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Thanks.

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Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, the holiest day of the year for competitive eaters everywhere. And while it is a wonderful, glorious holiday for family and togetherness and food and all of those things, let's face it: Thanksgiving tends to not be so good on the baseball side.

Not that it's bad, mind you. There just generally isn't that much going on. right around now for baseball, and this year holds true to form. The local paper is, quite honestly, breathlessly reporting on the contract talks between the Cardinals and a player who will likely throw all of 40-45 innings in 2009 if everything goes right. That, my friends, is the very definition of a slow news day.

So, in what is quickly becoming an annual tradition around here, let's take a step back from the hot stove talk, and the stat projections, and the roster construction. I'm going to just make this a free, wide-open thread, to talk about whatever you like, with an emphasis, of course, on what you may be thankful for this year. I've often heard it said that listing the good things in your life is a very healthy, life-affirming exercise; I don't know how true that is, but hey, let's give it a shot.

Me? Well, I could say that I'm thankful for Ryan Ludwick's big campaign. Or just another season from Albert. I could say I'm thankful for the exciting play we saw from our rookies, or the future that we could glimpse at times watching them take those first, Bambi-like steps toward big league success. I could say that I'm thankful for a season that turned out to be better, and more competitive, than I ever would have believed before it began. But in the end, all of that's just a wordy, detailed way of saying something very simple: I, dear friends, am thankful for this game. All of it.

See, I've had one of the worst years of my life this year. I really have. It hasn't been all bad, of course; I've attained a fair amount of professional success this year. But what good there has been has really served mostly to highlight a hole in my life. I lost someone very dear to me this year, and everything else has been tinged with that.

But as has nearly always been the case in my life, the game of baseball has been there for me. Night after night on the car radio as I drive to the rest of my world, a companion that gives so much and asks so little in return. For those of us who love this game, calling it a diversion seems almost a sacrilege, and yet there is perhaps no greater praise we can heap upon it. No matter how bad the economy may be, or what worries you may have about your family, or the fact that the half of your bed you thought you had finally filled is emptier than ever and will remain so, at least a little, you can always sit down, turn on the ballgame, and let it take you. It may be cold comfort some days, but comfort it remains.

I'm also thankful for internal inconsistency. What do I mean by that? Well, I'll tell you what I mean by that. See, yesterday I was looking for something on the internet. I was looking, in fact, for a song that was on an episode of Chuck (which, by the way, remains one of my very favourite shows; I cannot recommend it highly enough to you), and in doing so, I happened across a review/discussion sort of site. Well, there was a post, reviewing the episode in question, discussing the quality of the writing, the action sequences, and what have you. Then there was a comments section, much like this site and virtually every other discussion site in existence.

Well,  I found the song I was looking for, and then I began reading the comments. And what I found was people who really enjoyed the show, but then plenty of others who just absolutely ripped on the show for having a lack of internal plausibility, having tons of logical flaws, and just in general being sort of unrealistic. I found myself thinking, "My god, what miserable bastards. These are the same sort of people who used to watch Friends and focus on nothing but how big the apartments were. I mean, really? That's all you can think about? How much does it suck to be that unable to just enjoy something?"

Now, why am I telling you this, you ask? Why am I, quite possibly, insulting many of you with my diatribe against people who break down television into waaayy too much detail? Well, because I once had an argument with my friend Travis over the production quality of the percussion track of The Arcade Fire's "Intervention" that lasted close to two hours. (By the way, in case you aren't familiar, "Intervention" isn't an album, it's a song. 'Bout four minutes long.) See, I've always thought that, as brilliant a track as it is, the drums are way overproduced, much too smooth to fit in properly with the overall feel of the song. I want something sloppier, rougher, and with more noise to it. That's right, folks. Two hours of just that sort of talk. Brutal, I know. And of course, I also realised the number of hours I've spent on this here website, debating arcane formulae and which acronym is best used to determine whether or not someone is worth a three- or four-year deal. I'm willing to bet that more than one person would read over the discussions we have here and scream at all of us, "It's just a friggin' game, people! What the hell is wrong with all of you? Can't you just enjoy this shit, without having to turn it into some sort of giant ordeal?"

And so I'm thankful for that. I can treat different aspects of life completely differently, without ever really noticing any sort of incongruity between them. I can also look down on people who see things differently from me; in the end, I think that may be the greatest gift of all.

Lastly, I'm thankful for all of you. I started writing here at Viva El Birdos last year on Halloween, and the gig has been wonderfully gratifying. The feedback, both of the positive variety and the, "Dude, you suck. WTF?" variety is always appreciated. (Well, one a little more than the other, but what can I say?) I'm thankful that I have a place like this to indulge in one of my great passions, with a group of people so very learned, who are just as passionate about the game as I. So thanks to all of you for making this place special.

And have a very nice Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope you all have lots to be grateful for this year.