“Quit thinking about baseball,” whispered the Voice of Reason while I was sleeping.
I hate this voice in my head. But I’ve been trying to listen to it.
I awake early. Around sixish. I make coffee. And I promise the Voice I won’t think about the big Braves game tonight. I actually say these words aloud.
“I will not think about the big Braves game tonight.”
I don’t have time to get stressed about whether Atlanta Braves make it to the World Series. I have a life. I have things to do. True, America’s Team is only innings away from Ultimate Glory. But you can’t let this sort of thing make you a nervous wreck.
You have to move on with life. You have to keep living. Keep feeding yourself. Keep bathing once per week.
The coffee perks and my dogs, Thelma and Otis, are begging for a pig ear. They love pig ears. They get one each morning. They are very forceful about their morning pig ears.
They herd me into the laundry room where we keep them. One dog pushes me, the other pulls. This is all they care about. All they think about. If one morning, God forbid, I were found dead in my bed, my dogs would find a way to drag my limp corpse to the laundry room so they could have a pig ear.
So I give them a pig ear, pour the coffee, then I crawl into my truck to visit the gas station.
True to my word, I’m not thinking about baseball. Neither am I thinking about how some members of Atlanta’s pitching staff choke harder under pressure than a kid trying to swallow a brick. I’m not thinking about any of it.
I push open the filling station door. A bell dings. The girl behind the counter calls me “sweetie” even though she’s 15 years my junior. I’ve known her for years and she knows that I am here to buy (1) a newspaper, and (2) a scratch-off lotto ticket.
I don’t know why I keep buying stupid scratch-and-win tickets, I never win. Maybe on some deep level I just like losing.
I suppose it’s just as well. I don’t know what I’d buy if I ever won anyway. Probably more pig ears.
The cashier rings me up. I notice that the front page of the newspaper reads: “Dodgers Force Game Seven.” So I turn the paper face down. The back page reads: “Baseball Is Hot!”
“Look away,” says the Voice of Reason.
So I ask the cashier about her daughter to get my mind off things. I always ask about her daughter. Her daughter had heart problems last year and was hospitalized. I remember when this cashier missed months of work.
The young woman tells me her daughter is doing great. Then she shows cellphone pictures to prove it. The pictures show a little girl in softball attire, swinging an aluminum bat. “My daughter plays right field.”
I smile. “How nice.”
I take my newspaper and leave the store. A truck drives through the parking lot with an Atlanta Braves sticker on his bumper. But I do not see it. There is also a Tomahawk decal on the windshield. Didn’t see that either.
I start my vehicle and let the engine idle. I shake open the paper. I refuse to check scores or read the sports page. I refuse to think about how the Braves could make it to the World Series. And what this would mean to millions of us adult children.
But then I realize something about this newspaper. Without the sports section, I have no desire to read the paper. Every page is full of depressing headlines except for ads about buying a new car.
I don’t know how modern journalists pull it off. You’d think at least ONE good story might have occurred within the last 24 hours.
I refold the newspaper like a mutant taco. I toss it into the passenger seat. I drive home.
I go on to lead an uneventful day. I do a few things around the house. I piddle in my garage. I go for a walk. It’s a weekend. I am aimless.
Then 7 p.m. rolls around. The game begins.
I turn on the tube. The living room lights up with electric joy. I am wearing a ball cap and also a good-luck shirt. Also, my Little League glove sits on the bookshelf beside the television.
This glove has a lot of memories. My father gave me it to me when I was a boy. He found it at a garage sale. He bought it because it was the exact model of glove he had in the 1960s. It’s a Rawlings GJ99 Mickey Mantle model. “Finest in the field.”
The glove was in bad shape when my father bought it. So he retooled the leather, resewed it, retied it, and oiled it with automotive grease. He gave it to me, in nearly new condition, wrapped in a white ribbon. He spent a week rebuilding that glove. I’ve never felt so proud.
Now it’s the sixth inning. My heart beats 40 miles per hour. This is a close game. The Voice of Reason offers its wisdom.
“TURN UP THE DANG VOLUME!” says the Voice.
“Relax, it’s just a game,” I say.
I wish I had an ending to this column, but the game is in progress while I write. The Voice of Reason is a bundle of nerves and is likely about to puke all over itself. I will write more when this game is over, I promise.
The good news is, I’m not nervous. Not as long as I’m chewing this pig ear.
Sandi. - October 19, 2020 6:55 am
Sunday night I sat on the edge of my sofa watching the game and am uber disappointed that the Braves lost by one point. Pass me the crying towel.
oldlibrariansshelf - October 19, 2020 7:04 am
The Braves are America’s team. It matters not whether they win or lose. We just HAVE to love them!
Marsha S. Hinnen - October 19, 2020 7:15 am
Could’ve used some pig ears tonight. 💔
But it was fun while it lasted, and hope springs eternal. Wait til next year. And I’ll be sure to stock up on pig ears.
Thanks for commiserating with us, Sean.
Gary - October 19, 2020 9:43 am
Braves lose! Braves lose! Braves lose! But the sun is still gonna rise this morning. All is good.
TONJA WILDER - October 19, 2020 11:04 am
Sorry about the Braves!
Johnny - October 19, 2020 11:12 am
I don’t take sports as seriously since I’m 63 and have health problems. It’s a good thing. smh…… 12 times in a row.
Jane - October 19, 2020 11:38 am
Barbara Pope - October 19, 2020 12:30 pm
Funniest ever!! It’s the morning after and what pops into my head is “Blue Is Not Your Color.” Maybe skip the newspaper and the scratch off today.
Celia - October 19, 2020 12:36 pm
I actually thought of you last night while we were watching the game, and then again this morning feeling our misery and disappointment. I knew you would be commiserating with the “ powers that be” as we Southerns tend to do. We’ve had to learn to accept defeat graciously. And often it seems.
Josie Retan - October 19, 2020 12:59 pm
I love how you call the gas station, the “filling station.” My dad had 4 daughters and we grew up in a one bathroom house. To get in the bathroom for his morning constitutional was impossible, so he would go up the street to the Gulf “filling station” his good friend owned. Sorry about the Braves.
Jo Ann - October 19, 2020 1:01 pm
Sorry the Braves lost. At least it was close. We’ll be watching the World Series, since we watch anything baseball. We’ll be rooting for Tampa Bay. Maybe next year for the Braves & Orioles. “Hope springs eternal.”
Margaret E Odell - October 19, 2020 1:02 pm
Thanks for the early morning laugh… and so sorry about the Braves.😥
Johnnie Blackburn - October 19, 2020 1:13 pm
Let’s just move on here. Northing to say that makes it better. But, it is Hate Tennessee Week. Let’s just take it out on them. Roll Tide Sean.
Penn Wells - October 19, 2020 1:36 pm
For all you downtrodden Braves fans (like me) a passage from a column written by a woman named Alex McDaniel on her daddy and Ole Miss football saved from years ago… for moments like these.
“I cried because choosing to love something means accepting the inevitability of pain, disappointment and loss, along with all of the god-awful feelings that come with it.”
And Go Dawgs.
Margaret Chipman - October 19, 2020 2:14 pm
I am so sorry, Sean–your recent columns have made me a Braves fan, second only to my Cubbies–I feel your pain😪
Barbara TN - October 19, 2020 2:36 pm
Sorry that the Braves lost but at least we got to watch America’s Team until 10/19. That doesn’t happen every year.
Karen in Santa Rosa Beach - October 19, 2020 2:51 pm
Dear Atlanta Braves, I still ❤️ you and will never desert you. Next year!
Betty F. - October 19, 2020 3:00 pm
I just knew you’d be up, sweating through the game with me last night! Sigh
Linda Moon - October 19, 2020 4:03 pm
My guy and I were expecting More Baseball commentary from you. The voice was in our heads during sleep and upon awaking, too. The game is over, Sean. My guy’s actual voice just said it made him want to puke!
Mike - October 19, 2020 4:20 pm
Sean, I loved baseball, football and NASCAR, but since the millionaires decided to show disrespect to our country and the service men and women who gave their lives to protect them and the right to do this, but I don’t agree if they are so wrapped up in the problems, of which they’ve many this isn’t the way. How about giving some of the millions they make to help the communities that so desperately need it, to get the dead beat dads to Be involved in their children’s lives. Some much can be done thru action instead of showing disrespect to a nation that is providing a life style that so few can enjoy. I guess I can’t make a difference in the world but here in NW Florida I can see the very few folks I see, I wave and wish them well. So now I just watch you tube of which I can choose what I watch, grow my garden, raise chickens and rabbits. As the world turns around me. But bet you writing skills I will vote. Thanks Sean sometimes I’m awake when you post and read it then.
Shaw - October 19, 2020 6:07 pm
Sean, I understand your pain. I am a Dodgers fan and have been waiting expectantly since 1988 for a WS win – maybe this is our year, since the cheaters (Astros) were eliminated on Saturday!!
Roll Tide and beat Tennessee!!
Love your columns here in Huntsville, AL.
allisvant - October 20, 2020 3:06 am
“Wait till next year”! is not an empty cliché with this edition of the Braves; young talent abounds; proven (and about to be Award Winning) talent is under contract; retain Capt. Selfie, a little tweaking here & there & you can be gnawing on a Pigs Ear in the World Series next year & beyond! [if a bell doesn’t ring when you pull up, it’s not a filling station]
allisvant - October 20, 2020 3:09 am
PS – you’ve undoubtedly answered this somewhere in the past, but why are you on Zulu time?
Sandi. - October 20, 2020 3:33 am
Several of us have brought this to Sean’s attention, but as far as I know, he has not responded about the time stamp issue.
Robert M Brenner - October 20, 2020 11:33 am
Bite Me! Didn’t see that coming. You are a nervous wreck! I know how you feel, I love the Braves and always pull for them and have had my heart broken too.
Only one thing left to say, Dodgers suck! Sorry Dodgers fans. GO BRAVES ⚾️ 🧢