“I have a bad feeling about this.”
ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reported on Wednesday that Hunter signed a two-year, $26-million deal with the rival Detroit Tigers, further empowering the reigning American League Central champions. This signing brings Torii Hunter back into the Twins lives as he is now a division opponent.
I am conflicted as to how Twins fans should treat Torii Hunter. He was one of the best players in franchise history but he also just signed with Public Enemy #3 (behind the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees) for Twins fans.
Let’s look at what Torii accomplished as a member of the Twins.
Torii premiered with the Twins in 1997 for one game and then played six games the following year in 1998. So 1999 is the year Torii became the full-time center fielder for the Twins and held down that spot until 2007.
During his span with the Twins, Torii was an All-Star twice and won seven Gold Gloves. He had a batting average of .271, 711 RBIs, and 192 home runs. On top of that all, he won the heart of Twins fans while being the clubhouse leader.
Hunter left the Twins before the 2008 season after rejecting the teams three-year, $45-million deal instead opting for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and their offer of five years and $90 million. Effectively breaking some of those hearts he won over in Twins Territory during his tenure patrolling center field at the Metrodome.
What should Twins fans do with Hunter? Boo or cheer?
Luckily we can get this out of the way early, too. The Twins open up the 2013 season with a three game set against the Tigers on April 1-4 at Target Field. Here’s the only opportunity Twins fans get to cheer for Torii, just this series.
It’s early in the season and Torii probably deserves the cheers more than Jim Thome did in his returnto Target Field. So I propose this Twins fans: the first game we can gave Torii Hunter a standing ovation, rest of the series is some above average applause and then it’s over.
After April 4, Torii Hunter is just like any other opponent that comes into Target Field. He doesn’t get cheers and he doesn’t get booed. He plays for a division rival and as tempting as it is to go to either extreme, let’s stay neutral after the first series.
Torii deserves some love for what he did for this franchise, but he also deserves a little bit of a cold shoulder after rejecting a good deal and then down the road signing with a rival of the Twins.
No matter what you think Torii deserves a little extra cheer on April 1 for choosing the Tigers over the Yankees. Hunter went to the dark side, but not entirely to the evil empire.