There are three forms of hot takes in the world of sports talk on radio or television. There is the routine hot take, there is the piping hot take (worthy of a “whoa’’) and there is the scalding hot take (worthy of Skip Bayless on the warmth meter).
On Monday, the information was passed along on our plucky drive-time show on the AM dial that Joe Mauer was not in the Twins’ lineup for the opener of a four-game series against Detroit.
I went straight, 100 percent scalding at that moment and said: “I think this is Mauer’s last season. I don’t know if it will be a straight retirement, or something to do with injury, but that’s my theory.’’
To repeat: This was 100 percent speculation.
Mauer is owed $46 million for two remaining seasons. No matter how much money a ballplayer has gathered through a career, I realize that the idea of Mauer just taking a walk is a preposterous thought.
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.
There were plenty of rumors as to what might be ailing Mauer in 2011, when manager Ron Gardenhire read a diagnosis off a piece of paper and uttered those three words that ever since have plagued our former local hero with the local sporting public.
I don’t speak or write those words because they were so nonsensical and did so much damage to Mauer’s reputation.
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.
Whatever, the Joe Mauer we have seen the last three seasons is completely unrecognizable as a hitter. You can watch for a month and count on two hands the number of balls that he meets on the fat part of the bat and hits on a line.
Two years in a row, he seemed to have his legs under him in the first month or six weeks of the season, and there was talk of a Mauer revival, and then it was back to a bloop, a bloop, a bouncer, another bloop … and every couple of weeks, something resembling a blast.
Now, he’s been in and out of the lineup because he aggravated the quads in both legs running the bases.
Sorry. That makes no sense.
My scalding hot take is that there’s a physical problem with Joe Mauer to which none of us is privy, that he’s tried to play with it as long as he could, and that it’s going to be over.
Kent Hrbek, a great Twins player, broke down physically and played his last game at 34 years and a few days. Mauer will turn 34 next April 19 and my wild-eyed Skip-like speculation is that he won’t be playing then.