The Minnesota Twins have wrapped up their season and may have watched the end of an era as Joe Mauer looks ready to retire from baseball.
The Minnesota Twins wrapped up their season with a game against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday afternoon. A game that meant nothing when it came to the standings or playoffs seedings. While the Twins were not playing for anything in the ways of championships it may still be one of the most remembered Twins games in the franchises history.
He hasn’t said anything officially, but Sunday’s 5-4 victory had the looks and the feeling of a sendoff for Joe Mauer. It all started with a wonderful welcome to first base for Mauer by his twin girls who gave their dad a great big hug. If that didn’t get tears rolling down your cheeks, the rest of the afternoon would as many Twins fans have admitted to “heave” or “ugly” crying as the afternoon went on.
On the field Mauer had a great hit to the outfield which he stretched into a double. It had the type of effort that made Mauer look like a player who isn’t quite ready to hang his baseball cleats up as pointed out by Tim Laudner on the Fox Sports North post game show. As the game moved into the top of the 9th there was a significant moment that made it look like Mauer may be more ready for retirement than any of us (including maybe Mauer) know or want to admit.
In the top of the 9th, Mauer completed his walk up the dugout steps to take the field in what will be the moment from this game I will remember most. The man known for his sideburns and slick hitting was once again wearing that catcher’s gear that also helped to define so many of his great seasons. Through tears and waves, Mauer crouched one more time behind the plate to frame a pitch from veteran reliever Matt Belisle.
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Mauer closes out 2018 with a line of .282/.351/.379, six home runs, 27 doubles, a triple, and 48 RBIs. That gives him over his 15 year career a slash line of .306/.388/.439, a .827 OPS, 2,123 hits, and 428 doubles. When stepping back and taking a look at Mauer’s career achievements there is no doubt he is one of the greatest players to put on a Twins uniform.
None of us know if this is truly it for Mauer. He didn’t seem ready to commit to anything during his post game comments. While I personally think he has another solid season in him and could be a valuable bridge for the Twins to ensure the likes of Tyler Austin or Brent Rooker are ready to take over first base. If I had to guess, he looks like a man with all the reasons in the world to step away and retire.
That opening sequence with his five and half-year old twin girls has the father in me thinking, Mauer seems like a man who is ready to go be dad. The tears running down his cheeks may say he knows it is time. We will wait and see what Mauer decides. If it is the end of an era we just witnessed, it has been one great era from one phenomenal human being playing baseball. Thank-you for that Joe Mauer! We will always remember that swing and that smile whenever you choose to retire from the game you love.