And today, I am feeling pretty low . . . not sure if it's age, or burn-out, or maturity at long last . . .
I am mourning Kirby Puckett . . . truly he killed my Braves-fan Wife's dreams with his catch and HR in the 6th game of that World Series, perhaps assuring that Ted Turner's boys would be forever the 'Buffalo Bills', or the 'Washington Generals' of the Baseball World. Kirby . . . truly a Great, with a capital G, player, Hall of Famer . . . flawed yes, but don't we sports fans try pretty hard to focus on the visions of Kirby in the Field and in the Hall of Fame, and not in the house and in his personal hall of shame.
And then the news of the death of Dana Reeve comes . . . and I question how much I care about her death. I am not as much a fan of cabaret singers as I am a baseball fan; I did not love the Superman movies in which her husband starred as much as I cherished viewing the sports tableau appearing on the TV screen each and every night; I sympathize with the plight and the cause of the paralyzed, though it doesn't capture my attention and my interest as do the standings of the teams and their games.
And so while the news reports and the few among us note the passing of Dana Reeve and remember her Husband and his brave demise, hour on hour the passing of Kirby of Minneapolis is retold, and his attributes are extolled.
Kirby deserves our note and our attention, to be sure; and nothing should detract from that . . .
But why am I not so much more interested in the passing of Dana Reeve ?
Did she not, in her heroic crusade for a cure for paralysis in the face of the debilitating death-sentence of lung cancer MEAN more than did the life of Kirby Puckett . . . did she not offer more to people worldwide . . . more to the human condition . . . more to the essence of life now and to come . . . than did a master of the ball and bat and glove ? Should not her passing mean more, interest us more, inspire more to aspire ?
What, after all is said and done, do our games and the men and women who play them really mean ?
It was not all that long ago, I am embarrassed to note, that as a 'die-hard' sports fan, I finally came to focus upon and understand, truly, the fleeting nature of the rewards of spectator sports. For while many a year, I lived and died with each pitch and each basket and each goal or touchdown of my chosen heroes, the victory . . . even the ultimate victory in THE game . . . came and passed with the fleeting speed of another day at work. The victory, though sweet, was over as soon as it was accomplished . . . no true "reign as champ" for the fan . . . no year on the rubber chicken circuit . . . no year of activities like some Miss America. . . until the mantle is renewed or falls in the next ultimate game. For the fan . . . not the players to be sure . . but for the fan . . . it really is over when it's first over . . . when the final out is made, the final horn sounds, the final gun shot.
I guess the ride from spring training, or training camp, to the final game is the thing . . . the anticipation of accomplishment to come if the stars align, injuries remain at bay, and time and place and opportunity, in the end, conspire to present the Cup or the Trophy to our boys, and therefore to we fans.
But after that . . . like the worker who sweeps the empty stadium the very next day, work and life and reality go on.
We fixate on our teams and venerate their stars. Though we know them not, we call them by their first names and presume to stand alongside them as they compete. But for what purpose.
At the end of the day, in the firmament of baseballers, Kirby Puckett, just as stars of other games in their own firmaments, is to be recognized for what he meant to our psyche and our enthusiasm and our civic pride and team spirit.
But what of the spirit of life; and the spirit of man; and the spirit of brotherhood and the spirit of hope for a better life for all . . .
There are no trading cards for Christopher and Dana Reeve. Perhaps there should be.
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