The Twins lead all of baseball with 93 home runs. Shocking isn’t it. Twins fans dig the long ball, and they will get to see a lot of dingers on June 15 when the early 2000s makes its way back to Target Field.
Joe Mauer has gathered his old teammates and some other athlete-friends for a softball home run challenge. Proceeds go to Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. Get tickets here.
When I first heard of the challenge I thought ‘Sweet, block off my schedule, and I will spend a day in the cities for this and a Twins game,’ but the Twins are on the road in Seattle. This home run challenge will be Tuesday at 1 p.m. at Target Field.
Here’s a look at who’s competing: Dr. Trenton Cooper, Brian Dozier, Brian Duensing, Chad Greenway, Garrett Jones, Jason Kubel, Joe Nathan, Zach Parise, Mark Parrish, Glen Perkins, Trevor Plouffe, Jim Thome, Darin Mastroianni, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Nick Punto
Managers: Ron Gardenhire, Joe Vavra
I’m not 100% on how the rules will work, but according to the press release, every athlete competing gets two opportunities to hit as many home runs as possible. The top eight will compete in a single-elimination bracket until the champion is crowned.
This is how I predict it plays out:
Dr. Trenton Cooper - Dr. Cooper is an orthopedic surgeon at Gillette Children’s Hospital. He is a healthcare hero who gets a huge standing ovation from the crowd. While all the athletes admire him, he flops and will not be making it on to the next round, but he does it all with a smile on his face.
Brian Dozier - The crowd goes wild as this southern boy makes his return to Target Field. Dozier spends most his time in the dugout BS’ing with Trevor Plouffe who won’t stop asking him about what hair product he uses. Dozier hits bombs, remembering his time in the MLB Homerun Derby at Target Field. He makes it to the next round and does get heckled by a few Twins scouts, thinking of their injury-prone team, throwing some numbers his way.
Chad Greenway - Chad shows up with his Gray Duck marketing team, cameras left and right. He offers shots to any and everyone. The few pitches he hits square he MASHES but does not make it to the next round. He doesn’t stick around to hang with the other competitors. You can find him out in the Gray Duck Bar in left serving up more drinks.
Garrett Jones - Garrett Jones shows up and gets a quiet clap from Twins fans who can’t remember any of the 31 games he played for the team. Some remember him as a distant relative of Ron the Coom Dawg Coomer but otherwise can’t place him. I mention a quiet clap, but I fail to mention the loud yips and shrieks from middle-aged moms who brought their sons and daughters to the game to catch some homers. They are excited to see Jones. Jones is a sleeper, still a young buck celebrating his 40th birthday in a few days, he cracks some dingers and makes it to the second round.
Jason Kubel - Kubel shows up to everyone’s surprise. Many hadn’t heard or seen from the guy in years. Some South Dakota fans hoot and holler because they still consider him one of the Great Faces to come from the Rushmore State, even though he really did not live there long and considers himself a Cali boy. These same fans mark this up on their ‘why we are the better Dakota list’ having TWO South Dakotans in Joe Mauer’s Charity Event to North Dakota’s none. Impeccable. Kubel puts his muscle and hours of hitting to the kids he coaches to good use. He makes it to the next round.
Joe Nathan - Nathan steps up to the plate nervous as all get-out. He steps out of the box after every pitch and breaths heavily with his lips together, so they vibrate wildly. He gets the swing of things, no pun intended, after a few pitches, but he wouldn’t put together enough good swings to make it to the next round. He spends the rest of the afternoon sweating under the hot sun signing autographs.
Zach Parise - The crowd goes WILD for this guy, as he is part of one of the few successful Minnesota teams. Parise steps up to the plate with a vengeance. He’s still mad about his playing time in the playoffs against Vegas, and takes it out on the softball. Though, he quickly remembers hockey is his sport. No second round for Parise. The crowd is a little bummed.
Mark Parrish - Mark has the loudest, and most youthful cheering section as hundreds of the kids he has coached showed up with gloves in hand to catch a Mark Parrish dinger. He also does not make it to round two.
Glen Perkins - Perkins is happy to see all his old teammates at a place he still regulars quite often because he is a television man now. He is happy to be part of a good cause. He gives it a go, but does not make it to round two.
Trevor Plouffe - The crowd is happy Plouffe is back at Target Field. Plouffe shows up with a pad and pen trying to determine, of the competitors, who is the best looking. Trevor thinks he has a good shot of topping the list, but then Garrett Jones walks in. Plouffe puts his notepad away, but makes a mental note to discuss this in his next podcast. Plouffe has been taking bp for this for weeks in Cali. He has a dog in the fight and makes it to round two.
Jim Thome - Thome shows up without his ox. The Illinois man gets in the batter’s box and the right field concourse is packed. The flag right of the American flag has been changed to a massive flag with Thome’s face on it. He connects, perfectly placing his home runs, hitting all three flag poles in right field. He moves on to the next round.
Darin Mastroianni - Mastroianni comes to the field with the most energy of everyone. He is excited to hit home runs but even more excited to ask everyone how they are handling their finances since being retired. He hands all players and staff his Edward Jones business card and is the last one to leave Target Field at day’s end. He and Nick Punto spent hours looking at Nick’s investment opportunities. Oh, Darin did make it past the first round, but just barely.
Joe Mauer - The man the myth the legend, Joe Mauer. Mauer’s the sponsor of the event and the winner will be named the Mauer & Friends Home Run Challenge Champion, so it would be cool if he took home the crown. Joe steps up to the plate. The crowd goes wild. He takes a pitch and then tees off. He has been altering his swing to really get under the ball. He doesn’t care if it messes up his swing for life. Maddie, Maren, Emily and Charles cheer him on, and he is off to the next round.
Justin Morneau - Morneau’s only goal is to hit more home runs than Mauer. Just kidding he wants to win, it all. During his time in the booth, every commercial break, he has been calculating launch angle and exit velocity... and figuring out where to best place the ball while putting the least amount of strain on his body... to increase longevity. After responding to viewer emails from old women who once disliked him on-air, but now can’t stand when he misses a series, he heads to Jimmy John’s, grabs his turkey sandwich, gets to the field, finishes his Slurpee Punto poured him, and steps up to the plate. Justin hits bombs. The same kids who were collecting Thome homers run around, to catch even more Morneau home runs. Justin moves on.
Nick Punto - Everyone is happy to see Nick Punto. Maybe the original piranha. He is constantly on his phone because his little league assistant coach has to fill in tonight and is asking a million questions. Nick walks up to the plate, wearing his 2011 World Series ring of course, and hits a few homers, but it wouldn’t be enough. He still manages to find a way to slide headfirst into first base. Justin Morneau politely reminds him that Sports Science has proven running through the base gets you there quicker. Nick ignores him, and upset about his defeat, challenges everyone to a ping-pong tournament, something he knows he will dominate in.
When it’s all said and done, my pick to win is...........
Drum roll please.
I mean he does sit and watch Cruz mash daily and has to think ‘ya know, I AM younger than him. I could still be doing that.’
Oh one final note, why no Torii Hunter?????!!