Americans have been in a bad mood for the past few years, and as my Papaw Carroll would say about his aches and pains, “It ain’t gettin’ any better.”
For most of this century, we’ve been scared, angry, or both.
We got off to a bad start with the 2000 presidential election. The guy with the most votes didn’t win, so we were in limbo until the Supreme Court selected the other guy.
In September of 2001, terrorists turned our world upside down.
In 2007, as we were getting back on our feet, a recession took our jobs and our savings.
We were so disgusted with the guy who was in the White House at that time, we went with the other party in the 2008 election. Their candidate was a freshman senator who was best known as a “community organizer,” but we wanted a fresh start. He served two terms, but that didn’t end well either.
We were so disenchanted that we rejected his Secretary of State in the 2016 election. Remember her? She was the First Lady at the end of the 20th century when we were relatively happy and carefree. Yes, there were issues with her unfaithful husband, who got his wrist slapped by Congress. But I digress.
Our mood had gotten so bad by 2016, we elected a guy who reflected our anger, and who ranted about the same stuff we did. But by the end of his first year, his act was wearing thin, and we were already shopping around for a new model.
So there we were, already spitting bullets and yelling at our neighbors, when a pandemic mowed us down like an out-of-control semi. We took it out on the president, who had told us it would magically go away. When the 2020 election rolled around, we denied him a second term, opting for that new model. Well, it was actually an old model who had been collecting dust in the basement.
Now we are madder than ever. Heck, this president’s own party is yelling at him. Some states are talking about secession. People are shouting obscenities aimed at the president at college football games. “Don’t use that kind of language,” said one parent, covering his child’s ears. “I’ve got a kid here.” The offending party replied, “I don’t care if you’ve got the Pope, Mother Teresa, Billy Graham and the entire 700 Club. We want the president to know that we’re mad!” And evidently a college football stadium is the best place to do that.
Then finally last week, the sun broke through. We had something to smile about. Most of the nation’s baseball fans rallied around the Atlanta Braves. We were united in supporting them against the notorious Houston Astros, the franchise that got caught four years ago in a massive cheating scandal. As you know by now, the Braves prevailed, crushing the Astros 7-0 in the decisive sixth game of the World Series.
For once, we were one big, happy family. We cheered together. The scene at the Braves’ ballpark, even when the team was playing in Houston, was joyful. Fans packed “The Hank” inside and out. On the evening of a playoff game I attended, I was among 43,000, handing out hugs and high-fives to total strangers. We chanted “Freddie,” “Eddie,” and “Ozzie.” It was a true communal moment. Honestly, it was the most joy I had experienced in a long, long time.
We cheered the heroics of Austin Riley, Dansby Swanson, and Max Fried. We shed tears of joy for manager Brian Snitker, a baseball lifer who loves his family, the fans of “Braves Country,” and his players, even on the bad days. We rejoiced in the success of the new guys: Pederson, Duvall, Soler and Rosario, some of whom we hadn’t heard of three months ago.
Most of us were able to watch on “free” or low-cost TV channels. (Spoiler alert: don’t get used to that.)
We remembered how our dads and uncles introduced us to this wonderful game, knowing we would someday do the same. It is the connective tissue that forms the framework of a family.
Then just days after the champagne and the parades, we heard threats of a lockout heading into the 2022 season. The games stopped in 1994-95, and experts say it will happen again, if agreements are not reached by Dec. 1. The reasons are varied, but it all boils down to money and power. The word “greed” comes to mind.
This can be avoided. Spring training is on our calendar, and it’s less than four months away. Don’t make us explain to devoted fans, whether they be 8 or 88, why there are no games as the leaves turn green. Baseball, don’t foul this up. We need some happiness in our lives. Desperately.