Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Guest Post: Raoul Duke Talks Twins

by Raoul Duke

There was a sense of curious foreboding in recent baseball news. Within one week of the Yankees winning the World Series, strange and horrible things were happening in every major league city. Derek Jeter won his fourth gold glove, prompting statisticians to throw themselves from buildings. Former slugger Sammy Sosa debuted his Taco tribute band, leaving the public appalled at his freshly bleached skin. In Minnesota, thousands of Twins fans lined up for hours for a chance to buy old, shabby promotional items recovered from the bowels of the Metrodome. Commissioner Selig was reportedly delighted at the news out of Venezuela: Victor Zambrano's mother was thrown to a reckless horde of criminals in exchange for Mark McGwire, who will become the Cardinals hitting coach next year.

No one can be sure what it all means. Some think of the radical growth in the absurdity and degradation of recent baseball happenings as a metaphor of contemporary American society. Others have simply recoiled in horror at the sheer volume and breadth of opinion, scandal and general depravity. Feelings of confusion and fear are choking the baseball industry.

At the forefront of this new wave of unpredictability is Minnesota Twins GM Bill Smith. The shadowy executive arrived at the Chicago winter meetings with his finger on the trigger. The round, bespectacled man draws comparisons to famous Minnesota democrats, Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale - a man of few words who plays things close to the vest, but he's constantly looking to make a deal. His predecessors in the GM chair were men of principal, stubborn enough to sit on their hands because of pride, even as their team collapsed around them. They could have been mistaken for members of Nixon's cabinet. Billy Smith rolled into his leather chair ready to make a name for himself, and he's succeeded.

In what seemed like his first week on the job, Smith had traded a two time Cy Young winner to the east for two dozen bushels of Persian dill rice, and sent a young fireballer to Tampa in exchange for some high-quality black Lebanese hashish. The moves haven't turned out well for the Twins, who find themselves unable to climb to the next level.

The alarming thing about all this is the public's reaction to the mad man - Twins followers appear quietly enthralled with Smith. After years of tedious inaction from Twins leadership, a guy who will flip players without warning is entertaining and fun. He landed shortstop JJ Hardy last week in a shocking, seemingly impulsive trade with Milwaukee. And no one can be sure of just what more Smith is capable of.

The past few years of Twins baseball have left the fans frenzied and desperate, and they've given their trust to a man who promises to end the mediocrity - one way or another, straight to the cellar or straight to the top. There are four empty roster spots and a trigger happy baseball architect.

But what now? What comes next?


Anonymous said...

Duke might say that Billy Smith is the Danny Ocean of baseball GMs -- master of clever, devious, startling, breathtaking, and shocking moves. And such a disarmingly nice guy, too!


brex said...

Duke on Carlos Gomez:

There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.

Anonymous said...

"Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!"

-- Dr. Peter Venkman