How would you feel if your boss called you in the middle of cleaning up a major national disaster to tell you “don’t let the door hit you on the way out?” For Doug Mientkiewicz, that’s exactly what happened. And, according to reports, the Twins did him dirty in the process.
The 42 year old Twins lifer took his High-A Ft Myers Miracle to the championship game this season, and they nearly won it. He also has won championships for the Double-A Affiliate. But that’s not all. According to any source you can find, his players loved playing for him. As Mientkiewicz told Phil Miller, “I feel bad for the kids who played for me, including the ones I managed that are helping the Twins make a run for the playoffs right now. Ask any of them about me as a manager.”
You would think that a figure as universally loved as Dougie Baseball would get the utmost in respect from the organization he has been a part of for the majority of his professional life, right? Think again. In an effort to apparently shed the stereotype of “Twins Loyalty,” the front office royally screwed the pooch on this one. Not only was the timing inopportune — despite the organization claiming it was doing him a favor, no one wants to be fired less than a week after a disaster — but from reports it was handled poorly.
Neither Derek Falvey or Thad Levine were the one to call Mientkiewicz, instead that dubious honor went to Brad Stiel, Director of Minor League Operations. Again, that’s Steil’s job, its understandable most of the time. Worse than that though, they apparently wouldn’t give him an explanation. Again, understandable, that’s just business. Being fired sucks, being fired and knowing you were replaced is even worse. I’ve been there. You want to know why, you want to know what you did. You want an explanation, even for just a year or two of loyalty, let alone nearly thirty. Dougie Baseball isn’t just some guy. Not only has he been an incredibly popular coach, and the one I personally wanted hired over Molitor, but he was a childhood hero for a lot of the fans the MLB is trying to claim.
I was born in the late 80’s. I am grouped into the so-called millennials, despite hating that label. I was ten when Dougie Baseball premiered. If Kirby Puckett made me a fan; Mienkiewicz, Torii Hunter, Brad Radke, and those teams kept me a fan. Those guys are a huge reason why I am the fan I am today. I get it, firings and shifts in philosophy are a part of life, but the way this has been handled has negatively impacted my view of the front office. Loyalty, transparency. compassion, and social responsibility are traits that are supposed to be very important to the millennials, and the Twins have trampled all of those. I might not go anywhere, but I have “socially awkward” levels of fandom. A more casual version of me would be checking out already.
I don’t like complaining though, so let me offer a suggestion. Fort Myers is your spring training home anyway. Derek, Thad, and Brad; do what you should have done in the first place. Fly down south. Meet up with Mientkiewicz and his neighbors. The Keys are devastated. Roll up your sleeves and get involved in the clean up. After their lives are closer to normal, take the time, and give him your reasons. Recognize what he means to the history of this team. Give us, the fans, a reason, and some closure as well. We love Dougie Baseball. Its understandable to move in another direction. The way this has been handled is not. For the sake of your fan base, don’t alienate one of our legends. At this point, he is entitled to reject the olive branch, and I’ll understand; but unless you offer it, I’ve lost a lot of respect.
You’ve lit the bridge aflame Twins. Please break out your fire extinguisher before its too late.