Next week the Hallmark family of cable networks will start their yearly rock block of festive holiday movies. No, I am not talking about Halloween movies, harvest movies, or even Thanksgiving movies.
Instead, the channels that were founded on one sentence greeting cards, ornaments, and conservative Midwestern values, will be blasting Christmas movies day and night for the next two months.
I am certainly guilty of watching my share of Hallmark movies throughout the year. I enjoy the way they can take three original story ideas that someone had 20 years ago and turn them into 40-50 “new” movies each year. However, the past few years have shown that there comes a point where there can be too many “filmed over the course of one weekend while still writing the script” movies.
I get that people could use a little Christmas right this very minute, but starting Christmas in October seems a tad extreme even by 2020 standards.
In that spirit of fast forwarding to Christmas without acknowledging the holidays in between Columbus Day and Christmas, today’s column will have a gingerbread inspired coming down the chimney and opening presents on Christmas day, and not Christmas Eve kind of feel to it with some Reece’s Peanut Butter pumpkins thrown in for good measure.
And with a tug on the old sleigh bells, away we go.
In 1897 The New York Sun received as letter from a girl named Virginia who wanted to know whether there was indeed a real Santa Claus after being told by some of her classmates that there was not. Open consulting her father on the matter she wrote the newspaper with the rationale being, that if she saw it printed in the paper it must be true.
Ah, such a simpler time when the media was trusted and not actively called the enemy of the press by an angry man who may or may not have daddy issues.
But I digress.
Back to Virginia and her letter. In the eloquently written style of 19th Century journalistic prose, an editorial response to her letter concluded that, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.”
Words to live by in 1897, as well as in 2020.
Just like Virginia back in 1897, I was beginning to question things as the 2020 baseball season was winding down. I have made it clear since January that I am disgusted at what the Houston Astros did in 2017 when they cheated their way to a World Series title.
The fact that the Astros were one win away from their third trip to the World Series in four years a few short days ago made me question whether Baseball Claus existed and made me question my very lifelong baseball fandom going so far as to utter the words that if the Astros won the World Series baseball and I would need to break up for a t least a year since I could not be around such evil.
Granted, it was a tad over dramatic on my part and likely the result of not having any off days between games but I was certainly wondering why Baseball Claus had forsaken us.
For those unfamiliar with Baseball Claus, he is the guy who makes sure that the National Pastime remains as it should and that cheaters don’t prosper. He is also the guy who makes sure Ballparks never run out of hot dogs and nachos.
Sadly, Baseball Claus was at his beach house in January when the penalties for the Astros were handed down.
I have no doubt that if Baseball Claus had been in his office at Major League Baseball (MLB) headquarters in New York City when the cheating report came out, he totally would have insisted that players on the Astros be suspended, or maybe even banned them from baseball for their roles in the season long cheating.
So, I gave Baseball Claus a pass on that one. I mean as a fellow lover of beach houses and time away from the office, I certainly cannot fault him for taking some time to himself on the sugar sand shores. I am sure he must have dropped his phone in the water and was unreachable when the cheating scandal broke.
My belief in Baseball Claus was tested once again when the COVID-19 pandemic struck and a decision was made to roll the dice and play a 60-game regionally based schedule in order to crown a World Series champion.
This time around, I chalked up the lack of response to stop the season by Baseball Claus to him being up north visiting his brother, Hockey Claus. Surely, had Baseball Claus not been trapped north of the border he would have stepped in. Of course, Baseball Claus did make his presence felt in Canada when he told the Toronto Blue Jays they had to play their season in America to avoid bringing more COVID-19 to the land of poutine and maple syrup.
So, while I could excuse those two failures to intervene by Baseball Claus when we really needed him, the run up to the World Series had me truly concerned for his health.
Was Baseball Claus in witness protection? Had he succumbed to COVID-19 like nearly 220,000 Americans? There really were more questions than answers as the aforementioned cheating Houston Astros came closer and closer to going to the World Series for the third time in four years.
I had pen in hand ready to write a letter to the editor like Virginia had so many years ago to ask whether there really was a Baseball Claus; and then Game 7 of the American League Championship Series set everything right.
The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Houston Astros and punched their ticket to the World Series. One has to wonder whether the Houston Astros punched a trash can in the dugout in frustration after the loss.
I know I have been hard on the Astros this year. Upon further reflection I know what they could have done to have tempered the rage I directed at them.
Had the players acted more contrite and shown genuine remorse for their actions in 2017 I would have been more likely to forgive sooner rather then later. Don’t get me wrong, I would have still been angry, but I likely would have been less angry.
Instead, the players tried to play the role of victim and seemed in many cases to be more concerned about the fallout in terms of their brand then in the fallout of breaking the hearts of little Virginias that rooted for them. I saw no genuine remorse or acknowledgment that what they did was wrong. Instead, I saw players who were merely inconvenienced that they got caught.
As stated many times, the Houston Astros were the biggest winners in 2020 since they never had to face fans in the stands during the regular season. The few interactions with fans in Spring Training games before the world shut down showed the type of visceral anger they would have encountered all season long
Of course, in talking with some Astros fans over the course of the last nine months, some of them don’t seem to really care that the Astros cheated, and just wanted the Astros to win no matter what.
The divide among baseball fans in Houston is indicative of the divide within the United States as a whole on many issues like, climate change, COVID-19, the designated hitter, fans in stands, mask wearing, blue states, red states, etc.
If the divide within the United States was a canyon, right now it would be so far across that even Evel Knievel couldn’t jump it with a souped up rocket bike.
Yes, all of you fans of baseball played without the aid of cameras and trash cans there is indeed a Baseball Claus even in this topsy turvy upside down pandemic ravaged year of 2020.
The Astros are done for the year and the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Dodgers are set to battle it out for World Series immortality. The two teams with the best records all season long are going head to head as it should be. Maybe Hallmark was right to start their holiday movie madness in October, since I certainly received a gift of an awesome World Series match up under my Hallowgivingmas tree.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to fill out my Hallmark holiday movie bracket. I think the grand prize this year is a trip to Kansas City to see where the one sentence at a time greeting card magic happens. If I am lucky, I might even get to see a holiday movie written and filmed over the course of an afternoon. I hope it has a gazebo scene.
Copyright 2020 R. Anderson