Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Where Art Thou, Joe?

A Twins Timeline
Powered byJudd Spicer

The following is the writer’s attempt to get in touch with Twins catcher Joe Mauer in hopes of scheduling a haircut for Mr. Mauer with the writer’s girlfriend. The writer hopes to thereby create a written portrait of Minnesota’s newest local sports celebrity, while also serving the appetites of Mr. Mauer’s vast female fan base- this writer’s gal included. In turn, the ensuing words also act as a documentation of Mr. Mauer’s pursuit of .400.

Sunday, June 26, 1977

Jersey Day at Metropolitan Stadium, and every Twins fan receives a complimentary #29, Rod Carew shirt. The celebrated batsman responds by going 4-for-5, raising his average to .403. Carew would finish the season batting an MLB-best .388, the highest average since the Red Sox’ Ted Williams matched the same mark in 1957, and the closest run at .400 since Williams accomplished the feat (.406) for Boston in 1941. Baseball-gonzo cartographers note that Carew strove for .400 approximately 3,890 miles away from his birthplace of Gatun, Panama, while Williams both neared - and successfully reached - said mark about 3,046 miles from his hometown of San Diego, CA.

Tuesday, April 19, 1983

Joe Mauer is born in St. Paul, MN.

Tuesday, June 5, 2001

The Minnesota Twins select Mauer #1 overall in the MLB Amateur Draft, choosing the Cretin Derham-Hall (St. Paul) catcher over grossly overpriced - albeit richly talented - USC hurler Mark Prior.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Twenty-nine years to the date after Carew Jersey Day, Mauer goes 4-for-5 in an 8-2 victory over the Dodgers at Metrodome, raising his average to an MLB-best .377. The following night, he goes 5-for-5. Mauer then caps off the series on the 28th of June with a 2-for-3 line as the Twins sweep their betters of 1965, winning their seventh contest in a row. His average ascends to .392. Baseball-gonzo cartographers - and any guy with MapQuest - note that Mauer grew up approximately nine miles away from Minneapolis.

Later that same day . . .

Nicotine gum-chewing writer Judd Spicer of St. Paul contacts editors of a popular local baseball publication with a story pitch, proposing a piece in which he (Spicer) will attempt to arrange a meeting with Mauer, employing solely personal contacts and avoiding MLB Red Tape. For the story, Spicer explains, he will strive to schedule a meeting with Mauer and Spicer’s girlfriend, whereupon the latter - a well-respected local stylist - will cut the former’s hair without altering Mr. Mauer’s well-publicized sideburns. Spicer’s aim, he concludes, is to both gauge how close-knit the Capitol City truly is while hounding what may be the first .400 hitter in nearly seventy years, while simultaneously appeasing his vast female readership with descriptive sentences like, “and my gal blushed Cincinnati red as Joe’s hair descended toward the checkered salon floor.”

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Spicer convinces his younger sibling to pass along an e-mail to members of said sibling’s Fantasy Football league, most of whom attended Cretin, many of whom played baseball at the professional level. The letter contains phrases such as, “To briefly introduce, or re-introduce myself “, “My story - for which I have a deadline in about five weeks” and “a place where a knucklehead like me can get in touch with an All-Star ballplayer.

A 1-for-3 performance at K.C. has Mauer batting .391.

Later that same day . . .

Spicer receives his first response, an e-mail from one of the aforementioned former pro ballers. Referring to Mauer as “The Man,” the message steers Spicer to Joe’s older brother Jake, a solid ex-Twin farmhand in his own right, and current coach for the club’s Gulf Coast League (Rookie) team. Included is Jake’s mobile number, and the signoff, “Good Luck.”

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Twins travel day between Kansas City and Texas. Spicer receives an early-morning electronic mail from another of his e-mail’s recipients. The correspondence begins “Wish I knew of a way to help,” continues with, “If I think of anything or run across anyone at Cretin who knows how to get in touch,” then politely concludes with, “Hope all is well.”

Friday, July 7, 2006

Spicer receives a third (and what proves to be final) response from the Fantasy Football/Cretin-contacts. The e-mail message explains that Spicer’s message has been passed along to Mauer electronically, then briefly and succinctly ends with a “See you at the Fantasy draft” wave to Spicer’s sibling.

Twenty-two minutes later, the same contact types Spicer an e-mail and explains that he did not end up forwarding Spicer’s initial message, and instead recommends that Spicer present Mauer with a more formal written request, which he will then pass along electronically. Spicer replies with both his appreciation for the help, and fondness of the idea.

That night, Mauer goes 1-for-4 against the Rangers, slightly lowering his average to .388.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Spicer completes his final draft of the formal letter and sends it along to the contact. The communication (509 words in length), begins with a “Dear Joe,” and then briefly describes Spicer’s writing experience. The letter then quickly reminds the recipient that Spicer and Mauer had met in 2003 at a signing at which Mauer - along with brothers Jake and Billy - appeared for a promising, albeit now-defunct publication entitled Baseball Minnesota. Spicer had written for the magazine. Mauer appeared on the cover. The body of the correspondence then details the ideas and hopes of the writer’s story, the location of the salon, and the deadline for submission. Lastly, the letter congratulates Mauer on his ensuing All-Star appearance in Pittsburgh, PA.

Earlier in the day, Mauer goes 0-for-4 for the second consecutive game. He’s hitting an MLB-leading .378.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The 77th MLB All-Star Game. Mauer breaks his Midsummer Classic maiden with an 0-for-2 line, his second at-bat finding him robbed of a solid hit by Trevor Hoffman’s aging backside. His catching of the AL’s dramatic comeback, however, is widely celebrated. Baseball-driven lip readers - and any guy with an AM radio dial - readily ruminate on Mauer’s “It was a pleasure” salutation to Mariano Rivera upon the game’s closure.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

During the social hour preceding a Minneapolis film screening, Spicer encounters a longtime acquaintance who happens to work in the Twins’ finance department. The acquaintance presents his card. Above the bar, overtones of an atypically poor Francisco Liriano start versus the Indians attempt to cloud Spicer’s judgment as to whether the writer should now perhaps seek alternate, Twins-based routes to contact Mauer.

Later that night . . .

Spicer returns home and places the card in a drawer full of cards. Mauer complies a 1-for-3 line in a 6-4 loss to the Tribe, his average now at .377. The film - of the horror genre - causes Spicer uneasy dreams.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Twins announce that Thursday, August 10, will be “Joe Mauer Sideburn Night” at the Dome, with the first 10,000 fans receiving a complimentary set of “synthetic-hair sideburns,” with “doubled-sided tape that will allow fans to share Mauer’s trademark look. . . .” Mauer goes 2-for-4 against Tampa Bay, raising his average to .376.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Twins are in Chicago for a much-anticipated showdown with the White Sox. No word from Mauer, with the writer’s deadline now filed in the cabinet marked “Looming.” Spicer opts to use the cell number for Joe’s elder brother Jake. Jake answers and proves most amicable, much as Spicer had remembered him from their meeting three years prior at the Baseball Minnesota signing, an encounter which Spicer quickly employs as a tool of anecdote. Jake remembers. Jake also knows Spicer’s baseball-connected younger brother, at least by name. The conversation proceeds swimmingly, and concludes approximately fifteen minutes later with Jake telling Spicer he’ll pass along the message. Spicer readily acknowledges Joe’s in-season schedule, thanks Jake for his time, and hangs up the phone with the notion that any more calls of this nature may push the piece beyond the balance of “good taste.”

Later that night . . .

Mauer records just a single hit against the Sox, although the knock comes in the mighty form of a three-run homer off Chicago lefty Neal Cotts. Mauer’s average is lowered a point to .380, yet the Twins conquer their division rivals with an impressive 7-4 showing.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Beside the leviathan heading “American Idol,” Mauer appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated, the monster sports publication reportedly read by over 23 million adults per week. That night, a single in four at-bats against Texas finds him batting .365, still tops in all of baseball.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Poetic justice as Spicer’s deadline and “Sideburn Night” collide. No word from Mauer who returns home from a weeklong road trip to K.C. and Detroit, his average an MLB-best .369, his hair well kept, trimmed by shears belonging to someone other than the writer’s girlfriend. He hasn’t hit below .352 since May 30th, and his club is readily in the mix for a Wild Card berth. The evening’s contest nears and Spicer turns on his set, considering for a moment the origins of “synthetic hair.” The game against Toronto begins, and the writer - along with the bulk of the Upper Midwest - eagerly awaits the execution of that sweet lefty swing. A close-up of the local hero is soon provided, his young face exhibiting none of the stress, the strain, or the gain, surely found in the pursuit of .400.

Epilogue
Ten days after the writer’s deadline - a small handful of games before this publication goes to print – and Joe Mauer has yet to contact Spicer. Although it went without mention in the body of this piece, the writer “considered” utilizing close personal contacts in the real estate or private investigation industries, respectively, as a means of finding Mauer. Spicer then opted to instead heed the more persuasive advice of close personal contacts in the legal industry who politely informed him that violation of a harassment restraining order offers 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine in our great state. So much for Minnesota Nice.

And perhaps, for our hometown hero, so much for .400. Going into the 20th of August, Mauer’s average dipped to .357, still tops in the majors, but his lowest batting number since June 4th. So it goes, sports fans: perhaps the hair, like the proverbial hare, wasn’t to be caught this time around. And maybe, at least in 2006, neither is the sacred number that is .400.

Judd Spicer is a freelance writer from St. Paul. His short story collection, Seven Days, was nominated for a 2003 Minnesota Book Award.

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Fun piece, Judd!

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Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm the writers girlfriend. Twins season has drawn to a close. I hope it's not the last we see of Joe in the off season. I still wonder how I might get Joe in my chair for a scrub and a cut. Well theres next year. Great site.

Be well,
Heather

Heather said...

Hi, I'm the writers girlfriend. Twins season has drawn to a close. I hope it's not the last we see of Joe in the off season. I still wonder how I might get Joe in my chair for a scrub and a cut. Well theres next year. Great site.

Be well,
Heather

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