What if pieces are fun. You can speculate to your little heart's content. In this piece, I will investigate how things would be different for the Twins if they had drafted Mark Prior instead of Joe Mauer. Come fly with me:
If this truly is the end of Mark Prior's illustrious career, we can only look back with fond memories. While his ERA is currently north of six, his durability over the last decade and change has added a lot of innings onto his strong right arm. His team is toying with sending him to the bullpen and Prior has stated that he may retire at the end of the season.
Despite his recent struggles, the 33-year-old multiple Cy Young Award winner and World Series MVP from 2004 will go down as one of the greatest Twins in the history of the franchise. When you hop in your hovercar this afternoon and take your afternoon food pill, just try to remember the glory days of Mark Prior. Fans, fanbots, and teammates alike are fond of the fiery competitor who brought a World Series to what used to be Minnesota and is now Containment Unit 4.
One of the last remaining human players in the Majors, Prior has earned the respect of human teammates and cyborg teammates alike. Prior has been welcome to the newer cyborg players, despite the fact that they have nearly replaced all human players. Prior quickly realized that the best way to approach cyborg hitters was to get scouting reports from cyborg pitchers.
When asked about Prior, Shortstop Unit 001011 stated, "Mark William Prior (born September 7, 1980) is an American professional baseball player." Upon having his mainframe reset, Shortstop Unit 001011 added, "Mark Prior is a quality teammate. He is a gamer. He goes out and gets after whatever it is. End communication."
In fact, Prior has always had the respect of his teammates. Former teammate and current Galactic Explorations Pilot, Jacque Jones was always fond of his former teammate.
"Mark was a huge part of that 2004 World Series team. The two complete game shutouts against the Yankees in the ALCS propelled us to the World Series. You could argue that his dominance was what caused George Steinbrenner to start experimenting with cyborg players. The Yankees knew they couldn't beat us with humans, at least not with Prior on the mound. In fact, I feel the Cyborg Yankee fans have Mark to thank for their mini-dynasty. But mostly, I just remember his intensity."
Just looking at a list of recent World Series winners, you can see a slight correlation in what Jones had to say:
- 2003: Boston Red Sox
- 2004: Minnesota Twins
- 2005: Chicago White Sox
- 2006: St. Louis Cardinals
- 2007: New York Cyborg Yankees
- 2008: New York Super Cyborg Yankees
- 2009: Super New York Super Cyborg Yankees
- 2010: Super Montreal MechaExpos
- 2011: Containment Unit 67
- 2012: St. Louis Cardinals
- 2013: Containment Unit 98
When the League expanded to 400 teams in 2007, many thought it would make room for more human players. However, Prior remains as just one of just twenty-seven players from his era and species. The vast majority of those 27 players serve as informal player-coaches who serve as de facto translators between the cyborg players and the human media.
Starting around the 2008 season, Prior's production hit a slight decline. Many blamed the massive influx of new cyborg players who were programmed specifically to hit and pitch. Others blamed the new baseball, the new fields, the new mound, the new stadiums, the new playing surface, the new uniforms and armor, and basically the new game. Others blamed some trees that were put in center field. Those people were sent to Sector 12.
Baseball is about adjustments, and Prior made his. Starting in the 2009 season, Prior began toying with a new "glpitch." This glitch pitch was easily noticeable to the human eye, but for some reason, the cyborgs really struggled to adapt. It was almost as though they had not been programmed to hit a ball that was lofted underhand.
In a recent interview, Prior explained where he got his inspiration:
"I found an old TV and I thought, wow, I haven't seen one of these since we all had those entertainment microchips implanted in our brains. I figured, I better make the most of this in case the TV gets confiscated for the National Humans Museum. So, I grabbed my old copy of Rookie of the Year and had myself a nice, little evening. When Henry loses his fastball, I always tear up. But, that little guy gave me the inspiration I needed to combat these freaking half-human/half-robots. Float it. Float it. Float it."
2009 was tinkering year, but he figured it all out for 2010. Prior's floater ball would take the Majors by storm in the 2010 and 2011 seasons. He posted consecutive sub-2.00 ERA seasons, a feat that has since been matched about 25 million times. However, this was before the league expanded to 90,000 teams and all bats were replaced with giant elastic bands. Unfortunately, his organization had failed to adapt to the new wave of cyborg players, instead preferring to use an entire team of 5' 7" second basemen who scrap. While Prior won back-to-back Cy Young, the Twins finished both seasons in the basement of the Section 010010 standings.
Unfortunately for Prior, the cyborgs were all reprogrammed following the 2012 steroids scandal that rocked Major League Baseball. It was determined at that point that Alex Rodriguez had injected every single cyborg with a human-growth hormone of sorts. The ensuing war between supercyborgs and regular cyborgs/humans nearly wiped out the 2012 World Series. Once everything calmed down a bit, the cyborgs were fixed and patched to hit Prior's floater. His career would not be the same. He scuffled as a relief pitcher in 2013 and has had a similarly low level of success in 2014.
Of course, Prior's story would not be complete if the 2001 draft was not addressed. A consensus top two pick, Prior was at the mercy of the Minnesota Twins and their hometown kid, Joe Mauer. The Twins could have played it safe and selected the local boy, but they went for the home run with Prior. Mauer ended up with the then Chicago Cubs, now the Super MechaChicago Murder Grizzlies. Former manager Dusty Baker recently weighed in on the Prior/Mauer situation.
"For us, you really couldn't lose. We were either going to get a premier starting pitcher or a premier catcher. Either way, we win and we didn't even have to pick, we just got the guy who fell to us. We're very happy with Joe. Having him around really prepared us for the mindset of your average cyborg player."
In the end, the grass is always greener on the other side. Well, if grass was still green. Ploople grass is still grass though, and it appears that both teams are pretty happy with who they drafted. Prior led the Twins to their third and final World Series. Mauer's Cubs would eventually be combined with the Chicago White Sox and renamed the Murder Grizzlies. While they didn't win a title, they were always competitive. They then moved to Containment Unit 43. Mauer is still active, although recent reports have questioned if he may have actually originally broken the cyborg barrier back in 2003.
The Minnesota Twins are no longer. Containment Unit 4 is doing fine, although they have been in a bit of a decline since PriorFloatPatch.exe was implemented. While Prior made his name with the Twins, Containment Unit 4's fans did witness the renaissance of the human player from 2010-2011. It makes you wonder if they will retire both Prior's Minnesota number 22 and his Containment Unit 4 number 001011001.
Either way, Prior is happy with his career.
"A lot has changed since I started playing baseball, but when you pick up that silicone ball and throw it toward the half-robot holding an elastic band, you remember back when you were on those Little League fields in Containment Unit 6. Baseball is baseball."
So, what do you think? Are the Twins better off with Mauer, or did they make a mistake when they passed on Prior? Sound off in the comments. End communication.