Monday, January 19, 2009

Januray 20th, 2009

In late 2001, when the TV show 24 first aired, the season's premise revolved around a plot to assassinate the first major African American candidate for the presidency. At the time, the plot seemed just incredulous enough to make a good escapist TV show without truly jarring our senses.

It's only been eight years.

A lot can change in eight years.

Teams can go from worst to first to worst again or first to worst to first again, players blossom, hit their prime and retire, new stadiums are built, new front offices are assembled, and newspapers can die while blogs are born.

As baseball fans, we know how true this is, how the days of Sosa and McGwire and Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez and Randy Johnson in his prime can simultaneously seem both like yesterday and like another era.

We can remember what it was like eight years ago, when the idea of the Red Sox winning the World Series was as unthinkable as the Yankees losing it, when Derek Jeter was hands-down the best shortstop in the game and the Seattle Mariners could win 116 games in the regular season.

Eight years ago, not many would have guessed that the Red Sox would have two more World Series rings, that Alex Rodriguez would still have none, that the Rays would seriously contend for a World Series title or that Jaime Moyer would still be pitching and pitching well.

Eight years ago, not many would have thought that we'd be here, on January 20th 2009, and hours away from inaugurating an African-American president who won his campaign with a three word phrase, albeit the powerful phrase in the English language: Yes we can.

We can't any more guess what the world will be like in 2017, although we do know that Alex Rodriguez will still be under contract for the New York Yankees (no, seriously!).

What we do know, though, is that the next four or eight years, whichever they may be, will only be as good as we can make them. If we use baseball as our barometer, we can guide ourselves by the ideas of hope, the idea that even in the bottom of the ninth with two outs the game is still not over, that on any given day the underdog can triumph. Baseball is a sport for the fearless, so, in the spirit of hope and optimism, we can stop living under a policy and a cloud of fear.

No, we don't know what will happen. Yes, things can get bad, but if you keep the optimism, if you remember that just as bad as things can get, they can also get better, that a last place team one year can be a first place team the next, then things will get better. That's the baseball way.

That's why you can win an election with hope.

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