Jason Werth was preparing to come to bat in the ninth inning of last night's playoff game between the Nationals and the Cardinals. If anybody is not aware, the game was tied. If the Nats lost they would be out of the play-offs. They had just lost two games to the Cardinals in which they had been beaten cruelly.
Notice the scoreboard. It is Jason Werth's photo on the scoreboard. Jane took the photo because she said she just had a feeling Werth was going to do something big.
Werth hit seven foul balls. He hit the next pitch into the visiting team's bullpen for a home run and ended the game. The Nats would live to play another day.
It was about as excited as I've ever seen so large a group of people. Nobody wanted to leave the stadium. Strangers were hugging. It was a kick.
William Stringfellow. I read his book An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land over and over.
Stringfellow was critical of spectator sports. I can't remember exactly how he put it, but he suggested that the passion that people put into supporting and cheering their teams was at the cost of time and energy that could have been spend on working for justice in the world. He suggested that human beings have within us a natural and God-given desire to work for justice. Spectator sports diverts this desire into a meaningless battle that changes nothing in the world but instead maintains the status quo.
I don't recall Stringfellow ever explicitly referring to the Roman Empire's Bread and Circuses. But the implication was the same. Spectator sports keep all our energies focused on whether our sports team wins rather than whether our movement for justice wins.
My enjoyment of baseball a pleasure with a tinge of guilt attached to it. I have, however, never managed to give it up.
I want to live in a world where it is possible to both work for social justice and love baseball. It's sort of like the famous quote attributed to Emma Goldman: "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution."
Still, I worry a little bit that Bill Stringfellow may not have been all wrong.
So, after the baseball game last night, I dutifully watched the vice-presidential debate. I tried to get as excited about the debate as I had been about the game.