With Harmon Killebrew-like numbers, the Canadian-born first baseman has been instrumental in the Twins' exciting resurgence.
The Twins' most valuable player strolled onto the field Thursday afternoon wearing bushy sideburns, unleashed that classic lefthanded swing, then shrugged in front of a bank of minicams.
The Twins' MVP lives in St. Paul with a teammate, bears the initials JM and might be the biggest thing to hit the Twin Cities since heated parking.
The Twins' MVP in this surprise party of a season, though, is not St. Paul's own Joe Mauer.
No, provincialism aside, their MVP is Canada's own Justin Morneau, who on Thursday wore fake Mauer sideburns as an homage to his roommate on a day when every Twin should have been paying homage to Morneau.
"Morneau is by far our MVP," said Torii Hunter.
"Joe is having a great season," the Twins center fielder added, "but if you look at homers and RBI ... well, if it wasn't for Morneau, we wouldn't be in it."
Wednesday in Detroit, Morneau became the first Twins player to reach 30 homers in a season since 1987 by hitting a game-winning two-run shot, pulling a 97-mile-per-hour fastball from the Tigers' Joel Zumaya into the bleachers.
Morneau is only the fourth Canadian-born player to reach 30 homers in a season.
Two winters ago, Morneau dealt with appendicitis, chickenpox, pleurisy and pneumonia, then struggled through a season that called his future into question.
This winter, Morneau regained his strength, decided to room with Mauer and established himself as the Twins' most intimidating slugger since The Killer.
"A lot of things have helped," Morneau said. "Learning the league, getting used to the pitchers, batting in one spot. And living with Joe. He's a good influence."
Catcher Mike Redmond said he was surprised Morneau actually wore the promotional sideburns. "He never does anything different," Redmond said. "The other day on the road, Michael Cuddyer and I were inviting some guys to breakfast, and we asked Joe. Morneau was like, 'Joe, you're hitting .360, you can't go to breakfast.' I had to tell him, 'Joe isn't hitting .360 because he sleeps until noon every day.' "
Morneau's routine involves sleeping until noon before night games, eating macaroni and cheese, wearing a Todd Bertuzzi jersey, hitting in the same group at the same time in batting practice and developing superstitions about anything he does on a day he hits a home run.
"Hey, it's working," Redmond said. "He's made the most improvement of anybody on our team. I know [hitting coach] Joe Vavra has worked hard with him, too.
"Deep down, though, he still thinks he's a hockey player. It's just nice he could hit 30 homers in the big leagues, too."
Thursday, Morneau tried to talk Mauer into shaving his sideburns. "I was going to tell people I snuck into his room and shaved them off, but then people would hate me," Morneau said.
So if Mauer gets a Sideburn Night, how should Morneau be honored? "Maple Leaf Tattoo Night," Cuddyer said.
The Twins spend millions on drafting and developing young players. They should cut the budget and just move all their prospects into Mauer's St. Paul apartment.
Jason Bartlett grabbed a bunk last year, and he's hitting .355. Josh Rabe is the newest tenant, and he's hitting .317. Mauer may become the first American League catcher ever to win a batting title, and Morneau is threatening to become the most feared Canadian hitter since Marty McSorley.
"I think the whole team is going to try to move in," Redmond said. "I'm asking for the couch."
That should work, as long as Redmond sleeps until noon and wears sideburns to batting practice.
|Atlanta||2||Bottom 8th Inning|
|NY Mets||3||Bottom 9th Inning|
|Pittsburgh||10||Bottom 9th Inning|
|Miami||6||Top 9th Inning|
|NY Yankees||9||Bottom 9th Inning|
|Chicago Cubs||5||Bottom 4th Inning|
|Los Angeles||2||Bottom 4th Inning|
|Cleveland||3||Bottom 5th Inning|
|Kansas City||3||Bottom 3rd Inning|
|Seattle||9||Top 5th Inning|
|Arizona||5||Bottom 4th Inning|
|Arizona||3||Top 5th Inning|
|Oakland||2||Bottom 4th Inning|
|New York||6:30 PM|
|Ottawa||3||2nd Prd 14:31|
|St. Louis||1||2nd Prd 4:06|
|Mount St Marys||77||FINAL|
|Oklahoma State||79||1st OT 0:11|
|Bowling Green||59||2nd Half 3:18|
|Siena||56||2nd Half 6:30|
|Va Military||57||2nd Half 5:41|
|Northeastern||66||2nd Half 6:18|
|Western Ky||51||2nd Half 3:54|
|Utah||60||2nd Half 0:36|
|Missouri State||35||2nd Half 2:37|
|San Diego||47||2nd Half 7:40|
|Arkansas||11||1st Half 9:57|
|Pittsburgh||17||1st Half 9:15|
|South Carolina||31||1st Half 6:58|
|Oral Roberts||26||1st Half 8:46|
|Arizona||11||1st Half 13:47|
|Missouri||9||1st Half 11:33|
|Auburn||23||1st Half 7:16|
|Oklahoma||31||1st Half 7:39|
|Texas||15||1st Half 9:25|
|Incarnate Word||3:00 PM|
|Colorado State||6||1st Half 12:47|
|Seton Hall||3:30 PM|
|George Washington||3:30 PM|
|Ball State||3:30 PM|
|Arizona State||3:30 PM|
|New Orleans||3:45 PM|
|Sam Houston St|
|Weber State||4:05 PM|
|Southern Ill||4:05 PM|
|Holy Cross||4:30 PM|
|Loyola Marymount||4:30 PM|
|Jackson State||5:00 PM|
|Ga Southern||5:00 PM|
|James Madison||5:00 PM|
|Saint Peters||5:30 PM|
|Texas Southern||5:30 PM|
|Grambling St||6:00 PM|
|Eastern Ky||6:00 PM|
|Wright State||6:00 PM|
|SE Louisiana||6:00 PM|
|UC Riverside||6:00 PM|
|Long Beach State|
|Northern Colorado||6:00 PM|
|St Bonaventure||6:00 PM|
|UC Davis||6:30 PM|
|Central Arkansas||6:30 PM|
|Stephen F Austin|
|Grand Canyon||7:00 PM|
|Prairie View||7:30 PM|
|Miss Valley St||7:30 PM|
|Texas State||7:30 PM|
|Coll of Charleston||7:30 PM|
|William & Mary|
|McNeese State||7:30 PM|
|North Carolina||8:00 PM|
|Santa Clara||8:00 PM|
|UC Santa Barbara||9:00 PM|
|Fresno State||9:00 PM|
|San Jose St|
|Idaho State||9:05 PM|
|Montana State||9:05 PM|
|New Mexico||9:05 PM|
|San Diego St|
|Cal State Fullerton||10:59 PM|
|Sporting Kansas City||0||2nd Half 44:55|
|Red Bull New York||6:30 PM|
|New England||7:30 PM|
|Real Salt Lake||9:30 PM|
|(5) South Carolina||58|
|(18) Oklahoma St||67|
|East Tenn St||50||FINAL|
|Fla Gulf Coast||74||FINAL|
|Ohio U||53||2nd Half 7:40|
|(15) Texas A&M||77||2nd Half 1:13|
|New Orleans||56||2nd Half 0:26|
|Sam Houston St||87|
|No Dakota State||43||2nd Half 9:54|
|Southern Ill||51||2nd Half 11:12|
|Evansville||55||2nd Half 11:24|
|Indiana State||48||2nd Half 14:00|
|Oakland||53||2nd Half 14:34|
|Illinois State||57||2nd Half 5:45|
|Ohio State||42||2nd Half|
|Eastern Washington||13||1st Half 12:25|
|Portland State||21||1st Half 14:00|
|Northern Ariz||14||1st Half 11:40|
|Sacramento St||11||1st Half 9:09|
|Utah Valley U||16||1st Half 7:20|
|TX-Pan American||10||1st Half 13:13|
|McNeese State||25||1st Half 7:29|
|Jackson State||21||1st Half 8:39|
|Prairie View||0||1st Half 20:00|
|Texas Southern||9||1st Half 14:17|
|Louisiana||9||1st Half 8:52|
|Western Carolina||3:30 PM|
|(14) NC State||4:00 PM|
|(2) Notre Dame|
|Central Arkansas||4:00 PM|
|Stephen F Austin|
|SE Louisiana||4:00 PM|
|Cal Poly||4:00 PM|
|UC Santa Barbara|
|(16) Nebraska||4:55 PM|
|(19) Michigan State|
|Miss Valley St||5:00 PM|
|Texas State||5:15 PM|
|Chicago State||6:00 PM|
|(7) West Virginia|
|(13) North Carolina||6:30 PM|
|Cal State Fullerton|
|Northern Colorado||8:30 PM|
|Long Beach St||9:00 PM|
|Washington St||10:30 PM|
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