This week, in my continuing effort to flee the season, I wound up in Salisbury, Maryland, and it quickly became a desperate search to understand why anyone lives there. The humidity was approximately eight thousand percent, the hotel washcloths were festively decorated with mosquitoes, and the local hospital hung a giant banner congratulating itself on “outcomes” without, terrifyingly, mentioning what those outcomes might be. In short, it was everything horrible about Florida, until about October, when it immediately becomes everything horrible about the North and Midwest.

Pictured: Plotting Horses

Salisbury is close to Assateague Island, which is populated solely by feral horses and people for whom watery air and pestilence is not sufficient to fuel their self-hatred; no, they must also surround themselves with sand and their families in tiny tents. The majestic horses, understandably furious about being stranded in such a place, expressed their angst by innocently standing around in open plains by day and by night trotting to major paths of human transportation in order to relieve themselves.  I’m not talking just a stray bomblet or two; I mean giant Costco-sized mounds of processed seagrass it must have taken weeks to cultivate. This was a carefully cultivated art deposit. It didn’t matter if it were a parking lot or hiking path was situated across a major ditch, between two ponds, or elevated ten feet in the air:  If a person was likely to step in it, a horse had been there in the recent moonlight to express his opinion of him.

Then I realized what the carefully placed manure piles reminded me of:  Sports fans who insist upon sabotaging enjoyment of their own team.

Defeatism is understandable when it comes to the likes of the Browns and the—no, I don’t need to expand upon that list. There is nothing comparable to the spectacular hatred the Cleveland Browns have for their own people, an astonishing story of mistreatment in which leaving the city entirely was not off the table.

Here in Cincinnati, we also have an ability to not-like nice things. Here I don’t refer to general and necessary fan kvetching– what’s happening here is a pathological refusal to shove away the good and throw our arms about the bad.  Any visit to any major Reds-centered social media account will confirm this. A certain correlation between fan loudness in this matter to a refusal to believe in the power of math exists: This demonstrably Reds-befitting trade was a disaster, the hurt pitcher is being lazy, we need the club to fail some more before Big Changes are made. For these people, misery is a gift to be endlessly distributed to others.

I was at a Reds game in Joey Votto’s quite-outstanding 2010 season, and he happened to ground into an easy out. The ball was in the opposing first baseman’s glove pretty much before he left the batter’s box, so Votto jogged, rather than sprinted, his way to the man holding his doom.

“JOEY,” screamed someone two rows down, that all of Kentucky should know of his discontent, “WHY DON’T YOU RUN?!?!? EVER??!”

The easy answer to this, of course, is that Joey pretty much can’t run even should his cup burst into flame. The other was that he was obviously out and conserving energy for the rest of the game. The most important one, though, was that deep down, Joey Votto, in his magnificence, knows who these people are, and every now and then he likes to leave a fragrant gift for them in the parking lot, directly next to the driver’s side door.


12 Responses

  1. Daytonian

    Crabs. Crabs. Crabs. And the view of the bay. 4 redeeming features of Salisbury.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      blargh, seafood. We saw people clamming and I was appalled at all that hard work wasted for mucus on a plate.
      I’m such a waste of a Catholic.

      • lwblogger2

        Well yeah, if you don’t like the seafood then the only hope in enjoyment of Salisbury would be its proximity to Ocean City and the fantastic beach and boardwalk. One of major draws of Ocean City and the Boardwalk is the food, and specifically seafood. You still get the heat and humidity but the ocean breeze cuts it fairly well. Plus, you can hit the water for a bit if you’re inclined and that certainly will cool a person off. Not sure how you feel about beaches though.

  2. WVRedlegs

    So, that is what was left on the parking lot deck beside Marty’s driver’s side door. Priceless.

    • WVRedlegs

      The All Points Bulletin said they were looking for someone in a donkey costume as the culprit.

      • Matt WI

        So what you’re saying is that Cozart should name his donkey “Marty.”

      • WVRedlegs

        That is not a bad idea.
        But that might be an insult to jackasses everywhere.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      No wonder Marty is so cranky.

  3. msanmoore

    The metaphors and mental images from this article … just priceless! And, for some, I’m not sure they appreciate “nice things” even when they come about. As for me, I’ll cherish the gives we get and cringe at the road apples that happen. As you say in your title theme, “baseball is life”.

    Thanks for the humor and the reality check. I too dislike the “beach” (even though I live my seafood).

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Thanks! I like looking at the beach myself, but actually participating in its beachiness grows increasingly less fun.

  4. lwblogger2

    As always, a wonderfully entertaining read.