Mauer's contract about Twins, not 'baseball'

Chris Ruddick on the best news of the week (so far):

    The baseball gods smiled upon the sport on Sunday when it was announced that the Minnesota Twins locked up catcher Joe Mauer with an eight-year, $184 million extension.

    Now, as much fun as it would have been to watch the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox fall over each other for the right to land the American League's reigning Most Valuable Player, it just wouldn't have been right had Mauer left Minnesota for, let's just say, greener pastures.

    Had he hit the free agent market Mauer probably would have been able to reap over $200 million. Free Agency is always tempting, especially when you are one of the top five players in the game, but as a native of St. Paul, Minnesota, he had to stay.

    While I think it is good for the game that he stayed, it is not as if Mauer gave the Twins any kind of hometown discount here. I mean, the deal is easily the highest ever handed out by the Twins and is the fourth-largest contract in Major League Baseball history.

Yes. It's a big deal. As we've already said, it's not abundantly clear that the Yankees would have engaged in a bidding war, if given a chance. As we haven't said (but might have), there's not a great deal of difference between $184 million and "over $200 million" (if we assume it wouldn't have much over $200 million).

I honestly don't know if it's good for the game. I think it's probably good for the Twins, and their fans. I think it's probably good for the diehards like me and you, because a game where the Yankees can't simply buy the best players is a more interesting game. But usually when someone's talking about the good of "the game," they're not talking about me and you; they're talking about attendance and revenues, most of which are driven by casual fans and corporations ... and I haven't yet seen any evidence to suggest that casual fans or corporations are particularly bothered by the Yankees' payroll.