25 June 2008

As it turns out, this year's Mariners aren't the most hapless baseball team ever.

Over at the sports blog Deadspin, Rick Chandler discusses his day with the worst baseball player since Joe Shlabotnik -- the beloved Charlie Brown. Chandler walks us through the Charles Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California and highlights the importance of baseball to Charlie Brown and the Peanuts strip:

[According to] Stephan Fatsis, co-curator of the exhibit and creator of the comic strip Pearls Before Swine . . . "Charlie Brown's problems on the mound are emotional conflicts that everyone deals with. It's actually more Biblical than baseball. Charlie Brown is like Job; experiencing these enormous tragedies, yet he continues to strive.

"You see him out there on the mound during Biblical-sized floods, after everyone else has gone home, and he still wants to play," Fatsis said. "At one point even his mitt floats away, yet he still won't quit. Schulz was the first cartoonist to work with those themes. Asking me if my work has been influenced by Schulz is like asking are you influenced by oxygen."

Baseball was the perfect sounding board for Schulz, placing his characters in a microcosm of hope, persistence, humiliation and disappointment.

While Chandler sticks to the Schulz connection to baseball, I also recall from our trip to the museum (it's just a couple of hours drive from our house) the late cartoonist's love of ice hockey. In fact, between the museum and the gift shop is the "Snoopy's Home Ice" ice rink. My daughter enjoyed her first experience ice skating there and especially enjoyed the artificial snow which fell from the ceiling at the end of the kids' free skate; afterward, she topped it all off with some hot chocolate and a snack served in a dog dish at the Warm Puppy Cafe located at the rink.

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