Earlier this week, the Minnesota Twins decided to make some major changes within their organization. Longtime General Manager Terry Ryan was officially relieved of his duties on Monday. The firing was certainly justified, as the Twins are currently in last place in the AL Central and have the worst record in the American League. Despite this, manager Paul Molitor will keep his job.
When Ryan was fired on Monday, the Twins had a record of 33-58 and were 21 games behind the firs-place Cleveland Indians in the AL Central. The 2016 season has just been one to forget for Minnesota. They had an awful start, losing their first nine games to start the year. After that, they just couldn’t recover. The Twins played somewhat better the rest of April, but were still 7-17 at the end of the month. By the time May ended, things weren’t much better, as the team had just 15 wins and had already amassed 36 losses. When the All-Star break came around, Molitor’s club was 32-56. After losing two of three games to the Indians this past weekend, Twins Owner and CEO Jim Pohlad decided that a change needed to be made.
Ryan ended up taking the fall for Minnesota’s abysmal start this season. This had been his second stint as General Manager of the Twins. He held the position from 1995-2007 until stepping down to become the Assistant GM. Following Minnesota’s decision to fire Bill Smith after the 2011 season, Ryan assumed the role once more. Under Ryan, the Twins were very competitive in the mid-2000s. The team won three straight AL Central titles, spanning from 2002-2004. They made the ALCS in 2002, but lost to the Los Angeles Angels.
This Twins team certainly isn’t that 2002 team. They’re currently on pace to lose over 100 games. With this season already lost, fans of the team already have their eyes on 2017. The day before the Ryan firing was announced, Molitor reportedly informed by Twins Ownership that his job was safe. Not only that, but they told him that they wanted him to remain the manager for the 2017 season. This is definitely a strong vote of confidence for the second-year manager.
Molitor will now get another chance in Minnesota. Part of the reason that he kept his job has to do with how well his team played last season. Molitor took over a team that hadn’t been to the playoffs since 2010. There was a lot of young talent coming up through the farm system, including Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton. He had a lot on his plate in his first season ever as a a manager. All in all, he did pretty well. Exactly one year ago today, the Twins were 50-44 and in second place in the AL Central. They continued to overachieve for a little while longer, but ended up falling off in the end. They finished 83-79, three games behind the Houston Astros for the second AL Wildcard spot. This surprisingly good season raised expectations for 2016.
Unfortunately, things didn’t work out so well for them. The starting pitching has been very bad for the Twins. Three of their main starters, Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, and Ervin Santana all have ERAs over 3.90. Miguel Sano was injured earlier in the season while playing right field, a position he was asked to move to so as to accommodate Trevor Plouffe. Sano has since been moved back to his original position. Byung ho-Park, who the Twins signed from Korea this past offseason, hasn’t panned out. In fact, the slugging first baseman/designated hitter is currently in Triple-A because his performance hasn’t lived up to expectation. Simply put, 2016 has been a disaster for the Minnesota Twins.
Molitor has an uphill battle going forward. A former player himself, he played for 21 seasons in the MLB. Over the course of his career, he was a seven-time All-Star and won the World Series with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993. He was the MVP in that World Series. Molitor was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in 2004. As a former player who has had success at the Major League level, he knows what it takes to succeed. Right now however, he doesn’t have the right tools to do this. Assistant GM Rob Antony will assume the role of General Manager for the time being. Whether he’s the GM next year or someone else, that person will need to provide Molitor with players that will make the Twins competitive once again.
The Twins aren’t in a great place right now. However, things can turn around quickly. If they take the proper measures, they could be competitive again in 2017.
Twins’ Miguel Sano Arrested in Dominican Republic
Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano was arrested in the Dominican Republic early Sunday morning following an incident that left one police officer with a broken leg.
According to a police report, Sano, 25, ran over an officer’s foot during an incident outside a nightclub in San Pedro de Macoris, per ESPN.
“The Minnesota Twins have been made aware of a situation involving Miguel Sano recently in the Dominican Republic,” team spokesman Dustin Morse said in a statement. “The facts of the incident are not completely available right now but the club is in the process of gathering as much information as possible.”
Sano has been making headlines recently for all the wrong reasons. Back in December, Sano was accused of sexual assault by a female photographer, but no charges were filed and MLB didn’t levy any punishment.
#MeToo Movement Hits Major League Baseball: Twins Slugger Miguel Sano Accused Of Sexual Misconduct
Ever since the bombshell October report detailing disgraced Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein’s disturbing sexual assault allegations, many women (and men) have come forward detailing their experiences of abuse, as the hashtag #MeToo has become a phenomenon on social media.
While Hollywood entertainment and politics have been plagued the most by #MeToo in the Weinstein aftermath, the movement has officially hit Major League Baseball.
The suspect in question? Minnesota Twins slugging third baseman Miguel Sano.
On Thursday, Betsy Bissen- a former photographer for TwinsDaily.com- posted the following message on her then-public Twitter account detailing a 2015 experience with Sano:
As of Friday, Bissen’s Twitter account (@BitzyBetsy) has been made private (quite possibly due to harassment from trolls); she’s also changed her profile picture to a simple message of “Be Bold”.
In Bissen’s post, the now 37-year-old recalled meeting Sano at an autograph signing event at a mall store she volunteered at. She said she “didn’t reciprocate” Sano’s flirtatious actions during the event; and when the signing was over, Sano allegedly grabbed Bissen’s wrist and made her go to an Apple store with him, his agent, and Bissen’s employer within the same mall; Bissen said she “didn’t want to cause a scene” so she “just went along.”
Here’s what happened next. After about a half-hour at the Apple store, it was time to leave. As Bissen and Sano headed toward the back of the store where their ride was parked, Sano “decided” he needed to use the bathroom; and because Bissen was standing “too close” to Sano, it was a sign that Bissen “wanted him to grab me and try to take me back thru (sic) that door,” she wrote.
This is when the alleged assault occurred. According to Bissen, Sano attempted to kiss her- “more than once”- while trying to force her through the bathroom door. Bissen recalled struggling for 10 minutes, screaming for help, before Sano finally “gave up.”
“No, he didn’t rape me, but he sure did assault me,” Bissen wrote. “When I said no, it should have been the end of it. He should have respected that and stopped. Instead, he hurt me and kept going.”
Bissen recalled how her body was completely sore the next day from “having to fight off this athlete that thought he was entitled to take advantage of me against my will.”
Sano, who’s 6’4” and 260 pounds, denied the allegations, issuing the following statement through his agent:
“I unequivocally deny the allegation made against me today- it never happened. I have the utmost respect for women, especially those working in professional sports, and I deeply sympathize with anyone who has experienced sexual harassment. There is no place for it in our society.”
The Minnesota Twins issued their own statement as well:
“Today, the Minnesota Twins were made aware of allegations involving Miguel Sano at an offsite appearance during the 2015 season. The Twins, along with Major League Baseball, take these allegations very seriously. Until more information is gathered, the Twins will have no further comment.”
According to Yahoo.com’s Jeff Passan, the allegations against Sano aren’t surprising; at least according to five unnamed individuals. Here’s what he wrote:
“This was a perfect example of that terrible decision-making, because while Sano might have a lot of things, the utmost respect for women is not one of them, according to five people, including teammates, ex-teammates and confidants, with whom he has spent time. Though none accused Sano of sexual assault or could confirm Bissen’s account of the story, they characterized him as someone who saw the pursuit of women as sport. Getting in trouble for it ‘was only a matter of time,’ said one person familiar with Sano, whom he called ‘a ticking time bomb.'”
Trevor Plouffe, Sano’s teammate from 2015-16, replied to Bissen on Twitter:
I’m so sorry about this. I understand why you didn’t, but I wish you would have come to me.
— Trevor Plouffe (@trevorplouffe) December 28, 2017
Perhaps Plouffe had been one of the five people who knew about Sano’s apparent disrespect for women before Bissen’s post swept social media. Perhaps he’s the one who referred to Sano as a “ticking time bomb.” Of course, that’s just speculation. Maybe Plouffe and Bissen even had a friendly relationship together.
Obviously, this is a very serious allegation. We will have to see how it plays out in Major League Baseball’s investigative process. “We are aware of the allegations and are now in the process of looking into it,” said MLB spokesman Mike Teevan.
Bissen ended her Twitter post by writing, “Every time I have to hear about how great people think Miguel Sano is, I’m reminded of how awful he actually is and how he hurt me.”
As the old saying goes, innocent until proven guilty; but with the apparent lack of surprise from the five unnamed sources in Passan’s article, in the 24-year-old Sano’s case, this could very well be guilty until proven innocent.
It’s Time For Major League Baseball To Extend Protective Netting In All Stadiums
Frazier’s reaction said it all:
Teammate Matt Holliday—who was on base—was brought to tears:
Medical personnel attended to the child moments after she was struck, causing a four-minute delay in the game. She was then escorted to New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital.
Just a frightening and unfortunate situation. The fact that it happened to someone this young makes it even worse. Truly horrifying.
The Yankees won the game 11-3 to the Minnesota Twins, but everyone’s main concern following the game was the well-being of the girl.
This tweet by Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius spoke for everyone involved:
Hope everything is alright with the little girl that got hit with the foul ball … her thoughts are with us for a speedy recovery
— Sir Didi Gregorius (@DidiG18) September 20, 2017
Twins second baseman Brian Dozier didn’t hold back with his opinion on how similar events can be avoided in the future:
Brian Dozier calls for mandatory protective netting after Yankee Stadium foul ball hits young fan. https://t.co/Ggyk1zVixe
— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) September 20, 2017
“Either one, you don’t bring kids down there, or number two, every stadium needs to have nets. That’s it. I don’t care about the damn view of a fan or what. It’s all about safety.”
Thankfully, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the girl was doing “OK” following the game, after hearing from security personnel.
On Thursday, Frazier spoke to the girl’s father on the phone. Following an early batting practice session Friday afternoon at Rogers Centre, Frazier filled in reporters on the call:
“I talked to the dad and she is doing good. He is a very nice guy and we had a five-minute conversation. I told him I was going to call every day and he said that would be good.’’
This isn’t the first time this year a fan has been injured at Yankee Stadium. In May, a piece of Chris Carter’s broken bat struck a young boy in the head, and in July, a man’s head was wrapped in bandages after being struck by a 105-mph drive off the bat of Aaron Judge. Luckily, those two fans ended up okay.
Not once, not twice, but THREE times someone has been struck this year at Yankee Stadium—and the Yankees still haven’t addressed what they plan to do regarding protective netting inside their ballpark. Are we going to have to wait for someone to die until something’s done about this in the Bronx? (UPDATE: the Yankees announced their plans to extend their protective netting for 2018 on October 1, per CBS News and other sources.)
One day after the latest near-tragedy, four teams—the Reds, Padres, Mariners, and Rockies—announced they will extend their protective netting for the start of the 2018 season.
Back in 2015, two instances at Fenway Park forced the Boston Red Sox to extend their netting dugout-to-dugout for the 2016 season. In June, a 44-year-old woman named Tonya Carpenter was struck in the face with a piece of Brett Lawrie’s broken bat. Her injuries were initially life threatening, but she survived the freak accident. Check out how bad it looked:
A little more than a month later, Stephanie Wapenski required more than 30 stitches after getting hit in the forehead with a foul ball off the bat of Didi Gregorius:
The Red Sox made sure their problem was fixed after two accidents too many in a five-week stretch made it pretty clear they had to do something. Now it’s the Yankees’ turn. There’s no excuse for them not to get something done in time for 2018.
This goes for every club across the majors as well.
It should go without saying—the latest incident in the Bronx should serve as a wake-up call to all teams that haven’t yet extended the protective netting inside their stadiums. This problem needs to end before someone gets killed. Enough is enough already. Extend the netting to at least the end of each dugout. Problem solved. A few teams have already done that. Good on them, now time for everyone else to follow suit.
“But it will obstruct the view!”
“Pay more attention then!”
Of course, these are two basic arguments any given person can make who are opposed to extending the netting. Both are silly. For the first one—if you don’t want your view obstructed, don’t sit in an area where it would be. Or hell, just watch the game on TV. For the second—100-mph foul balls coming at you, or pieces of a broken bat, can still strike you even if you are in fact “paying attention”. Just think of how fast those are coming in hot. Very little reaction time. Think of what’s going on in someone’s mind too if danger like that is approaching them. Sometimes, things like this just happen.
And that’s why Major League Baseball needs to extend its netting in ALL stadiums. Fan safety must be the number one priority.
A note to anyone complaining about teams extending netting and not wanting to “pay for an obstructed view”: stay home. pic.twitter.com/CpbXDkjcLp
— Brad Ziegler (@BradZiegler) September 22, 2017
— Brad Ziegler (@BradZiegler) September 22, 2017
Where does MLB commissioner Rob Manfred weigh in on all of this?
“The events at yesterday’s game involving a young girl were extremely upsetting for everyone in our game. Over the past few seasons MLB has worked with our clubs to expand the amount of netting in our ballparks. In light of yesterday’s event, we will redouble our efforts on this important issue,” Manfred told Bob Ley of ESPN following Wednesday’s incident.
Hopefully in the coming days and weeks, more teams announce plans to extend their protective netting. It’s something I expect. Forget pace of play (looking at you Manfred), fan protection is the biggest issue in Major League Baseball right now. It’s time for more changes, and less accidents in the stands.
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