The amazing thing about Paul Molitor's recent bat-o-rama is not that he has hit in 33 straight games but that he has played in 33 straight games.
I'm sure Molitor's injuries were just a result of him playing too hard and trying too hard not to coddle himself. The idea a player who was famous early in his career for being injured no longer allowing Twins players who are injured to be coddled is funny. From the first article I linked, here is a list of Paul Molitor's ailments from 1980-1986:
Molitor was voted to the American League's starting lineup for the 1980 All-Star Game but had to excuse himself. A pulled chest muscle forced the Milwaukee infielder to miss almost a full month of play, from June 24 to July 18.
In 1981, Molitor tore ligaments in his left ankle May 3 and was on the disabled list until July 12.
In 1983, a wrist injury bothered him all season, and his batting average, hit and RBI totals fell way off from the year before.
In 1984, Molitor hurt his right elbow in spring training, played 13 games before undergoing surgery May 21, and never came back.
In 1985, Molitor made the All-Stars again, but spent Aug. 13-29 on the disabled list with a sprained ankle.
In 1986, Molitor hurt his hamstring, was put on the disabled list from May 10-30, hurt it again three days later, and returned to the disabled list from June 2-17.
I'm sure Jim Souhan thinks all of these injuries were from trying too hard and trying to be gritty enough to continue playing. There is nothing wrong with being injured and I am smart enough to understand Molitor can't rub dirt on his injuries and come back in the game. Unfortunately, Jim Souhan forgets about Molitor's past and decides that the coddling of Twins players has to stop...and Molitor is the guy to do it, while conveniently ignoring that Molitor had his own injury issues.
As a player, Paul Molitor demonstrated competitiveness not with gestures or celebrations, but with stone-faced, head-first slides into spikes.
He slid "into spikes" as a player? That seems unnecessary to prove his toughness. The bases don't even have spikes on them, yet Molitor slid into bases with spikes anyway. That's toughness.
In 2001, he hinted at the fires within. The baby Twins, having led the American League Central for most of the season, were ambushed by a veteran Indians team in Cleveland late in the season. Molitor, then coaching under Tom Kelly,
Tom Kelly, a known pussy who somehow managed to ride the grit of Jack Morris and Frank Viola to two World Series titles.
thought the opponents and umpires were displaying disrespectfulness to his team. It took multiple people to keep him from bursting onto the field to physically make a point.
Leadership is physically assaulting an umpire and the opponent.
Last season, as the Twins lost 92 games, Molitor — promoted from coach to manager on Tuesday — again tried to remain below boiling temperature.
“There were times last year when we’d get on the team bus after a loss and Paul would look over at me and just shake his head,” Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said. “He had that look in his eye, like he was ready to explode. And I know that look, because I was sitting on that bus thinking, ‘That was a game we should have won.’
If it weren't for the group of nine human vaginas on the field who can't play through injuries, these games would have been won. This isn't ballet guys, it's baseball. Suit up and play baseball...unless you can't like Molitor couldn't earlier in his career in which case that was fine for him, but totally isn't fine the current Twins players.
“We won 70 games last year. I think we should have won 78. To go from 78 to 88, or something close, I don’t think that’s unreasonable. I think we should be competitive this year.”
At his first news conference as manager, Molitor said: “I’m coming here to win.”
BREAKING NEWS: A newly-hired manager states his intention is to win baseball games.
His first order of business should be introducing a new mentality to the clubhouse.
A mentality like cocaine use to work through any tired feeling or marijuana use to numb any pain the players may have?
During their four consecutive losing seasons, the Twins tried to exercise caution with injured or bruised players. Anyone complaining of an ache was given an extra day or two off. There is logic in that approach.
You mean an ache like an injured hamstring that Molitor had during the 1986 season? Or an ache like a pulled chest muscle that Molitor had during the 1981 season?
There is also danger.
The Twins clubhouse became a place where you could collect a check without actually taking the field.
One of the early tests of Molitor’s tenure will be his handling of his best player, Joe Mauer.
The player for the Twins who is a catcher and has suffered many of the ailments that a catcher will traditionally suffer, including concussions and knee surgery? The same Joe Mauer who holds the Twins' record for most games played at catcher?
Both grew up in St. Paul. Both played baseball at Cretin High. Both had the early years of their careers defined by constant injuries. The difference between them is important. Molitor’s desire to play was obvious. Mauer’s is not.
This doesn't really make sense. How does Souhan know that Molitor's desire to play was obvious and Mauer's desire is not? Is Souhan also able to visually determine a player's desire, even going back 30 years? Or is he just writing this sentence in a weak attempt to push Molitor's injuries off as something he couldn't fight through in an effort to head off the obvious contradiction in painting an oft-injured ex-player-turned-manager as a guy who will force his players to fight through injuries.
When the guy making $23 million a year begs out of the lineup because of a bruise, it’s difficult for the manager to push others to play through pain.
Souhan is referring to Mauer leaving a game with a bruised right elbow. This happened on September 23 and he returned on September 25.
Molitor’s predecessor, Ron Gardenhire, believed in maintaining cordial relations with key players. That approach worked for most of a decade. It appeared to fail in recent years with Mauer.
Mostly playing catcher, Joe Mauer has played in at least 113 games in every year of his career except for 2011 and 2004 when he was called up from the minors. Catchers are banged up a lot and in 11 seasons Joe Mauer has played 210 games as the DH and 920 games as the catcher, while Molitor played 1173 games as the DH in 21 seasons. Just saying, it's a lot easier to get banged up as a catcher.
Can Molitor play the bad guy?
“Yes,” he said. “It is a necessary part of the job. But for me, it’s kind of like surgery. It’s kind of the last option. I want to reach people in different ways before that needs to be done. We all know that different players have different buttons that need to be pushed.
And hopefully Molitor can push the "Rub some dirt on it" button that his manager couldn't seem to be able to push for him early in his career.
“We can all talk nice and fluffy about, ‘Well, you can all get along, and then they’ll play for you.’ In reality, not everyone is going to fit into that mode. They’re going to challenge you along the way, and see where you stand. I will choose other things first, but yes, there will be times when you need to be tough.
Plus, winning. Paul Molitor will be trying to win games too. Don't forget that. It's a goal other managers tend to forget about.
Does Mauer expect to be managed differently? “Well, I’d like to think I don’t need a lot of managing, as long as I get in the lineup,” he said.
Which should happen since Mauer is still a really good hitter. That's getting lost in this discussion about how the Twins aren't a tough team and Joe Mauer left a game due to a bruise.
Does closer Glen Perkins, who is friends with Mauer and an admirer of Molitor’s, believe the new manager will have to push this group of players?
“I think that there’s an inherent respect for him that’s going to make guys do the things they have to do,” he said. “I don’t think there’s going to be any lackadaisicalness. With him, it’s the same thing as with Terry Ryan. When Terry walks into the room, you stand up and shake his hand. He commands respect. Paul Molitor is the same way. Nobody is going to feel right about trying to get away with certain things.
“The culture changes with just hiring him, and him being our leader. It’s a welcome change.”
"Pussies not allowed!" is what Glen Perkins is really saying. All of these Twins players who have been coddled are finally going to be forced to play through their injuries. Of course, Jim Souhan in typical talk-radio style only named one Twins player who he thinks has been coddled, but I'm sure there are many, many more that he just didn't have time to name in this column. After all, when indicating in the title there are multiple Twins players who are being coddled, it makes sense to only use the example one player, and for that one player to be the Twins catcher.
By the way, Yadier Molina (a guy I don't think anyone would state is not tough) has played in an average of 120 games per year in his career, while Joe Mauer has played in an average of 118 games in his career. The man who upholds all that is great and right in baseball, Brian McCann, has averaged playing in 124 games per year in his career. So catchers get injured and can't play in every game during a season. Now that Mauer has been moved to first, maybe the bar is higher, but he still has almost a decade of wear from playing catcher on his body. Not that it matters to Jim Souhan as he eats a pre-game spread and tosses back a Diet Coke before the game safely in the press box, it's just that Mauer isn't tough enough. Paul Molitor is obviously the cure.
Jim Souhan also wrote an article where he thought that Molitor should maximize the grit and toughness of the Twins team by hiring an entire coaching staff of Twins legends. What could go wrong?
On Tuesday, the Twins, for the first time, hired a Hall of Fame player to be their manager.
Why stop there?
Why not surround Paul Molitor with other famous former Twins?
Greg Gagne for hitting coach! It's the only way to win. Jeff Reardon for pitching coach!
Why not hire coaches who will inspire admiration, if not fear, in the Twins clubhouse?
"Admiration, fear...they are pretty much the same thing," said the future dictator of a Communist country.
Traditionally, major league coaches earn their jobs through years of minor league work and organizational loyalty.
The advantage Molitor has now, and has enjoyed as a minor league instructor and spring training coach, is that his reputation precedes him. If a young player doesn’t know who he is, someone like Glen Perkins or Brian Dozier will tell that player, “Listen to this guy. He’s in the Hall of Fame, and he got there with his brain.”
That's a great story, Jim. Actually Paul Molitor got in the Hall of Fame with his ability to hit a baseball, but it sounds much, much cooler to say he got there with his brain.
In an otherwise empty Twins spring training clubhouse in 1996, I was interviewing Chuck Knoblauch when Ron Gardenhire, then a coach on Tom Kelly’s staff, came in and told Knoblauch he was wanted on the field. Knoblauch said, “In a minute,” and didn’t move.
Gardenhire, angry, left. Knoblauch said, “What’s he gonna do? He’s just a coach.”
Then Knoblauch went on the field and threw the baseball into the stands when trying to scoop the ball to the shortstop for a double play.
Knoblauch was being a jerk. He was also correct: The average major league coach wields little actual power. The average major league coach is seen as part valet, part worker bee.
Now imagine a clubhouse filled with young players, run by a manager named Molitor, and coaches named — take your pick — Dan Gladden, Jack Morris, Bert Blyleven or Eddie Guardado.
Oh yeah, that's a great point. With guys like Gladden, Morris or Guardado in the locker room players will be like, "I don't know who the fuck that guy is because he isn't in the Hall of Fame like Paul Molitor is, but I am definitely going to respect that guy because they are the average major league coach that wields little power."
My ideal Twins staff would be Molitor, Brunansky, Guardado as bullpen coach, Gladden as outfield coach and Morris or Blyleven as pitching coach.
Basically, Jim Souhan's ideal Twins staff has almost no experience actually being a coach at the major league level. I can't imagine how that wouldn't work out.
The Twins would need to hire a Latin American former player who could communicate with the team’s Spanish-speaking players, and Molitor could use a veteran bench coach.
That's a great point. Who can speak to all the Mexicans? Perhaps Rick Aguilera? Sure, he ain't no Mexican, but as long as he can spit a few words of Spanish out I'm sure it will appease everyone. What are the Mexican players going to do anyway? Paul Molitor ain't having any bullshit in his clubhouse, including any bitching about the fact there ain't no Spanish-speaking coaches. Go home if you won't play hurt and or you think that you need a translator! Paul Molitor and Jack Morris never needed a translator and neither do you!
All of the above were known for mental and physical toughness as well as success. They are all capable of keeping a clubhouse loose, or getting in a sluggish player’s face.
And that's really what it is all about, getting in a player's face. Boy, Jim Souhan really wants to watch grown men get yelled at, doesn't he?
Just as Molitor can teach a young player the proper footwork required to steal bases in the majors,
"Run in that direction and then slide once you get close to the base."
Guardado could show his own game films
That sounds like a good use of time. "Hey everyone, come see how good I pitched! No bitching about watching me pitch for two hours or else Paul Molitor will get in your face. I'm keeping it loose now, but when Jack Morris comes in raging that you aren't watching my game film, it's on you to calm him down."
while demonstrating that velocity is not a prerequisite to pitching well in the big leagues.
"Throw slower and success will come."
Isn't that the direction baseball is headed? Softer throwing relievers?
Gladden can explain how he learned to expertly play left field,
"When the ball was hit to me, I used my legs to run and catch it. Here, now you try."
Morris and Blyleven can take apart games pitch by pitch.
And Morris will always complete every game he takes apart pitch by pitch, just like he completed every game he started in the majors...including GAME 7 OF THE 1991 WORLD SERIES.
Most big-league coaches are happy to have a job and hold little leverage. The Twins would have to woo Morris or Blyleven away from good broadcasting gigs offering scheduling flexibility. That would be expensive.
(Twins management) "Bert, you can fart in the clubhouse."
(Bert Blyleven) "It's a deal."
(Twins management) "Jack, you can tell stories about GAME 7 OF THE 1991 WORLD SERIES and we will put a good word in for you to the Veteran's Commit---"
(Jack Morris) "It's a deal."
The organization strives to keep its best players close; they can’t get much closer than wearing a uniform in the dugout during games.
The dynasty would then begin. Now Paul Molitor is going to go get in someone's face which will cause fear in the player, followed by admiration.