Change of no change?

4 Jan

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On Monday afternoon, the Vikings suprised absolutely no one when they named Leslie Frazier as their eighth head coach. Another coaching change for a team that has had three head coaches in the past six years.

On January 4, 2002, the Minnesota Twins named their 3B coach Ron Gardenhire as their new manager. He replaced Tom Kelly who had been manager since he replaced Ray Miller as Twins manager during the 1986 season. Kelly had been the Twins 3B coach prior to that. 

On January 10, 2002, the Minnesota Vikings named Mike Tice their full time head coach. He had taking over the reigns from Denny Green a few weeks earlier. Tice’s contract ran out after the 2005 season, and Brad Childress was brought in from outside the organization in January of 2006. As well all know, Mr. Childress was relieved of his duties six weeks ago. Frazier became the interim head coach and as had been anticipated for about the last year, he was named the team’s head coach on Monday. 

The Vikings have had three head coaches in the last six years and four head coaches in the past ten seasons. In the last decade the Vikings have made the playoffs three times. The Twins, on the other hand, have had two managers over the past 25 seasons. In the last decade, the Twins have been to the playoffs six times. 

This blog is not to say that one ownership methodology is better than the other. The Twins practice and preach continuity and with it, they have remained an annual contender and playoff team in the AL Central. The Vikings have made several changes in the past decade. They have just three playoff berths, but their run to the NFC Championship game earlier this year was sure fun to watch. 

The Twins ownership was known as frugal for a lot of years in the Metrodome, and rightfully so due to very low revenue streams. With the arrival of Target Field, the Twins have spent on payroll, increasing their payroll from just $65 million a few years ago to about $100 million in 2009 and upwards of $120 million in 2010. The Vikings have spent at least the salary cap in most of the years. In 2010, Zygi Wilf went way beyond the salary cap (in an un-capped season) in an attempt to “go for it.” How did that go?

Will a new coach change the fortunes for the Vikings after one of the most disappointing seasons in the Vikings history? Brad Childress had lost his players completely. If there is one thing that will never happen, it is Twins players quitting on Ron Gardenhire. 

There are a lot of similarities between the Vikings and the Twins. Some positive traits. Some negative traits. It will always be amazing for me that the Twins have been the much more successful team the past decade and yet this remains such a Vikings state and region. 

Here’s to Leslie Frazier being the right guy to take the Vikings back to the playoffs, and to Ron Gardenhire for hopefully being the guy able to take the Twins to that next level. All I know if 94 wins in the regular season is a pretty good place to be.  Is one management philosophy better than the other? What has firing and re-hiring done for the Vikings? What has continuity done for the Twins? 

Everyone can have a different opinion, and no one is right, and no one is wrong. What do you think? Feel free to e-mail me or leave your comments here.


25 Responses to “Change of no change?”

  1. Disgruntled Guy January 4, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    Players won’t quit on Gardy? You must not have watched Game 3 of the ALDS in October.

    Also, during Chilly’s tenure with the Vikes, Brad Childress = 1 playoff win, Gardy = 0 playoff wins. Just sayin’.

  2. DB January 4, 2011 at 8:38 am #

    The biggest difference between the two teams is that the Twins have had the same owners through the span we’re comparing, and the Vikings have not. I’m sure it’s not easy to maintain a consistent philosophy when the people responsible for the overall operations changes every 5 years also.

  3. Jesse H January 4, 2011 at 8:55 am #

    I will state that I am a bigger baseball fan then a football fan but the moment I have enjoyed the most over the past 10 years was the run by the Vikings last year that ended 1 play short. I would trade the past 4 playoff series of sweeps for a single playoff run where we win in the first round and lose 4 games to 3 in the AL Champtionship.

    • DB January 4, 2011 at 9:46 am #

      I would have to agree, and I’m also a baseball guy first. When you compare the amount of excitement involved in beating Dallas and then taking NO to overtime, then compare it to my favorite baseball team not looking competitive for several years in the playoffs.

      It reminds me of when the Twins got beat by the Angels in the ALCS. You at least got the feeling the Twins had a chance to win those ballgames. Since then, they just don’t seem to bring their best booze to the party.

  4. Kunza January 4, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    No comparison. The state of Minnesota is Vikings territory. Way more fans are big-time Vikings fans compared to big-time Twins fans.

    I would say that all of us on these websites are Twins fans first, but at least the Vikings give us some hope of at least the “chance” of winning the big game. It is so hard to be excited about the Twins chances again this year.

    But hey, why not keep the status quo! Fans keep coming out and we keep hearing about “AL Central Champs” year after year. It’s like winning a 50 yard dash against 3rd graders. Sure it is fun to say you win but real fans understand there needs to be an asterisk.

    Childress sucked.
    Gardenhire isn’t far behind.
    Todd Richards is a poor coach.
    Kurt Rambis is a poor coach.
    Don Lucia is a pushover.
    Jerry Kill – time will tell but…
    Tubby Smith – only proven winner in this state

    Everyone else is a wanna-be!

    • TT January 4, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

      Tubby Smith has yet to get the Gophers out of the first round of the NCAA and he has never had a winning record in his four seasons in the Big Ten. He may have been a proven winner when he arrived, but he hasn’t really proven he can win in Minnesota.

    • gobbledy January 4, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

      lucia has 2 ncaa titles tubby 1. i’m not a lucia fan, at the time i thought he was a good hire, but i think his time to move on has come just like it was woogs time to move on. gardy has a few coaches that are a lot comfy and need to move on. he needs some new ideas around him. same old same old grows stale.

  5. TT January 4, 2011 at 12:34 pm #

    I think the Twins winning two world series has been way more exciting than watching the Vikings lose in the Super Bowl. Of course, how many people remember the last time the Vikings were in the Super Bowl? No one under 40.

    If you just look at the last decade the average number of times a team got to the playoffs in the NFL was (12 playoff teams*10 years/32 teams) 3.75 times. So the Vikings have been a below average team with three.

    If you do the same for baseball, the average team makes the playoffs (8 playoff teams*10/30) 2.67 times. The Twins are way above average with six.

    ” I would trade the past 4 playoff series of sweeps for a single playoff run where we win in the first round and lose 4 games to 3 in the AL Champtionship.”

    You mean sort of like the Twins did in 2002? Actually they lost the series 4-1, but I certainly wouldn’t have called the last decade a success if they had won two more games in that series and had not made the playoffs since.

    The 70’s were not a good time to be a Twins fan just because they had made it to the World Series in 1965. And the 90’s weren’t a successful decade because they won the World Series in 1991. It doesn’t take many losing years for the taste of success to get a little stale. If the Vikings have another run of losing seasons, I suspect the same will happen to the “magic” the coming close last year.

    Its actually amazing that people can get excited about a second round loss short of the Super Bowl. I guess Vikings fans have to have a pretty low bar for success.

    • Kunza January 4, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

      What about Twins fans having a low bar for success when it comes to only winning the division title? I think that is setting the bar pretty low, too!

      The Twins won the World Series back when baseball was way different. In the modern era game they haven’t won anything of value. That is like Packer fans talking about all the championships then won way back when. The game is way different now.

      • TT January 4, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

        12 teams have won a world series since the Twins did it in 1991. So in the last 20 seasons 13 teams have won a World Series, including the Twins, and 17 haven’t.

        The Twins were in the ALC championship series in 2002, if that is the bar. But that is obviously not the “modern era”. And they have won the Central Division championship six times in that last ten years. That is obviously not “anything of value”.

        Its still a lot better than the Vikings have done.

    • mike wants wins January 4, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

      Sigh, the “real fans” argument. So tired.

      • TT January 4, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

        I agree, the “real fan” argument is tired. Why are you making it about everyone who disagrees with you? Whining doesn’t make someone a “real fan”, it just makes them tiresome.

    • Jesse H January 4, 2011 at 7:18 pm #

      I didn’t know we were talking about events 20-30 years old but I will state the obvious and say that the 1991 Twins season is my favorite season of all time in all sports. Now if we get back to the time period from Seth’s post and my response (2002-2010) I would ask if you could find a Twins season AND postseason in that time you enjoyed more then then the 2009 Vikings?

      As to the relative success of the Twins vs the Vikings I would probablly rank the Twins higher because even though the Vikings have advanced in the playoffs twice during that time period they also have 3 6-10 seasons. I am beginning to look less and less forward to future seasons of Twins baseball as they are unable to win in the playoffs and are quickly becoming a running joke “EZPass”

      • TT January 4, 2011 at 9:30 pm #

        I am not the right person to answer this since I could care less about the Vikings, but I think people forget how exciting the 2002 playoffs were after a decade of losing and coming off the collapse in the 2001 pennant race. I suspect the excitement around the Vikings was similarly a reaction to the unusual situation of them winning.

  6. DH in Philly January 4, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    lol – real fans – lol

  7. mike wants wins January 4, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    I also agree, the excitement of a great run in the playoffs is way better than a long series of regular season success with NO post season success. They just don’t compare to me in terms of entertainment.

  8. mike wants wins January 4, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    As for this being a Vikings’ state….that is partially that the NFL itself crushes baseball in popularity as a national sport. The Vikings are surely helped by football’s popularity in general.

  9. Disgruntled Guy January 4, 2011 at 4:37 pm #

    TT, no offense, but you also believe the Twins “moves” have made them a better team this offseason. In your eyes the Twins can do absolutely no wrong. Realistically, though, 12 straight postseason losses is historically bad. In the AL, the only teams with fewer playoff wins during Gardy’s tenure are KC, Baltimore, Seattle, and Toronto. Twins fans need to adjust their expectations. Making it to the playoffs just to get blown out isn’t good enough.

    • TT January 4, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

      “you also believe the Twins “moves” have made them a better team this offseason.”

      I actually didn’t say that any where. But I am not surprised that you would have missed the fact that teams usually get better because the players they have improve, not because of the “moves” their GM makes. The Twins are likely to be better next year because the players they already have are likely to be better.

      Getting Nathan back and having Morneau available for the full season, including for the playoffs for the first time since 2006, will be huge improvement.

      • Disgruntled Guy January 5, 2011 at 11:05 am #

        TT, I checked out your blog:

        “We are only part way through the off-season, but the Twins are already emerging as a better team than last year.”

        Are you claiming you didn’t write that?

        Even if your theory about teams not getting better through free agency but through players getting better (video-game style) were true (are the White Sox better solely because their players will get better? Red Sox? Phils?), I’m not sure I follow it as it relates to the Twins. Nathan is coming off surgery and is in the twilight of his career. Morneau – who knows? I’m not counting on him playing a full season (good thing the front office has a good backup plan in place). JJ Hardy figures to improve if he can stay healthy – but we traded him. Most of our bullpen can’t improve on last year because we don’t have most of a bullpen.

        The other flaw in your argument is that is assumes all the players who had great years last year will improve on their career best numbers – Valencia, Young, Thome (if back). This is simply unrealistic.

  10. mike wants wins January 4, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

    TT:, was that aimed at me? Someone said something about “real fans”, and I tried to reply to that….I don’t think there is a right way or wrong way to be a fan, or to judge fans’ expectations. Fans are fans, nothing about them is rational at all. Judging some peoples’ fandom as right, wrong, better, worse, low, high, I don’t get that part. I’m not sure what whining (if that’s what you call my opinions, fine) has to do with my post about the “real fan” or “better fan” comments some have made….

    • TT January 4, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

      Sorry Mike, I thought your reply was to my post and didn’t really see the connection. I agree, we are all “real fans”. The comment on whining was more that I think some people think complaining proves they are “real fans”.

      • mike wants wins January 4, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

        Ah, well, there are plenty of people that feel their fandom is the “right” way to be fans. I think most of the people that comment here are real fans, even if they come at it from different angles. And, I actually like conversing with people with different angles….

  11. TT January 8, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

    ” (are the White Sox better solely because their players will get better?”

    To the contrary, the White Sox are likely going to be worse because their aging players are likely to be worse. They need to improve elsewhere just to stay in place.

    “I’m not sure I follow it as it relates to the Twins. Nathan is coming off surgery and is in the twilight of his career. Morneau – who knows? I’m not counting on him playing a full season”

    Well, I am not “counting” on anyone to play a full season. Injuries are practically guaranteed to happen. In order to think having Nathan isn’t an improvement you have to expect him to fail completely. Because he provided zero value last year.

    In evaluating the likelihood the Twins have improved you should assume Cuddyer is going to spend half the season playing first base and batting cleanup along with guys like Kubel and Thome.

    ” is assumes all the players who had great years last year will improve on their career best numbers – Valencia, Young, Thome (if back). ”

    No, it doesn’t assume that. For instance, I doubt an aging Thome is going to be better. But the Twins have a lot of players who are still going up the career curve who are likely to be better.

    I don’t expect Valencia to do as well as he did the last half of the season, but he is going to be around for the full season this year. Is he likely to be better than Punto, Harris and Tolbert last year? I think yes. And those were the choices at third base at the start of last season.

    The Twins have very few players, after getting rid of Hudson, who will be on the downside of their careers. I don’t think they can expect the same years out of Thome and Pavano if they return. Cuddyer is really the only other player where a decline would not be unusual.

    “JJ Hardy figures to improve if he can stay health”

    I doubt it. Hardy had by far his best seasons over three years ago. He has struggled the last two seasons and there is little reason to think that is going to change.

    • TT January 8, 2011 at 9:58 pm #

      sorry that should be:

      “In evaluating the likelihood the Twins have improved you should NOT assume Cuddyer is going …”

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