“Meet Me in Dyersville”

This entry was written on Father’s Day 2011 at Busch Stadium while the Cardinals played the Kansas City Royals.

ST. LOUIS – My plan was to spend the entire summer of 1994 establishing residency in Missouri and take full advantage of living in a college town without, you know, having to attend those pesky classes that interrupt college.

I spent my mornings teaching swim lessons, my days working as a pool manager (read: lifeguard, but with better pay), and my nights sharing a house with a couple pals from the student newspaper, The Maneater. There wasn’t much sleep that summer, nor much money, but there was always something happening. My parents expected me to leave that for … Ten thousand lakes, the Mall of America, and free-range mosquitoes? They had moved from Colorado to Minnesota, officially, the previous summer and few conversations passed that year without a question about when I planned to drive up to Rochester, Minn., for a visit. I’d blame my work schedule, I’d waffle, I’d ignore their invites. It was their home, not mine. I had no emotional ties to the place, no friends to see when I got there and, selfishly, no reason to go back once I drove away for college.

If I had to visit, I suggested a neutral site. We’d meet at the midpoint.

There was this baseball field, in Iowa, Continue reading
Advertisements

The Nine Stages of Spring Training Day 1

JUPITER, Fla. — The first act of spring actually occurs back where it’s winter. It involves rolling up T-shirts, identifying books that are worthy of the trip south, stacking yellow legal pads, making sure there’s a raincoat handy, and otherwise packing for the longest road trip of any baseball season. The goal is to fit all that stuff, snugly, into as few pieces of luggage as possible, while also making sure all of the essentials fit into one of two carry-ons. Can’t have that Skype-ready webcam lost in transit.

The days before arriving at spring training involve feats of geometry.

The first day on the ground at spring training is an experiment in trigonometry.

It’s all about the tangents. Continue reading

Walking Around the World Without Moving

DOWNTOWN — Four of the most recognizable walkers in St. Louis have apparently been on quite the journey since they came town, and they’ve covered so much ground without moving an inch from their original location.

In yesterday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Doug Moore had one of those stories that stands out for its inventiveness and its unexpectedness.

Moore revisits Citygarden, a walking area in downtown St. Louis that is a wonderful jumble of artwork. Two of the more captivating — and, for some, unnerving — pieces at Citygarden are the digital walkers.  “This is Kiera and Julian Walking” and “This is Bruce and Sara Walking” are digital boards that show four figures, two in each frame, striding ever smoothly toward nowhere. The figures are faceless, they’re clothes are yin-yang opposites, and yet their gait is so eerily real and relentlessly rhythmic that the artist, Julian Opie, has made the casual stroll into a work of art.

Here’s where Moore’s creativity comes in. Continue reading

Book Fast of Champions (Month 1)

TOWER GROVE — It’s time for a confession: I arrived home yesterday to find a package from Amazon.com lounging on the front porch. Here I was nearly a month into my year without buying a book (see here) and I knew that nestled inside that envelope was the very thing that I swore I wouldn’t buy this season, wouldn’t even think of buying until I’ve made a dent into the pillars of books that surround my office. It was a book.

But it wasn’t a break from my resolution.

Inside the envelope was John Jeremiah Sullivan’s Blood Horses: Notes of a Sportswriter’s Son. Technically, I put the book in queue for purchase in 2011 — yes, near the end of 2011 — so that it wouldn’t spoil my resolution before it truly had a chance to start. It took several weeks to arrive (or find, not sure which), and here it was — a nice, tidy package from the past. The resolution continues.

Within days of starting my book fast, I put it to the best test I could think of: Continue reading

A Field Guide to Embedded Journalism

Photo by Alyssa Schukar of The Omaha World-Herald taken in Afghanistan on April 7, 2011, after she and my friend Joe Morton, a writer, were in a firefight with a National Guard squadron with which they were embedded. To understand the scale, consider that's an armored vehicle and a National Guardsmen in silhouette to the vehicle's right.

SILVER SPRING, Md. — After showing me video he shot from the war zone and telling me the stories of life as an embed, friend Joe Morton — the Joseph Morton, Washington correspondent for The Omaha World-Herald — came upon this photo taken by his colleague, Alyssa Schukar.

“This is my favorite,” he pointed.

The photo, shown big enough to fill a laptop screen, is striking. There is a solitary figure in the distance next to an immense and armored vehicle, and yet both are dwarfed by the landscape around it. The mountains rise up in three levels like rolling waves, one almost more impossibly tall then the next, and they overwhelm the image. Joe explained to me that that’s why he likes it. The picture shows the impenetrable terrain the military is dealing with in Afghanistan — even as it serves as a metaphor for the war effort itself. The enormity of the challenge is difficult to comprehend let alone tame. There is also the possibility that this picture means a lot to Joe because of when it was taken and what it represents: survival.

I had the chance today to catch up with Joe, a dear friend from college, at the start of a whirlwind trip to Washington, D.C. Today started with the final morning of Winter Warm-up. Then it was off to the airport to catch a flight to D.C. where on Tuesday I’ll join the Cardinals on their visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and follow them to the White House for the customary reception champions get with the president. A seat, I’m told, is waiting for me in the East Room. From the White House, I have approximately four hours to race to BWI, write a story, and catch the last flight to St. Louis out of the Beltway so I can make the family vacation to Curacao.

On my mark. Get set. Here we go. Continue reading

Turbulence Even Before Takeoff

DENVER — If the boy wonder wanted a guys’ trip for Christmas so that he, as he explained, could “go on a trip like Daddy does for work” then he got every bit of authenticity he could have wished for — right down to the delays, a hydraulic leak, a gate change or four, airline switches and, best of all, delayed luggage.

He also got something completely unexpected, even for this road warrior: mistaken identity.

The day started off so well.

Continue reading

Let it Snow, Already

VAIL, Colo. — While watching her two sons skate circles around my first-timer this afternoon, a Vail local looked up from her cup of hot chocolate and sighed in relief.

“There isn’t a happier place in the world right now than this town,” she said.

The reason was all around us.

We woke up this morning to the steady fall of snow, and much to the delight of the locals, the tourists and, most of all, the ski industry, the snow continued throughout the day. The forecast called for as much as 10 inches of show in Vail Valley, and the final tally as the snow slowed during the night was about 8 inches. Excuse me, 8 glorious inches. Continue reading