"It's our game--the American game... It will repair our losses and be a blessing to us...."
-- Walt Whitman (as loosely quoted by Annie Savoy in BULL DURHAM)
There are many things about our country which are not all they could be, but there are still some things which remain as perfect now as they ever were.
Chief among such rare isolated examples of a Kind And Loving God is the grand and glorious game of baseball. Football may well be a more true reflection of our nation's violent and militaristic character, and basketball with its flamboyance and impossible feats of high flying athleticism might well be the jazz of our age, but baseball... it remains a pure portrait of where we came from, where we once hoped to see ourselves going, and where we can -- when the mood and winds are just right -- still imagine that we might yet return: that innocent and joyful place under a sky of blue, on a field of green, the smell of grass and horsehide and chalk dust hanging on a warm afternoon breeze, with all our "foes" still smiling friends who will salute our good fortune and buck us up in the aftermath of any inconsequential failure.
What's even more thrilling (again, in my opinion) is the occasional story that comes along which reminds us that perhaps not all such nostalgic golden-toned visions of America lay filed away in memory or fantasy, that instead there are places and moments where this quaint idea of Baseball as the embodiment of the best aspects of the American soul is not only real, but actually confirmed, appreciated and venerated.
We are reminded of this by those beautiful stories where we find baseball taking root in some strange place where its simple clean innocent joys have never before been known.
In a pretty wonderful little turn of events, Rachel Maddow of CNBC helped the first-ever Iraqi National Baseball Team find uniforms and equipment so that the Great American Game might have a fighting chance to find purchase in the war-torn sands of the Persian Gulf. Ebbets Field Flannels -- one of the coolest companies out there -- makers of the world's finest reproduction classic baseball jerseys, stepped in to design and manufacture some pretty cool duds for the Iraqi team, and copies of the unis are now on sale through the Ebbets Field website, with proceeds helping veterans of the ongoing hostilities in the region.
Read the the full story HERE and see if you can stifle a smile.
I dunno. Maybe old Walt was righter than he knew.
"Ilaab!" ("Play ball!")