Another Begins

My new chapter begins with something new, or more specifically, something quite old that I’ve been meaning to get to for a long time and that now, as I’m stuck at home, I actually have some time for.

As you may know if you know me or perhaps have read the about page on this site, 29 years ago this month I began an endeavor to visit every major and minor league baseball park in a season. As you read those words slide by, it is likely you have conjured up people in your mind that have done “something similar.” That’s what people often said to us, “Oh, my cousin Bobby did that last summer, he had a great time.” But Bobby really just went to six ballparks on a week-long vacation. Or sometimes Bobby went to his last major league ballpark, that is – he’d been to all of the stadiums over several seasons. Very occasionally, Bobby might have actually gotten to all the major league parks in the same season. But of the 178 baseball stadiums my friend Sue Easler and I visited in 1991, only 26 were in the Major Leagues, the other 152 were in the Minor Leagues and thus, as far as I know, only one other person has done this and he did it several years later.

We brought along a home video camera and shot video that was used as a segment called “Bill & Sue’s Excellent Adventure” on the show Major League Baseball Magazine, which ran on ESPN each week. Along the way, we became mini-celebrities; we threw out first pitches, signed autographs, sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame and ended up the season on Good Morning America. But for 28 years-plus, those old VCR tapes have been gathering dust, most recently in my basement for the last decade.

So a couple of weeks back I decided to get them out and begin the slow process of digitizing them – trying to get them off video cassettes and on to computer files before the last of their images faded or just plain disintegrated. You know what? They are still pretty interesting. Sure, baseball fans will like them best but they represent much more than a story about baseball; they are the tale of a journey for the ages (we drove 54,000 miles in seven months,) they are a love story about America and its national pastime, but mostly, I think, they are a video novel…about dreams.

And so, I have decided to begin working on a daily video series. Every day (ish) I hope to share a brief video with the highlights of our journey on that particular day 29 years ago. My first baseball journey was this Excellent Adventure in 1991 but I did most of it again in 2003 when I went to all of the then 160 Minor League parks on a voyage I called the Extra Innings Tour. But this time around, I’m leaving the car in the garage. This is the premiere of a new virtual journey, I’m calling it the Low Mileage Tour 2020.

If you like baseball, I’m pretty sure you will enjoy the Low Mileage Tour but give it a try anyway. It might just help you remember happier times and look forward to better days.

To be clear, though, this series has nothing to do with fixing Congress and making our government work better and I continue to believe that it is vital that we do so this year. Sometime later this year I hope this page will return to its core mission and be able to make a difference. In the meantime, though, revisiting an excellent adventure seems worthwhile.

A Chapter Ends

Two weeks ago…it seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago. For me, this is the weirdest part about the place at which we’ve all arrived in the spring of 2020. Days seem to crawl by but they also blend together amid a swirl of daily tectonic shifts in the external world. It feels like I’m watching a movie about a riding a roller coaster in slow motion….you know the drop is going to be fast and scary, but there is a lot of time to think about it.

Two weeks ago I had an idea. It was an idea to try to bridge the gap between the 2020 I thought I lived in when the year began and the 2020 in which I now reside, part of the post COVID-19 world. I don’t think it was a bad idea but as I began to try to execute my vision of a “virtual tour” of the 435 congressional districts and started to produce pages I bumped up against a disorienting version of writer’s block in which I was having trouble keeping straight whether I was writing about the reality of yesterday, a fantasy of today or some fuzzy but hopeful version of the future. It felt like a weird flex capacitor time-travel moment.

Since then I’ve been wrestling with the answer to two key questions I learned by going through Seth Godin’s excellent altMBA program a couple of years ago. Who is it for and what does it do? For the first time, I think, since I restarted the Project to Find America last summer, I don’t feel like I have an answer to either of those questions.

My reason for investing time into this project, since the beginning, has been to try to impact the 2020 elections in a positive way – to get voters to think critically about what it is going to take to get Congress to function more effectively and vote accordingly in this summer’s primaries and again in the general election next fall. But while I still think this is a worthy goal, it isn’t at all clear to me when those primaries will take place or what the landscape of next fall’s elections will look like. Worse, I don’t think I could connect the dots between writing about the sites of interests in those districts and the elections due to take place in them even if I were more certain about the political calendar.

And thus, I think it’s time to pause this blog, I simply do not know how to help right now. That doesn’t mean this effort is over, I hope I’ll be back this summer or fall with something that I think I can do to help – but this is my last post about Congress, politics or government for awhile.