A series for the ages
“America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. ... It reminds us of all that once was good, and what could be again.”
— James Earl Jones as Terence Mann in “Field of Dreams”
When everything else in the world is wrong, baseball gets it right.
The Chicago Cubs are the toast of the town (and the nation) for winning their first World Series in 108 years. In doing so, they instantly made the series runner-up, the Cleveland Indians, the Major League team with the longest championship drought, now at 68 years.
It didn’t matter who won. There were no villains in this series. The teams were so evenly matched that the tie-breaking Game 7 went into extra innings. Neither team had a bad thing to say about the other. Both teams went about their business with class and dignity.
It was a welcome distraction from the ugliness of the presidential election and politics in general. When Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo secured the final out, Cubs fans rejoiced like it was VE day. It didn’t matter if the Cubs fan next to them was a Trump supporter or a Hillary supporter — they were all kindred spirits enjoying a moment none had ever experienced.
That’s the transcendent nature of sports. Sports brings people together precisely because its apolitical. Sports fans don’t care if an athlete is black, atheist, Spanish-speaking, gay, Republican or American-born. They care if an athlete can hit, throw or score. They care if an athlete can help their team win.
That’s why political statements on the field are so bothersome. The injection of politics into the game — like a player kneeling during the national anthem — upsets the societal expectation of an escape from everyday concerns.
Those escapes are short-lived. A Cubs fan waking up Thursday had to wonder, “Is this it? I thought this would be a bigger deal.” The warm glow of victory gives way to the realization that there are still bills to pay, kids to get to school, maybe even ballots to fill out.
The world keeps turning. And it will on Nov. 9, the day after the election when we know who our next president will be. It would be nice if we could take a page out of the World Series playbook and comport ourselves like the Cubs and Indians.
Their contest was hard-fought. Both teams deserved to win. The loser accepted defeat graciously. Many may feel like neither presidential candidate deserves to win. But one will.
At that point, we have to accept the outcome, whether the candidates do or not. We should celebrate that we all had the chance to have a say in who will occupy the Oval Office and then treat each other as members of the same team.
It sounds trite, maybe even silly. But it’s not politicians who can bridge the political divide in this country. It’s neighbors and fellow citizens trying to find common ground.