Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Podcast: Micah Johnson, Dodger-turned-artist

Micah Johnson working on a collaborative piece with fellow former major leaguer Matt Sczzur, with George Floyd as the subject. (twitter.com/Micah_Johnson3)

 

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Over the weekend, I was fortunate enough to have a conversation for the Word to the Weisman podcast with Micah Johnson, the former Dodger who at the age of 29 has transformed into a full-time artist with growing success. He’s a really interesting guy, and I think you’ll enjoy our  30-minute chat about his unique career journey as well as his thoughts about the landmark year of 2020.

You can listen above, or find Word to the Weisman on your favorite podcast app.

And for more about Johnson, including a look at his artwork, check out his Instagram and Twitter accounts, as well as his website and this one, The Arthlete

Enjoy!

There is no moral imperative for baseball

Dodger Stadium, November 2016 (Jon Weisman)

The United States is fighting for its life and soul. How badly do we need to see a curveball?

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My message for #BlackoutTuesday

We hear you. Now calm down. 

This is what city, state and national government have been saying to protesters across the country. This is what they’ve been offering. Sympathy without action.

Here’s why it’s not enough. 

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Sheltered, Part 8: What does a college freshman do in 2020-21?

Quiet on the campus where I spent my freshman year.

This is a topic that is personal to my family, but I don’t think it’s unique. 

Believe it or not, Young Miss Weisman, who was born three months after Dodger Thoughts was founded in 2002, is headed out of state to college this fall. At least, that’s what we thought a month ago. 

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Sheltered, Part 7: ‘And Walker doesn’t know how many outs!’

Sheltering in place has always been a way of life for Misty.

The last time someone outside my family was in our house was March 13.

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Sheltered, Part 6: There used to be a ballclub right here

Dodger Stadium, September 2015 (Photo: Jon Weisman)

I remember the Dodgers.

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Sheltered, Part 5:
Unlocked

Writing these “Sheltered” posts helped clear my head. This afternoon, I made some headway hacking through the dry brush of notes on the first draft of my novel to begin carving a plan of action for the second draft.  

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Sheltered, Part 4:
Don’t forget the joy

Some of my current angst is rooted in the novel I began working on almost 20 months ago. 

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Sheltered, Part 3:
The morning after

I take a risk when I write at night, especially when I write a personal piece.

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Sheltered, Part 2:
I’ve been running

I love long walks.

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Sheltered, Part 1:
The why

#flatteningtheclyde

I want to say something, but it’s less about the what than the why.

What I’m going to tell you won’t be anything you need to know. It goes back, as it always does, to this core dilemma: I have feelings, and I want them to be heard. I want them to be felt, even if they don’t matter. 

What’s different now? Less distraction, maybe? I don’t have a commute. That is time I’ve filled with exercise — walks and short runs and sit-ups — rather than writing. But never not thinking. 

What’s the same, but maybe more pronounced, are feelings of inadequacy. We are living through the singular event of my 52 years. How am I rising to the occasion? By following the best instructions for hiding. 

I have one skill, which is to arrange words into thoughts, and I haven’t been using it. It doesn’t help that the Dodgers aren’t playing, but then again, the Dodgers aren’t relevant. It doesn’t help that I’m at the very, very beginning of turning the first draft of my novel into a second draft, and I’m feeling intimidated by the work. 

I’m jealous of people who are producing. I’m jealous of people who are relevant. I’m a jealous person. 

If I focus on my family, I’m fine. I’m grateful. I’m grounded. But my mind wanders, to very specific places. 

We are living in a life or death world, and I don’t want to be silent. 

The legacy of Babe and Roger in America

The last paper I wrote as an undergraduate student at Stanford was for a class called Sport in American Life, one of my favorites. It was taught by a terrific visiting professor, Elliot Gorn, and for me, there was no more perfect capper to my American Studies major than to be able to write an essay on baseball, in particular a comparison of the way fans and the media regarded Babe Ruth and Roger Maris.

It’s not a perfect essay, to be sure, but this lull in our baseball lives seems to me to be as good a time to revisit it as any. It has now been 31 years since I wrote it, or longer than it had been from the time Maris hit his 61st home run the time of the paper, which is amazing to me.

My favorite research discovery was that the same beat writer for the New York Times, John Drebinger, covered Ruth’s 60th homer in 1927 and Maris’ record-breaking blast in 1961. The contrast in style between the two stories by the same man might have partly been a reflection of the times, but it still spoke volumes to me. 

Also of note is the clear influence Bill James had already had on me by then. I had started buying his annual editions of his Baseball Abstract in 1981, when they were self-published and advertised in the classifieds of The Sporting News. By the time I was working on this paper, James had become much more widely read but was still very much a revolutionary. I quoted him liberally in this paper, and while my work didn’t approach his, the spirit of trying to distinguish between myth and reality was already strong. In a way, this might have been among my first, proto-Dodger Thoughts piece of writing.  

Anyway, here it is. (You might need to zoom in with your browser to read it more easily.)

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Podcast: Morning walk

This is the first episode of Word to the Weisman that I’ve posted in more than a year, so check it out. You can also get it on Apple, Spotify, etc.

The coronavirus turbulence

My wife hates to fly. She gets very anxious, more so with each passing year.

I’m pretty good on airplanes. I completely buy into the data that it’s safer to fly than drive, and I know driving almost as much as I know breathing. That’s not to say I enjoy a whole lot about air travel, but I’m pretty calm about the mechanics of it all. It’s one of my few great strengths as a husband. 

Turbulence is part of the equation. So many flights have it, and for the most part, it’s a series of speed bumps. You go through through the bumps, and you go on your way.

My wife finds any turbulence deeply unsettling, and if I’m next to her, I take her hand. I try to reassure her. It’s one thing I can reliably do. It’s neither ironic nor coincidental, but on point, that when I proposed to her, it was after midnight on the wet tarmac of the Binghamton, New York airport after a difficult flight from Washington D.C. through a rainstorm. 

But sometimes the turbulence gets rough. Really rough. Rough like some hidden hand has picked your plane up in the air and is shaking it. The ride isn’t bumpy, it’s jagged. I’m being jerked around, literally and figuratively. And then my mind takes me places. And I worry about dying. 

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Thoughts I shouldn’t be having on a coronavirus Monday

Remnants of a tree, Calabasas, February 1. One person I showed this photo to asked, “Who is that?”

In some ways, there’s nothing better than being awake in the middle of the night. It’s only a shame you have to pay the price later in the day. 

I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep. It wasn’t because of these thoughts, but as the next hour passed, it seemed like as good a time as any to get them out of my system. 

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