The disease, once thought to affect only politicians and political journalists, is both physically debilitating and detrimental to any career with public contact. That's what doctors told Jim Souhan earlier this summer. Longtime readers alerted the Star Tribune medical staff that something in Souhan's delivery was off, and that the paper's resident enforcer appeared to be struggling more than usual to support his warrants and make credible arguments.
Extensive examination revealed that Souhan appears to have contracted bilateral cerebral incontinence (BCI), a mental affliction for which there is no known cure. Star Tribune doctors immediately ordered testing of the paper's entire pool of reporters, discovering an undisclosed number of infected journalists. A source close to the organization has indicated the other reporters cover politics for the paper, suggesting a possible chain of transmission from politicians to Souhan.
Little is known about the specific damage caused by bilateral cerebral incontinence. In fact, I spoke with several trainers from other news organizations, and they indicated to me that they've never heard of such a thing. One, on the condition of anonymity, said it sounded like a PR-driven diagnosis with no credible medical basis, indicating simply that "the goon is completely full of shit, right up past his eyeballs."
In an effort to establish, once and for all, whether BCI was a legitimate malady, I spoke with specialists at the Thomas H. Moodie Institute in Bismark. The opinion was unanimous: not only does bilateral cerebral incontinence exist, but (in their opinion) Jim Souhan has a classic case. The increasingly irrational and unsubstantiated attacks in his columns indicate full-blown BCI. Souhan, say the specialists, simply can't help himself. The volume of twaddle in his system has compromised his ability to think clearly, conduct even a minimum of actual research, or distinguish fact from feverishly-held personal views. The most visible symptom of BCI is evacuation of built-up septic mental effluent into columns and blog posts, which Souhan has exhibited at an excessive and increasing rate this summer. The Moodie Institute specialists concur that transmission from politicians, the usual carriers of the disease, to Souhan likely occured via his colleagues at the political desk.
As BCI is untreatable with any known medicine, little can be done for Souhan. Not wanting to be painted as a malingerer, Souhan has informed the Star Tribune's management that he intends to continue writing regularly as long as he doesn't harm the paper's circulation or oft-rumored negotiations with Kimberly-Clark Corporation.
I won't link to the various columns Souhan has written in the "Mauer is soft" vein, nor do I think it necessary to mention each besotted reference to Cuddyer (or Hunter), or to even point out how gobsmackingly stupid his post on Kevin Slowey was last night. All that we know. The question I'm more interested in is why this inanity is allowed to continue.
Souhan's attacks on Mauer are damaging the Twins in several ways. They are corrosive to Mauer's relationship with Twins fans. This affects everything from Mauer jersey sales and Mauer posters to the atmosphere at that shiny new ballpark. These things eat into the bottom line and hamstring the Twins' ability to capitalize on the popularity of their marquee player.
Moverover, it hurts Mauer's relationship with the club if every time he's savaged in the press the only noise coming from the Twins' front office is the chirping of crickets. The Twins willingly signed Mauer to a contract which pays him $23 million per season until 2018. If they actually think Mauer is as soft as Souhan frequently implies, they should have made their offer low enough to ensure they collected compensation picks when Mauer signed with a team in the Eastern time zone.
Worse still, the club's complicity or apparent unwillingness to defend its star player and hometown boy significantly harms the club's free agent drawing power. What free agent with enough talent to entertain multiple offers is going to simply shrug off his agent telling him that the club in Minnesota allows its homegrown star to be pilloried by the press on every possible occasion? Sure, there's plenty of new ballpark money to spend, but any agent worth his commission is going to demand some additional consideration for placing his client into such a FUBAR situation.
If Souhan's expressing the views of the Twins' management, the whole bunch needs to be sacked. If he's trying to gin up controversy (read: circulation) and provoke people on the club, whether that's Joe Mauer, Gardy, Dave St. Peter, Bill Smith, Jim Pohlad, or someone else, he wins whether or not the club addresses his unfounded claims. The front office has to go on the record at some point, simply to protect its significant investment in Joe Mauer and preserve its ability to lure quality free agents to Minnesota.