Scenes From An Offseason, Volume 8

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

It's a long winter ahead... for everyone in the organization.

SCENE: A disused storage room, somewhere in the bowels of Target Field. A thin stream of liquid - hopefully, but not certainly, water - runs from an unknown source to a rusty drain in the floor. Dripping can be heard, though no drips can be seen. It is cold, yet somehow the concrete-block walls are sweating. An unshaven, bleary-eyed RON GARDENHIRE sits on the floor, back against the corner furthest from the door, which has been fitted with two iron bars over a window that is not much more than a hole that somebody cut with an axe. The room is lit with a single bulb, protected by an iron cage.

A priest - which, for some reason, is clearly KENT HRBEK wearing an Old West-style priest's cassock and a fake handlebar mustache - sits silently in a chair, holding the May 1987 Field and Stream, looking at Gardenhire but not speaking to him. We hear footsteps in the hall, and the sound of deadbolts being thrown, and then the door creaking open.

VOICE FROM HALLWAY: It's time, Ron.

Gardenhire stands, unsteadily, and limps out into the hallway, a broken and defeated man. Two guards take him by the elbow, and half-help, half-drag him towards a bright light at the end of the hall. Father Hrbek, swigging from a flask, trails in their wake.

The assemblage reaches the end of the hall, and turns left into the brightly-lit room. Klieg lights shine on a nineteenth-century guillotine, which has had a Twins logo painted above the blade. Two men in suits sit behind a low table - TERRY RYAN and JIM POHLAD.

An executioner stands next to the guillotine. It is JIM THOME, who has attempted to disguise himself by wearing an ill-fitting Mexican luchador mask, which is made less concealing by the fact that he is also wearing his full uniform, with THOME 25 on the back.

THOME: Hi Gardy! He waves.

RYAN: Jim, shh. You're supposed to be incognito.

THOME: What did you call me?

RYAN: Never mind.

POHLAD: Now, Ron, you know why you're here, don't you?

GARDENHIRE (exhaustedly): Yes I do. I'm here because I can't seem to win any baseball games with the collection of has-beens and never-weres that you two call a baseball team.

RYAN (grinning nastily): Now Ron, I don't think I'd be so lippy in your situation.

GARDENHIRE: Why not? You guys send me out there with Clete Thomas and I'm supposed to win games? I've got Mauer, Perkins, and Willingham when all of his limbs are working properly, which is never. And that's it. Our starting pitching staff looks like it's trying to throw wads of paper in a tornado. A couple of our regulars look like they're not sure which end of the bat to hold. I can do a lot of things, but I can't go up to the plate and swing the bat for these guys, and I can't go out to the mound and add ten or twelve mph to some of those Little League fastballs. If spitballs and tennis rackets were allowed, then I could do something here, but they aren't, and I can't. So do your worst.

RYAN: Lies!

POHLAD: Terry, is any of this true? As I recall from our little updates, you said that everything was under control and that you were handling things.

RYAN: Of course not! He's just lying to try to weasel out of his comeuppance!

POHLAD: Terry, you have my trust, but like your intelligence, it is not infinite. Please be more careful to present the entire picture in the future.

RYAN: Yes, sir. Sorry, sir.

POHLAD: Now then. Ron, I hope you understand my situation; it's important that somebody in this organization is seen, in short, to pay.

GARDENHIRE (under his breath): And we know it won't be you.

POHLAD (sharply): What?

GARDENHIRE: Nothing.

POHLAD: So you see, Ron, that this is not personal. I'd hate for you to get the idea that it was personal.  The fans cry out for blood, and I must give it to them; I'd rather not, but this is the public trust I have. Someone must pay.

The guards wrench Gardenhire into position on the guillotine. Thome pulls the rope to raise the blade. Hrbek, as befitting the situation, breaks into a haunting, falsetto hymn, which by the sound of it, is "Go Your Own Way" by Fleetwood Mac.

The blade falls, and is stopped with a ringing crack, where Pohlad has replaced the bolt.

POHLAD: So, not today then, Ron. Not today.

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