I’m not going to write a big analytical column today. We already have a very nice post on a couple of relievers up this morning, and there’s a minor league update post in the pipeline. Thus, I will keep my day’s writing on the personal side, and maybe come back tomorrow to complain about the state of the Cardinal offense. (Or something else; I’m keeping my options for complaint open.)
You know, it’s been fairly remarkable to see the response from most corners of Cardinal fandom to the illness, and ultimate death, of Stephen Piscotty’s mother. The fanbase, pretty much to a person, at least what I’ve seen, has been incredibly sympathetic and even-handed. What’s more, there seems to be, from the people I’ve spoken to, a feeling of ownership of the story that we don’t often get from these sorts of things.
And really, I suppose that shouldn’t be all that surprising; after all, what can be more universal in life than the loss of a loved one? Every single one of us has a mother, and nearly all of us have lost or will lose her. I’m lucky, in that my mother is alive, in relatively good health, and we have a very close relationship. It wasn’t always that way; there were some years in my late teens and early twenties when I barely communicated with my family for long stretches. There was a whole lot of bad stuff left over that I had to let go of. But now, it’s good. Unless something happens to me in the relatively near future, though, I’ll have to face a day when my mother is gone. I know this, and I think about it only occasionally, usually when the clock reads some absurd hour and I’m not sleeping, even though I should be.
It’s nice to be able to take some personal ownership of an actual, real-life heartwarming story, too. Cardinal fans can be proud of the fact their franchise dealt Piscotty home to be closer to his mother in her latter days, and whatever the front office might say about not making the deal if it didn’t make baseball sense, I think we all understand what really happened. Yes, there were baseball reasons to make the deal. No, I don’t believe it would have happened if there were only baseball reasons. The Cardinals and the A’s did a good thing, a very good thing, a good thing with no unpleasant buts attached, and we’re allowed to feel good about it. We can feel that ownership, that the team we root for, that we devote so much of our time to following, did a good thing. A noble thing. It is not only a good feeling, it’s allowed to be an uncomplicated good feeling, which is perhaps even better.
So much more often in the news, we’re dealing with shitty people doing shitty things, and we have to perform mental gymnastics to work through how we feel about them. Just the other day, Sheryl Ring over at FanGraphs wrote a piece about Roberto Osuna’s domestic violence/assault situation, and how the Blue Jays handled their response to the matter. Toronto fans now have to decide how they feel about Osuna, who may very well be a shitty person, or at least a person who did an extremely shitty thing, but who is still very much under contract to pitch for their favourite team. There was also, of course, a comments section to the article, and it took a decent number of comments before a couple people trotted out The Left as the source of all the misery in the world, and of course it only got more tiresome and gross from that point. So we have a shitty person, or a shitty act, or both. We then have shitty arguments about how often these allegations are false, and of course the inevitable ideological rhetoric that pours from the sorts of people who feel a need to make everything about their own shitty worldview. (That last shitty may be me editorialising slightly. I do not apologise for it.)
But in the case of the Piscotty family and their loss, we have simplicity. We are allowed to feel good about the way the situation was resolved, and we can feel pure, uncomplicated sorrow and sympathy for the people involved.
And it is, of course, a universal sort of sorrow. We’re all stuck here in this same sad gravity trap, and there are some crosses to bear that are the same for all of us. Sometimes loss is sudden, a panicked call in the middle of the night. Sometimes it’s seen from way off in the distance, and it moves ever closer over time. Sometimes you think you have a few years, and the fire rages and you get eleven months. Sometimes it’s glacially slow, and you find yourself wishing, quietly, and only when no one else is in the room to hear you think it, that the end would just come already and set everyone free. None are easy, none are kind. None of us will be spared entirely.
But what we have are the days that are still good. The days when the sun is gold and the sky is blue and nothing could ever possibly end. Outside my window, it appears to be a day like that today, in fact. And it’s a day on the calendar to remind us of something, as well. If you’re lucky enough to have the chance to celebrate it with the person to whom the day is dedicated, remember that it is good to be here.
My own mother will never read this. If I were writing episodic recaps of those terrible Hallmark Channel shows where they’re all just Murder, She Wrote but the lady owns an antique shop, or a bakery, or a wedding planner service, or some other such thing, then maybe I’d get that Aaron’s Mom demographic. But baseball analysis? Yeah, not so much. But that doesn’t mean no one’s mother will read this; I know of several personally who will. And so to them, I say Happy Mother’s Day. And to the rest of you I say the same, and I hope you’re in a position to enjoy it. To the Piscottys, if any of them ever read this: I am sorry. So very, very sorry. I hope you can find peace and solace wherever one finds it. I myself do not know, sadly.
And good luck to our boys in pink today.