Twins know Gardenhire extension, losing may temper season ticket sales
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins had to know the news of Ron Gardenhire's contract extension would be met with negative backlash. After three seasons in which his team's cumulative winning percentage was just narrowly above .400, fans clamored for change.
The Twins heard those cries, and made what they felt was the best baseball decision.
"This organization takes great pride in not making decisions for public relations-type reasons. We try to make right baseball decision and that isn't always popular," Twins President Dave St. Peter said Monday following the press conference announcing Gardenhire's extension. "This particular decision was made because we think it's the best course to getting back to being competitive as soon as possible."
Regardless of which route the team took with Gardenhire, "there were going to be people who supported it and who were against it," St. Peter said.
"I think everybody knows that we value consistency and loyalty," Twins owner Jim Pohlad said. "We did go with a two-year extension because we're pretty sure that somewhere in those two years we can get Gardy's 1,000th victory."
Apparently, the on-field product hasn't robbed Pohlad of his sense of humor. Gardenhire is two victories shy of 1,000.
When a reporter asked St. Peter if he expects a considerable negative reaction, St. Peter disagreed.
"I expect a sizable positive reaction. Will there be a negative reaction as well? Yeah. But Ron Gardenhire didn't get stupid overnight; he was the Manager of the Year in 2010," St. Peter said. "I don't think there's been a manager or coach in this town that has ever connected with Main Street Minnesota better than Ron Gardenhire.
"I think people relate to him. I think people are angry with the Twins and people want a scapegoat, but at the end of the day we believe organizationally, and I think most Minnesotans would agree: Ron Gardenhire isn't the problem, we've got to get him better players."
St. Peter has gotten an ear-full from ticket buyers on Twitter and elsewhere, and perhaps rightfully so. But he says he still feels confident in the choice to retain Gardenhire, general manager Terry Ryan and the rest of Gardenhire's field staff. The Twins have caught a lot of flak for not making a change following three dreadful seasons.
"I certainly can appreciate that. I hear directly from a tremendous number of fans," St. Peter said. "I know we have the right baseball people in place. They've done it before and I'm confident they'll do it again."
St. Peter said the Twins' season ticket base ranked 10th in Major League Baseball this season. Fans who renew will get priority for the 2014 All-Star Game, which will be held at Target Field. But for many, that's not nearly enough reason to renew.