COMMENTARY | The Minnesota Twins have a rich history and tradition that includes a pair of championships and many great ballplayers, including four Hall of Famers. They have brought much joy to their loyal fans.
That doesn't mean fans don't have any reason to complain. They usually will regardless of the circumstances, but the Twins still can make it difficult and frustrating to be a fan. Here are just the top five.
5. The last two seasons. It's bad enough when a team is trying to avoid 100 losses in a season, but when they are at their absolute worst at the beginning of the season, they crush all hope and leave fans with little to look forward to over the last months of the season.
The Twins did this effectively in 2011-12, going a combined 15-33 in April of both seasons. On June 1 of 2011, the Twins were already 15.5 games out of first place and in 2012, the Twins weren't much closer. They were 10.5 games back on June 1 of last season.
4. Old-school thinking. The Twins are nothing if not consistent. They don't fire people and they don't try to do things in new ways. Keeping their leadership structure in place does give the franchise a high level of stability, however, it can lead to stale thinking as well.
Manager Ron Gardenhire has been at the helm of the Twins longer than any other manager except for Mike Scoscia, the manager for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Gardenhire is not one to think outside of the box, which can be real frustrating to Twins fans, especially when he refuses to look at options that would make sense if he actually took the time to look at them.
Instead, closers continue to close and are unable to pitch for more than one inning or in any other situations, such as on Friday, May 3, when the Twins lost in extra innings with closer Glen Perkins not throwing a single pitch. This is because Perkins was being held out so he could pitch in a save situation that never came.
Another frustrating issue was when Perkins was not brought in with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth inning when a strikeout was desperately needed to preserve a one-run lead. Setup man Jared Burton has been terrific, but he was clearly off his game Friday. He did get a ground ball to second baseman Brian Dozier, but Dozier bobbled the ball and could only get an out at first base while the tying run scored.
3. Always a sabermetric step behind. The Twins have a well-earned reputation as a team with excellent scouting. The Twins rely on drafting and developing players and the scouting department is integral to that success.
However, the Twins have been extremely slow to take advantage of more advanced statistics that can only help a team in player evaluations. For example, the Twins were one of the last teams to hire someone to exclusively do statistical analysis.
While it was great that the Twins finally took this necessary step, the Twins are still understaffed when compared to the vast majority of other major league teams and it is doubtful this analysis is taken as seriously with the Twins as it is with most other teams.
2. Playoff win drought. It is difficult to remember that the Twins actually had a five-series winning streak in the postseason. It began with the American League Championship Series in 1987 and continued through the 2002 AL Division Series. That streak was ended by the Angels in the ALCS and the Twins haven't won a series since despite winning five division titles in that time.
In fact, the Twins haven't won a playoff game since winning Game 1 in the ALDS against the New York Yankees in 2004. They lost the final three games of that series and then were swept by the Oakland Athletics in 2006, not to mention being swept twice by the Yankees in 2009 and 2010. The Twins also have lost 10 consecutive home playoff games since winning Game 1 of the 2002 ALCS.
1. Revenue inequities. The biggest frustration for Twins fans is knowing the team has always had a disadvantage going into every season. This is because they just cannot generate the same kind of revenues as the big-market teams they compete with every year, including their own hated rivals, the Chicago White Sox.
Thanks to beautiful Target Field, the Twins are in their best shape financially since the franchise moved to Minnesota in 1961. However, the Twins just won't ever be able to land the mega television deals like teams in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. This doesn't mean that the Twins can't ever compete with these teams, but it does mean that the Twins have to be that much better than those high-revenue teams in maximizing their own revenues and doing the little things right, especially in drafting and developing players.
Darin McGilvra has been a professional sports writer since 1997 and has been a Twins follower since Kirby Puckett's breakout season of 1986. He has been published in The Californian, a newspaper covering Riverside County, and multiple websites.
Follow Darin on Twitter at @SoCalTwinsfan.
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