Fans' patience wearing thin over Mauer's long absence

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 12, 2011 - 6:52 AM

The public's view of the injured catcher's part in this flop of a Twins season is growing harsher by the day.


Twins catcher Joe Mauer

Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

There are two dominant sports entities in the Twin Cities: the Vikings and the Twins. The other teams, pro and college, have moments, but there are hard facts -- collective TV audiences over the course of a season, Internet hits -- that tell you the Vikings and the Twins are what get a constant response from the masses.

The Twins are approaching the quarter-pole of a season that started with many fans concerned if their favorites would be able to offer a better showing in the playoffs, particularly if the opponent was the Yankees.

There was a similar concern with the Purple faithful last September -- namely, would these Vikings take one more step and offer a return to the Super Bowl for the first time since January 1977?

The 2010 Vikings completed the opening one-fourth of the schedule at 1-3. The 2011 Twins are 12-23 after a fifth consecutive loss, 9-7 to Detroit, on Wednesday at Target Field.

And I think this is being read right:

Minnesota's sporting public is far more disgusted with the Twins winning at a .343 pace than they were with the Vikings winning at .250 at a similar point in the schedule.

There are reasons for this:

The venom of Vikings fans was directed almost completely at now-fired coach Brad Childress. Minnesotans spent so much energy extolling Brett Favre a season earlier that they were unwilling to admit he was playing lousy. And, they were enthused over the return of Randy Moss, even with a 29-20 loss to the Jets in his Game 4 debut.

The Twins do not have a convenient non-player target. Manager Ron Gardenhire has some critics, but six division titles in nine years make him an unreasonable scapegoat.

What's different with the Twins is that the hardcore followers have started to direct their unhappiness at the team's star.

On Labor Day of 2010, as the baseball and football schedules intersected, the two biggest names in Minnesota sports were Favre and Joe Mauer.

We decided to hang with Favre through all the pratfalls: the losses resulting from his reckless play, the Jenn Sterger scandal, the shoulder sprain that finally put him in mothballs.

The public has a much different view of Mauer's part in this flop of a Twins season -- and it's a view growing harsher by the day.

Favre turned 41 last October. There was never a question of his toughness, not with a record 297 consecutive starts on his résumé.

With Mauer, fans had groused in the past over time missed because of injuries and Gardenhire's need to rest the catcher in day games after night games.

Now, he was starting a no-trade contract that would pay him $23 million annually over eight years. He would turn 28 on April 19.

He came up a week short. He played on April 12, came to Target Field the next day and said his legs were sore. He hasn't played since. He was sick for a few days, but a month later, he remains missing with soreness here, weakness there.

Favre made sure the public was able to see photos of the swelling and bruises on the injured ankle he played with the 2009 NFC Championship Game. The Twins and Mauer can't even put a sensible name to whatever injury the catcher is alleged to be suffering.

No wonder the public has gone from being eager to return to Target Field for a second season, to what is now disillusionment with Mauer, and disgust over the beer-league blunders they have been made to see as the surviving Twins stumble to defeat, one game after another.

All we have heard about Mauer is he's spending more time in the pool than Michael Phelps. He's taller, too, so maybe this is Joe's secret plan -- to become an Olympic butterflier.

Last fall, Vikings fans still saw hope for a revival at the one-fourth point. They were wrong, of course. The Vikings finished last in a four-team division.

Today, even if Mauer were to get an uncontrollable urge to play one of these weeks, he won't remedy mediocre starters, inadequate relievers, a void in the middle of the infield and a long-ball starved lineup.

Let's face it: The 2011 Twins have a fighting chance to finish last in a five-team division, which would trump the 2010 Vikings.

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500ESPN. •

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Detroit 69 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Portland 94 FINAL
Cleveland 99
Sacramento 102 FINAL
Toronto 119
Boston 98 FINAL
Minnesota 110
Dallas 94 FINAL
Houston 99
Denver 93 FINAL
New Orleans 85
Brooklyn 102 FINAL
Atlanta 113
Oklahoma City 92 FINAL
New York 100
Charlotte 86 FINAL
San Antonio 95
LA Clippers 94 FINAL
Utah 89
Washington 97 4th Qtr 1:17
Phoenix 101
Toronto 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Pittsburgh 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Chicago 3 3rd Prd 14:40
Los Angeles 2
Temple 86 FINAL
UCF 62
Winthrop 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 68
Lafayette 59 FINAL
Colgate 54
Northeastern 60 FINAL
Drexel 65
Wake Forest 76 FINAL
Florida State 82
Rhode Island 64 FINAL
Fordham 63
Delaware 82 FINAL
James Madison 88
South Carolina 58 FINAL
LSU 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Maine 58
Seton Hall 80 FINAL
Marquette 70
Binghamton 68 FINAL
American Univ 54 FINAL
Navy 64
Elon 65 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 82
Wright State 76 FINAL
Oakland 84
Minnesota 58 FINAL
Penn State 63
Duquesne 55 FINAL
Richmond 86
South Florida 52
Hartford 66 FINAL
Stony Brook 72
Albany 47 FINAL
Vermont 44
Hofstra 79 FINAL
William & Mary 100
UNC-Asheville 74 FINAL
Longwood 64
Radford 84 FINAL
Char Southern 77
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 73 FINAL
Notre Dame 77
Texas Tech 36 FINAL
Oklahoma 81
Oregon State 55 FINAL
Arizona State 73
Morehead State 82 FINAL
Austin Peay 69
Drake 69 FINAL
Bradley 57
Lehigh 62 FINAL
Bucknell 68
Rice 48 FINAL
Houston 59
Missouri State 57 FINAL
Illinois State 67
Loyola-Chicago 47 FINAL
Wichita State 58
Nebraska Omaha 64 FINAL
South Dakota St 86
Northern Iowa 59 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
Louisville 81 FINAL
Boston College 72
St Johns 74 FINAL
Creighton 77
East Carolina 58 FINAL
Memphis 70
Georgia Tech 70 FINAL
Miami-Florida 50
Miss State 73 FINAL
Ole Miss 79
Clemson 68 FINAL
NC State 57
Indiana 67 FINAL
Purdue 83
Kansas 64 FINAL
TCU 61
Oregon 56 FINAL
Arizona 90
Air Force 66 FINAL
San Jose St 52
Stanford 62 2nd Half 7:11
Washington 44
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
Binghamton 55
Akron 60 FINAL
Ohio U 72
Ball State 72 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 55
Memphis 56 FINAL
Cincinnati 44
East Carolina 32 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 87
Murray State 59 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 75
Kent State 63 FINAL
Central Michigan 65
UT Martin 64 FINAL
Tennessee St 58
Eastern Michigan 56 FINAL
Western Mich 83
Bucknell 61 FINAL
Lehigh 76
Indiana 57 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Colgate 56 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Fordham 66 FINAL
Davidson 45
Duquesne 76 FINAL
St Bonaventure 64
George Mason 66 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 70
Detroit 59 FINAL
Youngstown St 58
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
Tulsa 74
Oklahoma St 54 FINAL
Kansas State 52
West Virginia 57 FINAL
Texas Tech 73
Denver 56 FINAL
South Dakota 82
Northwestern St 46 FINAL
Central Arkansas 63
Austin Peay 67 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 87
Kansas 61 FINAL
Iowa State 56
Bowling Green 50 FINAL
Northern Ill 67
Penn State 64 FINAL
Minnesota 75
San Jose St 80 FINAL
Air Force 83
Boise State 82 FINAL
Colorado State 83
Utah State 51 FINAL
Wyoming 86
San Diego State 50 FINAL
Fresno State 57
Nevada 52 FINAL
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2015 Twins?

Weekly Question