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How to save Joe Mauers career

Posted by goulik , 11 August 2014 · 406 views

Growing up during the 70's into the early 80's I did not pay attention to baseball. I knew Minnesota had a team called the Twins but I grew up a 6 hour drive from the stadium. I grew up in Hockey territory in a basketball crazy town and my favorite sport was football. My home town didn't even have baseball past 8th grade so there was not much to inspire me.

I turned 11 in 1980 so the Twins were not inspiring this young man in any way during my early years either. To give an example of my 1975, 6 year old baseball knowledge, I knew the LA Lakers were originally from Minneapolis and had moved. I liked the Lakers, so I rooted for the Other Minnesota baseball team (I couldn't have told you a single players name) the LA Dodgers not realizing the Lakers had left Minnesota. By 1980 I knew LA was in California, but if you asked me my favorite team I still said "the Dodgers" (though still unable to name a single player)

One year at Flaming Pines Youth Camp (The pine trees looked like they were on fire surrounded by the Maple trees every fall) a friend of mine started talking to me about this young baseball player named Kirby Puckett and he caught my interest. In '86 I became a true fan of the game and learned other names like Timmy Laudner and our own Kent Hrbek.

Hrbek was the home town hero to go with our superstar. He made what I considered great plays at first base and hit enough long balls that I rooted for him to get gold gloves and all star nods. Despite his less than athletic looking build, he put up numbers that led to him being OUR all star and my standard of what I want to see from first basemen (though those Yankee biased national media types always overlooked him and Hyped East or West coast players) Hrbek will never be in THE Hall of Fame in Cooperstown but he will always be in OUR HoF here in Minnesota. Kent Hrbek is the standard that Minnesota Twins first basemen will be held up to.

28 years later Joe Mauer has taken over Hrbek's position as home town hero at first base. Joe is the second coming of the hometown guy. Unlike Hrbek, he sat behind the dish, made a superstar name for himself with the national media, and received the awards and praise denied his predecessor. Batting championships, gold gloves, MVP, and regular All Star appearances are all Joe's yet criticism for not being the inspirational leader of the team has dogged him the whole way.

Now Joe has moved to First Base, Hrbek's place. So how can Joe Mauer get past all this negativity? My suggestion is to be Like Hrbek! First, Joe needs to get Healthy and stay on the field. He could accomplish this by spending more time fishing and less time working out. Go on an outdoors show with a local hero and boom, health. Second, he needs to loosen up! Hrbek was known to enjoy some beer, for getting loud and boisterous at times, and for his jovial laughter in the club house after a win or a prank to loosen up the team. Joe is known for being clean cut, quiet, and soft spoken(NO PRANKS). Maybe Joe could finally be the player we all wanted if he had a few before every game. This might loosen him up in the club house, loosen his lips in an interview, and well, no, probably still no pranks but the fans might warm back up to him and become more accepting of his aging body and declining numbers. In fact I think he should gain 50 pounds of fat so he could look more like Hrbek while he's at it.




Nice article Goulik. Made me smile and laugh. Reading the article, I'm a bit older than you. And while I lived 4-5 hours from the Twin Cities, I was raised all things sports from Minnesota by my father, an avid sports fan. Other than a few cable games at my grandmother's house, I learned the game of baseball and love of the Twins from the radio. And you made me smile as I also recollected Hrbek, one of the best, and one of my personal favorite, all time Twins. An all time measuring stick though? Maybe. But Morneau is also a forever Twin to me. Man, I wish we had taken one more shot at him this season hoping the concussion symptoms would be gone! How to save Mauer? To me it's an easy solution. (Yes, I know you're speaking tongue in cheek, but I'm turning serious here for a moment) Mauer's time behind has robbed him somewhat of his vast atheticism. But he has more than enough to be a very good defensive 1B. And while I don't say the positions are the same, digging out ground balls, moving around the bag, and chasing pop-ups is very similar. The only thing Mauer has to do is be healthy. Playing first should do a lot to promote that, and prolong his career. Provided he can shake the concussions symptoms like his friend Morneau! Before his oblique injury, it looked like Mauer was begining to play like the Mauer of old. This simply might end up being another lost season for Mauer. (Rookie year injury and 2011) I just want him to finish 2014 healthy, getting his stroke back, and getting ready for 2015. If over the concussion issues, he should be a fine 1B who is back to hitting .300+ with and OB around .400. Back to 40 doubles and anywhere from 12-18 HR's while playing 150 games at 1B with a few games at DH. I know 12-18 HR's seems like a wide spread, and I don't know if he'll ever hit 20 singers again, but does he need to? If Mauer can just be Mauer again, I'd take double digit HR totals. And his overall production in 150 games would be very, very solid.
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So, people will like him better as a player if he pulls off some pranks in the clubhouse and drinks?

 

I often wonder this... what would have Twitter said about Hrbek during his playing days had it been around? My guess is that it would not have been kind!

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Paul Pleiss
Aug 13 2014 12:37 AM

So, people will like him better as a player if he pulls off some pranks in the clubhouse and drinks?

 

I often wonder this... what would have Twitter said about Hrbek during his playing days had it been around? My guess is that it would not have been kind!

I think a lot of the fans who don't appreciate Joe Mauer would like him more if he pulled more pranks and had alcoholic tendencies. I don't, however, think that he would be loved by a big majority of the fan base the way he is now (or how I percieve him to be). And that's not Joe Mauer.

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