As a recovering sports zombie, I’ve often wondered if autumn’s ascension to the top of my season rankings was driven by the American football marketing machine. After three years of not watching college football and at least as many of dwindling bother for the NFL, I finally cut the cord with fantasy football at the end of this summer. No teams. No leagues. No weekly contests. No need to pay attention. It’s been great.
Autumn finally rang Cincinnati’s doorbell this week, and came with sensory gifts before hanging its coat in the closet nearest the door. Situated for a quick exit, yes, but it’s here now and let’s all enjoy the time that our favorite friend opts to give to us. Football, I am finally assured, factors not at all into the function that still yields such a positive outcome for me. I can see my breath. The air is crisper, as are the colors beneath the gray visor Earth puts on most of these days. The trees’ teachings have their leaves displaying such cordiality that one would feel comfortable slapping their backs and calling them Roy G. for reasons more closely associated with first-name familiarity than acronymic accuracy. In short, life is fucking beautiful.
Autumn is a test of mindfulness for me – an opportunity to accept home and deal with tendencies to sour over the fact that sleet and salt will batter emaciated branches before long. As I’ve gotten older, zenning has become easier. Apologies if the use of that non-word suggests a nihilistic sarcasm toward the whole subject. I assure you when I typed it I had positive thoughts regarding what it may very well mean.
In the American sporting landscape, it would probably be argued by most that baseball is the sport most closely aligned with the principles of being in the moment, forming the right physical and mental habits, the existence of randomness and interconnectedness, brushing off the past, and some element of outdoorsy nature. Sure, the more every new ballpark looks the same, the less that most latter element can thrive, but there are still some holdouts.
One such relic is Boston’s Fenway Park, home to the Red Sox. That place is so quirky that it has many of the hallmarks of what previous generations might have referred to as a place. And this weekend, it will host a game or two that I don’t even regret to say that I will care about. Don’t get me wrong – the outcome won’t matter, and I will be an adult rooting for a privately owned team that drains not only the public coffers to the point of city-wide bankruptcy, but also to the competitive detriment of another privately owned professional sports team that I care even more about, but for whatever reason, I’ve taken a litmus test, and my Detroit Tigers’ blue came up just shy of infrared. Perhaps this is evidence that I drink too much coffee and eat too few Tums, but it was metaphorical anyway so let’s move on.
Justifications for remaining a viewer of televised sport seem like good fodder for a later blog post, indeed one I’ve intended to sort through for a while now. But for now, I’m coming to accept that when the time comes for ALCS and World Series games that involve my hometown former-worst-team-of-all-time, well, I enjoy that time. Perhaps the passion is enhanced by the autumnal surroundings. I hope so. All I know is that an old pro will be providing color commentary for the last time, and without so much as a read-through for tires or soap or my aforementioned stomach relief chewables. Averages and trends will both hold up and be “disproven,” depending on which conclusion one wants to prove. Old friends and relatives may come back into contact, remembering this thing they used to have in common that seemed so central and existent and now. The unelected international consortium representing the Motor City will try to abandon their Garfield and aspire more to their inner Tiglath-Pileser, minus the literal warring and genocide. It never hurt anybody to figuratively come through and crush the building though, even if the building is one of the last vestiges of personification left in American sport. On the line will be a spot in The Fall Classic, which is a term I find to be self-evident, the opposite of an oxymoron. None of that depends on baseball, either.