Ryan and the Technicolor Wardrobe
Short Stories and Essays

We are currently in a very anxious time for the entire state of Minnesota.  At stake is the well-being of every person in the state.  Who’s holding them for ransom?  A 26 year old professional baseball player named Joe Mauer.  If you don’t know who Joe Mauer is, ask any Minnesotan over the age of 5 and they will probably be able to recite you his Wikipedia page ver batim: born and raised in St Paul, Minnesota, was the highest rated quarterback and baseball player coming out of high school, drafted first overall by his hometown Twins in 2001, has won two batting titles and an MVP award by the age of 26 and will hopefully be signing the richest contract for a catcher in baseball history (somewhere in the ballpark of 200 million dollars over the next ten years) for the hometown team.  If you don’t know or follow baseball, all you need to know is that there is few greater joys for small market sports fan than watching a hometown kid (or ONE OF US as Minnesota hockey fans like to say) become a star for the hometown team.  Mauer in on track to become the best catcher to ever play baseball and is perhaps the best player playing today.  If he doesn’t sign his contract before it expires, there is a huge fear that he will leave for New York or Boston for probably $10 million dollars more a year.   This fear is probably unwarranted since Joe Mauer is the Jay-Z of the Twin Cities.  He runs this town.

I’m not sure if I’m exaggerating when I say that there will be a riot in the Twin Cities in Mauer ends up leaving the only place he’s lived for the East Coast.  There are some sports fans who are far too emotionally invested in their teams, where they can be hostile when told critical things about their teams/players, even when they are absolute facts.  These people are referred to as “homers”.  These people can be difficult to deal with because you can’t use logic or facts on them.  They’re loyal to a fault, and typically are too far invested in their teams/sports that they are hard to have normal conversations with.  There was a movie that was made about this last year called Big Fan, starring Patton Oswalt.  While I don’t know of any homers that have followed their favorite athlete (and entourage) to a strip club, I’m pretty sure that there are some homers that will vandalize the newly minted Target Field (which ironically they paid for via their taxes) if Mauer doesn’t sign his contract.

I’ll be honest, in some ways I’m very much a homer.  I usually know which players have Minnesota ties, like the 2010 olympic team (about 1/3 of the team is either from Minnesota, went to a prep school in Minnesota or went to college there).  I can usually admit when my teams are bad and I try not to overrate players I have special ties to (I probably played little league baseball against Pat Neshek or his brother).  I’m a bit of a homer when it comes to Minnesota music as well.  I’m a huge fan of Low, (Bob Dylan and Prince are universally beloved so we can skip them), I will defend Semisonic as being far better than a one-hit wonder, and I love Tapes ‘n Tapes, though I will admit Walk it Off is a huge letdown after their amazing debut, The Loon.

There’s a new “kid” on the block from Minnesota that I just can’t get behind and it’s not because they’re not from the Twin Cities (neither is Low or Team USA captain Jamie Langenbrunner).  It’s because this kid is just terrible.  I, of course, speak of Owl City whose hit “Fireflies” was the number one song in the COUNTRY not too long ago.  I’m not one of those people who gets annoyed when an artist becomes too mainstream.  I never liked Owl City, even with their inspirational unsigned artist with a Myspace account to chart topper story.  I won’t touch the whole “they sound like Postal Service” debate because my friends’ heads will explode, but I must say this.  As a Minnesota native who is supremely proud of it, how do I reconcile being ashamed of this particular Minnesota artist?

This is probably anti-climactic but the only way I’ve thought of is just to not mention that Owl City (which is really just one guy, I don’t even know why I know this) is from Minnesota.  It’s like when a movie comes out, the trailers and posters only point out the “good” things affiliated with the movie, not the bad.  The next Halle Berry movie trailer will most likely NOT mention she was in Catwoman but it WILL most likely mention her Oscar win.  The next Danny Boyle film will mention that he directed Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting but will most likely leave out A Life Less Ordinary and The Beach (maybe).  So lets let this be the last time we discuss the origins of Owl City.  Adam Young, I wish you the best of luck in your musical career, but Minnesota only has room for one native son to cherish and his name is Joe Mauer.