Reusse: As Joe Ryan now knows, some days you’re the goat not the GOAT

·4 min read

Oldest son Jim, a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the USMC, had been here from Hawaii for most of July. He was on the go with wife Edna much of the time, but as luck would have it, we had a chance to watch consecutive Twins games:

The 10-4 loss in Milwaukee on Wednesday afternoon on YouTube and the 10-1 loss in San Diego on Friday night on local outlet BSN.

A combination of facts — a 162-game schedule and nowhere for players to hide when blunders are made — has always provided the opportunity to transition from disgust to good humor during particularly lousy performances by the home team.

Starter pitcher Joe Ryan had induced Friday's carnage by giving up five home runs and 10 earned runs total in 4⅔ innings. This abomination raised his ERA from 2.89 to 3.78.

Then, in the top of the eighth, Miguel Sano completed a perfect night — 3-for-3 on strikeouts, lowering his batting average to .083.

Which caused me to ask Jim:

"What do you think Jack Andrews would've had to say to his players about this effort?"

Jack owned the drugstore in Prior Lake before it turned into the large suburb that it is today. He also coached the Babe Ruth team, ages 13 to 15, that was dubbed Prior Lake Gold.

Jack did not come from the Scottish or English clans of Andrews. I'm guessing Norse, for his speaking included an accent that produced a countrified inflection when unhappy with his young and hopeful competitors.

Carl Peterson, a friend and colleague from the St. Paul newspapers, and I were watching a few innings of a game one evening in Prior Lake.

I don't think "Smilin' Pete," as we called him, ever offered more laughter than when a ball went through the legs of PL's second baseman, causing Coach Andrews to step toward the field and hook the kid.

Yup. Sent in a mid-inning substitute for his second baseman, the affable and competent Val Zweber.

Whenever possible, I'll work in a mention of Jack Andrews in order to get Jim to repeat the brief review he received on the short ride home from a ballgame in Shakopee.

It was a night that Jim had gotten a ride with his coach. It was also a night when Jim entered as a pinch runner and thought he detected a steal sign from Jack in the third base box.

It was a surprise considering Jim's lack of speed, but he took off and was thrown out easily to kill off a potential rally for Prior Lake Gold against archrival Shakopee Owens.

Turned out, there was no steal sign. On the ride home, Jack was quiet only briefly and then said:

"Reusse, some days we can be da hero, or we can be da goat, and today, boy, you were da goat."

Not the upper case "Greatest Of All Time" GOAT. The lower case "you lost the game for us" goat.

Jim's response to that decades later, as posted on Facebook recently after a photo surfaced of Andrews holding a curling trophy from way back:

"… The hardest man I ever played for, and his words [good and bad] are burned into my soul. I wouldn't have wanted to play on any other team than Prior Lake Gold coached by Jack Andrews."

This is not feasible, obviously, but after watching Ryan's 10-run fiasco on the heels of his Joe Cool dugout interview on YouTube during Wednesday's game, wouldn't it be worth a smile to learn manager Rocco Baldelli sat down next to him on a team bus late Friday and said quietly:

"Ryan, some days we can be the hero, or we can be the goat, and today, man, you were the goat."

As for Sano, who ended up back on the injured list Saturday, I was talking with a Twins great on Friday. He didn't want to be quoted on Miguel's struggles, but we did discuss the grand potential of the early Sano, the 22-year-old who showed up on July 2, 2015, and became the Twins' MVP in a half-season.

"I still can see a home run he smashed to left-center off a 97-mile-per-hour fastball from Gerrit Cole one of those early springs," this baseball man said. "I still hope to see that swing from Miguel."

Such hope is rare in Twindom right now, as Tuesday's trade deadline approaches and roster shuffling seems likely.