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Clayton Kershaw kicked and delivered. Forty-thousand people passed along their hopes and fears in wordless song. The broadcasters paused with significance. In my living room, 2,000 miles west on Interstate 90, the baby cried.

He does this a lot. He cried during the second inning, in his highchair as I sat perched before him, a spoon full of speckled purple paste hovering in a poised right hand, waiting for a moment of weakness. He cried as I built cairns out of Duplo blocks, replacing them as he tore them methodically and clumsily apart like a wounded machine. He cried in the fifth while he bathed, cried in the seventh as my wife rocked him and I read his sister Fox in Socks, neither of them entertained. He cried as I took him and Charley Steiner into the darkness of my office, cried and twisted and screamed at sleep itself.

I used to do the same thing, in a way. Children live for moments, the call for recess and the ring of the school bell, gym time, dessert. Then it becomes gold stars and smiley faces drawn on wall calendars: birthday parties, vacations, holidays. Everything is a matter of waiting. Then it becomes weekends, then paychecks. As we grow up and sense, if not necessarily feel, our mortality, we begin to hoard time. Each moment becomes precious, individual, vibrant.

That’s when I stopped sleeping, in undergrad, because I wanted to be alive more of the time. I ran on city pavement in the darkness on a stomach full of coffee, and read books to make myself a better person, since forgotten. I planned. I avoided all diminishing returns, all the horrors of repetition, fought to keep myself uncomfortable and woke, as the kids then did not say.

And then I grew older. And I started to make compromises, started to sacrifice time for other things. I could live off 20 hours of work a week, sure, but I couldn’t expect a girlfriend to share ramen over TV trays each night. I couldn’t expect to move up in a career, working part time at a bank. And so time began to stretch back out, and I began to sleep again, until I had children. At that point I went into the business of compartmentalizing and destroying time. I built routines, safe and predictable, for them, and for me. Baths. Walks. Purple paste. Sleep.

I grew apart from baseball in college, from its unapologetic repetition, and now it’s that same languid, rhythmic pace that draws me to it. Last week I wrote about struggling with the playoffs, with the sometimes artificial punctuation it provides. At times they feel a little too purposeful, a little too serious. The tyranny of winning drains all the love and fun out of the game, converts life to wartime, realistic and political. Winning becomes everything. It feels unnatural to me, unrealistic and inorganic.

“Meaningful” baseball is and always has been an oxymoron: the beauty and purpose of baseball lies in its meaninglessness. Yes, money depends on it. Money depends on the clouds we used to stare at and see shapes in as children. But despite the spectacle, despite the patriotism and underlying conformism that the playoffs demand, there’s something essential in them, too. Baseball and life are similar in that neither ever really end, if you pan out the camera far enough.

And yet those temporary, false endings we call championships and weekends serve a purpose: they give us an excuse for reflection, a chance to stop living for just long enough to pause and consider what it means to live. The looming offseason has stolen away some of this peace from us, the same way that efficiency and smartphones have saved us from two minutes of boredom at the post office. There is little in the way of a rest state. But championships, and their celebrations, are one such uninterrupted moment.

Perhaps it’s healthier to think of baseball less like a novelization and more like a calendar, and its championships less as climaxes than feast days after a successful harvest. Perhaps each season is played for the resulting Roger Angell recap essay, rather than the other way around. Angell has become as timeless as the sport he recaps, and in that same sense a few scraps of the confetti are for all of us for being there, for making it through another year together. Endings aren’t always such terrible things, after all: without them, the baby would just stop crying one day, and I’d barely notice that he’s getting his driver’s permit.

Thank you for reading

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I really enjoyed this
Seconded. This was amazing.