Friday, September 29, 2006

Michaelmas, or the Culmination of the Baseball Season

Today is the feast of St. Michael and All Angels. As Steve Benner explains it in today's post from Oremus on the Book of Common Prayer : "On the Feast of Michael and all Angels, popularly called Michaelmas, we give thanks for the many ways in which God's loving care watches over us, both directly and indirectly, and we are reminded that the richness and variety of God's creation far exceeds our knowledge of it."

This day, however, has been framed by the news this morning that the Twins have overtaken the Tigers, and are now locked in a tie headed into the last few games of the season, while the Cardinals have continued their fall from grace, perhaps headed towards duplicating the Phillies' swoon in the sixties. Oh, forgive me, they at least have a half-game lead over the surging Astros. As I listened to the sportscaster from Minneapolis last evening nearly fall over himself with excitement, I waited with baited breath for a word of commendation for my Toronto Blue Jays who had made this night possible (beating the Tigers). But no--it was all Twins, all the time.

Further, as the NY Times reminded me this morning, today is a day that will live in infamy for all New Yorkers. It is the day when, in 1957, the beloved Giants played their last game at the Polo Grounds, losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-1. Their crushed fans watched in horror as they moved to San Francisco for the next season. I was only a wee lad, as they say, but already my baseball blood was boiling. I didn't know it then, but I was destined to grow up listening to America's Pastime on the radio, discovering, as they say, the true meaning of faith, hope, and love.

So, if the Cardinals have any sense at all, they will be calling on Michael and all the angels tonight as they face the Brewers. As the sea of red hopes and prays, they may need to look beyond St. Albert for their salvation. As A. Bartlett Giamatti says in his essay, "Green Fields of the Mind,":
"It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops."

So, tonight and for the rest of the weekend, Cardinal Nation, it is time to "call on all angels." Put not your trust in Pujols or Rolen or Encarnacion (besides, we all know that pitching is what wins games!). Look to the heavens and remember that it's only a game and hope-against-hope that something will stop this cataclysmic slide into oblivion. If not, these Cardinals are fated to be remembered in infamy, just like the Giants who played that last game on their glorious polo grounds. And remember, even if they somehow manage to pull it off, it really doesn't matter--because we all know that the American League is superior anyway.