Big League Stew - MLB

He does not come off as straight outta Compton (he's from St. Paul, Minn.) but reigning AL MVP Joe Mauer(notes) enjoys listening to music about the thug life — to the point that he's put down actual hip-hop beats with pals in a home studio. During a recent session with Answer Man, the game's best catcher tried to explain his musical taste, along with what sours him on fantasy football and how to beat bowling great Ron Gardenhire at his natural sport.

David Brown: What was the first hip-hop song that grabbed your attention?

Joe Mauer: Jeez, you're starting off with some pretty tough ones, huh? Oh, I dunno. I've been listening to it my whole life so I couldn't pick just one. Mostly [I listen] because of the beats and not necessarily the words. Just the way it sounds.

DB: You have a favorite artist?

JM: I've got a few. T.I. is one of my favorites. Among the older ones, Tupac and Biggie and Snoop. I like Lil Wayne. ... It' not rap, but ever since I was younger, the only concert I ever really wanted to go to was a Michael Jackson concert.

DB: Michael Cuddyer(notes) and Denard Span(notes) have said you "bury" yourself in a home studio and record beats and rhymes.

JM: [Laughs]. No ... no.

DB: How long was your longest marathon recording session?

JM: Usually, we just ... I have some friends over and we just hang out and have fun with it. But I haven't done it in a long time.

DB: So it was a phase in your life? You're over it?

JM: I guess so. I mean, I like to do it, I just haven't had time to "bury" myself in it like those guys might say.

DB: Enough to record an album?

JM: Nah. Couple songs, yeah. Not an album. It's one of those things where we're messing around for a few laughs.

DB: Have you given yourself a rap name?

JM: No, no.

DB: What about one of your friends? Any of them call you "Catcher 'N' Da Rhymez" or "Ben Caught Steal-n"?

JM: Uh, no. But those are two that I've never heard before [laughs]. They're not bad. Besides, I like to think of myself more as the producer than rapper.

DB: The guy behind the guy. Like a Dr. Dre, though he performs too.

JM: Yeahhhh, definitely. That would be a good one.

DB: Read this item: Is it true a 4-year-old Joe Mauer locked himself in a closet while your dad and two older brothers went to a Twins' World Series Game in 1987?

JM: It was '87. I remember that I didn't get to go. My brothers got to go but I think they went with my aunt and uncle. I had to stay home with my parents. So, yeah, I wasn't too happy. I got pretty fired up.

DB: Did you eventually come out and watch the game on TV?

JM: It took me a couple of innings but, eventually, I made it out there.

DB: How many '87 Twins can you name?

JM: Hmm, let's see ... Gary Gaetti, Greg Gagne, Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek ... was Rick Aguilera on that team?

DB: He was '91.

JM: Bert Blyleven, right? Frank Viola, Al Newman.

DB: Do you remember the other guy who played second? Steeeeeeve ....

JM: Oh, Steve ... [shoot] ... Lombardozzi! Was Dan Gladden on that team?

DB: Yep!

JM: Was Shane Mack on that team? No, he was '91.

DB: Who was the catcher?

JM: Who did we have for catcher? Tim Laudner. ... I also remember Randy Bush and Gene Larkin. How many is that? That's not too bad!

DB: Did you ever play fantasy baseball growing up?

JM: Nope. Never really had the time; too busy actually playing [laughs]. I played fantasy football, though.

DB: How do you do?

JM: Only did that for a couple of years and then we had a conspiracy so it kind of turned me sour. Our league's commissioner, Lew Ford(notes) at the time, was doing some shady things that ... I'd rather not talk about [laughs].

DB: Isn't he in Japan right now?

JM: I don't know where Lou is right now. He's probably fleeing the authorities [laughs].

(Editor's note: Ford is playing ball — baseball, anyway — in Mexico.)

JM: It was the J 'n' M boys. It was me and Mornie [Justin Morneau(notes)]. We actually hired Cuddyer as our GM one year. That didn't turn out too well.

DB: Sounds like a mess.

JM: It was a mess, for two years, that's why we're no longer doing it. I'd rather just play anyway.

DB: If you had a team, would you call it the Lawn Mauers?

JM: That's pretty creative and another first I've heard, as far as puns on my name.

DB: Do you miss living with Morneau?

JM: Nope [laughs]. No, we had some good times. It was a fun year. It was a busy year.

DB: What kind of car do you drive?

JM: A Billy Mauer Chevrolet [laughs]!

DB: You'll do commercials for them, right? "Zero-percent financing, no-money down"?

JM: [Laughs] Well, he is my brother. I'll do whatever I can to help out when I'm asked.

DB: The Twins train you guys well in commercial acting.

JM: I've done a lot of Twins ones that turned out very funny. I've gotten a lot of good feedback on the Playstation commercial.

DB: Do you wear No. 7 because of Mickey Mantle?

JM: No, but that would be a good reason. It was actually the first jersey they handed me in rookie ball after I signed my first professional contract. I joined the team later in the season and I don't know if the kid before me got promoted or what, but it was hanging in my locker when I arrived. And it was available [in the majors] so I decided to take it up here.

DB: Can you hit .400?

JM: I dunno. I dunno. Never say never.

DB: You took 27 of 28 first-place votes for MVP last season. What if you try just a little harder this year. Will you get them all?

JM: [Laughs]. I'll try ... really, I'm just trying to help us win a World Series.

DB: What are the chances of you just waking up one morning and shaving your sideburns off?

JM: Not very likely because then I'd have to answer all sorts of questions about why I shaved them off. They might be on for a while.

DB: Whose sideburns do you admire?

JM: Jim Thome's.(notes)

DB: What happens when you and Ron Gardenhire go bowling?

JM: Gardy's better. He's more consistent. I can fire some high scores sometimes, but if we play three games, he'll more than likely get me.

DB: What are you drinking during the beer frame?

JM: Well, I would work on getting Gardy drunk. ... No, actually, he bowls better when he's had a few. But I'd try to distract him somehow. Have to resort to something.

DB: You're the right age. What are the chances of you pulling a Chris Weinke and suiting up for Florida State under center this fall?

JM: Slim.

DB: What turns you off to the program? No more Bobby Bowden?

JM: Ah, it's not the program. It's just that this baseball thing's going pretty good. So far.

Follow Dave on Twitter — @answerdave.

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