Monday, September 20, 1999

Allow This

God has a plan. This is a certainty. Last week it was my turn to drive in my current car pooling arrangement. I drove Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Coming home on Wednesday my car pooling partner said that she needed to drive on Thursday because she was going to run home at lunch and give her father a hairs cut. Okely Dokely. When she dropped me off at my house on Thursday I quickly ate dinner and got ready for my softball game. I went out to my garage, backed out the car, got out to close the garage, and noticed the back left tire was nearly flat. I drove to the nearby Super America and filled it up with air. The tire hissed the air back at me. I looked and saw a big nail. Good thing I didn't have to drive to work that morning. Bad thing I had to get to my softball game on my puny lil spare...

Back when I was a kid I used to get a dollar a week for an allowance (which coincidentally is actually is about what I'm making in wages these days). I didn't particularly deserve this money because I didn't really have any specific chores to perform. My brother was given the lawn mowing and snow shoveling duties (and he now has a painfully bad back); my sisters took care of the dishes. I made my bed, kept my room picked up, and provided endless entertainment for the family.

I found the dollar allowance to be just what I needed to buy five packs of baseball cards every week. My parents used to grocery shop at Har Mar every Friday and my brother and I would go along and wander the mall looking for stuff to buy but inevitably I would end up with my baseball cards (ten to a pack and that delectable but unchewable slab of pink bubble gum).

As I grew a little older my world expanded a wee bit and I started buying 45's with my allowance. Each Sunday I would listen to Casey Kasem's Top 40 countdown and whenever the number one song would change I would go out the following Friday and buy that particular 45.

All this comes to mind because I am realizing the more things change the more things stay the same, just like that proverbial lil dog chasing his own tail. These days when all my bills are paid and I make my decisions on entertainment purchases, the two regular spending items have been my partial season tickets to the Twins (damn fine seats), and my slowing down, but still rather expanding CD collection.

Back in 1977 when I was learning the value of saving my allowance to allow me to buy something more substantial than I could buy weekly, I decided to save for my very first, mine alone purchased LP. Instead of making a weekly buy of baseball cards or a 45 I saved for a little over a month (LP's cost $5.98 back then I believe). I wandered into what was then a Musicland in Har Mar Mall and slapped down my not so hard earned money for... Barry Manilow's This One's For You. A record I am still damn proud to say was my first. (In fact it's playing on my stereo at this very moment!)

Back in 1977 the Twins were having a pretty wonderful season. Sir Rodney Carew was chasing the historic .400 batting mark (he finished at .388). Larry Hisle and Lymon Bostock gave the Twins a trio of potent bats. The pitching led by Dave Goltz and Paul Thormodsgaard wasn't all that good but the Twins stayed in the pennant race for most of the year. Fans weren't exactly flocking to Met Stadium and there were constant rumors in the paper that the team would be sold and moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Last Monday night I attended my final game of the season. The home team lost to the Anaheim Angels. It wasn't pretty. The St. Paul stadium referendum which is most certainly going to fail in November almost represents the last gasp of air (the tire is flat) this wonderful franchise has left in Minnesota. And that to me is a shame since the decision this year to go with youth (better to lose young where there is a chance to get better rather than old where you know what you have) in retrospect was the right thing to do. This club can be good in two or three years. Radke and Milton can be a terrific duo. Mays and Ryan have shown some promise. Jones, Guzman and Koskie are keepers. Walker and Lawton are solid everyday players. Hocking is the best utility player in the game. Hunter and Allen are good complimentary players. Valentin and Mientikiewicz might be OK in the long run.. This franchise bought time by moving to the Dome in 1982. It was built for the Vikings with the Twins a considerable after thought. It has never been an acceptable baseball stadium and never will be one. Unfortunately the citizens of this state have again and again shown they are much more interested in a game of frightening violence rather than one with such esoteric and aesthetic beauty.

The baseball stadium isn't about economic development or giving taxpayer money to millionaires. It's about appreciating our most beautiful game in an appropriate setting. It's a game that gives substance to the dreams of kids who get one dollar allowances a week and grow up never losing their love of what it means.

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