I have never in my life been more frustrated with the Minnesota Twins fan than this week. When we woke up on Wednesday morning, a not-so-hidden secret was all over the morning news, Twitter feeds, radio shows, and Facebook statuses: Joe Mauer was placed on waivers. The (not-so-)logical conclusion that the masses came to was that Mauer was going to be traded, probably to the Red Sox.
That day, I received questions from co-workers, a Facebook inquiry, and a phone call, all from people asking if the Twins were trading Mauer. Some of these came from people who know their baseball.
It’s been well documented that the Twins were never going to trade Mauer. My favorite “Waiver Trades for Dummies” response was written by Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN. I’d like to think that, by now, anyone who was aware enough of baseball news to hear of Ken Rosenthal’s bombshell is now aware that Mauer is a Twin for the time being, and assuredly will be for the foreseeable future.
My frustration has little to do with fans who don’t understand the waiver process. I heard people who are paid to know baseball inside out say they were “pretty sure” they were correctly explaining the waiver process. Trades after July 31 are about as easy to understand as filing a dual residency tax return. So, it was not the average fan’s leap from waivers to a signed/sealed/delivered trade that bothered me. Rather, it was that a fan base that booed Joe Mauer earlier this season then panicked when they thought the Twins were dealing that $23 million salary they had bemoaned for the last year. In the blink of an eye, or maybe I should say at the speed of a Tweet, Joe again became the Hometown Hero.
After a season and a half defending the All-Star catcher (slash first baseman slash DH), this about-face should make me happy. It doesn’t. To be honest, I find it maddening, if only because the over-under on when a conversation forces me into my “Why Mauer is worth the $23 million a year” rant is set at about 2 weeks. And I can almost guarantee it will be provoked by one of the people who came to me in a panic when they thought Mauer was traded.
But in the end, the Twins organization should be thanking their lucky stars that the fan base cared enough to panic. After the Lost Season of 2011, and the way the Dismal Season of 2012 is limping to an end, any widespread passion is a sign that Twins Territory hasn’t given up. Yet.
There is much work to be done in the off season, and declining attendance at Target Field has made it clear that fans won’t put up with mediocrity forever. But while declining attendance at Target Field may be a sign of apathy, the reaction to Rosenthal’s article proved that it’s not yet a sign of abandonment. The fan base has grown to expect success, however, and the Twins organization has a lot to do this off season to make that happen. And to keep Mr. Hyde at bay.