January 3, 2013
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I was 16 when we first got cable in 1978. By the time it reached Southern Michigan, the technology had achieved an almost-mythical status: cable was this mystical electronic IV, of sorts, that hooked into your television’s bloodstream and made it an all-seeing, trash-talking R-rated genius. Kind of like the drug in “Flowers for Algernon.” (I never actually read “Flowers for Algernon,” but I did watch the movie version of it. On cable.)
OK, I’m going to sound old now. I’ve been trying to avoid this. There’s a subtle self-consciousness that settles over you once you reach the far side of 40: “Don’t say anything that betrays your age,” it tells you, “Don’t gripe about progress. Don’t lament the current era or compare it with a previous one. Don’t complain about new-fangled inventions and don’t EVER use the word ‘newfangled.’”
“Write a short essay,” my English teacher told us, “five books that changed my life.”
“It’s time,” my wife will say, and we exchange grim nods before I rise. It is then, with a loaded sigh, that I forsake couch, ballgame and the comforts of suburban life to don the attire of a killer. In dark jeans, long-sleeved shirt and covered shoes—three of them—I pause at the patio door.
As spring approaches, you’ll see a lot more runners dotting the sidewalks and parks. My admiration goes not to the lean, sinewy ones running in top-of-the-line gear, but to the bulbous newcomers, puffing along because this is the day they wouldn’t put off.
If Baseball Were Like Conservative Politics …