Tuesday, September 19, 2006

do not go gentle into that good night

Last night I was at a drinking establishment with my friend Kenny, playing QB1 while watching the Monday Night Football game between the Jaguars and the Steelers. As conversations go, we came upon the topic of what we would be doing with our lives if we didn’t follow sport?

His conclusion was that he would have gone down one of two paths; he would either be some sort of great social worker/philanthropist making the world a better place, or he would be a completely lost soul who spent most of his time questioning ‘why?’ and wallowing in the futility of existence on his sofa. I figured I’d probably have a greater social life, and perhaps, instead of going out to watch football with the buddies, I’d be a regular Don Juan. Alas, in my case the female race got off to a slow start versus sport, and now I use words like “love” and “marriage” to best describe my emotional attachment to my pool teams and the Maple Leafs. And yes, I do realize that I’ve just come across as a character in a Nick Hornby novel. But I also like to read, and I find that there is a parallel beauty that exists in the written word and the physical playing field, as was evident last night at Chavez Ravine.

The fact does remain that I do have time at night, especially at late night. And instead of making sweet, sweet love, I use that time to watch the west-coast games (although the word “instead” implies options exist, so I should use an antonym for it instead) (I just used instead again, perhaps I should have stated rather than) (this is a slippery slope, this instead, perhaps, rather than use of, I could do this for hours).

So that brings me to last night. I do live in Toronto, Ontario Canada. And I have never been to Dodger Stadium (although I have gone to see live the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of California of U.S.A. of North America, Earth, Milky Way, the Universe). And in 1989, I was 11 years old and not yet old enough to have stayed up to see Kirk Gibson hit the homerun off Dennis Eckersley.

So now, as a young man, I embraced my liberty from the parental oppression of curfew by staying up last night to watch the Padres – Dodgers game ending. I started watching in the seventh inning, when the game was tied at 4. I figured it would be over by 1 am at the latest but it ended up being closer to 2 am Eastern.

It was being broadcast by the Dodgers, who have one of the greatest baseball announcers of all time in Vin Scully doing the play-by-play. Vin Scully is so good that he does the games by himself, with no colour commentator. Last night, the majesty of the one-man crew (popularized by soccer) blossomed under the spectacle of one of the greatest baseball (if not greatest regular season) games of all time. If you want to hear how sport should be portrayed in audio, listen no further than Vin Scully.

I did have a financial interest in the game. Not directly, but indirectly. I made a small bet for the Padres to win the National League West. So I was following the Padres to see if they could perhaps win the National League. Considering that the Dodgers were their main opponent in that quest, I had considerable interest in the outcome of the game.

If I could have been someone else, someplace else last night, it would have been a Dodger fan at Dodger Stadium. If you asked one those fans what they would do without sports and they would answer, I would not have had this. Eric Neel would not have had this.

If you don’t know what happened, I’ll sum up briefly. Trailing 9-5 in the bottom of the ninth, the Dodgers hit 4 straight homeruns (a feat that had only been done 3 times before in the history of baseball, never been done before in the 9th inning) to tie the game. The bottom of the next inning, again trailing by a run, Nomar Garciaparra hit a two run home run to win the game.

I write this post because Vin Scully did two things. One, after the game was over he stated that “at a time like this, words are not necessary and the images speak for themselves” which is not only completely true, but also very modest of him to be quiet and let the fans and the scene speak for itself. And two, his final words were along the lines of saying that “there was a poem about not going quietly into the night, and on this night that is exactly what the Dodgers did, not go quietly into the night.”

As it is one of my most famous poems, for Vin Scully, for all the fans in Dodger Blue I present to you, the words of the great Dylan Thomas.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

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