A Minnesota Twins Christmas Carol – Part One
Interior: Target Field. It is December 24th, the snow is falling, it is dark outside and the staff is working in candlelight. A Houston Astros-logoed trash can burns in the corner of the room for heat.
Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are at their desks, tired and nodding off, poring over the Bill James Handbook from 2018 and a back issue of Baseball America from 2017, looking for pitchers. Always looking for pitchers.
An old chipped rotary phone across the room rings. Falvey stands up, blows warm air on his hands, and picks up the receiver.
“Well, that certainly is a great deal for us,” Falvey exclaims before his face suddenly drops. “I just don’t think Mr. Pohlad will go for it, certainly not around Christmastime when budgets are even tighter.”
Falvey listens to the voice on the other end of the phone before agreeing to ask his boss about this proposition. He tentatively approaches Levine and whispers into his ear. As he listens, Levine begins to perk up and get excited. He agrees that Falvey should approach Mr. Pohlad about this proposition and even offers to accompany him to Pohlad’s office.
Behind a cracked door, Minnesota Twins owner Jim Pohlad sits at a large desk in his office. He is carefully counting receipts from hot dog sales and entering them into a primitive counting machine. There is a knock at the door.
“WHO IS IT,” Pohlad’s voice booms from behind the door.
“It’s us, Thad and Derek, sir,” Levine sheepishly replies.
“WELL COME IN, YOU ARE LETTING ALL THE HEAT OUT OF THE OFFICE,” Pohlad impatiently replies.
Falvey and Levine hesitate, with each of them wanting the other to enter the room first. Finally, Levine sighs and heads inside, trailed by Falvey. They approach the desk holding a notebook.
“Good evening sir and Merry Christmas,” Lavine says before cringing as he hears Pohlad’s response begins to leave his lungs….
“CHRISTMAS?! THE SEASON OF GIVING?! BAH HUMBUG!.” Pohlad snarls through gritted teeth. “I CAN’T STAND THE THOUGHT OF SPENDING THE MONEY I WORKED SO HARD TO EARN.
“Do you see these hot dog receipts? EVERY one of these hot dogs sold for $8. Do you know how much they cost us? One dollar!” Pohlad said with a devilish grin on his face. “Now THAT’s the kind of GIVING I like, people GIVING me their money for MY hot dogs. I call it ‘the Target Field Experience,’” he said before trailing off into a soft cackle. “Never mind that, what is it that you interrupted me for?”
“Well, sir, you see, free agency has been wild this year, and a lot of the top pitchers have already gone off the board…..” Levine began, but he was cut off immediately by a furious Pohlad.
“TOP pitchers? TOP?!? Haven’t I already explained to you that we cannot AFFORD TOP PITCHERS,” Pohlad raged. “That’s why I got you the Bill James Handbook from 2018 at a garage sale. You are to find pitchers who performed well during that season and figure out how to make them good again.”
“Yes, sir, I understand, but I just got off of the phone with the agent for Kevin Gausman and he wants to sign with the Twins… it’s a Christmas miracle!” Falvey said. “He is willing to sign for five years and $125 million… it’s a bargain for us---“
“ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FIVE MILLION?! DOLLARS?!,” an angry Pohlad replied. “For ONE pitcher? Did I not just give you four million dollars for Dylan Bundy?!”
“Yes, sir, you did and that was very, very generous of you,” Levine said. “However, Gausman is a major upgrade over the pitchers we have now and a proven commodity.”
Mr. Pohlad frowned and pointed his finger toward the door. “We are a small market club, Derek, and I don’t appreciate you coming in here trying to convince me to spend money we certainly don’t have here.”
“But, sir, the fans would really…,” Falvey begins before he is shouted down by Pohlad.
“The FANS?! The FANS?!,” Pohlad yells. “The FANS are lucky to have a baseball team at all! I will hear no more of this about the FANS!
“The FANS are expected to buy tickets, a jersey to wear to the game, a $12 beer and $8 hot dog and just be happy to be outside watching baseball. ‘Your ticket to summer,’ remember?”
Pohlad stands up, puts on his overcoat, and summons his butler, Rudy. Rudy emerges from a side room and helps Pohlad put on his gloves, hat, and shoes. Falvey and Levine watch out the window as Pohlad climbs into his Porsche and heads to his home in Edina.
Falvey and Levine watch to make sure Pohlad is gone then carefully pack up their supplies to head home for the holidays. Falvey puts a grocery-bag book cover on the Bill James Handbook and Levine carefully puts out the fire in the Astros trash can.
“Merry Christmas, Thad, “ Falvey says.
“Merry Christmas, Derek,” Levine replies.