Wake up, America. It’s time. Time again for all of it. For the greatness and the dross, still and forever entwined. Time again for the national reflection.
Again we are called to put up with months of shitty beer commercials, cookie-cutter interviews, boneheaded jingoism, crass public displays of faith, TV blackouts, naked larceny of team owners, Joe Buck, ESPN, and a litany of other foul crimes against dignity.
Put up with all of it we will. We must. Because if we don’t, there is no music.
If we don’t endure, there is no audacious changeup on a fastball count. No cutting down the runner at third from right field. No bullpen phone, no going opposite field, no hammer and whiff for the 27th out.
No backup catcher will receive a perfecto, no platoon will counter a dominating southpaw, no hurler called up from Birmingham will throw 24 scoreless innings yet somehow earn three no-decisions for his trouble.
If we do not suffer the dumb, we will be denied the sublime. Denied the dawn of the Trouts, the Strasburgs, the Harpers. Denied the double steal, or the snab with the meat hand. Denied the chance to witness CB Bucknor’s strike zone as it evolves from inning to inning, changing shape akin to the profile of a growing child. Denied the bright tones of Jon Miller as he balances the candid with the partial.
We will again be held hostage. Each year the price rises, the commercial common denominator lowers, the distractions become louder, the sideshow more insipid.
But the payoff remains.