Sunday, May 07, 2006

It's Only A Game

What do you feel when you see all the homeless on the street
Who do you pray for at night before you go to sleep
What do you feel when you look in the mirror
Are you proud

How do you sleep while the rest of us cry
How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye
How do you walk with your head held high
Can you even look me in the eye
And tell me why
---Dear Mr. President, Pink

It's the battle of the Bronx, the continuation of the ancient rivalry between Boston and New York. It's the mercenary spirit versus a reasonable facsimile. It's A-Rod versus Big Papi, Johnny Damon versus Wily Mo Pena, Johnson and Mussina against Beckett and Schilling. It's only a game.

For a few days, Boston and New York partisans will forget about homelessness and poverty, about underemployment and inflation. They will not contemplate war or peace. Still, it's only a game.

56,000 screaming beasts will implore their boys to deliver them from the Red Sox. Endless screenshots will show George Steinbrenner, stonefaced or smiling, his checkbook emptied to try to regain baseball's Holy Grail. The cameras will show Joe Torre and discuss his conquest of prostate cancer, and Terry Francona and his recovery from knee surgery. There will be talk of the past Bomber championships and the one crushing defeat/magnificent victory of 2004. Though it's only a game.

Fans will walk past panhandlers and step over disabled veterans to find their seats they paid a king's ransom for. They'll argue about who was better, RJ or Curt, and whether Mattingly will make it into the Hall some day. They'll talk about the old stadium and it's short porch, and Ruth and Mantle and Maris, and Ford. They'll gripe about three dollar gas and pay four dollars for a 20 ounce water. They'll curse Sheffield's injured wrist, and ignore thousands of dead and wounded GIs. It's only a game.

I'll watch with interest the subplots in the Bronx. Barring something unforeseen, one team will depart with the AL East lead, the other remaining in hot pursuit. Maybe Jeter will make a diving catch into the seats, or Manny will steal a homerun souvenir from some contemporary Jeffrey Maier. Maybe Giambi or Ortiz will hit a tape measure homer, or Johnny Damon will steal home. I'll be happier if the Sox win, but understand they played hard. It's still only a game.

P.S. Ozzie Guillen protested about fans not understanding about players taking what they can get because it's about supporting their families. According to Ozzie pulled down over 23 MILLION dollars during his playing career, and I'm sure he's taking home a decent paycheck now. Nomar didn't get the biggest contract ever while he was in Boston, but has still taken home over 53 MILLION dollars coming into 2006. I don't begrudge the players getting what they can get. But please spare me the tears when I have to listen to these guys worrying about feeding their families.

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