Sunday, August 29, 2010

First Place version 5.0

It is 92 degrees right now and the trees are still awesome summer green, but the afternoon light is waning and there's a rustling through the leaves that whispers August's impending death. One more month and I won't be sitting outside in shorts, a tank top, and flip flops. This beer I drink is Sam Seasonal, but it has changed from the fruity summer ale to the Oktoberfest variety. Oh.

But what a festive Oktober it will be.

For the last month, I've been writing about how I can't believe this is happening, how I expect it all to collapse like it always does. But it persists, this thing large cities call "first place," and it is swelling into something that can bring us immense pleasure. There is a whole generation of first place virgins that have been waiting for...I, uh, should leave this metaphor before I am excommunicated from this holy church...

Five games. Thirty-two games remaining.

Five games.

FIVE games.

We're talking magic number territory here, and today I have never appreciated the number 29 so much. I am right at this moment recalling a feeling, a vague childhood memory of the Reds smiley face on the front page of the Dayton Daily News with a quotidian reading of magic numbers. I am remembering the feeling of newspapers, Hal McCoy articles in his prime, turning my hands black with newsprint. I can feel the first cool nights, the crispness that accompanies pennant races, playoff baseball sans Tim McCarver or Fox or tea parties or terrorism when mudslinging wasn't laced with toxins and Americans were just Americans and not "real Americans" versus whatever the opposite of "real Americans" is. I have just experienced a return to childhood in my head, when the Cincinnati Reds Baseball Club was a respected franchise, families sat down together for nightly dinners, you could arrive at airports and just get on your plane, and the internet was not yet a weapon of mass destruction.

Ah, the times they are a changing. Good thing, because if time weren't changing, it'd mean we're dead.

The excitement - or whatever is the chemical in my brain that reacts to the success of my tribe - is pumping through my body, producing physical sensations unknown to me or forgotten, unknown to all of us for a long, long time. I don't pine for the innocent days of childhood one bit, however. Innocence = ignorance, and ignorance, while perhaps producing a state of temporary bliss, only compounds our troubles in our lives. I, for one, would rather know and work towards solving the problems of the world rather than ignoring them and then fearing things I don't understand when they begin to affect my life. And though not being ignorant can result in worry or sadness at times, we have things like the beautiful game of baseball to give us respite.

What better way to experience that respite than to enjoy the fruits of the divine favor of the baseball gods who have finally forgiven Pete Rose for his transgressions and have ended our long suffering.

Unless they are just playing a cruel joke...

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