Monday, October 19, 2020

Crying in baseball

I've gotten some rebuke of late. 

That's not unusual. When you're out there, when you speak your mind, when you're voluble and when you're successful, people naturally take a dislike to you.

I go after Agelvy--er--Ogilvy and the corrupt ageist oligopoly: the holding companies. (Which IMHO should really be called the squeezing companies.)

I'm told that's angry. 

Fuck it. 

I am angry. Not angry for what they did to me, angry that incompetents have destroyed a once-great brand, a once-great industry, primarily because we have, as a society, adopted a "Death to Expertise" operating system. We elect (allegedly) people like Donald Trump. We put people in charge of businesses who have no experience, no long-view, who adopt the latest trends and mouth words that have no meaning. 

They are tales told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

"We have to be always on."


We have to provide quality and value and respect for viewers.

"We have to be cool."


There's more to life than cool. We have to build strong brands that lead to sales.

And so on.

Someone I respect excoriated me recently. That's not unusual. "There's no crying in baseball," he admonished.

Here's the thing.
There is crying in baseball.
That was just a movie.
And the remark--of a time--and gendered.
A dumb remark. Damp, arid and cliche.
There has always been crying in baseball.
And there should be.
Crying, anger, emotion are strength. 
Not weakness.

There has always been crying in baseball.
Ask the fat kids who were chosen last.
Or who couldn't play with the other boys.
Ask girls who couldn't play with the boys.
Ask an entire race crying because they can't play with the other boys. Or even eat at the same table. Or stay in the same hotel.

Or ask a young man, who's old at 32.
Who notices a twinge in his elbow.
A broken wing.
Who's afraid to say anything aloud that there's pain.
Thinking if he keeps it under his brim maybe it won't become real and will go like smoke away, disappearing like the news, not the residue of a Superfund state in a Koch-led country.

Or the sinewy star at 27 who discovers one drizzly morning at 27-and-a-half that his bat speed has slowed and all of a sudden the same curveball that was slow and obtuse on Tuesday becomes acute and Koufaxian on Wednesday.

There is crying in baseball.
And in everything else.
In advertising.
In life.
In marriage.
In fatherhood.
In living and breathing and dying, which are all the same thing.

When you're relegated to nothingness.
When your throw from third goes errant and two enemies come in. When you greedily stretch two to three and die in the dust.
There is crying in baseball.
There is crying in all things.
All things human.
When you lose eight straight and the infield dust cakes inside your nostrils like black lung.
There is crying in baseball.

Curt Flood cried.
When the team he gave his life to gutted him like a sea bass
and put him up for sale.
When you're owned and supported a dead dumb and deaf infrastructure so your salary wanes like an old moon while others get rich and black car home.
When you're unable to provide for yourself and your wife and your kids and your too-soon dotage.
Because the slave-holders said "no, we have the power and the inhale of conformity on our side."
We will turn you--someone with a voice--into a petulant nothing and ban you or underpay you in perpetuity,
until you're 34 and lost a step
and we've sucked you dry like Willy Loman,
and now we've eaten the orange and thrown away the peel.

There is crying in baseball.
There is a lot of crying in baseball.
Of course, they tell you there is no crying in baseball,
so they impugn crying and make it wrong--
wrong to show emotion.
Wrong to be human.

They don't want your tears, your anger, your bitterness,
lest you become a clarion.
They don't want you crying about your ill-treatment to be
translated, transmuted and transcendent into
I am Spartacus.
They disparage you.
They call it crying.
When it's so much more.
The still small voice of the serf who lays down his tools.
Or the cosmic Bartleby who would prefer not to.
Or my old beisbol friend Rojo, who returned to the dugout late into one game, 
his meat-hand split like a slab of meat
by a nasty, heavy fastball
and who held up his John the Baptist hand for all to see,
blood to his elbow
and proclaimed, "esto es suficiente.' 
And left the game and never returned.

There is crying in baseball.
And in life.
When your marrow is sucked out 
and even the dogs of hell won't gnaw your bones.

Maybe it's the anger and the crying and the hatred and the revenge that will fill your marrow again and allow you to bury the other-fuckers.
That will allow you to come back and hit,
after an enforced and end-forced year off,
the equivalent of my nine month's hiatus,
a neat .313 with 17 homes and 84 RBIs.
Not my best.
Not by a long shot.
Not when I wasn't crying because I too bought their anti-cryism--
but more than anyone else's, or nearly so.
Even innocent Billy Budd, the apotheosis of innocence, cried. And in his way as he was hoisted smiling to hang till dead from the yardham.

"His duty he always faithfully did; but duty is sometimes a dry obligation, and he was for irrigating its aridity whensoever possible with a fertilizing decoction of strong waters."

Those strong waters are my viscous tears.

Because those who do not cry and cry out are not.


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