For its age issue, ESPN the Magazine spent a game day with Joe Mauer, chronicled in diary-like segments sprinkled in the middle of a profile on an All-Star at the middle of his career and looking to extend his success into his 30s. It's big on Mauer's plain persona and patient approach to the game, as seen through the 9-3 win over Detroit. Here are the best details gleaned on a quick read about Mauer's 12-hour day at the ballpark:
- Mauer drove that day, Aug. 13, to Target Field in a 1969 Chevelle purchased from former minor-league teammate Garrett Jones.
- Writer Tim Keown described Mauer's financee, Maddie Bisanz, as his soul mate, at least in the terms of not seeking attention. Bisance, who is to marry Mauer Dec. 1 in St. Paul, wasn't available to be interviewed for the ESPN Mag article. "She's not into any of that," Mauer is quoted as saying. "She probably wishes I did something else."
- Glen Perkins is a frequent presence in the article and probably gets off the best quote in describing a night in 2006 when Mauer joined his Twins teammates in "Guitar Hero" -- and was no All-Star. "He was terrible, just terrible," Perkins said of Mauer. "I left and came back an hour later, and he was killing it. I looked at everybody and said, 'Great, something else for him to be better than us at."
- In 2004, Mauer started running meetings with pitchers, and his behavior was described as "a mail-room attendant leading a corporate board meeting." Keown writes that after three or four, Rick Anderson took Mauer aside and told him to tell the pitchers exactly what you want them to do. No more "I thinks" or "Maybe this." The next thing, Mauer was talking about the need "to bust this guy inside. This guy? We're going to knock him on his ass." Anderson's reaction: "It was the damnedest thing. Guys' eyes were huge."
- The article, with the focus on age and Mauer's point in his career, spends a lot of time looking at the local reaction to Mauer's struggles last year. This was Mauer's most direct answer about how the fans and the Twin Cities see him: "There are probably people who still believe they should have taken Mark Prior ahead of me. As you get older, you learn there are some things out of your control. You learn there's not much you can do but play, and I love to play."
- Perkins, with another good quote on Mauer's 2011 season: "You know what? He's human. It was good that people could see that he's not a robot. You don't build a $184 million robot and expect it to go out and play every day."
- But don't believe the questions about Mauer's durability and hitting results don't register. "He was bothered by it -- a lot," manager Ron Gardenhire says.
- Anderson found only one person to compare Mauer to: Hall of Famer and fellow Cretin-Derham Haller Paul Molitor. "When I pitched to Molitor, he drove me crazy. ... You could never tell what he was doing or what he was thinking. This is Joe."
- After the game, Mauer goes back to work in the Target Field weight room, with state-of-the-art machines that use air resistance, the work of team strength coach Perry Castellano. Mauer has the exact same set-up, "the same machines, the same underfloor air lines, the same compressor," at his home in Cape Coral, Fla.