Friday, October 14, 2011

How 'bout those First Person Plurals?


Well, this weekend I'm going to be writing about a bunch of things I normally don't write about. Let's start with Baseball.  Sixthstation readers know I normally am a basketball girl, but in fairweather fashion, my attention has turned to the Brewers and their postseason performance.

Actually, I used to be a huge baseball fan. My highschool girlfriends and I would pick a few days in the spring to ditch school, ride the IC into the city, catch the L up to Addison, and spend an afternoon in the friendly confines. Anybody from Chicagoland knows exactly what that last sentence was about. It didn't matter that the Cubs sucked. That's just a part of being a Cubs fan. You just enjoyed an afternoon ballgame. And thousands of Chicagoans have that same experience in their memory banks, giving us a commonality that transcends economics, politics or religion.

Wisconsin, my adopted home, is sadly divided. That sumbitch stinking up the governor's mansion is only a small part of it. This economy and war and everything else is making people  downright mean. When something unfortunate happens to somebody, all I hear is people grousing that the victim probably had it coming. If something good happens to somebody, I hear those same people resenting it like they didn't deserve it. It's the poor's fault  that they are poor; unemployed folk should be happy to get a job making minimum wage to clean up dogshit; we should just  let uninsured people die; and let's punish teachers...oh... because we need somebody to blame this all on and it's politically incorrect to use minorities for this purpose like we used to.

The postseason Brewers have done a remarkable job of taking the edge off all this. It's  not making me forget that as I write this, there's thousands of folks occupying wall street the way #wiunion occupied Madison last winter, scaring the piss out of right wing conservatives and their purchased media (as evidenced by the smear job they're attempting). But the Brewers are finally giving us some return on our investment in the form of giving us all a common ground.

It was last Friday night when this hit home for me, in that game against Philly. That one inning where we were in danger of throwing it away-- and we squeaked on by. As you know, the Brewers are no longer "They." In the postseason, the Brewers are "We." Amazing how quickly you can go from third person to first when you're winning, eh? After that third out, you could feel a collective sigh of relief across the state. It registered on Twitter and Facebook, and I just had to step outside and catch a breath of crisp autumn air.

And, it seemed, so did everybody else in my neighborhood. Every porch was occupied by folks just standing outside, smoking a cigarette, cracking open a beer, checking on the kids who were running around our collective yards, saying hi to the folks in the  old-man-shot-and-a-beer joint next to my house. And it was like we were programmed to know, without looking at our watches, exactly when the commercial break ended and it was time go back into the house and re-clench our buttocks for another excruciating inning.  At the end of the game, the neighborhood kids all piled into my living room while I re-wound the DVR so they could see that 10th inning slide into home. (Because of this, I missed the F-Bomb drop, which was probably a good thing with a bunch of kids in my living room).

And so, throughout the week, it's been wonderfully inclusive that wherever I went, I overheard/participated in conversations that had echoes of "How 'bout those Brewers." As much as people claim they think baseball is boring, we all still know all the terminology such that in the evenings, while we're going about our business, we holler to each other across yards, cars, in the  middle of classes, at intersections, paying for gas, picking up groceries, getting a coffee, on a bike, in between calls at work, "Middle of the 7th, we're still down." We end conference calls with our cleints/customers saying "How 'bout those Brewers" with our 'Sconnie accents, while our colleagues from Philly and Arizona and St Louis give us a friendly laugh, put themselves on mute and use unprofessional language.  I walked into the end of my son's taekwondo class last night after watching the game on the stairmaster. Everybody looked at me, eyebrows raised, and I knew what they wanted to hear: "End of the 4th, tied up!" We hurried to the car to turn on the radio so we wouldn't have to wait until we got home to be updated.

We shared a collective outrage on that call at first base Monday night when he was clearly safe; we all looked at each knowingly, admitting to each other that play at the plate last night could have  gone either way. It matters not that the person I agreed about this with was a concealed-carrying Tea Partier. We agreed about something, smiling and finding common ground as we  did so.

Gee, I don't remember  teaching Sammy all these  rules. I remember trying to teach Stella when she was four years old, helping to coach her T-Ball team.  Pro tip: you can't tell 4 year olds to "Go to first with it!" You have to say, "Throw the ball to first" or they will run to first base with the ball.  No, make that, "Throw the ball to the person at first base" or they will just throw the ball at the bag. No, make that "Throw the ball to the person at first base on our team" or they will throw the ball at the runner. Oh, and you have to add, "Our team is everybody with the blue hats." Oh, fuck it, the runner ("Run! Don't just walk! Run! RUN! RUN! OK, stop at the base. STOP!") is safe. Somehow, though, this season has taught everything Sammy needs to know about baseball. Just watching the games with his dad he knows all the nicknames of the players, he knows what "scoring position" means, he knows what a "sacrifice fly" is. And Stella knows that those oldschool uniforms favored by the Axman and his ilk are classic: the nickers, the belted pants, the stirrups, all giving a classic, and uniquely American feel to it all. These are just kids, and yet they are experts on this complicated game. (And if you don't think it's complicated, try explaining the rules to a foreigner like I  had to a few years back. My Russian friend had no clue as I sketched out a field and told her, "OK, the object of the game is to score. But here's the catch...") And our own Wisconsin touch-- not just the sausage races, but a hearty chorus of Roll Out the Barrel after Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Where else but Wisconsin could a polka fit in perfectly with the seventh inning stretch of a ball game?

And I send my kids to school this morning, tired from staying up late to see the Brewers ensure that this series will end in a home game. They will probably not perform well in class today. (Stella has a fever anyway, so she's staying home.)Sammy will be overtired. Heck, I'm overtired. But I spent my life as a Cubs fan. I'm not used to this still playing baseball in October thing. The kids right now probably don't have a sense of how remarkable this is: They've already lived through two Super Bowl wins (one they were too young to remember). They saw the underfunded Bucks in the playoffs (which they blew, but they know who Kareem Abdul Jabbar is). Stella has a feel for the fact that her mom didn't even live in Milwaukee the last time all of this happened in baseball, and that her parents' first date was a Brewers V Cubs game, back when it was exhibition because they were in two different leagues. However, while Stella's not a huge sports fan and normally doesn't give a crap, she was glued as tightly to the TV screen as Sammy and I were last night.

OK, Sammy will get another chance to pass the spelling test he'll probably blow today. But lord knows when he or Stella get another chance to see a postseason game, and share it with us, "Us" being everybody else in Wisconsin. Us includes that knucklehead who usually hangs on every word Charlie Sykes vomits up,  but this week it's Bob Uecker who has our attention. Us includes  my Wisconsin twitter peeps on my #wiunion list who are virtually standing with the Occupy Wall Street crowd this morning.Us is also comprised of apolitical types who don't give a crap because they're all crooks in politics anyway. Many of  Us admittedly whine about the outrageous salaries commanded by Fielder, Braun, et al. But  We are giving those guys a pass on the millionaire whing because they are giving Us something We desperately need right now. So Stella and Sammy, you can stay up late and watch the game with Us. Because this is one of the few times We are finding commonality about something, even if it's "just a game" and I won't make you miss it.

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