One of my fondest sports memories was the first Mets game after 9/11. I think it was 9/20, but I'm probably wrong, and NY was in shambles. In came the Braves, the Mets' arch-nemesis, and Shea Stadium was packed on a gorgeous night. It was the night that major league baseball incorporated "God Bless America" into the 7th inning stretch, and it was the first national anthem at a sporting event since 9/11.
Emotions were high, and, though it had little real-word impact, the Mets were one year removed from their world series appearance, and were pushing to make the playoffs again.
With the game tied in the eighth or ninth inning, Mike Piazza came to the plate to a standing ovation: everyone in the building and watching on TV knew that if the Mets were going to redeem NY and restore its pride, that Piazza was going to do it. He hit a homer against the scoreboard the won the game.
I remember seeing grown men crying while Piazza was rounding the bases, and I remember Piazza being one of them. I remember thinking that the best way for America to recover was to break another one off the six pack and take in some more sport. It wasn't just the catharsis of the game--it was its power to microcosmically embody and resolve every other conflict. The Braves were Al-Quaeda that night, and Mike Piazza was America. His home run saved us from terror.
Six years later, though, sports are back to their same old bullshit. Who's making how much money, who's getting traded or fired, who's winning it all, who cheated, who used steroids, who would if they could, etc. We still have problems in the world---Iraq, the new war in Israel, domestic violence, global warming, melting polar ice caps, global terrorism, and even plain old murder and rape. Do we really need a seismic tragedy to make sports matter? Does it really take two tremendous buildings to fall for Mike Piazza's exploits to affect more than the over/under in Vegas?
Not even ESPN has it right. Their 24-hour sports coverage does not spend one minute discussing all the good that sports has done, and that it still can do. The instant that Barry Bonds gets indicted for perjury, there will be around-the-clock coverage of his housekeeper. Meanwhile, the rest of us are left pondering if we're wasting our time giving a shit about a pasttime that hasn't mattered in five years.
Stay trivial athletics,
MC trade rod