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A Fly on the Wall in the Twins Conference Room

October 7, 2014

I can just imagine being a fly on the wall during an interview between Minnesota Twins management and prospective candidates to fill the vacant manager position. . .

“Lou Burlington, right?”

“Yessir, that’s me.”

“Nice to meet you, Lou. I’m Terry Ryan, Twins General Manager. Welcome to Target Field, how are you?”

“Oh, I’m fine, Mr. Ryan. Just a little nervous, ‘ya know?”

“I understand, I’d be a little nervous, too, if I were sitting in that chair. Why don’t we start by you telling me a little about yourself and why you’re interested in the job.”

“Well, I, uh, I been in baseball for a really long time. I played it when I was a kid and I done some coaching in the minor leagues and such. I’d really like to manage in the bigs.”

“College?”

“Hmm?”

“College?”

“What about it?”

“Where’d you go?”

“Well, see, I never really went to college. Well, I take that back, I went, but I didn’t stay too long. Sort of a conflict of interests I guess you could say.”

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“I see. Can you tell me about a time when your work was criticized?”

“Uh, well, uh . . . ”

“Take your time, we’re in no rush.”

“Well, there was the time I was a hitting coach for the Beaver Creek Water Moccasins and we had a team batting average of .209. The fans sure got on me over that; and the press weren’t much happier.”

“The ‘Water Moccasins’? Interesting. I would have thought a Beaver Creek baseball team might have been called the “Beavers” or the “Cranes” or even the “Bandicoots”, something a little more alliterative.”

“Alliterative? Why they were some bright fellas on that team, Mr. Ryan, and most all of them spent a lot of time reading a lot of alliterative. When they weren’t practicing baseball, that is. Yup, some mighty good readers on that team the way I remember it.”

“I see. Tell me about a project you’ve worked on in the past that you’re especially proud of.”

“Well, uh, I, uh, sort of had a hand in getting the Water Moccasins to change from wool uniforms to polyester.”

“Interesting. Are you okay? You look like you might be a little nervous.”

“No, I’m okay. That’s just my overactive sweat glands getting to work is all. If you think this is something, you oughta see in July and August!”

“Can I get you something? Maybe a glass of water?”

“No, thanks, I’m okay.”

“Alright, talk a little bit about a time when something on the job didn’t go as you had wanted.”

“Oh, well, there was the time when the team . . .”

“The Water Moccasins?”

“No, this would be the Beatrice Bluebells.”

“I’ve never heard of them. What level of ball are the Bluebells?”

“They’re a city league down in Beatrice, Alabama. Didn’t have to wait until July or August to see me start sweating down in that southern heat! I had the waterworks going from about mid-May on. Anyway, I was the bench coach for the Bluebells and the team, trying to break a losing streak, you understand, went and switched from Spitz sunflower seeds to David sunflower seeds. I liked Spitz and I protested the switch but all my hollerin’ didn’t do no good. Yeah, I was pretty upset about that.”

“I can see. Lou, what’s the most difficult decision you’ve had to make on the job?”

“I’ve always had a difficult time with keeping track of the home and away jerseys and . . . no, wait, it’d be the time I was a third base coach . . .”

“For the Bluebells?”

“This would have been the North Hurley Hornets. A high school team outside of Spokane. I was a third base coach and my primary duty there was to decide whether or not to send a runner home from third base. ‘Ya know, if there was a little time allowed to make that decision – hold him or send him – it’d be a no-brainer, but once that ball gets hit, and the runners get to running, and the fielders get to fielding, everything happens pretty fast. The fans screaming don’t help much either.”

“It’s a fast game, that’s for sure. How’d you do?”

“Well, I . . .”

“I mean the team. How’d the Hornets do?”

“Not so good. Redistricting sort of hurt us.”

“Score many runs that year?”

“Not so many, no. We had, you know, a lot of indecisive base runners on the team.”

“Alright, this is an important question so feel free to take your time with your answer. The average Major League Baseball annual team payroll is $115 million. The median annual team payroll is $105 million. Do you think you can . . . I’m sorry, let me rephrase that, are you willing to manage a team with a payroll $20 million below the median and only 26% of the league average? Like I said, take your time and think about . . .”

“You betcha I am, sir! Willing, I mean. I’m your man. I mean I’ll do it as long as you can maybe get me someone who can help me cipher out those home and away jerseys; hate to be embarrassed up at the major league level, you know? Yes, sir, I’ll do it.”

“Congratulations, Lou. How about we take a walk and I show you your new office?”

“Fantastic!”

= = = =

Opening Day on the way. Regardless of who gets the job as Ron Gardenhire’s replacement there are two things I know for certain: 1) I probably won’t like him, and 2) I’m looking forward to April 6, 2015 at Detroit.

(Twins logo taken more or less (more less than more) without permission from the Twins website. Hopefully they won’t mind.)

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