Tag: Ron Gardenhire

Twins Prank Mike Pelfrey with Fake Wichita State March Madness Speech

Mike Pelfrey‘s legendary speech to Wichita State may not give you goosebumps, but it will make you laugh out loud. 

MLB Fan Cave caught just one of the myriad ways that MLB players decide to prank their teammates. This time, Twins closer Glen Perkins and manager Ron Gardenhire collaborate to pull a fast one on one of their starting pitchers. 

Pelfrey walks into the skipper’s office, where it is explained that Wichita State loves to hear from celebrities and may want an inspirational speech to keep the team rolling along in the NCAA tournament. 

We were all underwhelmed on both counts

Pelfrey, being an alumnus, is the perfect man to give an impassioned speech that would make Ray Lewis envious. 

Unfortunately, his ability to knock the walls down with a booming voice and colorful language is on par with the manner in which you give out driving directions. 

The 30-year-old sounds like he is ordering pizza, leaving Gardenhire to try and get something more from his pitcher, which is kind of how their relationship normally works. 

Of course, there is no Wichita State. 

Well, there is, but the Shockers were off somewhere safe from things like, “You guys always remember how good you are and what got you there” and “so go [expletive] get ’em.”

Thanks to hidden cameras, we get to see it all play out. Still, we have to think Pelfrey should have seen this coming. 

First, who gives inspirational speeches via phone? This is only slightly worse than giving a rousing text to your alma mater. 

Second, Perkins nearly gives things away from the start. Do we really believe “Darren” from the Wichita State athletic department is going to start any conversation out with, “Hey, Gardey. How are you doing?”

It’s “Mr. Gardenhire, sir,” and don’t you forget it. 

The best part of the entire charade is the end, when Perkins offers, “We appreciate that. The funny thing is, though, we are out in the clubhouse, Mike, you Munson.”

Where do we keep getting Munson from?

Now we have a glorious video that serves two purposes. On one hand, we have a wonderful look into a loose clubhouse that knows how to laugh. If we might be so bold, we might ask the comedy troupe of Perkins and Gardey to deliver another shortly. 

On the other hand, we now know exactly how a March Madness speech from Pelfrey would go, so feel free to use this however you’d like next season, Shockers. 

Perhaps, and this may just be our undying love for baseball talking, if Pelfrey was able to give this thing before the weekend, the Shockers might still be alive and kicking in the Big Dance. 

Something tells me his words could do more than move mountains. They can absolutely decimate a clubhouse. 


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2011 Minnesota Twins: A Depressing Season in Perspective

2011 was a season that Minnesota Twins fans have not endured in nearly a decade.

From the beginning of the season to the end, the hits kept coming…and they were not during the course of a game. Injuries riddled the Twins lineup and kept players like Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Denard Span, Glen Perkins and Delmon Young on the bench. As the slide continued, the bullpen blew leads, the starters struggled and the team could not seem to get a run across the plate.

By nearly every account, the Twins season was horrendous. The Twins managed to score a mere 619 runs; the lowest amount in a non-strike shortened season since their inception. Their 63 wins tied for the lowest in franchise history and the team allowed the most runs (804) since 2000.

For a team that has been used to regular season success (the postseason being a glaring exception), such a depressing season hits hard. Over the last 10 seasons, the team produced five 90-win seasons and six postseason appearances with players winning batting titles and MVP awards. Despite lack of success in the playoffs, the Twins received a new ballpark and has now generated the second-highest attendance total in the American League.

But past successes don’t make the 2011 failures any easier to cope with for Twins fans, especially considering that there is not much in the way of hope on the horizon. However, despite the stats, injuries and poor play, this is hardly the most depressing offseason the Twins have faced in their history. Ten years ago, the Twins faced an offseason with more uncertainty and with more at stake.

In November, 2001, a Minnesota judge ordered the Twins to honor their Metrodome lease as MLB Commissioner and then-Twins owner Carl Pohlad worked towards contracting the Twins. For Twins fans, the offseason between 2001 and 2002 was filled with the understanding that after the coming season, the Minnesota Twins would cease to exist. The team finished the 2001 season with 85 wins, the highest since 1992—the year after the team won the World Series and the team had a promising core of young players.

With the fourth lowest payroll in baseball ($40 million), no one expected massive free-agent signings, especially with contraction imminent. Baseball owners from Seattle to Atlanta supported the plan that would have removed the Expos and Twins from the baseball map. Selig went to Congress stating that without a new ballpark, the Twins could not compete. Things looked bleak for the Twins and it was a long offseason.

But the saving grace came from the play of a virtual group of “nobodies” that kept playing while the Titanic was sinking. Their play in 2002 made it impossible for Commissioner Selig to contract the team and their success in the following years brought them a brand-new stadium, now lauded by the league.

Of course, the Twins that take the field now bring different expectations of success. Many fans saw the elimination of the Twins in 2002 as inevitable and therefore only hoped for one last hurrah to stick it to Bud Selig and an owner that they thought had betrayed them.

This year, with a beautiful new ballpark and huge contracts to superstar players, expectations are justifiably high. Offseason chatter has turned to speculating on moves the Twins need to make to turn the team around, and there are a lot of holes to fill.

This is not to say that Twins fans should just be grateful to have a professional baseball team but more of a positive way of looking at a season that by all accounts was lost before the end of the first series. The Twins need to prove to the state that the recent investments have been worth it and the front office must find a way to finally win in the postseason.

What the Twins have that many other clubs have do not is the fact that while the last season was a debacle, the organization has faced worse. Yes, the expectations are different and we as Twins fans are warranted in our high expectations; getting to the playoffs is no longer enough to consider a season a success as it was ten years ago. But if any organization can face these challenges, it would be the Twins. 

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The Minnesota Twins Are Not Built for the Post Season

For years under the direction of Tom Kelly, we constantly heard that the baseball season was a marathon and not a sprint.

“Take it one game at a time” was the mantra constantly repeated to the players, media and fans during Kelly’s tenure as manager from 1986 to 2001.

In 1991, Ron Gardenhire became the Twins third base coach, a position he held until Kelly retired following the 2001 season. While Gardenhire has a little more fire to his managerial style than Kelly, he espouses the same philosophy.

While Kelly is the Minnesota Twins all-time leader with 1,140 wins as manager, over 16 years he only had five seasons with a record better than .500, and only two division titles. Kelly made the most of those two post-season appearances, winning the World Series in 1987 and 1991.

Gardenhire has been able to run the marathon with a little more success than Kelly, winning six division titles in nine years. Currently 286 wins behind Kelly, Gardenhire has a solid chance to surpass him by the end of the 2014 season.

Unlike Kelly, Gardenhire’s success ends after game 162. In six tries, Gardenhire has only made it beyond the divisional round of the playoffs once.

In the two seasons Kelly won the World Series, he had teams that were better suited for a seven-game sprint, than the marathon of a 162 game season.

The best example of this would be in 1987, when, with only 85 wins the Twins would earn the distinction of having the fewest regular-season victories of any World Series Champion up to that time.

That year, pitching coach Dick Such struggled to find five pitchers for the starting rotation. The Twins would start 12 different pitchers that season with only four of them making at least 20 starts.

Once the postseason began, Kelly was forced to go with a three-man pitching rotation—Frank Viola, Bert Blyleven, and Les Straker.

Blyleven was the veteran of the staff, leading the team with 37 starts and 267 inning pitched. Viola was the ace of the staff, going 17-10 with a team-leading 2.90 ERA. Straker was the best of the rest. He only went 8-10 in the regular season with a 4.37 ERA.

The three-man rotation allowed Kelly to pitch Viola three times in the seven-game 1987 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.  Viola would go 2-1, winning the first and last games of the series.

While the rotation was better in 1991, the Twins still had their best pitcher start three games in the World Series. Like Viola, Jack Morris would go 2-1 and win the crucial seventh game of the World Series in a dramatic 10-inning complete game, 1-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves.

What Gardenhire and the Twins are missing is that one pitcher who can carry the team over a seven-game series. 

Gardenhire was unable to take advantage when he did have such a pitcher in Johan Santana.

Between 2003 and 2007, Santana would go 82-35 with a 2.92 ERA. Over that span, the Gardenhire-led Twins were 2-9 in the ALDS.

The closest thing the Twins have to a dominant pitcher this season might be Scott Baker, who leads the team with an 8-6 record and a 3.01 ERA.

Baker was struggling to just make the starting rotation at the beginning of the year. To consider him the ace of the staff shows how poorly the Twins starters have been this year.

Even if Gardenhire can work his magic and get the Twins to their seventh division title in 10 season—which appears unlikely at nine games back and 10 games under .500—he doesn’t have the horsepower to make it any further.

With the current starting rotation consisting of five number three or four starters at best, the Twins have no chance of making it out of the ALDS.

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Minnesota Twins: Anatomy of a Collapse, Should We Have Seen This Coming?

There’s no doubt that 2010-2011 has been extremely disappointing for Minnesota sports fans. 

The Timberwolves again failed to hit 20 wins, the Wild missed the playoffs yet again, and the Vikings look to be in a free fall after being within one 14-men in the huddle penalty from the Super Bowl only 18 months ago.

It would seem that things couldn’t get any worse.

But hope springs eternal and the time is right for baseball, the one constant within the Minnesota sports landscape. 

With the new stadium smell still hovering over Target Field the expectations have been the greatest for the local nine. What was supposed to be a season full of hope appears to be falling in line with all of the other professional teams as the Twins are in the midst of the single greatest turnaround in franchise history—the problem is this turnaround is in the negative direction.

Taking a look as what has transpired for the Twins since they were last swept by the New York Yankees in the divisional round of the playoffs it might be all that surprising that the team is struggling.  

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Minnesota Twins: Are the Twins This Terrible or Is This Just a Sophomore Slump?

The Minnesota Twins have the worst record in baseball. No surprise, at 10.5 games back of the division-leading Cleveland Indians, this also gives the greatest deficit of any team.

Can the Twins really be this bad? Sure, they have had several players out of the lineup.

Former MVP and All-Star catcher Joe Mauer, left fielder Delmon Young and slugger Jim Thome are all on the disabled list and have not been able to contribute like they did last year.

Yet the Twins’ starting rotation is pretty much in intact from last season, and while they lost Jon Rauch, Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier, the end of the bullpen still has closer Matt Capps and the return of Joe Nathan.

Perhaps this is just one big sophomore jinx as the Minnesota Twins, in only their third homestand of the season, are playing in their second season at Target Field.

I looked over the Twins roster and found several “sophomores” who are playing their second season with Minnesota. 

In all cases, it would appear this is a double-sophomore jinx.

Here are seven “sophomores” that are not performing to their 2010 levels.

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MLB: Which 5 Managers Are Starting to Feel the Heat in the Early Going?

It may still be really early in the season, but as the weather heats up, so does the proverbial seat that each manager sits on.

A fast start can do a lot to assuage the demands of the fans, whereas a slow start can make the calls come louder and more bloodthirsty.

Again, I know that it’s early. I know that nobody’s getting fired anytime soon. However, what we can do right now is figure out who should start feeling uncomfortable if they can’t turn things around soon. 

I’ve tried to leave first-year managers off this list, since they should get a slightly longer leash to establish themselves.

Down the road, they may be in trouble. For today, most of them are safe. 

Did I say I know it’s early? This is all just speculation.

I realise I’ll catch flack for suggesting that people could be fired, just half a month into the season.

However, once again, I’m just looking ahead and predicting. That’s it. It might not come to pass. Who knows?

For now, let’s just enjoy the ride. 

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Minnesota Twins: Is 2011 Do-or-Die for Ron Gardenhire?

This season will mark Ron Gardenhire’s 24th with the Twins organization and his 10th as manager.

In the 110 years of the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins franchise, Gardenhire ranks third all time with 803 coaching victories with the third longest tenure as manager.

His .550 winning percentage is also third best for the franchise behind Billy Martin (.599), who only coached the 1969 season, and Walter Johnson (.570), who coached from 1929 to 1932.

After winning his sixth AL Central Division title in nine years, Gardenhire was named AL Manager of the Year in 2010—finally, after finishing runner-up five times the previous eight seasons. 

The only thing missing from his resume is a World Series appearance. It’s been 20 years since Tom Kelly guided the 1991 Twins to their second World Series Championship in five years.

Time may be getting short for Gardenhire.

In 2002, after 11 years as the Twins’ third base coach, he was named Kelly’s replacement, much to the chagrin of many Twins fans who were hoping Paul Molitor would take over as manager. 

Even before the 2002 season began there was talk about contracting the Minnesota Twins. After several failed attempts to get their own stadium, owner Carl Pohlad was considering a buyout from Major League Baseball that would have made 2002 the last season for Twins baseball.

Before he even coached his first game, Gardenhire was handed a built-in excuse for failing to extend the Twins season—their $40.2 million payroll was the third lowest in the league.

In the face of all this, Gardenhire’s first season as Twins manager was his best.

He led the Twins to his first AL Central title and defeated the Oakland A’s in the divisional round of the playoffs. In the ALCS, the Twins would lose the series to the eventual World Series champion Anaheim Angels, 4-1. 

Even with the loss to the Angels there was hope—hope that Gardenhire had the keys that would return to the Twins to another Fall Classic appearance.

From 2002 to 2009 the Twins payroll would rank between eighth and 12th in the American League. “Small Market” was the tag associated with the Twins. Fans were repeated bombarded with the message that without a new venue and the revenue streams it generated Minnesota could not compete. 

Yeah, it was extremely difficult to compete in Minnesota—and the fans of Minnesota bought that hook, line, and sinker and funded a new stadium.

In 2010 the Twins moved into Target Field, their state-of-the-art stadium, and moved up the payroll ladder fielding the fifth highest payroll in the American League.

With that the expectations also moved up.

The pressure is on for Gardenhire to at least repeat the success of his first year as manager and make it to the League Championship Series.

As successful as Gardenhire and the Twins have been in the regular season, they have been just as dreadful in the post season.

Gardenhire’s playoff record is 6-21 overall and 0-12 over the last four divisional series.

The Twins’ payroll is projected to be approximately $114 million for 2011—again the fifth highest in the AL.

The Twins have plenty of pieces for Gardenhire to work with. He has two league MVPs in Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, and Delmon Young was getting mention in 2010 because of his offensive contribution.

They re-signed Carl Pavano and Francico Liriano appears ready to return to the dominating form of his rookie season in 2006 when he was 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA. The team has $18.4 million of the 2011 payroll invested in the closer position with Joe Nathan and Matt Capps. 

Another AL Central Division title will not be enough.

Anything short of an ALCS appearance this season will be a failure for Ron Gardenhire and the Minnesota Twins. 

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Jim Thome: What Role Will the Minnesota Twins Slugger Have in His 21st Season?

Jim Thome came to an agreement to return to the Minnesota Twins for another season, Friday. The slugger agreed to a one-year, $3 million contract which is double what he made in his first season with Minnesota.

Thome played a vital role last year with the Twins and was thrust into a starting role because of a season-ending injury to Justin Morneau. Originally, Thome was brought to the Twin Cities to be a left-handed pinch hitter off the bench, and to have spot duty as the team’s designated hitter.

Instead, Thome ended up being a a key contributor to the Twins throughout the season and made the most out of the increased playing time. Thome hit a staggering 25 home runs in just 276 plate appearances, drove in 59 runs and hit a respectable .283, the highest batting average he’s finished with since 2006.

The 40-year-old was simply terrific last season, but with Morneau set to return from a concussion where does Thome fit with this year’s club? That’s an interesting question, to say the least.

When Morneau went down it forced a domino effect on the starting lineup. Starting right fielder Michael Cuddyer took Morneau’s spot at first while DH Jason Kubel moved out to RF, leaving Thome the DH spot. The problem with getting Thome significant at-bats is Kubel.

Kubel is also a left-hander, who has power and is best suited for the DH role. Last season, Kubel finished with 21 home runs, a .249 batting average and 92 RBI. The Twins are high on Kubel even though he hit seven fewer home runs and his average dropped .51 points from two seasons ago.

It’s never a bad problem to have two left-handed power hitters that you can always rely on in the DH spot, but it does cause Ron Gardenhire to make a tough choice every night. With the Twins’ roster as is, Thome’s role isn’t set in stone; all the Twins knew is that they had to have the guy back, so they brought him back. Even if that meant overpaying for his services a little bit.

There are also some other things that need to be taken into consideration when looking at Thome’s role. For one, last season he stayed relatively healthy minus some back troubles towards the end of the season, will he be able to do it again? Secondly, there’s just no way he replicates last year’s production. Finally, he’s just 11 home runs shy of 600.

So while Thome has an aging body working against him and Kubel—a younger, similar player fighting for at bats—he’s going to get enough opportunities to reach the milestone 600 home runs.  

Thome wasn’t just brought back to contribute on the field, either. The veteran is a fan favorite and a clubhouse leader who the younger players look up to. How great would it be to go to the ballpark every day and get tips from one of the greatest sluggers of all time?

When last season ended and Thome announced his intentions of playing another season it was widely believed he would return to the Twins. After some flirtation with the Texas Rangers, he ultimately turned down a more lucrative offer to remain in Minnesota.

It’s a good fit for both sides as Thome looks to join the 600 club. This will likely be the slugger’s last season and when he leaves the game, he will certainly be missed. For Twins fans, they’ll have the luxury of knowing that they’ll get to see more massive homers and possibly a piece of history, too.

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Minnesota Twins Face Trap Season in 2011

In sports, when a team looks too far ahead or dwells too much on what has already happened, they often fail in the present.  Sometimes it’s off the field issues, sometimes it’s injuries, sometimes it’s egos and sometimes it is just plain bad luck.  A trap season is the perfect storm of all these variables and more.  The 2010 Minnesota Vikings defined a trap season better than maybe anybody ever.

Watching the Vikings plod through their last meaningless game today made me realize that Ron Gardenhire better be careful.  The 2011 Twins season is heading for the classic Minnesota trap season and Gardenhire could be out of a job.  The trap season is defined by four noticeable characteristics.

1. The team has a history of having consistently above average to great regular seasons. 

2. The team fails repeatedly in the postseason.

3. The team is coming off a terrific regular season highlighted by a particularly disappointing and or traumatic postseason experience.

4. Fan expectations (the status quo) are at a peak.

Before typecasting this as another “Fire Gardy” column (it’s not), realize there are precedents set here besides the debacle that was the 2010 Vikings.

From 1992 to 2000, Dennis Green took the Vikings to the playoffs every year except once and never had a record below .500.  He established a series of teams that we fans would complain about every so often, but for the most part could get behind because they were always competitive, and made the playoffs.  This was enough for us as we ignored their penchant for folding under pressure year after year. 

Until we stopped winning in the regular season that is.  He was fired with one game left in the season in 2001.  Why? Let’s look at the list.

1. Established above.

2. Green’s postseason record was 4-8.

3. The 2001 Vikings were coming off a postseason in which they lost 41-0 in the NFC Championship game.

4. It’s hard to remember or even fathom at this point, but Daunte Culpepper was coming off his first season as a starter.  He was a Pro Bowler, threw for almost 4,000 yards and 33 touchdowns.  He was thought to be the best young QB in football.  Pair him with Randy Moss in his prime and fan interest was through the roof.

Need more proof?  Let’s change sports and go to basketball.  Flip Saunders took over the Timberwolves in 1995, took a team that never had a winning record to the playoffs eight years in a row, culminating in 2003-2004 season with a trip to the Conference Finals.  The very next year Saunders was fired mid-season after an underwhelming start (the infamous Latrell Spreewell “I gotta feed my family” season). Check out the Saunders File.

1. Established above. Eight straight trips to the postseason

2. Seven straight years of losing in the first round.

3. The ’03-’04 season was the best in Timberwolves history.  They won 58 games and received a No. 1 seed in the playoffs, but were upset by a drama filled Lakers squad.

4. Kevin Garnett was coming off of an MVP season, was still in his prime and the Wolves had essentially the same supporting cast as the year before.  As hard as it is to imagine now, Garnett owned this state.

It is really pretty remarkable when you start to connect the dots. 

Now, do this same exercise with recently ousted Vikings coach Brad Childress and apply it to this season.  You could write a book.

Apply all of this and the central idea behind our motives as fans comes to life.  If you as a coach don’t deliver in the playoffs, we fans only have the regular season to look forward to. 

After years of heart breaking failures in the postseason, we are conditioned place an exaggerated importance on the regular season.  Thus, when teams do run into adverse situations, it leads to decisions and opinions that for the better or worse, that are usually made on emotion, rather than on history.

That’s the Minnesota sports juggernaut in a vacuum.        

Which brings me back to Gardy and his 2011 Minnesota Twins:

1. They are consistently among the upper echelon of teams in baseball, a having won six division titles in Gardenhire’s nine years and contended in the other three.

2. Gardenhire’s postseason resume is now rather infamous for all the wrong reasons. 

3. The team is coming off one of maybe its best regular seasons ever followed by another first round sweep at the hands of the Yankees. This one stung even worse as the Twins had home field advantage and the Yankees were exposed as an aging fraud of a team by the Texas Rangers. 

4. Fan interest, which is always high for the Twins, will be at a fever pitch come spring.  With the collapse (literally and figuratively) of the Vikings this year coupled with the complete ineptitude of the Timberwolves and Year 2 of Target field, fans will be pining for something good to cheer.

Sounds like the makings of a trap season to me.  After struggling through this Vikings season, I hope I’m wrong.

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Tsuyoshi Fever: How Infielder Nishioka is Changing Baseball in Minnesota

Just one week ago, Minnesotans found themselves in the midst of one of the biggest blizzards in the state’s history. Twenty inches of snow and one collapsed Metrodome roof later, the impact of the storm left a mark on the Twin Cities. But just as people in the Twin Cities finally moved past the storm, a tsunami that goes by the name of “Yoshi” or “Nishi” rolled into town.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka arrived in Minneapolis on Thursday, effectively beginning a new era in Minnesota baseball. Nishioka has become the first Japanese player to sign with the Minnesota Twins. The move takes the Twins off the list of four remaining teams in Major League Baseball that had never signed a Pacific League player.

After seeing second baseman Orlando Hudson leave for San Diego in free agency and trading shortstop J.J. Hardy to Baltimore in exchange for a couple of pitchers, the Twins had two key spots in the infield that needed to be filled.

While it hasn’t officially been confirmed by the organization, it has been widely speculated that Alexi Casilla will finally get his chance to be an everyday starter in the Twins infield. Assuming Casilla finds a permanent home in the starting lineup, Nishioka is the final piece to the infield puzzle.

But the signing of Tsuyoshi Nishioka signifies much more than just the replacement of a position. Nishioka brings an entire nation with him in joining the Minnesota Twins. Elite baseball players in the Pacific League gain the same amount of media attention overseas that movie stars and famous musicians face on a daily basis in the United States.

Entering the conference room at Target Field for the press conference to officially introduce Nishioka as a member of the Twins, it became very apparent that the Twins game day experience will never be the same again.

More than an hour before the news conference was scheduled to start, the room was completely full, foreign media making up around 80 percent of the crowd. As the conference started, even Twins third baseman Danny Valencia found himself scrambling to find an open seat to watch the proceedings.

Flashbulbs and camera clicks took over when Nishioka arrived in the room, and a rousing applause rang out when he put on his No. 1 jersey for the first time. Before allowing his translator to moderate the news conference, Nishioka even tried his hand at speaking English, sharing with the media in attendance the following statement: “I’m excited to be part of the Twins family. Thank you.” Along with Nishioka’s seemingly constant smile, the statement brought another round of applause from those in the room.

As Nishioka continued, it became easier to see how he could be so well-liked in his native Japan. When asked if he would rather be playing second base or shortstop, Nishioka simply responded, “I don’t think I have any say to have a preference of playing second base or shortstop. I’m preparing for both. I’ll do whatever the manager tells me. If the manager wants me to be a ball boy, I’ll do that.”

Speaking with members of the Japanese media who had regularly taken part in covering Ichiro’s time in Seattle, I was told that people in Minnesota should expect a massive following to arrive at Target Field as spring comes around. After asking the reporter to elaborate, I was told, “Fans will come in large groups to every game, signs and banners written in Yoshi’s native language will be everywhere.”

He continued, “This won’t only be for games in Minnesota, but also in other cities. Asian Americans everywhere followed these elite players closely when they were in the Pacific League, and that won’t change now that they’re in the United States.”

It will be interesting to see how the marketing team for the Twins handles their newly expanded fan base in 2011. The Seattle Mariners management made many game-day changes when Ichiro arrived, including expanded concession offerings such as sushi and stir fry. Team chants in Ichiro’s native tongue were played over the PA system regularly when the star rightfielder would come up to bat.

As 2011 approaches, you can bet that Target Field will adopt some of these customs, stretching the reach of “Twins Territory” farther than ever before.

In an offseason where the Twins have seen their division rivals stock up with talent, Twins fans needed to see a move that would show that the team isn’t content to hold its position. The signing of Tsuyoshi Nishioka signifies a major change for baseball in Minnesota, a change that the organization hopes will help catapult the team to the next level in 2011.

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