I was talking with a Minnesota Twins’ fan Monday night after the Twins opening loss in the series against the New York Yankees and the fan was clearly upset. At first, I thought it was because the Twins, yet again, failed to defeat the Yankees; but instead, it was actually the Twins that the fan was upset with. I asked the fan why he was so upset and he explained that the reason he was so angry was because he could not understand why Joe Mauer did not suit up against the Yankees on Monday night. While I explained that the Twins were giving Mauer a day off after he hadn’t received one in a long time—in addition to his struggles against scheduled starting pitcher Andy Pettite—the fan continued his rant and actually made a very interesting point that I had never considered before.
The fan told me a story about how his son has grown up idolizing Mauer and that for his birthday, he got him Twins’ tickets for the Yankees game solely for the fact for his son to be able to see Mauer play in person; so you could understand his clear frustration and his son’s disappointment when Mauer wasn’t in the lineup for the game he had long planned on going to. At first I kind of played it off as something that a traditional fan would get upset over and chalked it up to another thing that ignorant fans just don’t understand about the game of baseball these days; but as I thought about it I started to wonder: why couldn’t of Mauer taken his day off on the road?
Before their recent home-stand, the Twins had a five game road trip in Cleveland and Miami and even had an off-day between the Cleveland and Miami series. If Mauer was in need of a day off, he could have taken one during those road games or on the scheduled off-day. Granted, I understand that there are crucial games on the road and it’d be illogical not to have your best player in the lineup for, but why not—if you have to rest Mauer—rest him while you are on the road instead of at home in front of fans who are more than likely traveling long distances and paying to see their hometown, star catcher play for what may be the very first time? You could argue that fans on the road would certainly have the same predicament if they too were paying to see Mauer play, but it would occur on a much smaller scale compared to if the situation occurred in Minnesota where the likelihood of Mauer fans are greater.
The fact that this fan had to witness a game that Mauer only pinch-hit in is unacceptable. If Mauer needs a day off, that’s fine; but at least make him a designated hitter in the lineup. That way the fans can be appeased and Mauer can still get a needed rest by not having to play in the field defensively. Arguably, Mauer is one of the few players that fans continually pay to watch and he is one of the greatest catchers of all-time and certainly this era. For that reason—and due to the fact that the Twins have invested so much money in him—he should be in the lineup every game that the Twins play at home. If he needs a full day’s rest, do it on the road or don’t take it at all.
What ever happened to a player playing in all of the 162 games in a season? I know Mauer is a catcher and the wear and tear he takes on his body is different than most players, but he also plays first and gets starts at DH so the options he has to preserve his body aren’t limited and “resting” shouldn’t be an excuse for why he isn’t in the lineup on a daily basis.
While this may be a childish and illogical argument, it certainly is something to think about from the fan’s perspective. I understand why managers rest players when they do; but I feel, for the fan’s sake, managers should at least consider the fan’s perspective and experience when deciding when to give a player a day off. Would it really hurt to only rest Mauer on the road? I don’t think so; but then again, I am not the manager and that isn’t my decision to make.