The Minnesota Twins, looking at all options for improving the starting rotation within their budget, announced Thursday that they have created a Kickstarter account to aid in these efforts.
The online fundraising website, which allows donors to contribute to mostly creative endeavors, has financed everything from documentaries to video games to a statue of Robocop. The Twins have set a goal of $10 million, with the stated purpose of "funding one year of a middle-rotation guy, or two back-end guys." This is believed to be the first time a professional sports team has attempted to utilize the site to improve their team.
"When you're in a market like ours, you have to perform due diligence on every avenue to improve the onfield product," said Twins General Manager Terry Ryan. "One of our summer interns told us she used this Kickstarting (sic) thingamajig to fund her art installation in the Linden Hills neighborhood. She made these artisanal pinatas that were shaped like character actors, and kids could come up and whack them with a Louisville Slugger. As I watched Laffy Taffy stream out of the battered head of either Philip Baker Hall or Margo Martindale, it just clicked."
As with other Kickstarter campaigns, the donors don't get any financial return on their investment, but the team will provide gifts for certain levels of giving. They are as follows:
- $10. A signed photo from former FSN reporter Telly Hughes.
- $25. The Telly Hughes photo, validated parking for one "getaway day" game, Ramp B only.
- $50. The Telly Hughes photo, the parking, and a personal phone call from former Twins outfielder Rich Becker. It will be collect, and the conversation must be limited to baseball or "his stories" (CBS soap operas only).
- $75. The Telly Hughes photo, the parking, the Becker phone call, and a Minnestoa Twins T-shirt (that typo is on purpose; there was a misprint at one of the shops the team utilizes, and rather than sending the shirts to Eritrea, the team will give these collector's items to all $75+ donors).
- $100. The Telly Hughes photo, the parking, the Becker phone call, the t-shirt, and an authentic piece of the Metrodome office door that Kyle Lohse destroyed.
- $250. The Telly Hughes photo, the parking, the Becker phone call, the t-shirt, the Lohse door sample, and a digital download of the time John Gordon correctly identified the batter, pitcher and ball-and-strike count in 2007.
- $500. The Telly Hughes photo, the parking, the Becker phone call, the t-shirt, the Lohse door sample, the Gordon download, and the chance to have a Twin sleep in your spare room or on your couch for a week. The player has not been identified, but it will almost certainly be a relief pitcher or the third catcher. You will be expected to feed and clothe him, and if he wants to go to the mall, you have to take him to the nearest "good" one. Strip malls and outlet malls do not count.
- $1000. The Telly Hughes photo, the parking, the Becker phone call, the t-shirt, the Lohse door sample, the Gordon download, the couch Twin, and you get to be the third-base coach on an entire road trip. Former third-base coach Scott Ullger will advise you on when to send the runner (the heavier the player, the faster they're going, because gravity, so send him).
- $5000. The Telly Hughes photo, the parking, the Becker phone call, the t-shirt, the Lohse door sample, the Gordon download, the couch Twin, the coaching opportunity and two tickets to an event at Target Field's Champions Club where local baseball blogger Aaron Gleeman will attempt to convince Twins broadcaster Bert Blyleven of the value of advanced statistics. (Children 18 and younger prohibited.)
- $10000. The top gift level, this donation gives you the Telly Hughes photo, the parking, the Becker phone call, the t-shirt, the Lohse door sample, the Gordon download, the couch Twin, the coaching opportunity, the Gleeman/Blyleven Deathmatch tickets, and you or someone of your choosing gets to be TC Bear for the entire 2013 season. You will be expected to take part in the home run-hitting contest, attend charity events, make cigarette runs for Marney Gellner, and other duties as assigned.
Any money contributed above and beyond the $10 million will "probably go to rosin bags, seeds, middle infielder, crap like that," said a team source.