Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Thanks, Gardy!

It was time for the Twins to part ways with Ron Gardenhire as their manager.  But he leaves with a terrific record and lots of memories.

I listened to the last half of his Press Conference yesterday as I drove back from a meeting in St. Paul.  It was classic Gardy.  Honest—he confronted his playoff record and said it will always be part of his record; funny—I loved it when he said he couldn’t wait for his grandchild to be born; realistic—he knew that a change was needed with the Twins. 

I’ll be the first to admit that I wanted the Twins to let him go last year and was sure that the Twins would give him another season this year.  The Twins needed to make a change.  I’ve gone to a game a month at Target Field for the past five years.  The first year was electric.  The last four years have been terrible.  There is a reason that only two managers in the history of baseball have kept their jobs after losing ninety games for four years in a row. 

I think it’s appropriate that Terry Ryan is staying.  I'll give him credit for the young talent that is slowly making a mark at the Major League Level.  With that young talent coming to Target Field, now is the time to make a Manager change.  The new person can grow with the new kids.   

But I’m still sad.  I have a lot of memories of Gardy. 

I remember watching him get tossed out of a game for his final time as a manager on August 18 against the Twins.  Gardy was convinced that a foul tip of Joe Mauer’s had hit the dirt before the catcher caught it.  He came out to argue with the Umpire.  Even when he went back into the dugout he kept yelling at the ump, “check the ball, check the ball, check the ball.”  I could hear him yelling from the top deck of Target Field.  The ump finally tossed him. 

I remember watching him operate at Spring Training this past March when my Dad and I spent a few days in Fort Meyers.  One time at the Minor League Complex he was sitting in a tower behind home plate watching the minor league players.  I kept wondering what Gardy was doing up there.  He was doing what he always seemed to be doing—laughing, teasing people, being loud and boisterous.  He was on the move. 

As a fan I had plenty of times when I disagreed with his decisions.  His habit of using players who had about the same talent as him became old.  I could see that he was a player’s manager, but his defense of his players got old.  I still can’t figure out why he didn’t play Danny Santana at shortstop this year instead of center field.  But I defer to his judgment.  He’s the manager; I’m a fan.  He lost too many games.  Now he’s gone.

T.K. was the best manager in Twins history.  He is first because he won two World Series.  Gardy is a close second.  Winning six division titles is quite an accomplishment.

Though the Twins made the right decision, Gardy left us fans with a lot of good memories.  He even left on his own terms—how often does a fired coach take over a press conference like he did yesterday.    

Thanks, Gardy for thirteen years. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

No Sports for a week!

Yesterday I reached my tipping point when it comes to sports and their influence in culture.  Listening to the controversy about Adrian Peterson’s actions was just too much.  I’m terribly sorry for Tyrese Ruffin, his son, who had to endure multiple whippings from his dad.  Just as I’m terribly sorry for Janay Palmer, Ray Rice’s wife.

I’m not interested in supporting such terrible violence.

So I have decided to not watch any sports for a week.  No watching on television, no reading about it in the newspaper (I’m throwing away the sports section of the Star Tribune each morning), no going to any web sites (no startribune.com, espn.com, or any web sites where I might read about sports), no listening to any sports radio station (K-FAN or 1500-KSTP).  I don’t plan on finding out how the Gophers do on Saturday, the Vikings do on Sunday and even how the Carleton Knights, my all-time favorite squad, do against Augsburg this Saturday. 

I have been a sports fan my entire life.  Anyone who has read my blogs or followed by Facebook posts know how sports are an important part of my life.

But I am tired of the amount of attention sports receive.  I think my next door neighbors—who are both teachers—deserve much more attention, respect, and money than any professional athlete.

I don’t expect my action to change anything.  But I do know that I’ll have more time on my hands.  Last night I read a book instead of watching the Twins.  I got more sleep as I turned off the TV before the sports came on during the ten o’clock newscast.  I had more time this morning as I didn’t read the sports section of the newspaper.  When I have some Internet time I go to a news web site instead of catching up with the sports world. 

I’m curious about what will happen to my favorite teams this week, but I’m tired of the drama.  Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson don’t represent professional athletes, but they have certainly given the profession a black eye.  I’m taking a break.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Happy 100th Birthday, Grandma Maxine!

This past Saturday our family had the wonderful privilege of celebrating my Grandmother Maxine’s 100th birthday.  We spent the afternoon at the Congregational church in Mantorville, Minnesota and then continued our celebrations at the local golf course.

It’s hard for me to get my head around what it must like to live to be a hundred—though centenarians are one of the fastest growing age groups in our country.  On September 13, 1914 Europe was in the midst of a terrible war that we know of as World War I.  Minnesota had only been a state for 56 years.  Indoor plumbing, reliable automobiles, and television were only dreams.  The world was much different.  My grandmother and her generation have seen more change in a hundred years than any other generation in the history of the world.

My grandmother is one of the most competitive people I know.  When we play board games or card games she wants to win.  A card game is not a friendly endeavor.  She’s going to do whatever she can to win—and it doesn’t matter with whom she is playing.  If she goes set on her bid—no matter.  She will bid just as aggressively on the next hand.

My grandmother pays attention.  My blogs are printed out on her printer at home.  If the interval between my blogs goes too long I will hear about it.  Sometimes I write only because I know she wants me to write.

Though she has traveled the country she has lived her entire life within a short distance of Mantorville, Minnesota.  Her example of taking root is one about which all of us should pay attention.

She is becoming a local celebrity.  During the last year the Rochester Post Bulletin, Dodge County Independent, and KTTC have done stories on her.  We’re still waiting to see if Willard Scott from the Today show acknowledges her birthday.

We had a wonderful time celebrating her 100th birthday.  Her kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, great-great grandkids and many other relatives came to share stories, laugh, and have fun.  My wife, Amy, delighted all of us by giving an impromptu toast and leading the large crowd in singing, “Happy Birthday.”

Happy Birthday, Grandma.  The world has been blessed in many, many ways by your life!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September Twin Cities Area Presbytery meeting

The Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area met yesterday (Tuesday, September 9) for our regular monthly meeting yesterday at the Presbyterian Church in White Bear Lake.  I arrived forty minutes before the meeting and still had to park over a block away from the church. 

We were told later that 197 people attended and all of the meal tickets were sold.  What brought such a large turnout was undoubtedly the Presbytery’s discussion of the Eden Prairie Presbyterian Church.

But other parts were just as important to me.  I appreciated the thoughtful worship service that started the gathering.  Though my taste isn’t for responsive readings, some of the words of the service touched me.

In his report Jim Brasel, Acting Executive Presbyter, shared that the main focus of the November meeting will be possible priorities of the Presbytery.  I was encouraged to hear that a focus of a Presbytery meeting will not be Gracious Separation and churches who will be leaving.  Jim also shared an article written by Joaan Haejong Lee in Christian Century on disagreement.  The link to that article is here:  http://www.christiancentury.org/article/2014-08/sunday-september-14-2014

In his report David Colby, Chair of the Presbytery Leadership Team said that at their next meeting the Presbytery Leadership Team will have a conversation about next steps regarding hiring an Interim Executive Presbytery.  He also shared that Chaz Ruark is going to be the new Executive Presbytery at John Knox Presbytery starting in the middle of September.  Congratulations, Chaz!

However the main event of the evening was what the Presbytery will do in response to the actions of the Presbyterian Church in Eden Prairie.  That church was in negotiations with a team from the Presbytery about leaving the Presbyterian Church (USA).  In June the church informed the Presbytery that they had “voluntarily left” the PC(USA).  John Ward, their pastor, informed the Presbytery that he was renouncing jurisdiction of the Presbyterian church.  Lawyers for the church threatened to bring trespass charges against the PC(SUA) and the Presbytery if they entered or accessed any property held by the church.

Burt Nygren shared a report from the Administrative Commission--the group the Presbytery appointed to negotiate with the church.  He re-iterated much of what was shared in a written report from the Administrative Commission.  All of the documents that the Presbytery received for this issue and for the entire meeting can be found on-line at http://www.presbyterytwincities.org/PresbyteryMeetingInfo

David Colby then went through a document that had questions and answers about the situation.  He shared that the document was offered as a response to media and/or public inquiries about the situation. 

The Presbytery then went into a Quasi-committee of the whole to discuss a recommendation from the Committee on Ministry to assume original jurisdiction of the session of the church.  Kathryn Breitbarth led this conversation.  Many questions were asked.  Sue Rutford’s Twitter feed has a response to some of these questions.

Around 6:15 we broke for dinner.  At dinner I talked to a friend of mine who I identify as being independent.  This person doesn’t trend either liberal or conservative.  I asked my friend his/her thoughts about the situation.  My friend shared that s/he thought that s/he would like to know what the dollar figures were that the Administrative Commission asked for the property and what the church counter-offered.  Without that information—and my friend really wanted to know that information—s/he couldn’t make a judgment about what to do.

This idea of what made up the final negotiation before the church left the negotiations with the Administrative Commission spilled over into the meeting’s conversation after dinner.  A motion was made to remove the confidentiality restrictions on the negotiation and to go forward at an indefinite time with negotiations.  That motion was amended to allow the parties to negotiate until the next Presbytery meeting.

I was in favor of allowing two more months of negotiation, but I wouldn’t have been in favor of removing the confidentiality part of the negotiations.  I believe that would set a poor precedence. 

The Presbytery ultimately voted not to approve those motions.  Shortly afterwards the Presbytery voted to assume original jurisdiction of the session of the church.

It wouldn’t be surprising at all to see this issue land in civil court. 

The entire issue is very, very sad.  It’s probably a pipedream to hope that the church will stay in the PC(SUA).  If that doesn’t happen I hope that a negotiated settlement can be reached.  It seems to be that everyone loses if this issue goes to court.

I left the meeting after the Presbytery approved the 2015 budget.  Many important issues were still going to be discussed, but I hadn't seen my family since 7:30 in the morning.  The issues that the Presbytery discuss are important, but long meetings make it very hard for adults with children to attend.  Our model of meetings doesn't fit well for everyone.

Keep praying …  God can do something in this and every situation that we cannot imagine.