"When you have the attendance that we've had, the expectations that we've had coming into the season, more people are following us, more people nationally are following us, more people are coming to the games to follow us, so the reaction doesn't shock me. The average Joe just doesn't realize what goes into playing every single day. Denard hadn't had a day off all year, and he deserved it and needed it. This is how you manage your team over 162 games."
The context: Cuddyer was reacting -- when asked -- to fans' reaction to the Twins' Sunday lineup, which had some noticeable holes (some due to injury, some due to rest). Specifically, was addressing the fact that Denard Span was given his first day off of the year.
The reaction: Sentiment from some folks is that, regardless of what you think of the issue of resting players (another matter entirely), the troubling part was this: "The average Joe just doesn't realize what goes into playing every single day." Some people we've heard from are likening it to Latrell Sprewell's infamous "family to feed" comment -- suggesting Cuddyer is out of touch with reality. More publicly, we heard KFAN's Dan Cole having a field day with this earlier today.
Our take: We're willing to cut Cuddyer some slack, but he could have phrased things differently. The first part of the quote about more people following the team, etc., shows a pretty good pulse for the change in the way the Twins are being viewed. What he might have said as a follow-up -- and quite possibly what he was trying to express -- is that while ballplayers have many amenities, luxuries and riches that the public sees, there is a grind (both mental and physical) associated with the relative pressure of being a pro athlete that fans don't always take into account. The Average Joe only knows that he wants Denard Span to play -- which is a natural feeling, but one that's incomplete because as much as anyone would love to trade places with a ballplayer like Span or Cuddyer, few of us know what it is like to be in their shoes. Now: There is still room for a discussion even if this is what Cuddyer meant. Plenty of people have tougher jobs, work longer hours and get paid far less -- without being able to dictate exactly when they get a free day. But we really don't think Cuddyer was trying to play the "poor us" card. He was just trying to say, in essence, "it's more complicated and difficult than you might think. And it's not because you're stupid. It's just a practical matter. You are not us."
That said: We attended Sunday's game as a fan. Did we grumble when we saw the lineup? Yes. Do we wish Span would have had a rest at a time when, say, Joe Mauer was catching and Jim Thome could have been in the lineup as a DH, thus adding at least one more threatening bat to the mix? Yes. Do we think Gardenhire is always wrong? No. Do we think he's typically right? Yes. Do we think his job is harder than it seems? Yes. Do we think he's seemed crankier than usual this year in light of the more intense (and sometimes critical) fan base? Yes. Will this all be forgotten in a relatively short amount of time? Yes.
Your thoughts on Cuddyer's quote, resting players and even Gardenhire's disposition in the comments.