[cb_profit_poster Storytelling]Clinton, S.C., Wednesday, October 30, 2013, 10:05 a.m.
Baseball is almost over. What shall I do?
Game 6 of the World Series is tonight in Boston. A Red Sox victory ends it. A Cardinals victory means one more night, but it’s going to be over either Thursday night or perhaps even the wee hours of Friday morning.
The Red Sox have taken me to the limit this fall, and I’m appreciative, but all good things must come to an end, sometimes, of course, badly, but it has to end whether in triumph or ruin.
“It Happens Every Spring” was a movie title, and “It Ends Every Fall” heads up a certain blog.
Baseball brought me through this year of discontent. (Even in Steinbeck’s case, it was just a winter.) I began the season on unemployment, and it’s ending with me hoping the sales of a novel will sustain me or at least provide a little nest egg. A little sumpin’ sumpin’ to keep me going, knowumsayin’?
What sets baseball apart is that it’s relaxing. My favorite place to talk is a minor league game. The World Series isn’t relaxing, particularly, when one’s favorite team is involved. It’s my favorite time to be nervous, though. Other baseball games = relaxing. Red Sox games = nervous. Rest of time = normal. I get a balanced diet of all the major personality groups.
Go to a football game, or a stock car race, and it’s as if everyone is impersonating a lunatic. I love ballgames and races – who doesn’t love make-believe nuts? — but it can be amusing to sit in the stands, particularly for a sportswriter who has spent years and years watching away from them.
Home team leads 42-7. Visiting team gets a first down on a screen pass.
Home-team fan stands up, takes both hands and jabs down violently. “Shoot!” he screams (or something like that). “That stuff’s (or something like that) gonna kill us when we play a good football team.”
People always say “football team,” and “football player,” and “football stadium” and “the game of football” when it’s abundantly obvious that’s where they are.
I want to tap the man on the shoulder and say, “That’s just the game of football,” but he might take it the wrong way.
Let’s not and say we did.
Tonight I will carefully decide which T-shirt is most likely to positively affect the outcome. At times, I will turn to my guitar for some exploration of possible omens of success. There have been times, when Mariano Rivera arrived on the mound, that I thought Hank Williams: “Why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart?” Hank was writing about a love/hate relationship and I was thinking half of it.
I don’t believe in luck, of course. I’m not superstitious. I do it just in case there’s something to it.
Back to the original point. What am I going to do?
I’m positive I’ve watched the Red Sox play more than 100 games this year on TV. In the past, when I covered NASCAR, I watched all the weeknight games when I was home. My whole day revolved around getting all my work done so that I could watch the Red Sox play. I even watched the games, disgusted, during what is known in the Red Sox Calendar as The Year of the Valentine. They won 69 games all year, and that was … last year. Boston would have been better off with George W. Bush managing the team.
Yes. Again. I even watched those games. I even watched Bobby V (for Valentine, or Vendetta) keeping me informed about how much smarter he was than every other manager who ever lived and how, by the process of elimination, the problem was obviously the players, whether by being injured or not really being players.
Yes, I watched that, and my head didn’t explode once. I’m tough. I’ve followed the Red Sox for a while.
Now it’s all going to end with the Red Sox having played more games than any edition that preceded it. How convenient for the year of my discontent.
What happens to me? What of these habits, so long cultivated and grounded in routine? Last night the teams were off because they had to travel from St. Louis to Boston. What did I do? I watched two – that’s two, two mints in one! – documentaries on PBS. I read about 60 pages of a novel I don’t really like that much. (It’s just over 700 pages, but damn it, I won’t give up.) Let me check. I’m at page 614. Maybe I can finish it tonight, but, no, the Red Sox are playing. There went that.
Baseball takes up seven months of the year. The other five are my cultural months. I read more. I watch more movies, quite often old ones. I’m pretty sure I’ll dive back into the manuscript of my next novel – one’s been out a while, one’s just out, and, as Loretta Lynn sang, one’s on the way – pretty soon.
Selling The Intangibles requires attention every day. Fortunately for my budding literary career, the Red Sox will move over. It is my fondest hope that they will do so in triumph, but it’s been a hell of a ride either way.
Beware. Once the World Series is over, I’ll probably start drawing again.