First, don’t blame me for what I assume will be a big fat picture of Brian Dozier urinating during the fifth inning of the Twins’ embarrassing loss to Oakland the other day. Yes, there it is, first thing you see, regrettably trivializing this thoughtful essay. Not my fault. I am appalled if not quite apologetic. I’m just the writer.
You remember the game: Dozier starts out the entertainment with a home run, then goes on to strike out five straight times, then goes on to rip his employers after the contest — which ended in a 12-inning loss — for trading the newly acquired Jaime Garcia. Poor Garcia — not even able to last in his new assignment as long as The Mooch did in his — but, ultimately, landing in the sweet spot of Gotham, USA. In return, the Twins got one Zack Littell, a Double-A pitcher billed as the Yankees’ 22nd-best minor league prospect.
In fairness, the Yankees have a lot of pretty good prospects.
And so the Twins had lost six games in seven tries — and July ended for the Twins, as did, it seems, their dream of winning the division. Another year in Mediocreville. Dozier would soon go on a tear, enjoying something of an August after-party. Dozier, in concert with the elderly Bartolo Colon, were about to launch the Twins toward a .500 record. It doesn’t get any more mediocre than that.
It was Must-Pee TV, and the frozen image would soon go viral
But before that could happen, there was that moment in late July — the one in which the God-fearing second baseman had to endure the ignominy of the national telecast featuring him as he urinated in the dugout water closet. Mind you, his back — and therefore the potentially offending appendage — was to the camera. Nevertheless, it was Must-Pee TV, and the frozen image would soon go viral. Sadly, the uncomfortable optics probably overshadowed Dozier’s post-game argument that the Twins should have been going all out to acquire players who might help propel them deep into the postseason.
Brian Dozier with an in-game drain. pic.twitter.com/bZcC6yuV0H
— Parker Hageman (@ParkerHageman) July 29, 2017
Those of us who have not caught Twins Fever might argue that the accomplished Garcia was not exactly all the team needed for a march toward November. But that’s hardly the point. Dozier, on behalf of his mates, was simply doing what athletes are trained to do, from tee ball to the Bigs.
Never give up.
Make every game count.
Say things like, “I’d play for free if I had to.”
And it was that kind of effort that we witnessed on that fateful night in Oakland — just not from our beloved Twins. While the A’s were crashing into fences, diving into dugouts, and taking daring and frenzied turns around the bases, the visiting team looked, at best, enervated — and, at worst, selfish.
The latter adjective applied especially to the behemoth whose highlight package we are forced to watch nearly every time he steps up to the plate. I’m sure it is accompanied by a frenzied voiceover, courtesy of the nausea-inducing Dick Bremer, but the mute button leaves me blissfully ignorant. Anyway, I was about to mention the One-Tool Wonder, Miguel Sano. We’ve watched him sulk all year, glaring at umpires while called out on obvious strikes, watching possible home runs from the comfort of home plate (because why hustle around the bases when the ball might make it over the fence?) and rarely bothering to run out ground balls.
So it was not exactly a shock when, in the 11th inning, Miggy, having once again been rung up, angrily threw his bat at home plate in chagrin and outrage. Our hometown media rose as one to declare that the pitch was outside, or something, and maybe it was. Whatever. The point is that umpires routinely miss close calls, and acting as if you, and you alone, are the victim of such ineptitude is an act of grandiosity and, in this case, rank intemperance. If you are really all that, perhaps your team is going to need you in the 12th inning and beyond.
One more inning and a walk-off homer would end our misery
Instead, we witnessed the tiring pantomime of Sano’s narcissistic dudgeon, followed by the customary emergence from the dugout of our weary, lame-duck manager. There was Paul Molitor, observing the ritual of getting between his foolish player and the umpire, but it was obvious that Molitor’s heart wasn’t in it. One more inning and a walk-off homer would end our misery.
Meanwhile, the rest of Twins Nation (this is said in jest) should probably be relieved (no pun intended) that the Twins were at least looking toward the future, as in past October. Let us restrain our praise of the team’s new and analytically inclined front office, however; had the youthful executives really displayed sagacity, they might have traded Dozier himself before the season even started.
Dozier was coming off an astonishingly powerful season, scoring 104 runs, driving in 99, blasting 42 homers and achieving a cosmic .546 slugging percentage. Maybe not exactly a fluke, but something he was unlikely to match again. So, on second thought, maybe a fluke.
Sooner or later, the Twins will have to make a significant trade. The analytics guys, with all those important and unprecedented numbers in front of them, now just seem to be rope-a-doping the fans. It’s hard to reconcile the idea that Garcia was an important addition to the team one day and a casually relinquished dude less than a week later. The Twins have had plenty of rental players in the past, guys who were in the final year of a contract but could help the Twins right now. But renting a guy for six days? That’s the kind of improvisation better suited to a comedy club.
So what it looks like from here is that Falvey and Levine played it like a terrible gambler. In poker, the second best hand is always the worst hand, especially for a sucker who can’t decide whether to stay in or get out — and, of course, tries to play it both ways, leaking money until the final raise forces him out.
What the Twins need is a plan, maybe one that reaches into the next four or five years. Some day, and soon, the Twins will have to give up someone who can command something big in return. It’s up to them. All I know is that everyone wants a guy who can hit a lot of home runs, and if that guy has a questionable glove and a self-defeating attitude, so much the better.