Thanks Joe, and Yes — You’re a Hall of Famer

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Joe Mauer, in a fitting send off, donned the catcher’s gear one last time in the final inning of his final game in 2018. His career ended with a vintage Joe Mauer hit — a double to the opposite field. Joe Mauer will go into the Hall of Fame.

Full disclosure. I did not fully appreciate Joe Mauer while he played for the Twins for 15 years. He was never my favorite player, or even my favorite Twin. I’m not alone. For a variety of reasons that I won’t go into in detail here, many Twins fans were quite critical of their hometown star Joe Mauer. The reasons bordered from fair to ridiculous.

My critiques were not overly typical, and I wasn’t necessarily a Mauer critic. More so, I was frustrated that such a great player had his career altered by injury like my actual favorite Twin and baseball legend from childhood — Kirby Puckett. Unlike Puckett, Joe never took the Twins to the World Series. He never got them past the Yankees, and the various history-making dreams I had for him when he was 26 years old did not materialize.

We as humans tend to remember what has been done for us lately. Our historical memory or lack thereof leads to all sorts of problems, from repeating dark turns in history because no one is around to warn us anymore at the most serious end, to not remembering or putting baseball legends into their proper context until they’re gone.

At 26 years old, Joe Mauer won the American League MVP. He batted .365 to collect his third batting title in four years. He was the first AL catcher to win a batting title, period. He did it three times. In that magical 2009 season he flirted with .400. The last player to hit .400 was Ted Williams, one of the greatest hitters ever. Ted Williams, like most great hitters, did not play catcher.

Joe Mauer in his prime was a great hitter, and also a great catcher. For ten years he played the most physically demanding position in baseball, perhaps in sports period, the most important defensive position in baseball and he played it at a high level.

  • 3 Gold Gloves (and a 4th one he should have won in 2017 at a second position, first base, where he played the final five years of his career after career altering concussions forced him out from behind the plate).
  • 5 Silver Sluggers (the best slugging percentage at your position).
  • 6 time All Star.
  • 3 Batting Titles (2006, 2008, and 2009, and nearly a fourth one, and a fifth one).
  • 2009 American League MVP.

In 2010 — Target Field just opened, I had started law school and moved to Saint Paul, MN , Joe’s hometown, and he had just inked an eight-year, 184 million dollar contract. He was coming off of a batting line of .365/.444./.587 to win the statistical Triple Crown (Batting Average, On-base, and Slugging percentage). If Joe wasn’t signed to be a career long Twin, Twins fans would have rioted in the streets… well lets be honest, they would have been passive aggressive and bought less tickets, making the tough years of 2011 to 2016, where they only had one winning season even tougher.

That year I figured Joe Mauer would equal the 7 batting titles Rod Carew won, collect 2,800 hits and only miss out on 3,000 because he is a catcher, hit 250 home runs because I just recently witnessed his power emerge with 28 home runs, and retire with a career batting average of .335 or .340 (he still retired with one of .306). I thought he would have another year where he made a run at .400 as well, and perhaps he’d appear in or win a World Series like Kirby Puckett did. Joe wasn’t clutch they said. But what is clutch? He actually led the league in batting average with runners in scoring position this year in his final year.

Joe Mauer should be judged on his actual statistics, which are excellent, not judged against the video game statistics we expected he would reach. He should be judged as a catcher, because that’s what he was for the vast majority of his career and that was his position during his best seven years. Joe’s best seven years match up against nearly every catcher in history that has made the Hall of Fame. He got on base 40 percent of the time six times in his career. Do you know how many other catchers did that? Zero.

In 2017 Joe had a bit of a resurgence batting above .300 for the first time in four years. I was hoping it was a sign that he was permanently recovered from concussions. But as we are learning more and more about brain science, it did not work out that way.

Joe made the right decision for himself, and his family. He could’ve kept playing. He is a great defensive first baseman, still gets on base at a solid clip, was finally being utilized correctly in the batting order by leading off, still taking professional at-bats, and still quietly leading the clubhouse with perhaps the most enduring trait that I’ll remember about him — character. The older I get, and the crazier things get in this country, the more I value character. Joe had it. He is the perfect ambassador for the Minnesota Twins, the state of Minnesota, and the beautiful game of baseball–America’s pastime.

The voters and gatekeepers of Cooperstown would be wise to vote in Joe to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The best catcher in baseball for a decade is a Hall of Famer. Period. Historic things are the markings of a Hall of Famer, and the days of analytics and saber-metrics have put the arbitrary indicators of 3,000 hits, 500 home runs, a bunch of RBI’s, etc. into history. As more baseball writers retire and more saber-metric writers get a say in who gets in, and most important, as time passes to put Joe’s career into its proper context.

He was so much more than just a singles hitter (he got on base all the time in an era of increasing strike outs, and hit tons of doubles too, and in general was a very strategic and professional hitter).

I know… people like the home runs, and the strikeouts, and all of those exciting things. In our post-factual society, they prefer the Greatest Show on Earth, to the steady, dependable, and sometimes, the boring.




In Order to Win the Future — We Must Rediscover the Past

The above photograph (courtesy of either Jacqueline Van Moer or myself…I don’t remember) is Alexander Hamilton’s “the Grange” homestead. Hamilton completed this home a few years before he was famously shot by Aaron Burr, another New Yorker, in the famous duel just across the Hudson River from where we live. Hamilton, although born elsewhere, is the quintessential first generation American. Hard-working, enterprising, ambitious, and brilliant. He served as Aide-de-camp to General Washington during the American Revolution and was our nation’s first Treasury Secretary. You may recognize him from the ten dollar bill, and now Lin Manuel Miranda’s famous musical.

Full disclosure, I’m an amateur historian. But I’ve always read and loved history. Much of my private, personal (not academic or campaign experience) political education has been learned and read through a historical lens. I’ll do my best, but I’m no pro.

Agreeing Loudly dot com introduces you to two new historical series; one that will be locally-based, at least my version of local (New York), and the other a national story intended to give the read perspective on our ongoing, beleaguered, but bizarrely nonexistent national conversation.

I invite you all to help me out on this journey, and point things out that I am overlooking or may have missed. Give your thoughts and feedback and contribute, especially *actual* historian Allan Branstiter of “The Margin of Error” and a frequent “Agreeing Loudly” guest and contributor. As well as Justin Norris, especially for the latter half (discussed below).

Also, especially for longtime residents of NYC and NYS — feel free to join in on the conversation. Come one, come all, and bring friends.

For anyone friends, family, acquaintances, or readers that will be visiting the area — I’ll also try to use this space to recommend really good walking tours or double-decker bus tours that are affordable and valuable.

In the spirit of “piercing bubbles” I’d also like to invite any other amateur or professional historians to contribute to this site and explore their states in a similar or unique manner.

I’ll be covering the New York-focused series in two places: right here at in the form of longer articles and in more photographic and anecdotal form on Instagram @nycwalkinghistory – which will no doubt be changed to @nywalkingonhistory or @nyswalkingonhistory as goals are accomplished. What goals? Read below:

Double-decker bus tour in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn.

Goal — in the next three years (2017, 2018, and 2019) — my beautiful wife, Jacki, and I (and sometimes just me) will be doing a walking historical tour on the streets of every neighborhood in the five boroughs of New York City. We’ve already covered nearly every neighborhood in the Borough of Manhattan, and have been pretty decent progress in the Bronx and Brooklyn as well. In the years to come, we’ll be covering the rest of Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn, as well as venturing past CitiField (where the New York Mets, my National League loyalties lie there) in Queens and getting out to Staten Island.

Furthermore, and especially as we get closer to covering every neighborhood in New York City, we’ll be venturing Upstate via the Hudson Valley and into Long Island past JFK airport and be doing for the 62 Counties of New York State what we did for the neighborhoods of New York City.

Unfortunately and unfairly, New York City hogs most of attention and spotlight in the public imagination (for understandable reasons). However, there is so much history in each and every county. A lot of it — I don’t even know yet, but I’m excited to find out. In addition to NYC, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley, you’ll find seven other main regions Upstate. I speculate (and we’ll see if I’m right) that the Finger Lakes area is not too different from the Lakes Area of Minnesota where I grew up. I’m also really excited to see Buffalo, NY — and see how similar it is to Duluth, MN, my only previous exposure to a Great Lakes city outside of Chicago, IL.

The second major historical running series that will begin relatively soon is the story of US History as told through Consequential Presidential Elections.

Ideally, I’ll get a bit of an assist from resident scholar Justin Norris, Carson Starkey, Allan Branstiter, etc. for this series. Once again, I’m an amateur historian. And I’ll do my best.

There will be no schedule and the new articles will be published as they are researched, completed, and edited. No time-table and no promises. But I promise this won’t become like Aaron Gleeman’s top 40 Twins of all time series.

A brief rundown of what elections and the time periods around them that I will be researching and writing on:


(Jefferson v. Adams, and the first peaceful transfer of power)


(Jackson v. Quincy Adams, and beginnings of the rural Democratic Party tradition)


(Lincoln v. Douglass v. Breckenridge v. Bell, and the Civil War)


(McKinley v. Jennings Bryan, and Populism on the Prairie)


(Wilson v. Roosevelt v. Taft, the two party system holds, and the Grand Ole Party rejects progressivism for good)


(FDR vs. Hoover, the New Deal, the new policy consensus, and the leader that history called for)


(JFK v. Nixon, LBJ v. Goldwater, Humphrey v. Nixon, a New Generation, a second New Deal, the tumultuous year that was 1968, and the beginnings of the break-up of the New Deal coalition and the New Deal itself)


(Reagan vs. Carter, American Optimism, the opening of an era of boomer short-sightedness, and the beginning of the end for the New Deal)


(Clinton v. H.W. Bush v. Perot, the Democratic Party sells its soul to win back the White House, betrays working people and families, and the boomer Clinton Party triumphant)


(Obama vs. McCain, History made, Opportunities Missed, and the first Information Age election)


A Millennial Couple’s Journey From Saint Paul to New York City: Part Three – Morgantown, Mountains, and Entrance to the East Coast

by Troy M. Olson

Our view entering Manhattan last August.

Morgantown, WV — Jacki and I began the last leg of our journey driving over the Appalachians on what was turning out to be a longer drive than we had planned. We thought we could get to New York City with all of our possessions in three days. However, since we had the Penske truck for five and a very angry cat, we took the more scenic route. We took our time. No regrets at all. Because traveling further south than we needed to allowed us to see family the night before officially arriving.

D.C. Suburbs — I got see my East Coast relatives on the night of August 1st, which was badly needed. Outside of coming back to Minnesota for funerals, seeing the Jones family of Maryland has been the only time this past year I’ve seen family. While I had experienced this lack of familiar connection before during my year long deployment earlier this decade, this time it affected me more because it was self-imposed and I was always just a plane ride away from the Midwest. As Jacki and I get more and more established out here, this is definitely something we will rectify.

The next day was going to be a long one, and Harrison Potter needed some exercise. He met his nearly identical tuxedo twin in McNugget. Several mosquito bites, even more kitty hair loss, and a night spent breaking things and we were ready to get to our new home.

East Coast and Our New Home — New York City, Borough of Manhattan, Harlem.

By midday on August 2nd of last year, nearly a year to the date where Frodo was stabbed on Weathertop (oops…wrong story), we arrived at our new home in the Heart of Harlem and began the arduous process of unloading the Penske truck. I saw the road ahead and it was not pretty. I immediately called the only human being I knew at the time in New York City, my lifelong friend and co-writer of various screenplays, famous pre-mudgeon and Brooklyn film industry alum Zach Kangas. One year later, I’m happy to report I know hundreds of fellow New Yorkers now, to varying degrees. However, only Zach would help me unload a Penske truck.

Jacki and I arrived in New York last year without guaranteed jobs, very little to our names, too many books to count (let alone, fit in our apartment), and about seven craft beers. Objectively speaking, moving here was insane. One year later though, I know now more than ever that it was the right move.

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What We’ve Learned So Far…  Jacki and I are now employed and more or less have been since the start. In fact, we work every single day in some capacity. Her in finance, and me in real estate. We could not have got here without the love and support of our extended families.

It is not lost on me that many would correctly point out, that we are gentrifiers in our new neighborhood. We are. It is a fact I’m very aware of each and every day. In a city as diverse and concentrated as New York, you end up seeing just about everything you can imagine. It’s easy to disappear into it. Looking back on a journey that took my wife and I from growing up in towns of under 10,000 to the second largest city on Earth (Tokyo, Japan is the largest), I cannot help but feel more connected to our common humanity than I’ve ever felt. Whether it is thinking back to then or looking at now and where we want to go.

Jacki and I have experienced nothing but a very welcoming and positive attitude. The old adage that New Yorkers are aggressive and mean is not necessarily true. I would argue New Yorkers are direct and to the point. While I always retain a good amount of my midwestern passive aggressive, in fact, a good amount of my satirical nature depends on it, the direct and “I’m outta time” nature of this city suits me at this stage in my life.

The one time either of us (Jacki) did face something unpleasant, it led to my favorite sentiment of all this past winter. Jacki was riding the subway when an older (white) woman yelled at her for being new to the neighborhood, for being a gentrifier. Irony being completely lost on this woman, she continued to single out Jacki until eventually, a black man stood up and said: “Everyone is welcome in this neighborhood.” This sentiment is undeniably America on its best days. It should be true for all communities and neighborhoods. Yes communities and neighborhoods. Don’t be fooled by the skyscrapers. Every American city is a series of communities where people find belonging and commonality each and every day, a series of neighborhoods both famous and unknown, new and old, and a series of streets named after Presidents, civil rights leaders, or just made up to be a numbered grid so tourists can’t get lost.

“Everyone is welcome in this neighborhood” is the country that I believe in. I hope it’s the one that you believe in too.

Corruption, Overreaction, and Fact-Free Politics at the New York State Senate

by Troy M. Olson

Jay Gould, political cartoon retrieved at and in the Public Domain.

In our great country, there are three main regions: New York City, Los Angeles, and the Midwest. Politically speaking, if you value vaguely responsive, effective, and non-corrupt governance, you’ll want to be somewhere in the Midwest, or as the “Agreeing Loudly” podcast now calls it—Central Earth.

I grew up in the Midwest, the part of the Midwest that in comparison to many other states, has relatively good governance and relatively active citizen populace. In my home state of Minnesota, voter turnout and citizen participation is routinely the highest or close to the highest in the United States. I have been spoiled.

In so many ways, I love the new city and state I am a resident of, but politics are not one of those reasons. As a (mostly) partisan Democrat this may come as a shock to some of you since I am now living in a deep blue state, having moved from a lighter blue state.

However, New York State and City politics have a long history of corruption, kickbacks, and shady business deals. The most notorious example being the subject of the above cartoon, Jay Gould. Gould was a first Gilded Age-era railroad developer and speculator who was so successful with his politico to corporate “grift machine” that he became the 9th richest American of all-time adjusted for inflation. 

Perhaps you’ll recall the “Tammany Hall” political ring portrayed in Martin Scorsese’s 2002 film “Gangs of New York.” While Gould did not feature in this fictional story inspired by true events, his political contact and professional “grift machine”-hack friend Boss Tweed, the head of the “Tammany Hall” political ring, was in the film. Perhaps you’ll recall him handing “vote Tammany” flyers out to the Irish immigrants as they were coming to New York City in droves during the 1840s to 1860s. Tweed’s main political opponent in the film is portrayed excellently by Daniel Day Lewis as William “Bill the Butcher” Cutting heading up the nativist faction of New York politics. Xenophobia or professional “grift machine” robber barons? Not very good options and probably not what Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he envisioned a nation of enlightened citizens. However, this story is repeating itself in New York politics today.

Continue reading

2016 Preview – Resolutions and Predictions

by Troy M. Olson

Clinton-Trump Cartoon

2016 Resolutions:

  1. The “Agreeing Loudly” Podcast will continue on a weekly basis with some breaks for the holidays with your co-hosts: Jered Weber, Pat Meacham, and Bill Nentl, with the occasional fill-in host, guest, or contributor. There may also be the occasional one-off special podcast that goes more in-depth on a specific topic area.
  2. This site will produce more written content than it did in 2015, and there will be more contributors added to the fold.
  3. New written content to includeMeach’s Links (semi-annual)
  4. The Grift Machine (written by Carson and Troy, semi-annual) Examples: 1. For-profit colleges, 2. For-profit law schools, 3. Wounded Warrior Project, 4. Unpaid Internships
  5. More Carson Starkey articles and material (ex: “Conversations from the Iraq War” and “Live Tweets from Carson Starkey”)
  6. An American History Series as told through the lens of consequential Presidential Election campaigns and results (starting with 1800 and concluding with 2008, hopefully before the 2016 Presidential Election).
  7. Historical anthology series of “Tales from…” (ex: New York City, Minnesota, as needed…)

2016 Predictions:

Democratic Primary Campaign

Winner of the Iowa Caucus: Hillary Clinton

Winner of the New Hampshire Primary: Bernie Sanders

Winner of the Democratic Primary and 2016 Democratic Presidential candidate: Hillary Clinton

Abbreviated Shortlist of potential candidates for the bottom of the ticket:

* = prediction for who the choice is if the top of the ticket is Clinton

  1. Fmr. Gov. Martin O’Malley (MD)*
  2. Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT)
  3. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN)
  4. Sen. Al Franken (MN)
  5. Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH)
  6. Sen. Tim Kaine (VA)
  7. Sec. of HUD Julian Castro (TX)
  8. Gov. Jay Nixon (MO)
  9. Gov. John Hickenlooper (CO)
  10. Gov. Tom Wolf (PA)

Republican Primary Campaign

Winner of the Iowa Caucus: Ted Cruz

Winner of the New Hampshire Primary: Donald Trump 

Likelihood of a GOP brokered convention: now up to 35 percent

Likely GOP establishment candidate for the “stop Trump” movement: Marco Rubio, unless he finishes behind Chris Christie or  John Kasich in the NH primary, then it becomes Christie or Kasich.

Who the GOP is calling every other night as a compromise/emergency establishment candidate?   Willard “Mitt” Romney

* = prediction for who the choice is if the top of the ticket is Trump

  1. Gov. Nikki Haley (SC)*
  2. Gov. Terry Branstad (IA)
  3. Gov. Rick Snyder (MI)
  4. Gov. Brian Sandoval (NV)
  5. Gov. Susana Martinez (NM)
  6. Gov. John Kasich (OH)
  7. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (NH)
  8. Sen. Tim Scott (SC)
  9. Sen. Orrin Hatch (UT)
  10. Sen. John Cornyn (TX)

Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election: Hillary Clinton, unless the GOP nominee is Marco Rubio, then it is in 50-50 toss-up/2000 Bush-Gore territory.

Bold Prediction: whoever wins the 2016 Presidential Election will be a one-term President.

Not-so-bold prediction: 2016 will not be the most important election of our lifetimes (in fact, I predict lower turnout than 2012).

The GOP will narrowly retain the Senate 52-48 (with Democratic pick-ups in WI, IL, and either NH or OH, and Republican pick-ups in either NV or CO).

The U.S. House will see almost no change (give or take 5 seats) in its composition and still be more or less comprised of a 247-188 GOP advantage.

The State of Minnesota will get a new Michelle Bachmann–Jason Lewis, who will win the Minnesota 2nd Congressional District and replace retiring congressman and “professional profiteer off of millennial veterans” John Kline. Lewis, the firebrand radio host will become a minor footnote in American political history by becoming the first Limbaugh-esque radio shock jock to put their money where their mouth is, and enter the political fray.

Hillary Clinton makes history and becomes the first female United States President. Lost on most Democrats in the exuberance of this victory will be the fact that she faces a hostile GOP Congress, the majority of gubernatorial mansions belong to the GOP, the GOP holds a majority of state legislative bodies, and the upcoming usual mid-term backlash against the party that holds the White House will ensure that the Democratic Party reaches its lowest point electorally in 100 years, despite poll after poll showing a Republican Party that is resoundingly unpopular with the American people as well.

September 11th Retrospective.

by Troy Olson

Never Forget (#NeverForget) was trending on Twitter today and that is appropriate. The tragedy of that day cannot be captured with words, and the number of lives that not only were directly impacted or began to go in another direction as a result number in the millions.

There are a few days that I like to be by myself for much of the day, in quiet reflection. One of those days is Memorial Day, which I use as a day to think about those who gave the “last full measure of devotion” to their country. Veterans Day, I also try to avoid a crowd — instead spending it thinking about those I served with, who are still serving, and maybe sending a text or two to those I have lost track with over the years.

September 11th is somewhat different. It is micro and macro to me all at once. I know my own feelings toward that day and what has happened since and can only imagine how many others have a similar road-now-taken story.

There is no getting beyond the obvious, it was an awful, terrible, tragic day. But it also showed the rest of the world what the very best of the United States of America looks like.

From the First Responders who reacted immediately and went up stair by stair, climbing two of the tallest buildings on Earth, many of them losing their lives to save others. After the buildings came down, many worked day after day looking for missing people, missing co-workers, and exposing themselves to levels of dust and debris I can only imagine.

To the Volunteers who joined them and worked side-by-side looking for missing people, or donated food, nursed the injured, provided community support for families and individuals.

To Trinity Church, which I now know stands incredibly close to the WTC-block. Trinity is one of the only standing colonial structures left in New York City. Alexander Hamilton and many other notable people are buried there. Trinity survived the Great New York Fire of 1776 and against all odds, survived the carnage of September 11, 2001. It would have been enough to just leave it at that. But amazingly, Trinity ended up serving the role of a makeshift community gathering place for people looking for loved ones, needing rest, food, and care from recovery efforts, and providing spiritual support for the community.

To the great national past-time of Baseball, who cancelled scheduled games for reasons other than work-stoppage for the first time since President Roosevelt died in 1945, to resume a few days later, giving grieving Americans something to cheer for, even if just for three hours. For the first time since perhaps 1920, fans across the nation cheered for the New York Yankees as they made an exciting run through the playoffs, winning many come-from-behind post-season games before falling in Game 7 of the World Series. President Bush came to Yankee Stadium to throw the honorary first pitch in Game 3, it was a perfect strike.

To the fact that there was no further loss of life and no major injury in the Massive Cleanup that was completed three months ahead of schedule in May of 2002, an inspiring example of what humanity can accomplish when there is great unity and spirit of purpose.

To the Citizen and Professional Soldiers who volunteered for military service after 9/11, knowing the high likelihood that they would be going into combat or near harms way. These servicemembers account for less than one percent of the U.S. population but there is no doubt in my mind represent the best and bravest of this country.

Finally, to the fact for a few weeks and months after that day Never Forget that everyone stopped caring whether you were Republican or Democrat, black or white, gay or straight, rich or poor or anything in between. Never Forget that when this country puts petty differences behind us and works together, there is nothing we cannot accomplish and nothing that cannot be overcome.