An Embarrassment Of Abandoned Words

Every few days, I sit down to write something blogg’ish.

And, every few days of late, I abandon the task.

It seems that every time I sit down to write, the news overtakes whatever it is I’m thinking about. Baseball musings take a back seat to the pandemic, to wildfires, to hurricanes, to floods, to racial injustice, to politics, to despair.

What I’m left with is a discarded pile of unfinished thoughts that I don’t have the heart to recycle.

Here are a random few of my most recent abandoned words. It’s all I have for you …

Embed from Getty Images

 

Baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson Day every year. Players of every color wear his number 42. We are unabashedly proud of this. We act like we single-handedly destroyed racial inequality on April 15, 1947.

Hardly.

Abandoned, September 13, 2020.

If this baseball season is so efficiently compact and the games nipped into shortness – seven-inning double headers, super-speedy extra innings – why am I so tired?

Abandoned, September 6, 2020

I recently read that good writers should write 100 words a day – even on days when there is nothing to write about. At this rate, I am promised, good writers will have written a complete novel in “no time.”

“No time” by my rudimentary math would be about 500 days – assuming, of course, that your daily 100 words all knit perfectly together and you’re not a stickler for context, flow, and proper punctuation.

Speaking of proper punctuation … look …

B.J. Novak liked my tweet. (Of course he did – after all, I was agreeing with him. Still … B.J. Novak!)

Abandoned (at, exactly, 100 words, three ellipses, and three dashes), September 5, 2020

Baseball 2020 is weirdly different and exactly the same.

It is weird new baseball rules. Seven-inning double-headers and 5th-inning stretches with no fans to stretch.

People seem to like the shorter games and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it 60-game season, while also complaining, as they have for years, that the game is too slow and must be speeded up.

It’s as though they didn’t notice the seven-inning thing and the 60-game thing.

Blink and you’ll miss baseball.

Hypocritical thinking is nothing new, but it’s strange that in pandemic world – where we can no longer do many of the things we like to do to pass the time – we have a lot of time on our hands.  And yet, here we are making ballgames shorter – with those seven-inning double-headers and extra-inning tightening –  and we’re all sort of “Yeh, shorter. That’s nice.”

“Games last too long,” Rogers Hornsby complained in 1936 when the average game topped out at almost – but not quite – two hours.

Smiling On The Outside. Complaining On The Inside.

Hornsby went on to argue that fans preferred the dead-ball era where games weren’t burdened by home runs and such.

Because who wants to see a home run?

Abandoned, September 4, 2020

Look, I just wanted to tell you that on this date in 1902, the Baltimore Orioles won. I thought that might cheer me up and I needed some cheering. But … the Baltimore Orioles didn’t win on August 29, 1902.

They didn’t win twice, as it happens, losing both games of a double-header against the Browns in St. Louis.

The Baltimore Sun, 8/30/1902

[… a lot of unneccesary words about these losses followed … let’s jump ahead … ]

Those games weren’t news. The Orioles were awful. (They’d finish the season in last place in the American League.)

The real news on August 29, 1902 – front-page news, even – was that President Teddy Roosevelt, on holiday, shot a boar.

I share this with you for a number of reasons. Let me number them.

#1. This honest-truly was major news. While it was a rather sad turn of events for the boar – and as a vegetarian, I was rooting for the boar – that the President taking time off to go hunting, including a rundown of what he wore, was major news seems like science fiction when these days major news is pretty much only terrifying.

The San Francisco Examiner, 8/31/1902

The Cincinnati Enquirer, 8/31/1902

The Atlanta Constitution, 8/31/1902

#2 The story stands alone as a quirky little footnote in the life of Teddy Roosevelt, an avid hunter who had, sadly, no interest in baseball. When his 14-year-old son Teddy Jr. was informed of his father’s boar score, reporters noted that Junior was filled with excitement. Come to find out, poor Teddy Jr. thought that his father had shot a bear, not a boar. When Junior realized his error, he was disappointed. (Not as disappointed as the boar, of course.)

#3. This:

The St. Louis Republic, 8/30/1902

“Remainder of the Herd Escapes.”

I appreciate this effort to put the boar’s unfortunate demise into perspective. Yeh, tough luck for the boar, but on the bright side, all the other boars are pretty excited that the President didn’t shoot them, too.

Abandoned, August 29, 2020

Back To Today:

I have a mess of abandoned words – a patchwork quilt of half-thoughts – and I am embarrassed to share most of them. But, I miss you. And, I miss baseball. I mean, sure, there are games. But, I feel bad caring so much about a game when … when … when … frivolity feels so wrong these days.

Still, I can’t end on a sour note.

So, let me leave you with this.

The Baltimore Orioles are in a skid. A couple weeks ago they were within sniffing distance of a playoff spot. Since then, they’ve won just two of their last 10 games.

They’re 22-30 with just eight games left in the regular season.

Even baseball has deserted me.

Or, has it?

Out of the turmoil, the despair, the fear of a dystopian future … out of the mud of 2020’s more-awful-every-day reality comes this single ray of hope … this three-second moment of unfettered joy …

Thank you, Cubs.

14 thoughts on “An Embarrassment Of Abandoned Words

  1. Jackie, let me put on my Shrink hat for a moment…(No, not the one with the little bells; the other one): The thing to keep in mind it that we have never been here before. Never. We’re inventing the wheel. Nobody can say, “Here’s how you deal with this mishegas”, because nobody has figured that out, yet- but, we’re figuring out some things that seem to keep us from going off the rails, and numero uno seems to be, try to suspend self judgement. Never been here before, remember? That means that nobody- let me say that louder- NOBODY- really knows how to deal with this shite. We’re all Bozos on this bus.
    What this means to me, re, you, is that, as far as I’m concerned, you may write or not write as you wish, and I will rejoice to see anything you post, as I did, seeing this one. Baseball is being a frail reed upon which to lean, this year. I can scarcely bring myself to care, but your posts are always about more than baseball; they’re about you, and you are pretty neat. Please, drop us a line, now and then, and life will be a better place. Thanks.

    • Thank you, John … for your kind and thoughtful words. I have not given up … just feeling a little empty at the moment. But, not as empty as I was before I read your message. Stay tuned … I’ll type again soon. And, truly … thank you. :)

  2. Only you could find a way to make these tidbits of abandoned thoughts into interesting and enjoyable reading. Your muse must be getting worried and see that it’s time to get back the job. And thanks for the clip of the Cubbies.

  3. A patchwork qult is a beautiful thing, and although as old as history, those quilts made of scraps as pioneers moved westward are quintessentially American. They kept people warm, connected, and loved. Your patchwork of words is doing the same for us in these strange times.

  4. I have to laugh – never used the “serial comma” rule, but my friendly editor is making me put that itty bitty comma in there. A hundred words a day, huh? Lots of luck with that one. Some days are zero and others are 3,000. The Cubbies clip made my day! Keep us the good work and hold your head up high!!!

  5. Pingback: The week gone by — Sept. 20 – A Silly Place

  6. I loved the section on TR shooting a wild boar. When I was working on my book years ago (and even now), I would easily get distracted by stories on the pages of microfilm I was supposed to be scouring about my topic. One that stands out in my head was the dog that committed suicide. Used to think that there was a book based on those odd but entertaining paragraphs… Cheers!

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