Sunday, March 30, 2008

Worlds Collide
edit, 3/31: Okay, he was booed pretty good. That makes me feel a little better.

The unofficial but real start of the 2008 baseball season (not counting those novelty games in Japan last week) came tonight when the Washington Nationals broke in their brand-new ballpark with a thrilling 3-2 walkoff win over the evil Atlanta Braves. I didn't watch the whole game, but flipped back and forth all evening and got to see four of the five runs scored: two for Washington on two-out hits in the first inning, the Braves' equalizer in the top of the 9th against substitute Nats closer Jon Rauch, and the game-winner in the bottom of the inning when Ryan Zimmerman sent the fans home on Cloud 9 with a solo home run off Peter Moylan. The new park looks great, the game was a taut pitchers duel (Tim Hudson retired 19 in a row after those initial two runs), and the end was a thriller.

Yet in the middle of all this good feeling, there was President George W. Bush yukking it up on screen like a turd in the middle of your birthday cake. He'd thrown out the first ball--which I managed to skip when I saw it was coming--then came back for what felt like a fucking hour to talk with announcers Jon Miller and Joe Morgan. I kept flipping back, saw that he was still sitting there in his little sweater under a blazer, smirking away.

As time goes on, the outrageous comes to seem mundane just because one gets used to it. I suppose Bush's presidency is like that. Conceived in dishonesty and corruption, it's come to full, rank, tragicomic flower. How this inane and repellent and small person managed to do so much damage will be a source of dismay to millions of us for as long as we live. Every day, we grumble at his arrogance and belligerence, and gasp at how far short he falls in facing up to severe problems. That's bad enough. But to see him getting to join in the celebration of baseball's renewal, as if he wasn't the most colossal fuckup in American history, just turns the stomach. He has been and remains a walking, talking middle finger in the face of meritocracy.

(This isn't really a partisan thing. I don't think I could ever vote for John McCain, but I'd be perfectly happy, even a little psyched, to see him throwing out the first ball. This must have been how the hardcore righties felt seeing Clinton in such circumstances; it honestly sucks. Maybe the answer is just to take the president out of this equation and let everyone enjoy the game without intrusion from the miserable world of politics.)

The irony, as I've probably noted here before, is that Bush could have had a much more central (and positive) role in major league baseball. Former Commissioner Fay Vincent wrote that the former Texas Rangers owner wanted to become the game's commissioner, but then-interim boss Bud Selig kept putting him off and putting him off, and finally Bush decided to enter politics. He picked the Republican landslide year of 1994 to make a run for the Texas governorship, and the rest is tragedian farce. With his fan's sensibility, it's almost certain that he would have been orders of magnitude better as a commissioner than he's been in his actual job. Then again, it might have been worth it to divert him even if he'd been as atrocious in that job as he is in this one.)

Just another reason to hope Selig roasts in hell. Still way second to the Strike, though.

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