Joe Mauer diagnosed with pneumonia, done for season

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Joe Mauer’s mess of a season is now over prematurely, as he’s been diagnosed with pneumonia and the Twins have shut him down for the final two weeks.

Mauer missed a handful of games late last month with what the Twins called an upper respiratory infection and previously sat out two months with complications following offseason knee surgery.

While not as productive as his usual self Mauer had played fairly well since coming off the disabled list in mid-June, hitting .312 with a .390 on-base percentage and .795 OPS in his last 66 games while seeing significant time at first base in addition to catching.

He finishes the first season of a seven-year, $184 million contract with career-lows in nearly every category, including a .287 batting average and .729 OPS in just 82 games. Mauer has been a lightning rod for criticism in Minnesota all year and this certainly won’t help matters, although the Twins stopped having anything to play for weeks ago.

Now the Twins will just hope that a full offseason of rest and rehab will get the former MVP and three-time batting champ fully healthy for 2012, because with Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Denard Span all question marks physically it’ll be tough to count on them turning things around following arguably the worst season in team history.

Minor League Baseball eclipses 40 million in attendance for 14th consecutive season

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Minor League Baseball announced on Wednesday that, for the 14th consecutive season, the league has eclipsed 40 million in total attendance. 20 teams set single-game attendance records and seven teams set franchise records for single-game attendance in their current parks.

ESPN’s Keith Law, who has been covering the minor leagues for quite a while, did the math:

Minor League Baseball president and CEO Pat O’Conner, whose most prominent stint in the public eye involved him disingenuously justifying the underpaying of his players, said, “Minor League Baseball continues to be the best entertainment value in sports, and these numbers support that. For us to top 40 million fans for the 14th consecutive season despite the weather challenges our teams faced in April and May is a testament to the continued support of our loyal fan bases and the creative promotions and hard work done by all of our teams across the country.”

Major and Minor League Baseball are quite happy to make money hand over fist on the backs of their players, but are too cheap to pay them adequately for their labor.