Joe Mauer's ability to time pitches on the baseball field made him a three-time batting champion, an MVP and a millionaire 184 times over.
The timing of his pitches from an advertising standpoint ... well, that's not quite as spot-on.
On Monday afternoon, an alert reader pointed us to an online promotion from Anytime Fitness featuring Mauer. The idea is fairly cute and clever -- asking fans to submit "Mauer Facts" by the end of September in order to win various prizes, including bats, balls and jerseys autographed by Joe himself.
The "facts" are supposed to be creative, presumably in the spirit of a popular website devoted to Chuck Norris facts (chucknorrisfacts.com). Among the submissions so far: "Sunflowers turn to face Joe Mauer when he walks by them," and "When babies meet Joe Mauer, they kiss HIS forehead."
On the web page for the promotion, there is also a video featuring a narrator reading other Mauer "facts" while strange scenes play out in the background -- Mauer smelling a flower, playing with a kitten and interacting with a sock puppet, among other things. Joe then says: "What, you think I'm too normal, too wholesome, too stable, down-to-earth, uncontroversial, goody-two-shoes, too polite? Seriously? Yeah, I guess you are right."
Pretty much anytime from 2001-2010, the whole thing would have been fodder for a good chuckle. Even now, it remains fun -- at least for this writer -- to see Mauer involved in anything remotely goofy.
Still, we couldn't help but cringe a little when we saw it. Endorsements have created a sore spot among fans, and here's an advertisement popping up in the middle of a season Mauer would rather forget -- and in the midst of a stretch when Mauer hasn't started for a week. The fact that it involves a fitness club isn't likely to be lost on a lot of folks, either.
It's nobody's fault, really. Just an extension of the bad timing that has seemed to follow the once-infallible Mauer almost everywhere -- on and off the field -- in 2011.