Saturday, January 20, 2007

I got angry the other day. Angry at life in general. So angry that I wanted to lash out at something or someone. So, instead of becoming abusive wife and mommy, I instead ran around the house like the crazy I was and began cleaning the hell out of my living room. As part of my cleaning therapy, I dug out one last box of books that hadn't been unpacked and emptied it. There were many sports books in the box I unpacked, among them W.P. Kinsella's short story collection, The Thrill of the Grass.

Most people know Kinsella's work because of Shoeless Joe, the novel on which Field of Dreams was based. I'm glad he got a good amount of attention for that one, but he's written so much more than just that novel. Other masterful works, such as The Iowa Baseball Confederacy and his other short story collections, have been overlooked as a result of one novel of his being made into a whopper of a film, and that's a shame.

Thrill happens to contain one short story that I always taunt Dan with, one that I have had trouble getting out of my head in these heady, sport-soaked days in my city. It's the story of one major league manager who has been having these dreams. His team has been clawing its way through most every hurdle through the long baseball season, and along the way, in the manager's dream world:

...the scenes were much the same: a conference table, God at the head, white light, each time a different assortment of people begging. Some were polite, some were demanding...It struck Al Tiller that all he heard was pleading, whining, outright requests. He supposed that was what God must have come to expect. To Al Tiller prayers had always seemed to be an extremely self-centred pastime.

Initially, the manager thinks that these dreams are just dreams, until he sees things on the field that shouldn't be happening, subtle and not-so-subtle things that make him wonder about his dreams, and about how his decisions will affect the future.

As the seriousness of the situation became clear to him he was tempted to surrender his honour, to work toward losing rather than winning. He knew it was much easier than people imagined for a manager to influence the outcome of a baseball game.

Now here's the thing, folks. A fellow NOLA blogger is cluing people in to Stephen Colbert's shtick on the NFL conference championships (i.e., why Colbert is rooting for the Saints), and after I laughed my head off, I thought about the story in Thrill. Why?

"I appreciate your interest," God said. "I want to assure you that I hold the Chicago Cubs in highest esteem. I have listened to your entreaties and considered the matter carefully from all angles. I am aware of how long it has been since the Cubs have won a pennant. I think you should know that when the Cubs next win the National League Championship, it will be the last pennant before Armageddon..."*

Sad to say, all I can think now is, what kind of hand does God really have in the Saints' season? And what are the implications for New Orleans, if not the Gulf Coast, if not the world? Huh? Huh?

Now you see why I taunt Dan, the Cubs fan, with this tale every so often.

I just hope that Sean Payton isn't having any creepy, earth-shaking dreams.

*all boldface quotes from "The Last Pennant Before Armageddon", from The Thrill of the Grass by W.P. Kinsella.

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