Now Closing for the Twins: James Bond

Growing up, there were three songs that would invariably draw my entire family in to the tv room: "One Shining Moment", "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and "The James Bond Theme". Last Friday (after Chris Davis crushed the hopes of Twins fans with a game-winning grand slam), I watched a James Bond documentary (Everything or Nothing available on Netflix streaming) to cheer myself up.

This will all make sense...I promise
As a result I started to see all kinds of overlaps between the movies many of us love, and the team pretty much anybody reading this care about. And while hearing all about the two principle topics  amongst Twins nerds this last week--how good is it to have Joe Mauer batting 2nd (courtesy of Gleeman and the Geek), and why is being "closer" the only thing that Glen Perkins can do (courtesy of Twitter freakouts)--I couldn't help but think that both the documentary and the Twins conversations all have to deal with the idea of "playing a specific role".

After all, you can practically picture the casting notices for each of these positions
Starring Role: James Bond 
Debonair British spy capable of crushing a man's trachea and cracking bed springs with foreign hotties. (All commonwealth accents accepted, black hair preferred)
Seeking #2 Hitter
should be (1) able to get on base, (2) able to run reasonably well (scrappiness a plus)
Searching for: A Closer
  Will be pitching the 9th inning ONLY, should limit runners, throw hard, handle stress and only worry about pitching the 9th inning.

Sometimes you have exactly the right person for the part (see: Brosnan, Pierce; Castillo, Luis; Nathan, Joe). However, just because these are the expectations doesn't mean that likely candidates for the job will always succeed (anyone who has suffered through Sean Connery's Never Say Never Again or watched Matt Capps pitch with the game on the line will attest to that).  But with the way the Twins' franchise has been going lately, having obvious candidates for the job is increasingly rare.

Another Craig/Mauer parrallel

One option the Twins have, now that players obviously suited to a role are longer an option, is to try something different and unexpected.  That's where Daniel Craig comes in as Bond, and that's where Joe Mauer comes in as the #2 hitter. Remember, Craig was seen as too short, too unknown and too blonde to be Bond when he first got the job. Mauer can certainly get on base, but speed? scrappiness? I don't think so.

Of course, the fans came to love Craig as Bond (or at least buy tickets to see him), and if early excitement is any indication, Twins fans are okay with letting Mauer bat a little more frequently than he has been. While it might chafe at Gardy's sense of baseball "tradition", it's got fans pumped and willing to try something new.

The other thing the Twins can do, since obvious selections are no longer an option, is to do something slightly less daring than "different and unexpected" (hence, more likely in the Twin Cities). Rather than taking a wild shot at totally different options, the Twins can go with someone they knew and trusted, hoping that they could rise up to the standards in time (the rotating flotilla of #2 hitters from Tolbert to Casilla to Dozier proves that). That style of casting echoes the hiring of Roger Moore, a popular sort-of-Bond actor, who also had been a friend of Bond producers.

The thing is, it took fans and ownership time to figure out what to do with Moore. After a couple average films, it was clear that the square-jawed, dry humor, animal magnetism wasn't going to be his thing like it was for Connery (or like poor George Lazenby tried to make it for himself). Instead Moore spawned a more cartoony Bond, with less toughness and more of an "aww-shucks-I-electrocuted-you" kind of effortless espionage. The crowds wanted a different take on Bond, and though it took some time, both producers and fans got it in the end.

This is your future, Glen. Don't fight it.
So you can think of Glen Perkins as the Roger Moore of Twins territory. The truest heir to the mantle of "closer" since Joe Nathan's departure in 2011, Perkins was a known quantity, trusted by the coaching staff. So far, he has handled the same old part with aplomb, but fans of Perkins, and fans of the Twins are willing to see something other than the same old, same old. Perkins has been a big league starter (successfully at that). He's been good in middle-relief and set-up jobs. So why not put a new spin on the old part and let Perkins close down any inning where the lead's in trouble?

Besides, if my analogy proves accurate, we're bound to end up with the Twins saving the world, killing a megalomaniac, and blowing up an evil lair. Translation: WE'RE GONNA FINALLY BEAT THE YANKEES!!

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