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Local columnist tells injured Twins to “suck it up and play”

Apr 28, 2011, 3:05 PM EDT

get off my lawn cat

I’m told Ron Gardenhire spent part of today’s pregame media briefing angrily addressing Tom Powers’ column in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Gardenhire ranted about it despite Powers not being in attendance, but after reading the column I can’t blame him.

Injuries have decimated the Twins, with Joe Mauer, Delmon Young, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, and Kevin Slowey on the disabled list and Justin Morneau missing six straight games with a flu that has also hit nearly everyone on the roster.

Powers’ column is devoted to telling the injured players to “suck it up and play” because “we’re all sick of hearing about tweaks, strains and IV bags.”

Seriously. Here’s an excerpt:

You know what? This is getting ridiculous. Hey guys, just go play baseball. We’re all sick of hearing about tweaks, strains and IV bags. Suck it up and play! The Twins have to quit babying these guys. Either they can play or they can’t. And if they can’t, get somebody up here who can. The problem is that guys walk into Gardenhire’s office and tell him when they can play and when they can’t.

To me, that’s a case of overcommunication. Unless the trainer specifically says a certain player needs to sit out, Gardenhire should just make out his best lineup and expect his players to go out there and perform. He has pitchers telling him they can’t pitch and hitters telling him they could use a day off. It’s April, for God’s sake. It’s not September. This garbage started in spring training.

Powers makes a decent point about the Twins keeping injured players on the active roster rather than placing them on the DL, which is something they’ve done for years now. However, any logic gets completely lost in the “get of my lawn!” attitude of a veteran newspaper columnist accusing an entire team of sitting out games with injuries they should be playing through and criticizing a manager for not forcing them to play, as if that doesn’t just lead to poor performances and more injuries.

But wait, there’s more:

“We’ve got a bunch of guys sniffing and coughing up there,” Gardenhire said, nodding toward the clubhouse. Did Ted Williams ever sniff? Anyone ever hear Willie Mays cough? … The Twins’ approach to injuries can be summed up in three words: caution, caution, caution. How do you feel? Think you might play today? Want to give it a try?

Enough! Gardenhire needs to do what Vince Lombardi used to do as coach of the Green Bay Packers. Just barge into the trainer’s room, tip a couple of tables over and order everybody out. As Lombardi would scream: “Nobody is injured here!” Then write their names into the lineup and refuse to take them out unless the medical staff advises otherwise.

Criticizing players missing time with a team-wide flu by writing “Did Ted Williams ever sniff? Anyone ever hear Willie Mays cough?” was almost enough to make me think the whole column was parody, except I’ve read enough of Powers over the years to know better. And really, an anecdote about Vince Lombardi screaming at injured football players 40 years ago? I’m sure Ron Gardenhire taking that same approach would go over really well in the Twins’ clubhouse and, obviously, knocking over tables will fix everything.

I’m ashamed of myself for even giving Powers’ column attention and clicks, but not nearly as ashamed as a veteran journalist with a prominent local platform and a large audience should be for writing that cliche-filled, rabble-rousing drivel.

  1. deepflakes - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    It’s still April for Pete’s sake. I’m not happy with their start or injuries, but Powers is out of line. Reminds me of Rob Dibble’s comments about Strasburg last year.

  2. brian1413 - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    They are the softest team in the league. Play with pain once in a while it’s part of the reason they can’t handle the pressure in the playoffs. Their manger allows them to be soft players. Powers was right and I thought his column was great.

  3. spindervish - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:28 PM

    You’re probably right to excoriate this guy, but seriously, the incidence of “injuries” in baseball seems to have reached utterly ridiculous proportions. Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose recently played basketball with sprained ankles – well, I might add. And baseball has guys missing time with infected cuticles? Infected sweat glands?? (Does Cliff Pennington not know how to bathe himself?) And the ubiquitous hamstring and oblique injuries…I mean for Christ’s sake, this is about the least physically demanding major sport there is (other than the catchers; much, much respect to the catchers).

    I mean ultimately if a guy’s hurt and can’t perform, then I guess it is what it is…I’m just saying, I think I understand the guy’s frustration.

    • pmcenroe - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:37 PM

      The column is garbage but you’re right the way they are playing right now all Twins fans can understand his frustration. The issue I think does come down to the Twins dragging out their DL decisions. Ex. if they had just DL’d Delmon Young and brought up Tosoni sooner everyone could move on but with losses piling up and having to recount these nagging injuries daily it gets annoying.

    • xsturmin8 - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:38 PM

      I understand the frustration too, and there certainly are some kinds of problems going on in the Twins’ dugouts because they have guys sitting out for so long before they hit the DL. But trying to argue that players missing time for little injuries is a new phenomenon is ridiculous. Nobody remembers the days that players from 40 years ago missed because of a strained abdomen or a tweaky oblique. Does anyone really want Mauer playing through a flu so bad it has caused him to lose 15 pounds? Or Morneau playing through a concussion that, if aggravated, could have threatened his life? NO. The Twins have had bad luck with injuries, but even their “healthy” players are underperforming and taking out your frustration by calling the players wimpy is really Bush League stuff you might expect from a crappy blogger (not one of the caliber of Gleeman of course). Has anyone checked Tom Powers’ mother’s basement to see if he moved in?

      • largebill - Apr 28, 2011 at 4:55 PM

        Great point. Someone should introduce Powers to BB-Ref where he could look up how many games DiMaggio missed each season. In 13 seasons Joe played more than 140 games only 5 times. Gehrig and Ripken were celebrated because playing every day year after year is the exception not the norm. Don’t get me wrong, if my team has a great player I want him playing as often as possible, but players missing time due to nagging injuries is as old as the game.

    • madhatternalice - Apr 28, 2011 at 5:38 PM

      Trying to draw a comparison to Rose and Bryant is just silly: they are in the playoffs! It’s April!!

  4. cur68 - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    Playing with a sore knee will likely be what just about finishes Mauer. I’ve lost track of the number of guys down with the New Black, so that’s nothing new or minor. The influenza epidemic was made worse by guys coming in to work when they were feeling unwell and passing the flu around to their well teammates. Using Powers’ logic is actually what got the Twins in this mess.
    He’s an ignorant tool.

  5. murph1171 - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    Aaron Gleeman proves Shame is Dead by ripping Tom Powers for not showing up to Target Field. Just another pajama blogger stealing material from real journalists while his press pass dangles from his rear-view mirror.
    Gleeman couldn’t find the Twins clubhouse with a GPS.

    • Aaron Gleeman - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:38 PM

      I wasn’t ripping him for not being there. That wasn’t my point at all.

    • isaidallo - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:41 PM

      Better to be a pajama blogger than a pajama blog commenter. Besides the fact that Aaron is one of the best writers around.

    • redma032 - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:45 PM

      What is your definition of “real journalists”? As someone who reads Tom Powers on a regular basis, I would tell you that Aaron Gleeman does a much better job of being a “real journalist” than Powers ever has.

      Of course he uses things like facts and statistical analysis to back up his opinions, something Powers could definetly learn from.

    • cur68 - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:54 PM

      murph1171; Dude, did you even read what Aaron wrote? Try that before ripping into him next time, kay?

    • Andrew - Apr 28, 2011 at 5:49 PM

      Gardenhire ranted about it despite Powers not being in attendance, but after reading the column I can’t blame him.

      I really can’t believe how much you misconstrued this comment to believe that Aaron was ripping Powers for not showing up to Target Field.

  6. largebill - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    This guy is an idiot, but damn Morneau has got to start hitting. I don’t mind the Twins losing, but Morneau is supposed to be providing some power to my fantasy team

  7. trevorb06 - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:39 PM

    Wow, I wouldn’t expect this from Powers. This is sad.

    • ThatGuy - Apr 28, 2011 at 4:04 PM

      You wouldn’t? Every article of his I have ever read is along these lines, he is a hack.

  8. heyblueyoustink - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:40 PM

    Aside from the obvious ignorama of Powers, I have 2 additional questions:

    1) I wonder what the average career length of Lombardi’s players was.

    2) Isn’t it heresy for a Minnestoa sports writer to be quoting and suggesting emulation of Vince Lombardi?

  9. luckywi - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    And on another note Francisco “The Twins Ace” Liriano really brought it last night didn’t he Aaron?

    These guys are just not playing up to potential. And it appears that is not going to change soon, with the revolving door from the trainers room.

  10. Jeff J. Snider - Apr 28, 2011 at 4:07 PM

    My favorite part is the comparison to Willie Mays, who multiple times in his career was hospitalized during the season due to exhaustion. Can you imagine what Powers would have thought about that?

    • mattraw - Apr 28, 2011 at 4:12 PM

      I can’t believe he didn’t excoriate Ted Williams for having the audacity to miss 3 seasons in the Army.

      • theolgoaler - Apr 28, 2011 at 11:12 PM

        Nitpick… Williams was in the Marines, as a pilot.

  11. nickpunto - Apr 28, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    This kind of stuff would have never happened when I played for the Twins. My hard-nosed style of play would’ve juiced the guys up so much they would forget about the injuries and take the field like a herd of bulls on acid. I would suggest running a continuous clip of my game saving throw home in Game 163 in the training room to magically cure all injuries.

    P.S. In my opinion, the Twins are straight up raking right now, most guys are hitting over .200.

    • cur68 - Apr 28, 2011 at 4:18 PM

      ROFLMAO…

      Punto, you’re batting .211. Now stop blogging and go take some BP.

      • spudchukar - Apr 28, 2011 at 6:01 PM

        Yeah, but he has a .348 OBP, and at his present rate will drive in 75 runs if he gets 500 ABs.

  12. mikedi33 - Apr 28, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    Agree this is over the top but it has to be admitted there is every year more and more injuries. One would think with all the advanced conditioning there would be less.

  13. nicosamuelson2 - Apr 28, 2011 at 4:39 PM

    I like the Twins.

    • Gobias Industries - Apr 28, 2011 at 5:19 PM

      I like The Wizard of Oz. I like the Tin Man.

      • Wizard - Apr 28, 2011 at 9:26 PM

        You like me. You really like me.

  14. rapmusicmademedoit - Apr 28, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    all the injured players should give Tom Powers a wedgie.I think that’s fair.

  15. philosofly - Apr 29, 2011 at 2:13 AM

    I took some heat for posting the following back on March 29th in response to a HBT post:

    “The Twins are mentally challenged when it comes to pitching. Is it Billy Smith (probably part of it), is it Gardy (well, perhaps) or is it Rick Anderson (probably just the man, not the stache)?

    Sure, the Twins have an incredible offense!! However, the only pitcher whose “stuff” scares any hitter is Francisco Liriano’s! The sad thing is there have been rumors posted about the Twins’ interest in shopping him!?!

    Does this make any sense to anybody who follows baseball? Does this make sense to any Twins fan who wants to see them actually win a playoff series? NO!

    So the fat Twins brass keeps eating their BS while the rest of the league snickers (thinking, if I had that offense, I’d surely pair it with a Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez, keep Francisco Liriano, keep Johan Santana, get a fireball thrower to go with the weak arms that seem to fill out the rotation every year.

    Nope, never happens. They get so close until the pitching CLEARLY becomes the problem. Then we never hear about what they will do to fix it. Instead they take their ticket/merchandise sales and spend it on resigning overpriced utility players, unproven infielders, then trade people like J.J. Hardy for a couple of noodle arms so they have more excuses to “fire through the internet”.

    I’m a life-long Twins fan, born and raised in MN. I witnessed the ’87 and ’91 miracles but honestly? The Mets have a better chance to win the World Series than the 2011 Minnesota Twins!”

    The truth is Minnesota Twins fans are born “believers in the impossible”. The “conspiracy theories” about the Twins’ Spin Machine are true though, I’ve lived through MN sports my whole life. The fans are raised loyal believers and love to “root for the underdog” so we give people with minor-league talents major responsibilities in the majors (see: Punto; Blackburn; Baker; Duensing; entire Twins bullpen; Tolbert; Casilla; Christian Ponder for the Vikings fans out there and so on…).

    Why are people so shocked, upset and surprised when things don’t work out? Why build up for a major let-down every single season?

    The reality is Billy Smith runs the show and until he is fired the need for instant satisfaction will linger with him. The same can be said for the Vikings (see; Favre). As sad as it sounds, the only MN team trying to build through the draft slowly from the ground up (the championship way) is the T-wolves!! They may not have the playoff appearances of the Twins lately but I bet two or three years from now they are closer than the Twins!! (Yet the T-wolves fans are grumbling and growing impatient!?!)

    Maybe the problem isn’t just Billy Smith!! Maybe it’s the fans who grumble when their high hopes crash? Nah, it’s probably Billy Smith so perhaps this Tom Powers character should suck it up when he’s looking for a new job!! Bad journalism for attcking the heart of the players when injured over the POOR decisions of the GM/franchise.

    The Twins had a clear need before the season started. This is only forgivable when your team is not a contender. Even the Vikings TRIED to address their need via Favre, but the Twins?? THEY DIDN’T EVEN TRY!!

    Target Field will get no more dollars from me until Billy Smith is fired!

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