Badges? We Don’t Need No Stinkin Badges!

As the trade deadline approaches, there’s a lot being written about what the Twins’ “needs” are as they head in to the final couple of months of the season. Do they need pitching? Do they need more power at the plate? Yeah, maybe. But there are two things this team needs more than anything else right now. Leadership and accountability. Since there’s no way I could limit myself to a reasonable number of words appropriate for a single post on this topic, I’ve split this essay (some might call it a novel, but I think that’s a bit harsh!) in to two parts.

If you decide to read on, be warned: I’ve been watching way too many old movies lately and it has affected my thinking… and my writing. But you’ll get extra credit if you can correctly name the movie from which this post’s Title was taken (but be warned, it’s sorta-kinda a trick question… and no fair Googling!) – JC

UPDATE: Babs wins the contest (see comment section and click to see this clip)!

Whenever a popular sports team is viewed to be underperforming, there will be no shortage of people willing to point fingers at those deemed responsible for that team’s shortcomings. That’s true of teams from youth leagues, on up through high school and college, and certainly at the professional level. It has always been true. New media channels (such as the exploding blogdom) haven’t caused this, they’ve merely amped up the volume. The troubling aspect, for me, is that this has led to almost a mob mentality. Loud voices, whether or not well informed or rational, embolden those with louder voices.

Pretty soon, you’ve got a bunch of blacksmiths, barbers and storekeepers marching to the sheriff’s office and demanding that the stranger awaiting trial for killing a local good old boy be turned over to them for hanging. It takes a sheriff in the mold of John Wayne to stand out front and say, “if you want him you have to go through me to get him, but I’ll take 6 of you with me before you get by me,” before the mob disperses and calm is restored.

One problem we have here is that there is no sheriff to point out to the mob that it isn’t their place to demand summary execution of anyone and everyone they feel is guilty of causing the Twins’ current state of mediocrity (to be generous). There’s nobody in authority to stand up and sternly point out that the media critics (both traditional and nontraditional) are full of crap and they all should chill out and let the people who DO have responsibility for “administering justice” (in this case, that would be addressing roster, lineup, rotation and other performance issues) do so.

And if anyone DOES try to make that point, the mob just shouts louder and adds accusations that such person is part of the problem because they are just team/management lackies.

So the question for those of us who believe we are of reasonable and rational mind becomes, how do we strike a balance? Where is the line between fair criticism and just being a boorish ass? When does pointing out what we feel are legitimate deficiencies, whether directed at individuals or the Twins organization as a whole, become “piling on”?

The Joe Mauer “bunt heard round the world” is a perfect example.

When it happened, I was very vocal in our GameChat about my feelings toward it. You could say I was speechless, but that didn’t stop me from typing a few choice observations. I’d say based on reactions around Twins Territory, including among many people with much better credentials than I (yes, I admit there are a few), that my views were widely shared.

I’d have felt the same about it if Orlando Hudson had done the same thing. But I think it’s safe to say that if Lando had been the offender, it would have drawn some criticism, but it would not have been featured on SportsCenter and countless media talk shows.  In short, there would have been no “mob” seeking to impart their own western justice like there has been with Mauer.

Likewise, if the Twins had a 10 game lead in the AL Central, the mob would not be looking quite so quickly to latch on to the issue nor as reluctant to move past it. I’d also hazzard that if Mauer were hitting .350 with 15 HRs right now, fans would be much more forgiving of this one brain fart (though clearly the fact that he’s NOT hitting well went in to his decision making process at the time).

My point is that this is merely the latest opportunity for everyone to vent their frustration over what appears to be turning in to a disappointing season. We could have a reasonable debate about whether that’s fair to Joe, but it should come as no surprise to anyone.

But if the goal is not to determine fair or unfair, but to address the root cause of the problem, what needs to be done?

Well, they say winning cures everything, so a nice 15-game winning streak would be nice, but I think there’s something missing in this organization that is at the heart of the Twins problems, on the field as well as off. They need John Wayne.

Yes, I know, you’re thinking, “the Twins have enough dead weight in the organization without adding someone who would take that term to a new, far too literal, level.” And you’re right. But you’ll have to wait to read Part 2 for a better (or at least a more realistic) answer. – JC

12 thoughts on “Badges? We Don’t Need No Stinkin Badges!

  1. What’s really sad is that this negative mob mentality seems contagious. I feel like the Twins internet-sphere has been getting more and more negative as the season goes on. Case in point: the Twins are having a disappointing season? Wha? We shouldn’t be ready to write off the season already! Go Twins!

  2. Maija, it may be picking nits, but what I said was that fans were getting frustrated over “what appears to be turning in to a disappointing season.” It’s hard to argue that the losing record over the past several weeks isn’t indicative of a situation that will lead to a disappointing end if the trend continues, especially given the lofty expectations everyone has had. I totally agree that the negativism is spreading fast and running deep, but losing lots of games and looking bad doing it will have that effect. I heartily agree, however, that it is far too early to write off the season! – JC

  3. I will admit to seeing very few old movies. The only John Wayne line I can recall is from a western I saw as a child. He is speaking to a frantic, possibly sobbing, stereotypical helpless female, and he says “Calm down little lady”. Whenever my brother and I would play “cowboys”, my brother would use that line (apparently I was the little lady) and we would both laugh hysterically. I trust that your recommendation contains more wisdom and less hilarity.

    I am anxiously awaiting Part 2.

  4. I have to admit, millie, that my dad (who passed away in ’91) was a huge John Wayne fan and staying up past bedtime occasionally to watch a John Wayne movie with him as a kid remains some of my fondest memories. And yes, the Duke was very good at calming down the little ladies. :)

    As for anxiously awaiting anything from me resembling ‘wisdom’… do so at your own risk.

  5. Seems to me that Gardy ignoring us all is his way of saying . . . “squawk all you want, but I’m the sheriff. ” I know he’s not your favorite, but I do think that ignoring the vitriol is the only way to deal with it . . . anything anyone says just fuels the flames.

    Personally, I think everyone needs to take a deep breath and/or a “chill pill” . . . but there’s plenty of evidence in the national media (about things much more important than baseball) that that is unlikely . . . too much reacting without thinking.

    To quote one of my favorite movies “It’s a long season and you gotta trust it.” and “You just got to take it one day at a time.” . . .

    Back to the game . . .
    dew
    P.S. I love old movies, but not John Wayne . . . so I’ll leave the trivia prize for someone else.

  6. I’ve really been leaving the quote thing to our readers but if no one guesses it by morning – I’m putting mine out there. LOL JC knows me well enough to know that I will give him two answers and ask how accurate his quote is! ;)

  7. I think it’s also “The Bitch Sox have been to the World Series and there’s almost(?) a generation that hasn’t seen the local lads get far in the postseason” mentality at play, as well. :|

    It is a bit like what I’ve seen from Wild fans *and* Cincinnati Bengals fans: Base splitting up into the “diehards(lemmings)” and “fed-ups(bandwagoners)”

  8. Pingback: First Rule of Leadership: Everything is Your Fault! | Knuckleballs

  9. I think your observation is pretty much on the nose, ‘chew. I remember how excited I was in ’87 because I felt like it had been SO LONG since 1965 and I was just a boy when that first World Series against the Dodgers took place. While 22 years WAS a long time, it has now been 19 more since the ’91 Series, so a significant part of this generation of Twins fans either haven’t seen the Twins in a Series or don’t remember it well.

    Unlike ’87, though, when the Twins sprang to the Series almost out of nowhere after a decade and a half of suckage, the Twins have now actually been one of the most consistent Division winners in all of baseball for the past 10 years. I think that has actually added to a lot of the frustration. Whenever I start to think, “I’m tired of JUST winning Divisions,” I think back to how I felt in the late 70’s and most of the 90’s and remind myself that things COULD be much worse.

  10. Since no one answered the quote challenge, the quote is from Blazing Saddles! The tricky part is that the BS quote itself is a misquote from Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Lots of people think they are quoting one and actually are quoting the copy – even if the copy is a lot more fun as movies go.

  11. Absolutely correct, Babs!

    See, dew? It wasn’t even from a John Wayne movie, though I think it would have been hilarious to see the Duke have a cameo in Blazing Saddles! He made a few funny cameos in the old Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In TV show so I think he might have enjoyed doing something in BS, too.

    Wayne wasn’t even in the Treasure of Sierra Madre… that was a Humphrey Bogart film. Yes… Bogey in a Western!

    Here are the clips from the two movies:
    Blazing Saddles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFwprS_L6tg
    Treasure of the Sierra Madre: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqomZQMZQCQ