The Twins introduced baseball CEO Derek Falvey, a graduate of Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., and General Manager Thad Levine, a graduate of Haverford College on the Philadelphia Main Line, to head their baseball front office on Nov. 7, 2016.
In a way, the Twins were going back to their roots. Calvin Griffith was the president and general manager from the franchise’s arrival in October 1960 until a sale to Carl Pohlad in September 1984. Calvin also was Eastern-educated, attending Staunton (Va.) Military Academy and then George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
As the Twins went through the late July fire sale, now followed by the go-home-Byron Buxton controversy, we have monitored their comments. And it has been impossible not to wonder what Mr. Griffith, the original Eastern-educated Twins decisionmaker, might have offered on these issues.
FALVEY, on the trades of Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, etc.: “We played north of 100 games, and when you get to a certain point in the season — we try not to let one day or a few days to sway the decision. I don’t expect the players to always understand …”
What Calvin Once Said (WCOS): “We ain’t America’s farm team. I think we’re smarter than Hades to get rid of those players.”
LEVINE, on not recalling Buxton: “The decision really for that is driven off of three mean factors.”
WCOS: “The way I look at it, sports owners don’t owe an athlete anything. The athlete owes everything to the sport he’s participating in.”
LEVINE, on the first Buxton factor: “One is a continued desire to put him in the best position possible to be healthy going into 2019 … [so] that he’s unencumbered from a health standpoint.”
WCOS: “A guy will become a man over the winter. We have a few ballplayers I’m hoping will become men over the winter.”
LEVINE, on two other factors in the Buxton decision: “Two, there is a performance standpoint factor … and three, quite frankly, it’s just a playing time situation. As we look to the major league team right now, we obviously view Byron Buxton as a starting outfielder. Those at-bats were not necessarily prevalent at this time …”
WCOS: “The trouble is, we baseball people can never be trusted to do anything sensible.”
LEVINE, on Buxton’s unhappy reaction to the decision: “From this day forward, I think we recognize a responsibility to make amends. And we’re going to need to invest in the Byron Buxton relationship moving forward …”
WCOS: “If you keep a player a little hungry, he’ll play better for you. If you grease his palms all the time, there’s no incentive for him.”
LEVINE, on the team’s desire for collaboration with Buxton: “We understand this is a blow to the player … and we’re prepared to try and stay as consistent as we can and reinvest in that element of this because we realized this was information that was not appealing or certainly collaborative.”
WCOS (on collaboration): “I am the boss and the only one in the organization who can hire and fire people as I desire.”
More WCOS: “I don’t mind being called a dinosaur. A dinosaur from what I’ve seen on TV is a pretty powerful person. A dinosaur usually pushes himself around to where he doesn’t get hurt.”
LEVINE, on a possible grievance and other actions by Buxton’s camp: “In terms of conversation with his agent — displeased, disappointed for sure. Their recourse has not been laid out for us.”
WCOS (on grievances): “The more pressure put on me, the more stubborn I get. And when I get stubborn, I don’t change my mind. I just say, ‘No.’ ”
More WCOS: “Most lawyers are paid to get people out of trouble. [Baseball] lawyers are paid to get us in trouble.”
More WCOS: “I can’t tell you exactly what I intend to do, but I can tell you one thing … it won’t be anything rational.”
And there is also this comparison between today’s Twins and Calvin’s Twins on marketing.
Twins 2018 advertising campaign: “This Is How We Baseball.”
WCOS: “We got rid of it. You spend $250,000 to $300,000 a year telling people, ‘Come on out and see us, we’re great.’ Then, you win five out of 15 and make yourself look like a horse’s rear end.”
Calvin signed over the Twins in a Metrodome ceremony on Sept. 22, 1984. And it’s amazing that in 34 years, the smooth-talking responses of these Eastern-educated baseball bosses really haven’t changed all that much.