Beyond Devotion?

I have watched them at close of day
Streaming from distant places
At my desk, the computer would play
And I could see distant faces.
I have muted the broadcasters’
Trite and meaningless words
Ignoring purported masters’
Trite and meaningless words,
And thought, when I heard sound
Of a commercial I could mock
It was rather strange, I found
What they said when they would talk.
I am certain that L.A.
Is a place where many are cheered
They change, but they still play
Even when things go terribly weird.

And so I spend my days
In ignorant naivety
My nights in the same ways
As happy as I can be.
What voice more shrill than those
Who, over the web or air,
Tell tales of bygone woes
And expect me to care?
This team had won last year
And looked as if on course
To win again right here.
This other came into their force
They might have won fame, it seemed,
At least, that was the fans’ thought.
This other team, I had dreamed,
Were content with what they had got.
They’d been successful for long
But were not satisfied at heart,
For trying can never be wrong,
Each season’s a brand-new start.
So once again they spent,
Although they’d won the most.
This other, their opponent,
Played as if cheered by a ghost.

Hearts with one purpose alone
Through summer and autumn seem
Enchanted at each pitch thrown
As they cheer on their team.
We’ll always cheer just as loud
Although the roster’s names range
From rookies to veterans proud
Season by season they change.
The ballgame is cancelled by rain;
We say we’ll get them next season
That one loss will lead to some gain
Without asking if that’s true reason.
The players work hard and strive,
We all try to fend off the fall;
Assuming we stay alive,
The game’s in the midst of it all.

Too long a sacrifice
Can make a farce of the mind.
Irrational or nice?
That’s for another to find.
Our job’s to cheer all the same
Whether we lead or trail.
If you rally back each game
But nothing more, you’ll fail.
What’s autumn but the fall?
No, not night, but defeat.
Was the death needless after all?
For even when they’re beat
The fans might still keep hope
Even when all’s said and done
Even when the cynics mope:
They know who dreamed and who won.
And what if hope, in excess
Bewildered them till they lost?
Is it just a gambit like chess?
Does every win come at a cost?
I cannot know if I’m right
But I’ll write it out anyway–
Losers dream only by night.
Winners dream also by day.

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Magic 101, Bulls 98

How do you start a jinx? Looking for associations. Noticing how doing a task that shouldn’t do anything looks as if it kickstarts wins for you or your opposition. A lucky shirt? Jumping from foul grass to fair? A ritual action isn’t as ridiculous if its actor is going out and striving for victory. Thinking your shirt is lucky could assist you in scoring or pitching.

But for a fan, it’s hard to justify. Your talking or not talking shouldn’t allow a forthcoming pitch to land as a hit or out. Oh, you can clap, but not until you know how things go. Your shortstop grabs it for an out? Clap. If not? Boo. Our sound follows a play, judging it as good or bad. To say how it might go too soon is odd, and at its limits, wrong.

Up until last night, I didn’t consciously know that. I thought it was obvious, without knowing it was just a trait of that sport in particular. But last night, I saw NBA “fall training”. It’s backwards in Madison’s asylum (or was my thought backwards?). You boo, and following that, your opposition’s points climb up. Taking foul shots, Orlando had to focus through Chicago fans’ roars. Or fans will try to outshout fans in an adjoining group of chairs to win T-shirts. Or clap for a fan who sings songs–two sing, thousands clap to pick which will win McDonald’s food. I doubt this sort of fan would classify saying things as jinx-worthy–or, if so, not surprisingly. Why shouldn’t your sound impact what occurs? Why wait until it stops to shout?

With 24.0 and falling to play, things slow down. Fouls, foul shots, and I can follow what’s occuring! Anything to stop play and wind up with that ball. I watch, I know what’s going on, and it’s a bit of a shock as 2.0 turns into 0.0 so quickly.

Elegy

Raise up a roof, the finest of its day.
“No longer,” boast, “shall rain or snow deter
Our baseball games; we’ll always get to play.
Whatever the weather, we won’t defer.”

Raise up your eyebrows and mutter along.
“This thing’s ugly.” “This is a piece of junk.”
“Who built this mess, and where did they go wrong?”
“Did anybody realize that it stunk?”

Raise up your voices, fill the roof with sound.
Don’t worry if, when on the road, they lose.
They’ll come back home and then they’ll come around.
We have home-field advantage, what good news!

Raise up the flags, the pennants proudly won.
No matter if one season we’re the worst.
We’ll rally back, we’ll never say we’re done
Till we raise the second flag, again first.

Raise up a generation till they love
The game, but subtly imply they should hate
The field they see. Whisper “blue sky above
Is what you want–this all is second-rate.”

Raise your shoulders if they ever ask why.
Shrug, write it off, until they do not know
What’s wrong with what they have. “Who needs the sky?”
You’ll hear them wonder. “We can’t see it. So?”

Raise up the record: “Cool things at one site.”
World Series! Super Bowl! The Final Four!
The All-Star game! Oops–college game tonight.
Finish the baseball later. Out the door.

Raise new foundations to the north and west
As triumphant years give way to malaise.
“No, no!” claim. “This new field will be the best!”
Hyping it up with such premature praise.

Then suddenly your suspicions are raised.
They can’t come back. Not this late. Not this far
Down in the standings.
But the fans who praised
The team all along still believe. They are

Standing and yelling, raising themselves out
From their seats. And now the team too will rise.
The final weeks are what it’s all about,
The final push until you reach the prize.

Raise up your hopes. Lose game one-sixty-three.
But keep the hopes high. You’ll get them next year,
Rallying back at the last. Can it be?
Most of our hopes already beyond here

We win nevertheless, for we still care.
You thought you’d given up–this was your proof.
You’re not jaded. You’ll cheer when the field’s there.
That’s all you need to know. Raze now the roof.

Snowout

October’s cold winds bring snow to the Rockies, postponing the third competition there–or, possibly, first “there”. I presume the flight from the Bronx to the HomerDome occurs without incident, but on the night of the Twins’ second loss, light snow descends in their hometowns.

The upcoming World Series will be the first scheduled, from spring on out, in November. If I scorn this, I run the risk of seeming to dwell on historic loss. If my dog isn’t in the fight, I’d love for it to run long, just to get closer to spring before competition ends.

But then I think of how excited people get for the Twins’ new field. I look out the window, wondering why they’re so thrilled.

Someone is out there, sore, nose congested. They bend over into their trusty bucket or pot or something, retching. Not much is left in them, but still it rises. The cold’s victim disposes of the vomit, then tries to go to sleep.

But not before bending over once more. This time, they tune the clock on the floor, until they find the Dodgers. Whoever it is fights through the cold, lulled to rest by the sport’s unsilenced sound.

162 down; how will it go? Who knows?

For all I know–all I can totally know, that is, without just trusting assumptions, a group of facts that is not big–“living” is just falling. Coins thrown into a grid of dots, bouncing this way or that, landing at last in a roughly normal distribution. A coin or two will land on that distributions’ rim, but mostly it’s a big clump. In a suitably long run, laws of probability will drown out mild variation.

If you didn’t want to trust your cash to that, you could just flip it. It’s a similar story, just in microcosm. Half up, half down. That was how a playoff location was found not too long ago. With many trials, a statistician knows, you’ll play half away and half in your own stadium. Just as in a normal campaign.

I’d watch that. Four and a half innings in Michigan? Okay, stop for now and show up tomorrow for a following four-and-a-half. But what if a Twins rally cuts things short, cutting out bottom-ninth action? It wouldn’t truly go “half away, half not”. So that won’t work.

No, knowing you’d win half of all coin flips isn’t any consolation if you don’t win that which counts. And moping about cosmic futility isn’t any fun–joy is found through taking any sort of action. Not just physical action–arguing philosophy in your own mind wins against thinking that you lack any opportunity at all.

No coin will fly to pick a playoff location this fall. Matchup 163 got its spot thanks to win-loss totals, which in turn hail from action within stadia. And Bronx triumph allows it a bonus honor. Following 163–but not so far away as actual playoffs–that Junior Circuit champion squad, choosing its upcoming days to play, will try to show us again why taking action can pay off. And our TBD champions will try to thwart that. And nobody knows who will win.