How many "best parts" can a photo have? This picture of Minnesota Twins superstar Joe Mauer at (perhaps) 9 years old has too many to count.
• The Zubaz pants. They've been making a comeback, thank goodness, but for a while it appeared the striped wonders would remain a relic of the late 1980s and early '90s. Every kid in '92 (with any taste) wanted Zubaz, and obviously Mauer's parents came through for the lad.
• The reluctant smile for the camera. Mauer (from what I can tell) is genuinely friendly, and a nice guy as an adult, but there's some shyness there also. His emotions mostly stay under the surface, a lament of some Twins watchers. It makes sense that, while he's obviously happy about winning a basketball trophy and wearing those pants, something prevents him from showing a grin. As the inset photo of Mauer shows, it's obvious he's worked on that part of his personality.
• The bangs. Oh my gosh darn it, the bangs. That's the price you pay for Zubaz pants; subjecting yourself to bangs because that's what mom wants. It's "kid pro quo" at its most elemental. Note, again in the inset photo, how Mauer's catcher's helmet simulates the bangs today. Mauer is in charge of his own haircut now — he's an adult — but he's still got mom on his mind. That's for you, Mrs. Mauer.
• The basketball trophy. We don't know precisely what he got it for, but it's likely that Mauer's team won a tournament. He was, after all, a 12-sport star by the time high school came.
• The house. As Twitter follower Bob Bohland said:
— Bob Bohland (@dropshotbob) May 23, 2013
— Bob Bohland (@dropshotbob) May 23, 2013
Can you imagine? The original Mauer Compound in the Twin Cities! It's like seeing where George Washington, or Jay-Z, or the Corleones from "The Godfather" grew up! Love the brick. Indifferent about the awning.
• The shoes. Untied high-tops. Who can't relate to that? My grandfather was a photographer, and one of the best tips he ever gave anyone taking a picture was, "Everybody's got feet." In other words, don't worry about capturing every inch of the person. Waist-and-up is fine. Thank goodness his sage advice was ignored here. Not only do we see all of the Zubaz, but we get to see Joe Mauer's untied shoes. Crucial to the adorableness quotient of the photo.
This photo has been kind of an internet legend for a few years, having been discussed at places like Randball. It showed up on the Facebook site for Zubaz on Wednesday, and Danny Ferris, one of the MLB Fan Cave dwellers, tweeted about it. And now it's part of The Stew's permanent record. I'm going to celebrate by buying some Zubaz pants.
If you thought homering off Roy Halladay in his major league debut — while his father was being interviewed on the television broadcast, no less — would be the highlight of Evan Gattis' rookie season, you were mistaken. The improbable rise of the 26-year-old catcher hasn't been slowed down since, and many more highlights have followed.
The past week, especially, has been remarkable for Gattis. On Saturday, his two-run pitch-hit home run in the eighth inning helped the Braves rally past for the Dodgers for a 3-1 win. On Tuesday night, Gattis did it again, hitting a two-out, pinch-hit homer in the ninth to tie the game. Atlanta then won 5-4 in 10 on Freddie Freeman's walkoff single.
How could he possibly top either of those big moments while starting for Brian McCann on Wednesday afternoon? Simple. He connected for his first career grand slam — 10th homer overall — to break the game open as the Braves completed their three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins with an 8-3 win.
That's about as good a five game stretch as a now part-time rookie can have. Unfortunately, though, it won't go down as a perfect stretch. He did commit one relatively large, but easily corrected mental blunder on Wednesday.
Fellow rookie Cory Rasmus (brother of Colby Rasmus) made his major league debut in the eighth inning in relief of starter of Paul Maholm. It went well, at least initially, as Rasmus finished the inning with a routine fly ball and his first career strikeout of Chris Colabello. Traditionally, that's a baseball that's thrown out of play so the pitcher can keep it as a momento. With the inning ending, however, Gattis held on to the ball.
Then, in a moment of complete unawareness (and equal hilarity), Gattis tossed the ball to a little girl sitting near the Braves dugout despite several of his teammates attempting to get his attention to stop his undoubtedly kind, but absentminded act.
Gattis quickly realized his mistake and joined in the pleas to get the baseball back. Fortunately for him, it was returned almost immediately with the little girl receiving a substitute ball. Good news, but that still didn't stop Gattis' teammates, and even manager Fredi Gonzalez, from reminding him about the brain cramp after the game.
All in good fun, of course.
''We've got to teach him a little more court awareness,'' Gonzalez quipped.
Not surprisingly, Gattis' teammates were ragging him about the faux pas in the clubhouse.
''I wasn't even thinking about it,'' he said, shaking his head. ''I don't know what to say.''
It's actually very easy to see how it could happen. With so much to think about as a game manager behind the plate, the last thing on his mind would be Rasmus' career milestone. Gattis' first instinct as a good-hearted ballplayer was to make a fan happy, so you can't fault him, either. But again, it might take a couple more game-tying home runs before he lives this one down.
As for how Rasmus' debut ended. Well, let's just say there were a couple more souvenirs involved. In the ninth inning, he allowed solo home runs to Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia. Thanks to Gattis, though, it didn't hurt the Braves one bit as their advantage remained plenty comfortable.
Needing a roster spot for Saturday's starting pitcher, the Twins oddly chose to demote one of their better hitters back to the minor leagues.
Sanchez 1-hits the Twins. Which is better than a no-hitter.
Your best non-Fast & Furious 6 entertainment option for tonight is right here.
Have we mentioned Samuel Deduno is a WBC hero yet? Just checking.
One Anoka resident has seen just about enough out of the Twins' All-Star catcher.
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