Posted by: gravessack | October 8, 2018

Is This The End Of The Line?

With the sun dim, temperatures cool, thousands of fans flocked to worn-out Target Field September 30 to witness the Twins’ season finale. Finishing out a very disappointing season with a win and a six-game winning streak, the club will leave with a somewhat better taste in their mouths as they prepare for the cold, long winter of uncertainty.

With a September 12 report swirling about fan favorite Joe Mauer’s possible retirement, the past few weeks were designed to pay tribute to the St. Paul native. If the antics and emotions of the last game were not a tell-tale sign, I do not know how they would top it.

As Mauer was taking his position at first base moments before the opening pitch, he was surprisingly met by his five-year-old twin daughters, Emily and Maren; a hug ensued. When he came up first in the first inning, with plate ump Jim Reynolds taking in the moment, fans erupted in several minutes of cheers, with Mauer acknowledging them. Every at-bat was an ovation.

In what was maybe his last at-bat of his stellar 15-year career, Mauer stepped up to the plate in the 7th inning. He hit a soft line drive to left-center field, hustling, just beating a tag at second base, with a big grin on his face when the play concluded. Everybody thought that he would be replaced at second, but the team had a masterful plan; something you would see in a movie.

The plan was apparently in the works for a couple of weeks. After the 8th inning, with the Twins ahead 5-4, Mauer came out of the dugout in his catcher’s gear to a thunderous ovation. He took a moment to collect himself, then started warm-up tosses from reliever Matt Belisle. On his practice throw to second, the ball sailed into center field. With Chicago’s Yoan Moncada hitting, Belisle threw a fastball outside for a ball. That was the moment Mauer used a mound visit, where he hugged Belisle, who may also retire. With tears in his eyes, Mauer left the field as Chris Gimenez replaced him. One last loud applause occurred as Mauer was taking in the heartwarming scene on the field at the conclusion of the game. Joe Mauer in a Minnesota Twins uniform and catcher's equipment

Mauer, a six-time all-star, will contemplate retirement with his wife, Maddie, during the next couple of weeks. If he is finished, Mauer will have played for his hometown team his entire career; a rare feat. I don’t think he has Hall of Fame numbers, but most definitely should be enshrined in the Twins Hall, and have his number retired by the Twins. Throughout his career, Mauer had a smooth swing and was productive. He could finish with a career batting average of .306, racking up 2,123 hits, 143 home runs, and 923 RBIs.

In the meantime, the next couple of months will be fluid. GM Thad Levine must find a new manager, after firing Paul Molitor on October 2, and revamp a depleting line-up; in which Miguel Sano should be cut due to his performance and his reported mishap when he ran over a police officer in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic on October 7. These are some of the underlying factors that Mauer will need to bring into consideration when making the decision of his lifetime.

Mauer will make the right choice for him. If this is indeed the end of the line, number 7 had one heck of a career!

Written by: Michael L. Sack

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