With a 4:07 p.m. start to today’s Minnesota Twins-Detroit Tigers one-game American League Central Division tiebreaker, many St. Thomas students may be finding creative ways to go to class and watch the game.
Even Twins catcher Joe Mauer’s brother has a conflict in watching the one-game playoff.
Jake Mauer is Joe Mauer’s oldest brother and a baseball player in his own right.
Mauer, who helped bring St. Thomas a national baseball title during his senior year in 2001 and was inducted into St. Thomas’ Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007, is now a manager of the Gulf Coast League Twins in Florida.
This is his second year as team manager and his fourth year coaching.
“It’s been an easy transition for me from both player to coach and then to manager,” Mauer said. “Most of the kids in the Gulf Coast League are 18 to 20 years old, so you’re dealing with the younger players, but it’s also very rewarding in the fact that you’re kind of teaching them how we want things done and hopefully get their careers off on a good foot in the organization.”
In addition to cheering the players he manages, Mauer always cheers on little brother Joe. Today’s 163rd game of the season will be no exception.
“I’m actually down here in Florida for fall instructional league, and we bumped our game up to 12 p.m. so we could get out of there early enough to watch the game,” Mauer said.
Last year, Minnesota’s season ended after a 1-0 loss to the White Sox in a tiebreaker to determine the division champion. This season, the Twins became the first team to make up a two-game deficit with just three games remaining.
“Everybody kind of wrote them off as far as left them for dead, but they never really believed it themselves, and that’s the biggest thing,” Mauer said. “You always kind of have to go out there and do your job, and whatever other people are going to say, people are going to say. You know they’re not the ones that are between the lines.”
Detroit is set to put 20-year-old rookie Rick Parcello on the mound. The righty has a 14-9 record and a 4.04 ERA. But even with Parcello’s young age, Mauer said Parcello brings “maturity beyond his years.”
The Twins will start Scott Baker. After being injured for part of the season, Baker is healthy now and has a 15-9 record with a 4.36 ERA.
Many of Jake Mauer’s fellow Tommies also hope the Twins win today.
“I am going to totally bring my computer to class so that I can have a little update there, showing me the game,” said sophomore Allison Baranick. “And then I’ll watch it as soon as I get home.
“I think they really need to focus,” Baranick said. “They are going to be in the Dome, so I think that they need to remember that these are all of their fans and remember that this could be their last game in the Metrodome.”
Junior Steve Nagle likes the fact that the Twins get to have the playoff game at home.
“This year is different because they are playing in the Metrodome,” Nagle said. “They are playing the Tigers. They’re playing a 20-year-old pitcher. He’s going to come in to a really loud Metrodome, with a lot of Homer Hankies waving around. I don’t think they have a chance.”
However the game turns out, Jake Mauer will always be a Twins fan.
“It’s kind of neat growing up in St. Paul because we were all Twins fans since we were little,” Mauer said. “And then I had the opportunity, and then obviously Joe is still up there playing, which is pretty neat and a pretty special thing to be able to go only 10 minutes from your doorstep from where you all grew up and watch Joe play baseball. You really can’t beat it.”
Ashley Bolkcom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org