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  • On Getting Your Ass Kicked

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    I picked up a preseason baseball magazine yesterday, and went immediately to the Twins team capsule. Some stats it listed really made me cringe:

    98 HRs by the Twins at Target Field since it opened, 1 by Joe Mauer.

    Baseball’s worst run-differential last year, with 619 runs scored and 804 allowed.

    27 DL trips by 16 different players.

    119 errors, compared with 78 in 2010.

    And here’s the ball that goes off Jose Canseco’s noggin for a homerun – the Twins had just 48 wins against the AL East since 2008 through 148 games.

    In what some might call my nascent adult years, I was at a get together, minding my own sweet little business and talking with a friend, when I was confronted by a gaggle of testosterone-filled high school football players.

    The leader of the group, a blond and very angry Johnny Football Hero-type, nostrils flaring, stared at me. "Did you steal my friend’s Kahlua?” This very important question caused me to cock my eyebrow. I didn’t care for his demeanor, so I met his gaze and didn’t break it, however foolishly.

    “No, I have no idea where your friend’s Kahlua is. Sorry.”

    This answer was unacceptable. "You better tell me where you put it. You didn’t drink it, did you? If you stole it, I swear I’m going to beat the [explicative] out of you.” He turned a sideways glance to his friends. "Look at the way he’s staring at me. I bet he wants to [make out with me].”

    I am not the fighting type, and I’m of the mindset that by letting my Jack Johnson and Tom O'Leary loose on his face would put me down to his neanderthal level, but I was getting close. A few more exchanges took place before a friend of mine was able to reason with Johnny and convince him to keep searching for his friend’s coffee-flavored liquor elsewhere.

    Johnny’s little brother, probably a sophomore and about forty pounds of muscle lighter, grinned ear to ear at me. "Dude! You don’t know how close you were to getting your ass kicked! Getting your ass kicked isn’t so bad. I’ve had my ass kicked a few times. You know what to expect afterwards. You learn how to fight.”

    That was such a strange thing to hear that it’s stuck in my mind ever since. But he had a point. Sometimes a good ass-kicking does you some good. It drives out complacency and gives you a renewed determination. It separates the chaff from the more salient bits. It makes you dig deeper within yourself (or in the case of Joe Mauer, lets you see if there’s anything deeper still to find), and you realize how to deal with adversity.

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