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Parasiliti: Clarity is just a 7th-inning stretch away

July 07, 2013|By BOB PARASILITI
  • Bob Parasiliti
Bob Parasiliti

I have to admit something here.

Last Thursday just felt like another day to me.

It was the Fourth of July and I just wasn’t with it.

I can read a calendar, but it felt like it was Saturday, not Thursday.

My schedule didn’t convince me. I worked on Thursday … but I work a lot of Saturdays, too.

I grew up like every other kid. I studied American history. I’ve been at a barbeque or two. And I’ve seen more than a few bottle rockets in my lifetime.

The fourth day in July is significant. It was the 237th anniversary of our country’s independence, even though for many, it was the starting line for a four-day weekend away from work.

So, I do what I normally do when my compass is spinning around like Pat Sajak’s wheel. I look at things that I’m familiar with and try to find “The Big Picture.” I passed the time with the pastime and kind of fell into some soul-searching thoughts.

It was obvious I wasn’t getting something here.

I turned to baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and a dictionary I found in a Chevrolet.

First, I remembered that July 4 is considered the benchmark in Major League Baseball. About 80 percent of the time, the teams in the lead in what is considered the halfway point of the season have gone into the playoffs.

That means Boston, Detroit and Oakland, all on top in the American League’s divisions, should be getting ready for fall ball, while Baltimore and Texas will sneak in as wild cards. Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Arizona, along with St. Louis and Cincinnati, would be destined for the National League’s World Series tournament.

Still, there was something more to consider about this particular Thursday.

I turned to M-Webster — the book, not the rap artist — to find a little definition.

I found that patriotism is one word that has no real definition.

According to M-Web on the web, patriotism is to be patriotic and patriotic is to show patriotism.

But down the list it said patriotism is “devoted love, support and defense of one’s country, national loyalty.”

Aside from our soldiers who have been on the front lines to protect our freedoms and independence, that is a concept that is lost on most of us for 363 out of 365 days a year. And it’s 364 out of 366 days in leap years, too.

Usually, on Memorial Day and Fourth of July, we raise our grilled burgers in toast of these gifts … and give thanks for a federal day off.

Then I turned to baseball, to put the idea between the lines, per se.

The game of baseball — on the field — does its level best to try to celebrate what the Fourth of July and beyond is all about.

It’s leadership. It’s about what managers like Baltimore’s Buck Showalter, Washington’s Davy Johnson and even the Hagerstown Suns’ Tripp Keister do to come up with strategies and use of their troops to produce wins.

In other times, we have looked at men named Patton, Schwarzkopf and Eisenhower to do an escalated version of the same on much bigger and more important playing fields.

It’s representing the true colors. The Fourth makes most fans put aside their team colors to unite as fans of America’s colors — red, white and blue. Even baseball teams change their look for this day with special uniforms to commemorate the holiday.

On this day, we battle as a united force — with our flag waving.

America’s enduring symbol, along with patriotic bunting and even team pennants, are waved in most places. Even on July 3 at Municipal Stadium, the Suns’ last home game before the holiday, those were out in force.

It was rather fitting that it was all being represented in a stadium that is as old as America itself.

But really, last Thursday proved it was all about seventh-inning stretches.

During most baseball games these days, the only time everyone pays attention comes in the middle of the seventh inning. That’s when everyone takes their feet to sing “Take Me Out to The Ball Game.”

It’s tradition.

On certain occasions, like last Thursday, baseball warmed up for the ritual in nearly every stadium with the playing of “God Bless America.”

There was something different about that instance. It seemed to carry more weight than when everyone stands for the national anthem because it often feels like going through the motions.

This was unifying.

On Wednesday at Municipal Stadium, the players came out of the dugouts and stood along the baselines with their caps across their chests. Fans genuinely stood at attention, forgetting all the confusion to live in the moment, intently staring at American flag.

You could visibly see people taking inventory of what they have in their lives.

It was as moving as anything you could witness.

At this moment, Boston, Detroit, Oakland, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Arizona weren’t in first place.

Instead, the United States led the league on July 4.

After all this, I realized something.

Last Thursday was anything but another day.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by email at bobp@herald-mail.com.

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