One of the most faithful readers of this feature is a former B of A colleague who I greatly admire for his fine wit, affable personality, business acumen and unparalleled ability to consume sandwiches that are generally available only in gas stations. He is also known as Budum the Harvest Sprite, thanks to the ministrations of my fellow blogger and confrere Red Scourge.
Herr Budum has requested that we profile the recent exploits of Joe Mauer and the failure of the United States in the World Cup. Asked and answered, good sir!
First, Joe Mauer. Since his emergence from the Cretin Derham Hall athletic factory in the late 1990s, Joe Mauer has been a local legend for his multi-sport exploits. He had an opportunity to lead a big-time college football program as a quarterback, but instead signed a contract with the Minnesota Twins in 2001. Mauer is now 23 years old and is already in his third major league season. His batting average currently sits at .384, following a torrid hitting stretch this past week. He has a ton of talent - no doubt about that. He hits line drives to all fields, has exceptional plate discipline and one of the best hitting eyes in the major leagues. He will eventually hit for power, probably 25-30 home runs a season. In many ways, he reminds me of a hybrid between George Brett, the great Royals 3rd baseman, and Ted Williams, the legendary Red Sox slugger. Both Brett and Williams are among the greatest hitters of all time and both are members of the Hall of Fame. Will Mauer get there, too? It's awfully early, but based on his hitting alone, he should have a chance.
Now, the World Cup. My son will be writing about this over the weekend on his blog, so I don't want to steal his thunder. But as a baseball man, I have a hard time mustering a lot of interest in the events in Germany. It appears that, after 30 years of build-up and countless attempts to hype the sport, that the U.S. is approaching competence in this sport, but the national team was no match for the Czechs yesterday. Our best athletes do not play soccer; if that changes, I would expect the U.S. to contend for the championship. That's not the case now, so it's pretty easy to see why the U.S. team would struggle against top-notch competition. The soccer cognoscenti continue to hype and market the sport here, but they haven't made a lot of progress yet. And that doesn't seem likely to change in the near future. I'll always put a ball game on first.