The Mauer Effect
Memorial Day weekend is often used as the first “benchmark” in a long baseball season. Which teams are strong, which are weak, who may be sellers at the break, who may be gearing up for a mid-season trade.
Usually, the running joke here in Twins Territory is that the Kansas City Royals are usually making winter vacation plans at about this time. Well, the Royals ARE in fourth place in the AL Central and more than a few games below .500, but there’s something this year that makes the joke quite a bit less funny: the Royals are 6-7 games ahead of the Minnesota Twins.
So far this season on this blog, I have lamented the terrible play and given a few opinions of my own on it. I would like to add one more here, known possibly as the “Joe Mauer Effect”:
Clearly, the biggest reason for the Twins’ struggles has been the time lost to injuries to key players. There’s no debating that fact. However, I wonder if perhaps the potential “babying” (the word goes in quotes because nobody seems to know exactly what transpires with him on a day-to-day basis) of star catcher Joe Mauer isn’t creating a tinge of bitterness in the clubhouse that translates over onto the field.
A baseball clubhouse, besides the crass camaraderie and checkbook amounts, is no different than any other workplace. If one person is getting better treatment than others, and those others feel that that treatment is not well-deserved, a bitter attitude can poison the work environment. Some people can put that bitterness behind them and be abject professionals, while others let it stew and bleed over into their work habits.
I’m not accusing the Twins of anything, as I have never stepped foot into their pre- or post-game clubhouse and thus cannot pass judgement. However, it’s just something to think about as the weird injuires (and losses) keep piling up.
What the Twins have on their side, though, is Ron Gardenhire.
While I have–in the past–criticized some of Gardy’s on-field decisions, I do not question for one moment that he is one of (if not THE) best player-relations manager in the game today. He demands respect for the game, and if he doesn’t get it you won’t play for him all that much longer.
I hope this “Mauer Effect” isn’t seeping through the Twins clubhouse on a daily basis, but like I said, it is worth mentioning. Of course, as is always the case in professional sports, if Mauer comes back and hits .350, all will be forgiven. Let’s hope against hope that something similar transpires to give the team a bit of a spark this season.
-Kubel and Thome put on DL today. Oy.
Preview (17-37, 5th, 7.5 GB KCR): Anthony Swarzak (0-2, 3.60) vs. Sean O’Sullivan (2-4, 6.75)