2009 “So Far”, For What It’s Worth

Bookkeeping note–I just deleted the “Non-sports” category. This is, after all, not just a sports blog, and I’m getting ready to transition into offseason mode. There’s still going to be content on the way, just not baseball-specific. So stay tuned.

In the meantime, here’s something I wrote last April, when the season was just beginning…

I’m not a particular fan of spring training, and I think I know why. It can’t “count.”

Now that I think about it, this is a ridiculous way to think. It’s just a sport. It shouldn’t count. If it did, fun would go away and only angst would stay. I would sigh following victory and panic following loss. It’s good that it’s not important…only, it is.

By “important,” I’m trying to say that it counts, if only in my mind. Not that it has anything to do with an actual, cynical world. I don’t want it to. I don’t want to know about a tragic thing in LA’s AL part (or suburb, anyway, it’s confusing). Or Harry Kalas, or Mark Fidrych, but I can’t avoid any of it, just as I couldn’t avoid Barry Bonds’ probability of criminality or A-Rod’s admission. Sport can function as an oasis or an island amid actuality, I’ll grant you that. But an island is not a portal to a mainland city. Sand must still surround any oasis.

Amid 2009’s first days of playing that “count,” Atlanta’s capitulation stood out. I don’t root for its loss as many fans root against Bronx triumph. For though many applaud and many boo 14-run innings it’s symbolically who (or what? No, still who) that won that disgusts a distinct group of…not fans, but folks who look at sports. Atlanta’s history of winning or losing isn’t important as I root against it. What is important is what could pass for my instinct, now. It’s not instinct, though. I had to absorb it along my road of fandom, and I don’t think I truly “got” what I should know. But I was told long ago that Atlanta’s mascot was immoral, and so now I root against it. That’s how absolutist I find things. If it’s not fair, it’s foul.

Still, a squad of champions is a squad of champions. If it can rally back from amazing margins, that’s good. That’s why this is my sport, not a thing with a clock. Giving up might occur, but it’s not so blatantly obvious.

Not now, though. Not in April. Nor in March, obviously. March was for a “Classic”…although I don’t know at what point I’ll allow it to qualify as “classic.” Not now, though. Japan is two for two; I was following this only upon noticing Dutch victory against Dominicans. If your most fascinating motivation to watch anything is a squad winning against a squad it should (looking at ranks), a thing or two is wrong.

Amid this and that, Bronx and Flushing saw unofficial play. It’s hard to classify such showdowns (it counts? it counts not?) but watching was fun anyway. During a Cubs loss, I was most struck in a good way by that ballpark’s top, with tall undulations around its rim, standing primly against a windy sky. Big garish ads, okay, but who lacks such nowadays?

Still, most things look good so far. A bonus of rooting for a Chicago squad is that it’s always first in divisional standings with 0 won, 0 lost. No As, no Bs, so C has it. Sox fans, though, might not think so. A snowout to start 2009, and I was thinking Twindom had it bad. A countdown to 2010 and its outdoor stadium is on, but waking to find snow with ‘09’s first matchup coming up that night was not a good sign. Purism has its limits…though agnosticism and/or opposition to a forthcoming stadium might also look unduly purist. Hmm. No way to win that.

I saw Casilla’s walk-off hit last fall. I didn’t go to his triumph this spring, though a sibling did, and I saw it on TV. It was fun to watch him walking up to bat and think wait, Casilla? Him again? Uh-huh! But such synchronicity is only good so far. Think of occasions on which nobody on a squad can hit. Talking about this will stop it, it’s said—though I did say that taboo word without trying to in Zambrano’s win last fall, and it didn’t impact anything.

Right now, “flirts with history” is a common sight on MLB.com. Oakland, Tampa Bay, Colorado, San Francisco—all found frustration, but all did wind up with hits. On account of random fans noting what was going on? Nothing can work in such a way. I know that, logically. But a part of my mind won’t trust logic. In a short-past (that is, not “long-past”) fall, I saw a jinx work just as rumor has it function. Too much of this and I fall into traps. It’s such a grand hallucination—that my own rooting, my own talking or not talking, has an actual impact on anything at all. That any of it is important.

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