It was time for the Twins to part ways with Ron Gardenhire as their manager. But he leaves with a terrific record and lots of memories.
I listened to the last half of his Press Conference yesterday as I drove back from a meeting in St. Paul. It was classic Gardy. Honest—he confronted his playoff record and said it will always be part of his record; funny—I loved it when he said he couldn’t wait for his grandchild to be born; realistic—he knew that a change was needed with the Twins.
I’ll be the first to admit that I wanted the Twins to let him go last year and was sure that the Twins would give him another season this year. The Twins needed to make a change. I’ve gone to a game a month at Target Field for the past five years. The first year was electric. The last four years have been terrible. There is a reason that only two managers in the history of baseball have kept their jobs after losing ninety games for four years in a row.
I think it’s appropriate that Terry Ryan is staying. I'll give him credit for the young talent that is slowly making a mark at the Major League Level. With that young talent coming to Target Field, now is the time to make a Manager change. The new person can grow with the new kids.
But I’m still sad. I have a lot of memories of Gardy.
I remember watching him get tossed out of a game for his final time as a manager on August 18 against the Twins. Gardy was convinced that a foul tip of Joe Mauer’s had hit the dirt before the catcher caught it. He came out to argue with the Umpire. Even when he went back into the dugout he kept yelling at the ump, “check the ball, check the ball, check the ball.” I could hear him yelling from the top deck of Target Field. The ump finally tossed him.
I remember watching him operate at Spring Training this past March when my Dad and I spent a few days in Fort Meyers. One time at the Minor League Complex he was sitting in a tower behind home plate watching the minor league players. I kept wondering what Gardy was doing up there. He was doing what he always seemed to be doing—laughing, teasing people, being loud and boisterous. He was on the move.
As a fan I had plenty of times when I disagreed with his decisions. His habit of using players who had about the same talent as him became old. I could see that he was a player’s manager, but his defense of his players got old. I still can’t figure out why he didn’t play Danny Santana at shortstop this year instead of center field. But I defer to his judgment. He’s the manager; I’m a fan. He lost too many games. Now he’s gone.
T.K. was the best manager in Twins history. He is first because he won two World Series. Gardy is a close second. Winning six division titles is quite an accomplishment.
Though the Twins made the right decision, Gardy left us fans with a lot of good memories. He even left on his own terms—how often does a fired coach take over a press conference like he did yesterday.
Thanks, Gardy for thirteen years.