I determined last week that I wasn’t going to write anything more about Joe Mauer until he signed his contract; everyone else was speculating and debating so I wasn’t going to. He signed on Monday. You win this time, Mauer.
There are idiots in the world. They come from all over. There are ethnocentric people, racists, nationalists, etc. There’s nothing wrong with believing your team, city, state, country, county, province, family, etc., is the greatest. It’s kinda expected. However, it’s another to think that your group is superior and that everyone wants to be you.
Let’s look at Mike Silva. He wrote “Mauer deserves the big stage of New York.” The reason he wrote this is because he feels that New York is the center of baseball. Why, everyone remembers all the big stars that went to New York. No one will remember A-Rod with the Rangers, or with the Mariners. They’ll remember him with the Yankees. That’s true. But why will they remember him with the Yankees? There was a lot more drama. If he would’ve stayed with the Rangers, he would’ve been remembered with the Rangers (he is one of the best players in baseball; that would not be forgotten if he decided to play his entire career in Kansas City). People will remember Ichiro Suzuki with the Mariners. Everyone will remember Ken Griffey, Jr., Cal Ripkin, Jr., and Kirby Puckett, and none of them played for the Yankees. I’m going out on a limb here and saying more people will associate Johnny Damon being with the Red Sox than with the Yankees.
Silva quotes Mark Teixeira as saying, “Look, it’s really kind of simple. If you don’t want to play in front of 50,000 people every single game, if you don’t want the energy of the best city in the world behind you every day, good or bad, and if you don’t want to be in a position where you can win a championship … well, then you probably shouldn’t play in New York.” He uses that as proof that everyone should want to play there.
I probably shouldn’t break it to Mr. Silva that if Mark Teixeira played for the Cubs, he’d say that Chicago is the most passionate city about their team. If he played for the Diamondbacks, he’d say the support of the team was absolutely incredible. If he played for the Giants, he’d call that the best city. Superstars—or at least those that want to keep in the good graces of the team—don’t say, “Oh, it’s an okay city I guess. I just play here for the paycheck.” So using a player quote about being the best city holds no water.
Do I think New York fans are passionate? Yes. Do I believe there are more fans of the Yankees than the Twins? I’d be an idiot to try to argue otherwise. Do I think the average Yankee fan is any more passionate than the average Twins fan? Not a bit. Even the Montreal Expos, with their few fans before they were moved, were every bit as passionate as the Yankees fans. There are more Yankees fans because New York is a bigger city. A lot of kids dream of visiting New York. A lot of kids dream of living in New York. But a lot of people are just as happy living in another city altogether. It’s not a perfect city. (For example, because of the higher cost of living, Joe Mauer’s contract in New York would’ve needed to be more to equal in value the contract he got from Minnesota.)
Beyond the insanity of Mr. Silva, and beyond all the other comments of Joe Mauer staying in Minnesota, there are still some that don’t like the contract. Besides Ozzie Guillen’s comment that he was glad for baseball that Mauer signed in Minnesota, he was sad that he had to continue facing Mauer 19 times each season (to be fair, since Mauer doesn’t play every day, Guillen’s teams will probably face Mauer between 14 and 17 times each year).
An unnamed Indians fan wrote an excellent rant about how he was not happy that the Twins signed Joe Mauer. To him, it was a reminder that the Twins were the luckiest team in baseball. They took a Rule 5 pick and he turned into a two-time Cy Young winner (who, incidentally, politely asked for a trade to a bigger market—so, Silva was right in that some players want the experience of the bigger stage of New York—although I’m fairly certain Santana would’ve gone to Boston, too). The Twins would’ve had the opportunity to sign Mark Prior as the #1 pick in 2001 when they picked Joe Mauer, and their decision was made when Prior didn’t want to come to Minnesota.* (There’s no saying what they would’ve done if Prior had been open to the idea of playing in Minnesota; they may still have gone with Mauer anyway—firstly, because they believed he’d be a great player, and secondly, the hometown kid always wins the fans, and the fans bring the money.)
I really wish the Twins would sign Prior to a minor league contract. After he signed, I hope he becomes a respectable pitcher—maybe a good bullpen guy. It would be a little lesson in humility to him, and a reminder of what maybe, possibly could’ve happened if he wouldn’t have been so anti-Minnesota. Just because they sucked through most of the 90s, didn’t mean it would last forever.
But this fan, whom I shall call Alfred, brought up a good point: “It doesn’t set a precedent for anyone except for somebody who might idolize Joe Mauer and none of our players [Cleveland Indian stars] do that.” He’s right there. Mauer is not necessarily setting a precedent. I’ve heard rumors and speculation that Mauer actually wanted more money, but settled for a lower amount to stay in Minnesota. He wasn’t like Kirby Puckett staying in Minnesota. He’s not like Zach Greinke staying in Kansas City. Kirby Puckett was born in Chicago, and likely grew up cheering for one of those teams. Zach Greinke grew up in Florida. Their families are likely still in those areas.
The only precedent this may have set is for Albert Pujols. While Pujols didn’t move to Missouri until he was in high school, he did live and play there prior to a major league career. Joe Mauer, as is well-known, was born in and grew up in St. Paul—seven miles from where the Twins played. I’m pretty sure he will not deny that that is part of his decision to stay in Minnesota. (The other part is the firm belief that Minnesota had the opportunity to win.) Albert Pujols may make the same decision. But Mauer’s decision does not apply to Zach Greinke or many other stars on small-payroll teams. It simply applies to a very unique situation: a star player on his hometown team. The best it can do is make other star players realize that if they believe their small-market team can win, it’s okay to stay there.
Timberwolves update: They have a 0-3 record since I last reported. They’re now at 14-58, or a 19.4% winning percentage. The have the worst record in the West, but New Jersey has the worst record in the NBA, 8-63, reportedly on pace for a record year.
Wild Update: The Wild have a 35-32-6 record, for a 47.9% winning percentage. They’re not technically out of the playoff picture yet, but neither are the Baltimore Orioles.