Tonight, for the first time since the first half of April, Joe Mauer will participate in a Major League game for the Minnesota Twins. The first month and a half after his departure were abysmal, making his absence even more pronounced if only because of his $23 million dollar salary. And no matter how you look at it, it has been a long, frustrating, and curiously drawn-out absence.
But tonight, when he's announced prior to the game in the starting lineup, I'll cheer. When he climbs the dugout steps to squat behind home plate and take Brian Duensing's warmup throws, I'll cheer. And when he finally steps into the batter's box to take his first plate appearance in more than two months, I'll cheer then, too.
I'll be honest. I don't know why any Twins fan wouldn't cheer.
Mauer is, unequivocally, the best and most talented player on the roster. He's also the prodigal son, whether that means anything to some of us or not. Both of those are reasons why he's making as much money as he is, but as far as I'm concerned the money has nothing to do with this because it doesn't matter if Mauer is making $23 million or the league minimum. I believe in the integrity of certain players, and one of those guys is definitely Joe. Ultimately we have absolutely no control over how much time he missed anyway, no matter what you think about it.
He's the home town kid made good. He's the best player on the roster, and potentially one of the best catchers to ever play the sport. I'm glad he's back, and I'm welcoming him back with open arms.
Mauer playing for the Twins makes them a better team.
For me that's all that matters. It's that simple.