Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.

MinnCentric Forums


Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

Photo

Souhan: All's quiet in Twins clubhouse

  • Please log in to reply
42 replies to this topic

#1 Parker Hageman

Parker Hageman

    Owner

  • Administrators
  • 1,943 posts

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.

"You spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time." -- Jim Bouton, "Ball Four"


#2 gunnarthor

gunnarthor

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 4,091 posts

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

JB_Iowa

    Let's Keep Winning!

  • Members
  • 5,788 posts
  • LocationNorthwest Iowa

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

ashburyjohn

    Twins Fan

  • Twins Mods
  • 8,328 posts
  • LocationIt's complicated.

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

JB_Iowa

    Let's Keep Winning!

  • Members
  • 5,788 posts
  • LocationNorthwest Iowa

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:

[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.
[/FONT]

[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.


[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.


[/FONT]

[/FONT]

#6 JB_Iowa

JB_Iowa

    Let's Keep Winning!

  • Members
  • 5,788 posts
  • LocationNorthwest Iowa

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

Intramural Legend

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 212 posts

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

Shane Wahl

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 4,912 posts

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

Willihammer

    ice cream correspondent

  • Members
  • 4,250 posts
  • LocationSaint Paul

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

Brock Beauchamp

    Owner

  • Administrators
  • 11,511 posts

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

gunnarthor

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 4,091 posts

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 Craig Arko

Craig Arko

    Kepler 425b or bust

  • Members
  • 3,023 posts
  • LocationEarth
  • Twitter: crarko

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

ashburyjohn

    Twins Fan

  • Twins Mods
  • 8,328 posts
  • LocationIt's complicated.

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 Craig Arko

Craig Arko

    Kepler 425b or bust

  • Members
  • 3,023 posts
  • LocationEarth
  • Twitter: crarko

Posted 20 March 2014 - 11:55 AM

This is key


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

#15 JB_Iowa

JB_Iowa

    Let's Keep Winning!

  • Members
  • 5,788 posts
  • LocationNorthwest Iowa

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

Seth Stohs

    Owner

  • Administrators
  • 9,836 posts

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 Craig Arko

Craig Arko

    Kepler 425b or bust

  • Members
  • 3,023 posts
  • LocationEarth
  • Twitter: crarko

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

Brock Beauchamp

    Owner

  • Administrators
  • 11,511 posts

Posted 20 March 2014 - 12:03 PM

Hunter loves nothing more than hearing his voice.


Ell-Oh-Ell, Seth.

#19 JB_Iowa

JB_Iowa

    Let's Keep Winning!

  • Members
  • 5,788 posts
  • LocationNorthwest Iowa

Posted 20 March 2014 - 12:04 PM

Especially because Seth is actually Parker.


That, too. Sorry Parker.

#20 ChiTownTwinsFan

ChiTownTwinsFan

    Moderation in all things ...

  • Twins Mods
  • 9,319 posts

Posted 20 March 2014 - 12:10 PM

Ell-Oh-Ell, Seth.

I had the same exact reaction to that comment.

Idiots will be idiots. Recognize it and don't be one yourself or engage in pointless dialog. Unless you are trying to entertain yourself.