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About Jon
Thank You For Not ...

1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
6) using hyperbole when something less will suffice
7) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
8) making the same point over and over again
9) typing "no-hitter" or "perfect game" to describe either in progress
10) being annoyed by the existence of this list
11) commenting under the obvious influence
12) claiming your opinion isn't allowed when it's just being disagreed with

The Worthy Pain of Compromise
2003-12-01 01:17
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

When my 14-month-old daughter is smiling with her glittering eyes, cheek-to-so-pinchable-it-looks-like-there's-chaw-in-there cheek, when she laughs from the back of her throat like you're Richard Pryor and you've just killed, when she buries her tired face in your chest in a darkened bedroom at 6 a.m., little else matters.

When my wife cuddles next to me, just like she has every night of the past four years - we've only been separated about seven nights that entire time - little else matters.

When I'm away from them, at the office or in the spare room, writing - in days past for the screen, in days present for this website - well, little else matters.

There was a time, just in the last decade, where all I had was my writing, and I did plenty of it, but I didn't have the stamina to do it all day. So there were hours, days, that were empty. Just plain empty and sad.

Now, 24 hours, seven days, 52 weeks, 365 days, it's not enough. It's not enough for me to fully experience all the joys I percieve in life. I make compromises just to get tastes.

I am not as good as I want to be in anything. I want to be a better father, better husband, better writer, better athlete. I want to travel like I could when I was younger. I was fortunate enough to visit London three times by my 20th birthday. Sixteen years later, I haven't been back. I haven't been to Yosemite since I was 11 - even though I tell myself every year I have to go. I want to see Ireland, Australia, Japan. And oh yeah, I want to ski at least two weeks each year. Good luck.

I used to play basketball two or three times a week. Last week, while with my family at the park, I picked up a stray ball - had to be the first time in two years. Usually, when I pick up a ball, I miss a shot, then hit three in a row - feeling loose as a goose, before I start to think about my shot and settle back into making about a third, or about a fourth. This time, there were so many misses of the same shot in a row, so shaky, air balls from seven feet, I felt like I was relearning how to walk.

Even reading is a tradeoff. I juggle magazines and newspapers, barely able to fit in all that I want. Then there's all the informative writing about baseball on the Web - an area where, you can imagine, I have built a significant interest. Barely manage. When I try to squeeze a book in, the wheels come off. I can't read all I want to read. Is that right? Is that possible?

I have slashed my television watching to try to help this. When I could say with conviction that I was in the profession, I was watching about as many hours per week as there are prime time hours in the week. Bought a second VCR in case there were three shows on at once that I wanted to see, and sometimes relied on my brother's two VCRs for backup as well. Now, I feel misgivings when I test a new show, even if it might be good, because it may stretch my rubber-band existence further.

Oh yeah - and I have a job. Doesn't require overtime in labor or stress. The people I work with couldn't be nicer. But, you know, those are 40 or so hours a week where you know, I need to pay attention.

I put off calling friends because there's so much I feel I need to do. Is there much in the world to be less proud of?

This website has made my year, as far as anything to do with work goes. Something as silly as writing about the Dodgers has made me feel that my education and my career are worth more than food and shelter. When I read something or see something that I want to discuss here, I'm revved up, Indy 500-alive. When I piece together sentences and I like the way I've done it, I don't need someone else's praise to feel pride. And I like pride. I'm not overflowing with it, so it's still a treat.

Rest assured, when I'm recognized by a reader or a fellow writer, I'm on Cloud 10 1/2. Oh, man, can I milk some praise, even the smallest praise.

In this niche of the world - baseball writing on the Web, unpaid division - objectively, I'm somebody. I'm a role player. I'm - I'll pick a ballplayer I don't even like, but he's on my mind today and he fits - Craig Counsell. I'm not an All-Star - in fact, give someone else my roster slot, and he might do better. But you know, I feel like I'm in the Show. It's a blessing. Writing this website is a blessing. I get triple-digit readers daily now, but I'll tell you, the moment I realized I had crossed into double digits, that was a sweet exhale on a cold day.

But my god, this site is nowhere near the quality I want it to be. It is thrown together, rapid-fire, a machine gun barely under control, spraying bullets every which way. It has the potential to meet or surpass what others do, but I can't seem to make it happen. I can't find the resources to take the extra base when it's there - and god, it's right there, all the time. So little time is spent refining the writing, which means so much to me. I settle for the obvious words. I let stand a turn of phrase that's an obvious stretch.

It's not enough to wipe away the blessings, but it's frustrating. I crave doing better. I want to be the storyteller, the unequivocal storyteller.

I make compromises instead. They're the best compromises I can think of - because believe me, I weigh this stuff every day. But I think I have my priorities straight. Family comes first, every time. (Well, maybe there's a moment when I cheat, and my wife changes a diaper while I sneak a peek at the latest comments on Baseball Primer Clutch Hits, but that's about the worst of it.) When work needs my full attention, it gets it.

And I think I'm a nice person to be around. (At least, I hide my anger in public well.) That counts.

But I find myself wondering, with ignorant curiosity, what happens to ballplayers when they get married and they have kids. Who makes compromises? What kind of compromises do they make? I know of one for sure - they're gone from their families for longer on one road trip then I've been gone my entire marriage. But beyond that unavoidable issue of logistics, the ones who have stayed close with their family and retained the ability to hit and pitch, those are the Hall of Famers.

I find myself scoffing, with equal parts superiority and jealousy, at writers out there who are single. What I could do with their extra time. Then again, what did I do with it when I had it? No excuses - everyone has hurdles, and you are judged by what you leave on the page.

I find myself pondering the notion of team chemistry. Mention the term, and people always bring up the A's of the 1970s: "They didn't need to like each other to win." Duh! All of a sudden, that seems like the obvious conclusion, the natural one - to have to make the case for it is like having to make the case that reality shows don't reflect reality at all. Being nice to people can so innocently erode the single-minded devotion to getting better at your trade, for two reasons: 1) it often involves sacrifice and 2) it can give you enough pleasure that you don't need to get better at your job. In the game of baseball, if you hate the uni next to you, what else have you got for yourself but to try to be the best there ever was?

No, I make the compromises. I savor my family and accept the frustration that this site isn't as good as I'd like it to be. I'm gonna try every day to be better than I was the day before. But at the same time, I'm posting this message at 9 p.m. without reading it over, Stanford Cardinally sinning, because at some point a man's got to eat dinner. I have a wife who worries when I don't.

I'm the kid who has this habit of dreaming
Sometimes gets me in trouble too
But the truth is I could no more stop dreaming
Than I could make them all come true

- from "The Kid," written by Buddy Mondlock

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