With the bad taste of Jimmy Butler still lingering in the mouths of Minnesota sports fans, Joe Mauer went well outside of his own comfort zone today to remind us all that there are indeed still good guys in sports.
Today's Joe Mauer retirement press conference really couldn't have come at a better time for Minnesota Sports fans.
Still reeling over a debacle across the street in downtown Minneapolis that might have set the Minnesota Timberwolves back five more years, fans in Minnesota were treated to what you would call "the icing on the cake" just one block west at Target field Monday morning.
For most Minnesota fans, the petulant me-first attitude of Jimmy Butler was the most recent memory they were holding onto in there heads. Butler gets shipped out to Philly on Friday ending one of the most embarrassing fiasco's in this cities' pretty embarrassing sports history.
In the wake of his path, Butler left a franchise set back from where it was headed, the future of the organization in question and most notably sports fans who were simply sick of the entitled, arrogant attitude showcased by professional athletes these days.
But then Joe Mauer took to the microphone Monday morning.
Never completely comfortable with all eyes fixed on him, Mauer spent nearly twenty tear-filled minutes thanking anybody and everybody that had anything to do with his career in professional baseball.
He thanked his coaches. Not just that managed him in the major leagues, but the ones that guided him all along the way. He went back to high school, down to the minor leagues and all throughout every position coach and manager he had during his time with the twins.
He thanked is teammates. Both long-time companions and some of the short-timers as well.
He thanked mentors like Tom Kelly and Tony Oliva for the impact they had guiding his career both on and off the field.
He thanked the public relations staff who "taught him how to be a professional" once he hit the major leagues.
He thanked the equipment guys, the front office team, the media and the fans.
And then he thanked his family.
It wasn't just in the ordinary way either. Joe, took the time to look back on specifics, thank his loved ones for their support and focus in on the idea that his 15 year career was not about him, it was BECAUSE OF THEM.
He thanked his brothers for pushing him throughout their youth. He thanked his grandparents for never missing a game all the while clipping out nearly 30 years worth of newspaper clippings about his play. He thanked his in-laws for supporting his wife and kids while he was on the road. He thanked his wife for anchoring their family while his job took him away for weeks at a time.
He thanks everybody. He deflected the entire time. He didn't want it to be about him then, he didn't want it to be about him today.
What a breath of fresh air that is for those of us who cover professional sports. For those of us who watch professional sports and for those of us who support professional athletes.
While it would be easy to be bitter towards millionaire athletes who play a game for a living and still can't get past themselves to live up to their end of a bargain, I hope that we can take note of Joe Mauer. The consummate professional who literally took the path less traveled and has no interest in any of it being about him.
Thank you Joe Mauer. Thank you for restoring my hope in professional athletes, professional sports and humanity as a whole.
There are indeed still good people out there, and Joe Mauer is certainly one of them.