Posted by: gravessack | January 6, 2019

Cruz Will Bring Power And Stability To DH Role

“Boomstick” is heading to the Midwest, and is ready to crush homers at Target Field!

That is what the Twins are hoping for anyway. In an abrupt turn (at least for now) from their original plan to add pitching over the off-season, the club is shoring up its line-up, which placed 24th in home runs last year with 166. Just over a month ago, General Manager Thad Levine persuaded two power hitters to join the organization: Jonathan Schoop and C.J. Cron, who combined for 51 home runs last season. However, the biggest get came a few weeks later.

After negotiating for more than 10 days, the Twins and free agent DH/right fielder Nelson Cruz agreed to a one-year deal December 27 worth $14.3 million, including an option for 2019.unknown When the acquisition was made official January 2, it was revealed that Cruz was eyeing Minnesota for his next landing spot since last season! Levine and former teammate Schoop had multiple conversations with him leading up to the signing; however Cruz needed little convincing.

He had a whirlwind of a time reaching the Majors. The New York Mets signed Cruz out of the Dominican Republic in 1998. But he played two more years in the Dominican Summer League having never joined New York. Cruz was then traded to Oakland in 2000. He spent four seasons in their minor league system before being dealt to Milwaukee.

Cruz made his major league debut in 2005, playing in just 8 games. Just before the 2006 trade deadline, he was traded to Texas. That was where his career took off, but not right away. In his first three seasons with the Rangers, Cruz played in 168 total games, failing to reach 10 home runs in all those years. For some reason, in year 4 with Texas, everything changed. Cruz averaged .260 and hit 33 home runs. He was selected to his first All-Star Game that year.

After Cruz’s breakout season in 2009, he has never looked back. For the next nine years, he has put up outstanding numbers. The now 38-year-old has smacked at least 20 homers per season since. Additionally, Cruz’s totals spiked in 2014; he was consistently in the 20-30 home run range, but suddenly he belted 40 with Baltimore.

Cruz then signed with Seattle in December 2014 on a four-year deal. He continued with his improved play. Cruz achieved his career high in home runs in 2015 with 44, a year after he hit 43. In 2016 and 2017, he drove in over 100 runs. The six-time All-Star provided stability in the otherwise mundane Mariner line-up.

His 360 career home runs will bring relief to a line-up that has been lacking power. When manager Rocco Baldelli inserts Cruz’s name, along with Schoop’s and Cron’s, the starting nine will look much improved from past years. Michael Sack with nephew WilliamCruz hopefully will give advice to struggling Miguel Sano to try to guide him in the right direction.

Hopefully, Cruz’s inclinations of last year will prove to be true! If he keeps chugging along as he has been, the revised line-up will be just as fun to watch as watching my three-month-old handsome nephew, William, grow!

Welcome to Minnesota, Cruz!

Written by: Michael L. Sack

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Posted by: gravessack | December 27, 2018

For The Twins, 2018 Was Full Of Twists And Turns

It could be said that the AL Wild Card game on October 3, 2017 may have been the beginning to this stressful – sometimes, memorable – year. That play-off game was the first for the Twins since 2010 when they finished at the top of their division. Although, the team lost that game to the Yankees behind Ervin Santana, it created an awkward situation for first-year General Manager Thad Levine. Ultimately, he was sort of forced to give Manager Paul Molitor a three-year contract. That decision started a whirlwind of a year that had every storyline: late free agent signings, underperforming players, history, a firing, a retirement, new hires, a surprising year-end addition and a future of cautious intrigue.

After the trade of Brandon Kintzler to Washington in July 2017 and Glen Perkins’ sudden departure in January, the Twins had to revamp their bullpen. They landed on veterans Fernando Rodney and Zach Duke. Levine, not satisfied with the team roster, traded for or signed a few players during spring training. First, the Twins traded with Tampa Bay and received starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi. Then, they agreed to terms with starter Lance Lynn and first baseman Logan Morrison, who hit 38 home runs the year prior.

Those signings did not pan out as the Twins hoped. Lynn struggled early on, as the team lost all five games that he started in April. He never really manufactured anything, resulting in him losing 8 games with an 5.10 ERA with Minnesota. Odorizzi, meanwhile, performed a tad better throughout the season, but it was nothing to brag about.

Undoubtedly the most frustrating aspect amongst the newbies was Morrison. The former Ray hoped to be the slugger in the line-up, but instead he couldn’t hit and really battled the ball until his season-ending hip injury that required surgery in mid-August. The procedure effectively ended Morrison’s time donning a Twins uniform.

Of the players that have big potential in Minnesota, Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton had extraordinary dismal seasons. While Sano hit .199 with just 13 home runs, Buxton outdid his poor showing by batting .156. Both players had a slew of injuries that ended their seasons prematurely. Sano’s last game was September 18, while Buxton’s season ended May 28. The biggest brouhaha was when the Twins did not recall Buxton in September despite him being ready. Some say it was all about service time, and that the club wanted to extend his.

The most memorable in-season event occurred on April 12 at Target Field. First baseman Joe Mauer came to bat in the seventh inning against White Sox pitcher Aaron Bummer. The St. Paul native cranked a single up the middle for his 2,000th career hit! It was awesome that he did it on his home field as fans gave him a standing ovation. Mauer became the third Twins player to accomplish the milestone.

When mid-July rolled around, the Twins were 7 games back of Cleveland. With play-off chances looking bleak, the front office decided to throw in the towel. The fire sale began four days before the trade deadline. Eduardo Escobar was sent to Arizona, Ryan Pressly to Houston, Zack Duke was on his way to Seattle, Lynn was on to New York, and finally, fan favorite Brian Dozier headed to Los Angeles. Minnesota received plenty of players in return, but Tyler Austin looks to be the most promising and should stick around. He showed off his skills when he hit multiple home runs in one week. Later in August, with the campaign slipping away, the Twins traded Rodney to Oakland.

The season ended on September 30 with Minnesota (78-84) finishing 13 games behind Cleveland. That was enough of a reason for Levine to relieve Molitor, and so he did two days later. After a multi-week search, the Twins introduced Rocco Baldelli October 25 as their new field boss. He decided to dismiss five coaches and vacant positions were filled before Thanksgiving. Levine hopes that he can bring in analytical expertise and also connect better with younger players.

In what could be the story of the year, Mauer decided to officially retire on November 9, informing fans with a letter in the Star Tribune. At a press conference at Target Field three days later, Mauer was in fact showing emotion. During the televised event, he said that he will never forget the last game where he went out and caught one pitch in the ninth inning. Surrounded by mementos, Mauer also relayed that he wanted to retire as a Twin and did so to spend more time with his three children.

Once the news had passed, Levine went straight to work at replacing Mauer and Dozier for 2019. They signed C.J. Cron to an one-year deal on November 27 to be the first baseman. About a week later, Jonathan Schoop agreed to man second base. The former Oriole was signed for one-year. Cron, who belted 30 home runs in 2018, and Schoop look to be reasonable replacements to the two mainstays.

Next up were the annual meetings that took place the second week of December in Las Vegas. Although rumors swirled about the Twins and Nelson Cruz connection, nothing came about it at the time. They were also connected to relievers Cody Allen and Andrew Miller. In the end, the heads flew away December 12 with no deals in tow.

However, negotiations seemed to continue with a perennial free agent after the Winter Meetings. Finishing 2018 with an exclamation point, the team and likely DH Cruz came to an agreement December 27The deal is for one-year worth $14 million, with an option for 2020. The 38-year-old will provide a big bat in the line-up, as he hit 37 home runs with Seattle last year. Since 2009, Cruz has hit at least 20 homers each year. His highest home run total in a single season was in 2015 when he hit 44. The six-time All-Star looks to be another upgrade in the batter’s box.

Needless to say, the Twins had one hectic 2018! However, the near future has lots of uncertainty as to how the starting rotation and bullpen will develop. They need to show us in the next two months that they are prepared and ready to win.

In the meantime, Happy New Year! Hope you all have a great time at your rowdy parties Monday night!

Written by: Michael L. Sack

Posted by: gravessack | December 16, 2018

Despite Inquiries, Twins Leave Meetings Mostly Empty-Handed

Minnesota Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey speaking at press conference, with General Manager Thad Levine in background.The MLB Winter Meetings, which ended December 13 in Las Vegas, is a time where general managers try to sway free agents to join their team. Coming into this year’s five-day event, the Twins were looking to grab a couple of pitchers and a designated hitter. Personally, I was not hopeful that General Manager Thad Levine would make a splashy move since that is not the team’s M.O.

When Terry Ryan was the GM, he signed some above-average pitchers in early December; Ricky Nolasco in 2013 and Ervin Santana in 2014. However, those signings came right before the Meetings and both had struggles during their time in Minnesota. After Ryan was let go, Levine was hired to improve the team, so a couple of solid transactions were inevitable, right? Wrong!

Although the start of the week was nonchalant for Minnesota, things quietly ramped up. The club showed interest in slugger Nelson Cruz, relievers Trevor Cahill and Joakim Soria, and catcher Wilson Ramos. Additionally, they checked in on former Cleveland pitchers Cody Allen and Andrew Miller. My interest peaked on December 11 when Jon Morosi of Fox Sports tweeted that “Nelson Cruz {is} expected to sign with Twins or Rays, according to .” All those rumblings became a feather in the wind for the time being, as Levine and Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey boarded a plane Thursday with an empty cart of new goodies. Right afterwards, though, the club grabbed right-hander Dustin Knight from San Francisco in the Triple-A portion of the Rule 5 Draft.

The poor showing at the get-together only cements the fans’ thinking. For a while now, Twins ticket holders have been realizing that owner Jim Pohlad is afraid to spend large amount of dollars on players and enjoys saving money. Each year the front office says they are willing to go after big name athletes. Nonetheless, they have shown us the exact opposite.

For example, in Levine’s second year with the Twins, the club signed two players during spring training for a combined $17.5 million. Pitcher Lance Lynn and first baseman Logan Morrison both provided disappointing 2018 seasons. Seeing that a move was necessary, the team just flung money to the best available players in desperation, rather than bringing in a superstar. That would have meant giving somebody a big check, which they are hesitant to do.

The Twins still have a chance to show their fan base that they are all in on progressing. In order to do that, they must be brave and start really seeking top-notch talent. Levine could begin by signing Cruz to a multi-year deal, and offer a premier pitcher a hefty amount of money. After replacing Paul Molitor with Rocco Baldelli, the Twins need to show us that they are devoted to improving.

After the festivities ended, Falvey and Levine offered up a soft excuse to their dormancy during the Meetings. They are betting that the conversations they had last week will lead to locking down a player or two. Going forward this off-season, Falvey and Levine have two choices; either start going after big-money players, or keep finding leftovers and potentially lose more ticket sales. I really don’t think they want the latter!

Written by Michael L. Sack

Posted by: gravessack | December 9, 2018

Twins Add Cron, Schoop, Torreyes

C.J. Cron being congratulated by Tampa Bay teammates

Photo: startribune.com

Ever since Joe Mauer retired, one big question for the Twins was who will play first base in 2019. On November 27, the Twins signed former Tampa Bay Rays slugger C.J. Cron to a one-year, $4.8 million contract. Cron will likely split first base duties in 2019 with Tyler Austin. Then, on December 6, the Twins signed second baseman Jonathan Schoop to a one-year, $7.5 million contract, and utility infielder Ronald Torreyes to a one-year, $800,000 contract. Schoop and Torreyes likely will replace Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar, who were traded last season.

When the Twins signed Cron, who hit 30 home runs last season, a lot of people (including myself) compared it to when the Twins signed Logan Morrison a year ago. Both Cron and Morrison were put on waivers by Tampa Bay a year after they had big home run seasons. Morrison had some injury problems and wasn’t good last year and was released by the Twins. I don’t think the same will happen to Cron and he’ll have a good 2019 season, but we’ll just have to wait and see. I haven’t seen Cron play a lot, but I think it’s a good signing by the Twins.

It will be interesting to see how Schoop does in 2019. He was an All-Star in 2017, but he only hit .233 in 131 games with Baltimore and Milwaukee last year, at least partly due to injuries. Signing Schoop seems pretty risky after last season, but let’s hope he stays healthy in 2019 and plays like he did in 2017. I don’t know hardly anything about Torreyes, but according to MLB.com, he “is a better defender than Escobar but doesn’t have his extra-base power.” I do wish the Twins would have kept Escobar, though.

Jonathan Schoop being congratulated by Baltimore teammates in dugout

Photo: startribune.com

Also, the 2018 MLB Winter Meetings are this week in Las Vegas. The primary focus for the Twins should be to try to improve the starting pitching and bullpen, as pitching has been the main problem for the Twins for the past several seasons. Let’s see what happens!

Written by: Sam Graves

 

Posted by: gravessack | December 6, 2018

The Passing Of A Disability Icon

When he moved into the Oval Office on January 20, 1989, George Herbert Walker Bush wanted to drive the nation in a different direction.thg763f9bt That meant he would have to generate bold ideas. For people who have disabilities, his agenda would deliver an extraordinary moment. The next year, on July 26, Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on the South Lawn of the White House.

The ADA was a sweeping measure that would help millions of children and adults with various disabilities live lives free of discrimination. Bush, a World War II Navy pilot, passed away on November 30 at the age of 94 after a battle of Vascular Parkinsonism in Houston, Texas.

Unlike some Republicans today, Bush realized the importance of bringing people together and helping Americans seek what they deserve. When Ronald Reagan was the leader of the country, the ADA had been stuck in a Senate committee. With his smooth conversational skills in tow, Bush had several meetings with legislators hashing out the details. Suddenly, the bill, which was credited to Tom Harkin (D-IA), gained steam on June 12, 1990, as the House easily passed the amended legislation. The next day, the Senate approved the measure on a 91-6 count. More than a month later, it became law.

The ADA has five main titles: employment, public entities, public accommodations, telecommunications, and miscellaneous. bushBasically, each title provides in-depth descriptions on what an American with an impairment has the right to. For example, Title 1 states that a business can’t deny an applicant a job only because they are disabled. Moreover, in Title 3, it says all new construction projects must follow the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines. The Act is long and detailed.

When Bush’s son, George W., was President, the ADA went through a revision in September of 2008. The changes expanded the definition of “disability”, making the law available to more citizens. A Senate Committee deemed the change in the law “makes it absolutely clear that the ADA is intended to provide broad coverage to protect anyone who faces discrimination on the basis of disability.”

There is a prime illustration of Bush’s premier disability victory right here in Minnesota. In 1982, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome opened in Downtown Minneapolis. The building was frightening in regards to accessibility; few handicap entrances, two small public elevators, under 300 accessible seats. The Twins learned from the ADA when designing Target Field in the mid-2000s. Today, Target Field has six wheelchair-friendly gates, over 750 handicapped seats, and a whopping 13 elevators that patrons can use. That is just one instance of the ways the ADA changed accessibility.

However, much more needs to be done to complete George H.W. Bush’s agenda. Several businesses and access to employment are still not up to par with the ADA standards. To honor Bush, Americans could do little gestures enforcing the directive. Meanwhile, in Congress, Republicans need to realize that they have an opportunity to show the compassion Bush once had. One way they could do that is to start suggesting improvements in order to enhance this very crucial law to fulfill his dream of equal access for all!

Too many people in the disability community, Bush will be remembered for making the country accessible and establishing guidelines for the betterment of disabled citizens. Most certainly, the Massachusetts native deserves to be honored during the festivities celebrating the 29th anniversary of the ADA, which will be just over seven months from now.

Thank you, Bush, for seeing the ADA over the finish line, so everybody can have opportunities to succeed in society!

Written by: Michael L. Sack

 

Posted by: gravessack | November 26, 2018

As Winter Roars In, Clearing Pathways Will Take Center Stage

The turkey has been devoured, the pie savored, football watched; Thanksgiving 2018 has passed. That means winter and arctic blasts will soon be here. Unfortunately, those ingredients bring snow to the Midwest. When it does snow, sidewalks and curb cuts will most likely become impassable. In recent history, the city of Minneapolis has been pretty relaxed at removing mounds of the white fluff. Fortunately, officials have had enough and have a different plan for the upcoming season.

For decades, Minneapolis has left the responsibility of clearing snow off pathways to home owners and businesses. The results have been mediocre at best. You may see portions of sidewalks cleared, just to run into an obstacle of mush up ahead. Curb cuts seem to be ignored, as snow piles at intersections are sometimes higher than the snow covering the grass. This creates an extremely difficult situation for travelers who use wheelchairs, are blind, or are mobility-impaired.

Realizing the lack of cooperation is resulting in safety and accessibility impediments, Minneapolis city management is about to crack down and take over operations. Once the first decent sized snowfall occurs, workers will begin canvassing the city’s nearly 2,000 miles of sidewalks to make sure people are shoveling their property. Inspectors will then send notices to people who have not shoveled within 24 hours.

That will be a good first step at making the five precincts more navigable, however the city may go further. Minneapolis is pondering if they should clear all of the paths and curb cuts themselves at a cost of an estimated $20 million a year. According to a Star Tribune article about the revamped plan, leaders “will also develop a list of resources for people who can’t clear their own sidewalks, such as those who are elderly or disabled, and refine its corner-clearing program.”

That plan would eliminate walkways being under snow and curb cuts from being blocked. It would be a big win if the city took over snow removal. People in wheelchairs have a really tough time navigating through snow, and that could trigger something much more dangerous to occur. Wheelchair users like to shop and do winter activities, therefore, they need smooth sidewalks and accessible ways of crossing streets. Most wheelchair users are hesitant when trudging through snowy areas, since they could potentially get stuck. If they are alone, that would be a real problem if the individual needs immediate assistance.

An unshoveled curb cutAs for pedestrians who use walkers and canes, precarious moments are sure to arise while maneuvering over piles of snow. Additionally, city buses have difficulties putting down their ramps on snowy banks to accommodate passengers who are disabled, possibly leaving them having to make alternate plans.

Back in 2010, I took a short walk with a group of people. At some points, my motorized chair would get stuck in the compacted snow while accessing a cut out. The walkers would try kicking snow away from my tires and I would attempt to go back and forth in an effort to get me loose. It took several minutes to get my wheelchair dislodged, but in the end, we came back with a story to be told. Nevertheless, that adventure taught me something must be done to prevent that from happening again. Nine years later, nothing has changed.

This new approach, which will require 120 plows, gives me hope that removing snow will be easier now that Minneapolis is taking over. Nevertheless, as this plan continues to take shape, there is somethings you could do to make pathways free of barriers. Following a snow event, take a moment out of your day and shovel the snow away. If you see a path that is not clear, you can call 311 and report it. Although, it could take up to eight days for a worker to come out. Another option is to put on your “Minnesota Nice” cap and help your neighbors out. For a refresher, here are Minneapolis’ snow shoveling rules.

Needless to say, clearing paths for walkers and wheelers should be a necessity. Global warming may lessen the amount of snowfall. However, when it snows, it is crucial that we put shoveling in the forefront and do our part in making our city accessible!

Written by: Michael L. Sack

Posted by: gravessack | November 18, 2018

Right Now, Unification Is Grand For The Twins

When Thad Levine and Derek Falvey took over the club’s decision-making two years ago, Twins owner Jim Pohlad warned the duo that Paul Molitor will remain as manager at least one more year. Then, somewhat unexpectedly, he guided the team to the play-offs in 2017, only to lose in New York in the win-or-done AL Wild Card game. Falvey had no choice but to grant Molitor a new contract. However, after the Twins had a disappointing 78-84 record this past season, Falvey and Levine pounced on the opportunity to make a change at the top. With the switch, the front office and the field staff now can start working together and guide the Twins to greater heights.

Once Falvey dismissed Molitor on October 2, the search was on to find a manager for the future that could interact nicely with younger players. The Twins interviewed several candidates, before selecting 37-year-old Rocco Baldelli. Baldelli, who will bring a fresh young perspective into his new job, has no managerial experience. However, he was on Tampa Bay’s coaching staff for four years starting in 2015 after an early retirement when he was twenty-nine due to Mitochondrial channelopathy.

The Twins were intrigued by Baldelli because he likes the analytical part of baseball, which Falvey obsesses over. The front office didn’t think Molitor was for that aspect, and they wanted a manager that was. Moreover, the top two indicated that he could not grow the organization, particularly in the new players coming into the league. Baldelli has experience in dealing with analytical numbers and players that are just starting out. I do trust, knowing what they believe in, that Levine and Falvey hired the perfect person to go forward with.

On October 30, five days after being introduced to the media, Baldelli went straight to work and let go of five coaches. Garvin Alston, Jeff Smith, Gene Glynn, Eddie Guardado, and Jeff Pickler all got the ax. After the shake-up, the Twins needed a pitching coach, first and third base coach, and a bullpen coach. It was Balldelli’s time to pick people that he would feel comfortable working with.

After a few weeks searching for rejuvenated voices, the organization made a slew of hires that were announced on November 16. The Twins named Wes Johnson pitching coach and Jeremy Hefner as his assistant. Tony Diaz is going to be the third base coach and Tommy Watkins was granted a promotion to man first base. Checking off a goal of Baldelli’s to add a bilingual-speaking staff member, Diaz can speak Spanish and will help communicate with Latin players, such as Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano. Johnson, interestingly, has not coached at the big league level and comes from the University of Arkansas, where he held the same position.

Let us be honest for a moment. Owner Jim Pohlad really handcuffed the very two people that he hired in 2016 to improve his club by demanding them to retain Mollie for the subsequent year. It is somewhat extraordinary that he did because, typically, new general managers have free reign to hire people that they feel can do the best job. Therefore, Levine should have been able to seek out the manager that he liked. Furthermore, I think he felt that he needed to give Molitor a new contract after making the play-offs to erase the backlash that would have happened.

Now that everyone seems unified, communication and the brain-storming will be the utmost importance as they figure out what to do at the Winter Meetings starting December 9, and how spring training will transpire in three months. Every decision will be critical as they pursue their ultimate goal of delivering Minnesota a World Series!

Written by: Michael L. Sack

Posted by: gravessack | November 11, 2018

Thank You, Joe!!

Joe Mauer tipping catching helmet to fans in final game at Target Field

Photo: startribune.com

It’s the end of an era! Twins legendary catcher/first baseman and hometown hero Joe Mauer officially retired on November 9 after a 15-year Major League career, all of which was spent playing for the Twins. Mauer said at the start of the 2018 season that he planned to play until at least 2020, but multiple concussions, including one this year, changed his mind. Also, he and his wife are expecting their third child. Mauer and the Twins will have a press conference tomorrow, November 12, at 11:00 a.m. CT on FSN.

Mauer was a three-sport star at Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul, but chose baseball after being drafted number 1 overall by the Twins in 2001. He made his Major League debut on Opening Day 2004 against the Cleveland Indians, going 2-for-3. After knee problems cut short his 2004 season, he returned to the Twins in 2005 for his first full Major League season.

Joe Mauer smiling at Minnesota Twins press conference after being drafted

Photo: startribune.com

Mauer won his first of three AL batting titles, becoming the first AL catcher ever to win a batting title (and he won three as a catcher!) in 2006, when he hit .347. On June 27 of that year against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he went 5-for-5 (which I saw in person). This came a day after he had five RBIs! He also won batting titles in 2008 and 2009, and was the AL MVP in 2009. Check out the video below of more of Mauer’s many career highlights.

I think Mauer should be in the MLB Hall of Fame someday, even though he was not quite as productive after he switched from catcher to first base in 2013 because of a concussion. During his time as catcher in particular, he was one of the best players in MLB. Hopefully, Mauer’s retirement will be a wake-up call for Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton, who are both big parts of the future of the team but have been largely disappointing.

Most importantly, though, is that Mauer has always been a classy guy. He has done a lot for the community, including his work with Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. He may not have been much of a vocal leader, but he has been a role model for other superstar athletes on how to act. Read more about Mauer’s retirement here.

On behalf of all Minnesotans, and MLB fans in general, Two Men On would like to say: Thank you, Joe, for an extraordinary and Hall-of-Fame worthy career!!

Joe Mauer career highlights video:

Written by: Sam Graves

Posted by: gravessack | November 1, 2018

What You Need To Know Before Election Day

On Sunday, October 27, the Boston Red Sox finished off their amazing season by defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Five of the World Series. The end of the MLB season means that Election Day is near. This mid-term election may be the most important one in years, as disability laws and rights are being threatened by President Donald Trump and the 115th Congress. We, at Two Men On, would like to remind you to vote on November 6 – whoever you vote for – and that disability voters have options to make it easier to cast a ballot. Here is a quick guide on what to expect at the polling booth and a synopsis of what is at stake.

Once you find where you should vote, pick a time to go on Tuesday when you are available or when you have a Personal Care Assistant working. Your polling location is usually in a public space so a handicap door should be present. But, in some cases, that is not the case so you may need to ask someone to help.

Inside, you will see several booths and election judges. First, go to the table where officials will be asking you to put a signature by your name. An identification card is not required in the state of Minnesota. The election judges will hand you a paper saying you are eligible for a ballot. You will then need to go to a different table so another helper can hand you your ballot. At this time, if you want to fill out your picks electronically, please indicate so.

One of the election officials will direct you to the AutoMARK Ballot-Marking Machine, usually located away from the standing stations. Your helper will slide yours into the front of the machine. It takes a moment for the machine to register it. When finished, a screen will pop up explaining the process. Tap the green “NEXT” button to proceed to candidate selection. On the next screen, choose your preferred candidate for that particular office. After each choice, tap “NEXT.” If you make a mistake or want to change something, there is a red “BACK” button. At the end of making your picks, a screen will appear with the candidates you want elected; PLEASE MAKE SURE THEY ARE CORRECT. Press the “BACK” button if you see a mistake. After all is squared away, push the button that reads “PRINT BALLOT.” The machine will then start marking your ballot; it may take a little while.

Your job is not finished yet! Grab the ballot from the AutoMARK machine and bring it over to the machine that actually counts your votes. If you need to, ask for help in sliding your ballot into the device. After that, you can grab a sticker and roll or walk out knowing your voice has been heard!

The important information above should alleviate your concerns about voting in order to tell congress things must change. For instance, over the past two years, there has been threats to discriminate against people who are disabled. Trump and Republicans who control the Senate and House are not doing much to improve Americans with Disabilities Act regulations. In fact, astonishingly, they are trying to diminish them. On February 15, the House passed H.R. 620, a bill that would prohibit “civil actions based on the failure to remove an architectural barrier to access into an existing public accommodation” and says that the “Judicial Conference of the United States must develop a model program to promote alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to resolve such claims.” The bill has been stalled in the Senate since February 26.

Additionally, Trump has a history of having unbecoming actions towards people with disabilities, and the Republican mind-set is to take away the necessities that those people are owed. At a rally in South Carolina in January 2015, the then-Presidential candidate started flailing his arms, in attempt to mock New York Times‘ reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has Arthrogryposis. To many people, that act was really inappropriate, yet Trump did not get disciplined or lose support.

If you are tired of this notion, the good news is that YOU can change Congress’s disability views. Next week determines the next two years. If you are 18 or older, you can vote. In Minnesota, you can register to vote at your polling place if you need to.

People with disabilities, this is a great time for our voices to be heard. Let us all inform leaders in Washington that we want to see growth, and not redactions, in all areas of the ADA; schools, health care, sidewalks, businesses! Do not think your disability prevents you from voting; your vote will be very important this year!

Written by: Michael L. Sack

Posted by: gravessack | October 27, 2018

Twins Find New Manager

New manager Rocco Baldelli speaking at Minnesota Twins press conference

Photo:twinsbaseball.com

On October 2, the Twins fired manager Paul Molitor. Then, on October 25, the team hired Rocco Baldelli to replace Molitor.

I did not agree with the decision to fire Molitor, who was the AL Manager of the Year in 2017, but I was not totally surprised. I don’t think Molitor deserved as much blame as he got, especially since Miguel Sano keeps getting into trouble off the field and doesn’t seem to take responsibility for getting into baseball playing shape. Molitor may not have appeared to be the most animated manager, but he took the Twins to the playoffs in 2017 after a horrible 2016 season, and it wasn’t his fault that the team had injuries (and a suspension) to key players in 2018. I think that Twins management wanted to choose their own manager after the 2017 season but couldn’t after the Twins surprised everyone and made the playoffs, so they fired him after the 2018 season.

I do think Baldelli, a former MLB player who retired in 2010, may have been a good hire for the Twins, though. He is only 37, the youngest manager in MLB, and has never managed before, so I can understand why people may be concerned about him. But because he is younger, he may be more eager to use analytics, an increasingly important part of the game. He also is said to be “highly qualified” and he discussed “the importance of creating a positive environment in the clubhouse.” Here is more on Baldelli.

Baldelli’s future, though, will likely depend on whether Byron Buxton and Sano can become the great players they were projected to be. Probably a big reason Molitor got fired was that he couldn’t get Buxton and Sano to perform like they were expected to (although this wasn’t completely Molitor’s fault, at least with Sano). Hopefully, Baldelli will get them to perform like they can and get the Twins back to the playoffs (and maybe even a World Series)!

Written by: Sam Graves

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