Chicago Cubs

Shift by Matt Waters

“The stars… there’s no right or wrong in them. They’re just there .”             – Elias, Platoon

A swing and a drive, followed eternally with a hop and a skip.

It was a big deal once, major news.

His joy was unbounded, unburdened, never prescribed to carry a synthetic image.

We were so ready for it to be real, zero questions were asked, no probing investigation regarding his jubilant sprint out into his fixed position in right, nary a cynic’s viewpoint following his indulgent celebrations.

The negativity had run its route. A new hero had emerged from a harrowing fog. Life not only welcomes simplicity in some instances, it demands it.

He is Sammy Sosa, in case we forget.

 Sammy the Player, Sammy the Persona, Sammy the Salesman, they were one in the same, threaded together, seamed in a circle.

He arrived out of nowhere, with one marvelous month of spectacular play. It was July of 1998, and the winds of fate blew favorably toward the Wrigley Field Bleachers, welcoming a Gladiator to take a part amid the whirlwind design of History. He had been labeled before, imprisoned within adjectives, an underachiever, a bust, “So-So”, this one resonating strongest.

The sun bursts through. Now he’s Slammin’ Sammy, still trapped, but this time as Savior. All the while, he’s free, above the hype, transcendent of glory, seemingly focused on fun. He represented all what the game was supposed to mean, all what we wanted the game to symbolize, safe structure implanted as a function of Idol Worship. Many would reasonably respond to a sip from an elixir of youth by rocketing baseballs out of Wrigley with a carefree smile, playing puppeteer above the weak forces of convention, riding an indomitable wave atop a thin strand of invincibility.  Be famous, powerful, have it all. Who wouldn’t trade existences with Sammy Sosa sometime in the summer of 1998? All choices should be so easy.

Of stars and stars, human and gas, both blazing, those we create and those indifferently here before us, each share one undeniable similarity: Nothing holds them together. The stars beyond sky are held up by invisible, indefinable black glue. Is this real? Our image of what should be success, towering above the rest, is cultivated by a system weak enough to require such an arbitrary reflex in the first place. Everyone gets chewed up and spit out eventually, lukewarm, ripped from their atmospheric perch.

A corked bat, those nasty steroid rumors, the taint is real, a stained window, fracturing the reflected sunlight. No one believed he could mistakenly carry an illegal piece of lumber to the batter’s box; the exact same way everybody just knew he and Mark McGwire attained their massive biceps via Wheaties. The truth exists somewhere in a nonexistent middle ground, made uninhabitable between the empty spaces of talking faces that glower and scream from just beyond our glass screens.

We needed him once, and he was there, a White Knight, riding fearlessly against the power of greed, all that had soiled our pastime. His ascension was of his own attribution, his descent of his doing. A man’s career ends, a great player’s legacy is ironed down into the summer breeze. The shots will arrive; equality of opinion will be sparse. We’ll hear about a possibly pharmaceutically enhanced physique, the less than exemplary club house behavior, an evaporated star turned enigma.

All the while, some semblance of properly selected memory is due for recognition.

Summer of ’98. Wrigley Field; game’s right again.

The universe is in a constant state of renewal, stretching further and further, moving our stars succinctly out of sight.

F a d e out.

By mw2828

Matt Waters is a screenwriter currently living in New York. He has been writing about sports since age seventeen, about the time when it became painfully apparent that his athletic dreams would go unfulfilled, due to terrible luck and an obscene lack of talent. His favorite movie is “The Thin Red Line”. His favorite band is “Modest Mouse”. His favorite sport is baseball! With an exclamation point.

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