The past few days have been a blurring of allergies, changing weather and the lockout mess. Hope slipped in like a thief. One day allotted to mediator Cohen stretched into three and rumors spread - weren’t the sides ever closer now? And spirits rose and were torched as Paul Allen arrived. The richest man in sports shut it all down because he’s done with this hobby.
For me, a lasting image - Billy Hunter tells of standing before the room of owners, asking if they can’t just keep talking. And how Allen sits there, not saying anything. I wonder what that feels like to a man like Hunter. To me, it feels more distant than just last Friday. Already, the disconnect is forming.
I read and abandon theories like cards. It’s a Monday afternoon, luminescent clouds with slatey underpinnings, moving slowly past. I take the dog across the small field. He’s been shedding for months, the virulently thick down now giving way to a winter coat. He wanders in random circles, cloudy eyes but undiminished enthusiasm for scented stories on the ground. I’ve been watching the World Series and will again tonight. And there’s the NFL. My love for those sports isn’t as strong as it once was, but they say it comes back.
At what point do we allow ourselves to accept that a majority of the owners simply don’t want a season? Do we think they’ll hang onto businesses that become so utterly devalued? There is a vacuum in leadership, as they say. And I don’t want to give up, I don’t want to accept that the lions of the league will simply allow themselves to be opened up and left on the table.
There's a good article by Kurt Helin, examining both anger and apathy, the question of fans returning and forgiving. I don’t know what my own timeline is, I suspect that I won’t consciously determine it. One of my great character flaws, is the tendency to distance myself from friends and even family, when we’re not in each other’s actual, present lives. It’s not an absolute, I can work at it but it’s always there and I’m conscious of it. The calls and emails become fewer, the visits can disappear altogether.
If I can’t or won’t make the effort to connect with a person I've become distanced from, how will I do it with a sport? Will it be different because the sport will be spoon-fed directly back to me? Perhaps. I came back after the last strike. I know this however - that basketball has always felt like a sanctuary. And this time, I’m afraid that it won’t be, that it will have lost that special quality, the feeling of a confidante.
It is well into night ant the fifth game of the series is pulling me from this screen. The sixth-inning ends, I walk outside. The dog drops his ball, stands over it as he sniffs the ground. I shake my head, knowing precisely what comes next. He lifts his leg and pees on his ball. I am never touching that thing again.