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Thrylos

Twins, Gardenhire and Maritime Law

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When Francesco Schettino, the captain of Costa Concordia abandoned his sinking ship lastJanuary, it made international news. But he was not alone, to quote a very interesting Discovery channel article: "Considered one of the most infamous crimes in maritime law, [this] act of cowardice has many precedents in history.", and goes on to list several of the previous captains who have abandoned ship.

Today, another name needs to be added to the list: Ronald Clyde Gardenhire.

With the excuse that he needs to attend his daughter's college graduation, he left his team (with the worse record in baseball) hours after a sweep was completed with a no-hitter against the Twins, to go home to Minnesota for a 4-day weekend. The Twins will join him after they finish their 3 game series at Seattle against the Mariners. He was so ready to get out of town that he caught a red-eye flight the night of the sweep and rushed reporters out off his office to make the flight. Before the blood even dried. Before he could have a single team meeting.

College graduation is an important personal event and the father should be there, but, looking at the details a little closer, it is obvious that it is just an excuse for Ron Gardenhire to take a break and leave the team he led to the worse record in the majors, on the very night of arguably their lowest point in the season. Let's look at the facts:
  • Ron Gardenhire's daughter is attending the Southwest Minnesota State University at Marshall, MN. According to the University's web site, commencement takes place at 10 AM this Saturday. Commencement exercises of schools that size, usually take about 1.5-2 hours. The Twins are playing the Mariners at Seattle this Friday at 7:10 PM, this Saturday at 6:10 PM and this Sunday at 1:10 PM (all local,PDT times.)
  • The drive to Marshall, MN home of the Southwest Minnesota State University, where his daughter is graduating at 10 AM is 2 hrs and 46 minutes according to Bing Maps. The ride from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Safeco Park, where the Twins are playing this weekend, according the same source, takes 18 minutes. Also Marshall is the home of the Southwest Minnesota Regional Airport.
  • It takes about 3 hrs to fly from the Twin Cities area to Seattle and vice versa
Given those facts, Ron Gardenhire had 3 options:
  • Option 1: Stay with the sinking ship, making the flight to Seattle, managing the team Friday night and taking a private plane (I assume that the Pohlads or the team would allow the use of their private planes, esp if Gardenhire pitched in for gas; or he could have arranged for one) that night or early morning to Marshall arriving in plenty of time for the graduation. Also a 2 PM Marshall departure which would allow plenty of time for pictures and a lunch, would have had him back in Seattle by 3 PM local time, plenty of time to go to the ballpark and manage the 6:10 Saturday game. This way, he would have done his duty to his family and his team. There was no conflict, just inconvenience and cost.
  • Option 2: Stay with the sinking ship, making the flight to Seattle, managing the team Friday night and taking the red eye commercial flight Friday night. I want to think that someone who makes millions a year can afford a private plane and he has access to the team's plane, but let's say that he does not. Delta Airlines flight 1014 leaves Seattle at 12:30 AM local time Saturday morning and arrives in Minneapolis at 5:46 AM local time. Plenty of time to arrive at Marshall at about 8:30 for the 10:00 commencement. The ceremony ends around 11:30 AM. The ride to the airport might make the 2:20 PM flight arriving Seattle at 3:35 PM (in time to manage the whole game) a bit tight (and I assume that he is poor enough not to get private air transport from Marshall to Minneapolis), but the next flight leaving at 5:35 PM and arriving at Seattle at 7:13 PM is doable and allows him to spend an hour or two for lunch and pictures before he joins the Twins. Arriving at Seattle at 7:13 will get him at the ballpark and in uniform before 8:00 PM (the ride is only 18 minutes according to Bing Maps). That is about half way into the game. So he would have missed only half a game and do his paternal duty, but be a bit inconvenienced also.
  • Option 3: Abandon the sinking ship, taking the next flight out in the middle of the night, arriving in his Minnesota home more than 2 days before he needed to be there, stay longer than he needs to be there, miss Sunday's game. Let his team come to him in Minnesota and play alone, headless, three games at Seattle right after they were swept by the Angels, right after a no-hitter against them, while he is having a nice and comfy 4-day weekend. That was the option chosen.
Maritime Law is stern and specific. The Twins' front office has (vaguely) been talking about "accountability" last off-season. The captain abandoned his ship. And he did not have to. The facts are there. It is more than time that the ship finds a new captain who respects his position and follows his duty, trying to right it when it is ready to break, instead of abandoning it and let it sink even further.



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Comments

  1. TiberTwins's Avatar
    Your penchant for ridding the team of Gardy is well known and documented. That being said, I agree with the analogy of the captain leaving the ship. He seems less and less in control of this team and not willing to do what it takes to right the ship. In those situations in professional sports, where the manager/coach has lost his team, teams usually get rid of them. But... that is not the "Twins Way."
  2. Jim Crikket's Avatar
    I get that you hate Gardenhire and all that, but when you go to this extreme, it doesn't help your cause at all. It just shows that you'll stop at very little when it comes to bashing the guy.

    You do realize flights,both private and commercial, get delayed or even cancelled, right? Rule one of travel is that you NEVER leave yourself without contingency options if you've got a critical event to attend. One big thunderhead over the Rockies and he misses his daughter's graduation.

    As someone who's traveled a fair amount for work and gone to some pretty questionable extremes at times to avoid missing my kids' events, big and small, I'll just say that if anyone suggested I do what you're suggesting Gardy should have done, I'd tell them exactly what they could do with their suggestion... and it probably wouldn't be anatomically possible.

    Questioning strategic decisions, baseball smarts, control of the clubhouse... all are legitimate nits to pick if you're so inclined. But questioning a guy making damn sure he's there and able to enjoy his daughter's graduation is out of line, in my opinion.
  3. TwinsGuy55422's Avatar
    I understand that you want Gardenhire gone. However, I think there are plenty of reasons that could be cited for letting Gardenhire go without beating this college graduation issue to death. Is it physically possible for him to go to the graduation and not miss any of the Seattle games? Assuming your research is correct, the answer is yes. However, I don't think it makes much sense for him to do that for several reasons. College graduations are a big deal and your family should be a top priority. Swooping in for the ceremony/luncheon and then leaving right away would send a pretty strong message to his daughter about where his priorities are. If that was my parent, I would rather they just didn't come at all. I am assuming that he has a certain number of personal days in his contract to use for these sorts of things and that this leave has the blessing of ownership. Right now, this team is unbelievably sucky and him not being there for a few days is not going to make a difference. In fact, him not being there might be beneficial in allowing him to take a step back and reevaluate. I do not think it sends any kind of bad message to the players because I think it shows them that he is not going to let tough times cloud his judgment and alter his priorities.

    Don't get me wrong. I think there is good chance that Gardenhire and his staff will be gone before this team once again becomes competitive. I just don't think this is something to be held against him.
  4. scottz's Avatar
    While I get the analogy and agree that the timing couldn't really have been worse, I can't go so far as to say this is in any way equivalent to the Maritime Law of leaving those in your charge in harm's way. There are many professions in the world, and for those of us who have a job that allows us leave for family time, it is a perk that is greatly appreciated.

    I believe that MLB instituting bereavement and paternity-type allowances, and individual ballclubs allowing their coaches and players to take time away for family matters is nothing but a good thing. I hope Gardy is able to enjoy the ceremony and give his daughter a big hug and tell her how proud he is of her, and I hope his attendance gives her a memory that lasts her entire lifetime.

    I think it is time for the Twins to move on front current field staff, but Gardy going to his daughter's graduation has no place in that discussion.

    Respectfully,
    scottz
  5. Boom Boom's Avatar
    At the time this was planned Gardy didn't know just how bad it would be for the team right now. Your analogy doesn't fit unless Gardy decides to suddenly take an extra day or two off while he's gone.
  6. TiberTwins's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by TiberTwins
    Your penchant for ridding the team of Gardy is well known and documented. That being said, I agree with the analogy of the captain leaving the ship. He seems less and less in control of this team and not willing to do what it takes to right the ship. In those situations in professional sports, where the manager/coach has lost his team, teams usually get rid of them. But... that is not the "Twins Way."
    Reading some of the quotes, I need to clarify that I agree that this is not the issue that should get him fired. My point is that he has lost this team and they don't want/care to play for him. For that fact, he needs to move on.
  7. SweetOne69's Avatar
    If this han't been planned weeks ago, I would agree with you. But since it was scheduled ahead of time that he would miss the enitre series, I have no issues with it.
  8. Steve Lein's Avatar
    This... is flat out ridiculous.

    Gardenhire has every right in the world to go be with his family on an occasion such as this, and it has absolutely zero relation to "abandoning" his team that isn't playing well. The situations you're trying to connect together are mutually exclusive.
  9. Thrylos's Avatar
    Thanks for the comments

    so....

    are we (and with "we" I mean the people who thankfully commented here, and the ones who have commented at this post, the ones who commented here, and the ones who did not comment, but read it and agree with the comments saying that it is ridiculous to think that Gardy should be there and are) basically in agreement that Gardy will not be missed for one series?

    And if he will not be missed for one series, can we extrapolate a bit and say that he will not be missed for 2, 5, 10, 20 series?

    Can we say that if it is ok for him to leave the Twins when they hit rock bottom (and the Twins will not miss him that much and I do agree with that notion, btw) it is ok for him to leave the Twins permenantly?

    I say yes, and I suspect you all probably agree, because you cannot have it both ways
    Updated 05-03-2012 at 05:21 PM by Thrylos
  10. Jim Crikket's Avatar
    Again, another rather absurd conclusion. So are you saying that any of us who take vacations or any time off from work should conclude that if our employers/jobs can get by without us for 3 days, then they can just as easily get by without us for 10 days, 40 days, 1 year? Of course not. To suggest that missing one series is no different than 20 series just makes the whole point you're trying to make even more bizarre.
  11. JB_Iowa's Avatar
    I don't think this says anything about him leaving permanently (not that I'd be opposed to that).

    And, while they have metaphorically hit the rocks, it isn't like they are in any physical danger (except perhaps from rabid fans).

    As I recall, he has taken days off for family matters in the past. In addition to his brother's (? as I recall) death which was obviously unscheduled, I specifically remember him taking time off for his daughter's HS graduation. That may have only been for 1 day but I think it was during a homestand. So I really don't view this as unusual.

    And, moreover, this may be coming at a really good time. Perhaps a few days away will give him some new energy when he goes back to this disaster of a team.

    I just don't see this break as a big deal. (That doesn't mean that a change of managers isn't warranted ... but not for taking these few days off.)
  12. Thrylos's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa
    I just don't see this break as a big deal. (That doesn't mean that a change of managers isn't warranted ... but not for taking these few days off.)
    He should not be fired because he took those 4 days off. Of Course

    What I meant was that there are a lot of people who a. think that Gardy is irreplaceable and b. it is fine for him to take off for a while. a. and b. do not work together. So when those who really are big a. fans started talking about b., I am pointing it out. And this was just to get those people think about b. a bit...
  13. Alba's Avatar
    Dear Thrylos98: I am italian and I have read all the official documents of the inquiry related to the accident of concordia. I can assure you that Francesco Schettino never abandoned his ship. He stayed on board in order to coordinate the evacuation and he left afte 4000 passengers. He left because he was forced at 00.15 a.m.. He was on the right side of the ship helping the last persons when the ship finally capsized. Then he tryed to go back. In the ship remained 200/300 persons. He dismissed this accusation. There is an enquiry ongoing. Stop spreading false information and believing media sensationalism. There are many interests involved in this story. Even the famous phone call (at 1.49 a.m.) was translated badly . The captain never refused to go back on board. Don't talk about thing that you don't know.
    Updated 05-03-2012 at 06:29 PM by Alba
  14. Thrylos's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Alba
    Dear Thrylos98: I am italian and I have read all the official documents of the inquiry related to the accident of concordia. I can assure you that Francesco Schettino never abandoned his ship. He stayed on board in order to coordinate the evacuation and he left afte 4000 passengers. He left because he was forced at 00.15 a.m.. He was on the right side of the ship helping the last persons when the ship finally capsized. Then he tryed to go back. In the ship remained 200/300 persons. He dismissed this accusation. There is an enquiry ongoing. Stop spreading false information and believing media sensationalism. There are many interests involved in this story. Even the famous phone call (at 1.49 a.m.) was translated badly . The captain never refused to go back on board. Don't talk about thing that you don't know.
    Alrighty.
    Accetto. Grazie per il chiarimento
  15. TwinsGuy55422's Avatar
    Why can't A and B go together. Just to be clear, I think Gardy has plenty of flaws. However, even if I thought he was the best manager in the history of professional baseball, I would still think it is okay to be away from the team for a FEW days for an IMPORTANT family event. I don't see how you can so vehemently argue that these two things can't go together. Essentially you're saying that if you are an important asset to your job, you always need to choose your job over your family.
    Updated 05-03-2012 at 09:53 PM by TwinsGuy55422
  16. Jim Crikket's Avatar
    "He was so ready to get out of town that he caught a red-eye flight the night of the sweep and rushed reporters out off his office to make the flight. Before the blood even dried. Before he could have a single team meeting."

    Just for the record and not that it will change your opinion anyway, but it turns out the manager DID have a team meeting after the game Wednesday night. Details are available at the 1500ESPN site, from Phil Mackey's post there.
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