The world of sports generally takes a back seat to what are viewed as more pressing issues in public policy and public relations, heavy matters of war and peace or even the proper technique for writing a press release.
But occasionally everything grinds to a halt as the nation remembers what it has in common more than what divides us. And when it does, the unifying point is often a sporting event.
One of those sporting events happened last night as the San Francisco Giants prepared to meet the Kansas City Royals in game seven of the World Series.
It has become popular lately to denigrate the importance of baseball as an antiquated spectacle — the games are too long, and they lack the modern accoutrements of other sports. But baseball remains a unifying point for our nation, and there is nothing more important than game seven of the World Series.
Spectators got all they bargained for last night as a classic game unfolded, with the hero, Madison Bumgarner, pitching a five-inning shutout on two days rest, on his way to compiling the best E.R.A. in the history of the World Series. Yet it could have all gone up in smoke as the Royals managed to get a runner to third base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
Moments like this cannot happen in any other sport, where you can’t run out the clock, and the slowly building tension comes to a crescendo as the whole game hinges on the next pitch, the next batter. That doesn’t generally translate well to television versus being in the stadium. But last night, the whole nation felt it as we all stayed up late to see how things would turn out.
It makes you proud to be an American.