There have been a lot of comments made that it's great that Mauer is stepping up and taking the leadership role on the team. He is one year removed from an MVP so that is a role that he should have. He also will be making a lot more money next season to be a leader, a catcher, and a hitter. This could be a big step toward that.
One of the issues that everyone seems to be having with Mauer is that he hasn't really shown up for the first two ALDS games. You can start the list of excuses with the fact that both pitchers thus far have been left-handed. But Mauer has been hitting off of lefties and righties all season so that negates that excuse. The other excuse out there in the Twins Cities media is that Mauer might be more hurt than the Twins are letting us know. You can see it when he runs down the first baseline and when he tries to walk down the steps of the dugout. His knee isn't healthy right now. But his team needs him and he is out there giving everything he can.
Here is what I think Mauer's pep talk to the team sounded like today:
"Gosh fellas' this really stinks. We open up the playoffs at our brand new stadium in front of our fans and we can't get a win. Some calls didn't go our way but that's no excuse. We can be a team of destiny this year. We still have life left and goals to reach this season. The ALCS and World Series are still on our to do list."
"This is no time to quit. Other teams might quit in this situation but not the Twins. We have to beat the Yankees one time in Game 3 and the future will take care of itself. The Twins always play hard and that will never change. The Red Sox were in a hole bigger than this against the Yankees a few seasons ago and they got out of it. We can be that team."
"I could have been at one of the greatest Twins games of all-time, Game 6 of the 1991 World Series. My brother got to go instead of me and I missed one of the greatest World Series performances ever. Kirby Puckett had the catch and the home-run that made him a legend. Before that game he gave a speech to his team, much like the one that I am giving to you now. I am going to use some of the same words he did that night. Jump on board boys. I'm going to carry us tonight. Don't even worry about it. Just back me up a little and I'll take us the rest of the way."
It might not have sounded exactly like that, but I still would have gotten goosebumps. And after a speech like that I am expecting great things from Mr. Mauer in Game 3.
The Twins are on your back, Joe. Carry 'em.