Column: Old Foolish Fan speaks his mind

Published 10:33am Thursday, May 29, 2008

By Jon Laging, Talking Sports

I had not seen Old Foolish Fan since the last blue moon and was becoming concerned about his welfare. Not to worry, I found him at his favorite watering hole a few days ago, sitting by himself nursing a half full glass when I walked in.

I asked him if he had interviewed any sports figures recently. No, he said, but he had talked with a political personality. I thought that might be interesting and asked him if he would mind sharing his interview with me. He was a little reluctant, but after I bought a pitcher of his favorite beverage he consented.

As you may remember, O. F. F. has the ability to separate the wheat from the chaff just by uttering the words, &8220;You Mean?&8221; He had been fortunate enough to get Barack Obama alone for a question or two. Here is the fictional report of his conversation with Obama.

Old Foolish Fan: Tell me Mr. Obama, &8220;What is your opinion of Hillary Clinton&8217;s continued striving for the Democratic nomination?&8221;

Barack Obama: &8220;I have great admiration for Senator Clinton. We have been friends before this contest and I&8217;m sure we will be friends when it ends. She has every right to continue her quest and has earned the right to do so.&8221;

O. F. F: &8220;You mean?&8221;

B.O: &8220;C&8217;mon Hillary, enough&8217;s enough.&8221;

Old Foolish Fan seemed reluctant to talk further about the political scene and had not done any recent sports interviews and it seemed that our meeting was over. Then it occurred to me that I had always asked O.F. F. for the results of his interviews and never questioned him about his own personal opinions. Therefore, I asked if he would consent to be interviewed. He seemed pleased and agreed to visit with me. I asked him what his thoughts were concerning the present day Twins. He thought for a while and then commented as follows:

O.F.F. &8220;The team is wildly inconsistent. They look like world beaters one day and a Florida Instructional League team the next. Sports analysts tend to lay the misplays at the feet of the manager or individual players. There is a certain amount of truth in looking at a team in that fashion, but there is a bigger truth.&8221;

&8220;What&8217;s that?&8221; I asked O.F.F. &8220;The team is young and as a young team, it can be wildly frustrating. It seems that for every two steps forward it takes a step back. It is easy to write scathing articles, but one must realize that youth is curable and if patience is exercised, and depending on the amount of improvement in the future, the team may become very good.&8221;

J.W.L. &8220;Can the team contend?&8221;

O.F.F. &8220;I don&8217;t think so, not this year unless you can cram a year&8217;s worth of learning into next month.&8221;

J.W.L. &8220;How do next year&8217;s Gopher teams look to you?&8221;

O.F.F. &8220;The basketball Gophers will be in a situation much like the Twins.

They will be young and learning. They are fortunate that they have a mentor like Tubby Smith as are the Twins in Ron Gardenhire.&8221;

J.W.L. &8220;How about the Football Gophers?&8221;

O.F.F &8220;It&8217;s very basic. They will be better than last year. How can they not be?&8221;

I thought I would leave this line of questioning and ask Old Foolish Fan a personal question.

J.W.L. &8220;Why do you devote a great deal of time to sports, both watching and reporting on them?

O.F.F. That&8217;s a good question. I think it&8217;s because as I grow older, society is becoming more complex and I see the increasing sophistication of our lives and yearn for simple truths. I believe there is still right and wrong and incorrect decisions cannot be fuzzed over. Sports it seems to me provides simple truths. You hit the ball or you don&8217;t hit the ball. You make the basket or you don&8217;t. Whether you win or lose depends on how well you do-very little else.

&8220;It is a comfort to me to watch something that cannot be determined by money. Influenced, but not determined.&8221;

J.W.L. &8220;Thank you, Old Foolish Fan.&8221;