Monday, April 26, 2010

"Twins Bloggers: Get to Know 'Em" presents Eric of Call to the 'Pen!

I can't believe it's taken me this long to have Eric do a Get to Know 'Em blogger profile! Call to the Pen wasn't one of the first blogs I discovered, but it's certainly one of the best. Eric's able to walk that nice line between satire and analysis that I've been getting tripped up on since my blog's inception. Not only does his humor strike a chord with me, but his being a fellow Midwestern ex-pat living out East enforces that sense of kinship.

I've quickly found that he's a great guy to read and also a great guy to get to know, so that being said I'll let you all have a chance to get to know him too:

NAME: Eric Donald Olson. I haven't decided on my "law" name yet. Maybe I'll be E. Donald Olson. Or E.D. Olson. Or maybe I'll be Eric. Who knows.
WEBSITE: Call to the 'Pen (
BIRTHDAY: June 25th
HOMETOWN: I was born in Iowa City, consider Bismarck, ND to be my hometown, and live in Alexandria, VA.
WHAT KEEPS YOU EMPLOYED OTHER THAN BLOGGING: Right now, nothing. I'm writing about five papers at once so I actually graduate from law school, studying for the Virginia bar exam, and hoping that the legal market in the Washington, DC area recovers in the next, oh, day or so.
FAVORITE COLOR: I can't say I've ever had a real favorite color. When I was a kid, I was always afraid the other crayons would feel bad if I didn't pick them, and by the time I outgrew that (about age 8), I had figured out it didn't matter. If I had to pick, though, I'd probably choose some kind of forest green.
FAVORITE FOOD: Really anything that has pasta, sausage, and/or bacon as a main ingredient. My current favorite recipe is for a three-cheese homemade macaroni and cheese (romano, sharp cheddar, and gruyere), which I like to serve with grilled kielbasa and vegetables.
FAVORITE MOVIE: I can't really say I have a favorite movie. As of right now, the Tom Hanks classic Philadelphia holds my interest pretty well, but I have really fallen in love recently with the beauty and depth of story present in the Hayao Miyazaki animated films, particularly Princess Mononoke.
FAVORITE BOOK: The Oresteia, by Aeschylus. I would probably rate Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Notes from Underground and Gregory Clark's A Farewell to Arms are probably the runners up. Oddly, I have several thousand books, but own a copy of neither.
FAVORITE TYPE OF MUSIC: 90s rock, Grunge, Piano Rock, etc. I'm definitely a child of the 90's, music-wise.
FAVORITE SPORT TO WATCH OTHER THAN BASEBALL: College Football. I'll watch the NFL if there's nothing else going on, but I get so much more out of watching the non-professionals go at it.
FAVORITE SPORT TO PLAY: Baseball/softball (corner outfield and catcher) and Soccer.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE VIKINGS/TIMBERWOLVES/WILD: Big fan of the pre-Favre variety/Couldn't Care Less about the NBA in general/Mildly Disinterested - Washington Caps fan. The Caps are the one team I've adopted since I moved out here.

General Baseball-
WHAT MAKES BASEBALL SO GREAT TO YOU?: SHS: Strategy, History, and Statistics. To me, those are the three things that separate baseball from the other major sports (NBA, NFL, NHL, etc.). Baseball has the longest and greatest history of any one of them (and it's not close), and today's game is still effectively the same as it was back in the humble beginnings. We still talk about the greatness of Babe Ruth and his records still mean something. In football, the rules have changed so drastically so many times that records mean nothing from era to era. Finally, the statistical background in baseball is absolutely phenomenal - you can watch the game, and then spend hours reading about why what happened, er, happened.
IF YOU HAD TO FOLLOW ANOTHER TEAM, WHICH AND WHY: Man, that's tough. As someone that has really tried hard to adopt the Nats, I can tell you that it really isn't easy (though that might be because the team is just. so. bad.) But if I had to follow another team, it would certainly be the Nats. I feel like they have drafted really well for the last couple years (at least, the draftees that signed were good), and they have a bright future, so long as they don't have another Bowden situation. I would say the Orioles, for all the same reasons (if they get rid of Trembley, that is), but I can't pick another AL team. After following the Twins for so long, following another AL team would feel too much (bizarrely, to be sure) like I was leaving my wife for her sister (I think I'm safe to say that, since she doesn't have a sister ;-) ).
BEST EXPERIENCE AT A BALLPARK OTHER THAN THE DOME/TARGET FIELD: Man, I love Camden Yards. The new Nats Park is nice, but it really doesn't compare to Camden. My best non-Dome experience would have to have been in the summer of 2008. It was a Fri-Sun series with the Twins and the O's, but the Friday night game was rained out, so on Saturday I took in a day-night doubleheader - and it was amazing. Not really my favorite kind of games, they both were both high-scoring affairs (Perkins got his ass handed to him by the ORIOLES, of all teams), but the Twins pulled off a victory in both! A full day of baseball in that stadium, with two Twins win, when they were in a playoff race? Just can't be beat, except maybe by Target Field!
OPINION ON INTERLEAGUE PLAY?: Man, I don't like it. I have tried to, but I just can't get into it. Basically, the simple fact that 18 games in the season have really no relevance to a given team's excellence relevant to the rest of the league, which is the team's competition for the post-season. Say we have the Twins and the Tigers competing to the end of the season, like last year. The Twins went 12-6 against the Brewers in 6 games, at the Cubs and Cards for 3 each, and at home against the Pirates and Astros. The Tigers had all the same teams, except for 3 against the Rockies instead of 3 of the Brewers games, but went 10-6. The Rockies were a much better team than the Brewers last season. Did that throw the division to the Twins? Unlikely, but it's possible. I'd be in favor of it if everyone played everyone, but there's no time for that, and I'd get tired of seeing pitchers flailing at the ball after a few weeks.
OPINION ON THE UNBALANCED SCHEDULE?: I don't love it, but it makes a lot sense, since teams are first and foremost playing the other teams in their division in order to make the postseason. A full round-robin schedule with semi-even distribution made sense before realignment, but not now. The argument has been made that teams should play outside the division more because of the wild card, but if you're playing for the wild card, it means you've already lost.
FAVORITE THING ABOUT MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL AS IT CURRENTLY EXISTS: I like that MLB is FINALLY moving in the direction of adopting instant replay, and even though it isn't there, I'm happy it's moving that direction.
THING YOU DISLIKE MOST ABOUT MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL AS IT CURRENTLY EXISTS: Two things, actually: First, the speed of the games. I know this is a fairly hot topic and a rather obvious choice, but it's just ridiculous. Yeah, there are too many manager mound visits and pitching changes, but those pitching changes are much longer than they need to be thanks to commercials. Also, today I watched Ryan Madsen (of the Phillies) pull the old "fake to third fake to first" move FOUR TIMES in three pitches. Each time, it stopped the game for a full minute or longer. I hate it that it seems like every third game takes 3 1/2 hours, whether extra innings or not. Second, I hate the seventh inning stretch. God Bless America is a horrible song, and I don't want it sung in place of Take Me out to the Ballgame. Call me unpatriotic, but it's a baseball game, not a political exercise. That and the actual music itself is bad.
FAVORITE NON-TWINS PLAYER IN BASEBALL HISTORY: I'd have to say that my favorite player is Mike Sweeney in non-Twins baseball, mostly because I have a long history with him. I lived for several years in Eugene, Oregon, and there is a Low-A short-season farm team there named the Eugene Emeralds, which are now a member of the Padres system, but at that point was affiliated with the Royals, and I remember that Mike Sweeney was just about the nicest guy ever. He was there for two years in 1992 and 1993, and he's the only player I remember from those seasons (and easily the best player on the Ems those years). Eventually, he left the Ems and I caught up with him when he joined the Royals. He's always killed the Twins, so we've occasionally been love-hate, but he was always a great guy.
MOST HATED NON-TWINS PLAYER IN BASEBALL HISTORY: I don't really get into all the AJ hate, but I've always really hated Frank Thomas. No real reason, I suppose, other than that he's always been good and I've never liked the teams he's played on, so I've always had ample reason to hate him.
DID YOU EVER PLAY BASEBALL/SOFTBALL, WHAT POSITION: I used to play, and I want to get back into it after I graduate law school. Corner outfield and catcher.

Twins Generic-
WHEN DID YOU BECOME A TWINS FAN AND WHY: My whole family is from the Midwest, so the Twins are definitely the family team. However, it took me a long time to get there, since I first was a Mariners fan (when we were in Oregon), and then a Braves fan, then the strike happened, I was a Braves fan for a while, and then I moved back to the midwest and rejoined Twins Territory. I didn't become what some might call a superfan until the magical 2006 season, which was when I started watching every game. I started the blog in 2008, during that fun season.
BEST EXPERIENCE AT THE DOME: Seeing Cal Ripken Jr. a couple years after he broke the record. That's a legend that I know I'll never see again in my lifetime.
BEST EXPERIENCE AT/PLANS TO GO TO TARGET FIELD: I wish I had plans to go to Target Field, but between the lack of a job and the distance to the Cities, I don't have any plans right now. Hopefully I'll be able to get there sometime this season!
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN CIRCLED BY BERT?: I don't know if it was me personally, but I went to a game at the Dome with about 200 other graduating Gustavus Adolphus seniors in 2007, and I know at least some of us were circled. He probably circled the ones that were utterly wasted, as it seemed about 180 of us were. Considering the Twins lost to the Blue Jays, they were probably having more fun anyway.
HAVE YOU EVER CAUGHT A FOUL BALL OR HOME RUN AT THE DOME/TF?: No, but, funny story, when I was at a Eugene Emeralds game back in '94, I managed to almost die from a bat that was thrown into the stands by a player for the Southern Oregon Athletics. I didn't even get to keep the bat, because it was a minor league game and bats are expensive and players still had to pay for their own back then, though I did get a cracked bat from the same player after the game.

Twins Player Specific-
FAVORITE TWINS PLAYER IN HISTORY: Hands down, Kirby Puckett. I don't think there needs to be any discussion about that. And I'm judging just his playing career, not the stuff that happened after, which is sad and tragic and in some ways horrible (like the domestic abuse stuff), but I think I can separate the Twins player, and the person he became after he left the game.
FAVORITE CURRENT TWINS PLAYER: Sideshow Pat! I really love Pat Neshek, and I don't know that anyone has rooted as hard for his successful return than I have (though that's sort of a big assumption). I think at one ill-advised moment, I suggested that he be anointed closer straight out of ST. Well, bad idea, but I'm still sort of attached to it! For me, it's about more that the way he plays the game, which is strange and interesting and really good. It's also about the way he interacts with all of us on his blog and Twitter, and the interesting choices he's made. How many vegan players are there in the MLB? I'm guessing one. And I hate that he got so much crap from all of us about it after the fact. I guess I'm on the hippie pinko liberal soap box here, but I guess I have a lot of stored-up irritation at everyone who was beating him up in 2008 when he was slightly less inhuman than he had been in 2006-7, then blamed his vegan diet for his injury, then blamed him/the Twins for the futher damage later in the season that actually led to the surgery, then became huge fans once again when it became clear he'd be back for this season. Bandwagon fans are not limited to the StarTribune website, it sometimes appears. Well, that's much more than the question asked. However, I don't care, because it seems I can't do anything in under 3,000 words or so, and this is now at 2,700.
FAVORITE OBSCURE TWINS PLAYER: I've always had a real soft spot for Rondell White, even if he did spend all of 2007 on the DL, and earn the respelling of his name, RonDL, every time an opposing player breathed on him the wrong way. Sort of the feeling of, "I really want you to succeed, but to succeed you have to play, and when you play, you suck, so I guess I really don't want you to succeed, but I'm sure you're a nice person!"
ARE THERE (WERE THERE) ANY TWINS PLAYERS YOU DISLIKE: Torii Hunter. I know a lot of people that have a lot of good feelings built up for him, but I've always gotten the feeling that he was a real dick unless he was the center of attention, and I really haven't seen anything to change my mind in the last 3-4 years (or heard anything from the years before I started paying real attention). Yeah, he does a lot of great charity work. But so do the heads of the big banks that just about destroyed the economy in 2007-08. Charity work and giving money don't make you a good person; they just mean that you have the money/time to be able to help others.
CURRENT PLAYER YOU'D MOST LIKE TO WATCH A GAME WITH: Jim Thome. Not only is he about the nicest guy you could hope to meet (despite my frequent insistence on my blog that he's actually evil), but he's been around long enough that I feel like he'd have more stories about and knowledge of the game than anyone else on the team.
CURRENT PLAYER YOU'D MOST LIKE TO GO TO A BAR WITH: I'm afraid that if I don't invite the Orlando Hudson (who I call "the" Orlando Hudson because I refuse to call him "the O-Dog" or any of its variations, but I'll grant him the "the" at the beginning of his name), because if I don't I'm afraid he'll imply that I'm racist to the national sports press. However, if I didn't have to choose the Orlando Hudson, I'd choose Michael Cuddyer. He just seems like a fun guy to hang out with, while most of the rest of the crew seems too stoic for me to want to go drinking with.
CURRENT PLAYER YOU'D MOST LIKE TO BE STRANDED ON AN ISLAND WITH: Joe Mauer, because with his new fortune we could build a raft of dollar bills and sail back to civilization.
YOU'D MOST LIKE TO HAVE DINNER WITH: I'm going to have to say Brendan Harris, because I think we'd have a good discussion of baseball and politics. And when I say "good discussion of ... politics," I mean we shout at each other for a while.
YOU'D WANT TO BE THE FRONT MAN OF YOUR NEW BAND: Jon Rauch. You really couldn't ask for much more than a giant with a neck tattoo who enters to hard rock music.
YOU THINK SHOULD BE A MOVIE STAR: JJ Hardy. He certainly has the looks for it. Also, he's not as overexposed as Joe Mauer - really famous people going from other jobs to acting tend to suck badly at acting. Case in point - the worst actors in Little Big League were the superstars - Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey, Jr. The random minor-leaguers that played the baseball players were great.
YOU'D ASK FOR HELP ON A SCIENCE LAB: I'm going to go with Craig Breslow, because I continue to delude myself into thinking the Twins didn't let him go for nothing, and that he's really sitting comfortably in AAA, waiting for Mijares to screw up enough to get him back to the majors.
YOU'D LIKE TO START A BUSINESS WITH: I feel like Jose Mijares knows how to make some really tasty and delicious food, so I'd open a restaurant with him. It's just a hunch, but I think it's borne out.

THOUGHTS ON WHAT YOU'VE SEEN OF TARGET FIELD: It looks beautiful and like a great place to watch a game. I suppose my main critiques are these: 1. Obstructed views. I mean, the designers had to have known that people in the right field bleacher seats might want to see center or right field. That seems like really poor planning. 2. I don't like how far up the first tier of outfield seats are in centerfield. I don't want something like Fenway, but the way it is reminds me of Progressive Field - the mistake by the lake. I know it's probably because they had to deal with the Interstate and the trains underneath, but I'm still going to complain, because it's what I do. Overall, though, it looks like it plays great; the way it's set up won't have the sun in the batter's eyes for early evening games; all the reports I have heard have it sounding amazing. I can't wait to go.
EXPECTATIONS FOR THE TEAM THIS YEAR: 1st in the Central, 94 wins.

A huge thanks to Eric! He's a great guy to chat baseball with and runs one of the best blogs I've had the pleasure of reading! So make sure to check out Call to the 'Pen!


  1. Thanks for the kind words, Topper, and thanks for featuring me on your blog!

  2. YOU sir, are more than welcome. Thanks for helping out!

  3. I see you added two more questions to the interview :-P I wish I had a chance to answer those.

  4. HaHa yeah, Topper told me to add anything I wanted, and I thought of those after I had submitted it the first time and had to add them.