Joe Mauer's Eight-Year Extension Is Great News For Minnesota

  • Amos Otis Jersey... Until It's Not Written by Will McDonald; originally appeared here.Reliably, the Joe Mauer mega-contract with the Twins is being reported as a perfect marriage. Mauer is an extension of the Twins fans themselves, writes Jayson Stark, and the eight-year, $184 million dollar contract “had to happen, was meant to happen.” Mauer’s remaining in Minnesota is being viewed as especially important because it would be a crime of great proportions if he was allowed to sign with the Yankees or Red Sox. That’s actually the lead angle in the local story on the contract in the Star Tribune, which is headlined, “Our Joltin’ Joe Stays.” The early response is about as balanced and objective as those montages of newspaper headlines in old movies tend to be. Our Joltin’ Joe? Really?In the coming days, we will surely see a second wave of analysis claiming that the Mauer mega-deal is a sign that the game is still alive in the Heartland. That small-market clubs can keep their heroes in uniform. We will read about how the Mauer contract is a sign that the Twins owners care about the fans, are committed to winning, and willing to spend money. Dire and unfalsifiable claims will be made about what would have happened if Mauer had not been locked up. The arbiters of mainstream baseball opinion on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight and elsewhere will without fail talk about how tremendously important this all is to Twins fans.And it will be all of that. On Monday. Well, and probably for 2010 and 2011. Maybe longer. What about in 2014, when Mauer will still have four years and over $90 million remaining on the contract? What about in 2017, when Mauer will be 34?As a Royals fan, I know of at least one way this can play out Angel Zerpa Jersey, and it isn’t pretty. If Mauer’s numbers drop, as they most certainly will, the rumblings will begin. If he begins to struggle with injuries, another highly probable scenario, his time in Minnesota might become like Mike Sweeney’s in Kansas City. Sweeney went from franchise hero and baseball-in-this-town symbol when a long-term contract went into effect (2004-7) to a reviled over-paid millstone who fans mocked as “Mike Weenie” in three years. He hasn’t been the only one, just ask Toronto fans about Vernon Wells or Cleveland partisans about the Travis Hafner contract.Mauer is a better player than Sweeney, but then again, his contract was much shorter and much cheaper There’s so much populist sentiment infused in sports fandom that spending or making money is not a reliable way of assuring much goodwill. The same ethos that is fueling the “screw the Yankees, he’s ours” mentality can just as easily lead to resentment and too lofty expectations. For that reason, all these pronouncements about what this contract means to the fans are pretty silly. They like it today, which means absolutely nothing about how they’ll feel tomorrow.