I was watching tonight’s superb Giants-Marlins game on TV and I caught the announcers talking about trying to fire yourself up as a pitcher for a blowout game (which, in this case was great, seeing how the Dodgers routed the Expos and the Giants got smacked in the mouth on the same night). They talked about how, as kids, we all dreamed of the moment when we pitched for the final out of the seventh game of the World Series. I won’t complain, but I never dreamed of pitching in the World Series; I dreamed of hitting some insane home run in the World Series. But I get the reference. The point is that we are all the same damn person, whether we like it or not. We might think we’re into totally different things than our neighbor, but we’re not. We are all the same.
That last sentence reminds me of a great professor (who happens to be pictured with an even better professor in that first shot) I had a few years back. If you know me well, you’ve heard this story. I took this guy for a public policy class, where we studied studies. We analyzed stuff like the baby boom that supposedly happened nine months after the great blackout in NYC in like the thirties or something (urban legend). And we studied how the lower speed limit in Connecticut affected highway fatalities (it did, after an entire generation of drivers finally got the message). And he told me one of the truths that will stay with me forever: if you’re Southern, you’re different.
See, this professor had a theory, which might actually be the theory of far more influential people than himself, but which I will forever attribute to him, because he was funny. That theory was that we are all the same, except Southern folks. It was brilliant. He detailed the theory by drawing a map of the United States and saying we all fit in there. Then, he squared off the South and said, “unless we are from here.” We all got it right then and there. Unless we’re from down there, we can pretty much count on being the same.
When the baseball guys talked about their childhood fantasies, I connected it again. I had those same dreams as a kid. I wanted to be the World Series hero, too. I guess everyone did. Unless, of course, you’re from that bottom corner of the country. Then you want to be that guy spinning brodies in the middle of Daytona Speedway on a Sunday afternoon with bikini models who are paid to hang on you hanging on you and changing hats every five seconds and thanking countless sponsors and your crew and all that. That’s that bottom quarter of the nation right there. I wonder what it’s like not ever feeling the pressure of that 3-2 pitch with the bases stinking drunk in the bottom of the ninth, down by three in game 7. Guess I’ll never understand that one.