Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
The same great Twins Daily coverage, now for the Vikings.

The Store

Recent Blogs

From MinnCentric


Photo

Article: Why is Joe Mauer Such a Lightning Rod?

  • Please log in to reply
349 replies to this topic

#1 Nick Nelson

Nick Nelson

    Owner

  • Administrators
  • 2,068 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 08:32 AM

You can view the page at http://www.twinsdail...a-Lightning-Rod

#2 tobi0040

tobi0040

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 1,323 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 08:43 AM

Here is my personal opinion, which has been reinforced by many of my friends beliefs. Mauer was sold to us as this down to earth kid. A genuine nice guy. He was never going to need a gazillion dollars. His biggest fan, Charley Walters wrote that he was so conservative that he invested his $5M signing bonus and could live off that forever.

So after his rookie deal, and after another $33M in his second deal. I think many, including myself were surprised that demanded so much money in his third contract.

It is not his fault that the team through that much money at him. But after he signed that deal he comes out and says he wants to win here. While ownership knew they didn't have a 35 HR a year guy when they signed that deal, Mauer too knew that this deal would reduce the talent around him.

I am not disputing that he is a nice guy or anything. But I think it comes back to the contract. What the media sold was a down to earth, humble, frugal hometown kid. And of course a sinking ship needs a scapegoat.

On the field, I completely agree with you that we should be sitting back and enjoying a player that does not come around often.

#3 Shane Wahl

Shane Wahl

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 4,090 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 08:47 AM

The hysteria is everywhere when a player is making "an unjust" amount of money--the ignorance comes out of the woodwork. I don't know about local media back in the day, but I knew people ("fans") who used to criticize Garnett for not scoring more. As though overall he wasn't the best player or top five players for some of those years.

With Mauer and baseball the issue also becomes one of the difference between those who think batting average, rbi, and homers tell the story of a player's performance and those who think OPS (and especially the "O" there) does a better job (not to mention WAR).

#4 drunksam

drunksam

    Member

  • Members
  • 73 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 08:58 AM

Here is my personal opinion, which has been reinforced by many of my friends beliefs. Mauer was sold to us as this down to earth kid. A genuine nice guy. He was never going to need a gazillion dollars. His biggest fan, Charley Walters wrote that he was so conservative that he invested his $5M signing bonus and could live off that forever.

So after his rookie deal, and after another $33M in his second deal. I think many, including myself were surprised that demanded so much money in his third contract.

It is not his fault that the team through that much money at him. But after he signed that deal he comes out and says he wants to win here. While ownership knew they didn't have a 35 HR a year guy when they signed that deal, Mauer too knew that this deal would reduce the talent around him.

I am not disputing that he is a nice guy or anything. But I think it comes back to the contract. What the media sold was a down to earth, humble, frugal hometown kid. And of course a sinking ship needs a scapegoat.

On the field, I completely agree with you that we should be sitting back and enjoying a player that does not come around often.


It's not that Joe "wanted" or "needed" more money or a large contract. His production on the field said that he had earned a contract of that size. The MLBPA is very much against most "hometown" discounts and agents are constantly trying to squeeze every last penny for their clients. With these forces at work it is often inevitable that a player takes the highest paying deal. Of course there can be and are other influences, but money is a big one. Imagine what Mauer would have received on the open market. Would it have been $200 million+? I liked Joe when he was drafted and debuted with the team, but as the article stated, I am one of those who have become a bigger Mauer defender because of the many attacks against him, even when I sometimes agree with a point or two. The bottom line however, is that Mauer is a heck of a ball player and I enjoy watching him play. Even more so on teams filled with subpar players. My hope is that we an turn this thing around, so when I look back on Mauer's career it's not with pity.
Better looking with the lights out.

#5 mattkummer

mattkummer

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • 9 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 08:59 AM

Good post, Nick.
I've wondered the same thing, it's kind of fascinating.

My theory-- and it's only that-- is that Joe Mauer is a target for the wild and unrealistic expectations Minnesotans have for their sports teams, because he is truly "one of us". Minnesota is so starved for a championship team (sorry, Lynx), and Joe happens to play on the one team that has won championships in the not too distant past. The heart and soul of those 87 and 91 teams was Kirby Puckett-- and everyone remembers Game 6 against the Braves.

Flash forward 20+ years, and you have a guy in his home state, whose athletic exploits have been covered since he was a teenager starring in 3 sports, a guy who debuted at 21 for his hometown team (and got hurt right away), and has always been seen as "the local kid who will lead the Twins back to a championship". And then he signed "the contract", which I quite frankly think a lot of Minnesotans resent as not being very "Minnesotan".

I actually think the pressure is GREATER on Joe Mauer playing in Minnesota under that contract, than it would be for him playing for the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, etc. In those places, he's just another highly-paid All-Star on teams with several of them. In Minnesota, he's the kid from St. Paul who's by far the highest-paid player on his hometown team that's lost 90+ games for 3 years in a row. I've wondered if at some point, he'll break and say: "Screw this. I'm sick of taking all the crap for this organization not winning. I'll waive my no-trade clause and go somewhere I can help someone contend without having to carry the neurosis of my hometown's fan base."

#6 DJL44

DJL44

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 299 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 08:59 AM

There is certainly envy related to his salary but I think the easiest explanation is he's the only guy on the team anyone has heard of and the team is bad so therefore it must be all Mauer's fault. If you're the face on the billboard expect to get crap when the team is unsuccessful.

#7 Joel

Joel

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • 2 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 09:10 AM

I think it directly relates to how much they smile on TV. For the average fan, players with half the production are beloved because they look like they are having fun. Perhaps we identify more with those players. Would Kirby be immortalized if he had glowered in center field? I'm out of the market so don't watch many games, but Joe seems to be pretty serious at all times.

Also, we expect so much from the star that there is no way for him to surpass expectations, only meet them. Less is expected from a mid-level talent and therefore they can surpass expectations and surprise us.

#8 CRArko

CRArko

    Visiting Castle Anthrax

  • Members
  • 1,482 posts
  • LocationCamelot? 'Tis a silly place.
  • Twitter: crarko

Posted 09 April 2014 - 09:11 AM

On the other hand, Reusse could polarize people writing about fly-fishing. He's a past master at it.

#9 tobi0040

tobi0040

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 1,323 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 09:19 AM

. Imagine what Mauer would have received on the open market. Would it have been $200 million+? .


You hear this argument a lot. I think a caveat needs to be applied. Joe was not a free agent when he signed that deal. He had one year left. If he waited until free agency, he would have entered in a year in which he came off a .327, .871 OPS, 9 HR line instead of .365, 1.031 OPS, 28 HR. So honestly, I don't think he would have received a deal that went out 9 years at $23M a year.

I think a ton of the criticism about Joe is unfair. I am just pointing out the "why".

#10 D. Hocking

D. Hocking

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 351 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 09:23 AM

On the other hand, Reusse could polarize people writing about fly-fishing. He's a past master at it.



True - that is usually his goal. I generally like him, but have less patience for him since he kept bringing up how players don't like to play with things as minor as a headache after Mauer's concussion. When Mackay would call him on it, he would say he was not talking about concussions, but after awhile I got the impression that he felt Mauer was being over cautious and play. Granted at the time, the Twins were downplaying Mauer's symptoms and implying he would be back soon. The full degree of his symptoms did not come out until later.

He knows more about sports in one finger than I do in my entire body and he has some entertaining stories, but I do get the impression that often he is just going through the motions until he can retire (not that I entirely blame him he is closing in on 70). I am not saying there should never be an article critical of Mauer, but this seemed a little lazy to be writing this so early in the seaon, esp. when it seems like it did not really offer anything new.

#11 thetank

thetank

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 204 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 09:39 AM

Risk rewards doesn't equate for a catcher for this long of a contract.

#12 Boom Boom

Boom Boom

    Hydraulic Choppers

  • Members
  • 1,121 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 09:42 AM

I think you hit on it here:

"...unless other players around him in the batting order are the ones stepping up, he may not have the means to make a profound impact on this club's run production."

He's the one superstar player on the team, and he isn't the kind of hitter that's going to make a big impact on his own. His hitting style is complementary, when the team needs more hitters that are supplementary. His contract and the team's promotion of him as "face of the franchise" rings hollow when there aren't run-producers to make his offensive contributions count.

It reminds me of The Bunt... Mauer said afterwards he was trying to make an RBI opportunity for Kubel who was on deck. But Kubel isn't supposed to be The Guy... Mauer is supposed to be The Guy.

#13 SockNet

SockNet

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • 11 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 09:45 AM

I feel talent w/o leadership is the same as leadership w/o talent. No one cares. I wonder if our teams best player shows up and plays with a little piss and vinegar in him, it will rub off on others even if his numbers don't change. My guess is that's what they went after in Pierzynki. A productive player with a little edge to stir the pot. I also agree with "I think it directly relates to how much they smile on TV." Maybe he has more P&V or leadership than we see, but I feel we would have heard reports of how well he leads if that were the case.

#14 mike wants wins

mike wants wins

    Would Like to be More Positive

  • Members
  • 6,122 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 09:51 AM

Facts: Mauer is awesome. Mauer is highly compensated. He was born here, but has chosen to live in FL. The team is awful. The marketing campaign has been built around him a few times.

Opinions:
A player whose success (runs, rbi, wins) is driven by his teammates, will be more criticized when he is in the spotlight, than a player who can create more success on his own. When you build your marketing campaign around a player, and the team sucks BAD, that player is going to get more criticism than the other guys on the roster. Asking that every article about him contain positive stuff is silly, sorry, it just is. Sometimes people are going to write other stories about him. Should they really be required to also provide positive information about him?

bottom line for me:
Mauer is awesome. Mauer has added pressure on him because he is the face of the franchise. The franchise SUCKS right now. Ergo, he is getting hammered, fairly or not, that's the price you pay for being the face. Personally, someone that chooses to live here is more MN than someone that was born here (no more choice than a piece of furniture has) that chooses to live someplace else. I don't get the obsession with him being born here, frankly. Baffles me, totally.

#15 cmathewson

cmathewson

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 2,273 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 09:53 AM

As a follower of Minnesota sports since the mid-60s, I can say I shouldn't be surprised. The same thing happened to Rod Carew. Carew had the best season ever for a Twin and all some people could say (led by the front office and PR staff) was that he didn't hit enough homers. He had his detractors the whole time he was here--a vocal minority who always had a negative word.

Now that I live in New York and have a bit more of an objective perspective, I think it's a Minnesota thing. Minnesota nice has an evil twin: Minnesota mediocre. Minnesotans are predisposed to hate excellence. They loved Hrbek because he wasn't trying to be great, he just was. Mauer has the audacity to think he can be the best, and to work hard to get there. He also has the audacity to insist on getting paid what he's worth relative to the market. In so doing, he makes all the poor schlubs with limited ability look bad. And Minnesotans hate that. Not all, but many.

Think of the last time even one player on a Minnesota team had the kind of hero worship we see here in NY with Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera. The last one was Puckett. Peterson might qualify, but he's been tabbed as "injury prone" or "greedy". Blyleven got run out of town. Ditto Tarkenton (the first time). Kaat too. Tony O suffered blistering racism and other taunts. Viola. Santana. Hunter is still a fan favorite, but to a lesser extent. Garnett was called an "albatross around the franchise's neck." Randy Moss who? Bobby Smith was a hot dog. Gaborick was run out of town. Parise is called a "disappointment."

Minnesota fans love an underdog, a guy with limited ability that makes them think they might have done that, but for some lame excuse. They cheered Rob Wilfong and booed Rod Carew. They cheered Drew Butera and booed Joe Mauer. That pretty much sums it up right there.

#16 mike wants wins

mike wants wins

    Would Like to be More Positive

  • Members
  • 6,122 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 10:01 AM

I totally disagree with cmat, I don't think there is a hatred of excellence at all. Totally generalizing about people. Maybe we should be glad MN don't hero worship something so trivial as sports figures, maybe that's a good thing. They also booed Butera, and cheered Mauer. The games I've been to, Mauer gets more love than any player on the roster right now. I couldn't disagree with more parts of your post if I tried.
Lighten up Francis....

#17 Hosken Bombo Disco

Hosken Bombo Disco

    jamshots, blue darters, and humpback singles

  • Members
  • 1,215 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 10:02 AM

Good post, Nick.
I've wondered the same thing, it's kind of fascinating.

My theory-- and it's only that-- is that Joe Mauer is a target for the wild and unrealistic expectations Minnesotans have for their sports teams, because he is truly "one of us". Minnesota is so starved for a championship team (sorry, Lynx), and Joe happens to play on the one team that has won championships in the not too distant past. The heart and soul of those 87 and 91 teams was Kirby Puckett-- and everyone remembers Game 6 against the Braves.

Flash forward 20+ years, and you have a guy in his home state, whose athletic exploits have been covered since he was a teenager starring in 3 sports, a guy who debuted at 21 for his hometown team (and got hurt right away), and has always been seen as "the local kid who will lead the Twins back to a championship". And then he signed "the contract", which I quite frankly think a lot of Minnesotans resent as not being very "Minnesotan".

I actually think the pressure is GREATER on Joe Mauer playing in Minnesota under that contract, than it would be for him playing for the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, etc. In those places, he's just another highly-paid All-Star on teams with several of them. In Minnesota, he's the kid from St. Paul who's by far the highest-paid player on his hometown team that's lost 90+ games for 3 years in a row. I've wondered if at some point, he'll break and say: "Screw this. I'm sick of taking all the crap for this organization not winning. I'll waive my no-trade clause and go somewhere I can help someone contend without having to carry the neurosis of my hometown's fan base."


I used to think this too until a couple years ago when the purge began (Nathan, Cuddyer, etc) so now Joe's the only one left. I think he'd be vilified pretty much for the rest of his life if he requested a trade now.

And ironically, just to speculate, if Joe had seen the writing on the wall and signed with another team after 2010, whose fault would it have been? Why, Bill Smith's, of course :)

#18 h2oface

h2oface

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 393 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 10:03 AM

Mauer is a great player, just the way he plays. And even though I appreciate that fully, I can't help to keep hoping that he grows into a slugger that uses that "perfect swing" and 6' 5" 240 pound athletic body to evolve and become the player his daddy always advertised he would. I can't help to keep hoping that this large strong man will just hit the ball 10-15 feet further on the fly, and the promise be fulfilled. I will even give up on the promise that he would be the next .400 hitter, for a .275 average and 40+ homers and 130 RBI instead. But I will also enjoy him as he is.

#19 mike wants wins

mike wants wins

    Would Like to be More Positive

  • Members
  • 6,122 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 10:05 AM

People still clamor for Moss, and Chris Carter, and others. People LOVE Adrian Peterson (he can carry a whole team, btw), even with his personal warts. CMAT is just plain wrong, imo. The issue with Mauer isn't his excellence, it is that his excellence isn't as obvious as some others, and the team SUCKS, and he's supposed to be the promised one, and things aren't working, so it must be partially his fault. phew.
Lighten up Francis....

#20 mike wants wins

mike wants wins

    Would Like to be More Positive

  • Members
  • 6,122 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 10:08 AM

New Yorkers also hate AROD, even though he's one of the best players in MLB history.....so that whole "MN hates excellence, and NY loves it" thing doesn't fly well, imo. I've never, not once, heard anyone say Peterson is greedy, btw. No idea who you hang out with.
Lighten up Francis....

#21 cmathewson

cmathewson

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 2,273 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 10:09 AM

I totally disagree with cmat, I don't think there is a hatred of excellence at all. Totally generalizing about people. Maybe we should be glad MN don't hero worship something so trivial as sports figures, maybe that's a good thing. They also booed Butera, and cheered Mauer. The games I've been to, Mauer gets more love than any player on the roster right now. I couldn't disagree with more parts of your post if I tried.


Just a gestalt. No science behind it. Being excellent is like being holier than thou. Minnesotans hate that.
"If you'da been thinkin' you wouldn't 'a thought that.."

#22 blindeke

blindeke

    Member

  • Members
  • 95 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 10:10 AM

I'm just worried about concussions. The last few years have made me extremely pessimistic on that subject.

Other than that, criticisms of Joe just reveal how out of touch many Twins fans have become.

#23 cmathewson

cmathewson

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 2,273 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 10:10 AM

New Yorkers also hate AROD, even though he's one of the best players in MLB history.....so that whole "MN hates excellence, and NY loves it" thing doesn't fly well, imo. I've never, not once, heard anyone say Peterson is greedy, btw. No idea who you hang out with.


Maybe I spend too much time reading Strib comments, and listening to comments on KFAN.

I have been to games where Mauer was booed and Drew was cheered. I was at games where Wilfong was cheered and Carew was booed. I was in sections where Punto got more cheers than any other player on the team. When I asked them, they said he did so much with so little talent.

Edited by cmathewson, 09 April 2014 - 10:14 AM.

"If you'da been thinkin' you wouldn't 'a thought that.."

#24 tobi0040

tobi0040

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 1,323 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 10:15 AM

I feel talent w/o leadership is the same as leadership w/o talent. .



I think talent outweighs leadership almost all the time, especially in baseball. 95% of this game is batter versus pitcher, man versus man. Mauer could give a great Herb Brooks like speech to Pedro Florimon before his at bat, but when he stands in the box he is going to strike out 25% of the time either way.

#25 mike wants wins

mike wants wins

    Would Like to be More Positive

  • Members
  • 6,122 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 10:22 AM

Of course I've heard Mauer booed. I've been to games where he went 0-5 and left runners all over the place. How does that prove anyone hates him? They cheer when he does well, they boo that rare game where he sucks. that doesn't prove they hate him at all. sometimes people are "commenting" on the moment, not the person/history. I think people forget that, a lot.

And yes, reading the comments on the STrib is probably not a good indication of how most MN feel, I'd guess. They make me look like a glass 150% full guy.
Lighten up Francis....

#26 Hosken Bombo Disco

Hosken Bombo Disco

    jamshots, blue darters, and humpback singles

  • Members
  • 1,215 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 10:22 AM

People still clamor for Moss, and Chris Carter, and others. People LOVE Adrian Peterson (he can carry a whole team, btw), even with his personal warts. CMAT is just plain wrong, imo. The issue with Mauer isn't his excellence, it is that his excellence isn't as obvious as some others, and the team SUCKS, and he's supposed to be the promised one, and things aren't working, so it must be partially his fault. phew.


I come down on your side. He's obviously the face of the franchise but I think the Mauer-hate phenomenon is whipped up by the media. Barriero was talking about it again yesterday and it's easy to nod your head when someone on the radio says "a $20 million guy is not being paid to hit singles" and that's a little bit true but Mauer is not a "singles hitter" he's got some batting titles under his belt. Also he was a great backstop, too, just a cut below the Molina/Pudge types but far ahead of the average catcher.

What he doesn't have under his belt is something edgy about him. He doesn't have a profanity-laced tirade to his teammates after a Game 1 loss. There's no video of him owning a gatorade cooler after whiffing on an important at bat. The worst thing about him is he's as exciting as a glass of milk. So I think the media likes to stake out contrary positions and get him going just for the sake of doing it.

#27 TheLeviathan

TheLeviathan

    Twins News Team

  • Twins News Team
  • 5,053 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 10:23 AM

I think the injury was a big turning point that made people dig in their heels even more. Like it or not, that quacky diagnosis and bizarre handling of the injury reinforced the idea that Joe is soft and doesn't want to be a superstar in anything more than pay. It deepened the idea that he's just as content to get 0-1 as a basehit, or just as content winning 60 as he is a World Series, or just as content sitting for a Dr. Nick Riviera diagnosis as he is for gutting it out to help the team.

I don't think it's fair and I totally disagree with it, but that's what it is.

#28 cmathewson

cmathewson

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 2,273 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 10:28 AM

Of course I've heard Mauer booed. I've been to games where he went 0-5 and left runners all over the place. How does that prove anyone hates him? They cheer when he does well, they boo that rare game where he sucks. that doesn't prove they hate him at all. sometimes people are "commenting" on the moment, not the person/history. I think people forget that, a lot.

And yes, reading the comments on the STrib is probably not a good indication of how most MN feel, I'd guess. They make me look like a glass 150% full guy.


I'm not saying most, I'm saying some. It is a vocal minority, of which I take the Strib comments to be representative.
"If you'da been thinkin' you wouldn't 'a thought that.."

#29 gunnarthor

gunnarthor

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 2,762 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 10:30 AM

[COLOR=#3E3E3E]I posted this in the forums section:

I like Mauer but he's never been or will be my favorite player. It just *seems* like he should be better. Part of that is because he does everything so effortlessly - really quite in the batter's box, no wasted movement. Doesn't seem excited (which is why my all time favorite Mauer play was him jumping and tagging out Gardner at home plate in NY). He's physically bigger than Morneau yet he doesn't seem to *want* to hit homeruns. He doesn't seem to let the situation affect him - usually this is good but sometimes it's bad. In a late game, I'd rather Mauer tried to get a hit of a situational lefty rather than take a walk and let the next guy face a shutdown relief pitcher, something that happens quite a bit. He also *seems* tone deaf - esp in 2011 - towards fans and teammates. I hate reading things that suggests that he's "just one of the guys." That drives me nuts.[/COLOR]

[COLOR=#3E3E3E]But the guy was, at his best, one of the 5 best players in baseball over several seasons. Seems hard to nit-pick that. It'll be interesting to see if he can be one of the 5 best first basemen this year. My guess is that he puts up a series of pretty quite - high onbase, low counting stats - but solid 4 WAR seasons the next few years and that Sano/Buxton become the face of the franchise and Mauer remains under rated in Twins history. He won't be the best player on our team the next time we have a winning season.[/COLOR]

#30 Dave_MN

Dave_MN

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • 1 posts

Posted 09 April 2014 - 10:33 AM

Barreiro is pot-stirrer #1 when it comes to getting people riled up about Mauer. The "How Long Would Mauer Milk It?" bit may have been a laugh at first, but it has become more venomous as the years have passed. I'm not sure what he's trying to do exactly, but I sometimes wonder what his reaction would be if Joe left town for another team. Would he stick to his guns, or would he go full-hypocrite on it and blast the Twins?