Gomez

As we approach the start of spring training, I wonder how the Twins will do. Will they have anybody who piques the interest of the fans? Baseball is entertainment, after all.

One of my saddest days as a Twins fan was when the team traded my favorite player at the time (who was acquired in a trade for my previous favorite player, Johan Santana) Carlos Gomez to the Milwaukee Brewers for J. J. Hardy. 

Gomez had talent. Everybody knew that. He could play center field like few others. But he drove the staid Twins nuts with his swing-for-the-fences approach at the plate. With so much speed in his legs, all the Twins wanted him to do was get on base and steal his way around. They didn't need him for home runs. 

So, they tried to change him. And they failed. 

One thing you don't do is try to change players with a Latin flair for the game, and for life. They won't. They'll just stay the same and enjoy life like they always have. They'll stand and watch their home runs. They'll get excited. Fans will love them. And they will drive opponents and management nuts. For to the Latin players it is just one thing to execute the plays, but another altogether to execute them with panache. The great Roberto Clemente played with joy, and so does Carlos Gomez. 

Unable to change him, and frustrated with his low batting average, the Twins traded Gomez away to the Brewers--who just plain let him be himself. And he has flourished. Yes, he causes fights when the other team takes exception to his enthusiasm. But he is an entertainer! And he loves life. 

I once had great seats to a Twins game. First row. Behind the Twins' dugout. The players stood for the national anthem. Gomez spent the entire anthem piling sunflower shells on the top the head of the coach in front of him. Gomez probably didn't know anthem etiquette, or perhaps he did and knew the coach wouldn't move. 

So, the Twins lost a fan favorite, a player who could eventually have rivaled the great Puckett in popularity. 

Here is his highlight reel for 2014. Notice how he throws the bat down when he knows he has hit one out. Notice his wierd way of running around the bases, always touching his ear as he crosses second base. 

And here is Gomez showing the joi de vivre typical of Latin players. As a dour northerner, I absolutely love to watch people who seem congenitally joyous. It must be all the sunshine. Here is him at his home in the Dominican Republic. 

The Twins should have just let Carlos be Carlos and watched ticket revenues soar.