Wednesday, January 4, 2006
by Paul Webb
Good Morning and welcome to another day of SethSpeaks.net! I'm your host Seth, and I'm happy to have you along!
If you missed yesterday's Q&A with Chris Coste, I would encourage you to check it out here. It was linked to by a number of baseball sites, and I received a lot of great e-mails regarding it. If you go to the Concordia (Moorhead) College baseball page, they linked to the article. I received e-mails from the Fargo/Moorhead area and up in Scranton, PA and many places in between.
Today, we are back with a new Why Baseball article. Today's Entry is by Paul Webb. Paul is yet another Twins fan telling us what makes baseball so wonderful. He tells me that he blogged at one time, but found that he was a programmer, not a writer. But he also says that he enjoys writing about baseball. He enjoyed reliving stories, and deciding which he wanted to include below. With each story, it was more than just an event, it was a feeling. With these baseball memories, he is also able to remember how he felt. His main quote to remember, "Baseball is a timeless game."
So true, and without further ado, I present Why Baseball?, by Paul Webb.
I tell my friends I can describe my entire childhood with four things: my dadís computer, my bicycle, Hulk Hogan, and Kirby Puckett. The first led to my career, biking became my lifelong hobby, the third to just killing brain cells, and Kirby to the game thatís been entangled with my life.
While I remember 1987 happening, the 1991 Twins really sealed the deal for me. It was the perfect team at the perfect time. I spent all summer playing baseball in friendsí backyards. And when they werenít around, I played catch with my brother. I was still a big Twins fan thanks to Kirby, had an insane number of baseball cards, and of course, the 1991 team. Every game of the World Series seemed like an epic battle. Every night it was me and my brother, taking on my parents for the right to watch the games in their entirety. We won game 6, and thatís something Iíll remember the rest of my life. To grow up hearing all the superstar hype surrounding the hometown hero, and to watch him exceed every expectation thrust upon himÖwellÖI still have the picture of Kirby rounding first as my cell phone background. I wish I could tell you about watching Jack Morrisís game 7 shutout, but my parents sent us to bed during the 6th inning. Yes, 14 years later, weíre still upset about that.
The rest of the 90ís werenít quite as fun, but I kept up. I listened to Winfield get number 3000 on the radio, cried when Kirby retired, hated Knoblauch for bailing on the Twins, hated David Wells for pitching that perfect game, and hated myself even more for missing Eric Miltonís no-hitter because I was going to go to the game, but decided against it at the last second when a Gopher football ticket fell in my lap and didnít want to spend all day downtown.
So they werenít exactly the New York Yankees, but the Twins were a cheap show. In high school $10 would buy parking, a ticket, a couple hot dogs on Wednesdays, and a pop to stick in the oversized skater shorts. And the best part was, we were always able to get great seats. The ushers never cared, there were only 10,000 people at the park, and we were sitting 10 rows up from first base every time. September 1999 was interesting, as my friends and I had a bunch of ďguaranteed win TuesdayĒ ticket stubs and didnít have enough time to use them all.
This all started changing in 2001. That group from 1999 was turning into something. Radke, Milton, and Mays were turning themselves into an all-star-trio at the top of the rotation. Players were hitting, and the Twins were winning again. While they fizzled out in the second half, that team made me remember what it was like sitting on my couch in 1991.
Baseball is the ultimate game of contradictions. Itís so simple that kids play it in sandlots, yet so complicated and detailed I spent an entire summer with my roommate from China explaining to him the rules of the game (think infield fly rule, squeeze play, and what happens when a live ball hits a baserunner). Itís a game that captures the imagination and hearts of millions, but as the late Bart Giamatti so eloquently put, ďIt is designed to break your heart.Ē
Bud Selig and Carl Pohlad broke my heart when they announced they were going to contract the Twins. I sat through the 90ís, enjoyed watching some pretty sorry teams, and was looking forward to feeling like a kid again. I think itís a true gift in life when one can look at things through the eyes of a child. Everythingís simple, beautiful, and happy. They were going to take that away from me, and I was crushed.
I think Judge Harry Crump should be a Supreme Court Justice.
2002 was going to be the year and everyone knew it. I was in Milwaukee when the Twins fans took over Miller Park. I opened a bottle of Champagne to split with the Twins fans living in my dorm when they clinched the pennant. And I was going to the playoffs. After going through those last 10 years with the team, I wasnít going to be stopped. Unfortunately, the commute to Minneapolis from Madison WI is a little lengthy.
After an overnight ride back to my parentís house, I awoke on 3 hours of sleep with the vigor of a 4 year old on Christmas. I stood outside at the mall for an hour in a heavy storm to get on a bus to the game, and I DIDNíT CARE. I saw the Metrodome packed to the brim. The noise was deafening, the excitement amazing, and the homer hankies were everywhere. The Twins lost that Game 3, but that didnít stop my enthusiasm any. I watched Game 5 and AJís homerun from my parents house (BOOYEAH!), and took off for class Monday morning.
Tuesday I went to class, and drove straight to the Metrodome afterwards. With my Twins hat on, and Eric Milton jersey hanging from the rear-passenger door, I felt so lucky to have something like that to enjoy. Near Wisconsin Dells on I-94, a car went to pass me (yes, this happens pretty infrequently). However, they pulled along side me and started honking. I turned to look and there were four people in Twins caps giving me a smile and a thumbs up. I thought I was crazy for doing all that driving for a baseball game, but apparently I wasnít the only one doing it.
At that moment it really dawned on me the magnificence of baseball. Itís a common thread between all of us, which Iíve been fortunate enough to feel, enjoy, and begin to understand. Itís a game interwoven in this nationís history as well as my life. We live through bad and rough times, but we ride them out, believing that things will work out in the end. And when it does, we smile and enjoy ourselves.
I think the real reason the Twins missed the playoffs this year is that the baseball gods knew I couldnít commute from California. But in 2006, who knows? Baseball is a remarkable game, and one never knows whatís going to happen.
And thatís the beauty of it.
So, there you have it. Another terrific Why Baseball article! Thank you very much Paul for taking the time to write up this essay. This is a great look at what baseball is and can mean. I like how he said that he makes us all like kids again, and that is so true. Let me know what you think. If you would like to ask me or Paul any questions, please feel free to e-mail me, or, you can enter Comments!
(FORMER) TWINS THOUGHTS
Former Twins OF Michael Restovich signed a minor league contract with the Chicago Cubs yesterday (his 27th birthday). He could join Jacque Jones in the Cubs roster. We always thought that he would have been a perfect platoon candidate with Jacque Jones because he rips left-handed pitching. He also is a solid OF with better speed than you would think from such a large man. I would still like to see him get an opportunity, but I just don't know if that will happen.
Former Twins utility infielder Augie Ojeda signed a minor league deal to go back to the Chicago Cubs in a move that really does not matter at all.
Former Twins lefty Terry Mulholland is about to sign a minor league deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. It is essentially the same deal that the Twins have given him the last couple of years. He more than likely makes the team, and when he does, he only makes $800,000.
Any thoughts on any of these moves, send me an e-mail, or post some comments below.
That's it! I certainly hope that you have found the "Why Baseball" article by Paul worth reading. I will be back tomorrow with another very interesting guest column, another position analysis by "Roger". If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me, or of course now you can just enter some Comments for all the world to see.
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