Mauer was the 2001 Gatorade National Player of the Year in both baseball and football as a senior at Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul. He was all set to follow fellow CDH alum Chris Weinke -- the 2000 Heisman Trophy winner -- at Florida State (after Weinke had given minor league baseball a six-year try himself), but when his hometown Minnesota Twins took him with the first pick in the June 2001 amateur draft, he turned FSU down and embarked on a baseball career, motivated to follow in the footsteps of yet another CDH graduate, future Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, who had finished his playing career three years earlier in a Twins uniform.
Rix, incidentally, despite his college achievements, is not the most decorated alum of Los Angeles-area Bishop Amat High School's football program, which produced Pat Haden, Eric Bieniemy, and Brian Russell. Rix played baseball for Bishop Amat as well, but didn't make a career out of it like Michael Young, Dan Haren, and Mike Lamb did.
Back to baseball, and it's probably time to get to the Rangers angle.
Was it serendipity that the Twins chose first in 2001, in a Cavaliers-LeBron sort of way? Yeah, maybe, but even if they chose 2nd or 3rd or 4th in that draft, they still might have gotten him. Most considered Mark Prior and Mark Teixeira to be the better draft prospects, and Tampa Bay chose Dewon Brazelton third (rather than Teixeira) because of signability.
When Mauer signed his landmark eight-year, $184 million contract extension last month, I heard some local venom on local talk radio about Teixeira's refusal to stay in Texas while Mauer chose loyalty over cash (though that can be debated) by locking up long-term rather than selling himself to Boston or the Yankees next winter.
But really -- given the chance to rewrite history, as a Rangers fan would you trade Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Beau Jones (all acquired from Atlanta for Teixeira), and Justin Smoak (drafted No. 11 in 2008) right now for Teixeira and Ethan Martin (drafted No. 15 in 2008)?
I get the praise for Joe Mauer. I really do, and I have much respect for the man. And I'm a Mark Teixeira fan.
But let's not go overboard on the turn of events that made Teixeira a Brave (and an Angel, and a Yankee) instead of a lifelong Ranger. This franchise is better off due to Teixeira's disinterest in sticking around.
Jamey Newberg is a contributor to MLB.com. A Dallas lawyer, he has been an insane Texas Rangers fan since the days of scheduled doubleheaders, Bat Nights when they actually handed out a piece of lumber instead of a grocery store voucher, and Jim Umbarger. He has covered the Texas Rangers, from the big club down through the entire farm system, since 1998 on his website, NewbergReport.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.