How pathetic might the past several season's have been for those fans without his contributions? But disappointment of what might have been, or could potentially be is worth boo's for someone who has put so much out, and given so much, that he can't just do it any longer? Pathetic if reports are true.
Before Adrian Peterson came along, it could be easily argued that Robert Smith was the greatest RB in Viking's history, with all due respect to Chuck Foreman. After a couple of injury plagued seasons, it was reported that Tony Dorssett spoke with Smith about going out of bounds, or just going down, and not always fighting for the extra yard, because your team needed you for the whole season. (Something I hope Buxton learns). Whether it was that advice, lady luck, or something else. Smith went on an absolute tear for the next few seasons, broke records, went to the Pro Bowl, and was one of the best and most productive RB in all the NFL. Bright, intelligent and obviously reflective, Smith walked away from the game before turning 30 at the top of his game. Clearly with life still left in his talented legs.
There was a brief time where the Twins had the M&M boys as constants in their daily lineup, Mauer and Morneau. These were not good players. These were GREAT players. We are talking TOP offensive and defensive players in all of MLB at the time. MVP candidates. All Stars! Through a horrible quirk of fate, each had their careers altered, changed, shortened by concussion injuries in a sport that is not nearly as violent or physical as professional football.
Less we all forget the Twins also had an outstanding 3B in Corey Koskie who also suffered from concussion symptoms he openly spoke about regarding such things as dizziness and nausea by just trying to stand and walk initially. His career trajectory was also cut trajecicly short.
All of this comes home, at least to me, with discussion the other night during the game broadcast concerning Mauer's status as one of the greatest Twins every and his place in the record books for career hits, etc. (Morneau should not be forgotten in this discussion, nor Koskie). There has been valid discussion on this site of Killebrew vs Puckett as the greatest Twins. And I am NOT debating something in regard to Mauer in this case over the past few seasons before his retirement.
I have always found the debates surrounding Mauer's worth vs his contract humorous vs ridiculous, especially considering it was guaranteed. It's almost as if Mauer got "dinged" and decided to milk the Twins in some way.
Let us review his career as a catcher, BEFORE his concussion, when he EARNED his contract. (And the Twins would have been horribly chastised by 90%+ of fans and the sports world if he hadn't been re-signed).
6 time All Star
3 Time Gold Glover (only 3x)?
5 Time Silver Slugger
3 Time AL Batting Champ
The 1st AL catcher to be a Batting Champ. The only catcher in MLB to be a Batting champ 3 times!
This was BEFORE concussions de-railed his career! He then re-invented himself as an outstanding defensive 1B who could still hit some, get OB, but was very likely miscast as a #3 hitter until finally moved up in the order in his last year.
But this OP is about pro athletes at the top of their profession, and what can and does happen to them, and historical perspective. Mauer is a part of that. And while I am a fan of Joe, this is still NOT about Joe. It remains a perspective.
You do realize, of course, that Joe could have walked away early still with potential millions in the bank. So, presumably, did Smith and now Luck. But Joe loved the game enough to hold on a little longer and re-invent himself.
In the world of sports, there are 2 tragedies. There is a career cut short. And the list is tragically long. And there is a list of those who stuck around too long.
Again, this is NOT about Mauer. I am using him, and his career, as a context. And if this adds him to the Killebrew/Puckett debate, or changes some debate about a Twins Mt. Rushmore debate, so be it.
But to me, this is about sports in general, including our beloved Twins. We root, cheer, boo and jeer. But we should NEVER dismiss! And we should NEVER dismiss the people who play.
Edited by DocBauer, 25 August 2019 - 02:06 AM.