The Great American Past Tense #3: Break Your Heart

Derek Maine has shown us the beauty and wonder of the mundane. He has explored the absurdity of the balance between intense focus and perpetual distraction that is in this game we love so much. Now he explores the solitude inherent in that game through the wisdom and wit of those that have come before in The Great American Past Tense.

When the week slows down, the cabinetry of sacred things rise like smoke from still-burning cigarette in ten-week-no-clean ashtray and time belongs to you again. It is Friday. Objects are put away. A drink is poured. Baseball beckons.

These are some famous quotes about baseball + loneliness:

“Baseball is a team game but, at the same time, it’s a very lonely game…” Chad Harbach

“The thing I like about baseball is that it’s one-on-one. You stand up there alone, and if you make a mistake, it’s your mistake. If you hit a home run, it’s your home run.” Hank Aaron

There are no authentic sounds in this house. All the sounds emanate from this resting position, between these two ears, inside this body, of this place of all places.

These are some famous quotes about loneliness + america:

“All men are lonely. But sometimes it seems to me that we Americans are the loneliest of all.” Carson McCullers

“America is a lonely crock of shit…” Jack Kerouac

I am just like you. I take my telephone with me everywhere. It never rings. Sometimes it rings and it’s the dentist. But it never rings. I sit, flaccid, watching this game, always connected to a buzz of invisible dots on a screen-too-large.

These are some famous quotes about america + baseball:

“I see great things in baseball. It’s our game — the American game.” Walt Whitman

“Baseball is an allegorical play about America, a poetic, complex, and subtle play of courage, fear, good luck, mistakes, patience about fate, and sober self-esteem.” Saul Steinberg

I am trying, like hell and against my better judgment, to say something. To say something about our shared connection; with a game, yes; with a country too. But also with this loneliness that drapes us in Spring evenings, in Summer evenings, in Autumn evenings. It is not just designed to break our hearts in leaving us, Paul, but also in its being with us everyday. Implicit in the Father taking his son, glove in hand, is the Father’s eventual passing. Baseball is a living, present memory in that way.

And so too, every season ends with one team hugging + spraying champagne. Usually on the mound, the loneliest place in the game. Left field is rush hour to your mounds. To follow these men, in the evenings nowadays, day after day. Only some stay up and watch the men hug. The rest must wait another year. Can you imagine?

Even so, the celebrations are many, many box scores away. Tomorrow will just be today, with a new starting pitcher on your mound of burdalane.

Derek Maine takes an irreverent look at the strange, mundane game of baseball and the wonder inherent in even the smallest moments.

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