Posted at 8:30 PM on April 4, 2007
by David Zingler
In 2006, Justin Morneau won the MVP, in 2007 he has to be the MVP. The award comes with a huge bounty: an astronomical raise, endorsements and the adoration of thousands of fans. But, even the most positive things in life have a downside.
"(My) privacy has disappeared, but that's kind of expected, playing in the big leagues," Morneau explained. "It's just one of those things that you learn to deal with, but other than that it's pretty good."
Last year at this time, the 26-year-old was coming off a sub-par season and was still relatively anonymous. He could roam the streets freely with little fanfare. This year, it's all changed.
"Not really," the Candian replied when asked if he could still go grocery shopping. "It can get old, sometimes you just want to go somewhere, pop into a store and not feel like people are watching you. That's just part of it."
Despite growing up in the athletic spotlight, the AL MVP is naturally shy. He seems uncomfortable talking about himself and still cringes when he sees himself on television.
"I don't like seeing myself on TV," he emphasized. "I don't watch SportsCenter during baseball season. You get more comfortable talking, but it's never fun to watch yourself on TV."
Fame, fortune and women have broken up Minnesota's most famous roommates. No longer boarding with best friend Joe Mauer, the first baseman is temporarily residing with his girlfriend as he waits for his new townhouse to be completed in May.
"She didn't know me when I met her, so that was a plus," the quiet slugger commented on the lady in his life. "Usually if I meet somebody and they know what I do before I even talk to them, it's just different. They look at you differently, they don't see you for who you are, they see you as a baseball player -- how much money you make."
Like many celebrities, Morneau has fallen victim to MySpace impersonators, there is at least one page claiming to be his. "I don't go on there," he said of the trendy site. "I think it's funny that people make that stuff up, pretend to be me or pretend to be other people and then they go on there -- it's bad -- if kids send them a question and then they answer it like they are you, it can make you look bad."
A lot has changed in the life of Justin Morneau in the past year. He is now a marked man and will be subjected to high expectations and intense scrutiny. We will no longer rejoice when he hits 30 homeruns, we all expect it.
Despite all of the attention, money and accolades however, Morneau still isn't taking himself too seriously. "I haven't decided (what to do with the MVP trophy) yet, (maybe I'll) put it in a box somewhere until I get done playing," he laughed.