My fantasy has finally come came true!
Now, before you get all uber excited I will resist inserting the obvious innuendo [here]
See, this is me walking wide around said innuendo and refusing to insert anything where it may be inappropriate.
Wait a second…gal’darnit…I did it again. I’m sorry.
(BTW, my wife just asked me what I was doing. ‘Blogging,’ I told her. ‘You’re blogging again? YEAA!’ Now, I know she is biased, but it is good to be back after a 4 month silence)
I’m talking about the World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers. You see, I have this fantasy involving certain professional sports teams pairing off in their respective championships. Like an “Ali v Foreman, the Golden Years Rematch.” Or Danica Patrick racing with Jimmy Johnson in a head to head NASCAR final stretch. My Basketball fantasy came true in June when the Dallas Mavericks had their sweet revenge against the Miami Heat. It was all so perfect. Game six, in Miami, a once arrogant sold out crowd growing quiet as they watched what every so-called expert considered a foregone conclusion slip away from them.
And now, in Baseball I am just over 24 hours away from my Fall Classic fantasy. You see, I grew up a St. Louis Cardinals fan. My dad is from St. Louis and is passionate about it. I grew up in Texas, but since the Rangers were not really all that great in the 80’s I don’t have too many memories of my hometown team having much playoff success.
Until last year, the Rangers had never even made it to the American League Championship Series, let alone a World Series.
But since the Rangers have been morphing into a mini dynasty of sorts I’ve had this wonderfully delicious thought: What if the Rangers faced the Cardinals in the World Series? This year, that seemed all but impossible in August. Now, here we are.
The beautiful thing about it is that I will have that rare moment in sports where I truly, deeply love both teams. I will sit back and celebrate every hit, every strikeout, every Home Run and every win along with my teams. It will be a new experience for me in sports because the anxiety will not be there. If the Cardinals win, great. Tack up one more championship banner next to their collection of 18 National League Pennants and 10 World Series Trophies. If the Rangers win…well, all they have so far is 2 American League Pennants…one of them is still on order and is due to arrive sometime in November.
I love Baseball. Most of you probably do not. Some may not understand it, or are easily bored by it. Some have never really given it a chance. Others might have tried upon occasion but quickly became distracted by other pressing things that needed to be done in a day.
It is a slower game than the blinding speed of the NBA. It is not as brutal as the NFL.
It is a game that can drag on, as most things tend to do in the heat of summer, but it suddenly changes and requires nearly instantaneous reflexes and almost incalculable speed.
It is the only game that, in theory, requires just two individuals to play defense: one to pitch the ball, and another to catch. A team only needs fielders to back up a pitcher when he fails. In this way, Baseball illustrates the strong independence that defines Americans. We are a country dedicated to the idea of individualism and self determination beautifully demonstrated with one batter standing up to one pitcher. The rugged individualism that defined our country is captured in this duel, as is the long walk of shame back to a dug out after a batter fails to achieve what he set out to do. There, he must sit and contemplate this failure until he is given another chance. Then, he must use everything he learned from his past and stand up to the same foe who beat him just 8 batters before.
Because in life, there will always be another chance.
In the NFL, a Quarterback must complete about 70% of his passes in order to be considered successful. In the NBA, a player must make over 60% of his shots in order to be considered a star.
In Baseball, to fail 7 out of 10 times in the course of a career is to be considered a legend. To fail 6 out of 10 is to be considered a god.
Is there anything more human?
Baseball is poetry in motion. It is our history in action. Baseball captures our wildest dreams and our most humble aspirations. I don’t know of any child who has ever played the game who did not imagine being in the bottom of the 9th inning, down by 1 run with 2 outs, bases loaded and it is your turn to bat. You only have one chance for greatness and only one last chance to make a difference.
In a philosophical point of view, Baseball is so analogous of our struggles as humans. If you are able to stand up to your adversary and stare down your fears, you can conquer anything your enemy can throw at you. If you strike at the perfect moment, you will advance, but you must run as fast as you can to beat the throw from the shallow outfield. There, you must watch patiently for your chance to steal second. Once there, you must wait for help, because so few of us can compleate our journy alone. We need friends to back us up and drive us on. You dig deep for the final streatch, going farther than most will ever go. Then, when your ordeal is almost done, after all you’ve gone through, after all you’ve seen and accomplished, in the end, Baseball is about struggling to make it back safe to the one place where you started: Home. Is it any wonder that Americans call this “Home Plate” and sliding into it being “Safe”?
It is a game of justice where the only measure of success is purely how well you played. In most other games, there is a factor of time. Last Sunday the Dallas Cowboys lost their game and one factor was the fact that when they had a final chance to win the game, time was against them. When time runs out, your chances are over. There is no clock in Baseball. Nothing will stop you except your own failures and no matter how large a deficit you might be facing, nothing is impossible until that moment when you were finally beaten; not by the final seconds of a clock, but by your own mistakes.
Baseball is the story ofAmerica: all of our glory, all of our heritage, and everything we value has been poured into its rules and structure. Our greatest accomplishments can be illustrated in its lore as well as our greatest failures and sins. It is a game that illustrates every side of the American experience in vivid action. It is a game of wealthy owners and poor players, monopolies and Unions, slavery and freedom and racism. It is a game that has shows our childish pranks and gimmicks as well as our sense of honor and duty. It is a game that has shown the public our darkest nature as well as our commitment to set things that are wrong as they always should have been.
It is a game of Redemption.
It is my sincere hope that you will enjoy this World Series as much as will. Perhaps some of you will take this to heart the next time a Baseball game is on some lazy Saturday afternoon and take some time with your family to experience the game with a fresh sense of what has become our collection of American Mythology: A Story of Us.
What Was Then...