February 23, 2010
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The general manager of the Minnesota Twins raised his hands over his head in mock triumph, as if his team had just won the AL Central again.
"Bill Smith, TV and Appliances," Bill Smith said. " 'Quality since 1956,' or something."
Almost — 1954. Smith was referring to a local electronics store that runs two locations in the same town where the Twins train. There are eight stores in all, along Florida's southwest gulf coast, from Port Charlotte up north, down to Naples in the south.
"We're very diversified," Smith said with a straight face.
He pivoted: "I'm no relation. I wish it was."
So, Smith isn't a regional retail baron; it's just a strange nominal coincidence. He has been the Twins' GM since October 2007, having traded the likes of Johan Santana(notes) because of a contract crunch and seeing Torii Hunter(notes) lost to free agency for similar reasons.
He also moved Matt Garza(notes) and Jason Bartlett(notes), which helped the Rays a lot, for Delmon Young(notes), who still might help the Twins. Those deals are cleverly but sharply criticized on Smith's Wikipedia page by a writer who is apparently not a fan.
Smith probably had a better offseason this time around, coming off an AL Central crown in 2009. The Twins added Orlando Hudson(notes) and Jim Thome(notes) in a discounted free agent market and they traded Carlos Gomez(notes) to the Brewers for J.J. Hardy(notes).
That much is known. But what isn't? Has he ever been by a Bill Smith store to price a plasma TV? A vacuum? Check out a washer/dryer combo?
"Umm, you know, I've been in there," Smith said. "I've been in there and I asked them if I could get a discount because my name was Bill Smith."
They weren't buying it, so Smith wasn't buying, either.
Well, well, well. The Twins organization trying to buy something at a discount? Say it isn't so!
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