April 3, 2005

Two underdog stories

I'm a sucker for the underdog. I always root for the underdog in sports, which was why I didn't really care that my NCAA March Madness bracket was screwed after the first weekend-- there were some great upsets! If an underdog were an actual type of dog, you can bet I would have one.

I'm guessing there's more out there like me. What's more American than the underdog? Why do we love Horatio Alger and Rocky and Paul Wellstone? Because, for the longest time, America itself was the underdog. Or, at least, that was the mythology. (Today, it's a different story-- that's why I root for Cuba. ;) Naw, j/k. But seriously.)

So here are two underdog stories to make you believe in something again. (As Dan Miller would say. And as it just so happens, Dan Miller is story #2!)

Story #1
Remember the Minnesota Twins? The greatest professional sports team on the planet? Valiant almost-Yankee-killers? The team that does the most with the least money?

Well, I was recently informed that ESPN.com predicts that they will win the World Series. Wow! And they have them currently ranked 4th out of all the MLB teams.

We remember it well:

And the Yankees were, in fact, in big trouble. Nobody remembers it anymore, thanks to the trouble the Red Sox wound up dealing them. But the Yankees were two outs away from trailing the Twins in the Division Series, 2-0 -- and about to head to Minnesota for Games 3 and 4.

Asked how often he thinks about how close his team came to plummeting into that canyon, Yankees manager Joe Torre laughs.

"All the time," he says.

He thought about it all winter. Now he can think about it again all summer -- because six months from now, after the Yankees and Red Sox have finished obsessing about each other, the Twins figure to be waiting for one of them again, hiding out innocently in baseball's October minefield.

I got that familiar sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when Gardenhire sent Nathan back out for another inning in Game 2. And that sinking feeling is never wrong. But you know what? I'm over it, Joe. Just get out there and win us that World Series.

So, hopefully, our first underdog story concludes this way:


Story #2
As promised, Dan Miller is our second bedtime story of the night. (Sorry, ladies. This is a non-sexual bedtime story. We know that you all "want on" Dan Miller. Seriously, try to contain yourselves.)

So, Dan Miller came to Middlebrook tonight for a little "meet 'n' greet" with some students tonight. It was fun. There was pizza. And we got to be "dictators of Minneapolis." (We didn't get to dress up, though.) In my fascist state, I decided, I would crank that gas tax ALL THE WAY up so people would: a)buy smaller, more fuel-efficient cars; b)invest in alternative energy technology; and c)take public transportation more.

Anyway, it was a really cool session. Just a handful of students sitting around, discussing ways to change our city and our nation, from the ground up, and how to get youth interested in politics and empowered.

Dan has some really great ideas, like setting up an endowment for Minneapolis schools. He threw out the statistics that the schools are 69% underfunded, and frankly, if that's true, than it is not only bad, it's criminal. (And possibly unconstitutional. Which is why, he said, some groups might sue the state to provide more funding for the public schools, a strategy that has worked well in other states such as New York. It would be a handy way to get around those obstructionist Republicans that control our state and their "no new taxes.")

Another idea I liked was to have the city stop taxing wind power as it taxes other forms of energy. Right now, you can pay Xcel Energy a little more per month and get all of your power from wind. It's not like it's any better than electricity you get from oil or coal, so a lot of people probably just say, screw it, I'm not paying extra. But what if we didn't tax it? Then, says the prophet Dan Miller, wind power would actually be cheaper than other forms of energy. Do you think people would start signing up for it then? What if the entire city of Minneapolis decided to "go wind?" That would be a huge chunk of demand, and Xcel would have incentive to build more wind turbines. I thought this was a great idea that could help us impact energy policy even at the local level, something you don't really think about too often.

Well, cool. But what makes this an underdog story, rather than just an excuse to talk about (my hero) Dan Miller some more? Well, Dan Miller would seem to be a very extreme underdog. No one expects him, a 25-year old (or so) kid, just out of college, to win against a grizzled old guy who's done pretty much everything impressive you could do with your life, besides being President or the First Man on the Moon, or a middle-aged hippie lady who hasn't done so much but seems to be a prototypical white Minneapolis Democrat with a lot of rock-solid support in her own neighborhood.

But guess what? According to Dan, he's actually winning! He has the most support, at least according to his informal polling. (Derived by personally calling the delegates and asking who they're voting for. We can't trust Zogby anymore. Remember "Kerry 311, Bush 213?" Bah. I'd rather not remember.) He doesn't have a majority, but his prediction was that Bill Svrluga (I literally jumped at this-- I would have expected Svrluga to be dominating the race) would have to drop out after the second ballot, and then it would come down to which candidate could pick up the most of Svrluga's supporters. So, the convention could be really interesting. And hopefully our second underdog story concludes this way:

2005 - ?

To infinity... and beyond!

Well, that's all for now. I must sleep. Goodbye devoted fans.

Posted by smit2174 at April 3, 2005 11:55 PM