Geography class time. Yeah, I know — you came here looking for baseball. We'll get there. I promise.
The Republic of Slovenia, part of the former Yugoslavia, is a nation of more than 2 million people wedged in the mountains between Italy, Austria, Hungary, the Adriatic Sea and Croatia. It is not, so far as I can tell, a noted baseball hotbed.
There came last week into my inbox the following message:
Hi,I was reading your notes about Twins outfielder Mark Dolenc. Coul you be so kind and tell me more about him, or, do you think he's going to make the Twins rooster this year, or ...Kind of special request: Is it possible from you, to provide me his e-mail adress?Best regards from Slovenia — EU,Rok LesjakZBSS media relations department
Now — I reproduce the e-mail with its misspellings and odd sentence structures with trepidation. I have no wish to ridicule Mr. Lesjak (I assume Rok is a masculine name; it sure looks like it to an English speaker). My attempts at Slovene would be far more pathetic.
I googled a Web site listed under the name and, with the wonders of Google's page translator, came up with this. And with another click of the mouse, a post to which I seem to be unable to link, titled "Mark Dolenc?"
The text must be easier to follow in the original, assuming one can read Slovene.
As best as I can tell: ESPN broadcast a Twins-Yankees exhibition game into Slovenia, where people involved in Slovenia Baseball and Softball took note of a player with a Slovene name — Dolenc. So they googled him, and found all the posts I've been doing about his spring training appearances.
And asked me for information about him, since I am apparently the ace of the Mark Dolenc beat.
I've sent an e-mail with some details of Dolenc's MSU career and biographical information, which isn't much. I suspect ZBSS is looking for a role model for Slovene athletes to interest them in baseball; Dolenc may not fit that bill perfectly. I don't know.
I just find the whole saga an interesting sample of this bizarrely ever-more interconnected world. Baseball in Slovenia? Who knew?