Put Favre down and pass the Joe

It’s hard to argue that Minnesota has been the epicenter of the sports world in the last week.

After hosting the PGA Championship, the state got a jolt with news that Brett Favre would be playing for the Vikings this year (have you heard about it at all? I know it’s been discussed minimally). Then Twins’ catcher Joe Mauer tried to steal the show.

The star continues to impress early in his career, and proves that a catcher doesn’t have to be on the team simply for defense. After flirting with a .400 batting average several times already, Mauer is adding power to his trips to the plate as well.

Good luck finding a way to get him out. Mauer has terrorized American League pitchers this season. He added two home runs in a 9-6 win over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night and now has 25 home runs on the season.

Oh, and his season didn’t start until May 1, because he sat out the first month with a back injury. At least we’ve found one thing that can slow him down.

As for the batting title that Mauer has already won before, it looks to be his again this year. His 3-for-5 night against the Rangers yesterday jumped his average to .383, which leads the league. While challenging for .400 seems highly unlikely this late in the season (17 points is a lot to make up after logging so many at-bats already), there is no doubt that he may be the only logical option to achieve that feat in the future.

ESPN reported a stat this morning, listing the last five players to have a .380 batting average and at least 25 home runs at this point in the season. The last five players to do so were Mauer, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, and Babe Ruth.

And he’s doing all of this in the heat of the summer, at the catcher’s position. A little superhuman if you ask me.

The recent boost to Mauer’s batting average is due in part to his 15-game hitting streak that is still running. Not only is Mauer getting the hits necessary to extend that streak every night, but he is adding a few extra every night for the heck of it.

His batting average in those 15 games is .524, and he has ten multihit games in that stretch. Imagine the possibilities if he hadn’t sat out that first month of the season.

So with a young phenom doing things that haven’t been done since Ted Williams, you’d think the city of Minneapolis would be whipped into a Joe Mauer frenzy. But with the news breaking of Brett Favre joining the Vikings after swearing he wouldn’t, one of the stories of the 2009 baseball season has been pushed off the front page.

Some people still do care, Joe. And we hope you continue to purify the game of baseball in an age of liars and cheaters.

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