We need baseball now more than ever
Normally, the Colorado Rockies making the Major League Baseball playoffs would be cause for celebration. It’s a big deal because it’s a rare feat.
Usually by October, Colorado sports fans have turned their full attention to the Broncos because the Rockies have fallen out of contention. But this year, the Rox celebrated their first playoff appearance in eight years after the Milwaukee Brewers were mathematically eliminated on Saturday. The players sprayed champagne in the clubhouse after losing a meaningless game to the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.
A day later, the heart-breaking news out of Las Vegas changed the tenor of the postseason for the players and fans. The shocking and senseless mass shooting has imbued the playoffs with a sense of survivor’s guilt. How are we supposed to get excited about something as trivial as a baseball game when so many of our fellow Americans are suffering through the aftereffects of an unspeakable tragedy?
Compounding those chastened feelings is the knowledge that people died in Las Vegas in the pursuit of a good time. They were at a concert, which isn’t much different from attending a ballgame. Those fortunate enough to watch a playoff game in person will be gripped by an uneasy wariness — images of the Las Vegas carnage flickering through their heads.
Yet, we need baseball to help re-establish a sense of normalcy. America’s pastime is much better equipped to be a healing balm for this country than any other professional sport.
For one thing, it hasn’t been rocked by demonstrations during the national anthem like the National Football League has — maybe because it’s such an international game. Nearly 30 percent of MLB players were born outside the country.
Regardless of the reason, baseball doesn’t carry the baggage as a source of division. We don’t expect that to suddenly change. If they’re smart, MLB players will recognize the opportunity to make their game a unifying force for the country. That means standing for the national anthem and letting the game be the escapist fare it’s supposed to be instead of a venue for political statements.
The Rockies will take the field Wednesday in Phoenix for a one-game playoff with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The drama that usually accompanies this kind of win-or-go-home scenario will be muted by the recent tragedy in Las Vegas. But maybe it shouldn’t be.
If the horror in Las Vegas teaches us nothing else, it’s that life can be unexpectedly short. Keep love in your heart for all victims, but don’t forget to live and do what you love. For many of us in Colorado, it’s relishing “Rocktober” and hoping to see the Rockies bring a home playoff game to Coors Field.