Joy in Mudville

In these days of dark and drear and fires and political posturing so folks can claim some insane things and me railing against the pay of professional athletes while the country is in dire need of help for the less fortunate and the heat and the humidity, one can get a bit daffy, many are depressed. But it the midst of all of this bad, i found some joy in Mudville.

Of course, Ernest Thayer’s 1988 poem, “Casey at the Bat” declares there is no joy in Mudville. Mighty Casey, indeed, struck out. Another great poem with a sad ending.

But there was joy in the resurgence of the famed baseball poem. In 1979, Frank DeFord, the noted sports writer for Sports Illustrated published a short novel with a look into what happened to Casey. i reread it about two months ago. It boosted my spirits.

Now, San Diego is bringing back some joy as if it were Mudville. The Padres are setting records, good baseball records. The play-by-play man, Don Orsillo, following in the footsteps of his two great predecessors, Jerry Coleman and Dick Enberg, coined a new slogan in the middle of the arch of Eric Hosmer’s homer that broke the record for a team hitting grand slams in four consecutive games when he shouted “Slam Diego.”

We (man, i am a convert, using the collective first person) may not win. The Dodgers have a power house of whiners (okay, okay, i’m prejudice) up the road, and this pandemic season is crazy in so many ways. One just can’t predict the outcome. And after i have whined about the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Cubs, and the Dodgers buying championships, San Diego isn’t spending chump change anymore.

But boy, this is fun. And they are having fun. At the heart of all this is one incredible ball player. i have exhorted several real baseball fans to watch Padre games and digest this guy doing what he’s doing. Fernando Tatis, Jr. is something like i have never seen before. i’m thinking no one has impressed me with their joy of the best baseball possible since Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente and Roberto wasn’t all that joyful.

Below is the link to an ESPN feature story on the guy who takes this Mudville fan away from the drear and gives him joy.

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