The Baseball God is Laughing Again
Monday, September 7, 1998 by Dave Winer.
Good morning and happy Labor Day in the USA.
In the spirit of full disclosure I'm listening to Zydeco music here, dancing in French, it's like being in Louisiana. I want to go there.
After a week and a half of traveling I want to do more! Oh being grounded here in one place seems so grounded. I want to fly. Oh la.
In the Miami airport last year, I walked to the end of one of the international terminals, came to a rotunda, ten or more gates, all getting ready to take people to exotic places in Latin America, Europe even Africa and Asia. What an interesting place.
I wondered about a different lifestyle -- to return to this rotunda over and over. Flip a coin, go to one of the destinations, come back, do it again. No mission, no goal, other than to fly on a lot of planes, see a lot of places, really be there, then come back and go somewhere else special. That's my fantasy, someday I'll do it, you bet.
Irma Thomas is on the box now, singing I never fool nobody but me! She's so beautiful.
Hey in the little story above there's a magic phrase, "really be there". I wonder if you've yearned to really be somewhere. I wonder if I've ever really been anywhere. Traveling has always had this kind of mystery for me. How do you really be somewhere? Do you have breakfast with the locals? Visit their icons, the tourist traps?
Maybe you can be somewhere more "there"? Hey the locals don't visit the icons, most people in NY skip the museums and the plays, New Orleaneans avoid the French Quarter, you get the idea, how do you really be somewhere?
On a trip a few years ago I was on a hike in New Mexico's Sangre de Cristo Mountains with a friend. We walked along a road that followed a mountain creek. I wanted to be there, so I took off my clothes and jumped into the creek.
But while I was in the creek I thought about a lot of things. How do I look? Do I look silly? And I got scared. This is cold! Will I survive? My friend took out a camera. Don't take a picture! How awful. Ohhhh. Was I really there? Hmmm. No!
Like many other people I watched the Cards-Reds baseball game yesterday, hoping that Mark McGwire would break the home run record and my eyes would see it and my ears would hear it, that somehow I would be there, but would I? Would it feel that way? Yeah, I'd grin, I'd say "That's really something" but would I *feel* it? Would I really be there?
The answer is no, of course. I'd be sitting in my living room watching a CRT displaying images of someone swinging a bat and hitting or missing a ball and other people talking about it. It could just be a TV show, I have no way of knowing that there's really a group of people doing all these things, or that it's happening right now.
In fact it probably isn't happening now. Have you ever watched a TV broadcast of a game at the game? They play all kinds of tricks with time.
On this last trip I met a smart man who works as a technician in the television industry. Of course in the 90s he's really a computer guy, we speak the same languages, C, Perl, Basic, you get the idea. He said that a few years ago the major American sports, baseball, football, basketball, hockey, changed strategy after seeing the success of professional wrestling, a completely imaginary sport.
He said that while the games weren't fixed (yet?) the promoters were more consciously emphasizing the personality issues. There's a lot more orchestration than you might imagine, my friend says. So when you hear Sammy Sosa say that Mark McGwire is The Man, he might be reading from a script.
Does it matter that McGwire is hitting more home runs than anyone else ever has? Is it even interesting? Do the people who "were there" for the big event get anything from it? Were they really there? Hey, more and more of what we experience is orchestrated not real, not spontaneous. Everything is compared against our expectations, as if our expectations had any reality to them.
How cynical am I? Do I believe the baseball owners set it up so that the Cubs and the Cards would play against each other on the day when McGwire could break the record? Even better, it's happening on a major US holiday, when almost everyone is home and can watch the game on TV. Is this the biggest sporting event in history? It might be, at least in the US.
No, I don't believe they could have orchestrated the timing, but I totally believe they would have if they could. I think it's proof that there are greater messages available. The Baseball God is laughing again. If you still believe everything is ordinary think again.
The gods got our attention, and once again they show us that there's huge power that's beyond our perceptions. How did this happen? Who knows. That's what mysticism is about. Are McGwire and Sosa free agents, or are they part of some network that's designed to send a message to the rest of us? To me it's obvious that they are part of something bigger.
Well, it's almost gametime in St. Louis now. I'm going to watch the CRT and tune into the big show. I have more writing to do. But first, let's see what the Baseball God has to say today.