There's gratification, vindication, relief. His induction was inevitable for so long—Bill James had identified him as the best player not in the Hall of Fame going back to at least the mid-90s—that it's a triumph to have the day finally upon us.
Yet that's just the thing: He did belong in the Hall, and had belonged there for a long time. So there's anger that Santo didn't live to see the day.
On the train ride downtown this morning, I didn't spot anyone else wearing the Adam Dunn All-Star shirt. And a check of Google Maps Adam Dunn All-Star T-Shirt View confirms that I am, in fact, the only person in downtown Chicago wearing the shirt today.
It was the perfect gift. As some of you are aware, I've been one of Dunn's biggest supporters since the Big Breeze blew into town 319 strikeouts ago.
It's a rare weekend without baseball in Chicago. All the action will be going on elsewhere (including one event I'll be writing about on Saturday). Yet, without question, the biggest game of the season in Chicago takes place in Detroit, where the first-place White Sox open a three-game series against the second-place Tigers.
Like so many, my experience with golf up to that point had been with the two far ends of the spectrum: putt-putt and driving ranges. I gave up putt-putt when I stopped going on junior high dates, and though I love driving ranges—there's nothing quite like hitting a golf ball really fucking far—I always gnarled my hands with blisters by, number one, never really knowing how to hold a driver properly, and, number two, always trying to hit the golf ball past some unattainable distance or structure. It was time to move on.
The first person I noticed as I entered the Albion, Nebraska, fairgrounds at dusk was a lean teenage girl in jeans riding hers with serious elan. She galloped past me on a quarter horse, and soon I became aware that dozens of horses and riders were about—some teenagers but most of them older men, raw-boned or heavyset, all sitting comfortably in their saddles. I came upon a holding pen full of Black Angus steers, none yet a year old, docilely shuffling their hooves. There was no gamboling about the premises for these mute beasts—whose most powerful attribute is their placid incomprehension of their pending doom. To my right was the grandstand that stretched alongside the dirt oval of the fair's main event, the stock car races. And then there were the twinkling colored lights of the Ferris wheel. I'd seen higher and more fearsome looking Ferris wheels even in traveling carnivals. But this wasn't a carnival. It was the Boone County Fair, an annual celebration of a way of life.
I was headed for a much smaller grandstand, where family waited. We were gathering in Albion for the funeral of my mother-in-law, who died in the local nursing home at the age of 95. But this night was our own, and my sister-in-law Annie had proposed we spend it at the team penning competition, watching the very riders I'd just passed through. A minute-two is the time to beat, said Annie, by way of greeting. She was keeping score.
[Leitch:] I cannot imagine what it must be like for you to walk around Cobble Hill now and see wheat-germ places and Pilates.
[Lee:] That does not bother me. What bothers me is that these kids do not know the street games we grew up with. Stoop ball, stickball, cocolevio, crack the top, down the sewer, Johnny on the pony, red light green light one-two-three. These are New York City street games.
This nostalgic lament reminded me of the many games my friends and I used to play on the playground (I am dubious of red light green light originating in New York City). Yet of all of them, I have a particular fondness for butts up.
Not that Robin Ventura hasn't been the perfect tonic for the White Sox this season, but Ozzie was a joy to listen to. He was always honest—or at least said what he honestly thought at the moment—and ever entertaining.
I can remember him holding forth before one of the World Series games in 2005, and then ambling off to the field, at which point some national sportswriter shook his head in disbelief and said, "Is he always like that?"
"Every day," we replied.
He returns with his new Miami Marlins Tuesday to play the Cubs on the wrong side of town. I can only wonder if he'll refer again to the rats at Wrigley Field and what a pit it is—especially for visiting teams in the cramped locker room packed high up under the first-base grandstand.
But what's that you say? You don't give a shit about baseball?