Context

May 29, 2014

A couple of years ago took the StrengthsFinder assessment with a church group. One of the five strengths on my profile was “Context.” From the website:

People strong in the Context theme enjoy thinking about the past. They understand the present by researching its history.

This probably isn’t a shock to anyone who knows me well, and it’s certainly not news to regular readers of this blog.

Those regulars (the ones who have returned anyways) also know that posting here had been sporadic to non-existent for about three years until I started researching and writing again a few months ago.

In 2010 I was a married father of two, a toddler and a baby. I had a job I liked at a junior high close to my house. I was posting just about daily here, and the AL Central Champion Twins had just opened a new ballpark.

Like the Twins, I hit a funk shortly after that. I didn’t see it coming. Now I am a divorced father of two; a 1st grader and a pre-school-but-ready-for-Kindergarten-er. I have a different job at a different school, and the Twins just might have a fighting chance of ending the season close to the .500 mark for the first time since 2010.

The road in between there and here has been a rough. I stopped posting here. I stopped doing a lot of things I enjoyed. One of my biggest regrets over these years is that I lost track of my sense of history, and, for a moment, lost track of who I was.

Friends and family suggested that maybe continuing to write would be good for me. The problem was, I didn’t want to. How can someone spend so much time writing about something as trivial as baseball?

Here’s where this gets relevant for this blog (I try to stay on topic…): this stuff may well be trivial. Looking through old box scores from random dates in Twins history might prove to be a colossal waste of time. I think there’s more to it than that, though. Digging through old newspapers is something I enjoy doing. Comparing today’s Twins to teams of the past is something I do anyways, here is a place I can publish my thoughts. Its great that people read it – the fact that there is any kind of an audience amazes me, but even if there wasn’t I would still write. I find a lot of allegory in the stories of the people who have been involved with this franchise – look at the fall of Kirby Puckett, or the perseverance of Sam Rice, or the excellence of Walter Johnson in 1913.

Baseball and its history is among the beautiful things God put into this world, along with morning runs, jambalaya, the strange and wonderful half-baked community at WGOM, and Lydia Loveless playing at set at the 7th Street Entry. I started this blog back in 2005 as a way to vent when the White Sox went to the World Series. I got caught up in the amazing 2006 season here, and relived 1987 and 1991. I have gotten into it with a few people about the Washington Nationals nickname, and who the Washington portion of the history of this franchise belongs to. This summer I will likely finish the year-by-year write ups. I want to do more player biographies, take a closer look at a few of the less well known players and seasons from the last 114 years. I might try to do some more interviews with former players. I may try my hand at more music reviews, or publish more personal essays. Sometime I’m going to make good on my intention to spruce up the appearance of my little corner of the internet. Whatever the project, I know that I am going to keep writing as long as I feel like I have something to say, as long as it is something that I enjoy doing.

In the end its a relief to know that the past three years are behind me. I have been impacted by some of the uglier things in the world, but I wouldn’t trade it because at the worst times, I saw people at their best: family, friends; especially my two boys. For them, context is also important. Not just because I think they have inherited this trait from me*, but this shared experience is going to be a part of who they are. It’s part of their story too. I have learned that they are fighters, and I have learned a lot from watching them deal with adversity. I couldn’t be more proud of them.

*I see it clearly in the oldest as he asks question after question about the Revolutionary War.

It’s probably just a coincidence that the Twins have lost 90+ games each of the last three years. It’s also probably a coincidence that they are exciting to follow for the first time in a long time, and that the hope for a return to the form of the first six years of Ron Gardenhire’s tenure as manager seems closer than it has in a long time. It’s a coincidence, but it seems right in context.

 

 

 

 

 


Super Ball Party

February 6, 2012

Another year, another Super Bowl, and I think an unexpected line has been crossed. While I was about as apathetic as I could be about the Super Bowl (I was much more into the Chelsea-Man United game earlier in the day), my wife had a distinct rooting interest in Eli Manning, and was much more interested in the game than I was.

My kids, on the other hand, were rooting for Darth Vader, and the two year old was delighted by the number of “football guys” who fell down during the course of the game. I was glad that he had fun. When I mentioned that we were going to a Super Bowl party, he heard and repeated “super ball” party, so must have been disappointed when we arrived at Granna and Pop’s house to find that there was not a super ball to be seen.

Whether or not I have any interest in the game itself, the day after the Super Bowl marks a significant day on the sporting calendar: just 12 days until pitchers and catchers report.


The Force was With Him

January 26, 2012

Nothing is quite as exciting as a 5th birthday party. I know that from experience. It had been the hot topic of conversation ever since the Christmas presents were opened. His favorite part was the presents; but I was able to take just a tiny bit of joy from the fact that my son, having a million different party theme options, chose specifically to have a Star Wars party and was most interested in how many appearances Darth Vader could make.

Of course, the best part of the day was watching my son in his extroverted glory being the center of attention for a group of pre-schoolers. He is already asking about next year’s party (and has started making a list of gifts he would like). It may be a tough sell in January, but I bet I could plant a seed for a Twins-themed party….


Happy Birthday

January 18, 2012

Five years ago today Emily nudged me awake around 3 AM to tell me that her water broke and to ask that I help her get things ready to go the hospital. It took us roughly two minutes to get there (maybe I am remembering that wrong), but it turned out we didn’t have to be in such a rush. We spent the bulk of the morning and early afternoon alternating between taking laps around the hospital hall in an attempt to get things moving along and sitting in the room waiting.

All of the waiting was worth it, because around 4:30 PM, my oldest was born.

Now he’s five. He’s an older brother, and will be starting kindergarten in the fall. Where did the time go?


A New Perspective

May 7, 2010

Game 29: Orioles 2 (8-21), Twins 0 (19-10)

There is no way that I leave happy from this game. I have had partial season tickets for eight seasons now. With kids and a job that gets me up early in the morning, weeknight games have been a struggle for the past few seasons. If this game happened a year ago, I would have spent the drive home cursing myself for even taking the time to attend.

There wasn’t much to see from a Twins’ perspective. The Orioles are not a good team, but they handled the home team rather easily. A pitcher who had been allowing opponents to hit him at a greater than .400 clip essentially shut down on of the best offenses we have seen in these parts since the early ’90s. The Twins continued a frustrating trend of leaving the bases loaded, and left 10 on base in total. It’s a game they should have won.

Carl Pavano looked good holding a pretty bad lineup in check. If the competition had been a little better, this one might have been enjoyable as a pitchers duel. Alas, it was the Orioles.To add some insult, it rained the whole night.

A funny thing about Target Field, however, is that I found some consolation in the loss. It was a fun night at the ballpark. The seats, to my surprise, were shielded completely from the rain. In fact, I learned of the rain only from the HD scoreboard in the early innings (later the umbrellas in other, less fortunate sections were the giveaway). I had another Cuban sandwich, and got to keep score most of the game, something that has become more of a luxury the larger my family gets.

The three-year-old, who spent the bulk of the game punching all of the little holes out of an All-Star ballot, had the line of the night. When Nick Punto’s name was announced for an mid-game at-bat, my son looked up from his task and said, quite loudly “Oh, it’s Nick Punto. I don’t like Nick Punto!,” and went back to punching holes. That’s my boy. A happy camper despite the fact that neither of his favorites were playing (Delmon Young and Joe Mauer). He seemed to latch on to Jason Kubel as a temporary favorite, which is okay by me.

In short: a bad night for the Twins, but not a wasted night for my family.

WPA Stars of the Game
1. Brad Bergeson
2. Carl Pavano
3. Alfredo Simon

AL Central Standings (through Thursday)
1. Min 19-10, 149-108, -
2. Det 16-13, 139-135, 3.0
3. Chi 12-17, 118-141, 7.0
4. KC 11-18, 125-161, 8.0
5. Cle 10-17, 95-134, 8.0

Francisco Liriano takes the hill tonight to head off any talk of a losing streak. Kevin Millwood is up for the Orioles.


“The Twins Play Outside Now”

March 22, 2010

The title is a quote from my 3-year-old son.

Here are some pictures from the Target Field open house we attended yesterday.

First: the view from our seats.

A close up of the “Twins”

…and from just above the batter’s eye in center field.

Unfortunately we didn’t get any great pictures of the baby, but here is me and the 3-year-old on top of the first base dugout.

I am impressed with the ballpark, and echo the question my son asked all afternoon: “when does the game start?”


Rod Carew and Delmon Young: A 3-year-old’s Favorite Players

March 4, 2010

Recently, as I was watching Olympic curling, my oldest asked me “when do we watch baseball?” I replied that baseball will be back soon.

“Yay! – Joe Mauer and Rod Carew and Delmon Young! Go Twins!”

A little back story on my son’s three favorite Twins. The first is, of course, a no-brainer. He wants to be the catcher like Joe Mauer (Daddy gets to be the pitcher).

He has a more complex love of Rod Carew and Delmon Young. As soon as he was able to walk he took an interest in the Twins bobble head collection on display in the basement. He could enjoy them on a “look but don’t touch” basis. His favorite was probably Doug Mientkiewicz (because of the bubble gum). Before too long, “look but don’t touch” wasn’t cutting it anymore, so Daddy did what any good Daddy would do – I gave him two of the doubles I had to have for his own. I have a pair of Rod Carews, and the Twins give Delmon Young dolls away like candy, so I didn’t have too much trouble parting with him.

For a while, he carried Rod and Delmon with him around the house. He learned the names, and started asking if Rod Carew and Delmon Young were playing everytime baseball was on the television (imagine his excitement when I was watching an old All-Star game on MLB Network in which Rod Carew was actually participating).

Rod and Delmon have sat quietly on his bookshelf since the baseball season ended last fall, but perhaps sensing spring is around the corner, he stopped playing with his legos yesterday, looked at me and said “I’ll get Rod Carew and Delmon Young.” He returned from his room moments later with two of his favorite players, plopped them on the coffee table next to him, and went about the business of building lego cars with the smiling bobble heads looking on.

If you happen to be at Target Field this summer, and hear a little guy screaming for Rod Carew and Delmon Young (pronounced more like Delmonyoung – all one word) – that would be my son. Hopefully, he will remember to boo the Yankees as well.


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