Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Mike McGough
January 2024

The growingly divisive nature of politics was off-putting to him.  He saw friendships dissolve, family members disgruntled with each other, and an ongoing rush to judgment, that in way too many cases was based on what one network offered as opposed to another.  Increasingly, fact was giving way to fanciful imagination that if screamed loud enough and repeated often enough was being accepted as though it were the absolute truth. 

Politics and far too much of life in general was becoming binary; it was an either-or proposition.  Middle-of-the-roaders were a vanishing breed.  It used to be a pretty sound rule of life not to engage in too deep a discussion of either religion or politics.  More and more, religion was becoming way too political, and the old warning against discussing politics too deeply was now a warning not to mention it at all.  That was unless you either knew exactly who you were talking to and their political posture or you were ready to have your views questioned and potentially attacked. 

Political discourse, a two-way exchange of mutually respected views, was virtually a thing of the past.  In its place was coarse banter, unseemly accusations, and a generally bothersome assault that often escalated.  It often became a contest to seeing who could talk louder and longer, couching personal opinions with, “I read” or “I heard” without ever offering a source.  Being open to someone else’s opinions was a sign of weakness, and doing so meant you were disloyal to whatever it was you believed.   As much as he could, he stayed out of it.  His contention was, that when individuals voted, they often set their public posturing aside, and did what they thought was right.  At least that’s what he hoped most people did. 

He had an offer to go to a baseball game.  He took it in an instant.  It was a long drive, but the company was great, there were good meals on the way, and the game was at one of those classic stadiums he’d always wanted to visit.

It was a beautiful fall Saturday afternoon, so it was a sell-out crowd.  There was a palpable excitement in the stadium.  It was a shared enthusiasm.  When the National Anthem was played, everybody stood, took their hats off, and many sang along.  They were neither fans of the home team or the visitors; they were all citizens of the same country.  They shared a common respect and showed mutual deference. 

Looking around the stadium, the dominate color was red, that worn by the home team.  There were numerous pockets of teal dominate color sported by the visiting team as well.  In this setting, they all sat together demonstrating and enjoying a casual yet very real respect for each other.

Early in the game, a batter took a shot from a foul tip to the shin.  Dang, that had to hurt, and down he went.  You could have heard a pin drop.  Trainers rushed onto the field, helped him up, and supported him as he walked it off.  When he did and walked back to the plate. Everyone cheered.  He wasn’t just a player.  He was a person who was down, he was back up, and that wasn’t lost on these true fans.  Besides being fans they too were people who may have been down a time or two, so they knew how good it feels to get back on your feet.

During the game, the crowd sang “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.”  In one collective voice, 35,000 individuals belted out the familiar tune.  In the 7th inning, as a group, they stood and stretched.  It was a tradition, a custom, and part of the voluntary decorum that had become part of the rituals of the game more than a century earlier.  It was one of those free-will things that baseball fans have long enjoyed, valued, and were respectful of those who didn’t.

When the game was over, there was a winner and loser.  Some fans were happy and others were a bit disappointed, but they respected each other, for on another day the fortunes of the game would turn.  In fact, they did the next day! 

For a little over two and a half hours, these folks shared a journey back in time and left some of the clutter and frustrations of daily life out on the street.  To be sure they picked it back up on their way to whatever came next in their day.  But for a time, a precious time, they had a little respite. 

Never pass up a chance to take in a baseball game.  It’s well worth the time and can pleasantly soften your perspective on life!