Friday, January 30, 2009

When Reality Trumps Baseball

On my desk are handwritten notes and stickies with all my ideas for this week’s blog. I was ready rhapsodize about last weekend’s banquet and Fan Fest on Saturday, try to make sense of the lineup of Rangers pitchers heading for the DL and rant on about all my other “important” baseball thoughts – that was until Thursday when cold hard reality stole my enthusiasm for this week’s blog entry.

The company I work for laid off several employees Thursday afternoon. No, I was not one of them – but that still doesn’t lessen the impact for me of the brutality of the situation. I’ve been veering between sadness, fear and yes, anger for the last two days.

Sadness for those who were laid off – I’ve been there –nervously cranking out resumes, calling everyone I could to think of to try and network my way back into gainful employment, working mindless temporary jobs, collecting unemployment and losing sleep about how I am going to pay all my bills if my savings ran out before I found a job. Fear for my own position – our company has some problems, we lost our biggest customer, and there’s always that possibility there will be more layoffs, or a merger or who knows? Anger at the Masters of the Universe on Wall Street who gambled on “credit default swaps” and lost – then demanded money from the taxpayers to compensate them for their risky behavior. And in the end who pays for it? Not those Wall Street types – they got their bonuses, TARP money and are still buying suites at the new Yankee stadium. It’s Rene, Janet, Judy and Paul who’ve paid the price. All they did was go to work every day, pay their taxes, and try to provide for their families – but the ripple effects of Wall Street’s uncontrolled greed doesn’t affect those who started it and lost all the money – no, it’s the rest of us who wind up living with the consequences.

Baseball has always been my escape, my passion, the best part of my day. But not tonight. For those like me who sit the stands and pay for tickets (or more likely sit at home and watch on TV this year) reading about Ben Sheets contract demands or Marlon Byrd’s arbitration settlement dulls my appetite for the Rangers – at least until the first pitch is thrown in Surprise and the great game of baseball once again transports me away, if only for a while, from these uncertain times.

Finally – a couple of months ago on the radio I heard a very good story about the song “Brother Can You Spare A Dime” which was the anthem of the Great Depression. There are several You Tube videos of this song, the one with Dr. John and the late Odetta is especially good. While contemplating what to write tonight – I thought about that song, these particular lyrics are timeless, and unfortunately, appropriate:

"They used to tell me I was building a dream
With peace and glory ahead
Why should I be standing in line
Just waiting for bread?....

Once I built a tower up to the sun
Brick and rivet and lime
Once I built a tower
Now it's done

Brother, can you spare a dime?"

-- E.Y. Harburg / Jay Gorney (1932)

-- Marla Hooch