Twins, Gardenhire and Maritime Law

When Francesco Schettino, the captain of Costa Concordia, abandoned his sinking ship last January, it made international news . But he was not alone, to quote a very interesting Discovery channel article: "Considered one of the most infamous crimes in maritime law, [this] act of cowardice has many precedents in history.", and goes on to list several of the previous captains who have abandoned ship.

 Today, another name needs to be added to the list: Ronald Clyde Gardenhire.

With the excuse that he needs to attend his daughter's college graduation, he left his team (with the worse record in baseball) hours after a sweep was completed with a no-hitter against the Twins, to go home to Minnesota for a 4-day weekend. The Twins will join him after they finish their 3 game series at Seattle against the Mariners. He was so ready to get out of town that he caught a red-eye flight the night of the sweep and rushed reporters out off his office to make the flight.  Before the blood even dried.  Before he could have a single team meeting.

College graduation is an important personal event and the father should be there, but, looking at the details a little closer, it is obvious that it is just an excuse for Ron Gardenhire to take a break and leave the team he led to the worse record in the majors, on the very night of arguably their lowest point in the season. Let's look at the facts:
  • Ron Gardenhire's daughter is attending the Southwest Minnesota State University at Marshall, MN. According to the University's web site, commencement takes place at 10 AM this Saturday. Commencement exercises of schools that size, usually take about 1.5-2 hours. The Twins are playing the Mariners at Seattle this Friday at 7:10 PM, this Saturday at 6:10 PM and this Sunday at 1:10 PM (all local, PDT times.)
  • The drive to Marshall, MN home of the Southwest Minnesota State University, where his daughter is graduating at 10 AM is 2 hrs and 46 minutes according to Bing maps. The ride from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Safeco Park, where the Twins are playing this weekend, according the same source, takes 18 minutes. Also Marshall is the home of the Southwest Minnesota Regional Airport.
  • It takes about 3 hrs to fly from the Twin Cities area to Seattle and vice versa
Given those facts, Ron Gardenhire had 3 options:
  • Option 1: Stay with the sinking ship, making the flight to Seattle, managing the team Friday night and taking a private plane (I assume that the Pohlads or the team would allow the use of their private planes, esp if Gardenhire pitched in for gas; or he could have arranged for one) that night or early morning to Marshall arriving in plenty of time for the graduation. Also a 2 PM Marshall departure which would allow plenty of time for pictures and a lunch, would have had him back in Seattle by 3 PM local time, plenty of time to go to the ballpark and manage the 6:10 Saturday game. This way, he would have done his duty to his family and his team. There was no conflict, just inconvenience and cost.
  • Option 2: Stay with the sinking ship, making the flight to Seattle, managing the team Friday night and taking the red eye commercial flight Friday night. I want to think that someone who makes millions a year can afford a private plane and that he has access to the team's plane, but let's say that he does not. Delta Airlines flight 1014 leaves Seattle at 12:30 AM local time Saturday morning and arrives in Minneapolis at 5:46 AM local time. Plenty of time to arrive at Marshall at about 8:30 for the 10:00 commencement. The ceremony ends around 11:30 AM. The ride to the airport might make the 2:20 PM flight arriving Seattle at 3:35 PM (in time to manage the whole game) a bit tight (and I assume that he is poor enough not to get private air transport from Marshall to Minneapolis), but the next flight leaving at 5:35 PM and arriving at Seattle at 7:13 PM is doable and allows him to spend an hour or two for lunch and pictures before he joins the Twins. Arriving at Seattle at 7:13 will get him at the ballpark and in uniform before 8:00 PM (the ride is only 18 minutes according to Bing Maps). That is about half way into the game. So he would have missed only half a game and do his paternal duty, but be a bit inconvenienced also.
  • Option 3: Abandon the sinking ship, taking the next flight out in the middle of the night, arriving in his Minnesota home more than 2 days before he needed to be there, stay longer than he needs to be there, miss Sunday's game.  Let his team come to him in Minnesota and play alone, headless, three games at Seattle right after they were swept by the Angels, right after a no-hitter against them, while he is having a nice and comfy 4-day weekend.  That was the option chosen.
Maritime Law is stern and specific. The Twins' front office has (vaguely) been talking about "accountability" last off-season. The captain abandoned his ship. And he did not have to. The facts are there. It is more than time that the ship finds a new captain who respects his position and follows his duty, trying to right it when it is ready to break, instead of abandoning it and let it sink even further.


Maija said...

This is the most ludicrous blog post I have read in a long, long time.

Do you seriously think it's realistic for Gardy to take a red eye Friday night, immediately drive to his Daughter's graduation, drive back an hour afterwards, get on a plane, and fly to Seattle to manage the game? When is he going to rest? Sleep? And is really that insane for him to actually spend time with his family on such an occasion?

And really--would Gardy staying up 24 hours or whatever so he can fly around the country and still manage all the Twins games really make much of a difference? No.

thrylos98 said...

I think that the timing of the departure (late last night, without even having a team meeting was unfortunate.)

Secondly, a lot of working people are balancing job and family responsibilities flying all over, the way that he could have done and rest/sleep on the planes.

It is a college graduation, not a wedding or something like that. Just needed to be there for the ceremony. He can spend a lot of family time in the off-season

Andrew said...

Admittedly, I got a chuckle about the level of detail in options 1-3, but I do think there's something to be said for not holding any type of team meeting.

Even this hadn't been a no-hitter, and just another 9-0 or 4-0 loss, I have to think that a manager would have something to say to his team after another sweep and a truly pathetic effort.

thrylos98 said...

I had to give so much detail, to show that indeed there is no conflict of priorities. He could have attended both the commencement and managed at least 2 or more of the 3 Twins' games this weekend. Very doable. Inconvenient yes, expensive yes, but thousands of american businessmen are doing this today and thousands of american servicemen do not have the option to do anything other than their duty... Just sayin'

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