Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Quick Hits: Volume CXXX

- I did not partake in night one of the 2016 Republican National Convention. Dunno if I'll watch either of the next two nights. However, I plan on watching nominee Donald Trump's speech on Thursday while attending a MN GOP event in St. Louis Park.

I guess I'm still both disgusted and incredulous how my preferred political party could nominate as presidential candidate someone who appears to be in this only to stroke his own ego. Call it sour grapes, call it bitterness, call it whatever you prefer, but it'll be difficult for me to indulge in a convention that will do nothing more than remind me of the talented GOP candidates we left behind on what was a very deep bench nationally.

Speaking of "up and comers," I understand first term Arkansas senator Tom Cotton was terrific last evening. It sounds as though he's someone who'll be considered for president come 2020. But hey, let's get 2016 over with first.

-  Given my wife and I are political junkies, we recently indulged in the documentary Weiner, which focused on the behind-the-scenes happenings of Anthony Weiner's 2013 candidacy for mayor of New York City.

Weiner gained national notoriety in 2011 when, as a Congressman out of New York's Ninth Congressional District, it was revealed he had a habit of sending explicit photos of himself (aka "sexting") to women not his wife. He resigned from Congress shortly thereafter, only to emerge a couple of years later when announcing his run for NYC mayor. While actually leading in the polls early on, there were more allegations of online dalliances which appeared to take place after his resigning from Congress. This flew in the face of his declaration that he had put those "activities" behind him after his resignation.

The film focused much on Weiner attempting to do damage control both on the campaign trail and on the home front, particularly dealing with the humiliation of his wife Huma Abedin (Hillary Clinton's top aide). Whether you're into politics or not, it's always fascinating to see real life footage of how an individual attempts to overcome adversity, albeit the proverbial self-inflicted gunshot wound. I highly recommend checking out the film.

- With my favorite MLB club, the Minnesota Twins, enduring one of the worst seasons in franchise history, this had to happen.

Terry Ryan, who retook the reins as general manager while the team floundered nearly five years ago, was fired Monday, the most visible victim of the franchise’s historically bad start.

“He gets it,” Twins President Dave St. Peter said of Ryan, a two-time MLB Executive of the Year. “We just didn’t win enough games.”

Ryan, 62, will be replaced by assistant GM Rob Antony on an interim basis. The Twins will undertake a search for a permanent replacement in the near future, owner Jim Pohlad said, a process they hope results in a hiring before the season ends in October. Antony will be considered for the job, but the team intends to solicit outside candidates as well.

“The challenge to make the organization better is exciting,” Pohlad said. “We do believe, and I know [manager] Paul Molitor believes, we can win in 2017.”

That remains to be seen, but Molitor definitely will be a part of it. Pohlad wants the Hall of Famer to remain in the dugout next year, saying he will make that clear to the team’s next GM.

While I will always have a special place in my heart for Ryan for his role in bringing the Twins back to respectability in the 21st century (via savvy trades and solid drafts), the game seemed to have passed him by. Ryan often bristled at the new way of scouting players, particularly via stringent statistical analysis (aka sabermetrics). While that methodology resulted in recent success in smaller markets like Oakland, Cleveland, Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, the Twins refused to utilize a similar approach even on a limited basis. As such, the farm system as a whole is not as loaded as once hoped, thus leaving a significant rebuilding project to the new GM.

For far too long, the Twins have been hesitant to go outside the organization for any role. Heck, even when guys are fired (e.g. former GM Bill Smith, former manager Ron Gardenhire), they're always brought back in some other capacity. It's high time this franchise get a fresh perspective by bringing in someone from the outside.


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