A Matter of Control

“I’m just trying to go out and control what I can control.”  David Wright, when questioned about the current problems of the Mets organization, The New York Times, February 27, 2011

What can I control?  I can’t control where I focus my attention.  I can’t ignore the articles in the paper.  I can’t ignore the radio.  I can’t ignore my fellow bloggers.  I can’t ignore the sense of deep unease that grows in me as baseball, one of my favorite things, returns. 

 I also can’t control the way in which yesterday’s telecast reminded me of a day in March of 1963, when as I was getting my hair cut, someone turned on the radio in the barber shop and Bob Murphy greeted all of us  from “Al Lang field in sunny St. Petersburg, Florida!”  This has always been the day the world comes back into focus, the day the winds smell differently, the day you start noticing that it isn’t dark at 5:30. 

I’m excited about this season.  I really am.  I’ve been excited about this season since the last one ended.  Alderson and Collins seem wonderful.  What fun it is to think that the team goes bowling!  Reyes, Beltran, and Bay are healthy.  There are all these strong new arms and bright and handsome new players.  There is nothing not to get excited about.  I know people aren’t buying tickets.  But if you know anything about baseball attendance patterns, you know that an exciting and winning young team is probably not going to start affecting ticket sales until next year.   It’ll be fine for us diehards to have Citi Field to ourselves this year.  We always make such a cozy company.  I look at the pictures and spring training diaries my Facebook friends and blogger buddies have already begun to send from Port St. Lucie and I wish I was there with them, I wish it was just us feeling happy and hopeful about a bunch of fine guys on a baseball team.

But I can’t just relax and enjoy myself.  To the real world, and to the rest of the world, the Mets aren’t just the talented champions of a loyal community.  They aren’t just one of the things that holds together life, and time, and family.   They are a very complicated  and undoubtedly very serious news story I am thoroughly sick of.  But can’t choose to ignore. 

Why is there money?  I know that’s the sort of stupid question I used to ask when I was an adolescent, but the older I get, the more I want to ask it.  I read an article in the paper yesterday about how movie studios don’t make well-directed and well-written movies not because people won’t come out to see them but because the people who go to see badly-directed and badly-written movies spend more at the concession counter and that’s where theatres make their profit.  And so all these great films that would enrich people’s lives now and in the future don’t get made because of something having to do with the profitability of popcorn.   All sorts of  valuable things that were funded with just a little money from the government are now no longer going to be funded because the people who make the most money have figured out how to keep even more money for themselves than they have ever had in the past.  The world’s economy is thrown into a tailspin because of stupid games that should be illegal that jerks on Wall Street invented to make themselves as much money as they could possibly stuff into their stinking orifices.   Money makes possible such absurdities as the Mets saying that they’ve been playing at Digital Domain Park ever since it opened in 1988. 

I am filled with so much anger now about so many things that are going wrong because of stuff that happens because of money.  I don’t understand anything about what people who have money do with money and neither does hardly anyone else.  We have no control.  Yet we must suffer the consequences of what we can’t control.

Baseball, the great pleasure, the game of joy and beauty, should give us a rest from our anger.  It should soothe our wounds and allow us, for a few hours at a time, to forget our helplessness.  Right now, it isn’t happening.

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I’ll be giving a reading at the Tappan Library in Tappan, NY on Thursday, March 3, at 7 pm.  For info, click here.

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