Column: Minnesota Twins end their season early
Some observations are warranted before the Minnesota Twins end their season. Actually, I'm a little late because their season ended in April. As of this writing, they are 19 games behind Detroit in the American League Central Division.
At least the attendance is encouraging. Minneapolis and St. Paul put some larger markets to shame. Even in a losing season, fans come out. It must be the new outdoor Target Field.
It's like Sioux hockey. The first Engelstad arena seated 6,000 and it was barely full; the new Englestad seats 12,000. Suddenly, 6,000 new folks are going to the hockey games. It's the aura of the event.
Too many Twins games were lost this year when they let runners die on the bases. Next year, they should sign up a mortician or someone qualified to give last rites. A fervent prayer wouldn't help because God doesn't take sides.
Now, Dick and Bert claim that the Twins have a great bullpen. Regardless, there is cause for fear after the sixth inning, by which time most of the starters are finished. It makes one wonder if there are any real bulls in the bullpen or its Dick & Bert bull.
Bullpen pitchers expect to be pampered. If a bullpen pitcher throws more than 12 balls, he puts in a claim for overtime.
If they're on the mound for more than two innings, pity flows all over the broadcast booth.
When I played American Legion baseball, the pitcher stayed in for the whole game. There was no bullpen. There was no pitch count. Of course, the batters were usually swinging at everything that came close to the plate so the count for a 7-inning game never got over 40.
A major problem for the Twins is the revolving door. Except for Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, the whole team changes every season. So it's new faces and Ruth keeps asking: "Is he on our side or theirs?" Sometimes, we're not sure. Neither is Manager Gardy.
They keep giving away their best players. Look at Torii Hunter, for instance. Where is Torii today? He's playing with the Detroit Tigers at the top of the Central Division. He can hardly see the Twins way down there in the cellar. Every player they've traded is a star on some other team.
The real question is whether management is in the baseball business or in human trafficking. When they get a good offer, they trade their stars for cash plus three minor league players in 2015.
Mauer, a hometown St. Paul guy, will be put to the test when the Yankees offer him double his present salary -- like maybe $45 million as compared to his present salary of $23 million. He's got a perfect excuse for leaving -- a wife and two kids to feed.
Nobody plays for community pride. Not only is the head office ruthless in its trading but the players also dash off at the first offer of more bucks. It's the folks in the bleachers who are the victims of this sport.
Looking at next year, maybe management will find it profitable to put Gardy on first, Joe Vavra on second, Ron Coomer on third and Rick Anderson on the mound.
By the end of the season, they may be 80 games behind the division leader but it doesn't make any difference whether you are 80 games or 18 games out of first. You are out of the game in either case.
Everybody would feel better if they passed that bucket of bubble gum around to the fans.
(Lloyd Omdahl, of Grand Forks, is a former lieutenant governor, state tax commissioner and state budget director)