Thursday, February 22, 2007

Torii's Professionalism

For as long as he's been a Twin, Torii Hunter has made a lot of stories and garnered a lot of attention. He has been a media darling and the was face of the Twins until the arrival of stars like Johan Santana, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. He's also been known to some as a bit of a prima donna with a big mouth. However, recent comments seem to tell us a lot about Hunter's true values these days.

As many know and have accepted, Hunter is probably in his last year as a Twin. When asked about his contract, he told this to the Star Tribune:
"I don't let it bother me anymore," Hunter said. "I'm still signed for one year, and I'm going to honor that. I'm going to work hard. I'm not going to be a problem in the clubhouse or none of that."

"Once the season starts it's over," he said. "I'm 100 percent focused. I won't be a distraction. That's why I really don't want to talk contract. It sounds selfish when you're trying to win a division or things like that."
To some, this may seem totally the opposite of what people expect from Hunter or it may seem like something he put out there to keep face. I think it has to be looked at as symbolic of the true Torii. Hunter is a leader, yes, and he also can be a distraction. But, deep down, he's a loyal guy who plays his heart out and has always respected the team.

One of the best examples I can think of, other then these recent quotes, is Hunter's frequent visits to Fox Sports Net's "Best Damn Sports Show Period." In his visits, he's constantly hounded by Chris Rose and others for why he is still playing for the Twins, but he's always stuck up for the organization. His occassionally disrespectful or irritating outbursts make him the type of emotional team player remniscent of another great Minneapolis athlete: Kevin Garnett.

Ironically, Garnett may be out of town soon too, based on how terribly things went last night. (This isn't a Timberwolves blog, but you don't need to be a fan to understand the embarassment of last night's loss to Charlotte. Adam freakin' Morrison people.) Hunter isn't the once-in-a-lifetime talent Garnett is, but he is one of the great athletes in Twin Cities history.

If this is his last season, let's view Hunter in the right light: he isn't perfect, but he's always played hard, he's been a vocal leader, and he's always kept us entertained.

A couple other notes:

* If Hunter keeps the professionalism, it will certainly help the ability of the Twins to trade him. Knowing how a troublesome or distracting star can be hard to trade (Manny Ramirez anyone?), it's easy to figure that the opposite situation will only help ease the trade market for a player.

* There is an interesting quote from Johan Santana in response to the Barry Zito contract at the end of the aforementioned Strib article:
"We haven't heard anything from [the Twins]," he said. "But one thing I could tell them is, sooner would be better. I'm pretty sure it will be cheaper."
All I can say is that if the Twins want to have any chance of keeping Santana, they better act quick.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good work!
Torii is a big mouth and occasionally says or does something dumb, but who of us doesn't? he just does it on a bigger stage.
Doug Mientkiewicz always bugged me too because he just talked too much. I thought he opened up too much in some cases, but we all want that inside info and he provided it on occasion.
Anyway, he was on one of the XM Radio shows from Yankee camp this week. He was asked about his time with the Red Sox and now he's a Yankee, and what he felt about the rivalry. He was very quick to say that the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry is great, but it was nothing compared to the Twins/White Sox rivalry from a few years ago when he was there. He talked about how the teams really didn't like each other and there were fights every other game. The interviewer (can't remember who it was) seemed almost surprised and disappointed by the answer Dougie Baseball gave, but that made me like Doug again!

SethSpeaks.net

Bobio said...

Dougie Baseball.....
Another reason to still like Doug is when asked about which team he identifies with he said something along the lines of "I will always be a Twin" It was unfortunate how Dougie left the Twin Cities, but with his recent comments and such, I still like him and perhaps he will once agian play here for a season or two

Anonymous said...

Thank you Nick. I have always felt that Torii is just a stand-up guy who says what's on his mind and, unlike most of us, what he says often gets printed. He's been quoted as being frustrated watching the 2001 team get slowly dismantled. Some saw that as disrespectful. I thought he was just being honest: That team was a family. And no one likes to see their family members leave. I always thought his loyalty to his former teammates was endearing.

The only thing he has done that I take issue with is taking a swing at Morneau. But knowing what we know about Morneau's habits at the time and Torii's background, I could see why he'd be mad at him. Torii watched his best friend and a superior talent (Shabazz) waste his life because of bad habits. He didn't like watching Morneau head down the same path. It still doesn't excuse his behavior, but it does put it in perspective. Torii's an intense guy who's led a clean life while those around him have ruined theirs. He expects his team mates to be the same way. He does not appreciate it when they casually let their talent go.

Anyway, I wasn't all that surprised by what he said. He's honest to a fault, and this time it just resonates with Twins fans who have long predicted his exit from the Twins.

Nick N. said...

Great comment above. I like the Morneau/Shabazz lifestyle comp. Hunter's honesty is frequently refreshing, but certainly there are times when I wish he'd keep his mouth shut. Like when he accuses people of being racist for suspecting Bonds of steroid use.

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