Wednesday, May 30, 2018

"I Cried Twice"

Must be “Soft and Squishy Week” on the old blogeroo…

I cried twice recently.

What’s the connection? 

Maybe there isn’t one.  

Let’s take a look.

“Backstage:  Dodgers” offers hour-long, behind the scenes documentaries, chronicling candid events of the “Home Team’s” (so far, dismal) current season. 

It’s “Opening Day”, 2018. Honoring his memorable performance’s thirty-year anniversary – wow, I just noticed; the nextone’s a “30-year” story as well – Kirk Gibson, the hero of the Dodgers’ last World Series championship would be throwing out the “Home Opener’s” ceremonial first pitch.

Covering the festivities, “Backstage: Dodgers” shows a now sixtyish Gibson preparing to step onto the field for a certain reception of roaring nostalgia and thankful appreciation.  Before he appears, the stadium’s big screen Jumbotron replays Gibson’s Game One World Series at-bat, voted “The Greatest Moment in L.A. sports history.”  

Maybe you know this story; maybe you don’t.  Capturing the event’s sublime specialness, Dodgersannouncer Vin Scully quintessentially proclaimed, “In a year that has been so improbable… the impossiblehas happened.”

Briefly summarizing…

In a startling surprise, though he was believed unavailable for service due to hobbling leg injuries, the Dodgers' Kirk Gibson – who had been watching the game from the clubhouse – suddenly emerged from the dugout and stepped determinedly to the plate.  

After two agonizing, faltering swings during the game’s potential final at-bat, Gibson flipped a game-winning home run into the right-field bleachers, bringing the Dodgers a “Game One” victory and inspiring them to ultimate World Series success.  

As he rounded second base, the typically hard-nosed Gibson pumped his arm twice in uncharacteristic elation.

Though I knew that iconic film clip was coming, when it did, I found tears streaming copiously down my cheeks.  

And boy, was I embarrassed. (You don’t thinkyou can be embarrassed when you’re alone but you can.)

The next story, chronicled in a book I just finished (listening to) is exponentially more serious.

The Sun Does Shine relates the harrowing saga of Anthony Ray Hinton.   (A promising high school ballplayer, by the way.) After an egregiously flawed trial, Hinton was condemned to Alabama’s Death Row for a crime a fair-minded view of the evidence clearly indicated he did not commit.  Hinton was finally exonerated after thirty years of Dickensian imprisonment.  

I knew thatending was coming too, the story’s liberating outcome being included in the New York Timesreview that originally led me to order the book.  But when I listened this morning, during The Sun Does Shine’s“ Disc 8” climax, the reader uttering Hinton’s lawyer-of-fifteen-years’ words,

“Ray.  You’re free.” 

Well, there were those waterworks again.  (Following a spontaneous exhilarated whoop.)

Some things make me cry, and some things that probably should make me cry – the sad puppies on television – don’t.  Why the flood of tears on these particular occasions?

Of course, the two situations are unequal.  One’s meaningless sports; the other’s the unjustified deprivation of a man’s entire adult life.

But something about them is the same.  (Beyond the cathartic narrative payoff.)

What these two stories have in common, for me, is that they’re both about people facing punishing odds finding something inside them that allows them to spit statistical “likelihood” in the eye and ultimately prevail.

That’s human people… demonstrating an indomitable spirit… we hope we all have… should the challenging situation ever come up.

Why not?

If people can do this, and we’re people – Venn Diagram – 

We have it inside us to do it as well.

That’s the unifying factor.

And that’s what brought me to tears.

Either that, or old people just cry a lot.

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