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Looking back, looking ahead December 31, 2010

Posted by Christine Coleman in Goals.

The year is ending in less than 12 hours, with a bright and shiny new one on the horizon. I’m a big believer in clearing the slate, whether it’s on New Year’s Day or my birthday. And 2010 is a year I’m glad to leave behind.

There were good parts to the year, as there always are. I trained for and ran a 10K race. I wrote more this year, expanding my horizons into blogging and baseball writing, plus wrote a novel during November. I read 24 books. (Ever since I read the list that Stephen King had at the back of his book “On Writing,” I’ve kept track annually.) I went to plenty of baseball games, both River Bandits and Cardinals, and added a new ballpark to my list of ones I’ve visited (Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City). I enjoyed going to many of my high school football team’s games, especially in the playoffs, as they marched toward the state championship game.

But, overall, I didn’t like this year very much. Disappointing is the word that best describes it. Running the 10K race led to a hip injury that derailed my exercising, which also led me to gain weight … I don’t really want to go into the details about my frustrations with the year. I’m glad it’s ending, period.

As part of clearing the slate annually, I always set goals for the New Year. Throughout the past couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking off and on about what I want those to be. And yesterday I decided on a word instead of a series of resolutions or goals. Productive.

That’s one thing I don’t necessarily feel like I was in 2010, or at least not as productive as I wanted to be. (I have gotten so very good at being lazy and wasting time, much more so than previously.) So I am going to be productive in 2011.

I’m going to be productive by writing regularly. I’ve realized writing about baseball is something I love, so I’m going to blog about the Cardinals again. (New blog alert – coming very soon!)

I’m going to be productive by losing weight. 2010 was one big excuse. No more. In fact, I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting in seven years two days ago.

I’m going to be productive by getting back into exercising. It’s amazing how quickly all motivation can go away after an injury, and how difficult it is to recapture. But I feel so much better when I do exercise, which is what I need to remember in the next couple weeks as I work to combat the inertia and crazy-busy time at work and get back into a real fitness routine again. Running is something I want to do again also.

And the list goes on about ways I want to be productive in 2011. It’s always easy, especially on Dec. 31, to say all the things I want to change as I clear the slate. All that really matters is action. And I can only do that one day, one hour, at a time, once Jan. 1 arrives in a few hours.

May it be a productive and fulfilling year ahead for all. Happy New Year!


These Things Happen December 13, 2010

Posted by Christine Coleman in Baseball.
Brendan Ryan

Photo by Chris Lee/STLToday.com

Baseball is a business.

Yes, of course, it’s a sport too, and entertainment to those of us who are fans, but it’s a business first – particularly to those who are employed by a team. And, like any business, personnel decisions don’t have to be based on what’s smart or what’s “right” or what the customers think or the talent of the employees, or on anything other than what a boss wants. And that boss doesn’t necessarily have to be the CEO to get his or her way.

All of which brings me to yesterday’s trade of Brendan Ryan from the Cardinals to the Mariners. The trade was not a surprise. Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said going into last week’s winter meetings that “exploring the Brendan Ryan market” was one of the team’s goals, following the trade the week before for Ryan Theriot, who essentially was publicly anointed as the Cards starting shortstop for 2011. Reasons were given for possibly trading Brendan, which were expected things like his defense not being enough to make up for his offensive inconsistency. Ozzie Smith spoke out on keeping Brendan a Cardinal, which to me seemed like a sure sign that he would be out as soon as possible. Because, as I said above, decisions are made on what the boss wants. For the Cardinals, that means decisions are typically based on what Tony La Russa wants.

Like any skilled politician, La Russa didn’t explicitly say he wanted Brendan gone. But he certainly made some interesting comments about him, particularly last week at the winter meetings. From an article by Derrick Goold from last Wednesday:

“First of all, this is a team sport. If you play one of the team sports, if you’ve got your head on straight, if your representatives are talking to you correctly, if your family is keeping their — you know, they’re caring about you doing the best they can for you, you’re part of a team and an organization. The organization has an obligation to make the best team. You just can’t cater to one guy. I worry about that. You care about things like that, but you don’t change your decision. I mean, it’s up to the player to understand the organization or the team’s responsibility to put together the best team. In Brendan’s case, I think he’d prefer to be an everyday player, but if he’s with us next year, I think he loves the Cardinals and he’ll make the adjustment. Just handle it.”

Telling comments, especially “if you’ve got your head on straight” and “it’s up to the player to understand.”

As a Cardinals fan for eleven seasons now, La Russa is obviously the only manager I’ve known. So I never had the “he’s not Whitey” bias nor distrust against him that my long-term Cards fans friends (plus uncle) did. Their bias and distrust seemed to soften a bit in 2002, following the death of Darryl Kile and La Russa’s handling of the team in its wake. But that was a very long time ago. The 2010 season was definitely a disappointment for everyone and, for the first time, I was ready for him to move on and preferred that someone else manage the Cardinals for the upcoming season.

But it’s nothing I can control. My own approach to fandom seems to be different than others. I don’t spend the off-season dreaming and debating and wishing for this guy or that guy to become a Cardinal (or even the Cardinals manager), or plan what season I can expect my favorite players from this year’s River Bandits team to take the field at Busch Stadium. Personally, I know that I have no influence over what happens and what the roster looks like. So I’ll let those who do have that authority go about their jobs. The 25 guys who leave Jupiter, Fla., in March for St. Louis are the guys I will root for when opening day arrives – even if they were past villains to me, like Theriot and Lance Berkman. Same goes for the manager. It’s La Russa for 2011, so I’ll support him.

In other workplaces, there have no doubt been employees who shine in certain areas, fall short in others, and get on the nerves of a boss and peers for being late or being hyper. And those employees have likely been dealt with in similar ways to what Mozeliak did yesterday, even though it’s not exactly like Brendan Ryan is looking for a new job today as other such employees would be. Still, one constant remains: business is business.

And that’s always the bottom line.