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RandBall: Broadcaster Gladden criticizes Twins 'opposite-field' strategy

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated August 6th at 5:25pm 270192111

tkgladdenWe happened to have the Twins game on the radio as we drove home from an important event Tuesday night. It was the fourth inning of a fairly uneventful game against the Padres, with Cory Provus and Dan Gladden doing the call as per usual.

In the midst of describing the action, though, we were struck by some commentary from Gladden and quickly snagged a recording of it. Josh Willingham, Kennys Vargas and Oswaldo Arcia were the batters due up, and Gladden was describing a conversation he had pregame with Willingham about why so many of his home runs go to left field. Willingham, per Gladden, said it has to do with his top hand — that his swing style made him a pull hitter — and Gladden concluded that part by telling Willingham to keep doing what he is doing and not worry about going to right field. That led into this exchange between Gladden and Provus:

Provus: “I wonder for a young hitter coming up in today’s game, if they’re labeled as a dead pull hitter, if that’s a label they are eager to change as their careers kind of blossom?”

Gladden: “You know what, here’s one thing I hope can kind of get rooted or maybe even changed to an extent, and that is the philosophy of the Twins. … You’ve heard it: ‘You’ve got to hit the ball the other way.’ It’s almost like everybody who puts a Twins uniform on, they’re taught to go the other way. … A guy like Arcia right here, what are we hearing? ‘He’s trying to pull the ball. He’s trying to pull the ball. We need to have him go the other way.’ Arcia to me is a dead-red pull guy, so let’s teach him to pull the ball rather than try to teach him to go the other way and hit doubles and singles — which he can do, but that’s not his game. … We had Jim Thome here, kind of a one-dimensional, one-field type guy. David Ortiz, when we heard after he left, they told him to pull the ball and that’s what he’s done. I think the philosophy — you need to be able to evaluate the player. Vargas is a guy that should have opposite-field power.”

While we’ve certainly heard Twins radio broadcasters critique bad pitches or poor at bats, we couldn’t recall hearing such a strong commentary on a general philosophy. While it’s not particularly controversial — and to be honest, it’s refreshing — it did catch our attention.

But truth be told, we don’t listen to the Twins on the radio often — usually just if we have some errands to run at night, or if we happen to have a long drive within the region during a game.

In that regard, maybe folks who more regularly listen to the Twins on the radio can help us out: Was that in character with what Gladden might typically say, or did it branch into different territory?

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