Dome Dog Asks: What is Successful?

15 Dec

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

The comments in today’s blog have been pretty quality and filled with entertainment, but a bit ago, Dome Dog posted something that I thought was not only interesting, but worthy of discussion. I decided to make it a blog posting to itself, and I would love to hear your comments.

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“Interesting thought from Bill in Sarasota about “being spoiled from the Twins success”. How do people define success for this organization? Does it change from year to year? Is it World Series or bust? How do you think the Twins management views success? After all, it is a business as well, so would they consider it a success if they field a competitive team (like last year) AND make money (since that is a business goal)?

Personally, I think viewing success only as World Series or bust is ridiculous. Most seasons then end up as failure, taking the fun out of a season (again, if that is how you view success). Not to mention it is lunacy to expect a World Series title year after year after year…

Now, I would love to see the Twins “go for it” in any given year, as that provides excitement for me as a fan and gives me a great reason to follow them throughout the year. But I also enjoy seeing them stick to a plan that they believe in and seeing that result in a competitive team year in and year out. I’ll take sustained “success” each year, since that allows me to enjoy each season and hope that things break right in the end. It’s a whole lot better than trying to conjure up hope out of thin air that Willie Banks, Pat Meares, and Rich Becker are going to turn into something special…How do others view success, and how does that affect your enjoyment of the season?”

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What do you think? What is success?

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23 Responses to “Dome Dog Asks: What is Successful?”

  1. mike wants wind December 15, 2008 at 6:15 pm #

    I don’t think they are failures if they don’t win the world series. You can have plenty of fun watching baseball even if your team falls short.

    That said, I think the philosophy of “just competing” is insufficient. Had they gone for it earlier this decade and traded for or signed a real DH or 3B, I think they would have had a real shot at 1-2 WS championships, all while keeping the team intact.

    Just like I feel they could sign Pat the Bat and still have money to keep the core guys they have now.

  2. Rosterman December 15, 2008 at 6:43 pm #

    As a lifelong Twins fan, one ahs to feel real good about the recent run of the Twins. I mean, we had the 70s/80s before the first World Championship. And even the fun surprise of the second, followed by a near decade of elt-down.

    I’m one of those fans more bred on rooting for the developed prospect who becomes a diehard member of the team, as well as the withered vet who finds new life with the Twins. For every Killebrew, Oliva, Hrbek, Mauer…I still have fondness for the Worthington, Gladden, Redmonds who pop in and enjoy Minnesota play.

    Like msot of us fans, I like shuffling the player deck and dreaming about deals, not just buys. I’m frustrated, sometimes, when the Twins don’t play their prospects cards at the right time (Willie Banks and Derek Parks for Dave Winfield), or they let some guys drift away with no return…even the latest Dougie Mientkiewicz for Justin Jones. Maybe we should have gotten Brendan Harris instead at that time.

    You never know who is going to have an up-or-down year, where the roster spot may open or close, who fits with the team. I like to watch good baseball. Someone has to win, someone lose. Someone has to make three outs each inning.

    I wish a perfect team could be amde each season (heaven knows the Yankees try to buy one and seem to fail of late) and maybe I wish some of those prospects would be cut loose to get the missing piece when World Series heaven looks so close.

    I do love the Twins, win or lose. I wish more Twins fans loved them when they were bad…attendance goes up with wins, stagnates with losses. Hopefully the powers-that-be will at least remain competitive when the cash-cow new stadium apcks them in for the first couple of seasons.

    On another note: One of those aging guys and have long thought about being an usher for Twins games. Was told that they will need quite a few come 2010, since they expect to sell-out each game and will need every section staffed (day and night). You gat paid, wear a nice red shirt, and get to yell at rowdy fans! Maybe even catch some of the game. But have to work, rain, shine, cold or no!

  3. greenmachine December 15, 2008 at 6:45 pm #

    Definitely competitive year-in-year-out is the goal for me, with “going for it” once in a while an important secondary goal. But avoiding years-long franchise slumps is more important to me than breaking the bank once in a while on the off chance of playoff success.

  4. John December 15, 2008 at 7:18 pm #

    Success is fielding the best possible team.

    Bill Smith did not do that last year and the result was devastating- a single more win (in the first 162) would have been worth millions of dollars to the organization and would of course have pleased the fans.

    A small market team will have down years. Of course, the Twins are only a small market team in the fantasy land created by Pohlad and carried on by his minions- Minneapolis is at worst an average market.

  5. thrylos98 December 15, 2008 at 8:51 pm #

    I’d rather see them following the Marlins’ plan and bring 2 titles a decade while rebuilding the rest, instead of the current lets-try-to-win-the-division plan. New stadium in 2010 they should go all out, bring the payroll to $100 M and try to win it all…

  6. Patrick December 15, 2008 at 10:12 pm #

    I have spent some time think and arguing about this question recently. I think there are obvious problems with both of the main theories that I hear.

    The first common theory is “Win or go home” or “Championship of bust”. This theory seems wrong on face. By this definition only 1 team each year had a good season and all of the other teams might as well not even showed up. That just doesn’t seem right.

    The other common definition I hear is “Be competitive.” This sounds good on face but as most Twins fans know it can get very frustrating. If we are just competitive enough to win the division but get kicked out of the playoffs every year in the first round it gets old after a couple of years. Also teams sometimes fall into a rut where they are content to be dominant in a weak division but never aspire to more.

    My favorite definition of success is more about movement than the end result. First the team must be at least OK. For an example of a not OK team see the current Timberwolves. Other than that the most important element of success for me is whether the team is better than it was last year/at the beginning of the year. That way you can move beyond the pothole that is competitiveness (who defines what is competitive anyway) and yet you don’t demand your team to win the world series every year. As long as the Twins are getting better I am happy.

    This definition explains best to me why some of the recent off seasons have been frustrating. I am not talking about Johan and Hunter those moves had to happen. I am talking about Adam Everett and Casey Blake and Craig Monroe, and Jeff Cirillo and Tony Batista. Most of these guys didn’t make the team better they just didn’t allow it to get [much] worse. I still am hoping that the Twins will make a move and bring in a good third baseman and make this team better than it was the year before.

  7. Han Joelo December 15, 2008 at 10:54 pm #

    I’m in the camp that is happy with a competitive team year in and out. Sure, I’d love to have a championship, but being able to root for the team all the way to October is pretty nice, as is having to worry about the nuances of Ty Wiggington vs. Casey Blake in the offseason rather than be a fan of the Pirates.

    Revisionist hindsight is a waste of time. For every “one last move” the management could have made to garner one more win last season, the moves they did make somehow got them to that point, a point that exceeded most peoples expectations. This was due to the Twins ability to draft, trade for, develop, and hang onto young players. Suppose they’d traded Baker and Slowey a couple of years ago for some hotshot who soon left in free agency?

    I like the players they have hung onto. Suppose the Twins had gone all in a couple of years ago, a la the Marlins, and blown five years worth of money and prospects on a variety of free agents. Maybe they win the championship. In the meantime, not only are Santana and Hunter gone, but also Morneau and Mauer–the Twin’s equivalents to Miguel Cabrera or Josh Beckett.

    So I guess that is my question, maybe not a perfect analogy, but would you trade ten years of Morneau and Mauer (and no championship) for one championship?

  8. TT December 16, 2008 at 12:09 am #

    As long as the Twins are getting better I am happy.

    I agree, but their is also an obvious problem with this theory. If they keep getting better every year, eventually they ought to be good enough that they sweep every world series.

    I actually think there are two things that make a team successful short of winning the world series. First is that they were better than the year before. Second, they put themselves in a position to get even better the next year.

    There are plenty of teams that make themselves better while sowing the seeds of future failure. They fill the team with guys on the downside of their career. They trade away emerging young players in favor of older, less talented, more established players. That kind of improvement isn’t a success unless it wins you a world series.

    bring the payroll to $100 M and try to win it all…

    I think the Twins try to “win it all” every year. The reality is that on average a team will win the world series only once every 30 years. Its not for lack of trying or for lack of money. Its just hard to put together the best team in baseball, it requires skillful roster management AND a little luck.

  9. thrylos98 December 16, 2008 at 8:09 am #

    TT,

    my $100M payroll was not a stand alone… and it does not stand as such. I want them to adopt the Marlins’ model. The won 2 world series in a decade using that. I beg to differ, but I am not sure that the Twins are trying to win a world series every season. If they were, the first thing to do was to get themselves a manager that proved that can take them there and get rid of the one who is 0 out of 5 chances…

  10. mike wants wins December 16, 2008 at 9:15 am #

    The biggest problem I have with some of these arguments is that people are assuming being competitive long term, and occassionally going more all in are necessarily mutually exclusive. They aren’t. They could have signed a mediocre DH earlier this decade, or even traded a couple of middle of the road prospects for one, and still be competitive right now. And, a mediocre DH would have been better than what they had.

  11. MHFESQ December 16, 2008 at 11:36 am #

    I believe that the Twins’ philosophy is that, once you make it to the playoffs, it is more of a gamble, and the “best” team on paper does not win as much as you would expect. Therefore, building a team that makes it to the playoffs nearly every year is success. One is more likely to win a world series if you make it to the playoffs 8 times in a decade with a solid team than if you make it to the playoffs 2 times with really stacked teams. Thoughts?

  12. Seth December 16, 2008 at 11:40 am #

    MHFESQ – I don’t know if that is officially the Twins philosophy, but it perfectly summarizes mine.

  13. MHFESQ December 16, 2008 at 11:58 am #

    I also believe it is the philosophy of the Twins to keep the fans happy, and that having lots of new faces every year (even if it makes for a better team) decreases the level of investment a fan has for the team. In a small market such as Minnesota, a team will lose fans by going “all in” once every 8 seasons, and spending the other 7 seasons fighting for 4th place. Look at the Marlins. Look at the Rockies. It is a better business model to have a continuously good team than to have a great team some years and an awful team most other years.

  14. Kunza December 16, 2008 at 1:43 pm #

    I like everyone’s thoughts about “competitive” teams year in and year out – but what happens when your superstar is ready to become a free agent and you haven’t shown him anything to lead him to believe that you are trying to win a championship – he is on the first flight out of town.

    Eventually Mauer and Morneau will be old – who knows how long Nathan has left –

    These guys are professionals and their #1 GOAL – without a doubt – is win championships!!!!!!!!!

    I will bet my house and everything that I own that you couldn’t find ONE single MLB player that is happy with competiting for division championships alone – the whole purpose of sports is to WIN – WIN – WIN – not feel good, feel good, feel good!

  15. Dome Dog December 16, 2008 at 2:33 pm #

    Kunza…the purpose of competing for a Division Championship is to give yourself a shot at winning the World Series…

    I also disagree with the statement that the whole purpose of sports is to WIN-WIN-WIN. Trust me, I understand that you play to win the game and winning is so much more fun than losing. But how far do you go with that? If the sole goal and purpose of playing sports is to win the ultimate prize, does that make you a failure if you don’t? No way. Should Warren Moon consider his NFL career a failure because he never won the Super Bowl? Should Bud Grant consider the Vikings organization a failure during the time he was the coach because they never won a Super Bowl?

    When you start playing sports as a kid, you are supposed to play because it is fun and because you love the game. But somewhere along the way, we have changed that focus to “win or else”. If you do your job as a player, coach, gm, or owner to the best of your ability, can’t you consider that as a success, EVEN IF you never quite get to the pinnacle?

  16. Seth December 16, 2008 at 2:43 pm #

    The Detroit Tigers certainly went for it in 2008, didn’t they? How did that go for them?

  17. Kunza December 16, 2008 at 4:55 pm #

    Dome Dog – you are 100% correct in saying that if you don’t win it all, it shouldn’t be classified as a failure!

    However………..

    These are professional athletes and their desire to be winners and reach the ultimate pinnacle – a world championship – is very important (next to the $$ they make)

    Now – your comment about doing the job to the best of your abilities… sure I can follow your logic, but to think that it is OK in professional sports to accept mediocrity is not right – in your personal job if you don’t meet or exceed expectations, what happens? Do you just tell your boss…. well, I did the best I could and if you don’t like it, well, too bad, because it is the best that I could do? I think you would be shown the door while your company looked for a better employee with loftier goals than you just set forth

    It’s ok to go for it and fail, who cares… at least you have the guts to make a run at it!!

  18. thrylos98 December 16, 2008 at 5:08 pm #

    Seth,

    the Tiggers last year put all their eggs in one basket (hitting) and were severely flawed in starting pitching, relief pitching and defense. These kind of teams will never win (see: Rangers, Texas)

  19. Dome Dog December 16, 2008 at 6:15 pm #

    Kunza,

    I agree that you shouldn’t accept mediocrity and should be shown the door if you aren’t “fulfilling your job description” so to speak. I wasn’t trying to imply that mediocrity should be an acceptable goal. All I was trying to say is that I think we have lifted sports, teams, and athletes up to such a level that they are roundly criticized if they do not achieve a World Championship. I guess I feel like if Bud Grant was coaching the Vikings today and reached 4 Super Bowls, but never won any of them, a lot of fans would be calling for his head because he could never win “the big one”, just like there are plenty of people I see out here who want a new manager because Gardy has a poor postseason record.

    Maybe I’m too optomistic, but I think every organization and every player (other than Manny Ramirez maybe!) has a strong desire to win the World Series. It is just a very difficult task. If everyone in management is doing there job to the best of their abilities, then the manager will have the group of players he needs to compete over the course of the season. If the manager does his job to the best of his abilities, he will have given his team the best chance they have to win the division and, if they make it, advance through the playoffs. If the players do their jobs to the best of their abilities, they will be giving themselves, there mananger, and the front office the best chance at a title.

  20. Kunza December 16, 2008 at 6:40 pm #

    You can’t win if you don’t have the horses! Ask the Pittsburgh Pirates.

  21. TT December 16, 2008 at 11:06 pm #

    They could have signed a mediocre DH earlier this decade, or even traded a couple of middle of the road prospects for one, and still be competitive right now.

    Among the middle of the road prospects the Twins got in return for mediocre veterans were Alex Casillas (JC Romero), Jason Bartlett (Brian Buchanan), Lew Ford (Hector Carrasco), Joe Mays (Roberto Kelly) and David Ortiz (Dave Hollins). Think about a similar set of losses by the Twins. Actually, if you look at the 1900’s you can attribute some of the failure to the Twins having dealt away “middle of the road prospects” like Denny Neagle and Enrique Wilson.

  22. neckrolls December 17, 2008 at 1:56 pm #

    A lower percentage of MLB teams qualify for the postseason than in any of the other big sports, so even competing for a playoff spot consistently may be too narrow a definition of success – though the Twins have been quite successful by that measure in this decade. I think it also has a lot to do with expectations. Since the 2008 Twins were projected to finish a little below .500, their 88-win season was a success even though they missed the playoffs. The Mets won only 1 more game than the Twins, but were a disappointment because they underperformed expectations.

    One reason expectations for the Twins are usually so low is that they haven’t had the payroll space available to significantly upgrade the team in the offseason. That doesn’t appear to be the case this year, and yet they’re behaving as though it were. If fans were expecting the Twins to finally spend some money, it looks as though they may be disappointed.

  23. TT December 17, 2008 at 5:16 pm #

    One reason expectations for the Twins are usually so low is that they haven’t had the payroll space available to significantly upgrade the team in the offseason.

    Expectations were low last year because they were coming off their first sub-500 season of the century and had lost Santana and Hunter in the off season. I don’t think expectations before that were all that low. Making the playoffs was the standard for success after 2001.

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