Remember Steve Carlton? The not-very-integral member of the 1987 World Champion Minnesota Twins was, at one time, the best pitcher in baseball. Four Cy Youngs, five years leading the National League in strikeouts (the fifth time at age 38), last pitcher to throw 300 innings a season, led the Phillies to their first title in 1980. A remarkable career.
He was also completely out of his mind.
Carlton never spoke to the media, which means we didn’t learn until he was long retired that he built a mountain lair with a 7000-foot storage cellar loaded to the gills with guns and bottled water for “The Revolution.” That revolution was coming thanks to Russian sound waves, the Skull and Bones Society, the Elders of Zion, the National Education Association, and more. I’m aware this qualifies him to represent the state of Georgia in Congress today, but in 1994 this was wild stuff.
One assumes that the Phillies knew that Steve was off his nut, but when you can produce like he did, you let that stuff slide a little bit, especially if he keeps it quiet. By the time he was failing to make the Minnesota Twins playoff roster because he wasn’t as good as Lester Straker, he was just a cooked 43-year-old with weirdly anti-Semitic ideas about how the world works. He never pitched again.
Which brings me to Andrelton Simmons.
Already the COVID patient zero of the Twins locker room, he took to social media on Thursday to let the world know, and I quote:
I’m not going to debate the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines with Simmons or anyone else, as there is no debate to be had. They work. Please shut up and let the horses have their wormer paste. (Also, it’s “effects.”)
Across town, the Vikings are dealing with a similar situation. A handful of their best players (Adam Thielen, Harrison Smith, I guess Kirk Cousins if you squint hard enough) apparently won’t get the vacc either. It presents some hard choices for them, as they don’t have quality replacements for any of them as the regular season looms, and the NFL will make teams forfeit games if they can’t field a lineup due to COVID quarantines.
The Twins face no such dilemma.
The season is over. Simmons is an offensive liability and a good-to-excellent defender, which basically makes him a better Jeff Reboulet, if Jeff Reboulet thought Jurassic Park was real. He’s on a one-year deal. Maybe if he was the standout player in a disappointing season you could let his idiocy slide. Or maybe if it was something less harmful and kind of quirky, like thinking the earth was flat or dedicating his Instagram Stories to proving that birds are a deep-fake.
He’s not good enough to get away with this. Let the summer of Drew Maggi begin.
Image license here.
The Los Angeles Angels make their yearly visit to Target Field this weekend, meaning Twins fans will get to see the brilliant Shohei Ohtani. In the other clubhouse, Willians Astudillo returns from St. Paul to take Alex Kirilloff’s place on the roster.
And that has some physicians worried.
“Quite simply, if you’re in poor health or have underlying conditions, watching these games might be harmful,” said Dr. David Gorman, a heart specialist at Fairview Southdale. “The human body wasn’t meant to experience this much spectacle.”
Ohtani, the American League’s starting pitcher in the All-Star Game, also leads the majors with 34 home runs, many of which involve him sending baseballs to hell, where they belong. Astudillo, while not nearly as accomplished a player as Ohtani, plays every game like a bowling ball filled with kerosene, set on fire, and rolled into a Williams-Sonoma. The combination of that much skill and abandon may be too much for some people.
“What if Ohtani hits one that lands at, like, the Pizza Luce on 4th Street,” said Gorman. “Then the next inning Astudillo tries to stretch a single to a double? So many people skipped their regular check-ups in the last year or so that we have to be concerned about how the body will react.”
Gorman said the true concern comes on Sunday.
“The Angels haven’t announced their starting pitcher yet,” said Gorman. “What if they pencil in Ohtani, and the Twins send Astudillo to the plate? What if Astudillo hits a comebacker and they’re racing to the bag? Is that too much joy? You have to ask yourself if the risk is worth it. The teams could do it, but no one is asking if they should do it.”