As many of you are no doubt aware from my private emails (as if you weren't aware without notification from me), today is the Opening Day. Once again, the Cubbies will don their fresh uniforms and take the field in a spirited attempt to capture the National League Central Division title.*
*Note that years of devoted fandom prevent me from raising the sights any higher than the Division title. Fans of a less perennially disappointing team begin the season dreaming of the League Championship series or even, dare we say it, the World Series. Cubs fans just think it would be nice not to suck this year. Or at least not suck until August.
I, of course, am stuck in a country without baseball. I don't mean that they don't have professional baseball teams here (they don't); nor do I mean that they don't play baseball here in school (not that either). I mean that no one, and I mean NO ONE, has even the slightest clue what baseball is. If you describe it as "American cricket" you might get a flicker of recognition from somebody who once had access to Pakistani cable television. Beyond the expats (whom I don't see much), there is simply no realization of the very existence of a game called baseball, much less the presence of an entire league of professional baseball players.*
*Note that I say "league" as opposed to "leagues." Anyone who knows me well will immediately be aware that there is only one true baseball league in America and that is the National League. That's not to say that there aren't immensely talented baseball players in the American League, just that at the end of the day they're not actually playing baseball.**
**People always challenge me on this (and by "people" I mean those mouth-breathing troglodytes laughingly referred to as White Sox fans), so I will explain in very simple terms so that even those whose brains are damaged by a season of high-altitude oxygen deprivation in the nose-bleed seats of Cellular Field can understand.
In baseball, as everyone knows, there are nine players on a team. This is understood. It is a given. It is a truth whose clarity is on par with the laws of physics and the constants of celestial motion. It quite simply just is. When an manager hands in his line-up card to the umps at the beginning of a game, there are nine names on the list. It has always been so. It always will be so. When the manager of the Chicago White Sox however, hands in his line-up card, how many names are on the list? That's right, there's ten names written there. Ten names is not baseball. Ten names is softball. You might as well add a fourth outfielder or another shortstop between first and second base. If I want to watch beer-league softball, I'll go to Lincoln Park where the beer is fresh and the seats are free.
OK, so perhaps that wasn't as simple as I intended, but who cares? White Sox fans generally can't read anyway, so they're probably sitting at their desks staring blankly at the glowing magic box in front of them and randomly punching keys with fingers made thick by a life-time of kielbasa and beer.
Right, where was I? Oh yes, Opening Day in Kabul. So, baseball fans (and softball fans for that matter) are pretty thin on the ground here. I won't be inviting a bunch of the neighbors over for a barbeque on the patio (not that I would anyway). I won't be rushing home from work after a hastily-arranged half-day (OK, so I just left for lunch and never went back) to flop down on the couch with a bag of peanuts and watch Soriano go 0-for-4. I won't be able to go out in my backyard at the seventh inning stretch with my trusty bat and beat a defenseless shrub into pulp after the bullpen walks three straight to load the bases. And I certainly won't be staggeringly drunk on the corner at 1060 West Addison screaming curses at the baseball gods four hours after the last out is recorded. I will do none of these things. Instead, I will suffer agonizing hours trying to maintain a wonky internet connection in hopes of the occasional score update.
This country keeps finding new ways to suck. Kind of like the Cubs.