Baseball gives birth to many deep emotions:
Love of the game itself; loyalty to your team;
Vicarious pride in the accomplishments of
A hitter, a fielder, a runner, even a manager;
Grief at the sudden passing of a player too much
Before his time (Think Lymon Bostock, Roberto
Clemente, José Fernandez, Ken Hobbs, Lou
Gehrig, Thurman Munson). I could go on but that is not
My purpose in this liturgy of a fan’s feelings.
No, today is really about the profound sadness
That I now witness, the roller coaster dropping steeply
When there is no real hope that it will ever rise again
To its former glory. There is an expiration date
On every player’s skills, but this fact hurts the most
When it hits a hero, a future inductee to the
Hall of Fame, a player who was once atop
Mount Olympus but who has fallen, who
Descends first to the ordinary that he peered at
From above for so many years, then simply
Yet painfully to a depth where he can no more
Entertain, perform, excel; the Great is now the
Ordinary, the average, the master feeling age
Or debilitating injury (Don Mattingly, David Wright).
A batter, he has lost bat speed and control;
A runner, her has lost a step and the instinct
To sense the moment to take off; a fielder, he
Can still anticipate where the ball will go
But when it arrives he is just a step too slow and
The out becomes a hit; perhaps saddest of all
(For I am witnessing it every time he takes the mound)
The pitcher, once unhittable, now stands so very much
Alone on that mound, the focal point of adoring fans,
And throws what once was lightning or a pitch
That moved abruptly away from bats, avoiding solid
Contact, but is now an inch too slow, or just hanging —
Waiting for an ordinary hitter to look like an all-star.
This is sadness personified. The once great hurler
Who finds himself not on Olympus or even his once
Beloved mound but rather on a hill that flattens out
As his days, once glorified, are now uncomfortably
Numbered. This is the Ghost of Greatness Past,
And we all mourn the man because he too painfully
Reminds us all of our own mortality.