy goes 3 4 10 and a week and it's a pretty good week but people aren't interested in Failure. They aren't interested in watching a nine inning game where they're just going to see a, you know want your headings of three and out there not injured they don't Like the intricate parts of the game and they don't they can't understand it. And that's one of the reasons I think it's losing a lot of interest is because you get that general population who's watching all sorts of sports and they'd rather see a success game like basketball where you got 50 percent rather than baseball where you got (00:23:37) 25% Okay, I think are good points, you know people complain that one of the reasons kids aren't interested in baseball is because they're playing soccer all summer and soccer is the ultimate game of failure, you know you go and you get a Coke and you come back and you've missed the goal in a 1-1 an ill match, you know people if the product is good people will take an interest in it. If you go back to 87 and 91 people took an interest in the twins who probably didn't even know what color the stitching on a baseball was and all of a sudden everyone was an expert. You know, it's that's what's been happening with the Vikings. People are passionate about the Vikings because of 15 and 1 in 9. 98 and the soap opera that's ensued since people still see a glimmer of hope in the Vikings. They have all these good players. They're this close and and that's why people who you know are living and dying with with every Personnel move at Winter Park where the twins that are they say the twins could bring in a high quality free agent and only one in four people who responded to the poll said they'd want be more likely to go out and watch a game (00:24:50) Howard Sinker is with us. We're talking about baseball this our twins specifically but baseball in general this being opening day around the major leagues twins are playing their home opener at seven o'clock tonight against Tampa about 40 thousand people are expected to go to the game. But a lot of other people aren't going to be paying any attention. If you believe the new Star Tribune, Minnesota poll, not much interest in the twins or in baseball in general and Howard has come by today to talk about the state of baseball. If you'd like to join our conversation. Give us a call here. Six five one two two seven six thousand 6512276 thousand outside the Twin Cities. You can reach us toll-free at 1-800-321-8633. We'll get to some more callers in just a couple of minutes programming on NPR is supported by heartscan Minnesota at Abbott Northwestern Hospital detecting heart disease years before it attacks information available from your doctor or online at (00:26:00) On the next fresh air, we celebrate the life and music of composer Kurt vile on the 50th anniversary of his death. We talked with Kim kohake president of the Kurt vile foundation for music. I'm Terry Gross join us for the next fresh air. (00:26:17) Fresh air begins at 8 o'clock tonight here on Minnesota Public Radio time now for some news headlines read a (00:26:22) Cunningham Britta. Good morning Gary the judge in the Microsoft case plans to issue his verdict later today in the government's antitrust suit the ruling which is widely expected to go against Microsoft will come after the markets closed. The judge had earlier issued a ruling that the software giant was a monopoly he's expected to lay out violations of the law against the company and then start designing a remedy that could be as Extreme as breaking up. The company Microsoft is taking a beating on Wall Street this morning the company's stock lost more than 13 percent of its value in early trading the wife of Japan's prime minister is at his side as he remains in a stroke induced coma and on life support a television report says keizo obuchi is clinically brain-dead a senior cabinet minister has taken over as acting Premier Marchers who want the Confederate flag removed from South Carolina State House. Dome are encountering flag supporters on the second leg of their Trek to the state capitol. About 70 flag opponent set out from Goose Creek this morning. They ran into about a dozen flag supporters Northwest of town. The marches planned arrived in Colombia on Thursday the same day that Pro flag supporters have planned a rally in Regional news. The Minnesota Senate has approved a so-called Patient Bill of Rights to give people a legal recourse against their health insurance providers, but the measure adopted 42 to 21 has made no progress in the house and may not be enacted this session. The Bill of Rights is pattern after one under consideration in Congress and similar laws in California, Texas and Georgia, it would allow consumers to sue their health maintenance organizations. If a situation satisfies 5 requirements the forecast for Minnesota today calls for a wind advisory for West Central and Southwestern Minnesota today, it would be windy and colder Statewide today rain and snow is likely in the Northeast high temperatures today ranging from 38 in the Northeast to 48 in the southwest at this hour Rochester reports cloudy skies and Benign the same at st. Cloud cloud, the n39 Duluth reports sunshine and 41 degrees. And in the Twin Cities Cloudy Skies a temperature of 41 Gary. That's a check on the latest news. (00:28:28) Thanks Greta 25 minutes now before noon. This is midday coming to you on Minnesota Public Radio. And this hour we're talking baseball. This is the twins 40th season opener. They're playing tonight at 7 o'clock against Tampa twins 40th season here in Minnesota Howard sinkers joined us to talk about the Twins and baseball in general. And again, if you'd like to join our conversation, six, five, one two, two seven six thousand or one eight hundred two, four two two eight two eight joining us now on the phone is Twin Cities. Businessman Wheelock Whitney who was one of the men who was instrumental in bringing the twins to Minnesota 40 years ago. Good morning. Mr. Whitney. (00:29:06) Good morning Gary. (00:29:07) Thank you so much for joining us. Lots of optimism at the time that Major League Baseball came to Minnesota. There was a lot of thought A lot of speculation that this was the thing that was going to put us on the big league map. It'll work (00:29:23) out. Absolutely. I don't think there's any doubt about it. We needed professional sports here to improve the quality of life for our citizens. And I think without a doubt baseball was the first of the professional teams to come here and now we have all four but at that time it was a very very exciting thing to happen to Minnesota. (00:29:49) I was going to say the memories are that the whole state was abuzz when the twins announcer what then the Washington Senators announced that they were coming here. Is that true or is that just the way we choose to remember (00:30:01) it? No, it's it was absolutely true and tremendous excitement. Obviously, it was something new and and different and I think that the idea of getting an established team was a big boost to the We have baseball that would be played here and they had some stars on the Washington Senators and there was genuine excitement and particularly when Calvin Griffith decided to call it the Minnesota Twins, which was pretty creative because it it include the Twin Cities and the state of Minnesota. So it was a very good thing to name the twins. (00:30:39) Why do you suppose there is so little interest now in (00:30:42) baseball. Well, (00:30:47) I think that there's plenty of interest in baseball but not as much as there should be in this market. I think all of all the talk about the stadium and has soured people at least temporarily on baseball attendance is very high in other cities and I think that it's a Pity that somehow or other people here have turned against Poor Lads and and take it out by not going to the twins games, but I I don't know that that will last forever. I don't know that the twins will last forever but I think that it's been a great thing for Minnesota and to win two world championships for our state is something that a lot of States can't point to it was unique that we could do (00:31:38) that. Mr. Whitney. Do you suppose if tomorrow well, I guess today since today is opening day of all of a sudden it turned out that these twins who are picked for last place. Maybe the worst team in baseball on and on turned out to be the new Yankees of the year 2000 the winning games left and right would that suddenly regenerate interest in the team and in in the sport around here? (00:32:03) Well, first of all, it would be a miracle and if you believe in miracles, I thought you were saying April gonna say April Fool after after that, but I of course it would make a difference. If if we had a better record and that has a lot to do with the apathy that people are showing we are a small Market Community. That's what I read in the paper and there must be a reason for that. And so we can't afford the salaries that people are paying in other communities and we see it on the caliber of team we present we have a great manager and Tom Kelly. We have a some exciting new players and and in sports. There's always hope and without a doubt if the team started to win and started to win more than they lost that would affect the way people would make their decisions on going to a game or (00:33:02) not. You think Major League Baseball is still important to Minnesota as a kind of badge a Big League status or are we move beyond that? (00:33:10) Well, I think when they came they were the first one and and now we have four And there's legitimate concern as to whether a market are size can support for Major League organizations with all the tickets all the sweets all the sponsorship that is needed to support these teams. It isn't as unique as it was then so I don't think relatively it's important but in general I think any loss of a professional sports team Major League professional sports team takes something away from the community just like the loss of a business that is bought from someone from out of town. And so I just hope that we can keep our position in in Major League (00:34:05) Sports. Thank you so much for joining us, sir. Appreciate (00:34:07) it. Enjoy the Gary. Thank you. (00:34:10) We like Whitney Twin Cities businessman. One of the men who was instrumental in bringing the, Minnesota. Winds to Minnesota 40 years ago 40th the (00:34:21) season Howard. Yeah. And so what are you gonna do? You can watch the game tonight? You're going to watch Michigan State and Florida. (00:34:30) I'll be boning up on public policy issues tonight Howard. (00:34:34) You have an exciting life (00:34:37) Joel your question, (00:34:38) please well, and actually it's a couple comments, you know, I grew up on the Twin Cities and and especially from the years about 1980 to 1995 attended a number of twins games every year in an earlier call or Kurt had raised the question. What's the difference between the teams of 1981 and 82 and the team today? And I would say that one of the differences is keeping me away from the ball park now is the lack of credibility in the ownership that we have. It was easy to support the twins as loveable losers during a lot of that stretch of the 80s not even so much because there was the potential for Hope, but because you could actually buy into the fact that Calvin Griffith Afford to spend any money the Twins were the family business. It was basically the extent of his wealth and he was trying to run it at least a somewhat profitable to profitable organization Carl polad when he assumed ownership of the Twins and these are numbers that are coming from a hazy memory. I believe was worth around 900 million dollars and at the time that he was trying to sell the twins last winter. I heard a report that he was worth approximately 1.4 billion dollars that takes a lot of the starch out of the small Market argument. We might be a small market in terms of the TV coverage and the population that they serve but we didn't have a small Market owner in terms of the wealth and when he sits there and tries to run the twins as a money-making Venture, but doesn't bother to spend any money on the team. It's one thing to know that you're going to be bad. But you're spending money. It's another thing to know that you're being bad and you're trying to have these budget situations that get out of control. I think it was a conscious decision on his part probably on the advice of some of the other owners around baseball, but that takes a lot of the heart out of my We're going to the ballpark. (00:36:18) It's hard to get excited. I remember in 1986 when the team was terrible. It was the year. It was the year that they hire Tom Kelly they finished last and I remember writing it that they won 70 or 71 games that year and I remember in a somewhat delusional State writing at the end of March. Here's how the twins could go 91 and 71 instead of 71 in 91 and and win the division. I mean nobody expected it to I was you know kidded about it by people who were allegedly a lot smarter than I was but you know look back then they had a bad team and what did they do? Suddenly Jeff Reardon shows up to to close games and Dan Gladden is batting leadoff that they had a commitment to building a winner and like Joel just just said, I think there's a perception right now that that commitment isn't there and as a result People find other things to do (00:37:19) the twins are currently paying out about Seventeen million dollars in payroll for their players, which is by normal people standards a huge amount of money, but by baseball standards is miniscule. How much would they could have to pay at least to get into the into the ballpark where you did they could reasonably expect to finish at least 500 and then with some luck and some good play could make a run for the (00:37:44) championship. Let's see, I believe Oakland's payroll this year is in the low 30s Pittsburgh went through last season as a contender with with the payroll of the mid-20s Montreal has done the same thing. If you're going to commit yourself to budget baseball, then you have to make wise and astute front office decisions and I just don't think that Tom Kelly in the coaching staff have been the beneficiary of the kind of players you need. It to give the illusion of Hope (00:38:19) Jim your question, please (00:38:21) hi, I disagree with some of the things. Mr. Singer said I think the parallels 281 are closer than he's talking about especially as far as the players go in as a twins fan. I'm excited about Jack Jones and Matt Lacroix made the jump from single day just like can't her back did I think the reason the twins are drawing is just like you've been saying because they are losing but I don't think I don't think there's really any reason right now to spend money on a high price for Asian. I don't think it would make the twins any more competitive at this point because they don't really have the core group of parent players who knows how to win yet, but I think you know a year, I think these guys are maybe a year or two away from playing 500 ball. I like the young talent. I think they've got a lot coming up on the farm system. I think the organization is as healthy as far as what's coming up from the minors. Is anybody there? Nah, I think mostly people are interested in the twins just because they're not winning. (00:39:07) Okay. I'm sure being a couple years away from those sounds like I mean that sounds like molasses that sounds like such a slow pace. What if you take these talented players and augment them with a couple of guys are proven veteran pitcher, maybe a closer. I mean who's going to save games for the twins this year? I mean if they manage to have a 4-3 lead going into the going into the ninth inning who's going to walk out take the ball and say you're dead buddy. (00:39:37) Didn't the Twins though until last year essentially try that approach. I mean they did have it that time you talking about a closing pitcher Rick Aguilera was a pretty good one and they brought in these fellows Tewkesbury and guys like that who are not big star certainly but adequate Major Leaguers, (00:39:55) but to expiry, you know, about to experience doesn't compare to Jack Morris, you know, Butch husky doesn't compare to to chili Davis. I mean, this is like, you know, the this is like, you know shopping the this is like going to an estate (00:40:10) sale. Not a lot of time left, but if you've got a question or comment for Howard Sinker, we're talking baseball this hours twin specifically baseball in general New Star Tribune, Minnesota poll out today indicating that very few minnesotans care about the twins or baseball in general. But since this is opening day, we thought it would be good to talk a little bit about where baseball stands the state of baseball in the state of Minnesota. If you'd like to join our conversation, six, five, one two, two seven six thousand or 1-800 to for to to 828 are there enough players in America to adequately stock all the teams so that if the twins or anybody else decided boy, we're going to really load up here and and put together a great team is is the talent pool still available for to build a good good (00:41:01) team. The talent pool is still there, but it's more Global the twins. I think after after being on the Twins were once on The Cutting Edge of bringing in players from Latin America. They got away from that and now I think if you look they've redoubled their commitment to bringing in Latino ballplayers to getting them acculturated to the United States and to developing them. Yeah, there are fewer kids in the US who grow up wanting to play Major League Baseball, but that's being compensated for plus. There are teams that are going elsewhere their teams that are going to to Japan to Australia and it really is baseball's becoming a little bit more of an international game. I mean, it's become an international game. I think in the way that basketball has either not a lot of players, you know outside of outside of Latin America who are going to come here and make an impact but it but it's a trickle and you have to be there in order to find them. Hmm (00:42:03) David your question, please. (00:42:05) Yeah. How is actually it's more of an observation. I'm not a twins fan. I'm big baseball fan. I'm from the outskirts of New York. Know that Howard hails from the outskirts of Chicago and I think the he's hit a lot of things very squarely on the head and had a lot of it has to do most recently what he said about Player Development Player Development is something you have to pay for you have to pay for people who know how to scout players and how and what type of players are going to be the best fit into your system and when we talked about veteran pitchers, it's not just a veteran pitcher you want you want a veteran pitcher with recent playoff experience one of the veteran catcher to lead a group of young pitchers to know how to call games properly. You need somebody in the middle and field and somebody in the Outfield basically 45 veteran players to provide the leadership and it's clear. The pullout regime of late is absolutely not interested in paying for what you need to build a team that's going to contend and I'm not a twins fan. I know these things because I'm a big baseball fan and I understand what it takes to win and so does Howard and the problem. Is that everyone who knows? About baseball understands the pull that regime is absolutely not committed to putting up the coin to do the things that need to be done. And that's why people are staying away from that ballpark like the plague (00:43:24) as I said earlier the hour that the economics of the situation seemed to be invest in if you really want a stadium as a way to be competitive and I'm not quite sure that a stadium breeds anything more than revenues which that may allow you to be competitive. If you if you spend your money wisely, you have to invest in the product on the front end to get the momentum so that the people will give you what you want. The Seattle Mariners had no chance of building their new stadium until they became a until they became competitive until they had a chance to win their division and advanced to the postseason. And now the the people who voted for a stadium the people who made it possible for stadium to be built what happened the main guy on the team Ken Griffey Junior goes elsewhere. (00:44:12) Nancy your comment, please (00:44:14) I think I'm in the minority but I'll tell you what takes the heart out of my going to the ballpark. That's the phrase a previous caller used and that is the obscenely high salaries not of are twins but of the others and I think it was a several years ago before Kirby Puckett had to leave the game. He was given tremendous praise because he had stayed with the twins for something like 6 million when he could have gone Elsewhere for more and I thought now really something inside me just snapped and I thought this whole thing has gotten ridiculous. There's no team loyalty by the players anymore because they can go somewhere else and make more money. It was at that point that I just said, this is too much a business. It's not a game. I love the game of baseball. I'll watch it elsewhere (00:45:00) and boil time it that's a good that's a good comment and see loyalty is a two-way street. I think you see with the twins. I think you see especially with the Vikings management isn't Isn't taking care of players at times in the ways. They want to be taken care of Brad. Rad key is the one marketable guy on the twins Brad rack is with the one guy on the team right now as a pitcher who you might go to see if he's going to pitch every every fifth day and he's involved in a contract Hassle and it just seems like the differences between we're rad keys at and where the twins are at our differences that if you were committed to Bringing people into the stadium each side would give a little bit and and and you'd reach some kind of conclusion. There are some kind of agreement that might be very naive of me to just be sitting here saying that but if you're going to antagonize the one guy that people are going to come to see your diminishing your your fan base even more especially in an environment with it where the team looks like if they lose if they win 70 games everybody will be (00:46:06) thrilled two years ago an immense amount of Interest was generated when Mark Wire broke the homerun record. Can we expect a similar kind of? Development this year something equally (00:46:21) exciting. I think having McGuire and Sosa and Griffey all going at each other. I mean, I just think that we can Griffey going to the National League. Yeah. I think that that's where the interest is going to be. They all play here. They should people come through here. It'll be interesting to see what the attendance spike is. When when those teams come to town (00:46:45) the Yankees meanwhile at the other end of the salary Spectrum the Yankees will be trying for their third straight World Championship. Are they likely to repeat again this year? (00:46:56) It's amazing what you can do with money isn't it? You have a 90 million dollar payroll. You spend it wisely. You have baseball people in the front office. You have an owner who's learned lessons the hard way you have a first-rate manager. You know, Joe Torre is Tom Kelly with players. And and yeah, I mean it wouldn't be a surprise. I'd be more If they don't win it then if the the if they do (00:47:23) and finally Howard last year the twins. Well, they put up a good scrap for a while. And of course they faded miserably at the end of the year ended up winning 63 games. Are they going to do any better this year in a guesstimate as to how many games they might actually (00:47:39) win 64 65, that's it. I mean, you know, it's one of those things you get it you got to show me before I'm going to be willing to admit or willing to acknowledge that this team is any better. I just don't see it Butch husky or David Ortiz playing first base with Todd Walker. It's at second base. That's like the Vikings defensive line. They need help we have where's Jevon Kearse when we need him? (00:48:06) Thanks Howard. We're out of time. Appreciate you joining us (00:48:08) always a thrill (00:48:09) or it's analyst Howard Sinker who in his real life is the state news editor for the Star Tribune more on the state of baseball one o'clock this afternoon on Talk of the Nation. Minnesota meteorologist Mark Seeley, I like the springtime because of the return of the high Sun The Long Day's the fresh spring odors in the air. Even the farm. Odors are welcome to me Minnesota. Timber wolf Malik Sealy. (00:48:37) I'm a Fall Guy. I love the fall. It's not too hot. It's not too cold. The weather is just right to me and if all (00:48:43) different perspectives on Morning Edition weekdays from 529, it's 5 minutes now before 12 o'clock.


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