Friday, October 18, 2019

Ain't Baseball Great?

Ain’t baseball great?

I’ve had the privilege to attend one game from each round of the National League Playoffs, including the Wild Card Round. It’s been so good for my soul to spend three hours surrounded by like-minded folks all pulling for the same thing (with the exception of the stray Brewer or Dodger or Cardinal fan here and there) at the same time, in the same place.

Everyone wearing their lucky outfit, the one that they haven’t washed since Juan Soto broke the game open in the bottom of the 8th against Milwaukee. Some of us imagine that our superstitious rituals have a real influence on the outcome of the game. We cheer and wave our towels together. We stand as one when the pitch count reaches two strikes. We pat each other on the back when the other team gets the better of us that night.

Rarely do we ask each other “Where were you born?” “What language do you speak at home?” “Is that your friend you brought to the ball park with you, or your ‘friend’?” “Who are you voting for?”

We are all there for the same reasons. To enjoy America’s favorite pastime and perhaps get a break from the daily grind. This is probably why I also like the Nationals current popular HashTag or team motto, “Stay in the fight,” so much.

It’s relevant to this year’s team that started the season playing poorly and enduring bad breaks. Yet they never did quit or stop believing in themselves and each other. They stuck with what they knew was right and trusted that the results would follow. Stay In The Fight describes the team well.

I also really like the hashtag/motto from years ago. One pursuit. That’s a motto that I think still applies to those of us that fill the stands each night, clad in red jerseys featuring our favorite player’s name and number. WE are all there pulling for the same thing, all of us in our own way. I think by now you might see where I am going with this.

Besides having World Series Playoff fever, I think my Nationals fandom may hold some hints for how to cure what ails us as a nation. We need to recognize that all of us really are rooting for the same things. We all want to live in a Country, a Commonwealth and a Community where we can feel safe and welcome, where we have opportunities to prosper, and build a world where our children can be better off and have an easier time than we did.

Of course, the best way to achieve that is subject of some debate. You can debate whether Davey should have brought in a left-handed relief pitcher or not. Fervent fans can have heated disagreements about that. The beautiful thing about baseball is that everyone is judged on their results.

Some of us believe the best path to prosperity is to create an economy where no one is left behind, and no one is excluded because of who they are, where they came from, how they got here, or who they love. We can all have a bigger slice of pie if we all throw in some more ingredients - or some of us can have a whole pie by taking it home and eating it ourselves.

(Wait, that’s a food analogy, not baseball. I must be hungry!)

This is my last column before the November 5th election. I’ve written previously about what’s at stake and what policies are likely to be enacted if my “team” wins control of the legislature. I’ve also seen the letters to the editor decrying the policies I’ve called for, suggesting they’ll be destructive and impede us in our pursuit of that shared vision of prosperity and opportunity and safety for all.

I hope that once the outcome is known, we’ll remember that we are all on the same team. We all want the same thing for ourselves and our loved ones, and we will root for whomever wins to be successful.

My hope for 2020 is that when I leave the baseball game and tune the radio form the sports station to the news, all my positive feelings that come from being amongst a community working together, playing together, even many of us praying together in our own ways - that all those positive feelings don’t evaporate when I hear the latest quotes from our national leaders.

So, let’s root for the home team and for a post-election season that moves us forward. Let’s play ball!