Who says ghosts aren’t real? Not only are they real, but they are REALLY necessary!
Ok, call them spirits. Sounds better. We’re not talking about Casper here. i’ve been praying these last few days that two of them in particular (one very new, the other out and about for five years) will step up to the plate and help resolve an Ugly situation, the Utley situation. It is ruining these soooo anticipated playoff games between some of the greatest squads in Baseball’s Illustrious History.
In a way i can’t believe that i am using my blog to weigh in on the matter, what with the enormous problems in the world, billions hungry or dying, terrorists everywhere… But, BASEBALL! As the commercial says, “We lived for this.” That little boy i once was with his shoebox full of cards, images of all of my heroes, Bill Maz, Stan the Man, Roberto!! i was a Philly boy, so in time a guy named Utley would also steal the base of my heart! He has been a symbol of the game itself, the game we love. Maybe this is why i cannot rest without saying something. And the thing i would keep saying is, “Chase, look at the video. Just look at the video. Send your agent home. Step up to the mic and settle this.”
Just recently someone was telling a cool story of Cal Ripken, Mr. Baseball himself, how a couple of games into his second season – after being Rookie of the Year – he was throwing some tantrum during a game. A loving teammate took him into the clubhouse after and left him by a TV, saying simply, “Cal, look at the video.” It was the only lesson he needed. He remembered what the Game was for…for the children, who always need heroes.
One of the greatest movies ever made tried to tell story of John Merrick, “The Elephant Man.” There is a scene in the film, one of its most powerful, which might never have happened, but David Lynch used his poetic license to make us all think a most critical thought. At one point the doctor who saved the man from his most miserable existence, Dr. Frederick Treaves, cannot sleep. His wife wakes up to find him staring into space, tears in his eyes, wondering….asking himself why he did what he did, saving John. Was it for John’s sake, or for his own fame and glory? Freddy pondered the question, “Am I a good man, or am I a bad man?” Each of us must never stop questioning our motives and our behaviors, always striving to be our best inside and out.
i have not for a single moment questioned – as many Met fans have done to the point of calling for a head on a platter – the motives of my ONCE-HERO, Mr. Utley. i KNOW that he had no intention to do harm to Ruben Tejada. His intention was, just as he says, to break up a double play. However, if he cannot “watch the video” and simply admit that he made perhaps the WORST ATTEMPT AT A SLIDE in the history of the game, then i for one can never even think of calling him what we all called Mr. Musial.
When i took my children to Cooperstown, N.Y., not far from our home, thank God, it was almost a spiritual experience. When i looked upon the name Mazeroski and thought of Bill in 2001, when he went there for his induction, how he got up to speak, ready for the usual 45 minute thank you, and i remember how Bill could not speak….Instead, overwhelmed by the fact that he was being honored for HAVING THE HONOR to play the game, he just sat down and cried. His emotion said everything! When i saw the name of my greatest hero, Mr. Sparky Anderson, a man who only played one year, when i was 5, with my Phillies, but went on to become one of the greatest managers of all time – AND WAY MORE THAN ALL OF THAT became the spokesman for the game and what it meant for life, MAN! i was overcome! Back in my teens and twenties i used to carry around a little notebook called Sparky’s Sparks, all little words of wisdom from THE MAN about gratefulness and humility and not taking ourselves too seriously and of taking each game, each day, as if it were the first and the last. Whew! What a man!
i’ve been praying that Sparky’s sparky spirit will light a fire under Utley’s butt. i’ve been praying that the newest, and one of the greatest ghosts of all, Yogi Berra, will come and talk some of his unique, no nonsense sense into the kid. Funny, but i can see Sparky and Yogi at that appeal process, each one taking an arm of Utley and leading him to the john. Sparky’ll say, “Come into our office, kid.” Yogi’ll say, “Have you really checked the video, I mean, honestly?” Then both will blast him in harmony, “That was just about the worst friggin move a guy has ever made on a diamond! Look how stupid you look. You even clunked your head. Did you clunk any sense to it? Why can’t you just step up to the mic and say it? Yes, we know you have made thousands of fantastic slides in your fantasic career, but that one was the worst. And so what! We were all learning right up to the very last play of out very last game. Ain’t that the most important thing we had to teach the kids?!” And Yogi adds, “Ain’t nobody’s poifect, pal! So, go ahead, save your career. A simple sorry’ll do. I know the Mets, they’ll never forgive ya, but the Game will, and that’s what matters. It’s about the Game, and the Game is more than the Game. It’s all about Life! If it doesn’t teach us how to live, what good is it?!”
“Am I a good man, or am I a bad man??” Sometimes the answer is in a simple acknowledgement of fault.