So The Common Man has been alerted to Nick Punto Day, and encouraged to write about the wee-est little player that ever did play and don’t you just want to pinch him (note: Nick Punto is listed as two inches taller than The Common Man). There’s one problem with that. The Common Man is not a particularly big fan of Nick Punto. Oh, he’s all right, I guess. He is versatile and is an excellent fielder. Every couple of years he posts a league-average OBP. But his inconsistency on a year-to-year basis is particularly frustrating. And his willingness to take pitches (usually a good thing) often morphs into a hesitancy to swing at anything, which pumps up his strikeout totals. Given Punto’s .305 average on balls in play over the course of his career, The Common Man would like him to put the bat on the ball more often. Finally, The Common Man overturns furniture and throws a hissy fit at even the thought of Punto’s ridiculously misguided attempts to dive into first base, which serve only to slow him down and put him at risk for serious injury. So The Common Man’s feelings about Nick Punto are complicated at best. He’s a decent player, but one who seems to be constantly trying to frustrate TCM.
Fig. 1: At least LNP does us the courtesy of posing for amusing pictures.
But The Common Man does like one thing about Nick Punto Day. Every time The Common Man thinks about Nick Punto, he is reminded of Bat-Girl, Li’l Nicky’s biggest (and perhaps first) fan. Bat-Girl (for those of you new to the blogging game, was one of the Minnesota Twins first and foremost online voices, providing long recaps of games the night before, and choosing a new boyfriend after each win. Bat-Girl, under the banner of “less stats, more sass,” mixed Greek mythology (the adventures of Cordel Koskos were always fun, even if it turns out Koskie is kind of an asshat), Canada-worship, genuine enthusiasm, and Legos to create a terrific counter-point to Aaron Gleeman’s more analytical blog.
Bat-Girl’s greatest creation, however, may have been Lil Nicky Punto, a pint-sized superhero who could fit in your pocket (like The Atom, but with better range). Lil Nicky Punto had many adventures. There was the time he was eaten in the Northwoods by Johnny Damon and Corey Koskie.
He was almost ripped in half during a brawl. He saved Rondell White’s chinchilla (Mr. Fuzzles) from the evil clutches of CC Sabathia (sadly, Rondell never did stop sucking), he defeated the evil Mecha-Yankee that was terrorizing the Metrodome parking lots, and he even rescued an old lady’s quarter from a storm drain. Because he is Nicky Punto, he could get into places others could not.
Bat-Girl, sadly, had to give up writing in 2007 to focus on her new Bat-Baby Dash. It was undoubtedly a good trade to make, as The Common Man has had to make similar choices in the past, putting his family and career ahead of blogging because the stupid United Nations refuses to extend the length of the day by an extra two hours no matter how nicely he asked. But of all the bloggers that have come and gone, TCM misses Bat-Girl the most. Her enthusiasm, frankness, and sass made each morning more fun to wake up to, and her obvious love for the Twins was contagious.
In case you’re interested, Bat-Girl’s friend, Anne Ursu, is also a pretty terrific writer. A couple years back, The Common Man bought and read Spilling Clarence, a moving novel about the nature of memory, forgetting, and grief. The Common Man remembers walking away thinking more about what we choose to remember, and how we remember it. How memories change in our mind, and why we change them. How they inform who we are, and how we perceive the world. It’s definitely worth your time. Ursu also has another adult book out, The Disapparation of James, about what happens to an ordinary family when their youngest disappears during a magic trick and, oddly, does not reappear. She also has written a trilogy of adolescent books out called The Chronos Chronicles that explore and play with Greek mythology. At last check, Ursu was writing and teaching creative writing at a college in Ohio, but still seems to have faculty status at Hamline University. If you do happen to encounter Ms. Ursu, at a reading, lecture, or ballgame, tell her how much you like her friend Bat-Girl, and wish her a belated Nick Punto Day.