From the “Tired” Seats Arose a Mysterious Stranger
The vast electronic sports pub was abuzz with Bryce Harper’s heartfelt soliloquy about our “tired” national pastime. Youth has been fettered, Harper complained, by the rusty traditions of yore. Harper sang the opening bars of his song thusly:
“Oh to cavort and cavil, like Lebron flying through the air; free us to go from first to third, like a spirit without a care.”
Up and down the old pine bar that glistened in the sun, tankards were raised to fete the late summer’s hero. Huzzah to the champion’s lament, they cried.
In the dark shadows where light skittered away like a frightened pup sat the old man. Upon his lap worn leather wrapped the pages of ancient wisdom in a language few could summon any longer. His long beard fell upon the floor and was home to mice and squirrels for he had sat motionless for what seemed like centuries. His eyes were wild with visions of summers past, but few bothered to gaze upon them.
Youth, the champion cried, must not be denied its crown of gold and jewels. Hearts would sing if the organ man would only play a new and livelier tune above our emerald green fields. Beer flowed unceasingly from the brass tap as glass upon glass whooshed down the bar to waiting hands. Every face bore a smiling countenance as the fans rooted onward their bright star of recent past and their boldest hope for future glory.
Not a soul took note of the mice scurrying beneath the shiny foot rail that separated the bar from its floor. Crows beat out a warning cry above the raucous crowd whose noise would have drowned the cannon roar of the king’s frigate. Only the squirrels could hear the scratch of the chair as it moved backwards across the dry oaken boards below the old man’s table.
Slowly he stood clutching the sacred book to his breast. What had seemed a tired and frail visage unfolded as if a mighty oak were growing from the boards and the old man stood to reveal a mountainous form whose chest was broad as a two barrels of malt whiskey, whose thighs were as thick and sinewy as the neck of a thoroughbred. The calves that peeked through the open front of the black robe of the aged priest were muscled like a battleship’s mooring ropes. From the darkness burned two narrowly focused suns as the shaman of baseball’s wordless secrets moved out of the shadows and toward the heedless throng.
The champion was the first to see the old man moving in his direction for it was said that he could read the words of the label of a spinning record. He smiled with the confidence of a thousand spring times coursing through his veins, but his face betrayed a morsel of concern as the tumult slowly subsided. The room grew quiet as if every drop of beer that had flowed during the afternoon’s celebrations had been summoned back into its keg. The old man drew even with “The Kid” and heaved his heavy book in front of the young man so that it landed upon the bar with such force that it shook the walls. Dust covered the clothes of patrons in its wake but the kid merely moved his fingers through his russet colored hair and smiled at the old man as he waited for him to speak.
With a flourish of his black robe that seemed to leave stars sparkling in its wake, the wizard shoved his arm in front of the kid and heaved open the great book. It opened to the ordained page as if by magic and the long elegant finger snapped forward from the sleeve landing upon the waiting page in such a way to compel the kid’s eyes downward. With his yellowed nail almost piercing the paper, the old man spoke. “Read,” he thundered. “if you can.”
To be continued…