Baseball and Gratitude

I’m working my way through Anthony Kronman’s massive history-of-philosophy-dressed-as-secular-theology book Confessions of a Born-Again Pagan. Anyone who likes Montaigne’s work will find a fellow traveler in Kronman and despite the book’s 1100+ pages, it’s a surprisingly breezy read.

One of the core concepts Kronman keeps returning to is the matter of gratitude, as opposed to entitlement. He sees it as a lost virtue in our age of laws and socially engineered progress. That’s a massive reduction of his work — and I’ll circle back to say something more profound about it later.

But just staying on the theme, I’m sad tonight because my favorite team, the New York Yankees, have lost in game 7 of the American League Championship Series. The Yanks will not win number 28 this year, and just bringing up the number of World Series crowns raises the specter of Yankee fan entitlement.

Sports fandom is often irrational and highly emotional. I will always entwine the Yankees’ 2004 playoff collapse with the death of my father. He passed away on the evening of game 7 that year. But when I think back to that time, I don’t think my dad was terribly upset by the Yankees loss in his final hours. He actually seemed happy to see the Red Sox finally get over the hump.

So the 2017 season wraps up for the Yankees and I’ll leave it with a word of gratitude.  They went farther than anyone predicted or could rationally expect. They gave us many thrilling moments, especially moon shot homers from Judge and Sanchez, some amazing innings out of the bullpen, surprisingly great playoff outings from a previously suspect starting rotation, and hope of an even brighter future from another stellar cast of young players on the horizon, topped by baseball’s #1 prospect.

It’s been joyful and it’s silly to let it all end with unhappiness.  Thank you, 2017 New York Yankees.  I look forward to next year’s battles with the Red Sox, Indians, Astros, Twins and the rest of the AL.

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