“The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come. People will most definitely come.”
The Congressional Baseball Game will go on as planned Thursday at Nationals Park after Democrats and Republicans called for bipartisan unity in the wake of the congressional baseball practice shooting.
Did you hear that? Baseball is still happening. Democrats and Republicans call for unity.
Be cynical if you’d like about the other stuff today. This world, after all, has plenty of space for cynics and plenty of things to be cynical about. But today, for this moment, on this subject—maybe try to take a different tone.
“This bipartisan event shows baseball’s power to bring people together,” the host team Washington Nationals said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with those wounded today and their families.”
And you know what? They are right.
And I believe them.
I believe in the healing power of baseball. I believe that there’s never a bad day at the ballpark. I believe in families and hot dogs and new dads holding a crying baby in one hand and a beer in the other and not quite knowing what to do as he misses out on a 19-year-old rookie legging out a double because something unfamiliar and warm is dripping down his shirt.
I believe in the power of renewal, the dead of winter giving way to spring, the hope of a new start every season, the lucky amnesia every baseball fan wakes up with in the wake of being on the wrong end of a mid-June three-game home sweep. I believe in day games after a 13-inning red-eye. I believe in getting to the ballpark early to watch BP, timing the concession line just right and paying for the beer of the guy behind you.
I believe that when we stand up together, all of us, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Green Party—Christians, Muslims, Jews, Agnostics, straight, gay, bi-, haven’t-figured-it-outs, and sing the national anthem that something happens in that off-key-but-constant effort. And I believe when we stand again and sway in the seventh inning, arms linked, screaming out for “peanuts and Crackerjack” none of us really do, or should, care whether we ever get back.
I believe when I saw George W. Bush zip in a strike in Yankee Stadium, the first pitch after 9/11 that I teared up. I believe when I watch it again, I do the same.
Oh yes, we are a sordid and confused lot now. We are divided like never before. The threat from within from the president and his surrogates possibly aiding and abetting a foreign power and their successful effort to change our election outcome is real. A Constitutional crisis is likely at hand. Our economy—and by proxy the majority of our elected leadership—is controlled by corporations whose singular goal is to please shareholders leaving jobs, retirement savings, entire towns scorched in their wake.
Oh yes, we are in real trouble. And that shouldn’t be ignored and one bipartisan baseball game—in the wake of a horrible tragedy where a lone gunman, confused, disenfranchised, alone, left behind and seemingly out of options, opened fire on Republican members of Congress during a final practice for the annual charity exhibition game and hit Rep. Steve Scalise, the Republican Majority Whip, in the hip Wednesday—isn’t going to fix it.
Other Republicans smartly scattered, ducking into dugouts and hiding behind trees. Because there was such a concentration of this nation’s appointed leaders in that locus, the Capitol Police were there to stop the intervene and the shooter was eventually taken out.
Democrats at their practice, upon hearing the news, circled in prayer for their adversaries across the aisle.
Today, both teams will come together, bravely, upon the field.
Hopefully, tomorrow they’ll choose to remember that we are all on the same team …and start to try to do a little better, for one another, for the rest of us.