Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.

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Prelude to a fall: Mauer’s bunt

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: April 12, 2014 - 11:25 PM

Joe Mauer entered the 2010 season as Minnesota’s most popular athlete, and in a landslide. He was coming off a near-unanimous MVP selection in 2009 and a third American League batting title in the prior four seasons.

The Twins, headed into Target Field, came up with a P.R. triumph in mid-March, when Mauer agreed to an eight-year contract extension that would start in 2011.

Mauer’s swing that was grooved for power to left-center had produced 28 home runs in five months with the Metrodome as his home yard in 2009. As it turned out, those same drives were reaching the warning track in the new stadium.

There was grumbling over his lack of home runs and the penchant for having days off. It increased in volume when Mauer was given off the Sunday before the All-Star Game, then headed to Los Angeles to start that highfalutin exhibition.

On the morning of July 20, Mauer was batting .297, with four home runs and 40 RBI and had started 77 of 93 games.

There was an overcapacity crowd of 40,745 at Target Field that night. The opponent was Cleveland. Mauer had an RBI on an infield roller and a bloop double (his 28th) entering the seventh. The Twins had four straight singles to score two runs and tie the score 3-3. There was one out with Denard Span on second and Orlando Hudson on first.

I was freeloading with friends in seats behind the Twins dugout. The crowd cheered as Mauer stepped in to face lefty Rafael Perez. He tried to bunt for a hit and was thrown out by catcher Carlos Santana.

“What was that!’’ hollered … well, everyone.

Mauer’s crash-and-burn in 2011 was when his favorite-son status went kaplooey. Yet, I contend the real momentum for this started with The Bunt — a bad idea and a lost ballgame on what was supposed to be a perfect night in the new ballyard.

Note: Joe batted .378 in 54 games from July 21 to season’s end. If he can do that for a couple of months this summer, and add in playing every day, all will be forgiven.

Plus Three from Patrick

Some Minnesota franchise faces gone bad:

• Daunte Culpepper, Vikings. The quarterback had a season for the ages in 2004 and looked to be entering his prime. Disaster followed and he was gone by May 2006.

• Christian Laettner, Timberwolves. He wasn’t Shaq or Alonzo Mourning, but the Wolves were getting Duke’s golden boy and a Dream Teamer. Uff da.

• Marian Gaborik, Wild. He was the 21-year-old hero of the 2003 playoff run and a superstar in the making. Injuries took care of that.


Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Brooklyn 109 FINAL
Boston 107
Cleveland 98 FINAL
Orlando 89
Indiana 109 FINAL
Detroit 119
Milwaukee 107 FINAL
Atlanta 77
Houston 117 FINAL
Memphis 111
San Antonio 90 FINAL
New Orleans 97
Charlotte 75 FINAL
Oklahoma City 98
LA Lakers 98 FINAL
Dallas 102
Minnesota 102 FINAL
Denver 106
Philadelphia 93 FINAL
Portland 114
Phoenix 115 FINAL
Sacramento 106
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
(15) Arizona State 1:10 PM
Miami-Florida 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
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