I’ll Keep Howling at the Moon

I read something today in another Twins blog that made me more than a little disheartened. It wasn’t so much because I disagree with the writer (though I certainly do), but it bothers me that I sense a great number of good, intelligent fans do agree with him.

I’m talking about Nick Nelson’s “Thoughts on Payroll” post over at Nick’s Twins Blog. I don’t often put up a post here at Knuckleballs in response to another blogger’s post. Usually, I simply post a comment at his/her site and let it go at that.

But this time, while I did leave a brief comment, I didn’t feel I could fully express my concerns in the few words I try to limit such comments to. So here I am.

Let me say up front that I really respect Nick, even when I don’t agree with him on a topic. He and the other TwinsCentric writers do great work and all of their blogs are “must reads” for any Twins fan, in my opinion. When I notice Nick has posted something new, I check it out as soon as I have an opportunity. The respect I have for Nick, in this case, just adds to my discouragement. 

At the risk of overly simplifying the point of his piece, the takeaway I got from it was that we should all stop howling at the moon. There’s no point continuing to complain about the Twins slashing their payroll because there’s nothing we can do about it, no matter how much we complain about it. We should just enjoy the baseball. But please don’t just take my word for it, you should read it for yourself and judge whether I’ve missed his point entirely.

But I would take strong exception to anyone who suggests we stop complaining about an issue, even if the cause is just, because we may be powerless to effect immediate change.

I believe it was Margaret Mead who said, “Never underestimate the power of a small dedicated group of people to change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Perhaps it’s because the roots of my philosophical beliefs go back to the 60s and 70s, but I would contend that:

IF the system truly is unjust; AND

IF the efforts of those who speak out against the injustice of the system appear to be ineffective; THEN

THE SOLUTION is not to stop speaking out, but to speak out louder, so as to educate and, hopefully, inspire others to lend their voices to the cause.

If fans do as Nick suggests and stop complaining about owners who milk their communities and fan bases without consequence, what would prevent or even dissuade them from taking greed to an even greater level?

The Twins claim they budget just over 50% of revenues toward their Major League payroll, with the number a little higher some years and lower in others. But we have to trust them on that because they are neither required, nor inclined, to share with their fans what their revenues actually are.

I find that difficult to accept without voicing objection, regardless of the likelihood of my objections being met with anything but silence from the Twins. I’m sure we’re all quite accustomed to the Twins ignoring anything and everything we say to them that isn’t intended to congratulate them on what a good job they do.

Well guess what… 99 losses is not a good job, something that the front office readily admits and has declared their intent to remedy immediately. So I’m not inclined to congratulate any of them and it’s pretty difficult to understand how imposing a 10+% payroll reduction is consistent with their claim that they are committed to contending in 2012.

If they are just paying lip service to contending, but don’t really believe it’s going to happen, why shouldn’t we call them on it? Why should we simply nod dejectedly and agree that allocating enough payroll to actually contend isn’t doable… when they aren’t willing to provide even the flimsiest evidence that such is the case?

That’s not to say that we can’t or shouldn’t enjoy the baseball games themselves or support our players on the field. I believe that one can support their favorite team, while concurrently voicing differences with that team’s front office. 

I hope most of us who disagree with ownership’s decision to slash payroll are perfectly capable of not letting that disagreement prevent us from enjoying watching the Twins play baseball. Anyone who can’t do that certainly should find other forms of entertainment… and perhaps some professional mental health assistance… rather than relying on any professional sports team to fill their days and nights.

As for me, I’ll keep howling at the moon while I also continue appreciating the beauty of the game of baseball as played by men blessed with exceptional, if occasionally flawed, talent.

– JC