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A Milner moment

I got to see something really cool last weekend.  I was enthralled and entertained and envious.  It was something that clarified why I love sports and why I wake up every day and try to do something… anything that might come close to what I saw.

Gus Milner plays baseball for the Sioux Falls Pheasants.  The Phez played at Fargo-Moorhead last weekend.  We televised two games.  Milner went 4-for-6 in the first one and 4-for-4 in the second one.  And it’s not that a player has never gone 8-for-10 in two games before, but it was remarkable to me for two reasons.  The way he did it and the way it made me feel.

He didn’t hit a home run or even leg out a triple.  In fact, he cranked out one double and the rest were singles.  But that was the perfect part of it all.  Milner was so locked in and so committed to making a simple, perfect swing and making simple, solid contact and driving the ball for a simple, sublime single… it was beautiful.  Zen-like.  It was the fulfillment of possibility… the realization of potential… the conversion of ability into reality.  It was something all of us strive to do, but rarely accomplish.  And Milner did it with the perfect combination of intensity and serenity.

During a baseball broadcast we have a camera in center field.  On a replay, that camera will zoom in tight on the batter’s swing and reveal a lot about the batter’s state of mind.  I think Milner’s mind was blank.  No thought of timing or mechanics or what would happen if he screwed up… just a deep concentration on feeling the swing.  See it, hit it.  His eyes were not wide and there was no grimace of effort on his face.  Just a hint of a squint and a slack jaw.  And dead, solid, simple, perfect contact on single after single after line-drive single.

It did not last.  Milner went 1-for-4 the next night and struck out twice.  But that only emphasized how far into the zone he had wandered in those 10 at bats.  And it is those fleeting “Milner moments” that keep me coming back, wanting to see it and feel it again.