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The Great Baseball Road Trip 2011, Part III: The secret of the Midwestern Work Ethic

Posted by: Michael Rand under Professional baseball Updated: July 28, 2011 - 8:44 AM

Proprietor Note: To avoid confusion on this very special Great Baseball Road Trip week, the use of the royal “we” will temporarily be suspended in favor of the more controversial “I” to describe “me” or “myself.” Those who find this unusually jarring can probably paste the body of the text into a different program and execute a search/replace.

I think I have discovered at least part of the secret to the famed Midwestern Work Ethic. In Minnesota, we have four distinct seasons (or at least we are supposed to have them). For several months of the year, there is crippling cold -- invigorating our senses when we are outside, but keeping us inside by choice and leaving us no recourse but to get [redacted] done. Even in the summer months, the climate is typically reasonable enough for normal human activity.

In the South -- and we do consider many parts of North Carolina to be the South -- it is often so embarrassingly hot and humid during the summer that merely going outside briefly has a tendency to sap your strength, making you want to do nothing but retreat to shade or the indoors and beach your whale-ness.

That is how we felt Wednesday, at least temporarily, after spending nine innings of a 12:15 p.m. start in a wide-open Class AAA ballpark in suburban Charlotte (the park itself is actually just across the border in South Carolina). The first-pitch temperature was approximately three degrees cooler than the surface of the sun, and our seats -- while glorious and in perfect foul ball territory (to no avail, as usual) -- were positioned perfectly within the yellow demon's evil clutches. The game itself was a battle between the Charlotte Knights (White Sox affiliate, booooo!) and the Indianapolis Indians (Pirates affiliate). I enjoy baseball as much as the next guy -- probably more than the next guy -- but the heat made it almost a countdown of outs to the finish from the start. Perhaps the only thing that kept us on our toes was the "Uh-huh" guy, a superfan who seems to divide the Charlotte crowd between those purely delighted and those clearly annoyed by his constant loud chants of "Uh-huh!" That is him, pictured along with one of his signs and with P-Money and Rocket (the latter declined to be identified for obvious reasons).

In any event, we rolled into Charlotte about 30 minutes before game time, and we left immediately thereafter. Sorry, Charlotte, if there was more to see. This, however, is where the Midwestern Work Ethic kicked in. Despite North Carolina's best attempts to keep the Great Baseball Road Trip sedated, the crew rallied upon arrival in Greensboro. The heroism described yesterday was duplicated in the form of 1) A quick trip to a shopping center to obtain some pants for Rocket (don't ask) and some swimming trunks for P-Money; 2) A dip in the hotel pool; 3) A massive dinner; and 4) The finishing touch of FOUR games of bowling at a local emporium.

Less hardy stock might have holed up in the hotel, content to let the South's heat beat us into submission. But three Midwestern boys braved the elements. It didn't come, however, without a price. Back in the hotel finally for the night, SportsCenter came on. I'm not sure if it was sun-fever, heat-sweats or mere hallucination, but I swear I saw a Joe Mauer home run on the SportsCenter highlights. Very funny, North Carolina. I will respect you, even if I don't fully understand you.

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