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Souhan: All's quiet in Twins clubhouse

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#1 Parker Hageman

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 09:42 AM

The Twins were known as rowdy and rambunctious with a flair for pranks while they were winning in the late 1980s, early 1990s and most of the 2000s.

This year’s team? No fun at all. Or so observes Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan.

This spring, the Twins clubhouse is almost as quiet as their lineup.

That might be irrelevant. It might be generational. This is certain: It feels familiar. Being around the clubhouse this spring was like watching reruns of a show you hate.

Not to preach about the old days, but in the old days the Twins clubhouse was part finishing school, part vaudeville act.


Souhan continues by wondering if the difference between then and now has to do with the advent of smartphones and social media sites. Closer and social media superstar Glen Perkins refuted this, suggesting that winning creates chemistry.

It’s an interesting topic, team chemistry. For long, statistician have denounced or avoided the subject, believing that the effects are immeasurable. Still, there are others who claim Rays’ manager Joe Maddon’s antics or Boston’s decision to load the roster with “character guys” help them milk out a few more wins. Last year, Sam Miller examined the subject in conjunction with the Oakland A’s and found that there were some academics were creating studies on the issue. According to the findings of professors from Rutgers, the clubhouse chemistry equates to a math problem:

“Central to her research is the idea of fault lines, the divisions that keep some employees isolated from others. Think about fault lines like cliques in high school: If five friends all love cheerleading and five other friends all love marching band, then those 10 people are divided into two groups that don't interact. But if girls from each group are also into, say, running the school's canned-food drive, there is now a third, overlapping group. And if there's a conflict between a cheerleader and a flutist, there are networks for resolving it.

Bezrukova and Spell tracked every MLB team's demographics: age, race and country of origin, along with salary and position. They found that teams with lots of overlap -- say, the three Venezuelans on the team who play different positions; the high-priced veterans who speak different languages -- outperformed teams with severe fault lines by about three wins per year.”


Are there clubhouses have tons of fun that are losing teams too? Probably. Are there winning clubhouses that are filled with silence and separatists? Maybe.

Are the Twins players a bunch of city-state warriors with little overlap? Possibly. Unlike the 1980s and 2000s guys, the core group did not come up together. That said, the Red Sox, Rays and A’s constantly pump in fresh blood from outside of the organization and still maintain the elite clubhouse chemistry vibe.

Similar to the Rutgers study and what Perkins alluded to, winning is a shared overlapping group. No one wants to share in losing.

#2 gunnarthor

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 09:58 AM

I'm not sure how much it helps - I think it might help but maybe not in a measurable way. But it is more fun rooting for a team of characters then a bunch of boring ballplayers.

#3 JB_Iowa

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 10:14 AM

I did find the "generational" point interesting -- as someone in their late 50's who doesn't use a smartphone, I find it very annoying, for example, when teens-20's spend most of Christmas Day texting, posting and searching rather than TALKING to live people.

But aside from that, we discussed the "Target Field Library" extensively last fall:
http://www.twinsdail...t Field Library


It just looks like it moved south this winter. I have no doubt it will be opening again in the TC later this spring.

#4 ashburyjohn

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 10:29 AM

I did find the "generational" point interesting -- as someone in their late 50's who doesn't use a smartphone, I find it very annoying, for example, when teens-20's spend most of Christmas Day texting, posting and searching rather than TALKING to live people.


And when you and I were their age, we curled up with a book or sat with headphones while listening to our new hi-fi we got for Christmas, and uttered a grunt if one of the elders tried to strike up a conversation. :)

#5 JB_Iowa

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 10:50 AM

Wow, just read the entire article you linked to, Parker, and it was fascinating.

I was intrigued by the following quote:

[COLOR=#333333][FONT=Verdana]Oakland, out of necessity, signs players with limitations; out of necessity, the team sometimes asks them to fill holes they're not used to. That means plenty of platoons, which keeps egos in check, and players being asked to change positions: Donaldson is an infielder who was once a catcher; Brandon Moss is an infielder who was once an outfielder; Sean Doolittle is a reliever who was once an infielder. Overlapping roles, no cliques.
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[COLOR=#333333][FONT=Verdana]Oakland trades its stars before they leave for free agency, so only four Athletics this summer were actually drafted and developed by the team. It's a culture of baseball immigrants, the AL's melting pot. Nobody owns the clubhouse. The music that plays there before game time reflects this shared ownership: Rather than the house, hip-hop or country booming out of most clubhouses, the A's usually listen to classic vinyl or VH1-style mom pop, inoffensive background music that nobody could really object to (or feel territorial about). It must be the only clubhouse that plays Jethro Tull.


[SIZE=3][FONT=arial]​This brings me back to the "elephant in the room" question about the impact of Joe Mauer's personality.

I don't think anyone would dispute that Mauer is quiet. Given the huge respect paid to him by the management and fans, isn't it reasonable to believe that his personality has an impact on that clubhouse?

What rookie or young player is going to bring in liveliness in the face of his presence? In the "old days", he was the youngster coming up and there were others around him who could have as much of an influence -- Hunter, Redmond, Morneau, Cuddyer and others.

But over the last three years, the Twins failed to re-sign Cuddyer. Morneau became a shell of his former self and seemingly had less impact before also not being re-signed and now even by perhaps adding Kubel and Bartlett, how much influence could they have while they are trying to reclaim some semblance of their former playing ability?

While the Twins have brought in some veteran pitchers who might be able to change the clubhouse atmosphere, I've never thought of the pitching staff as having as much influence as position players. There is a possibility that some chemistry will be created by the likes of Perkins, Hughes and a few others who seem to share some bonds. (At least there seems to be some overlap there as talked about in the article).

But, since the Twins seem to be averse to signing a group of veteran free agent position players, I would guess that the chemistry in the clubhouse isn't really going to change unless/until the prospects arrive as a group. (And frankly, that may be a reason to HAVE them arrive as a group).

We've heard good things about the chemistry in Rochester last year. We'e also seen shared bonds among some of the Latin prospects. Maybe that will eventually change the clubhouse atmosphere.

This is not a knock on Joe Mauer. Joe Mauer undoubtedly provides quiet leadership but I just don't see his personality as a catalyst for chemistry (and in fact, it may be a block). I remember Morneau talking about how Mauer spent much of his road trips by himself, in his room, studying batters.

Would winning help create chemistry? Undoubtedly. But the point of the article is that chemistry can also be created in other ways and that it may, in fact, help contribute to winning. It's a formula the Twins are having a hard time finding.


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#6 JB_Iowa

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 10:54 AM

And when you and I were their age, we curled up with a book or sat with headphones while listening to our new hi-fi we got for Christmas, and uttered a grunt if one of the elders tried to strike up a conversation. :)


The difference was that I never had the audacity to bring a book to the table at Christmas dinner. This is a problem my friends and I discuss on a fairly regular basis -- perhaps because we are female we see it differently. But there is nothing more irritating to a woman than to have her daughter-in-law sitting at the table constantly posting to facebook or texting someone. (She'd be equally as irritated if it were her daughter but she'd be more assertive with the daughter about telling her to put the d*mn phone away).

#7 Intramural Legend

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 11:15 AM

The difference was that I never had the audacity to bring a book to the table at Christmas dinner. This is a problem my friends and I discuss on a fairly regular basis -- perhaps because we are female we see it differently. But there is nothing more irritating to a woman than to have her daughter-in-law sitting at the table constantly posting to facebook or texting someone. (She'd be equally as irritated if it were her daughter but she'd be more assertive with the daughter about telling her to put the d*mn phone away).


Has there ever been a generation that didn't think the generation after them was worse in some way?

#8 Shane Wahl

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 11:15 AM

Yet another reason why losing Sano for the year hurts. He could be that kind of guy (though not annoying like O-Hud).

#9 Willihammer

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 11:31 AM

It [the A's clubhouse] must be the only clubhouse that plays Jethro Tull.


This is key

#10 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 11:36 AM

Has there ever been a generation that didn't think the generation after them was worse in some way?


Nope.

#11 gunnarthor

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 11:48 AM

Has there ever been a generation that didn't think the generation after them was worse in some way?


You would hope that the Nazi generation in Germany would be the exception ...

#12 CRArko

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 11:51 AM

Are the twins players a bunch of city-state warriors with little overlap?


This-is-sparta!!!

#13 ashburyjohn

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 11:53 AM

Has there ever been a generation that didn't think the generation after them was worse in some way?


Or, the generation before? :)

You would hope that the Nazi generation in Germany would be the exception ...


Oh great, Godwin's Law is lurking here. :)

#14 CRArko

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 11:55 AM

This is key


Only if it's something other than Aqualung. ;)

#15 JB_Iowa

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 11:58 AM

I have never regretted a comment more than the one I posted at 11:14.

It totally detracts from the excellent article that Seth linked to about the Oakland A's.

#16 Seth Stohs

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 12:00 PM

This is an interesting discussion and yet, I have a couple of different angles on it.

1.) From a media perspective, it's always better to have guys who love to talk to media. Morneau and Cuddyer were good. Valencia was good. Hunter loves nothing more than hearing his voice. Makes the job easier to have a go-to guy or six to write stories.

2.) Having been in the clubhouse 8 days in a row this spring, I understand what Souhan is saying. In fact, there was one morning when the team was on the road, so there were only 5-8 guys in the clubhouse and four or five of them were playing cards together. I said, "Man, it's quiet in here this morning with the team on the road." Souhan said, "It's quiet in here when everybody is in here."

But again, to be fair, a group of 35 out of the 48 players were on a bus and not there. There aren't numbers and at times half of the people there are trying not to do anything dumb and get noticed.

Even more, in the clubhouse, there are a 2-5 people in the training room much of that time taping or icing or stretching with a trainer.

There are guys who get there early and get to the batting cage or Tom Kelly will work with them early on Tom Kelly Field.

I guess for me, I think that characters are fun, and loud mouths are fun, but I don't know if or how it affects a team. The team hasn't lost so much last year because the clubhouse is pretty quiet. They've lost due to injuries and poor play.

I saw Mauer having 1-on-1 conversations with players where he was clearly answering their questions about something. He sat with the card players at times and was part of the conversation.

I overheard Kurt Suzuki talking with Phil Hughes after an outing about some really fine-detail pitching/catching/strategy stuff.

It may not be exciting, but there are a lot of good things going on in there.

#17 CRArko

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 12:01 PM

I have never regretted a comment more than the one I posted at 11:14.

It totally detracts from the excellent article that Seth linked to about the Oakland A's.


Especially because Seth is actually Parker.

#18 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 12:03 PM

Hunter loves nothing more than hearing his voice.


Ell-Oh-Ell, Seth.

#19 JB_Iowa

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 12:04 PM

Especially because Seth is actually Parker.


That, too. Sorry Parker.

#20 ChiTownTwinsFan

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 12:10 PM

Ell-Oh-Ell, Seth.

I had the same exact reaction to that comment.
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#21 ChiTownTwinsFan

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 12:12 PM

This is an interesting discussion and yet, I have a couple of different angles on it.

1.) From a media perspective, it's always better to have guys who love to talk to media. Morneau and Cuddyer were good. Valencia was good. Hunter loves nothing more than hearing his voice. Makes the job easier to have a go-to guy or six to write stories.

2.) Having been in the clubhouse 8 days in a row this spring, I understand what Souhan is saying. In fact, there was one morning when the team was on the road, so there were only 5-8 guys in the clubhouse and four or five of them were playing cards together. I said, "Man, it's quiet in here this morning with the team on the road." Souhan said, "It's quiet in here when everybody is in here."

But again, to be fair, a group of 35 out of the 48 players were on a bus and not there. There aren't numbers and at times half of the people there are trying not to do anything dumb and get noticed.

Even more, in the clubhouse, there are a 2-5 people in the training room much of that time taping or icing or stretching with a trainer.

There are guys who get there early and get to the batting cage or Tom Kelly will work with them early on Tom Kelly Field.

I guess for me, I think that characters are fun, and loud mouths are fun, but I don't know if or how it affects a team. The team hasn't lost so much last year because the clubhouse is pretty quiet. They've lost due to injuries and poor play.

I saw Mauer having 1-on-1 conversations with players where he was clearly answering their questions about something. He sat with the card players at times and was part of the conversation.

I overheard Kurt Suzuki talking with Phil Hughes after an outing about some really fine-detail pitching/catching/strategy stuff.

It may not be exciting, but there are a lot of good things going on in there.

Seth, thanks for this. Perspective is everything.
When life gives you lemons, suck on them and persevere.

#22 ashburyjohn

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 12:14 PM

I have never regretted a comment more than the one I posted at 11:14.


My bad. You'd think a moderator would know better. :)

#23 Riverbrian

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 12:44 PM

I don't know what is happening in the clubhouse.

I've read enough reports about a quiet clubhouse to assume it is. I don't know if that's good or bad in the context of the Twins but I'm loosely tying quiet to the routine baseball that I witnessed from the Twins in 2013... And I have lack of fire on the brain.

I firmly believe that fire... In all business (Baseball and any other) is what turns things around for the better.

If we don't have it... I assume we should get some guys who do!
A Skeleton walks into a bar and says... "Give me a beer... And a mop".

#24 Dman

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 12:55 PM

That was a nice balanced article, well done. I am probably in the minority but I tend to agree with Perkins on this one. Winning creates chemistry. The only teams talked about are teams that have been consistently winning so there is a selection bias right there and again ultimately there is no quantifiable proof that chemistry does anything to enhance skills that players already have.

If a team has more chemistry are they going to hit more home runs? I believe Baltimore hit the most home runs last year and they didn't even make the playoffs. What was there team chemistry like? IMO chemistry is too much perception and not enough scientific evidence.

#25 JB_Iowa

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 01:06 PM

If a team has more chemistry are they going to hit more home runs? I believe Baltimore hit the most home runs last year and they didn't even make the playoffs. What was there team chemistry like? IMO chemistry is too much perception and not enough scientific evidence.


But the fascinating part of the article to me was that people are actively working on trying to quantify it.

#26 Dman

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 01:19 PM

But the fascinating part of the article to me was that people are actively working on trying to quantify it.


Agreed. I cannot deny that it has some effect. We all feel better when we have chemistry with someone else. You tend to feel more comfortable, more like being able to be yourself. Not worried about people judging you etc. Chemistry helps and after reading some articles I am convinced that Joe Maddon is a master psychologist and I personally think he does have an influence on his players. How much is hard to say but I think his impact could actually be significant.

We all operate better when we feel a part of team and that team becomes extended family via chemistry. Maybe in the end you are slightly more focused etc. but it is very hard to say how much that helps.

The other thing we need to keep in mind is a what is the baseline here. Are Twins completely devoid of chemistry or just few notches below. Anyway I agree it is interesting that they think they can quantify it.

#27 D. Hocking

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 02:17 PM

Especially because Seth is actually Parker.


Is this a split personality thing, where sometimes this person is in his Seth persona and sometimes in his Parker persona? People indulge this Seth-Parker person, because of his high mental instability and being afraid he could completely snap if confronted that he is one person.

I think having a bit more spirt in the clubhouse would help, but I think the perspective on this issue gets shaded by the sport writer's perceptions. I think it bugs some of them that there are not players in the organization right now that go up to them and are all buddy buddy with them. Souhan has mentioned a number of times who Torii would always come up and talk to him when he entered the clubhouse and he considered him a friend. The fact that no one goes out of their way to approach him and shoot the breeze with him is part of the reason why he thinks it is such a quiet group. I do think it is most likely a quieter group, but perhaps one of the reasons it seems so devoid of personality is not that these players are not necessarily boring, but they keep more of a personal distance with the writers. They might be more guarded (esp with how quick things are reported with the current social media - and how things that never used to see the light of day are quickly tweeted to the world.) I think these players might be more gaurded, and that the players might act differently when they are not around.

Long story short - think chemistry helps, but think the outside view of the locker room might not always be accurate. Also, it goes without saying, if you don't have the talent, personality only gets you so far.

I apoligize for the disjointedness of this post, it has been interrupted a few times for work and the real world.

#28 Danchat

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 02:23 PM

We need some more action with the pitchers. How about more of Jared Burton punching Brian Duensing! Or something along those lines.

#29 ChiTownTwinsFan

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 02:29 PM

I think having a bit more spirt in the clubhouse would help, but I think the perspective on this issue gets shaded by the sport writer's perceptions. I think it bugs some of them that there are not players in the organization right now that go up to them and are all buddy buddy with them. Souhan has mentioned a number of times who Torii would always come up and talk to him when he entered the clubhouse and he considered him a friend. The fact that no one goes out of their way to approach him and shoot the breeze with him is part of the reason why he thinks it is such a quiet group.

I think is a very fair thought. The article read to me in such a way as Souhan pining for the 'old days' where he had a different sort of relationship with the players and this is his explanation.
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#30 D. Hocking

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 02:40 PM

I think is a very fair thought. The article read to me in such a way as Souhan pining for the 'old days' where he had a different sort of relationship with the players and this is his explanation.


You said in one concise sentence, what I wanted to say, but instead rambled on incoherently. Well done.