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It was a whole new ballgame, but did we learn how to play?

September 7, 2011

Gail introduced me to Rick Reilly when we were in college, and I have been in love ever since! He is an author and has a column in Sports Illustrated and has put out a number of books. He is so good, I even have my Dad hooked on reading his stuff! He has a couple pieces that are my all-time favorites and this one below is one of them. It’s A Whole New Ballgame ran two to three weeks after the September 11th attacks and it sums up how so much of the country felt at the time. The part that makes me sad ten years later is how we as American society didn’t really live up to the potential before us when it comes to supporting one another. There was a story on the news earlier this week about how the NFL (or some group) is going to start cracking down on fans that get into fights or brawls in the stadium during football games… why are we fighting each other? So I look at this article as a beautiful idea of what we could have done, and I hope that maybe we do get to treating each other like that, with kindness and support, more in the future….

It’s a Whole New Ballgame

Rick Reilly, The Life of Reilly

Posted: Wednesday September 26, 2001 6:47 PM

I guess this is where I’m supposed to say that sports are pointless now, as useless as a doily on an aircraft carrier. But that’s not how I feel. Actually, I think that sports can be more important than ever in gluing us back together.

Let’s hope, now that sports are in perspective, we keep them there. No more of those celebration riots or naming your kid Sosa or breaking up with your fiancée over the infield-fly rule. Sports can be smaller now, purer, the dessert cart on the menu of life, not the whole meal.

We’re all in this together, so let’s hope taunting becomes extinct. And booing and clipboard-smashing and head-hunting. Let’s hope the terrorists’ attacks will put an end to the look-at-me chest thumps after a two-yard gain. Pal, unless you went up a flaming skyscraper when the rest of the world was coming down, we don’t want to hear about it.

Let’s hope television stations start showing the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner again. They can run another Crazy Eddie Stereorama Blowout ad some other time. Also, is it too much to ask our athletes to stop scratching, spitting and jogging in place during the anthem?

Let’s hope Upper Deck comes out with a line of fireman and policeman trading cards. O.K., I’ll give you two Mark McGwires and a Roger Clemens for one Father Judge, deal?

Let’s hope professional athletes learn something from six-year-old soccer players and shake hands with one another after games, win or lose. Hell, make a human tunnel if you want. Orange slices for everybody.

Let’s hope the first golf commentator to call a putt “courageous” gets his mousse taken away for a month.

Let’s hope Soldier Field stays Soldier Field, instead of becoming Samsung Stadium or Volkswagen Presents Soldier Field. Philadelphia is planning to build a new baseball park. Instead of another Pepsi Place or Stadium, how about Freedom Park?

Now that the World Series could run into November, when it’s going to be colder than the smile on a DMV clerk, how about we finally move the games back to the afternoon, so our kids can watch them? Another thing: I don’t care how baseball does it — whether the players have to settle for one less Benz or the owners for one less Lear — but let’s skip the strike this time around. Baseball has a duty to play.

It’s hard to believe these words are coming out of my mouth, but it’d be sweet if we could have another Subway Series, just for the sheer joy it would bring New Yorkers. I’m a changed man. I love Yankees fans now. Please, put a hair in my soup. Grunt directions at me. Sell me rings that turn my fingers green. I know who you really are underneath. By the way, you think John Rocker knows now, too?

Whatever madness has overcome our athletes, let’s hope it’s permanent. In the worst of times they’ve suddenly been at their best, helping in soup lines, lugging water bottles, visiting hospitals. It’s so nice to see them at blood drives, fund-raisers and free autograph sessions instead of at Gold Club arraignments. Keep it up, fellas, and we’re going to have to see some I.D.

Let’s hope Michael Jordan brings the goose bumps with him again. And this time, may he bring his social conscience. He’s been invisible through all this. Right now people are depressed, out of work and skittish. This comeback is no longer just about him. It’s about the joy and unity he can bring. We need him out front, leading and unafraid.

Let’s hope everybody starts pulling hard for Army, Air Force and Navy. They’ve got a huge road game coming up.

Let’s hope we all go out to the ballyards more than ever. Yeah, our fanny packs will be checked and the bomb dogs will smell us, and there will be no-fly zones above stadiums, but don’t be intimidated. The ballyards are America’s stage now.

Somewhere, in some little bunker, the phlegmwad that started all this will be turning on his little TV, wanting to see a country full of smoke and rubble and tears. Let’s give him packed stadiums full of cheers and hugs and song.

Then let’s find the son of a bitch and run the Grambling band over him a few thousand times.

Issue Date: Oct. 1, 2001

You can find the article online here:

And we did get that little phlegmwad 🙂 

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