You know the once-in-awhile notion that has something to do with the three-act play of morality and mortality and how, no matter what you come up with: family, friends, manufactured goods, glances on a bus, a career, the ghosts of relationships and the right to a few more mistakes but not those mistakes …the whole whatever-now-is-is-just-never-going-to-be-enough …thing?
You’ve felt that, right?
…And you know one day you’re going to lose your footing and slip from that edge into the great and vast and growing nothing. That day, people will say things, nice things, about you that you maybe never knew or maybe aren’t true.
But in that moment, if given the impossible chance, you’ll wish they would have taken the fleeting seconds to say, you know — that — to you, instead of about you.
But they don’t and you don’t and it turns into a splinter. And time forgives only long enough to watch you draw that last breath, expiring in relief of it all.
The notion hits like the moment of refracted self-realization. That one when you’re looking at a mirror reflection of you in another mirror and you become an endless mirage of yourself in two dimensions.
The question of “who is that?” never quite finds an answer in the scam that is the theory of now.
Invariably, regret sets in. Not the regret of staring into the beyond and only seeing a copy of that which is maybe simply here; not the regret of what could be but isn’t. Regret in the knowledge of the isn’t that wasn’t could have been be for the best.
Then it all tucks in a half-gainer toward the abyss of pretense, and belief systems and government and religion and overdrafts and the reality that whatever it is you do, every. Single. Day. …Is merely one more reflection in that mirror.
Then comes the ultimate admission: Whatever that It is affects so few. That pile of work on your desk moved with backhoe of hope and renewal augured onto the desktop of another as you, simply being human, didn’t get it done.
Didn’t get it done like you weren’t always ready to order, or you never traveled as much as you said you wanted to, or you put silly things ahead of your family, or you just plain stopped listening and paying attention.
A lifetime of taking what was most important at the moment and making it the exact thing you forgot to do.
Instead, lunch was taken. Instead, the preponderance of conversation turned the pages of days. Instead, plucking the overcoat of elapsed time and the top hat of yesterday’s truth off the coat rack and leaving for the evening without saying good-night or good-bye.
Get up and walk out. Slam the glass door stenciled with the names of those it was all done for behind you. The exit, if you are mighty, shakes the room enough to spill a little coffee.
But that’s about it.
This is the feeling I get when I watch the Fox World Series broadcast team of Joe Buck, Tim McCarver, Ken Rosenthal and Erin Andrews.
Buck’s own stylings portray a seemingly endless stack of void; a Kilimanjaro of cliche heaped upon the radiant landfill of the most regrettable call in all of baseball history — a call he made unique with his signature dose of bland insouciance and blind indifference to history in the fall of 1998: Mark McGwire’s chemically enhanced take down of Roger Maris’s greatest achievement and lament. A joyless and cloying spittle-fueled twenty-second journey of empty but resolute and rehearsed fandom, granite-faced supposition and abject show of ignorance in the face of disaster as McGwire tripped around the basepath tauntingly remorseful in front of the Roger Maris clan.
Though Buck has tried with every stitch and fiber to be just as richly fallow, visibly nauseated and yet determined to not embrace the game that his given him so many shallow allowances, he will never top that moment. Though he’s come close, none more ironic or consumable, as hollow condemnations go, than his derision and definition of Barry Bonds’s breaking of the McGwire’s record less than a half-decade later as nothing short of national tragedy.
The gravity of McCarver’s truth: that a homespun Tennessean could put on a Cardinal uniform and grip a bat so tight and hold on so so well that in the 10th inning of game five of a World Series the same year LBJ entrenched his country in Vietnam and Lennon told the Evening Standard the Beatles were more popular than Jesus; in a time where time changed before him, he hit a ball farther.
More than four decades later, as technology has finally caught up, he’s forced to sit in the purgatory of a booth as if it were perched above infested waters and forcibly made to recall without remorse his world of then compared to this.
That his victory lap has come down to some intern putting one of these @ in front of his name on national TV has manifested into a cross visibly too much for him to bear.
Andrews isn’t a baseball person and she doesn’t like being cold. Baseball is the forced gave-at-the-office component of her giant blond mane’s waking life.
Rosenthal squints at the camera with a workman’s repose. He may be thinking of his fleeting moment at the Baltimore Sun. The minute he spent actually writing and staying up late and having something to say. He stares into a lens as it mechanically spins away his seconds. You see as he peers into a past of letters a man overtaken by sorrow.
In each of the four, during what now will be at least three more games, there is an occasional show of fear of whatever this is catching up.
The not-far-away look of wanting and can’t-having just a little more real now. The camera lights will click off soon enough and they can cash their checks and rest, leaving the rest of us in cars washing out our silver bullet coffee containers on the weekend and getting ready to do it again, until, we simply can’t.
At least in them, the definition of joylessless of now, we get to see what is regrettably the worst of ourselves as distorted rock-in-pond personal dance of lament on this giant floating marble.
We see what could be but what isn’t. With each monotone warble, we’re subconsciously put on notice their now can never be ours, that we don’t even watch the same game or stand on the same field.
And yet, somehow, even if they are on the monied side of the board, overcompensated, and maybe uniquely unaffected because of it, we take short pity in their inability to convince.
That small comfort, watching a plucked and pancake’d quartet struggle so mightily with whatever this reality of how now really is from the other side of the camera and lights, is payment enough.
The series is tied 1-1 and resumes in St. Louis Saturday.