Baseball and hope

If you’re a fan of baseball at all, you’ll appreciate this piece by Elizabeth Scalia:

It was 2003. Eight innings into yet-another nail-biter of a series between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, there came a guttural wail from the stands at Fenway Park.

“For the love of God . . . ”

It was one lone voice; a man—whose sound was remarkably reminiscent of the late Chris Farley at his most passionately unhinged—was seated close enough to the announcer’s booth that his agony was picked up and broadcast in New York.

It was one lone voice; a man—whose sound was remarkably reminiscent of the late Chris Farley at his most passionately unhinged—was seated close enough to the announcer’s booth that his agony was picked up and broadcast in New York.

“For the love of God . . . ” he cried, again and again, as one Bosox batter after another swung and missed, and looming before him was a ninth inning full of Mariano Rivera at his peak.

Watching at home, my son and I heard a hated rival’s naked pain, and we hooted in what might be called cruel appreciation.

Baseball fans understand each other’s afflictions. We could laugh in that moment, because our team was winning, but we recognized all too well the sound of anguish emanating from Beantown; we had felt it enough, in the Bronx. When the umpire called “strike three” at the third out, the single voice dissolved into a bellow of incoherent angst and three hundred miles away we knew the man had slumped into his chair with his head in his hand, and his heart full of hate; not for the Yankees—that was a given—but for his own team, and for the game of baseball, itself, of which the late commissioner A. Bartlett Giammati once wrote, “it breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart.”

The heartbreak is what makes it great, and the source of the heartbreak is the clutch—that period of time (and it can last for a moment or for years) when everything meaningful in your life fades into a peripheral nothingness until an outcome is known. In the clutch, love is balancing—one foot, en pointe—along a thin wire of hope, and still determining if, or when, the next foot might be safely employed.

Read the rest right here.

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