Monday, June 17, 2002

Blaze of Speed or Glory

There are two questions. One, how do you deal with the first major bobblehead disappointment of your life? And two, has commerce really killed the enjoyment of our greatest creation? At the sprightly age of 37 (tho' a very old 37) I think I discovered that the two questions aren't necessarily unrelated.

Last Sunday one of the state's leading election officials and I attempted to continue our impressive streak of being one of the few to have all the bobblehead dolls handed out by the Minnesota Twins. Per our usual routine we got down to the dome by 8 a.m., a good three hours before the gates would open. But unlike our previous experiences we saw a line wrapped around the dome far from our gate. There was no way either one of us wanted to sit on hard cement for hours and still most likely not get a doll. So we went and ate breakfast and walked around downtown Minneapolis instead.

Unlike the previous eight dolls given away the latest was of an actual current Twins player, the bubble blowing gold glove first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz. And it was because of that bubble that I really wanted to continue my quest and was disappointed by my failure. If only I had woken up or at least gotten out of bed at 4 a.m.

Some of you might recall that last year I decided to be proactive avoiding future heartbreak by not going for the Kirby Puckett Hall of Fame doll. At the time I figured my streak inevitably would eventually end and I wanted it to end on my own terms. It felt funny not being at the dome that particular Sunday but I was proud that I had conquered a potential addiction. Unfortunately the end of that story was a successful bid on eBay to acquire the little fist pumping Kirby for a mere $75.

So to have my quest ended by 10,000 others, people like that annoying kid behind me that spent the entire game kicking my seat with an occasional screeching scream at the top of her lungs, indeed hurt much more than what I thought was an admirable self inflicted sacrifice. I wanted that one more doll for my collection dammit. When I got home that evening I tried to think of ways to take my mind off my disappointment. Watch the sixteen hours of Charlie's Angels I had taped? Nope, not in the mood. Traipse off to Cassettas for a tasty cannoli? Nope too fattening. Instead I went to bed like I do most nights, cranky and ornery.

Fortunately I had tickets for the following game featuring the return visit of the Atlanta Braves for the first time since the 1991 World Series. It was a wonderful game, eventually won by the Twins in the fifteenth inning. The game featured a five run first inning by the Twins against future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (a good thing). It also featured typical Maddux artistry (in every sense of the word) for the next six innings as he had the Twins batters off balance with his astonishing assortment of pitches, changing speeds and locations like a gypsy moth (another good thing). What a delight to watch. The Braves eventually tied the game off an increasingly ineffective Eric Milton (a bad thing).

In the 12th inning a loud clap of thunder rang through the plastic teflon covered stadium drawing one of the louder cheers of the evening. After that the constant din of a heavy rain hitting the roof echoed throughout the place sounding like artificial applause. When Twins catcher Tom Prince raced home from first on a Cristian Guzman liner off the baggie in the bottom of the 15th, fans seemed reluctant to leave their seats. Maybe it was the excitement of the win; perhaps it was the thought of going out into the Minneapolis monsoon, but I was one of the first to leave as I raced up the stairs and through the revolving doors alone into the downpour. Paul McCartney's "Band on the Run" played in my head as I ran faster than Lola to my car parked a mile away.

I had a few days before participated in my first softball game of the season subbing for an injured player. In my first at bat I beat out a grounder to short. (I'll never forget my favorite city planner's comment that she liked watching me play softball because it was one of the rare times she saw me happy and she liked watching me run. Just like the wind. Lyrical as a lark, like a gazelle on prozac...) My new teammates complimented me on my speed, which surprised me since my legs felt like lead and I was reluctant to go full speed in fear I'd pull a groin (most likely my own). But nights later I was glad racing through that rainstorm that I had gotten a little exercise beforehand. I may have keeled over otherwise. Instead I felt a certain sense of exhilaration.

Splashing through the puddles, drenched by the time I got to my car the thought of missing a bobblehead wasn't much in my mind anymore. Nope, this time my own head was bobbing as I turned on the radio to the soothing sound of my new favorite song, Norah Jones' dulcet "Don't Know Why" the perfect end to a topsy turvy life lesson.

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