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The main clue I’m looking at is the fact that Joe Mauer suffered a sacroiliac joint injury two or three years ago.

I’m certainly no chiropractor and no expert on these matters. But I’ve battled a bad back since my early twenties and in the last year or so I’ve been dealing with sacroiliac problems and disc problems in my lower back. I have felt it. I have experienced it. I am still experiencing it as I write.

This morning I was reading comments to a blog post on the Minneapolis Star-Tribune website, answering the question whether or not the fans are changing their minds about Joe Mauer; that is, is his image in their minds changing at all. I was saddened to see so many negative comments, especially along the lines that Joe Mauer is a wimp, that he needs to “suck it up” and play through pain and injury, that he’s a prima donna who is not willing to play hurt and help his teammates.

Now if Joe was just dealing with some soreness and tiredness, I could go along with those fans. But seeing that Joe had that sacroiliac injury, and knowing how that kind of problem can affect a person, I have to honestly say that those people simply do not understand the seriousness of what Joe’s going through.

The fact that Joe is much younger than I am (I’m 58) and an excellent athlete bodes well for the possibility of his coming back from this and continuing a hall-of-fame career. I know that when I was in my 20s and 30s, even in my 40s, I was able to come back from injuries, even back injuries that had me flat on my back for a week at a time, and continue my job almost as if nothing had happened. But now that I’m in my late-50s, when I’m down, I’m out for much longer. It is now a long, long road back to the health and strength of my younger years. I don’t know if I’ll ever get back to anywhere close to where I was.

I know Joe signed a mega-million dollar contract. I don’t know if he will be able to live up to the terms of that contract, though I do believe he intends to, if he can get healthy and stay healthy. He’s the popular home-town boy, and he wants to stay with the Twins for the rest of his career. He’s become a Minnesota icon, a fan favorite just like Kirby, Herby, Tony, Killer, and Carew.

But for the time being, he has to heal up, so he can get back to playing baseball.

If I’m right about his injury, it could be a career-ender. I hope not, but only God knows.

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