The Twins' main problem is that owner Carl Pohlad has decided it is not feasible to fund a team with a chance to win while playing in the Metrodome. The Twins have another problem: There is no strong voice in the organization to give blunt advice to the owner.

This is not the first era when the Twins have been challenged by a deficient payroll. The same situation existed for a decade starting in the mid-'70s.

Calvin Griffith did not have the money to participate in baseball's first spending spree. He did have a strong voice in the baseball department. It belonged to George Brophy.

"He sure wasn't a `yes man,' " Jim Rantz said. "Broph told Calvin what he thought, even if it wasn't what Calvin wanted to hear."

Brophy was the general manager of the Minneapolis Millers when the Twins moved here in 1961. He worked for farm director Sherry Robertson, Calvin's brother.

Sherry died in a car accident and Brophy became the vice president in charge of the farm system and the scouting department in 1970. Rantz, now the Twins' minor league director, was Brophy's assistant.

Brophy made the player assignments for the minor league teams. He scouted, hired the scouts and made the draft selections. He found bargain-basement players for Calvin's big-league team.

Brophy was the Twins' key baseball man for 16 years. In the last few years of his tenure, agents started representing early-round choices from the June draft. Brophy did not have a lofty opinion of agents.

"Broph couldn't stand 'em," Rantz said. "There wasn't a lot of negotiating with Broph. It was either this, or the agent and the player could take a walk.

"Broph could get hot in a minute. I remember one day he was on the phone, just screaming at this agent. One of the secretaries came down the hall and said, `What's wrong?' I said, `Nothing. Broph was just talking to his wife.' Broph got a good laugh out of that."

George and Gen Brophy have been married for 48 years. They have five children. Last weekend, the kids visited home and George gave them some unhappy news: He was leaning toward discontinuing the frequent blood transfusions that have been keeping him alive for the past several weeks.

Thirteen years ago, Brophy was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. Tom Habermann, a doctor at Mayo Clinic, was able to use a blood-serum treatment four times through the years to get Brophy's blood counts under control. The success of these treatments allowed Brophy to continue a rewarding baseball life as a special-assignment scout for the Houston Astros.

Brophy retired a couple of years ago. He took his vacation to spring training, of course. This March, he was watching a Twins exhibition game in Fort Myers, Fla. He talked of setting a world record with four successful serum treatments, described himself as a "medical miracle" and then said:

"I was here by myself before the game. I was thinking how great it is to be here - sitting in the sun, watching a ballgame. I am a lucky man."

In April, Brophy went to the scouts' seats at the Metrodome. He was huffing and puffing when he walked the steps that night, and decided to return to Mayo Clinic for a checkup.

Brophy's blood was acting up again. Habermann tried the serum treatment for the fifth time and it did not work. In mid-September, Brophy was at the Mayo Clinic - "35 feet down the hall from King Hussein," he said Wednesday - and suffered a minor heart attack.

"Dr. Habermann said after the heart attack, I really haven't been able to bounce back," Brophy said.

Mayo has run out of miracles. Brophy is at home in Edina, trying to decide how much longer to continue the blood transfusions that only temporarily help the counts.

Wednesday, when a reporter called, George was busy getting another type of transfusion: communion. "He's gotten very religious in his old age," said Gen, laughing.

Later, Brophy, 72, said: "We've been fighting to get the counts under control since the middle of April. It hasn't happened. I'm dragging around this oxygen tank. This is no way to live."

This statement hung in silence for a few moments, then Brophy said: "Tell me what's going on with this ballclub. I feel sorry for general manager Terry Ryan. You can't make chicken salad out of chicken feathers."

Maybe not, although Brophy came close for Calvin. He found Larry Hisle and Bobby Darwin and Doug Corbett and several other standouts - not merely players, standouts - on baseball's discount shelf.

And our World Series heroes of 1987? The most important players were Broph's guys.

"Even in the bad years, we always had fun," Brophy said. "I don't see anyone over there having fun anymore."

On Wednesday, dragging around his oxygen tank, Broph still was having fun. Dick Gordon, the long-retired Minneapolis sportswriter, had called in the morning to get directions from his St. Paul home to the Brophys'.

"Gordon gets lost driving around the block," Brophy said. "I gave him directions, but I told Gen, `He's a 100-1 underdog to find us.' "

Bulletin: Gordon made it.

Don't give up on Broph yet.