Bill Baer

CLEVELAND, OH -  AUGUST 1: Joe Mauer #7 of the Minnesota Twins rounds the bases on a solo home run during the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on August 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

One Minnesota journalist doesn’t believe Joe Mauer’s decline is related to his concussion issues

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The Minnesota sports media has had an irrationally hateful relationship with former catcher and current first baseman Joe Mauer for some reason. It’s hard to understand why, as by all accounts Mauer seems like a nice, accountable guy.

Two years ago, for example, Bob Sansevere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press wrote, “Face it, the guy is brittle wherever you play him. So why not let him play where he’s happiest? Maybe he’ll get his batting average back over .300 if he’s not in sulk mode.” Sansevere added, “Bottom line here: [Manager Paul Molitor] has to stop the Mauer coddling and have him catch again.”

To be clear: a concussion is a serious issue. It’s an issue that the NFL ignored for decades and has now cost them many millions of dollars in settlements. Retired athletes who suffered concussions are at increased risk of suicide. Ryan Freel, for example, committed suicide in December 2012. It was later revealed that he was suffering from Stage II chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Mauer revealed earlier this year that he had been dealing with blurred vision since suffering a concussion in 2013. The Twins moved him to first base after that season, showing how seriously they considered the issue, especially after former first baseman Justin Morneau went through a similar timeline.

One Minnesota journalist, however, isn’t buying it. Here’s Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune:

BUT, there’s something wrong here. You can’t go from great, to very good, and now to this, without a physical problem.

I never bought that it has been an ongoing problem from the concussions in 2013 that ended his career as a catcher.

[…]

I’ve long believed – again, pure speculation – that there was something chronic with his legs that Mauer started dealing with in 2011. Perhaps, one day we will discover that Joe was an admirable competitor to keep playing through … something.

This isn’t the first time Reusse has gone after Mauer. In September 2013, in reference to Mauer, Reusse tweeted the hashtag “#PlayYouSissies.” He wrote, “Mauer is poster boy for the ethic that has taken over Twins’ clubhouse. And Prince [Fielder] is same for the Tigers.” In another tweet, Reusse said, “Sign Prince for $23M and you get 100% of games. Sign Joe for $23M and — for whatever reason — you get 70%. Those are facts.” Finally, Reusse added, “#playyousissies is my battle cry for Twins of Target Field era … not of Mauer specifically. Concussion, OK; boo-boo on knee (Arcia), no.”

Well, apparently a concussion is not “OK” anymore.

Reusse’s hypothesis that Mauer’s concussion hasn’t affected his play is incorrect, as Aaron Gleeman points out:

It’s irresponsible to speculate about a player’s health with no medical facts behind it. It’s irresponsible to make light of concussions when it’s a serious issue not just in sports, but — for example — with veterans returning from combat. And what is the point of going after Mauer, who played in 158 of 162 games last year and 129 of 146 games this year? At first, the issue was he missed too much time. Now that he’s playing regularly, the issue is that the 33-year-old is not hitting the way he was when he was 26. Those are some fast-moving goalposts from Reusse.

Carlos Gomez says Astros fans threw a lime and a baseball at him

ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 25:  Carlos Gomez #14 of the Texas Rangers runs after hitting a three-run homerun against the Cleveland Indians in the second inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on August 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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Rangers outfielder Carlos Gomez was released by the Astros last month after putting up a disappointing .594 OPS across 85 games. He also played subpar defense, making a few plays one wouldn’t have expected from a former Gold Glove Award winner.

The Rangers were happy to snap him up two days after he was released and the change of scenery has been good for Gomez. He has a .789 OPS in 73 plate appearances with the Rangers with seemingly improved defense, having also made a couple of highlight reel plays.

The two clubs played the second game of a three-game series on Tuesday night. Gomez, playing center field, caught the final out of the game: a fly out to deep center by Jose Altuve. Gomez told the media, including MLB.com’s Ryan Posner, that an Astros fan at Minute Maid Park threw a lime at him while he was attempting to catch the last out of the game. Gomez then made a gesture to the crowd and another fan threw a baseball at him.

If one looks at the replay, which you can see starting at the 2:30 mark in this recap video from MLB.com, something does appear to go across the screen near Gomez. Gomez said, “You can say whatever you want, I don’t care. But when you try to injure me, or hurt me, that’s not funny.” He added that security personnel at Minute Maid Park were able to find the fan who threw the lime at him.

The Astros, who need to overcome five other teams in the American League Wild Card race, will likely be watching the playoffs from home this October. For the fans, that stings after getting a taste of success last season. To then also watch a star player who performed poorly for the Astros but then went to a division rival and thrived, that also stings. One can understand Astros fans’ discontent. But, needless to say, none of that justifies throwing objects at an opposing player.

It’s worth pointing out that this kind of behavior isn’t unique to Astros fans. Nor Phillies fans, as per their reputation. Every fan base has their malcontents, drunk and otherwise, who occasionally go over the line. This doesn’t reflect poorly on the Astros, but just on sports fans in general. Remember, at the end of the day, we’re all watching adults wearing pajamas chase a white sphere around a field of dirt and grass. It’s a game and it’s meant to be fun.

Aaron Judge likely out for the rest of the year with a strained oblique

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 14: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees hits a home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the third inning of a game at Yankee Stadium on August 14,  in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images
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Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge suffered a strained right oblique in the fourth inning of Tuesday’s game against the Dodgers. It’s an injury that almost certainly ends Judge’s season, GM Bryan Cashman said on Wednesday, per MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch.

Judge, 24, impressed by homering in each of his first two major league games, but struggled against major league pitching overall. He hit .179/.263/.345 with four homers and 10 RBI in 95 plate appearances.

Rob Refsnyder has been playing in the outfield more as of late and should see more time in right field with Judge out of action.

Cashman also made a point to say that Judge isn’t guaranteed a roster spot for the 2017 season. Per Hoch, the GM said, “He’ll have to earn his way on like everybody next year. There are no absolutes.”