Seven Wonderful Nights of Baseball

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We voted early this election, as we nearly always do. There were two differences this time around, and I am not talking about the candidates — nor do I intend to. There are subjects best not brought up in polite company.

First difference is that daughter Abbie, who turned 19 on the day we voted, cast her first ballot — or, in the case of the Gregg County machine, dialed her choices on an electronic screen — in a general election for president.

Like most teenagers, Abbie is ultra high-tech savvy. When she heads away to college (she attends locally this year), my Beautiful Mystery Companion and I will lose our personal IT assistant. There are times I turn to her to figure something out I could probably muddle through, just because it saves precious minutes and stress. But on her birthday she was jabbing away at the screen as if were a really large iPad. This voting machine is like an old-timey rotary dial phone, which you twirl about to make voting choices. Once she caught on, which took maybe two seconds, she wheeled her way to electoral accomplishment.

The second difference is that, on this second day of early voting, we had to stand in line about 45 minutes before darkening the doorway of the small room, which held five machines. As we left, the line had grown longer. In the nearly nine years since I returned to Longview, I have never had to wait in line more than five minutes. Clearly this presidential election has sparked more interest than any in a long time. That is apparently true in every state that holds early voting. As we waited in line, the conversation around us was refreshingly devoid of political topics. It was more about the abnormally warm weather — which seems to becoming the new normal — or so-and-so’s new grandbaby, or who just got out of the hospital. Even though we now have On The Border and Dick’s Sporting Goods, Longview at its core is still a small town.


For seven of nine nights, I plopped down in the comfy chair and watched the World Series. For approximately 30 hours, as this wretched election comes to a conclusion, I thought only about baseball. It was like taking a vacation. I was rooting for the Cubs, of course, whose fans have suffered even longer than us Red Sox fans. Nobody alive has witnessed the Cubs win a World Series, since it last occurred in 1908. Relatively few folks recall the last time the Cubs even got this far, which was 71 years ago. As for Cleveland, the Indians fielded a fine team and their best chance to win a Series since 1948 — a mere 68 years ago.

The older I get, the more I am drawn back to baseball as my sport of choice. It is the sport I first learned about, as a player and fan. Football is fast losing my interest — too many brain-damaged men younger than me, spouse-abusing thugs paid millions of dollars, and avaricious owners. Baseball certainly has its share of the latter, perhaps a smattering of thugs, but still it seems to retain an innocence that harkens back — however illogically — to my childhood days playing sandlot ball. And baseball is the only sport about which I know most everything that one needs to know. I can’t tell a safety from a linebacker, despite having covered football for many years — mainly shooting photos where a deep knowledge is not necessary. Helpful, maybe. But I can explain to you why the opposing team’s shortstop shifted to shallow right field every time David “Big Papi” Ortiz came to bat for the Red Sox. And I can get down in the weeds on the vagaries of the infield fly rule.

My Beautiful Mystery Companion enthusiastically supported the Cubs as well. “They need to score more points,” she said as the seventh game tightened. “What happens if it goes into overtime,” she asked. “Are there ties in baseball?”

My BMC is way smarter than me, has more common sense and certainly knows more about weightier subjects than baseball. At least I have an edge there. In response, I paraphrased a tour driver in Washington, D.C. that we love to parrot, after a trip there several years ago. He told us, except for the National Mall, “There is no malls in Washington.”

So, of course my reply was, “There is no points in baseball. And there is no overtime.” There are runs and extra innings, both of which were in abundance in Game Seven. In case you have entered the witness protection program and just gained online access, the Cubs won in 10 innings, 8-7.

What a sweet ending to a great Series. Now it is back to the election, I suppose. To paraphrase President Ford, soon our long national nightmare will be over.

I just hope another one isn’t beginning.

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