05-27-2014, 10:07 AM #1
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I was lucky to watch in person 4 of the 5 road games last week...nice start in SD but a disappointing finish in SF. Havingpreviously just followed this year's team on TV, it was interesting to get to the ballpark early to watch how the team interacts. I also trained the binoculars in the dugout occasionally to observe interaction there.
What became clear to me is this is no longer Mauer's team, but appears to be Dozier's. Pre-game and in the dugout, the younger players clearly seem to look to Brian for leadership...Mauer doesn't interact much at all, but prefers to keep to himself. I like the idea of a Dozier-led team, as I think he has Jeter-like qualities. His pre-game preparation is extraordinary, and probably has a lot to do with why he never gets hurt and always seems to be ready at game time. And he is Pied Piper like in this, with several of the younger players following him in his pre-game routine.
Mauer on the other hand is invisible pre-game. Maybe he is stretching in the locker room, but I don't know. And in the dugout, it is Dozier who seems to keep guys loose and who is the first guy off the bench to congratulate a player who has performed.
Where am I going with this? I never liked the personality of a team that was led by Mauer and Morneau. I saw them as gifted players to be sure, but lazy and content to a certain degree, and their laid-back attitudes almost smacked of complacency. And since they were the clear team leaders, this tone rippled through the rest of the squad. This may be harsh, but I see Mauer/Morneau's leadership style as a factor in the poor results the past three years.
I'm optimistic about the future of this club if they continue to adopt more of the habits of Dozier, and fewer of those of the M boys. I think Molitor's presence in the dugout also has a lot to do with what appears to be a more fiery team, and I would love to see him replace Gardy sooner than later.
05-27-2014, 12:09 PM #2
Thanks for this. I think you are on to something, but even those who may not agree with everything you said can appreciate these observations.
05-27-2014, 12:18 PM #3
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I think most would say that Mauer was never a team leader. It's always been clear he wasn't a Type A personality.
Calling him lazy though is probably out of line. He could have been doing any number of pregame preperations including batting practice or hitting off a tee underneath the stadium or studying tape or going over gameplans with the coaches.
05-28-2014, 03:25 PM #4
I will, however, very much disagree with anything related to complacency or lazy when it comes to those guys. Everyone is different, and that's OK. Mauer can be a good leader. Also, we don't see what really goes on, neither does the media. So, making assumptions like the above will continue to bother me.
05-28-2014, 04:23 PM #5
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I'm sure you're right about the unseen preparation. But there are public perceptions...and this team the least 3 years, justly or unjustly, had taken on the rather dull public personalities of it's leading lights- who, perceptions or not, set the tone for a team that has appeared rudderless, they both frequently and unfortunately were either on the DL or the sidelines, and when they were playing, they are less than demonstrative in terms of visible personality cues which would suggest leadership qualities based on their on-field personas. And Mauer has played in a natural "leadership" position, Catcher, all his life, but he's such an "Aw shucks" kind of guy, one never feels he's comfortable embracing the role with his peers. Finally, neither give many public interviews that makes one feel that the Twins were/are their team- again, not a fault, per se, just a function of their personalities.
To paraphrase Shakespeare:
"Be not afraid of becoming a leader: some are born leaders, some achieve a leadership position and some have leadership thrust upon them"
I'm assuming that Mauer is #3, and has had the leadership role being thrust upon him, and he just seems uncomfortable in its embrace when he's letting the team down by not performing at his usual high standards.
I was struck by something my young son mentioned to me after a recent Twins walk-off victory celebration and spontaneous team huddle, from which Mauer was notably at the periphery....My son said something to the effect of: "Wow, look at Mauer, why is it that he always seems to be on the outside looking in?" I told him to give it some more time, let him settle into his new position, adjust at the plate to the dramatic increase in defensive shifts and the lingering concussion issue, he's too good a baseball player and athlete to be held down for long, and that Mauer's leadership primarily comes through to his teammates from his on-field accomplishments. Hopefully, he turns it around real soon- and he can look to his buddy Morneau for help in that endeavor, Morneau has come back from a far deeper hole, he had to endure 3 years of playing at a mere shadow of his true ability while battling the concussion and wrist things, and look it how he's revived his career.
05-28-2014, 04:23 PM #6
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Come on guys, we're only down 8 runs in the 3rd inning, let's get fired up!