For Minnesota sports fans, conspiracy theories are always in season. Better yet? Conspiracy theories involving Minnesota teams and Boston teams.
Here's a jump-start on a distraction from the rest of the dog days of the 2012 Twins season: What if the Red Sox, who shed enough payroll in their trade with the Dodgers to acquire a small country, make a hard offseason push to trade for the Twins' M&M boys -- Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau?
OK, yes, there is this: Mauer's $184 million extension, running from 2011 to '18, included a full no-trade clause. And he's also at least come much closer to fulfilling the value of it in 2012 than he did in a disastrous 2011. He's from here, and so is his fiancée. Why would he want to leave, and why would the Twins want to get rid of their franchise player?
That's what makes it a conspiracy theory: Not everything adds up, but the pieces are interesting enough to be plausible. You have to look past a few key facts to really brew up a deep paranoia.
What if Mauer were willing to waive that no-trade clause? (Players do it all the time; Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford did so in the deal with the Dodgers.) What if he were looking for a fresh start after a terrible 2011 season (for him and the team) and no guaranteed end in sight to the losing?
The Red Sox, as noted, just dumped a bunch of salary. But unlike a lot of teams that do so, Boston will be looking to reload. Doing so in what looks like a somewhat-weak free agency class might be difficult.
After dumping more than a quarter of a billion dollars in salaries, the Red Sox certainly could take on Mauer's contract and watch him loft a gazillion doubles off the Green Monster every year. They just dealt their first baseman, meaning they could have interest in Morneau. The Twins have massive needs that might be hard to meet with $37 million tied up next year between the two.
Sorry. You're right. We're focusing too much on logical aspects of a deal. Let's get back to the conspiracy theory, whereby Boston steals all of Minnesota's best players. David Ortiz left for the Red Sox and won two World Series while Twins fans lamented what his power could have done for Ron Gardenhire's best teams. Kevin Garnett was dealt to the Celtics and won a title. Randy Moss resurrected his career and almost led the Patriots to a 19-0 season.
Before the 2010 season, trading either Mauer or Morneau would have sounded preposterous. Boston fans would have said the same thing barely a year ago about the deal that just went down with the Dodgers. Crazy can become real.
But for now, consider the Mauer/Morneau thought just this: a conspiracy theory that would surely end with another Boston championship.