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.