So the Twins season ends. They swept Detroit to leave on a high note, but after three consecutive division championships, that was little consolation. The team that looked so very promising in April collapsed long before October, degenerating into injuries, infighting and incompetence.
Sure, it was a winning season--barely. And a few years ago, with different guys and different expectations, that would have been okay. But not this year, not with this team. The Twins' hitting woes have been analyzed to death, but that wasn't the only problem they faced. A rush of minor news items at the tail end of the season point out how deep the cracks in this team go.
Hunter went down with a broken bone in July. Stewart hasn't played since mid-September. After pitching on a bum knee all season Silva was yanked to have his surgery early when it became clear the postseason was not in the Twins future. Radke missed his last several starts after battling neck and shoulder problems for months.
Old news. Here's what you may not have heard:
--Juan Rincón had surgery yesterday to remove a bone spur in his pitching elbow. How long and how much this affected him is not clear.
--Justin Morneau has a bone spur in one of his elbows, too, and may have offseason surgery.
--Johan Santana has been pitching with a sore hip for weeks.
--Juan Castro strained his back and was unavailable to play in the final series.
The blow-up between Kyle Lohse and manager Ron Gardenhire made news for days. JC Romero's temper tantrum during the penultimate series, likewise.
The fact that Torii Hunter and Justin Morneau got into an argument on Thursday was also widely reported, but the punch Hunter threw at Morneau in the course of that argument has been left out in many accounts. (Oh, and Torii? You might want to keep in mind that Justin could probably pull your arms off if he so desired.)
Is this what the Twins have come to? Starters smashing chairs into the manager's door, relievers storming off the mound to yell at coaches in the dugout, veterans throwing punches at younger players? Not to mention months of both players and coaches making pointed statements in the media about how some unnamed but clearly-painted players lack passion or fortitude or both.
You know what? As much as I and other fans are fascinated by the inner workings of a baseball team, there are things that should never reach our eyes/ears. Some things should be handled by the team, within the team, behind closed doors.
If someone really does need to bust their butt more or suck up the pain of a nagging but ultimately minor injury, then the powers that be need to make that clear to them, not whine to the newspapers about it. If a player is being immature, then the coaching staff needs to sit him down and explain what's appropriate and demand that he conduct himself properly in future. If a member of the staff has behaved badly toward a player, that player needs to take his grievance up the chain, not out on a door.
In other words, guys: Shut up. Just shut the **** up, all of you, and try to act like grown men. You might be surprised how much a mature attitude in the clubhouse could improve the team on the field. And even if it doesn't make a damn bit of difference on the field, win or lose we'll respect you more at the end of the season if you act like winners.