by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
It is the abnormality of this season that makes it worth opining on. Baseball arrives at the very moment when America most needs a pick-me-up. A resurgent pandemic, economic depression, lawlessness in Portland and Chicago, widespread school closures, a bitter election, and increased tensions with China contribute to the sense that things are out of control. What a relief to spend a few hours each day in blissful ignorance of world events, consumed instead by a perfectly delivered change-up, a risky late-innings pitching change, or a walk-off home run. With the days of Tiger King and The Last Dance long past, and the release of summer blockbusters such as Tenet and Black Widow delayed until the future, only sports can leaven our national life with entertainment and novelty.
The uniqueness of each game is key. For all of the chaos that followed the spread of the coronavirus, for most individuals everyday life since March has been rather monotonous. The days have had a tendency to run together. Wake up, work, eat, get disgusted by the news, drink, sleep, repeat. Kids have no school, no camp, no jobs.
Sports bring contingency. They thrive on randomness. Each game has the one unexpected play, the soul-crushing unforced error, and the amazing and incongruous event that makes it special. They are moments worth savoring.
The daily matchups and results anchor us in time. Even a 60-game schedule provides fixed reference points — Opening Day, the playoffs, a World Series — that set themselves apart from the indistinct and blurry morass of illness, unemployment, disconnection, civil strife, and social vituperation that has characterized the last four months. (Has it been only four? God help us.)
The rituals of sports can be more satisfying than Zoom happy hours.