Monday, May 10, 2010

Is Joe Mauer gay?

An interesting question came up today. Is Joe Mauer gay?

Does Joe Mauer want to have sex with men?

The question came up sarcastically. And asking the question is actually complimentary.

Mauer, the starting catcher of the Minnesota Twins, just signed a ridiculous new contract in which he will gross more than $180 million for his service. He was projected to be a star many years ago. Slowly he lived up to, and exceeded, the hype. Not only is he the reigning American League Most Valuable Player, he's a local boy. He grew up in St. Paul. He is the toast of the town. Every time he stubs his toe, there's intense media scrutiny about his health. Every single day. That's the nature of sports in 2010, like it or not. And if he was the starting catcher for the New York Yankees, increase the media attention exponentially.

Considering his high profile, it's remarkable that I rarely hear anything about his life outside of baseball. You hear the occasional tidbit here and there, but I never hear stories about Mauer showing up at some trendy night spots, running around with a celebutante or hobnobbing with the beautiful people in Hollywood or Las Vegas. It's quite remarkable, and admirable.

So when you hear nothing, almost nothing about a high profile athlete's social life, that's a bit odd. I'm not looking for such information, but I listen to sports radio and I pay attention to local media outlets. Yet I hear almost nothing about his private life. In this day and age, that seems remarkable.

I don't assume all of this to mean anything more than the fact that Mauer, far from a dynamic personality, likes his privacy. But it made me wonder, is there a reason he seems to keep such a low profile? If so, why?

And with that the question was born. Is Joe Mauer gay?

So I decided to see what kind of response I would receive to pondering the question, without background. I didn't explain to people how Mauer's public reputation is squeaky clean, and admirable, thereby prompting the question. I simply posted the question to the small Facebook audience I have, and couched it under the caveat of a newsroom conversation.

There were a few people who made jokes about the idea or made an interesting observation or comment about the idea. And then there were the hypocrites. Three people, two former college friends and an aunt, made "who cares" comments. I initially said that nobody really cares, but realized that technically a lot of people care, citing one silly reason.

Do people care if Sandra Bullock's husband cheated on her? Do people care if Tiger Woods cheated on his wife? Do people care if some country music artist I've never heard of is a lesbian?

How do you define care?

Let's say that by being interested in the topic, you care. Interest equals care.

It's funny how we all wanted to know so much about Tiger Woods, and how many women he had sex with. (By the way, Woods never wanted any of us to know any of it.) Why is it OK to follow the Woods story, but wondering if Mauer is heterosexual or homosexual is some sort of taboo subject?

There is a fundamental difference, of course. Woods didn't want us to know any of the details, but they leaked. We, the celebrity-adoring public, wanted to know more about something that was made public knowledge, and responded to it. If Mauer wants to keep his personal life private, talking about his personal relationships is nothing more than speculation.

Here's where the "who cares" response fails, and leaves said crowd looking like hypocrites.

Does the crowd ignore all media coverage of George Clooney? Do they say "who cares" every time Entertainment Tonight talks about Clooney's date for some major media spectacle? How about when it is speculated that he's going to star in a new movie? Do they care then?

People are a fan of Clooney, and others are a fan of Mauer. (There are probably plenty of Minnesota women who are a fan of both.) I can't prove it, but I doubt the suggestion that George Clooney may have a new girlfriend raises any objection from the crowd. Yet somehow the crowd deems it appropriate to make a "who cares" statement when a question is raised about Joe Mauer's personal life.

And if you don't care, why do you care enough to respond to my comment posted publicly to my Facebook audience? Why don't you ignore any speculation about Mauer's personal life?

Because you are a hypocrite.

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