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Through the Sand Lots of Time, Davey Johnson's Locker

I thought it might be appropriate to take a quick backward glance before diving headlong into the playoffs. Riverfront76 seemed to think it was a good idea - and, I'll be honest, I pretty much do whatever that guy (?) says. Baseball fans are self-indulgent nostalgia junkies, it's true. There's no Ken Burns Football, no leatherhead re-enactors (at least for the purposes of this argument), no sacred talisman of memorabilia that matches the Honus Wagner card. This has a lot to do with the sheer longevity of the sport, but at least a little to do the meditative, journal-keeping Costasian nerds it attracts.

While it's not at all healthy to measure your life in the milestones of a professional baseball franchise (RENT already showed us how to measure in love), it's at least a useful construct. Remember, saying something is a "useful construct" excuses all subsequent behavior. And this is a baseball blog where Photo-shopped pictures of Corky Miller are currency. If you were concerned about your health, you wouldn't be here.

My point here is not to say, "Wow, 15 years is a long playoff drought." That the team has been in the wilderness for a while well-documented, not particularly interesting or worth dwelling on this happy Playoff's Eve. It's more of what Mr. Front, the 76th, called our attention to in his post - the ability of sports to, like pop culture, politics or psychedelic drug use, generate a shared experience. Fandom would be an empty exercise if it was limited to simply living vicariously through athletes who, in large part, have no awareness of the individual rooter. Its ability to become a point of convergence for collective experience, conversation and remembrance are what gives it an animating force.

Another interesting thing about time is change. Please call Bartlett's about this last sentence - my last name is spelled with just one "%." Pick two shared experiences (selective endpoints), and you can map the countless different trajectories each of us has taken between them. But we can still meet up at those two little nodes. If they're big, memorable, focal points in time, they gives us a common vocabulary. The infinite possible perspectives and paths between the poles provide the conversation itself. That's why questions like "where were you when..?" and "What have you been doing with your life since prison?" endure.

Here are some major events from the fall of 1995 to prime the pump (wia Wikipedia):

And without consulting the box scores, here's what I personally remember from the 1995 playoffs. The web began its ascent around that time - and now that we can't imagine life without that staggering knowledge base, personalized memory seems more precious. Or maybe not. Would I give up the memory of my embarrassing turn as Harvey Johnson in Bye Bye Birdie for the Baseball Reference Play Index? They say each time you remember something, you reconstruct the details in a new way, further altering the truth. But who am they, anyway? Why is Ohio? Where are the Bowdens of yesteryear?

I hope I'm not dating myself too much, because I'm not very punctual and I'd hate to watch myself eat:

  • I went to a Catholic school in Cincinnati. Some kid in my class said Chipper Jones was his favorite player. I remember thinking, "What the hell is the matter with you? Well, at least he won't be playing 15 years from now."
  • Chipper Jones had some cut on his lip, which I thought looked kind of cool.
  • Reggie Sanders seemed to strike out a lot.
  • Mark Lewis hit a grand slam. (OK, cheated and looked at Baseball Reference. Jerome Walton and Mark Lewis played way over their heads that season. Miguel Cairo, I'm looking in your direction.)
  • I hated Steve Avery for some reason, then had to do a few lengths of rosary for it.