Rooting for Nick and Tsuyoshi

(Apologies for the gap between posts, school is coming quickly and I'll be splitting time between writing lesson plans and writing baseball blogs...probably a little more time on lesson plans)

Poor Tsuyoshi...
Clearly things have changed in the Twins dugout of late, much to the glee of many fans (not to mention the blogging community). Nick Blackburn is gone and it will take some finagling to get him back up again, experience be damned. Gone too is every last drop of hopeful expectation around Tsuyoshi Nishioka, former Nippon League batting champ and hoped for shortstop salvation.

The clear take away here is that these two elements of the Twins system weren't working and now (later than some might like) they are being removed. Many other, wiser bloggers can delve into the statistical benefits of chucking Blackburn's starts or offering Nishioka's opportunities to another, worthier prospect.

The less apparent take away is that, even with this move, Twins fans are still frustrated. Even with two disliked players off the roster, the belief is that the move didn't happen fast enough. Forum posts on Nick Blackburn seem to assume he's personally responsible for all of the Twins pitching's miseries, as well as NBC's poor Olympic coverage and those irritating Health Care Debate advertisements. Tsuyoshi Nishioka seems to be viewed as part underachiever, part natural disaster (though its unlikely a telethon can help Twins fans at this point). Since there are no stats to explore here, that makes it just my cup of tea.

For me, Blackburn and Nishioka are more than just sacrificial lambs to the roster/blogosphere slaughter. They are men who have gone from mighty success to something resembling total disaster. Something that, people who aren't ballplayers can still relate to.

Imagine going through a rough spell at your job, and having your bosses demote you down to being the office gofer. Worse than that, you find out you only became the gofer, is because your bosses couldn't get any other company in town to hire you away from them. Nobody wants you. Everybody knows that nobody wants you. And now you have to start proving yourself all over again. It's the kind of professional debacle you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. So why are we so insistent that Blackburn and Nishioka deserve it?

Dr. Cakeburn, in better days
I won't deny that both played poorly enough to make dyed in the wool optimists like me cringe. And yet, I can't savor any part of their being culled from the big league roster. To me they are just as much the promising young talents that had me practicing Japanese phrases for "tater tot hotdish" and photoshopping diabolical baked goods into game photos to elevate their stature. For me, they are professionals confronting a question of career viability.

And as news breaks that two marginal big leaguers (Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon) used steroids to keep their similarly struggling careers afloat, I'm proud that neither Blackburn nor Nishioka pursued a chemical solution to their problems. I can't gloat in potential replacements or boast of "I told you so's" to Terry Ryan. I just hope that Blackburn and Nishioka find a way to either solve their problems on the field or else move on to a better life off it.Unpopular as it might be: I'm rooting for Nick and Tsuyoshi.

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