People who aren’t sports fans can never understand. Fans are fanatics. We are all eight years-old having created an alternative universe which we slip in and out of, one in which we live and die a little according to the fate of our teams.
Vin Scully, the voice of the Dodgers for the past 67 years has been a word-painter with a wide palette. His descriptions of the play-by-play have supplied our imaginations with a measured economy of adjectives and ellipsis worthy of a poet. In this polarized world his might be the last non-partisan voice. As a broadcaster on T.V. he has known instinctively when the roar of the crowd better articulates the excitement than any words might. Yet he has also taken the game to a fuller dimension with allusions to Greek mythology, Shakespeare or some homespun folklore.
After all, baseball is life. Only we know that. It is Williams Blake’s grain of sand through which we see the universe. Every game is a fresh human drama enacted, a chess game unfolding on grass. In spite of all the sabermetrics there remains an unquantifiable X-factor still inexplicable. Innings correspond to decades. Some games even go into the tenth. My chosen way to die would be sliding into home plate having hit an inside-the-park home-run with an ovation from 47,811 fans and an ump calling me safely home.
Vin Scully tells the story how, in 1936, he passed by a Chinese laundry in the Bronx which posted a World Series score in the window of the Yankees beating the Giants 18-4. From that moment he became a fan of the underdog Giants. He was nine years-old.
I was 8 ½ in 1941 when the Dodgers lost a World Series game to the Yankees after the last man up in the 9th inning struck out but reached 1st base when the Dodger catcher couldn’t find the ball. You had to be there and I was through the announcer, Red Barber who became Vin Scully’s mentor.
Baseball is a long lesson in failure, in learning how to lose. ( Disappointment prepares us for political elections). The greatest who ever played the game failed 65-70 percent of the time. The season is long; the stats are longer. Patience gets tested. Cub fans have waited since 1908 for their team to win a World Series. They were so good that year the cry was to break up the team before it became an invincible dynasty. So much for predictions.
Fandom may be arrested development, the sort I couldn’t give up at gunpoint. I bleed it. It’s irrational, indefensible, juvenile and without consequences in the order of things. Particularly in these bleak times on the brink of a return to the Dark Ages if Trump is the will of people I require this portal to another world. At the crack of the bat I’m 8 ½ again. And it’s closer than Canada.