Two of the most damaging things we can do in our lives are essentially polar opposites: Staying the course in a situation that has become toxic (or even simply too comfortable) because we don’t have the means, energy or guts to change … or acting rashly and changing something merely for the sake of changing it, only to regret the impulsive move and the better life we left behind.
When it comes to the Twins, and you cut through the raw emotion of losing 90 games in four consecutive seasons and simply examine the facts, you are essentially left with a decision on manager Ron Gardenhire that speaks to the nature of change. Careful reflection might not be popular with the ALL-CAPS crowd, but it is the right course when making a major decision like this.
We know that, when given capable players, Gardenhire is a very good regular-season manager. Even if he benefited from a weak AL Central at times, six division titles in nine years is an admirable accomplishment for anyone. His teams failed in the playoffs (the Twins are 2-19 in their last 21 postseason games under Gardenhire), and this four-year nosedive has been on his watch, but we cannot forget there are positive things on his side of the ledger, too.
The questions the Twins’ management should be asking itself in the next handful of days are these: would firing Gardenhire simply be change for the sake of change … and is there a greater danger in remaining on a comfortable, familiar course?
There are those that would argue sometimes “change for the sake of change” is reason enough to make a move. Maybe. Sometimes. You could look at attendance at Twins games this September, and the general apathy that is firmly entrenched among a growing number of fans and conclude that, if you were merely crowdsourcing this move, the best thing would just be to dump Gardy and start over.
The counter to that is that the Twins might actually be on the verge of giving the man enough talent to compete again, and when that has happened in the past the results have generally been good (the postseason notwithstanding, which we acknowledge is no small thing and could, in fact, be an even more damning bit of evidence against Gardenhire staying than four consecutive 90-loss seasons with an incomplete roster).
There are those, too, who would argue that there is a beauty in patience and that being comfortable in a job isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Maybe. Sometimes. But patience can bleed into complacency, and complacency can foster an attitude that makes losing acceptable.
If the Twins are going to make a move on Gardenhire, the reasoning and explanation needs to be more solid than “we just felt it was time for a change.” But if they are going to keep him, it better be because they feel like he’s the best man for the job and not because they don’t have the courage to move on.
There are certainly reasons beyond “change for the sake of change” to let him go, but there is also a not-too-distant past to consider when wondering if it would be a decision the Twins ultimately regret.
Outside linebacker Chad Greenway, who left in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 20-9 loss to the Saints, did not practice today due to a broken left hand and a painful broken rib. Greenway, whose status for this weekend is in doubt, said he was frustrated that the injuries affected his play Sunday.
“You go back and look at the tape and I just couldn’t be nearly as effective as I needed to be. That’s the unfortunate part of this game. Injuries happen and you just have to deal with stuff,” said Greenway, who has started 90 straight games at linebacker for the Vikings. “Sometimes you can’t deal with them as much as you thought you could have or they become just too much.”
Also sitting out today’s practice were nose tackle Linval Joseph (shoulder), tight end Kyle Rudolph (sports hernia) and cornerback Josh Robinson (hamstring). Joseph and Robinson are new additions to the injury report, as was safety Harrison Smith, who was limited in practice with a knee injury.
Outside linebacker Brandon Watts (knee) was also limited. Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (shoulder), outside linebacker Michael Mauti (foot) and wide receiver Rodney Smith (hamstring) participated fully. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who had a hamstring injury, is no longer on the report.
With Greenway potentially out for Sunday’s game against the Falcons, rookie outside linebacker Anthony Barr could be the one who wears the green dot. That is a lot to ask of any rookie, let alone one who only played defense for two years at the college level. But it says a lot of how the coaching staff feels about Barr, who has played all but 10 defensive snaps for the Vikings this season.
There is good news for Greenway, though. His wife had a baby yesterday — the couple’s third child.
Phil Hughes won his 16th game of the season, striking out five batters and walking none to put his season strikeout-to-walk ratio at a MLB-record 11.63. But a rain delay might have cost him a big bonus.