The other evening I threw in the movie "Little Big League," because I was in the mood for a happy-go-lucky baseball movie. I picked this one because it looks at the Minnesota Twins franchise from the perspective of a child. I also think that it helped that I was about the same age as the protagonist when the movie came out.
If you are unfamiliar with the story here is a short synopsis of the plot. A young boy lives with his mother in the Twin Cities area. His grandfather (who looks a lot like the late Carl Pohlad) is a very rich man and the owner of the Minnesota Twins. The grandfather and the boy are very close, some might even call them best friends. The grandfather passes away suddenly and in his will he grants ownership of the team to the young boy. The boy goes on to get rid of the current manager that has anger management issues. He names himself as the new manager and leads the team on a wild ride full of antics and great baseball. There are many cameos by major league players of the time including Ken Griffey Jr, Ivan Rodriguez, and Randy Johnson.
There was one scene in the movie that caught my eye. First of all the scene is suppose to be in the Twins clubhouse at the Metrodome. For anyone that visited that clubhouse it is very clear that this is Hollywood elaborating on what a true clubhouse should look like.
The second thing that caught my eye was one of the team's pitchers is wearing a t-shirt with a slogan that is very fitting for a pitcher in the Twins organization.
There have been many that have been critical of the Twins philosophy when it comes to pitching. The Twins have often drafted pitchers that don't have overpowering pitches. They pick pitchers that can hit their spots. If that means that they give up a lot of hits then so be it. If that means that a lot of homeruns are hit off of the pitching staff then they will take it. One of the hardest things to do in sports is to hit a round ball with a round bat.
One person that has been the most critical is former Twins ace Jack Morris. Even in the playoffs Morris is critical of the pitching staff and specific pitchers. He was frequently on the Twins radio broadcast getting after manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson. He feels that the Twins are doing a few things wrong when it comes to their pitching philosophy. One of the first complaints that he has is that Twins players are afraid to throw a ball when they are ahead in the count. This is typically called a waste pitch. His premise is that Twins pitchers have it ingrained in their mind that they must throw strikes at all time.
The second criticism that has come from both Jack Morris and Bert Blyleven is that the Twins let the pitch count of a player dictate when they are removed from the game. They feel that pitch count is dictating too much of what managers do when it comes to pitchers. Following the Twins pitching philosophy usually allows for players to stay in the game longer. By keeping pitches around the strike zone the pitch count should, hypothetically, stay lower. There can be another side to that too. If a pitcher is not hitting his spots and he is around the strike zone, he could get shelled.
Are these criticisms right? Do the Twins need a pitching philosophy change? Leave a comment below and let me know.